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Kuwait MPs to confront govt on loans

150 Fils

SAFAR 9, 1434 AH

Amazingly, world survives Maya ‘apocalypse’

No: 15665


Timberwolves snap Thunder winning streak

Cold snap leaves 200 dead in east Europe ‘Abnormal’ frost wreaks havoc in Europe

Max 21º Min 12º

MOSCOW: A vicious cold snap across Russia and eastern Europe has claimed nearly 200 lives, officials figures showed yesterday, as forecasters warned it would last until Christmas Eve. In Russia, the cold has killed two people in the past 24 hours, the Ria-Novosti agency reported, citing medical sources, bringing the total number of deaths over the past week to 56. The freeze had also left 371 people in hospital. Thermometers have been stuck below minus 20 degrees Celsius in Moscow-and below minus 50 degrees in some parts of Siberia-for a week. Russian weather forecasters said temperature in the Khabarovsk region in eastern Russia had dropped to minus 43 Celsius, while Krasnoyarsk in Siberia reported minus 47. This “abnormal” frost would last till Monday because of a persistent anticyclone, they added. In Russia’s European region, meanwhile, the mercury is expected to fall to minus 31 degrees Celsius on Christmas Eve before rising rapidly afterwards. Other European countries hit hard by the extreme temperatures were counting the toll as temperatures gradually started to return to normal. Authorities in Ukraine, which has been battling heavy snowfall for weeks, said 83 people had died of cold, with 57 of the victims found on the street. The homeless are traditionally the hardest-hit by the region’s bitter winters. Another 526 cold victims were reportedly receiving hospital treatment in Ukraine. Overnight temperatures in Ukraine reached an average minus 15 degrees Continued on Page 8


Clashes as Egyptian Islamists stage rally

SVETLYA ROCHSHA: A woman carries buckets in the snow covered Belarus village of Svetlya Rochsha, some 130 km north of Minsk yesterday. The temperatures in Minsk dropped yesterday to -12C (9F), due to high humidity and strong cold wind. — AFP

in the


39 hacked to death NAIROBI: At least 39 people including women and children were hacked to death and their homes set ablaze in an attack yesterday on a remote village in Kenya’s southeastern coastal region, where deadly tribal violence also erupted earlier this year. Police attributed the killings to a disarmament operation that stoked long-simmering tensions between rival communities in the Tana River delta area, but they could also be linked to the March election, the first since Kenya was gripped by deadly violence after the December 2007 vote. The raid on Kipao village in the Tana delta in the early hours “unleashed terror” on the inhabitants, who were hacked as their huts were set on fire, police said. 39 people were killed in all - 30 villagers and nine assailants. Pictures posted on the Twitter feed of the Red Cross, which said earlier that 30 people had been killed, showed the charred walls of mud huts still standing, their thatched roofs reduced to nothing. “I can confirm 39 people have been killed early this morning, during tribal clashes,” Coast province police chief Aggrey Adoli said.

British PM in Oman MUSCAT: British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Oman yesterday as Britain’s defense giant BAE Systems announced a £2.5-billion ($4.1-billion) deal to supply fighter planes and trainer jets to the sultanate. Cameron met Sultan Sultan Qaboos to discuss “ongoing cooperation between both countries in several fields in light of their good relations and the mutual interests of their friendly people,” Oman news agency ONA reported. On Thursday, the prime minister paid a pre-Christmas visit to British troops serving in Afghanistan. On his way home as he arrived in Muscat for a brief visit, BAE Systems announced in London that it has sealed a multi-billion dollar fighter jets deal with Muscat. “BAE Systems and the government of the Sultanate of Oman have entered into a contract for the supply of Typhoon and Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft to the Royal Air Force of Oman,” the London-listed company said in a statement. “The contract, valued at approximately £2.5 billion, provides for the delivery of 12 Typhoon and 8 Hawk aircraft starting in 2017.”

Hunger on the rise in US CHICAGO: Hunger and homelessness are on the rise in the United States, and cash-strapped cities and social services are being forced to turn needy people away empty-handed, a study published Thursday found. The number of homeless people seeking help had increased seven percent from 2011, according to a survey of social service operators in 25 of the nation’s large cities commissioned by the Conference of Mayors. Even though food pantries and soup kitchens have cut back how much people received in an attempt to make their limited resources go further, the survey found that about 19 percent of the people asking for help didn’t get any. “In Philadelphia, I see people who are hungry and in need of shelter on a daily basis,” said the city’s mayor Michael Nutter. “Explaining to them that Congress is cutting funding for the help they need is not acceptable. What they need are jobs so they can support their families, and Congress can help to create those jobs if it passes a fair and balanced budget with investments in infrastructure, innovation, and real people.”


400 killed in 67,000 accidents in 2012 Alarming rise in Kuwait traffic fatalities

Burgan High School students in a group picture.

NBK hosts Burgan High School students KUWAIT: National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) recently hosted students from Burgan High School for girls, who toured the bank’s head office to learn about the banking industry and the day-to-day work of the bank’s various departments. “NBK supports fresh graduates and Kuwait’s youth. We listen to their interests and issues and offer a range of products and services to satisfy their needs,” NBK Public Relations officer Yacoub Al-Baqer said. Al-Baqer accompanied the students on their tour of the bank’s various departments and gave them a brief presentation about NBK in general and the role of marketing and public relations within the bank. The students had the chance to learn about the broad range of NBK financial and banking products and services and were particularly interested in the multi-benefit AlAzraq and Al-Shabab accounts, exclusively designed for high school, college and university students. The tour is part of NBK’s ongoing commitment to its corporate social responsibility program and to promoting the education and development of the country’s youth. Other initiatives include providing summer training programs for students, hiring fresh graduates and offering professional development programs for new hires.


in brief

Kuwait envoy sees end to Iraq rows KUWAIT: Kuwait’s Ambassador to Iraq Ali Al-Momen said yesterday that the unresolved issues between Kuwait and Iraq had been theatrically settled and the agreements will be executed soon. “Other agreements will be converted into memorandum of understanding and treaties”, he said noting that these issues would be discussed during the PM’s next visit to Iraq taking into consideration the best of both peoples. “We are serious about turning on a new leaf in Kuwait-Iraq bilateral relations and forgetting the past to go back to the deep-rooted historic relations,” he added.

HCB investments Well-informed sources said that the capital of the Housing Credit Bank (HCB), previously known as the Savings and Credit Bank (SCB), was KD 5 billion which was being invested in various portfolios. “We have great plans and aspirations to meet people’s needs and demands”, said sources. Further, the sources noted that this capital would utilized in providing loans to citizens for purchasing building material or providing housing for women. “We have submitted our views on these plans to the cabinet and await instruction to immediately start executing them”, added the sources noting that the bank would also provide building materials cheaper than market price because it would buy them in wholesale prices.

KUWAIT: Four hundred people were killed while 8,000 were injured in traffic accidents reported in 2012, a local daily reported yesterday quoting official statistics as of the end of November. Meanwhile, and Interior Ministry official who provided statistics obtained from the Information and Statistics Division at the Traffic General Department, revealed that 86 percent of road fatalities were males as against 14 percent of female victims.

Speaking to Al-Qabas on condition of anonymity, the source further indicated that 3,800 people injured in the accidents in the past 11 months, sustained serious wounds. The statistics further show 2,890,650 traffic tickets were issued by the end of November, up by seven percent compared to the same period last year. The traffic violations include 148,000 issued against drivers who crossed the red traffic light, said the source, who added that the percentage

of serious traffic violations dropped by ten percent compared to last year. According to the statistics, around 67,000 accidents were reported around the country this year as of the end of last month, the majority of which were reported from the Capital Governorate with 20,762, followed by Mubarak AlKabeer with 5,169. The statistics also show an average 20 percent increase in the number of road accidents recorded in each governorate. — Al-Qabas

Qallaf slams Shamali on loan statement By A Saleh KUWAIT: Hussein Al-Qallaf MP joined issue with Finance Minster Mustafa Al-Shamali on the refusal of writing off interests on citizens’ loans. “We have advised the minister not to issue such provocative statements that will only trigger political tension”, said. Al-Qallaf also urged the prime minister to stop a potential crisis. Meanwhile, the National Assembly’s administrative office cancelled its previous decision on transferring the seats allocated to journalists and media members to the upper floor of Abdullah Al-Salem hall saying that they would remain covering parliamentary sessions from the ground floor. In this regard, speaker Ali Al-Rashid said that

the decision was cancelled in response to calls from KJA, some editors-in-chief and some parliamentary reporters. “They will remain in their position as they have to comply with some new regulations”, he said noting that journalists would be only asked to go upstairs while discussing grilling motions and that some penalties would be set for violating such regulations. MP Nabil Al-Fadhl criticized the interior minister for his reaction to recent demonstrations in some residential areas, namely areas of the third electoral constituency where “Waleed Al-Tatabaei was acting like a superman who insisted of violating the law and creating turmoil’’, he stressed. Al-Fadhl also said that what happening

in Kuwait was ‘paid for’ and that some people had received training in what he described as the ‘Change Academy’. “We have repeatedly asked for lists of names of people who frequently go to Qatar and you refused to provide them.....check on those people”, he advised the minister telling him that MOI was infiltrated. “What if the protests were in Yarmouk near your house instead of in Kaifan?”, he wondered urging for stricter law enforcement if needed. Commenting on the closure of Al-Youm TV channel, Al-Fadhl welcomed the decision and urged the new information minister to expose the names of people trying to talk him out of the closure decision so that ‘they can be decapitated’, he said.

VIVA announces 6th, final KD25,000 prize winner KUWAIT: VIVA, Kuwait’s fastest-growing telecom operator, announced yesterday the sixth and final winner of the KD25,000 prize, the latest addition to the ‘Win a car every week’ campaign. The sixth lucky draw winner of the KD25,000 grand prize was Abdulaziz Mutlag Salem Alazmi, and the latest lucky car winners were Nasser Mubarak Alshuqair who won the Mercedes Benz C180 and Qutaiba Haneefa who won the Chevrolet Camaro. The winners drawn on 10 December 2012 will have until 9 January 2013 to claim their prize, otherwise the prize will be given to the alternate winner. VIVA congratulated the lucky winners and with the announcement of the sixth and final 25,000 KD winner, and invited its customers to participate in the longest ongoing campaign of its kind, and to anticipate many more surprises planned for 2013. With the continuous success this campaign is witnessing, VIVA is keen to further engage its customers by presenting them with several means to enter the draw. Entering the draw can be done through one of the following options. The first option is to subscribe with 500fils per day giving customers infinite minutes and SMS to any VIVA line. This option entitles the customer to one chance to enter the draw each week. The second option is to subscribe to the

Abdulaziz Mutlag Salem BlackBerry KD3.9 service, which gives customers full and unlimited BlackBerry Services. This option provides customers with 7 automatic chances to enter the draw each week. The third option is to purchase the KD 2 prepaid line. Upon activating the line, customers should simply send ‘GO’ to 535, and will be presented with four chances to enter the draw each week. The fourth option is to recharge for KD 3 or more, and entitles the customer to six chances to enter the draw, each time. Last but not least, customers who choose to enjoy the prepaid internet service will receive either 2 chances for the KD 1 - 500 MB recharge or 10 chances for the KD 5 - 1

GB recharge, automatically upon activation. Customers can also subscribe to more than one of the five options, increasing their chances each week to win the valuable prizes. In the case a customer does not win, the points will be accumulated and carried on to the next draw. VIVA also created the ‘Flavor of the Week’, an additional means to entering the draw and increasing the customers’ chances to win a new car every week. The ‘Flavor of the Week’ will be a ‘special service’ for that week, to which the customers can subscribe. This week’s ‘Flavor of the Week’ will last until 26 December 2012, and will give prepaid customers Two chances to win a Mercedes Benz C180 or the Chevrolet Camaro upon using the Surf On KD 1 to get 500MB of mobile internet by sending “3” to 535, and Five chances to win the Mercedes Benz C180 and the Chevrolet Camaro upon using weekly infinite calls by sending “6” to 535. Prepaid customers interested in the full, unlimited, local KD 3.9 BlackBerry offer, can send an SMS with the number ‘2’ to ‘535’. For the full menu of the prepaid offers, send an SMS with the word “GO”, to number ‘535’. To find out more about VIVA’s numerous competitive promotions, products and packages visit any of the 14 VIVA branches or visit our website at


MPs to confront cabinet on loans 31 MPs support loan waiver as govt spurns demand

KUWAIT: MPs attend the opening session of the National Assembly. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat KUWAIT: While at least 31 out of 50 parliament members support efforts to pass a draft law forcing the government to purchase Kuwaitis’ loans in local banks, cabinet insiders reiterated governmental rejection to the idea of a plan carried out “without coordination between the executive and legislative authorities to achieve what is best for the country”. At least seven lawmakers have separately proposed draft laws last week calling on the government to purchase citizens’ loans and reschedule them through certain mechanisms after all interests would be written off. “There are no calls between the Central Bank, Finance Ministry, local banks or any other relevant bodies regarding the issue which remains unlikely at least for the present”, said sources who spoke to Al-Rai Thursday. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the sources stated, “delusions based on promises given during election campaigns in recent years” for the current wave of demands behind the issue. On Thursday, MP Mushari Al-Husaini proposed a draft law to resolve the problem “through a mechanism that maintains justice and equality” within citizens; one of the main takes for the government against a bill requiring a write-off only to the loans of defaulters. “[The solution] is through turning [the government-sponsored] defaulters’ fund into a portfolio similar to the Savings and Credit Bank which then reschedules loans through simplified installments”, Al-Husaini explained in statements to Al-Jaridah. MP Abdulhameed Dashty also proposed

a similar draft law Thursday to “establish a public authority to settle the debts”, defending his project in statements to AlRai as “does not lead to squander of public funds or contain violations to the law or constitution”. Finance Minister Mustafa Al-Shamali stirred a controversy last week with press statements in which he insisted that any draft law to write off loans will not get support from the cabinet. Under Kuwaiti law, the cabinet can reject a draft law passed by the parliament which would have the opportunity to force it through a two-thirds majority in a second vote. Al-Shamali’s statements sparked strong reactions from MPs. Notably statements of Husain Al-Qallaf who threatened the minister on Thursday with a grilling motion for “provoking the public”, adding that Al-Shamali would be questioned for “damaging the general interest of the country and its citizens”. Meanwhile, several lawmakers spent the last working day of last week coordinating to finalize priorities to be tackled by the parliament’s committees as well as discussions to form what sources described as “parliamentary coalitions”. Speaking to Al-Qabas on condition of anonymity, the sources indicated that MPs Khalil Al-Saleh, Saleh Ashour, Nawaf Al-Fuzai’ and Abdullah Al-Tamimi continued discussions to form a new bloc, which is also set to include MP Faisal Al-Kandari, adding that discussions are set to resume tomorrow. Meanwhile, MP Al-Fuzai announced that he had finalized preparations to submit a request calling for establishing a par-

liamentary investigation committee in order to investigate potential “financial or property gifts” utilized by parliament members during the period between 2006 and 2008. Also, head of the foreign affairs committee MP Ashour announced plans for the panel to discuss details of the security treaty signed by Gulf Cooperation Council countries “as soon as it reaches the parliament”. In another development, MP Nabeel AlFadhl issued a statement addressing First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Hmoud AlSabah, calling him to stop “chaos in residential areas” and implement the law

against organizers of protests carried out by opposition supporters, naming former MP Dr Waleed Al-Tabtabaei in specific. His statement came before Al-Tabtabaei announced on Thursday that he was summoned with fellow former MP Dr Jamaan Al-Harbash by officers at the Shamiya police station for investigations pertaining to charges of participating in an unlicensed rally in Kaifan. The demonstration had taken place Wednesday night simultaneously with protests in Al-Faiha, AlAdailiya, Sabah Al-Nasser and Al-Jahra areas demanding the cancelation of the singlevote system and the dissolution of the parliament. — Al-Rai, Al-Jarida & Al-Qabas

Bahraini Minister of Justice holds talks with Kuwaiti Ambassador Sheikh Azzam Al-Sabah.


Joke lands passenger in mess at Kuwait airport Human trafficking ring busted KUWAIT: Officers at the Kuwait International Airport detained a passenger as a precautionary measure after he jokingly claimed to have kept a bomb in his handbag. The Portuguese national had boarded the plane which was heading to Abu Dhabi when he made the contentious remarks to a hostess who tried to help him keep his heavy bag in an overhead locker. The captain immediately contacted security officials at the airport after the hostess informed him about the case leading for two officers to show up within minutes and put him under detention. The plane took off soon leaving the passenger behind as he underwent interrogations by State Security Service personnel.

case was filed at the area’s police station.

Two killed in accidents Two people were killed in separate road accidents in Kuwait recently. The first incident took place on the Seventh Ring Road where an Asian man died from fatal injuries he sustained after being run over by a speeding vehicle when he tried to cross the road. Police identified the driver as a Jordanian after an eyewitness noted down his vehicle’s license plate number. The second accident took place in Al-Dhahar area where an unidentified pedestrian was killed after being hit by a Bedoon (stateless) driver who was arrested.

Illegal visa trade A company representative faces human trafficking charges after he used his workshop’s license to release work permits illegally and then sell them to expatriate workers. Investigations are underway after Migration General Department detectives received information about a workshop with 29 registered workers despite a required maximum number of five as per its licensing terms. The workshop’s owner, a Kuwaiti woman, was summoned for investigations, during which she explained that she had assigned an Egyptian representative to look after all matters pertaining to workers. The suspect was soon placed under arrest and under interrogation, he admitted to have released work permits illegally with the help of an employee of the ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. He added that the two split the money collected from the workers who paid it for visas. The man is kept in custody pending investigations. Also as search is going on for his accomplice.

Child molester Salmiya police are looking for a male suspect accused of molesting a child outside a building. The case was reported recently to a police station where an Indian man arrived with his teenage daughter as soon as she told him about the incident that had happened a few hours before. The girl gave descriptions of the suspect which matched an Indian national. Detectives are investigating the matter. Maid injured A domestic worker was seriously injured after falling off a high place in Abdullah Al-Mubarak recently. Investigations are going on to determine whether she fell accidently during an attempted escape or she attempted to commit suicide. The 30-year-old Filipina was diagnosed with a severe head injury as well as a broken right leg at the Farwaniya Hospital where she was rushed after falling from her employer’s third floor apartment and landing on top of a vehicle. A

Suspect turned victim Investigations into a break-in case involving a teenager into a Kuwaiti family’s home in Daiya took an unexpected turn after the boy revealed that he was kidnapped and raped by one of the family’s teenage sons. Police had headed to the location after a female citizen reported a stranger was spotted inside the house. The 16-year-old said during interrogations that he had been kidnapped by the complainant’s son who forced him into the house and assaulted him sexually before leaving. A search is underway for the suspect.

2 hurt in fight A search is on for six people for injuring two men following a fight that ensued recently in Taima. The victims, a Kuwaiti and a Saudi, arrived at Taima police station after receiving treatment at the Jahra Hospital from various injuries including stab wounds sustained during the fight. They pressed charges against six people they said had attacked them while they were standing outside the Saudi man’s house in the area before driving away. They provided the identity of one of the suspects who they said lived in the Jahra stables area. A case was filed. —Al-Rai, Al-Watatn

GCC Intelligence wary of Bushehr’s threat KUWAIT: Three months after a malfunction reported from Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant, a Kuwaiti daily reported yesterday quoting ‘GCC intelligence sources’ that the error was caused by software viruses which hacked into the main system operating the facility. A front page report in Al-Qabas daily provided little information about the subject, saving ‘concern’ expressed by the sources who reportedly spoke on condition of anonymity, regarding potential risk “reaching Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia” if a similar incident happens in the future and results in radiation leak at the plant. The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant is located in the Iranian coastal city bearing the same name, which overlooks the Arabian Gulf, putting it only a few hundred kilometers away from most Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

MOH rules out bird flu outbreak in Kuwait KUWAIT: Seven cases have been diagnosed with bird flu in Kuwait recently, a local daily reported yesterday quoting a senior Ministry of Health official who reassured that there is no fear of an outbreak of the dreaded disease. Speaking to Al-Rai on Thursday, Al-Sabah Hospital’s Director Dr Abbas Ramadan indicated that three senior citizens diagnosed with the disease are in stable condition at the Infectious Diseases Hospital where they receive treatment, along with four children who already have been cured at the hospital, adding that one child has already been discharged. In another development, Dr Ramadan confirmed reports about resignations among the medical staff in the Sabah Hospital, but reassured that hiring is in place to prevent shortage in staff, reported Arabic daily Al Rai Separately, Al-Qabas reported yesterday that the Central Tenders Committee refused bids to reward tenders for construction projects at four different hospitals for high costs. — Al Qabas

KUWAIT: The Institute for Security Strategic Studies at the National Security College held a seminar titled ‘Kuwait’s national security in light of local, regional and international changes’, which took place recently at the Regency Hotel. Several Ministry of Interior officials attended the seminar.


Number of Kuwaitis with asthma continues to soar Mideast Asthma and Allergy meeting kicks off in Dubai KUWAIT: Kuwait doctors are warning of a continual rise in the number of patients suffering from asthma, a disorder that causes the airways of the lungs to swell and narrow, leading to shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing, estimating that prevalence has risen to approximately 17 percent of the population. A recent global asthma prevalence study published this year found that global prevalence rates of doctor diagnosed asthma, clinical/treated asthma and wheezing in adults were 4.3 percent, 4.5 percent and 8.6 percent respectively. Commenting on the sidelines of the Middle East Asthma and Allergy meeting (MEAAM) taking place 21 - 22 December in Dubai where local, regional and international experts are meeting to discuss asthma management and treatment, Dr Ali Alenizi, Head of Department for Allergic Diseases at Al Rashed Allergy Clinic in Kuwait, commented that the figure is continuing to surge ahead of global prevalence. The annual cost of treating a case of moderate asthma in Kuwait is $562, while deaths attributed to the disease can be traced to a number of factors including an underestimation of its severity, delayed treatment in acute episodes, and unsatisfactory management. The same study mentions that Kuwait ranks 13thamong 65 countries in the prevalence of symptoms of asthma in children, with a prevalence of current wheeze of 16 percent amongst Kuwaiti children - higher than other

countries in the Arab world where similar surveys were conducted such as Oman, Morocco and Lebanon. Studies also show that many patients with asthma remain poorly treated when symptoms of asthma worsen. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that as many as half of the patients diagnosed with asthma are not controlled properly according to Dr Alenizi, a number reflected in other parts of the Middle East. Dr Bassam Mahboub, Vice President of the Emirates Allergy and Respiratory Society, estimates that around 13 percent of the UAE population lives with the disorder that causes the airways of the lungs to swell and narrow, leading to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing. “One of the biggest problems is that there is a perceived lack of need for medication until symptoms occur, and then patients rush to the emergency department because the symptoms, such as shortness of breath, are frightening - this creates unnecessary stress on the patient and also an unnecessary burden on emergency resources,” commented Dr Mahboub. Approximately 60 percent of asthma patients suffer from allergic asthma, and concerning for local doctors is the 10 percent of asthma patients that suffer from severe persistent allergic asthma that are not adequately controlled by conventional therapies - the consequences for the lack of control in the patients could result in death, according to the author of a

Dr Ali Alenizi new local study on the disease. “There have been recent advancements in the treatment of uncontrolled severe persistent allergic asthma in the form of a monoclonal anti-IgE antibody, omalizumab. We found that over the course of four years, 83% of the patients we treated with omalizumab had significant clinical

improvement in their asthma control - which is very promising,” said Dr Wagih Djazmati, Consultant and Head, Respiratory Division, SKMC, who is presenting the findings of his new study at the MEAAM. Omalizumab works by binding to IgE - a natural substance found in the body - thus preventing it from binding to mast cells, and consequently the release of mediators that can cause inflammation is stopped. “Severe asthmatics require regular and multiple treatments, and monitoring, and while I recommend to asthmatics that they come in to see me every three to six months, I need to see patients with severe asthma every month as the disease is extremely unpredictable and needs regular monitoring, particularly in uncontrolled patients,” said Dr Mahboub. Asthma is caused by inflammation in the airways, and when an attack occurs, the muscles surrounding the airways become tight and the lining of the air passages swells, reducing the amount of air that can pass by. An attack can be triggered by animals, changes in weather, dust and tobacco smoke - of particular concern to the region. “Around 20 to 25 percent of asthmatics are smokers, which is deeply troubling as smoke can trigger an attack. For this region as well, sandstorms and dust mites are prevalent here, and worsen in the humidity - which is during most of the year,” added Dr Djamatzi.

KUWAIT: The Leaders Training Center at the National Security College graduated a number of trainees in graphology course that was carried out recently in cooperation with the Maarifa (knowledge) Company for Educational Services. Senior officials working in the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Public Works and the Criminal Investigations General Department attended the course and learned skills in analyzing personality through written script and body language.


Minister warns charities, firms against violations Al-Rashidi seeks lists of defaulters KUWAIT: Newly-appointed Social Affairs and Labor Minister had a busy couple of days last week involving in discussions regarding companies violating labor laws, alleged activities committed by charity organizations against the law, as well as referring one of the longest-running company officials to retirement. Quoting a ministry insider who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Al-Rai reported yesterday that minister Thekra Al-Rashidi met Wednesday with officials from the social development and labor departments to discuss multiple topics, including charity foundations believed to be carrying out activities with commercial nature in violation to their licensing terms and conditions. On that regard, the source indicated that Al-Rashidi requested a list of the suspected violating foundations and measures taken

CAIRO: Cairo University has honored the eminent Kuwaiti poetess Sheikha Dr Suad Al-Sabah in appreciation for her significant role and efforts in promoting knowledge and social services as well as her support to the university. Sheikha Suad, in a statement to KUNA on sidelines of the honoring ceremony, held late on Thursday, expressed great satisfaction for being honored by the pioneering university, from which many internationally renowned scientists, intellectuals and cultural figures have graduated. The university organized the ceremony for celebrating the 111th day of knowledge. The gathering, held at the major hall of the university, was attended by a large number of academic and cultural personalities. Sheikha Suad was granted the university certificate of gratitude and the Award of Princess Fatmah, who had donated her personal jewelry as a contribution to funding construction of the university, last century. The honored poetess granted her award to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah who has contributed a lot for the support of knowledge and knowledge seekers in Kuwait and the Arab world. She also granted it to the Kuwaiti people, her children, soul of her deceased husband, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah. Sheikha Suad, who had graduated from this university, said she had been honored by many academic institutions but the honoring by the Cairo University implied special meanings to her. Kuwaiti Ambassador to Egypt Rashid AlHamad congratulated Sheikha Suad and praised the poetess for her intellectual and cultural contributions to the Arab world. — KUNA

new undersecretary is appointed. Either him or fellow undersecretary assistant Jamal Al-Dousary for the position is being considered. Separately, Al-Rai reported yesterday quoting Ministry of Electricity and Water insiders that water has so far been disconnected from 53 homes belonging to assistant undersecretaries who failed to pay their cumulative bills. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the sources further indicated that the MEW plans to disconnect electricity from the undersecretaries’ homes tomorrow (Sunday) if they fail to pay their dues before then. The ministry has been able to collect nearly KD137 million or almost 42 percent of its total indebtedness, through its campaign that focuses on disconnecting services from nonpayer’s homes, the sources added. — Al-Rai

Kuwaiti charity aids 800 Syrian refugee families

CAIRO: Cairo University has honored the eminent Kuwaiti poetess Sheikha Dr Suad Al-Sabah. — KUNA

Sheikha Suad honored by Cairo University

against them. In the meantime, the insider revealed that Al-Rashidi asked the labor department representatives with the “latest procedures” taken with regards to companies violating labor regulations via fake employment, and demanded continued unscheduled crackdowns on companies violating licensing conditions or inactive companies whose licenses are used to bring in workers illegally to Kuwait. Meanwhile, local dailies reported yesterday quoting MSAL insiders that Undersecretary Mohammad Al-Kandari was officially handed his retirement papers Thursday signed by the minister who took the decision after Al-Kandari reached the official retirement age of 65 last November. Undersecretary Assistant for Social Care Affairs, Hamad Al-Medhadi is reportedly taking over the post on interim basis until a

BEIRUT: Head of charitable project Al-Buniyan, part of Kuwait’s Al-Rahma International Society, Dr Suleiman AlShatti, said here yesterday that relief aid was distributed amongst 800 Syrian refugee families residing in Lebanon. He told KUNA that the relief aid campaign was to show solidarity with Syrian refugees who fled their country from a crisis that has been raging since March 2011. According to recent statistics, there are around 160,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, mostly in the northern region of the country. Relief aid societies from Lebanon, Kuwait and Jordan are mostly active in providing assistance to the distraught Syrian refugees. — KUNA

Dr Suleiman Al-Shatti leads distribution of humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees.

KUNA honors distinguished staff KUWAIT: KUNA Board Chairman and Director-General Sheikh Mubarak Al-Duaij Al-Sabah affirmed on Thursday that citizens, namely staff of the national news agency, should “sense the responsibilities toward our homeland and be as generous to the country as it is to us.” During a honoring ceremony, the chief of Kuwait News Agency expressed congratulations to the distinguished staff and to the winners of the award and expressed hope that the occasion would usher in a new phase for innovation and giving. “Responsibility cannot be divided and giving is one form of the responsibility. It is more than a commitment than a career, thus we should all sense our responsibilities toward our country and be as generous to it as it is to us,” he said. Sheikh Mubarak expressed hope that all hard-working and distinguished staff be successful in their careers and beseeched His Almighty, “So that

we all be successful in the service of our dear homeland for the sake of promoting its slogan and status and protect Kuwait under His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.” The head of the distinguished employee commission and the Director of the Administrative Affairs Department, Abdul Latif Al-Muaibed, expressed pleasure for honoring the excellent employees. Winners of the award were Hani Al-Bahrani, editor at the English desk of the news agency, and Suha Al-Zanki of the public relations department. Al-Bahrani praised efforts of the management, namely the chief editor Rashed Al-Ruwaished and the Deputy Chief Editor for the English Desk, Jassem AlSarraf. — KUNA


Iraqi Sunnis accuse Maliki of crackdown


Syria ‘firing Scud-style missiles’


Ringing of bells to honor massacre victims


MADRID: A dancer dressed in a costume and a head-dress performs during a ceremony marking the end of the Mayan age yesterday. — AFP

World greets ‘doomsday’ with pinch of salt UFO enthusiasts perform ritual to attract aliens SYDNEY: Doomsayers hunkered down to await the coming apocalypse yesterday, but most took a light-hearted view of a Mayan “prophecy” of the world’s destruction, laying on stunts and parties to while away the end. Thousands gathered at the majestic Mayan ruins of Tikal in the jungles of present-day Guatemala to await a fiery climax to the ancient civilisation’s “Long Count” calendar, which points to an era of more than 5,000 years ending. Australia was one of the first countries to see the sun rise on December 21, supposedly the end of days, and Tourism Australia’s Facebook page was bombarded with posts asking if anyone had survived Down Under. “Yes, we’re alive,” the organisation responded to fretting users. Tongue-in-cheek scientists in Taiwan planted an electronic countdown timer atop a two-storey replica of a Mayan pyramid, drawing crowds at the National Museum of Natural Science. Seven-year-old Wang Si-shien was unimpressed. “I’m not scared at all,” she said as she visited the museum with her school class. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard set the tone this month with a spoof video address, vowing to keep fighting however the end comes, whether “from flesh-eating zombies, demonic hell-beasts or from the total triumph of K-Pop”. Indeed, some argued online that an impending milestone for the “Gangnam Style” video of South Korean rapper Psy-one billion views on YouTube-was itself a harbinger of doom, enlisting a fake Nostradamus verse in their cause. Across Asia, Europe

and North America, many planned to party like there’s no tomorrow with apocalypse-themed dinners and pub nights. Hong Kong’s Aqua restaurant promised to pick up the tab for its HK$2,112.12 ($273) six-course meal if the end is nighthough patrons will have to stump up if still alive at midnight. If the world does end, Chinese furniture maker Liu Qiyuan has his own safe haven, a fibre-glass pod he designed that can carry up to 30 people and withstand towering tsunamis and devastating earthquakes. UFO enthusiasts were gathering in the southern Chinese province of Hunan to perform a “Mayan ritual” to attract alien visitors, the state-run Global Times reported. But there has also been a darker side in China, with authorities arresting some 1,000 people in a crackdown on a Christian sect that spread doomsday rumours. Over the centuries, the end of the world has been predicted countless times, from the early Christians to controversial US pastor Harold Camping last year. At the Tikal ruins, actors in costumes and head-dresses staged elaborate dances to a mournful pan-pipe tune ahead of the apocalypse supposedly foreseen by the Mayans, who reached their peak of power in modern-day Mexico and parts of Central America between the years 250 and 900 AD. Thousands more people were expected to flock to another set of Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza in Mexico before daybreak yesterday-some to hail the start of a new Mayan era, others to bid farewell to the world. Even though Mexican officials said no

special celebrations were planned to mark the turn of the Mayan calendar, which coincides with the winter solstice, up to 20,000 revellers were awaited at the site’s pyramids. US space agency NASA has been contacted by thousands of worried people asking what to do. In a web page devoted to debunking the Mayan prophecies, it reassured them that the world will not end in 2012. “Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than four billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012,” it said. NASA’s words were lost on those who headed to a number of towns around the world designated safe zones from the impending disaster, and others who took refuge in mountains or bunkers, or stockpiled guns and survival kits. The village of Sirince in western Turkey has become a magnet-it is reputed to be doomsday-proof because the Virgin Mary is said to have risen to heaven from there. Likewise the southern Italian village of Cisternino, singled out by an Indian guru as a safe bet come the end of the world. The December 21 mystery stems from a carved stone found in Tortuguero, a Mayan site in Mexico. The relief contains a cryptic allusion to something really big happening yesterday. However, most experts interpret the calendar to mean December 21, 2012 is simply the end of a 5,200-year era for the Maya and the start of another. If that’s right, everybody can relax and make sure end of times will be the best of times. — AFP



Clashes as Egypt Islamists stage rally ALEXANDRIA: Supporters of President Mohamed Morsi and his opponents hurled rocks at each other in Egypt’s second city on the eve of a final vote on a new constitution shaped by Islamists. Police fired tear gas as scores of opponents of the constitution and thousands of Islamists hurled rocks across a security cordon separating them near a mosque in Alexandria that was the focus for violence last week. “God is great,” Islamists chanted when the clash began. The Islamists had gathered in support of an Islamic vision of Egypt’s future a day before a second round of voting in a referendum on the basic law. Opposition supporters had also turned out as worshippers assembled for Friday prayers. Morsi and his Islamist allies back the draft constitution as a vital step in Egypt’s transition to democracy almost two years after the fall of Hosni Mubarak. The opposition says the draft, drawn up by an Islamistdominated assembly, is a recipe for deepening divisions and more violence. The Muslim Brotherhood called for the mass gathering in Alexandria to protest after a violent confrontation between Islamists and the liberal, secular opposition last week ended with a Muslim preacher besieged inside his mosque for 14 hours. Rival factions had used clubs, knives and swords last week, but this time police kept the feuding sides apart, although witnesses saw several protesters and one police being helped away. Some protesters had head wounds. The run-up to the final round of voting on a new constitution on Saturday has been marked by often violent protests that have cost at least eight lives. The first round on Dec 15 produced a “yes” vote that is expected to be repeated in the second round. Lines of riot police cordoned off Alexandria’s Al-Qaid Ibrahim mosque, scene of last week’s violence. Islamists chanted proIslamic slogans while a smaller group of opponents gathered nearby, chanting against Morsi, propelled to power in a June election by the Muslim Brotherhood. “The people want the implementation of sharia,” the Islamist sympathizers shouted, in a show of support for Islamic law. “Our souls and blood, we sacrifice to Islam,” they shouted. In one incident, an Islamist filming anti-Morsi protesters was grabbed and roughed up. Islamists on the other side of a security cordon pushed and shoved police trying to reach him. The opposition, facing defeat in the referendum, has called for a “no” vote against a document it says is too Islamist and ignores the rights of women and minorities, including the 10 percent of Egyptians who are Christian. Anti-Morsi protester Ali Al-Banna, a 51-year-old businessman, said: “We reject the constitution. Morsi’s legitimacy has collapsed and we will bring him down.” The first day of voting on Dec 15 resulted in a 57 percent majority in favor of the constitution. The second stage today is expected to produce another “yes” vote as it covers regions seen as more conservative and likely to back Morsi. The National Salvation Front, the main opposition coalition, said a “no” vote meant taking a stand against attempts by the Brotherhood to dominate Egypt. The constitution must be in place before a parliamentary election can be held. If it passes, the poll should be held within two months. Demonstrations erupted when Morsi awarded himself sweeping powers on Nov. 22 and then fast-tracked the constitution through a drafting assembly dominated by his Islamist allies and boycotted by many liberals. The referendum is being held over two days because many of the judges needed to oversee polling stayed away in protest. In order to pass, the constitution must be approved by more than 50 percent of those voting. — Reuters

Cold snap leaves 200... Continued from Page 1 Celsius, which is common at this time of year. Ukrainian authorities said 93 villages-mainly on the Crimean peninsula in the south of the country-were still hit by a power outage. In eastern Europe, police in Poland said yesterday that 49 people had died of exposure this month, with most of the victims homeless, as temperatures plunged to minus 10 degrees Celsius. At least six people have died of exposure in Lithuania in the past weeks, police and emergency services said there. In Latvia, temperatures reached minus 14 Celsius yesterday morning. In the capital Riga, authorities decided to drop public transport fares to encourage drivers to leave their cars at home and prevent crashes and jams. On Christmas Eve temperatures in Latvia are expected to drop to minus 28 Celsius, a record low. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, temperatures hovered around zero yesterday. Czech police said several people had died of exposure in recent weeks, but no overall statistics were available for the country. — AFP

ALEXANDRIA: A masked protester poses with a tear gas canister in front of a burning vehicle during clashes between opponents of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Islamist supporters yesterday. — AP

Iraqi Sunnis accuse Maliki of crackdown President Talabani in Germany after suffering stroke BAGHDAD: Sunni leaders in Iraq accused Shiite Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki of a crackdown yesterday after troops detained a Sunni minister’s bodyguards, triggering protests in one province and threatening to reignite a crisis a year after US troops left. The incident with the finance minister’s staff came hours after President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd who has mediated among Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions, left for Germany following a stroke that may end his steadying influence over politics. Talabani’s absence and renewed political tensions are placing pressure on the OPEC producer’s fragile power-sharing government, which is split among sects and ethnic Kurds and has stumbled from crisis to crisis since US soldiers withdrew in December 2011. Growing political tension in Baghdad is also exacerbating a growing rift between the Arab-led central government and the country’s autonomous Kurdistan enclave in the north over the control of oilfields and land. After Friday prayers, several thousand demonstrators took to the streets in the Sunni stronghold of Anbar, blocking a highway in Falluja, demanding Maliki’s resignation, and waving banners reading: “Resistance is still in our veins”. The protest was peaceful. Angry Sunni leaders warned they might withdraw from government if they cannot participate in an investigation into the detentions and called for a vote of no confidence in

Maliki, whom they accuse of abusing his power to sideline electoral rivals. “My message to the prime minister is that you are a man who does not believe in partnership and does not respect the law and the constitution,” Finance Minister Rafaie Esawi said. “You want me to believe Maliki had no idea about this? No, this happened with previous planning and intent.” Politicians and the authorities gave conflicting accounts of the incident, but said it evoked a similar episode a year ago when Iraq moved to arrest of Sunni Vice President Tareq Al-Hashemi, accusing him of running death squads just as US troops packed up. Esawi said more than 100 bodyguards and staff had been illegally snatched by militias, and blamed Maliki. But the premier’s office said only six bodyguards had been arrested and that the warrants had been issued under counter-terrorism laws. A US embassy spokesman said: “Any actions from any party that subverts the rule of law or provokes ethnic or sectarian tension risks undermining the significant progress Iraq has made toward peace and stability.” Ali Al-Moussawi, Maliki’s media advisor, said the judiciary had issued arrest warrants for minister’s bodyguards and accused rival politicians of trying to stir tensions by linking the case to the premier. “The law and judiciary for them have no value, they see only political differences,” Moussawi said. “They blame Maliki for everything.” A year ago, the Hashemi case plunged

the country’s delicate power-sharing deal into turmoil, with Sunnis boycotting parliament and cabinet. Hashemi accused the government of torturing his bodyguards and fled only to be sentenced to death in absentia. Since then, Maliki has managed to play his rivals off against one another to strengthen his position in Iraq’s complex, shifting political landscape, and his opponents have been weakened by internal splits and infighting. Violence in Iraq is down sharply from the days of intercommunal slaughter that erupted soon after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein. But sectarianism still runs deep in Iraqi politics. Sunni political leaders have long accused Maliki of failing to share power as he consolidates his authority under a constitution granting the premier wide powers. Shiites point to Sunni leaders in top posts like the speaker of the parliament. With the political system and much lawmaking paralysed by infighting among fractions, Maliki has said he may try to form a majority government with some Sunni leaders. A parliamentary vote is set for 2014. “You cannot outright dismiss electioneering as a primary calculus,” said Ramzy Mardini, an adjunct fellow at the Iraqi Institute for Strategic Studies in Beirut. “If Maliki can’t co-opt Sunnis to form a majority governing coalition, he’s going to make sure the Shiites are consolidated behind him.”—Reuters


Syria ‘firing Scud-style missiles’ 50 killed as violence rages

CHARLOTTE: US Senator of Massachusetts John Kerry speaks at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, in this file photo on the final day of the Democratic National Convention (DNC). — AFP

Obama nominating Kerry for US secretary of state WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama will nominate Sen John Kerry as his next secretary of state, a senior administration official said yesterday, making the first move in an overhaul of his national security team heading into a second term. If confirmed, Kerry would take the helm at the State Department from outgoing Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has long stated her intention to leave early next year. Kerry, a longtime senator, is expected to be easily approved for the Cabinet post by his congressional colleagues. That would open up the Senate seat Kerry has held for nearly three decades. Recently defeated Republican Sen Scott Brown might contest it. Whatever the outcome, Obama’s Democrats would retain control of the Senate. Obama was set to announce Kerry’s nomination from the White House yesterday, said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the president’s decision before the announcement. Clinton was not expected to attend. The secretary fell and suffered a concussion last week, State Department officials said, and hasn’t made public appearances since. Word about Kerry’s nomination - Washington’s latest worstkept secret - came at a somber and unusual time, with both the president and Kerry attending a memorial service for Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. At the same time, leaders of the nation’s divided government were in utter limbo about how to head off a fiscal crisis looming Jan 1. Kerry’s nomination could bring to a close what has become for the White House a contentious and distracting effort to find a new secretary of state. Kerry was the Democratic nominee for president in 2004, losing a close election to incumbent George W Bush. He’s a decorated Vietnam veteran who was critical of the war when he returned to the US, even testifying in front of the Senate committee he eventually chaired. Kerry’s only other rival for the job, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, faced harsh criticism from congressional Republicans for her initial accounting of the deadly September attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Obama vigorously defended Rice, a close friend and longtime adviser, but Republican senators dug in, threatening to hold up her nomination if the president tapped her for the post. Rice withdrew her name from consideration last week, making Kerry all but certain to become the nominee. People familiar with the White House’s decision-making said support within the administration was moving toward Kerry even before Rice pulled out. The Cabinet nomination of Kerry, 69, is the first Obama has made since winning a second term, and the first piece in an extensive shuffle of his national security team. The president is also expected to nominate a new defense secretary soon to take over for retiring Leon Panetta and a new director of the Central Intelligence Agency to replace former spy chief David Petreaus, who resigned last month after admitting to an affair with his biographer. The White House had hoped to introduce Obama’s national security team in a package announcement. But those plans were scrapped as the fiscal cliff negotiations consumed the administration and questions arose about the front-runner for the Pentagon post, former Republican Sen Chuck Hagel. Hagel has been dogged by questions about his support for Israel and where he stands on gay rights, with critics calling on him to repudiate a comment in 1998 that a former ambassadorial nominee was “openly, aggressively gay.” As the nation’s top diplomat, Kerry will be tasked with not only executing the president’s foreign policy objectives, but also shaping Obama’s approach. — AP

DAMASCUS: The regime has fired Scudstyle missiles against rebels, NATO said yesterday, as Palestinians forced to flee their Damascus camp returned after a reported deal to keep out of the Syrian conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, raised the alarm over the risks of chaos in Syria, 21 months into an antiregime revolt that monitors says has claimed tens of thousands of lives. The army’s use of Scud-type missiles against rebel forces, according to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, was an act of desperation. “I can confirm that we have detected the launch of Scud-type missiles; we strongly regret that act,” Rasmussen said. “I consider it an act of a desperate regime approaching collapse.” The latest launches were detected on Thursday, a source close to NATO said. In Damascus, Palestinian refugees streamed back into their Yarmuk camp after a reported deal to keep it out of Syria’s conflict, following fierce clashes earlier this week. An AFP correspondent heard sporadic shooting

early yesterday and a main road was blocked with rocks to keep out cars, although a van full of passengers still entered through a side street. “We returned because we have had enough of being humiliated,” one of them said. “We lost our land (Palestine) but we don’t want to lose our homes and live in tents like our parents.” The fighting forced about 100,000 of Yarmuk’s 150,000 to flee the camp, many taking refuge in the parks and squares of Damascus, said UNRWA, the relief agency for Palestinian refugees. Residents were called to attend weekly Muslim prayers yesterday at the camp’s Abdel Qader Al-Husseini mosque, which has been cleaned up after a regime air strike last Sunday that killed eight people. The exception was the bombed out headquarters of the pro-regime Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which has been battling against anti-Assad rebels. Talks began on Wednesday aimed at removing both rebel and pro-government fighters from Yarmuk in southern

IDLIB: A handout picture shows Syrian protesters holding a banner during an anti-regime demonstration in Kfar Nubul in the northwestern province of Idlib yesterday. — AFP

Damascus. Newspapers in neighbouring Lebanon said an agreement had been reached under the auspices of Mokhtar Lamani, the representative of UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. The UN’s World Food Programme, meanwhile, said it was to start providing food to 125,000 “vulnerable Palestinians and displaced Syrians” caught up in and around Yarmuk. In flashpoints across Syria, violence raged yesterday, a day after at least 134 people were killed, among them 56 civilians, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. According to a preliminary count, at least 50 people were killed yesterday, said the Britain-based monitoring group. Despite the violence, protesters took to the streets in several anti-regime areas, renewing calls for the fall of President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, the watchdog said. At an EU-Russia summit in Brussels, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow does not want “chaos” in Syria and that it looked forward to seeing a democratic regime in the war-torn nation. “We will try to pursue the public order in Syria and look forward to a democratic regime in Syria because this country is close to our borders,” he said at a news conference, according to an English translation of his words. “We wouldn’t like chaos in that country,” he added. “Everyone is interested in stopping the violence and the bloodshed.” Putin for the second time in two days denied propping up Assad’s regime and appeared to acknowledge the possibility of change, saying: “We do not advocate the government of Syria.” He insisted however that a solution must be found between all parties at the negotiating table to take into account the views “of all the citizens.” In Moscow the previous day, Putin said Russia was not concerned about Assad’s fate but “we understand that the family has been in power for 40 years and there is a need for change.” — AFP

Twice-exiled Palestinians leave Syria for Lebanon BEIRUT: Some 13,000 members of Syria’s Palestinian refugee community have gone back to square one in neighbouring Lebanon. Like their ancestors, they too have been forced to flee their birthplace into exile. “The Palestinians can endure anything. But the children cannot understand that I cannot bring them milk or change their nappies, that I have no choice but to let them live in misery,” said Umm Khalil, cradling one of her children. Like other Palestinians, Umm Khalil’s ancestors fled their home in what was then northern Palestine to Syria when the state of Israel was created in 1948. This week, she fled Yarmuk camp in south Damascus after a deadly air strike and clashes between pro- and anti-regime fighters. Umm Khalil has found shelter in a rented home in Shatila refugee camp, south of Beirut. Since the weekend, some 3,000 Palestinians have arrived in Lebanon, fleeing the escalating violence. Sixty-year-old Ahmed told AFP: “We Palestinians move all the time. We emigrate, we are used to it. We lived well in Damascus.” But his new home is dark after sunset, as there is no electricity for much of the day. Ahmed’s family of seven shares four bed covers, providing little comfort from the cold, wet winter. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) says some 13,000 Palestinian refugees have fled Syria’s 21month conflict for neighbouring Lebanon. Many have rented cheap housing in several of Lebanon’s 12 camps, which an international organisation described as “the

worst in the region” for Palestinian refugees. Amira and her children fled a battered camp near south Syria’s embattled city of Daraa a month ago. “When two rockets fell near the house I decided to leave,” Amira said, holding her three-month-old baby. “I did it for the children. For two weeks I didn’t have any milk for my youngest.” She once made a living selling bedcovers and homeware in Daraa, but in Shatila Amira has become dependent on charity. “Since 1948, this has been our life,” said her husband, Salem. The family of six shares a tiny, humid apartment in Shatila, paying $300 a month. Suffocated by the high cost of living, Salem has trouble making ends meet. A few days a month, he finds work in construction. Although UNRWA and other groups provide basic assistance to Palestinians arriving in Lebanon from Syria, many refugees feel abandoned, especially now winter has begun. Salem’s family sleeps on thin mattresses on the floor, and rainwater seeps into their sparsely furnished home. “There are organisations that help Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and others help Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. But for the Palestinians from Syria in Lebanon, there is nothing,” he said. “For Palestinians coming from Syria, this second exile is even more difficult,” added Salem’s friend Osama, a young Palestinian raised in Lebanon. “Salem’s grandfather fled Palestine for Syria. Though Salem doesn’t himself remember the Palestinians’ 1948 exodus, he is now going through something very similar to what his ancestors suffered.” — AFP


Britain pays out £14m for Iraqi abuses LONDON: Britain has paid out £14 million ($22.7 million, 17.2 million euros) to Iraqis who accuse British troops of illegally detaining and torturing them following the 2003 invasion, the Ministry of Defence said Thursday. The ministry confirmed a report in the Guardian newspaper which revealed that the government had paid compensation to 205 complainants over the last five years, with more than 700 claims expected to be lodged next year. Some £8.3 million was paid to 162 Iraqis this year with the average settlement being almost £70,000 plus costs. The claims stem back to the fiveyear occupation of the south-east of

the country and have mostly been brought by male civilians who claim they were beaten, threatened and deprived of sleep before being interrogated by British troops. The MoD confirmed the payouts but defended Britain’s record in Iraq. “Over 120,000 British troops have served in Iraq and the vast majority have conducted themselves with the highest standards of integrity and professionalism,” said a spokesman. “All allegations of abuse will always be investigated thoroughly. We will compensate victims of abuse where it is right to do so and seek to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.” The MoD in 2010 set up the

the Iraq Historical Allegations Team (Ihat), which is examining the possibility of criminal charges related to the abuse allegations. Ihat has paid particular attention to the actions of a military intelligence unit called the Joint Forward Interrogation Team (Jfit). Jfit interrogators filmed themselves threatening and abusing detainees, who appeared in footage to be bruised too tired to stand up. Ihat referred three soldiers to the Service Prosecuting Authority but prosecutors judged that that the incidents did not warrant war-crimes charges. They ruled that one interrogator had committed offences, but that they were “in accordance with the

training that they had been given” and warned against prosecution. A former Jfit guard told the Guardian that he was ordered to drag blindfolded prisoners around assault courses where they could not be filmed. A judicial review will be heard next month over the MoD’s decision not to hold a public inquiry. Human rights lawyer Lutz Oette said the payments “provide a long overdue measure of redress”. “However, for the victims compensation without truth and accountability is a heavy price to pay,” she added. “For justice to be done there is a need for a full independent inquiry to establish what happened and who is responsible. — AFP

Italian lawmakers ready for key vote Uncertainty continues over Monti’s election plans

AMSTERDAM: In this photo, members of the Dutch division of motorcycle club Hell’s Angels gather to demonstrate in Amsterdam. — AFP

Police expect turf war as biker gangs come to Europe THE HAGUE: A wave of biker gangs from the US, Canada and Australia arriving in Europe has raised fears of deadly turf battle like the Nordic biker wars of the 1990s, European police agency Europol warned yesterday. Gangs such as the Comancheros and Rebels from Australia, Rock Machine from Canada and the Mongols and Vagos from the US were moving into Europe, said a Europol statement. The total number of what it called Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMCG) in Europe now ran at more than 700, it said. The gangs were seeking out particularly a dangerous hard core of recruits in their bid to seize territory to traffic drugs, weapons and people. Now they were approaching far-right militants, prison gang members, hooligans and military personnel to exploit their expert knowledge, said Europol. “Merely establishing a chapter on the ‘turf’ of another OMCG is interpreted as an act of provocation and is likely to result in violent confrontations and retaliation,” the agency said. The gangs “have a propensity to use extreme forms of violence”, including with Kalashnikov assault rifles and grenades. Modern biker gangs were becoming less associated with the biker lifestyle, with some members having neither a motorbike nor a driving licence, Europol noted. Biker gangs were also involved in territorial disputes with local organised crime groups and street gangs, it added. Europol said it had informed national police forces of the risk of clashes “and the possible impact on the general organised crime situation”. Europol said the so-called ‘Nordic Biker Wars’ of the 1990s were “a compelling example of the capacity for extreme violence resulting from an increased concentration of OMCGs in Europe.” The deadly conflict exploded when the Bandidos gang penetrated Nordic countries and challenged the Hell’s Angels for a region that had been under their control for more than a decade. Bikers used weapons including assault rifles, anti-tank weapons and car bombs against each other, leaving at least 11 bikers dead and dozens wounded. — AFP

ROME: The Italian parliament prepared yesterday for a key budget vote which will trigger the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Monti, who is expected to reveal this weekend whether he will run in the upcoming election. The lower house was set to vote around 1800 GMT, following which Monti has said he will resign, kicking off a campaign that will likely see Italy go to the polls on February 24. Sources close to the technocrat premier insist he has not yet decided whether to enter the political fray, despite appearing to launch a bid for a weighty role in the campaign with a rousing speech at a Fiat factory on Thursday. “Those closest to him say he has not yet decided and do not rule out a surprise decision,” the Corriere della sera daily said, adding: “Slowly, as the hours pass, the largest parties which supported Monti begin to see him as a potential adversary.” Some political observers have tipped Monti as planning to take part in the campaign as unofficial leader of a centrist coalition that has been likened to the Christian-Democrats who dominated Italy for decades. While Monti’s name cannot be on the ballot as he is already a senator for life, he can still be appointed to a post in government including prime minister or finance minister. The centrist agenda will include “historic reforms” and “far deeper liberalisation than we have witnessed so far”, according to sources cited by the Corriere as having met with Monti in recent days. Monti, 69, sparred with media magnate Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday over the need for austerity, defending the “bitter medicine” of the budget discipline he has implemented and warning against any attempt to turn back the clock. In an apparent reference to recent comments from Berlusconi, who has promised to put an end to austeri-

ty, Monti told workers at the Fiat factory that it would be “irresponsible to waste all the sacrifices that Italians made.” ‘Strange electoral bid’ Stefano Folli, columnist for Il Sole 24 Ore financial newspaper, said that “Monti’s strength lies in his ability to address Italians with a direct language,” but La Stampa described it as a “strange electoral bid” and thought the premier was unlikely to run. “It was the prelude, on Monti’s part, to a rethink of the decision to candidate himself,” the daily said, though the leader so favoured by European leaders and financial markets intends to “intervene often, even daily, on the themes of the campaign.” That will not be enough, according to Folli, to raise the centrists from the 12 percent of potential votes they would win according to recent polls to be able to beat Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party. While supporters applaud Monti for having launched a

far-reaching programme of austerity and reforms that has reassured the financial markets, his popularity has been hit among ordinary Italians as the debt-laden country grapples with record-high unemployment and a recession-hit economy. Monti, installed at the head of a technocratic government in November 2011 after Berlusconi was forced to step down amid a financial crisis and a slew of sex scandals, has fallen in favour from a peak of 62 percent shortly after he came to power down to 33 percent in a SWG poll earlier this month. The current favourite in the opinion polls is centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani, who has promised to continue Monti’s reforms adding “jobs and equity”. Billionaire Berlusconi, who has swung back and forth on whether to run for the top job a sixth time and recently said he supported the former technocrat, warned Monti against joining the campaign and condemned his economic policies. — AFP

ROME: Italian minister for economic development Corrado Passera is seen during a session of a key budget vote yesterday. — AFP


US lawmakers bunk down at Congress WASHINGTON: They shower and shave in the morning at the gym. Dinners often are warmed up out of a can. And at night, they bunk down in the same cramped offices where, during the day, they conduct the nation’s business. For about 50 members of the US Congress, the office doubles as home-at least while they’re in the capital. With Washington embroiled in a raging debate over taxes and spending as lawmakers and the White House try to avoid plunging over the “fiscal cliff”, these members of Congress are living proof that austerity can begin at home. They reside in their offices because they cannot bear to do anything as wasteful as rent a small apartment or

stay in a hotel. The trend began in the mid-1990s when a handful of Republican lawmakers figured out that they could save thousands of dollars on rent each year by bedding down in their workspaces. The move is not motivated by want: baseline pay for a member of Congress is $174,000 per year. Some lawmakers say that living in their offices helps them keep their priorities straight. “It provides me with a reminder every morning when I wake up in my office that my home is not here-it is back in the district,” Tim Walberg, a Republican congressman from Michigan, told AFP. “I represent a district that has sent me here to represent them here-not to become com-

fortable in Washington. “Often people think that once a person comes to Congress, they forget about what the real world is like back home,” Walberg said, adding that it was good for constituents to see that he hadn’t become part of Washington. Not much work gets done in Congress on Mondays and Fridays so most lawmakers return to their comfortable, conventional houses in their congressional districts during the long, four-day weekend. But the other three nights of the week, when they are back in Washington, these congressman call their Capitol Hill offices home. “Monastical existence” For the past four years, Walberg at

bedtime has laid his weary body on an inflatable air mattress that he stows in a closet when the new workday dawns. It is a monastical existence, interspersed with lots of time doing “the people’s business,” he said. It is much the same for Joe Walsh, a Republican representative from Illinois who lost his recent re-election bid after serving just one term in Congress. “I didn’t want to live in DC, I am not a creature of DC,” he told AFP, referring to the District of Columbia, the other name by which Washington is known. “I belong to Illinois. Sleeping in my office reminds me that the job shouldn’t be comfy,” Walsh said. — AFP

Ringing of bells to honor massacre victims Florida teen arrested for threatening Facebook message

BUENOS AIRES: A baby cries as a man dressed as Santa Claus holds him at a Christmas park in Argentina, Thursday, Dec 20, 2012. — AP

‘Sandy Claus’ brings toys to storm-stricken children NEW YORK: From his toy-cluttered Brooklyn apartment, the man in the red suit was making his list and checking it twice. But he made no distinction between naughty or nice: Every child on it would receive a gift from this Santa Claus. For the children whose toys floated away during Superstorm Sandy, Michael Sciaraffo is playing the role of a real-life Saint Nick. Every afternoon and night, he stuffs his red sack to the brim with presents and heads out to stormravaged homes, personally delivering new toys to awestruck little kids whose play rooms were destroyed by floodwaters. And with less than a week before Christmas, his “Secret Sandy Claus Project” is keeping him very busy. “Between the requests coming in for personal visits as well as the influx of donations, it’s been a full-time job,” said Sciaraffo, a 31-year-old political consultant. “And kudos to Santa, because I don’t know how he pulls it off every year.” There’s hardly any room to sit in his tiny apartment, where boxes of toys are piled on tables and all over the floor. He spends most of the day keeping track of toy requests and donations that are pouring in by the hundred from people who know children affected by the storm. At first, Sciaraffo began jotting down the requests on Post-it notes, but as demand steadily grew he created a spreadsheet and taped it to the wall. The list reads like an inventory for a toy store. A Playskool swing for 2-year-old Jacob. A Disney Fairies makeup set for 5-year-old Charlotte. Then there are countless robots and footballs and baby dolls arranged by age and gender, awaiting assignment to a specific child. “The goal was to match up each child with a toy that they liked or asked Santa for for Christmas,” Sciaraffo explained. “We basically tried to pair them up with toys I had in stock.” The charitable enterprise grew out of a Sandy donation outreach effort that Sciaraffo had been spearheading for weeks in the wake of the storm, drumming up donations of clothing and food through Facebook. As the holidays approached, he realized that lots of children would be without their toys this year. — AP

NEWTOWN: Many Americans will remembered the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre with a moment of silence on yesterday, just before a powerful US gun rights lobbying group plunges into the national debate over gun control. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy called for residents of his state to observe the moment at 9:30 am EST (1430 GMT) to mark a week since a 20year-old gunman killed his mother and then stormed Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where he shot to death 20 children and six adults before killing himself. Malloy’s fellow governors in Maine, Illinois, Michigan and several other states called on residents to follow suit with a moment of silence and to ring bells to remember the dead. The National Cathedral in Washington plans to ring its bell 28 times as part of an interfaith memorial. “We have the moral obligation to stand for and with the victims of gun violence and to work to end it,” said Reverend Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, who called on Americans to pray “that we may have courage to act, so that the murderous violence done on Friday may never be repeated.” The company that operates the Nasdaq stock exchange said its operations would observe a moment of silence at 9:30 am although market will open trading at that time as usual. The observances will be held not long before the National Rifle Association, the largest US gun rights group and one with powerful ties to Washington politicians, begins a media campaign to become part of the gun control debate prompted by the stunning slaughter of 20 children, all 6 or 7 years old. Laws restricting gun ownership are controversial in the United States, a nation with a strong culture of individual gun ownership. Hundreds of mil-

lions of weapons are in private hands. About 11,100 Americans died in gunrelated killings in 2011, not including suicides, according to preliminary data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The NRA remained quiet for four days after the Newtown slaughter, citing “common decency.” It released a short statement on Tuesday saying it was “prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.” The group scheduled a news conference for 10:45 am (1545 GMT) yesterday in Washington. NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre planned to appear on the NBC television talk show “Meet the Press” tomorrow. Some US lawmakers called for swift passage of an assault weapons ban. Vice President Joe Biden convened a new White House task force on Thursday charged by President Barack Obama with finding ways to quell violence. “We have to have a comprehensive way in which to respond to the mass

murder of our children that we saw in Connecticut,” Biden told the group, which included Attorney General Eric Holder, Thomas Nee, president of the National Association of Police Organizations, and other officials. The gunman, Adam Lanza, used a militarystyle assault rifle and police said he carried hundreds of bullets in highcapacity magazines, as well as two handguns. The weapons were legally purchased and registered to his mother, Nancy, his first victim. By Thursday, funeral services had been held for more than half of the 27 people Lanza killed last week. Newtown school officials said that yesterday would be a shortened day for students heading into the Christmas break. Reflecting a heightened state of alert at schools across the United States, a school district near Boise, Idaho, canceled planned assemblies at a number of its 50 schools after receiving a rash of threats that suggested “something bad” would happen yesterday, Meridian school spokesman Eric Exline said. — Reuters

NEWTOWN: A Christmas tree (right) is surrounded by makeshift memorials that are multiplying by the day in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown. — AP


N Korea claims it has detained a US citizen Detainee to become ‘bargaining chip’ during talks

This file aerial shot taken on September 15, 2010 shows the disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China in the East China Sea. — AFP

China ships in disputed waters TOKYO: China sent its ships into territorial waters around disputed islands yesterday, in the first incursion since Japan elected a new government. The move is a setback to hopes in Tokyo that Beijing might use the poll as a chance for a fresh start after months of bitter wrangling and rhetoric over an issue that neither side is prepared to budge on. Japan’s coastguard said three surveillance vessels moved inside the 12-nautical mile band around the Tokyo-controlled Senkakus, which Beijing calls the Diaoyu, with a fisheries patrol ship logged in adjacent waters. At nightfall they remained in the area, it said. China has sent ships into the islands’ waters 19 times since Tokyo nationalised the chain in September, according to a coastguard tally, with analysts saying Beijing intends to prove it can come and go as it pleases. The ante was upped last week when a Chinese plane overflew the area, in what Japan said was the first time Beijing had breached its airspace since at least 1958. Tokyo scrambled fighter jets in response. But the well-equipped coastguard says State Oceanic Administration vessels had stayed outside territorial waters since Sunday’s election, in which the hawkish Shinzo Abe swept to power, vowing a tough line on Beijing. In one of his first broadcast interviews after the win he said there was no room for compromise in the row and put the onus for improved relations on Beijing. “Japan and China need to share the recognition that having good relations is in the national interests of both countries,” he said. “China lacks this recognition a little bit. I want them to think anew about mutually beneficial strategic relations.” Yesterday’s return to the pre-election pattern is a sign Beijing “doesn’t want to compromise and wants to keep the pressure” up, said Robert Dujarric, director of Temple University Japan’s Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies. “It shows that Beijing wants to continue the confrontation. A new prime minister always opens up the possibility of ‘hitting the restart button’ but clearly Beijing is not interested in improving relations.” Following the latest incursion, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “Official Chinese vessels have always maintained routine rights protection patrols in the waters of the Diaoyu islands.” Abe has pushed an agenda that includes upgrading the country’s “Self Defence Forces” to make them a full-scale military, and has spoken of wanting to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution. But analysts have said at least some of this could be posturing. They point to the pragmatism of his 2006-2007 tenure as prime minister, when his opinions on controversial issues that could aggravate China were ambiguous or were left unsaid. As premier he stayed away from Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japan’s war dead, including war criminals, and is a running sore in Tokyo’s relations with its neighbours. Abe also made China his first foreign destination. Following his victory on Sunday, he said he would make rebuilding Japan’s alliance with Washington his top foreign policy goal and said it would be the first place he visits after assuming office. Despite warm words about the importance of economic ties with Beijing-China is Japan’s biggest trading partner-Abe stressed the need to build relations with other countries, such as India and Australia. — AFP

PYONGYANG: North Korea said Friday that an American citizen has been detained after confessing to unspecified crimes, confirming news reports about his arrest at a time when Pyongyang is facing criticism from Washington for launching a long-range rocket last week. The American was identified as Pae Jun Ho in a brief dispatch issued by the state-run Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang. News reports in the US and South Korea said Pae is known in his home state of Washington as Kenneth Bae, a 44-year-old tour operator of Korean descent. An expert said he is likely to become a bargaining chip for the North, an attempt to draw the US into talks. Five other Americans known to have been detained in North Korea since 2009 were all eventually released. North Korean state media said Pae arrived in the far northeastern city of Rajin on Nov. 3 as part of a tour. Rajin is part of a special economic zone not far from Yanji, China, that has sought to draw foreign investors and tourists over the past year. Yanji, home to many ethnic Korean Chinese, also serves as a base for Christian groups that shelter North Korean defectors. “In the process of investigation, evidence proving that he committed a crime against (North Korea) was revealed. He admitted his crime,” the KCNA dispatch said. The North said the crimes were “proven through evidence” but did not elaborate. KCNA said consular officials from the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang visited Pae yesterday.

Sweden represents the United States in diplomatic affairs in North Korea since Washington and Pyongyang do not have diplomatic relations. Karl-Olof Andersson, Sweden’s ambassador to North Korea, told The Associated Press he could not comment on the case and referred the matter to the US State Department. The State Department was not immediately able to provide any additional information about the report. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on Dec 11 that Washington was “obviously aware” of reports that a US citizen was detained in North Korea. She didn’t confirm the reports. In Seoul, the Segye Ilbo newspaper reported last week that Bae had been taking tourists on a five-day trip to the North when he was arrested. The newspaper cited unidentified sources. News of the arrest comes as North Korea is celebrating the launch of a satellite into space on Dec 12, in defiance of calls by the US and others to cancel a liftoff widely seen as an illicit test of ballistic missile technology. The announcement of the American’s detainment could be a signal from the North that it wants dialogue with the United States, said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea. He said trips by former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter to North Korea to secure the release of other detained Americans created a mood for US-North Korea talks. “North Korea knows sanctions will follow its rocket launch. But in the long run,

it needs an excuse to reopen talks after the political atmosphere moves past sanctions,” Cheong said. Cheong said he expects that the American will be tried and convicted in coming months. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has the power to grant amnesty and will exercise it as a bargaining chip, Cheong said. Nuland said earlier this week that Washington had been trying to reach out to Kim. “Instead, that was met not only with an abrogation of agreements that had been made by the previous North Korean regime, but by missile activity both in April and in December,” she told reporters. She said Washington had no choice but to put pressure on Pyongyang, and was discussing with its allies how to “further isolate” the regime. In April 2009, a North Korean rocket launch took place while two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were in North Korean custody after allegedly trying to sneak into the country across the Tumen River dividing the North from China. They were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor before being released on humanitarian grounds after Clinton flew to Pyongyang to negotiate their release. Subsequently, three other Americans were arrested and eventually released by North Korea. All three are believed to have been accused of illegally spreading Christianity. North Korea has several sanctioned churches in Pyongyang but frowns on the distribution of Bibles and other religious materials by foreigners. Interaction between North Koreans and foreigners is strictly regulated. — AP

Park Geun-Hye and Asia’s gender politics SEOUL: South Korea’s president-elect Park Geun-Hye has joined a long list of Asian women whose rise to power has, to varying degrees, been founded on the political legacy of a male sibling, father or husband. Park, who will become the

SEOUL: Korea’s president-elect Park Geun-Hye talks on the phone with US President Barack Obama at her office in this file photo. — AFP

country’s first female president in February after her historic election win on Wednesday, is the daughter of former military ruler Park Chung-Hee. Despite carving out an independent political career since winning a national assembly seat in 1998, Park is, for many South Koreans, still largely defined in relation to her father and his authoritarian 196179 rule. The same is true of a number of prominent Asian women leaders-past and present-who took office or came to prominence under a male shadow and then, in some cases, went on to create major political legacies of their own. The list includes Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, India’s Indira Gandhi, Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto, Corazon Aquino of the Philippines and the current Thai prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra. As with Park, their elevation to high office was often seen as a sign of female empowerment in Asia’s largely maledominated politics but the reality is “far more complex,” according to former Asia Society president Vishakha N Desai. “It is fair to say that in many Asian societies, hierarchical by nature, a powerful family connection can actually trump the gen-

der constraints,” Desai wrote in an article for the society’s website. Yingluck, aged 45 and elected in 2011 as the first Thai female premier and the youngest in more than six decades, is seen by critics as a puppet for her brother, fugitive ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who once described her as his “clone.” Aquino, a self-proclaimed “plain housewife,” emerged as a political force after the assassination in 1983 of her husband and lawmaker Benigno Aquino Jr. and became the nation’s first female president three years later. Park stands out in being a seasoned and respected politician and Desai noted that, in her case, her father’s split image as economic saviour and ruthless dictator had been both a boon and a burden. Jung Mi-Ae, a professor at Kookmin University, also pointed out that after Park Chung-Hee’s assassination in 1979, Park was left to build her own political brand alone. Park’s mother was murdered five years before her father, and she has never married or had children. “There’s still a question mark over how Park will fare as a leader, but she’s not some figurehead who came to power solely because of her father, either,” Jung told AFP. — AFP



Pakistan polio workers get police protection Militants accuse workers of being spies for US

NEW DELHI: Indian women shout slogans in front of India Gate during a protest yesterday. — AP

Indian parties let rape accused run for office NEW DELHI: At least 20 men accused of raping women ran in Indian elections in the last five years, according to a thinktank report published amid growing outrage over the gangrape of a student on a bus. The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) study was released on Thursday as political parties lined up to condemn the rape of the 23-year-old woman, which has triggered widespread protests against how women are treated in India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi and opposition lawmakers have condemned the savage assault last Sunday but the ADR said many Indian parties fielded candidates who were facing rape accusations. “Since 2007, political parties gave tickets to 20 rape accused to fight in state elections. This is shocking and requires urgent action,” Jagdeep Chhokar, the founder of ADR, said. “The politicians who come out to condemn rape are the ones who are openly giving the rape accused a chance to fight elections. This is hypocrisy,” he told AFP. The report stated that political parties had also given tickets to 260 men who were charged with other crimes against women, including molestation. It did not record how many of the accused candidates had been found guilty. “Political parties should stop giving tickets to candidates with criminal backgrounds and all those lawmakers who are accused in rape cases should be thrown out of power,” Chhokar added. Further protests were held in New Delhi yesterday with scores of female demonstrators marching to the president’s palace. The rape victim was coerced onto the offduty bus and raped by six men before being thrown off the vehicle. She was seriously injured and remains in intensive care. Five people, including the bus driver, have so far been arrested. Meanwhile, Indian officials announced yesterday a broad campaign to protect women in New Delhi following the gang-rape and brutal beating of a 23-year-old student on a moving bus in the capital. Police arrested a juvenile Thursday night, the fifth person arrested in connection with the crime, Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said. Authorities were hunting for the final assailant, he said. Those arrested were being charged with attempted murder in addition to kidnapping and rape. The government is seeking life sentences for the assailants, Home Secretary RK Singh told reporters yesterday. “This is an incident which has shocked all of us,” Singh said. The attack sparked days of protests across the country from women demanding authorities take tougher action to protect them against the daily threat of harassment and violence. The government said it was taking steps to address those concerns. “There will not be any tolerance for crimes against women,” Singh said. Bus drivers would be required to display their identification prominently in the vehicles, buses would be forced to remove tinting from their windows and plainclothes police would be placed on buses to protect female passengers, he said. In addition, chartered buses such as the one where the attack occurred will be impounded if they illegally ply for fares on the streets, he said. Authorities would also crack down on drunk driving and loitering gangs of drunken youth, he said.”(The) people of Delhi will feel safe moving through the streets of the city, at any point of time, day or night. That is our objective,” Singh said. — Agencies

LAHORE: Under police guard, thousands of health workers pressed on with a polio immunization program Thursday after nine were killed elsewhere in Pakistan by suspected militants who oppose the vaccination campaign. Immunizations were halted in some parts of Pakistan and the UN suspended its field participation everywhere until better security was arranged for its workers. The violence risks reversing recent progress fighting polio in Pakistan, one of three countries in the world where the disease is endemic. The Taleban have denied responsibility for the shootings. Militants have accused health workers of acting as spies for the US, alleging the vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile. Taleban commanders in Pakistan’s troubled northwest tribal region also said earlier this year that vaccinations can’t go forward until the US stops drone strikes in the country. Insurgent opposition to the campaign grew last year after it was revealed that a Pakistani doctor ran a fake vaccination program to help the CIA track down and kill Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, who was hiding in the town of Abbottabad in the country’s northwest. There were a few attacks on polio workers in July, but the current level of violence is unprecedented. A polio worker died Thursday after being shot in the head in the northwestern city of Peshawar a day earlier, said health official Janbaz Afridi. His death raised to nine the number of Pakistanis working on the campaign who have been killed this week. Six of the workers gunned down were women, three of whom were teenagers. Two other workers were critically wounded. All the attacks occurred in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the southern city of Karachi.

Despite the threat, local officials in the eastern city of Lahore continued the vaccination drive Thursday under police escort, said one of the top government officials in the city, Noorul Amin Mengal. About 6,000 Pakistani health workers were escorted by 3,000 police as they fanned out across the city, he said. “It would have been an easy thing for us to do to stop the campaign,” he said. “That would have been devastating.” Saddaf Malik, one of the polio workers in Lahore, said the killings sent a shudder of fear through him and his colleagues. “We will carry on with our job with determination, but we want the government to adopt measures to ensure the security of polio vaccinators,” he said. This week’s killings occurred as the government and the UN began a vaccination drive Monday targeting high-risk areas in the country’s four provinces and the semiautonomous tribal region, part of an effort to immunize 34 million children under age 5. The campaign was scheduled to end Wednesday in most parts of the country, except for Lahore, where it ran a day longer. Government officials ended the drive early in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in Sindh province, where Karachi is the capital, said Elias Durry, the UN World Health Organization’s senior coordinator for polio in Pakistan. The campaign ran its full course in the provinces of Baluchistan and Punjab, where Lahore is the capital, as well as in the tribal region, he said. The government has approximately 250,000 people working on the campaign, said Durry. Most of them have other jobs, such as teaching or working as government clerks, and sign on to the vaccination drive to earn a little more money, about $2.50 per day, officials said. The WHO and UNICEF have about 2,000 people between them who

provide technical assistance to the polio teams across the country and educate locals about the program, said Durry and Michael Coleman, a UNICEF spokesman in Pakistan. The UN staff were pulled out of the field and asked to work from home Wednesday. The goal for this week’s drive was to immunize 18.3 million children, but workers were only able reach about 9 million during the first two days of the campaign, said Durry. Polio usually infects children living in unsanitary conditions, attacks the nerves and can kill or paralyze. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria remain the last battlegrounds for the fight against the disease. There is no history of attacks on polio workers in Afghanistan, even though the country also faces a domestic Taleban insurgency. Muslim leaders in Nigeria have spoken out against polio vaccination in the country in the past, also claiming it makes children sterile. Many now support the campaign, but some Nigerians remain suspicious. Prevention efforts have managed to reduce the number of cases in Pakistan to 56 this year, compared with 190 in 2011, a drop of about 70 percent. Most of the news cases in Pakistan are in the northwest, where the presence of militants makes it difficult to reach children. Clerics and tribal elders have been recruited to support polio vaccinations to try to open up areas previously inaccessible to health workers. Israrullah Khan, a villager who attended the funeral of the polio worker who died Thursday, said most of the clerics and Islamic political parties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were in favor of the campaign. “We don’t understand why these attacks have suddenly started,” Khan said. “It’s very sad because they were trying to save our children’s future for very low wages.” — AP

Cold Christmas awaits Pakistan’s Christians ISLAMABAD: Christians living in the Pakistani neighbourhood where a young girl was accused of blasphemy say they are facing a bleak and joyless Christmas, crushed by poverty and harassed by Muslims. Rimsha Masih spent three weeks on remand in one of Pakistan’s toughest prisons after being arrested on August 16, accused of burning papers printed with verses from the holy Quran, in a case that drew worldwide condemnation. Under the Islamic republic’s blasphemy laws, she could have been jailed for life, but the Islamabad High Court threw out the case against her in September. Blasphemy is so sensitive in Pakistan that even unproven allegations can provoke visceral, violent reactions. Rimsha and her family will spend Christmas as they have spent the last four months-in hiding, fearing for their lives. Her home stands empty and the festive season promises little cheer in the run-down area of Mehrabad, a warren of filthy, unpaved streets winding between tiny single-storey breezeblock houses on the edge of Islamabad. Christmas traditionally means new clothes, music and celebrations, but locals say things have become much more difficult since the Rimsha case. A patch of waste ground, where children play and goats nose through piles of rubbish, should be home to a

Christmas tree by now. But not anymore. “A day or two ago we were discussing how to decorate a tree when some young Muslim men came and mocked us, saying ‘You are talking about it but you will not dare put it up,’” Amjad Shehzad, a housepainter, told AFP. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani Christian child is seen outside his house on the outskirts of Islamabad. — AFP

Business Asian buyers to slash Iranian crude import



UK told to add break-up threat to banking reform

Destination 2013? China, Japan, BRICs and Med


Nokia, RIM settle their old disputes

20 17

Media conglomerate News Corp announced yesterday that it had filed a document with US regulators describing its split into two independent companies. The statement did not specify a date for the planned split into one company focused on news and publishing, to retain the News Corp name, and another on television and film, to be called Fox Group. — AFP

Greece sinks deeper into recession Desperate young Greeks look for informal work ATHENS: Greek dietician Reggina knew she had little choice when her boss told her she could keep her job at a health centre only if she agreed to getting part of her salary off the books. With Greece sinking deeper into recession and no other jobs to be found, she meekly agreed last year to monthly pay of 160 euros in cash and 700 euros on the books - allowing her struggling firm to pay lower social security contributions. At 26, Reggina had joined the ranks of a growing number of young Greeks resorting to informal work to get by during an economic crisis that has left Greece with a youth unemployment rate of 56 percent - the highest in the euro zone. “It’s not just psychological war, it’s abuse,” said Reggina, who like others declined to give her full name because of the illegal nature of her work. “I get fewer social security vouchers and I can’t get a loan because my salary on paper is so low. But they tell us if we talk about this, we’ll lose our jobs.” Data suggests informal work in Greece - which already has one of the largest grey economies in the euro zone - is rising quickly, fuelled by both cash-strapped businesses trying to save on contributions to the state and desperation among jobseekers. In the first half of the year informal workers accounted for 35 percent of about 30,000 employees during checks by the SEPE agency that inspects firms, up five percentage points from

2011. More than half of them were Greeks and 41 percent were migrants. Most of them were employed in the construction sector or in family businesses like restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. The number of selfemployed in Greece - another indicator of the rise

in informal work - now stands at 31 percent of workers, twice the euro zone average, says Athens-based think-tank IOBE. “When the recession is so deep, labor rights are among the first to be sacrificed,” said SEPE Director Michalis Kandarakis. “They become less

US ‘cliffhanger’ rattles shares, euro LONDON: Global stock markets weakened yesterday and both the euro and gold slipped, as a new setback in talks to avert a US fiscal crisis and evidence of Europe’s ongoing economic difficulties stoked investor nerves. A proposal from Republican leader John Boehner to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff failed to get support from his party on Thursday, casting fresh uncertainty over talks to avoid across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts that could push the US economy into recession in 2013. Anxiety was exacerbated by weaker-than-expected data from key corners of Europe, as German consumer morale dropped to its lowest level in more

than a year, Britain revised down growth figures and Sweden slashed its economic forecasts. The combined worries prompted widespread selling in most major stock markets and saw investors head for traditional safehaven assets. The dollar and yen and US and German Government bonds all rose as falls on London, Paris and Frankfurt equity markets compounded tumbles in Asia to leave MSCI’s global index down 0.4 percent. Futures prices also pointed to sharp falls when trading resumes on Wall Street later, with the S&P 500 Dow Jones and Nasdaq 100 all seen losing around 1.4 percent.—Reuters

important for employers.” Unionists allege businesses have become so innovative in finding ways to cut costs during the crisis that some companies have even deposited salaries but demanded part of the money back in cash a few days later or paid workers in supermarket coupons. They argue the efforts of Greece’s international lenders to loosen strict labor laws have only made matters worse, allowing employers to use parttime or flexible contracts to pay workers the minimum possible on the books and the rest under the table. “Many businesses, even profitable ones, are taking advantage of the crisis to make money out of it,” said Nikos Kioutsoukis, general secretary of private sector union GSEE. “The government’s policies prescribed by the lenders are wrong and push young people to the black market for labour. Informal work will spiral out of control if this continues.” He estimates as many as 35 percent of Greek workers toil off the books in one form or the other, with some self-employed workers turning to it to avoid high taxes and others forced into it by businesses aware of the limited choice job-seekers have. At the other end of the spectrum, young Greeks say conditions in the job market are so dire they consider themselves fortunate to have even an informal job - despite not knowing if they will ever get the money they were promised.—Reuters

business SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2012

Asian buyers to slash Iranian crude import Western sanctions worsen

KOLKATA: Chairman and Managing Director of India’s Bharti Airtel Limited, Sunil Mittal delivers a speech during the launch of Airtel’s 4G services in Kolkata. Indian police have yesterday filed corruption charges against Bharti Airtel, India’s biggest telecom firm, and Vodafone’s Indian arm as part of a sprawling probe into allocation of mobile airwaves. — AFP

Oil slips towards $109 LONDON: Brent crude oil fell more than $1 per barrel towards $109 yesterday after talks in the United States to avert a budget crisis stalled, reviving worries about demand in the world’s biggest oil consumer. Republican lawmakers failed to back an effort to head off $600 billion worth of tax rises and across-the-board spending cuts that could push the US economy into recession next year. The move depressed stock markets, the euro and commodities but boosted the dollar. Brent dropped $1.05 to a low of $109.15 before recovering slightly to trade around $109.35 by 1045 GMT. Brent was on track for a second weekly rise and was up just under 2 percent for 2012 as a whole, having averaged around $111.70, not far above its 2011 average of $110.91. The US budget stalemate had an even larger impact on US crude, which dropped to a low of $88.68, down $1.45 per barrel. “The United States is the dominant factor in the world economy, and if growth falters there, it will affect all the other markets,” said Barbara Lambrecht, commodities analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. “We know 2013 is going to be another tough year for Europe and we all need the support of the US economy,” she added. Only 11 days are left to prevent automatic tax hikes and spending cuts, referred to as the ‘fiscal cliff’. “The latest news that came out just a few hours ago has caused the broader markets to sell,” said Victor Shum, managing director at IHS Purvin & Gertz. “It’s a setback for talks between the Republicans and the White House.” Analysts are more upbeat on the prospects for the oil market in the New Year, following Chinese data showing higher demand and on expectations of slightly faster global economic growth. World oil demand growth looks set to rise in 2013 due to a recovery in the US economy, according to many forecasters. The US economy grew faster than previously thought, at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said. It was the fastest pace since late 2011 and more than double the second quarter’s 1.3 percent rate. Other data showed factory activity in the US mid-Atlantic region picked up this month, while home resales in November were the best in three years, indicating the economy retained some vigour early in the fourth quarter. — Reuters

PARIS: People queue at the cash desk of a toy store yesterday at the Kremlin-Bicetre, outside Paris. — AFP

BEIJING: Asian buyers of Iranian crude will deepen import cuts in 2013 and struggle to send cash to Tehran to pay for oil as tightening Western sanctions choke the flow of hard currency to Iran’s coffers. Tough sanctions from the United States and Europe to force Iran to curb its nuclear program have already cut Iran’s oil exports by more than half this year, costing it more than $5 billion a month. The reduced cash flow has contributed to a plunge in the value of Iran’s currency, the rial. Iran says it is enriching uranium to fuel power plants, not make bombs. Almost all of Iran’s remaining exports flow to China, South Korea, Japan and India. The additional cuts Asian importers will make in 2013 would translate into a fall in sales of about 135,000 barrels per day (bpd), resulting in a loss of about $5 billion next year based on today’s oil price, according to Reuters calculations. The United States requires buyers of Iranian crude to progressively cut imports to ensure they secure exceptions to the sanctions when they come up for review every 180 days. Making matters worse for Iran is a little-noticed provision in US sanctions, which goes into effect on Feb. 6, that states funds being used to pay for oil must remain in a bank account in the purchasing country and can be used only for non-sanctioned, bilateral trade between that country and Iran. Any bank that repatriates the money or transfers it to a third country faces a sanction risk, including being cut off from the US financial system. That

could halt most of the flow of petrodollars to Iran, given that the value of its oil exports is far higher than what it imports from its biggest customers. Saudi Arabia, Iraq and West Africa are some of the producers that have gained as Iran’s market has shrunk. To continue with exports, Iran is becoming increasingly creative in dodging Western sanctions, managing to sell a rising volume of fuel oil to generate revenue equal to up to a third of its crude exports. Reuters previously reported that Iran had exported its own fuel oil to Malaysia on a National Iranian Tanker Company vessel, before transferring it at sea to a Vitol-chartered tanker. Iran also used a little-known port off the East Malaysia coast to hide millions of barrels of oil. Iran’s top oil buyer and the world’s second-largest importer, China, may reduce its purchases by a further 5 to 10 percent in 2013, according to preliminary indications, industry sources said. That would indicate a reduction of 20,000 to 40,000 bpd, according to Reuters calculations. “A general policy seems to be ‘let’s manage and control the risk in lifting Iranian oil’,” a Chinese industry official said. “Transportation was not a huge issue but Sinopec still sees it a political risk dealing with Iran.” Sinopec is China’s state oil company and the top Asian refiner. China reduced imports from Iran by 23 percent to 422,800 barrels per day (bpd) from January-November this year, from the same months a year earlier. China is Iran’s top trading partner and China

has repeatedly voiced its opposition to unilateral sanctions outside the purview of the United Nations, such as those imposed by the United States. But it cut imports sharply in the first quarter of 2012, as exclusively reported by Reuters, due to the differences in contract terms. Later, the flow was cut further as Iran struggled to ship the oil to China after EU sanctions halted the provision of insurance for ships transporting Iranian crude. India plans to cut oil imports from Iran by 10 to 15 percent in the next fiscal year, and more if Iran does not lower prices to help cover higher costs resulting from Western sanctions, Reuters reported on Dec. 19. “Next year our imports will be 10 percent to 15 percent less than this year,” said a government official with direct knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “If they don’t cut prices, the decline will be substantial. Indian refiners have genuine problems with credit availability.” India’s oil imports from Iran fell 17 percent to 270,000 bpd in the first eight months of the contract year that started in April, and November purchases fell 44 percent from a year ago. The pressure India is putting on Iran for better contract terms is similar to what China did early this year when negotiating annual term volumes with the Islamic Republic. As rising international pressures forced other buyers out of the market for Iranian oil, Sinopec strong-armed Iran into giving it better terms for its annual oil purchases. — Reuters

Iraq ups its selling game on path to oil’s top tier China to increase 2013 Iraqi purchases LONDON: Iraq is sharpening a push to sell its swelling crude output and sit at oil’s top table with Saudi Arabia, sweetening terms for contract buyers next year, its customers say. Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi held court to oil executives in Vienna’s Hotel Imperial last week on the sidelines of an OPEC meeting. Some buyers have said they were concerned by higher prices and variable quality. “The Iraqis have become more active and serious in their marketing effort,” said a Western oil executive from a firm that buys from Baghdad. “They’re willing to be very competitive on pricing and want to solve existing problems.” The world’s fastest growing oil exporter is working to expand market share and is emerging as a rival to Saudi Arabia in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, as Iran’s output is reduced by Western sanctions. Baghdad is targeting crude exports of 2.9 million barrels per day (bpd) next year, up from 2.62 million bpd in November, as investment by foreign oil companies pushes production towards its highest level ever. Some clients have complained of high official selling prices (OSPs) and variable quality of the Basra Light and Kirkuk grades, raising the prospect Baghdad could struggle to shift all the crude in 2013 term contracts. Initially, BP and Total wanted to reduce their 2013 volumes of Basra. However, both are

expected to take similar volumes to 2012, about 135,000 bpd each, trade sources said. BP will also receive unspecified volumes as repayment for its investment in Iraq’s upstream industry. “The Iraqis say they will stabilize the quality of Basra and understand they will need to be competitive on price,” a second Western executive said. “They have to somehow place their additional production.” The quality of Iraq’s Basra and Kirkuk crudes has been variable due to the erratic flow of Kurdistan oil into the Kirkuk stream and the startup of new fields in the south. These concerns persist, deterring some buyers. “I don’t think Iraq has termed up all,” a third executive said. “They know the prices are out of line mostly because the quality has been too variable for both Kirkuk and Basra. Until they resolve it, I don’t think many will up their volume.”Some companies have trimmed Kirkuk volumes for 2013. ENI and Total each plan to take 10,000 bpd less of Kirkuk in 2013, industry sources said. Less Basra will be heading to the United States, where Chevron has cut its volumes, a source added. “The issue is simply price. The OSP is too high, made worse by the variations in quality and unreliability in Basra deliveries,” said a fourth executive. “Given there is some slack in the market, no one will pay over the odds.” — Reuters

business SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2012

Nokia, RIM settle their old disputes RIM loses BlackBerry subscribers for first time

BEIJIING: A cleaner mops the floor at an empty shopping mall in Beijing yesterday. China’s new Communist Party leaders are promising reforms aimed at reducing reliance on exports and more spending if needed to prop up a shaky economic recovery. —AP

‘African Rising’ banks matching the metrics SANGBULIMA: In sight of a crumbling 18th century slave trade fort overgrown with jungle, a conveyor belt pours ochre-red iron ore into the belly of a bulk carrier moored on the muddy Sierra Leone River. Past and present peer across the water at each other in this small West African state, one of several hailed by economists as flag bearers of a new rising Africa seen as a pole of investment and potential prosperity in a troubled, recession-hit world. In New York, London and Johannesburg, fund managers, bankers and frontier market analysts are telling clients Sub-Saharan Africa, dismissed a decade ago as hopeless and chaotic, is now ready to rival India and China as an economic success story. “People are pouring capital into the continent,” said Charles Robertson, Global Chief Economist at investment bank Renaissance Capital. “We believe now is Africa’s moment.” He cites figures to show that swelling growth and investment is buoying oil development, mining, banking, telecommunications and retail markets in the world’s least developed region. But bubbling up with the statistics are enduring questions about governance, poverty, stability, corruption, climate change and, crucially, if and how the extracted wealth will be shared. At a launch by Renaissance in a Johannesburg hotel last month of a book Africa’s “Economic Revolution”, participants heard a prediction that the region’s economy will grow from $2 trillion today to $29 trillion by 2050, greater than the output of both the United States and the eurozone. The chic hotel of the book launch is a world away from Sangbulima, a hamlet of 1,000 souls perched on Tasso Island in the Sierra Leone River where wooden canoes loaded with nets cluster on a muddy beach not far from Bunce Island slave fort. Across the channel is the iron ore loading terminal run by London AIM-listed firm African Minerals, a major player in the Sierra Leone mining revival the government believes will propel the nation into a new promised era of African prosperity. Day and night, Sangbulima villagers see the ore ships go by on their way downriver to the Atlantic Ocean. “We see them pass,” said Idrissa Kargbo, 38, “This mining brings a lot of money to the country” “But, for us here, we are not seeing the money,” he added. Here, as elsewhere on this booming but turbulent continent, extractive industries, construction, mobile phones and other harbingers of modernity are thrusting themselves into the lives of Africans, stirring high expectations but also uncertainties. Renaissance Capital, one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest cheerleaders, sees it “charging forward on almost every metric”. A chorus of similar reports from institutions, banks and consultancies forecasts Africa roaring ahead as a fast-growth pole in the next decade, its projected 5-6 percent expansion rate outstripping the expected global average by several points. This upbeat outlook is pinned on an expected “demographic dividend” of a young and rapidly growing workforce in the next few years, on rapid urbanization, and a surge in middle class consumers. Around 90 million African households had joined the world’s consuming classes by 2011, and this would rise to 128 million in 2020, according to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute. — Reuters

HELSINKI: Nokia Corp and Canadian smartphone rival Research In Motion have agreed on a new patent licensing pact which will end all existing litigation between the two struggling companies, the Finnish firm said yesterday. The agreement includes a “one-time payment and on-going payments, all from RIM to Nokia,” Nokia said, but did not disclose “confidential” terms. Last month, Nokia sued the Blackberry maker for breach of contract in Britain, the United States and Canada over cellular patents they agreed in 2003. RIM claimed the license - which covered patents on “standards-essential” technologies for mobile devices- should also have covered patents for nonessential parts, but the Arbitration Institute of Stockholm Chamber of Commerce ruled against RIM’s claims. Major manufacturers of phones and wireless equipment are increasingly turning to patent litigation as they jockey for an edge to expand their share of the rapidly growing smartphone market. Nokia is among leading patent holders in the wireless industry. It has already received a $565 million royalty payment from Apple Inc to settle long-standing patent disputes and filed claims in the United States and Germany alleging that products from HTC Corp and Viewsonic Corp infringe a number of its patents. The company says it has invested 45 billion euros ($60 billion) during the last 20 years in research and development and has one of the wireless industry’s largest IPR portfolios claiming some 10,000 patent families. Nokia stock was down more than 2 percent at 3.09 euros in early afternoon trading in a depressed market in Helsinki.

will change going forward and will be under pressure over the next year during this transition.” RIM’s stock had been on a three-month rally that has seen the stock more than double from its lowest level since 2003. But Mike Walkley, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity, said BlackBerry 10 will change RIM’s services revenue model dramatically. He said that instead of getting about $6 per device each month from carriers and users RIM could get as little as zero. “That’s what turned the stock from being up 10 percent to being down 10 percent,” Walkley said. “That’s been part of our worry. How do they come back with a new platform and get carriers to continue to share the higher revenue -which sounds like they are not going to- and then subsidize the phone to make it affordable for consumers and enterprises.” “People are seeing that the services revenue has a lot of risk to it now with the BlackBerry 10 migration.” Three months ago, RIM had 80 million subscribers. Analysts said the loss of 1 million subscribers was expected. Once coveted symbols of an always-connected lifestyle, BlackBerry phones have lost their luster to Apple’s iPhone and phones that run on Google’s Android software. RIM is banking its future on its much-delayed BlackBerry 10 platform, which is meant to offer the multimedia, Internet browsing and apps experience that customers now demand. “We believe the company has stabilized and will turn the corner in the next year,” Heins said. He noted that the company’s cash holdings grew by $600 million in the quarter to $2.9 billion, even after the funding of all its restructuring costs. RIM previously announced 5,000 layoffs this year. — Agencies

BLACKBERRY SUBSCRIBERS In another development, Research In Motion’s stock plunged in after-hours trading Thursday after the BlackBerry maker said it plans to change the way it charges fees. RIM also announced that it lost subscribers for the first time in the latest quarter, as the global number of BlackBerry users dipped to 79 million. In a rare positive sign, the Canadian company added to its cash position during the quarter as it prepared to launch new smartphones on Jan 30. The new devices are deemed critical to the company’s survival. RIM’s stock initially jumped more than 8 percent in afterhours trading on that news, but then fell $1.48, or 10.4 percent, to $12.65 after RIM said on a conference call that it won’t generate as much revenue from telecommunications carriers once it releases the new BlackBerry 10 platform. RIM is changing the way it charges service fees, putting an important source of revenue at risk. RIM CEO Thorsten Heins said only subscribers who want enhanced security will pay fees under the new system. “Other subscribers who do not utilize such services are expected to generate less or no service revenue,” Heins said. “The mix in level of service fees revenue

Japan’ economy stable, but weak TOKYO: Japan’s economy condition stopped worsening, the outgoing government said yesterday in a monthly report, but it remains weak enough to justify a nudge from monetary and fiscal stimulus planned by the newly elected administration. In the last monthly assessment produced before Shinzo Abe’s cabinet takes over on Dec 26, the government kept its assessment of the economy’s condition unchanged, snapping a four-month run of downgrades that was the longest such sequence since the 2008-09 financial crisis. It said, the Japanese economy showed “weakness recently due to deceleration of the world economy”, using the same phrase as in November. “There are some bright spots here and

there, but overall, the economy remains weak and we can’t be optimistic,” a Cabinet Office official in charge of compiling the monthly report told reporters. “Companies, especially manufacturers, continue to operate in a tough environment and their profits are sluggish, with a drop in exports weighing on production and business sentiment.” The report, followed the Bank of Japan’s third shot of monetary stimulus in four months and its fifth this year, mainly in response to growing pressure from incoming Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for bolder action to beat deflation. But a further 10 trillion yen ($118.50 billion) addition to the BOJ’s asset buying and lending pot also reflected the central bank’s concern about sagging business

confidence apparent in its latest Tankan business survey, economists said. There is, however, skepticism over how quickly Abe’s promised mix of a public spending splurge and aggressive monetary stimulus can translate into a pick-up in growth. With the yen just above 20-month lows and a 10 percent stock market rally in the past month, markets have already factored in further, possibly intensified BOJ easing in coming months. On Thursday, the central bank signaled it would raise its price goal next month in response to Abe’s call for a binding 2 percent inflation target. Abe’s cabinet is expected to draft the extra budget by mid-January, with markets looking for 10 trillion yen in new spending, part of which would need to be covered by new borrowing. — Reuters


British Q3 growth revised down to 0.9% LONDON: Britain’s economy grew by a worse-thanexpected 0.9 percent in the third quarter, downwardlyrevised data showed yesterday, sparking fresh speculation over a possible “triple dip” recession, analysts said. “UK gross domestic product (GDP) ... increased by 0.9 percent between the second and third quarter of 2012, revised from the previously estimated increase of 1.0 percent,” the Office for National Statistics said in a statement. The slight downgrade was due to downward revisions to output from production and service industries, and to household consumption. Market expectations had been for no change. Despite the news, Britain-a member of the European Union but not the Euro-zone-still powered out of its longest double-dip recession since the 1950s between July and September. However, third-quarter growth was boosted by one-off factors, including the London

2012 Olympic Games and rebounding activity after an extra public holiday for Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Many experts believe that the British economy could experience a renewed downturn in the current fourth quarter. “The UK Q3 national accounts confirm that GDP rose strongly in Q3, but we already know that activity in the fourth quarter has been much weaker and think that the UK may already be in a triple-dip,” said Capital Economics analyst Vicky Redwood. “The quarterly rise in Q3 GDP was revised down, but only marginally. Perhaps the most notable revision to the breakdown is that real consumer spending is now estimated to have risen by 0.4 percent rather than 0.6 percent. So without the Olympics boost, spending may well have fallen.” Britain sank into the first phase of a double dip recession in 2008 as a result of the devastating global finan-

cial crisis that sparked a number of vast banking bailouts. The economy rebounded in late 2009 but struggled to stage a convincing recovery and fell back into a second downturn in late 2011, which lasted for three quarters, as the euro-zone crisis loomed large. Activity has been hit hard also by deficit-slashing austerity measures from the nation’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government. The BoE has sought to aid the recovery by slashing its key interest rate to a record low of 0.50 percent, where it has stood since March 2009, when it also launched its radical quantitative easing (QE) stimulus. “All in all, the UK appears to be ending 2012 not in particularly great shape,” added ING economist James Knightley yesterday. “As such we suspect the Bank of England has more work to do with further policy stimulus likely in early 2013.” — AFP

UK told to add break-up threat to banking reform UK bank shares dip, Barclays down 2.5%

RIO DE JANEIRO: Passengers wait in line to check-in to their flights at the Antonio Carlos Jobim international airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Thursday announced that airports in Rio and Belo Horizonte, two host cities for the 2014 World Cup, would be privatized during a September 2013 auction. — AFP

Myanmar and Japan to build industrial zone YANGON: Myanmar and Japan agreed to start work next year on a huge industrial zone near Yangon, officials from the two countries said yesterday, as the impoverished nation hungrily eyes foreign investment. The 2,400 hectare Thilawa project will include a port and industrial park and be up and running in 2015, according to Japan’s Ministry for Economic, Trade and Industries (METI). “It’s not an easy task but we will make no mistakes. Both of our countries share the common goal to set up the joint venture in 2013 and to launch the commercial operation in 2015,” said METI Vice Minister Nobuhiko Sasaki after signing a memorandum of understanding in Yangon. Former junta-ruled Myanmar craves investment to spur growth and boost its dilapidated infrastructure, while export-reliant Japan is hunting new opportunities in the resource-rich nation to overset sluggish domestic growth. Tokyo has already written off massive debts owed by Myanmar and Japanese media last month said it would pledge a fresh $615 million in loans, a significant portion for the Thilawa project-although no final figures have

been released. Myanmar’s deputy minister of national planning and economic development, Set Aung, said the zone would help his nation “leapfrog” its richer neighbors. “There are enormous employment opportunities to be created,” he said, adding Japan had pledged to inject money and share environmentally friendly technology to bring the project into fruition. Progress on Thilawa follows efforts by Myanmar to kick-start investment in a stalled multi-billion-dollar sea port project in Dawei on Myanmar’s southern Andaman coast which it hopes Japan will also support. The huge Thilawa project will be led by a consortium of Japanese companies including Mitsubishi Corp., Sumitomo Corp. and Marubeni Corp., Japan’s Nikkei financial daily said last month. A METI ministry official in Tokyo said that Thilawa was its “priority” but did not rule out also investing in Dawei. “We are aware that the (Dawei) project is significant and quite important for Japan, but I’m afraid it will take more time for Japan to be practically involved in it,” the official said. — AFP

LONDON: Britain needs to introduce legislation that could break up banks if standards slip because current reform proposals fall short of what is needed, an influential panel of lawmakers said. The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards also said yesterday the government could set tougher rules for how much leverage banks were allowed, adding that the committee itself would consider whether to propose banning proprietary trading. Britain, going further than most countries in pushing through change, is forcing banks to separate, or “ring-fence”, their domestic retail arms from riskier investment banking. “The proposals, as they stand, fall well short of what is required. Over time, the ringfence will be tested and challenged by the banks,” PCBS chairman Andrew Tyrie said. “That is why we recommend electrification. The legislation needs to set out a reserve power for separation; the regulator needs to know he can use it.” The Treasury said finance minister George Osborne will consider the proposals and respond when reforms are brought to Parliament early next year. Osborne appears unlikely to go as far as the PCBS wants. A previous Commission, led by John Vickers, said a full break-up of banks was not needed, and Osborne may decide that if the ringfence plan proved to be flawed, the Treasury could then introduce fresh legislation to strengthen it. Britain wants to prevent a repeat of the need for taxpayers to bail out lenders, as happened in 2008 with a 65 billion pound ($106 billion) double rescue of Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland. The PCBS, asked to assess government plans before their introduction, said legislation should be introduced now because banks had to be discouraged from gaming the new rules for the ring-fence to succeed. “All history tells us they will do this unless incentivized not to,” Tyrie said, adding politicians could be lobbied to put holes in the ring-fence too. “Additional powers are essential to provide adequate incentives for the banks to comply not just with the rules of the ring-fence, but also with their spirit,” the Commission said in its 146-page report. Bank shares fell up to 2.5 percent, underperforming a 1.1 percent lower European bank index.

“I would be concerned ... that a future, politically-motivated government or regulator could take draconian action with impunity. It would be putting in place a simple mechanism for banks to be picked on and to be broken up,” Investec Securities analyst Ian Gordon said. “One could argue that threat is there anyway and could be implemented,” he said, adding the PCBS had added to uncertainty about reforms. The threat of break-up would be most damaging to Barclays whose shares fell 2.5 percent and to a lesser degree to HSBC and RBS, analysts said. In a concession to most banks, the PCBS said banks should be allowed to sell simple derivatives within their ring-fenced operation, which had been a point of contention. MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE The PCBS was set up after Barclays was fined for rigging global interest rates and banks were slammed for a series of mis-selling scandals. Tyrie said the market rigging and corruption shown this week at Swiss bank UBS “beggar belief. It is the clearest illustration yet that a great deal more needs to be done to restore standards in banking.” Among plans to rein in risk-taking is a cap on leverage, which Britain plans to set at 33 times banks’ capital - weaker than an original proposal for a maximum of 25 times. The PCBS said it was “not persuaded by the government’s relaxation” of that leverage rule, adding the future regulator, the Financial Policy Committee, should set the leverage cap. Tyrie said it may also be appropriate for Britain to block banks from any proprietary trading - known as the Volcker Rule in the United States - and the PCBS will take evidence on that early next year. The cross-party commission, which includes Justin Welby, the next Archbishop of Canterbury - the Church of England’s most senior bishop - has spent the past three months deliberating the reform plans, taking evidence from the bosses of major banks as well as regulators, politicians and central bankers. It said it was concerned too many reforms will be left to the discretion of the future regulator, and said the power to force bondholders to take losses when a bank hits trouble should be included in primary legislation.— Reuters


Dutch impound Steve Jobs superyacht over unpaid bill THE HAGUE: Steve Jobs’ Dutch-built superyacht has been impounded in Amsterdam because of a dispute between the late Apple founder’s estate and designer Philippe Starck over an unpaid bill, a Starck lawyer said yesterday. “The yacht has been impounded,” Rotterdam-based lawyer Roelant Klaassen, who represents French designer Starck’s Ubik company, told AFP. “There is some unfinished business, namely two invoices which were issued by Ubik last summer after Mr Jobs died,” he said. Amsterdam court bailiffs seized the 70-metre (230-foot) long yacht following a request from Starck’s lawyer. The Venus reportedly cost over 100 million euros ($130 million) to build and was only unveiled in October, just over a year after Jobs died. Jobs’ estate says Starck should be paid a percentage of the overall cost of the project, which took over five years to complete, while Starck says he should be paid a fixed nine million euros for his contribution, Klaassen said. Klaassen said he was in contact with a Dutch lawyer representing the Jobs estate, Gerard Moussault. “Hopefully we will come to an interim agreement with regard to security,” Klaassen said.

Moussault declined to comment on the matter when contacted by AFP. Jobs’ family, including widow Laurene Powell Jobs and their three children Reed, Erin and Eve, was supposed to take charge of the yacht in the United States. Klaassen said he had seen documents that show Jobs and Starck were “very close in the period that the design was made and the building proceeded”. “That’s one of the reasons there was no formal agreement on the job,” he said. “The most important thing for everyone is that the vessel can sail at a certain moment and hopefully funds will be paid into the account of the lawyers of the estate which can then be used as security,” Klaassen said. “Apparently the vessel will be loaded on another vessel to be shipped to the States, I think to California.” The aluminium-hulled yacht was built by Royal De Vries shipbuilder’s in Aalsmeer, just south of Amsterdam, with interiors designed by Starck. The bridge features a control panel made up of an array of seven iMac computers. Starck said last year that he was working on the yacht, which was mentioned in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, who died on October 5, 2011. He said it was “sleek and minimalist”, with teak decks. — AFP

AMSTERDAM: A yacht is docked at the wharf of ship building company Royal De Vries in Aalsmeer, near Amsterdam, Netherlands. The sleek, white super yacht Apple founder Steve Jobs commissioned before his death cannot leave the Netherlands just yet due to a payment dispute, Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad reported yesterday. — AP

Hedge fund Robinson hit by market slowdown LONDON: The slowdown in emerging markets is hitting hedge fund Sloane Robinson hard, highlighting how, even as the industry attracts investors, managers can quickly fall from grace if they fail to perform. The Londonbased stock-picker - one of the capital’s oldest managers and once among its 10 biggest - has seen assets under management slide to around $2.5 billion, down more than fourfifths from a 2008 high of $15.1 billion. Assets in the firm’s flagship emerging markets fund - run by chief investment officer Richard Chenevix-Trench - have fallen to around $700 million, down from $1.8 billion at the end of 2011, and investors are bracing for a second consecutive year of losses. “...Emerging market investment, as

in so much of the world, has become about a search for niches of growth, where businesses can find room to develop irrespective of the slowing economies and still meet or exceed the expectations currently baked into prices,” he wrote in a client letter obtained by Reuters. The fund is down 1.7 percent to Nov. 30, the letter shows. Last year it lost 17.2 percent. In 2010 made just 2.7 percent. The fund has its biggest exposure to South Korea, Singapore, India and Hong Kong/China, where shares hit their lowest level in four years last month. Chenevix-Trench also said in the letter he hiked a position in Samsung Electronics to 5 percent, believing markets will reassess its valuation relative to Apple. —Reuters

WASHINGTON: Speaker John Boehner of Ohio (second from left) departs after a House Republicans’ meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington. — AP

World’s investors stirred, not shaken by fiscal crisis LONDON: Global investors are betting Washington will overcome its budget deadlock despite an apparently serious setback. If they are wrong, there could be a sharp market reaction and the US dollar and Treasury bonds would be among the main beneficiaries, making for a very different dynamic to the euro zone crisis, where bond market pressure was instrumental in forcing policymakers to act. Republican lawmakers rejected a proposal on Thursday by their leader, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, designed to extract concessions from President Barack Obama. It threw into disarray attempts to head off $600 billion worth of tax hikes and spending cuts that could push the US economy into recession. The dollar climbed versus the euro, stocks slid from Tokyo to London and safe haven government bonds rose but in only muted fashion, indicating a continued belief that a deal will be done. Jeffrey Rosenberg, chief investment strategist for fixed income at BlackRock, said the only approach was to “hope for the best, but plan for the worst”. “Given the much greater downside from a fiscal cliff failure than upside from success, we continue to maintain our tactical defensive positioning,” Rosenberg said. If differences between Republicans and Democrats cannot be bridged, the dollar-counter-intuitively to the layman’s eye- would attract safe haven flows as the world’s reserve currency. The yen could do even better despite the new Japanese government’s intent on more forceful monetary and fiscal easing. “The dollar goes up when people get more nervous because the reflex in the market is to assume it’s a safe haven, there’s very little consideration given to the nature of the crisis,” said Daragh Maher, FX strategist at HSBC. “If the US is heading towards recession it’s not good for anyone, therefore if I have to hold something I may as well hold the dollar. That’s how the sequence of logic goes.” Obama and Boehner aim to reach a deal before the New Year, when taxes will automatically rise for nearly all Americans and the government will have to scale back spending on domestic and military programs. The politicians are now in recess until at least Dec 27. “The time left to seal a deal is limited,” said Kit Juckes at Societe Generale in London. There is, however, good reason not to panic since the term “fiscal cliff” is somewhat misleading. America will not crash off it on Jan. 1. The tightening process will be more gradual. The head of G10 FX Strategy at one bank in London said it was much more of a slope than a cliff. “The market’s working assumption has been all along that it’s

going to go right down to the wire, and then they’re going to cut a deal.” Hong Hao, Bank of Communications International Securities’ chief equity strategist in Hong Kong, said: “If I were a fund manager, I would be looking to lock in gains and going off for the holidays. The US will eventually come to a deal, maybe just not by their selfimposed deadline.” As with the euro debt crisis, the markets could offer a natural check and balance-if their reaction turns savage, it might pressure a divided Washington to come together. The difference is that, as with the dollar, US government bonds are viewed as a harbor from risk, so the bond market pressure brought to bear on the euro zone is unlikely to be replicated in this case. “Although trading at all-time lows, treasury yields could benefit both from renewed equity volatility and the short-term economics after any resolution,” said Edward Smith, global strategist at Collins Stewart Wealth Management. Unlike the euro-zone periphery, shunning US assets is not really an option, not least because global markets tend to correlate closely with Wall Street anyway. For Juckes, the latest standoff in Washington could go two ways: The weakening of Boehner’s position could strengthen Obama’s hand, particularly since he has already given ground. Alternatively, the Republicans may now be so divided that they cannot back any sort of deal that raises taxes on the wealthier. The optimists would buy equities and the euro on any dip, he said. “(They) will look at the improving tone to US data and at the vast amount of money that needs investing.” If the glass-half-full view prevails and the world economy starts looking up, Reuters asset allocation polls show major investors are looking to areas that underperformed this year- notably the Chinese stock market, one of the few major bourses in the red for 2012. After two years in which the stock markets of the emerging giants underperformed, Russia and Brazil also have backers. For now, most investors seem to be hoping for the best rather than altering their strategies. “If it turns out that there’s a poor agreement delaying a number of issues until the spring but skating away from the immediate catastrophe of January, or no agreement at all, that clearly is not priced into market expectations,” said Andrew Milligan, head of global strategy at Standard Life Investments, which has 163.4 billion pounds of assets under management. “I think (a lack of agreement) would encourage people even more to go into the dividend yield type stocks ... And clearly the stocks that are more associated with global trade would be the ones that investors would be pulling back from,” he said.— Reuters


EU gender price ban seen raising insurance costs LONDON: A European Union ban on insurers using gender to set prices, which comes into force yesterday, will likely lead to higher insurance costs for consumers. The EU’s highest court outlawed insurers’ practice of charging men and women different prices as sex discrimination in March 2011 after Belgium’s consumer association brought a test case against it. The move has drawn criticism from insurers who say gender exerts a strong influence over how likely a person is to claim, and should be reflected in the premiums they pay. “It is bonkers, absolutely bonkers,” said Kevin Ryan, an insurance analyst at Investec in London. “It is extraordinary saying people cannot compete on underwriting factors. But, broadly for insurers, it will be viewed as good news because prices will go up.” Higher prices would be welcomed by a European insurance industry squeezed by rock-bottom interest rates and recession in several key markets. Insurers typ-

ically charge lower prices for women drivers because they are statistically less likely to crash than men. They also offers male retirees who buy annuities investment policies that pay a regular income for the remainder of the customer’s lifetime - more generous payments than women because men die sooner, on average. The biggest changes were expected in the motor insurance market where women below the age of 25 will, from yesterday, pay up to 40 percent more to eliminate the discount they enjoy relative to men, accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated. Insurers won’t match the increases in female motor premiums with lower rates for male drivers, boosting revenues, although the gain will be competed away over time, said Bjorn Norrman, an analyst at credit rating agency Fitch. “I would assume that in the beginning you will see much more increases for younger female drivers than

you will see decreases for young male drivers,” he said. Insurers’ new prices will also likely include an extra margin to absorb set-up costs and provide a buffer against changes in the ratio of male to female customers, which could alter the number of claims they receive, Norrman said. European motor insurers have been faced with sluggish price growth because of intense competition, exacerbated in the past decade by the rise of pricecomparison websites. Insurers seeking to comply with the ban face a choice between introducing a “unisex” rate pitched between the higher and lower prices they currently charge, or by bringing the lower rate into line with the higher one. German insurers’ association GDV said there would be no price benefit to consumers overall as supposedly unisex prices will, in practice, be too high for either men or women.—Reuters

Destination 2013? China, Japan, BRICs and Med

Alitalia on verge of bankruptcy ROME: Italian airline Alitalia is once more on the verge of bankruptcy as it loses 630,000 euros ($832,000) a day in addition to the 730 million euro deficit accumulated over four years under private ownership, the Repubblica daily said yesterday. The flagship company also risks being hit hard by the end of a deal with shareholders not to sell off their shares, which runs out on January 12, the report said. The airline has two options: either being re-nationalised or ceded in a cut-rate deal to Air France-KLM, which in 2008 had offered 2.5 billion euros for the troubled company. The take-over bid was blocked then prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. The Italian state absorbed most of Alitalia’s debt while the profit-making part of the business was sold off to a consortium of Italian businessmen. The company was also merged with Italy’s second airline, Air One. Between June and September Alitalia lost 173 million euros-some 150 million euros more than in 2011 according to Repubblica, which said the company needs to be recapitalized. The company’s losses deepened due to higher fuel prices and the European debt crisis. Air France-KLM, which already owns 25 percent of Alitalia, is mulling another take-over bid, the newspaper said. Alitalia “will be one of the first political hot potatoes on the table of the new government,” following a general election due in February, it added. The Italian airline was not immediately available for comment. — AFP

LONDON: With a whiff of global recovery in the air and central bank liquidity abundant, investors in 2013 are packing their bags for China, fellow ‘BRICs’ Brazil and Russia, long-dormant Japan and even some Mediterranean sun. Of course, seeking consensus on the top country destinations for the year ahead is hardly an exact science. Often the simplest game is to avoid what did best the previous year, look at the subdued valuations of laggards and bet on a catch-up depending on the economic cycle. Rank underlying economic growth rates, factor in policy shifts and you’re away. And after five years of stomach-churning global crises, the more conservative western money managers won’t even think of leaving home without at least some basic ‘security checks’ - let alone set off for exotic new frontiers. So the basis of most 2013 forecasts are the pretty critical assumptions that the euro won’t collapse, the United States will dodge its looming “fiscal cliff” of tax and spending crunches, and that China’s economy has averted a nosedive in growth. If none of that sounds an alarm, and you don’t want to hunker down at home, then this year’s tidal wave of central bank liquidity and money-printing from central banks in Washington, London, Frankfurt and Tokyo is waiting to be surfed. Reuters global stock market polls yet again tell a story of BRIC rebirth. After two years in which the stock markets of the four emerging giants underperformed even those of bailed-out Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Spain - despite vastly superior economic growth rates - the old ploy of hoovering up what’s been beaten down seems unshakeable. China’s long-suffering Shanghai Composite - one of the few major bourses still in the red this year, down 25 percent from early 2011 and still less than half its 2007 peak - is easily the favorite destination for money managers, with median forecast gains of 17 percent. In separate Reuters poll this week of some 55 major asset managers worldwide, Shanghai was also the top emerging market pick for more than two-thirds of respondents. “From a valuation perspective and given the turn in the cycle, the Chinese equity market - surprisingly a massive underper-

former this year - is the one that stands out,” said Philip Poole, Head of Strategy at HSBC Global Asset Management. Frustrated China bulls, perhaps unsurprisingly, are keen to see the gradual rebalancing of the world’s No 2 economy from exports to consumption show through in the Shanghai markets. “This is a market that can turn on a sixpence and I would be very surprised if 2013 isn’t a much better year after an ‘A’ share bear market that has lasted over three years,” Anthony Bolton of Fidelity’s China Special Solutions fund told clients. Mumbai’s Sensex, Sao Paulo’s Bovespa and Moscow’s RTS are also among the top five tips in the Reuters poll, with 14-15 percent gains forecast next year. That was also the case this year, however, and none have ended up in the top five best performers. All except Brazil finished 2012 in the black in dollar terms but they mostly underperformed “safer” markets closer to home, with even Wall Street and Frankfurt racking up meaty doubledigit advances. Long-standing BRIC bears have also yet to throw in the towel. Deutsche Bank’s

emerging market equities strategist John Paul Smith reckons China will continue to disappoint with “structural shortcomings ... too obvious for foreign investors to ignore”. He remains underweight China, Brazil and Russia, favoring Turkey, Taiwan, Mexico and Poland instead. The latter two also found favor in the Reuters poll, with strong returns forecast on the Mexican peso and Warsaw stocks. Perhaps the surprise package in the New Year’s top five is Japan’s Nikkei index, a view this week’s election win for the Liberal Democratic Party is likely to reinforce given its pledge to step up the fight against domestic deflation. Even Jim O’Neill, the Goldman Sachs Asset Management chairman who coined BRIC acronym a decade ago, sees Japan as 2013’s best performing equity market, although he stressed hedging the yen due to the pivotal role a significantly weaker currency is likely to take in reviving the economy and market. “There’s quite a widespread market belief that if the yen weakens, one wants to own the Nikkei and obviously with an export orientation,” he told clients. — Reuters

HAIKOU: Laborers unloading cement at a port in Haikou, in southern China’s Hainan province. China said yesterday it faces a bleak foreign trade environment in 2013 due to ongoing global economic weakness, as the Asian export powerhouse appears set to miss this year’s trade growth target. — AFP


Mexico’s Maya heartland awaits dawn of new era PAGE 26

A man dressed up as Santa Claus carries Christmas gifts to sell in Harare, Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe will join the rest of the world in celebrating the Christmas season in a manner that reflects its tradition and culture. Thousands of people are set to travel across the country to be with their families in rural areas. — AP

Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ closes on one billion views PAGE 23


Aren’t we there yet? ‘On the Road’ review


Indian Bollywood actor Salman Khan attends the premier of the Hindi film ‘Dabangg2’ in Mumbai. —AFP

Can Cruise launch a box-office franchise with ‘Jack Reacher’?

aramount hopes it’s launching a franchise with “Jack Reacher,” the Tom Cruise action thriller that hits theaters Friday. It will be tricky in a crowded holiday marketplace, and Cruise isn’t the box-office bonanza he once was. But one need only look back to last year’s “Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol” to see how it might work. That film opened to $12 million on Dec 16 and went on to make $209 million and nearly $700 million worldwide for Paramount. “Jack Reacher” will be in about 3,200 theaters, and it will have plenty of competition.


Jackson’s latest Middle-earth epic will take in north of $40 million, industry analysts say, with “Jack Reacher” and “This Is 40” battling for second with less than half of that. Warner Bros’ “Hobbit” has rolled to $106 million in the US since opening to $85 million last weekend. Its international total $188 million as of Thursday - is even bigger. In “Jack Reacher,” Cruise plays an ex-military investigator; the film is based on bestselling author Lee Child’s novel “One Shot” and written for the screen and directed by Christopher McQuarrie. It’s from David

Universal’s Judd Apatow comedy “This Is 40” opens wide Friday, and Paramount’s ‘Guilt Trip” and Disney’s 3D re-release of “Monsters Inc.” opened Wednesday. A slew of limited releases, led by Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” along with this year’s winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes “Amour,” and tsunami survival tale “The Impossible” are also competing for moviegoers’ attention, along with a number of holdover hits. No movie, though, will come close to catching reigning box-office champ “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which remains in more than 4,000 theaters. Peter

Ellison’s Paramount-based Skydance Productions and was produced for about $60 million by Cruise, Don Granger, Paula Wagner and Gary Levinsohn. Robert Duvall and Richard Jenkins co-star in the PG-13 crime thriller, which has a 53 percent positive rating at Movie Review Intelligence. No is expecting “Jack Reacher” to match “MI:4” at the box office. The Reacher novels have a following, but nowhere near that of the “Mission Impossible” franchise. Cruise’s recent boxoffice record has been uneven, and the film’s Facebook and Twitter activity is not particu-

larly strong. “Jack Reacher” could wind up playing more like Cruise’s “Knight and Day,” which opened to $20 million and went on to make $76 million for Fox in 2010, or “Valkyrie,” which did $83 million in 2008 after opening to $21 million. Cruise was critically lauded for his foray earlier this year as an aging rock icon in the musical “Rock of Ages,” but that was one of the year’s bigger box-office duds. “Jack Reacher” should play strongly with action fans, but Cruise’s personal problems could limit its broader appeal. “I can’t imagine his divorce from Katie Holmes and the custody battle hasn’t hurt him some with women,” vice president and chief analyst Phil Contrino told TheWrap Thursday. “Actions fans will come out, but going beyond that demographic is going to be tough for him.” On the other hand, Universal says that it tracking suggests “This Is 40” will do quite well with women-and women over 25 in particular. “This Is 40,” is, as the marketing campaign points out, a “sort of sequel” to Apatow’s “Knocked Up,” which opened to $30 million and went on to make nearly $150 million five years ago. Like “This Is 40,” that one was written and directed by Apatow and starred Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. “40” is the fourth film Apatow has directed; all for Universal (“Funny People” and “40-Year-Old Virgin” are the other two). The ensemble cast also features Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Chris O’Dowd, Jason Segel, Melissa McCarthy and Lena Dunham. It’s R-rated and has a 62 percent positive rating at Movie Review Intelligence. The production budget was $35 million. “This looks like the strongest comedy of the season,” Jeff Bock, senior analyst at Exhibitor Relations told TheWrap, “but it’s still a bit of a wild card. It’s going to connect with the New York and L.A. crowds; the key will be whether the Heartland audiences embrace it or see it as a little too hip. It will take time to tell, because of the season.” —Reuters

ruman Capote legendarily dismissed Jack Kerouac’s influential roman clef “On the Road” with, “That’s not writing; it’s typing.” Capote’s insult might have been referencing the legend that Kerouac banged out a first draft while hopped up on speed and feeding his typewriter with one gigantic roll of butcher paper, but Capote could also have referred to the stripped-down, descriptive prose of the book, which chugs along with the cool, spare poetry of jazz. But the beat of the Beats is sadly lacking in the movie version of “On the Road,” a handsomely mounted adaptation of Kerouac’s book that never feels like it’s heading anywhere in particular. While the meandering of the novel was sort of the point, director Walter Salles and screenwriter Jose Rivera (who previously collaborated on another road-picture epic, “The Motorcycle Diaries”) capture all of the style but none of the substance of this world - the movie is less a celebration of Jack Kerouac, writer, than it is of Jack Kerouac, posthumous khaki model for the Gap. Of course, because “On the Road” is so very autobiographical, the act of turning into a film by necessity becomes the act of making a docudrama about the Beat Generation, with all the names changed. And doing that puts this movie up against a whole canon of Beat cinema, from movies they made themselves (“Pull My Daisy”) to scads of documentaries to Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s exceptional, underseen “Howl,” in which James Franco portrays Allen Ginsberg while the film visualizes Ginsberg’s legendary, rule-breaking poem. Any adaptation of “On the Road” - and any evocation of this literary movement - has to contend with all of that baggage. Salles and Rivera made “Motorcycle Diaries” one of the great contemporary road-trip movies, no matter what you think about the eventual life and activities of Che Guevara, but with “On the Road,” the results will leave Kerouac fans cold while leaving the uninitiated wondering what all the fuss is about. Our Kerouac surrogate here is Sal Paradise (Sam Riley, “Control”), living in post-World War II New York City and hungry to experience life and to get it all down on paper. The real focal point of the story is the restless, charismatic and all-consuming Dean Moriarity (Garrett Hedlund), Kerouac’s fictionalized version of Neal Cassady. Dean may lack the literary gifts of others in his circle, but his bottomless appetite for life and escapades fuel not only Sal’s imagination but also their friend Carlo (Tom Sturridge, channeling Ginsberg). It’s to the film’s credit that they don’t shy away from portraying the physical relationship between gay Carlo and the otherwise straight Dean. Their hedonism and enthusiasms too large to be contained by Manhattan, our characters find themselves traveling back and forth across the United States in those enormous cars that used to be our national birthright. Dean hooks up with young Marylou (Kristen Stewart) before abandoning her and attempting to settle down with Camille (Kirsten Dunst). New friends are made, speeding tickets are negotiated, booze is swilled and drugs are ingested. But none of this ever seems like it’s adding up to anything; the film doesn’t even succeed in making the point that none of this was supposed to go anywhere. It just goes, and goes, and goes. The real Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs (played here by Viggo Mortensen as “Old Bull Lee”) lived long enough to become vivid figures in their own right in documentaries and performances of their work, so portraying them onscreen is no easy feat. Kudos to Sturridge and Mortensen, then, for avoiding caricature. Riley gets stuck with the thankless audience-eyes-andears role (when he’s not furiously typing away), and he gets as much out of the role as anyone could. Stewart also gets little to play, but doesn’t make any missteps along the way; ultimately, it’s the sort of role where it’s her agreeing to do it (a minor role that requires nudity) more than her actual performance that merits praise. If anyone shines in all this, it’s Hedlund, taking this golden god of the page and making him recognizably charismatic and engaging. The book’s Dean Moriarity writes a big check for any actor to cash, but Hedlund succeeds. Ultimately, though, it’s an impressive performance in the service of a film that never quite nails its itinerary. Audiences may find reliving their own travel experiences during “On the Road,” enjoying the pretty scenery between the occasional nap and restroom break. —Reuters


Ex-Beatle’s widow lauds Ravi Shankar at US memorial


Korean rapper Psy performs at halftime during the Seattle Seahawks NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Rogers Centre on December 16, 2012 in Toronto. —AFP

Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ closes on one billion views P

sy’s “Gangnam Style” video was galloping towards the one-billion-view mark on YouTube yesterday, a fresh milestone in the enduring global craze for the South Korean rapper and his horse-riding dance. As of 0600 GMT, the view counter attached to “Gangnam Style,” which was only posted on the video-sharing site in midJuly, stood at 995.8 million and counting. Psy has swept all before him in the past five months, hoovering up awards and scoring guest appearances with everyone from Madonna to the head of the United Nations. The video and its singer have been given walkon roles in major world events like the US presidential election and major maybe-events like the Mayan calendar-inspired speculation about looming global armageddon. The timing of the one-billion views breakthrough looks set to dovetail with a viral social network hoax that had the 16th century French seer Nostradamus apparently referencing Psy as a harbinger of the December 21 apocalypse. And it comes less than a month after the video took the all-time “most-viewed” title away from “Baby” by Canadian heartthrob Justin Bieber. Bieber’s effort was still in second place yesterday with more than 812 million views. Although its imminent demise has been predicted many times, the Psy phenomenon has simply refused to die. Every time it has looked like fading, another parody, another celebrity or even another world leader has popped up to administer some publicity CPR and restore it to health. Rolling Stone put “Gangnam Style” at number 25

on its top 50 list of best songs for 2012 and labeled Psy as “Seoul Brother Number One.” On the Billboard Hot 100 chart it peaked at number two. The song-which refers to a trendy Seoul district-has spawned a mini tribute video industry and has been co-opted by an impressive roster of big names, including Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. It earned Psy a contract with Bieber’s management agency and a number of assessments and projections have been posted claiming “Gangnam Style” has generated over $8.1 million in advertising deals. And the public has joined in, with tens of thousands turning out for giant flashmob performances of Psy’s horse-riding dance in cities like Paris and Rome even beauty spots like South America’s majestic Iguazu waterfalls. The quirky star, whose real name is Park JaeSang, has won adulation in his homeland for the global hit and was this month awarded one of South Korea’s highest cultural honors, the Okgwan Order of Cultural Merit. Psy hit a speedbump in the United States when anti-American views he voiced a decade ago caught up with him last month-but he apologized and went on to perform at a “Christmas in Washington” gala attended by Obama and his family. South Korea sees popular culture as a potent export force, providing international exposure for a country that still feels overlooked in comparison to neighbors China and Japan. The government has spent substantial time and money supporting the so-called Hallyu (Korean Wave) of TV shows and pop music that has swept across Asia in the past decade. — AFP

ormer Beatle George Harrison’s widow Olivia joined hundreds of fans and family of Ravi Shankar on Thursday at an open-air memorial to the Indian sitar legend near his California home. Anoushka Shankar, daughter of the late musician who died last week near San Diego, and her half-sister Grammy-winning singer Norah Jones also paid their last respects at the service in a palm tree-lined meditation center. Tributes were read out from fellow musicians and artists who had been inspired by Shankar, labeled “The Godfather of World Music” by the Beatles and compared to Mozart by violin maestro Yehudi Menuhin. Harrison, whose late husband learned sitar from Shankar and collaborated with him notably on the ground-breaking Concert for Bangladesh in 1971, said the former Beatle had learned so much from their friendship. “They were like father and son as well as brothers... they made each other laugh as if they shared a secret. And I’m sure they did,” said the 64-year-old, whose husband died of cancer in 2001. Shankar “laid the stepping stones from West to East, that led George to new concepts, alternative philosophies and completely transformed his musical sensibilities,” she said. “They exchanged ideas and melodies until their minds and hearts, East and West, were entwined, like a double helix,” she added in Encinitas, where Shankar had a home. Shankar’s 31-year-old daughter Anoushka-also a sitar player, and just nominated for a Grammy-told the audience that her father would have approved of the memorial’s venue, the Self-Realization Fellowship spiritual center. “My father loved spending time here so much, so it feels so right for us to be here celebrating his journey,” she said, before tributes were read out from singer Peter Gabriel and film director Martin Scorsese. Gabriel said: “Ravi Shankar opened the door to nonWestern music for millions of people around the world.” Shankar died last Tuesday at the age of 92, after failing to recover from surgery at a hospital in La Jolla, near San Diego. His family was at his bedside. Private memorial services were announced both in the United States and India, where Shankar also had a home. —AFP

Olivia Harrison, widow of the late ex-Beatle George Harrison, looks skyward following her words to those in attendance for the Ravi Shankar Memorial at the Self Realization Fellowship grounds in Encinitas, California. —AFP


This image released by Paramount Home Video shows a movie poster from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ starring Audrey Hepburn. (Right) This image released by Columbia TriStar Home Video shows a scene from the movie “A League of Their Own” as manager Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) admonishes Evelyn Gardner (Bitty Schram) with the memorable line “there’s no crying in baseball.” —AP photos

‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’

added to US film registry


reakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Dirty Harry” and “A League of Their Own” will be preserved for their enduring significance in American culture by the Library of Congress, along with “A Christmas Story” and some pioneering sports movies. They are among 25 selections the library is inducting Wednesday into the National Film Registry. Congress created the program in 1989 to preserve films for their cultural or historical significance. The latest additions bring the registry to 600 films that include Hollywood features, documentaries, independent films and early experimental flicks. The newest movie chosen for preservation is 1999’s “The Matrix,” noted for its state-of-the-art special effects and computer-generated animation with a style that drew on Hong Kong action films and Japanese anime to change science fiction filmmaking, curators noted. The oldest film

being preserved, “The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Title Fight,” dates back 115 years to 1897. Film curators said the boxing movie helped establish the film industry as a successful business, drawing on the sport’s popularity and controversy to generate $750,000 in income. Boxing was illegal in many states at the time but had been made legal in Nevada, which hosted the fight. The film, with a running time of about 100 minutes, became the longest movie ever produced at the time, showing the full course of the fight.

This image released by Columbia TriStar Home Video shows a scene from the movie ‘A League of Their own.’

This image released by Warner Bros. shows Clint Eastwood in a scene from the move ‘Dirty Harry.’

In this image released by Paramount Pictures, Audrey Hepburn is shown in a scene from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Another pioneering sports film, “They Call It Pro Football” from 1967, was chosen for how it changed the way football was portrayed on screen. Before then, football films were mostly highlight reels. National Football League commissioner Pete Rozelle decided the success of the NFL depended on its television image, to capture the struggle of football and not just the end result on the scoreboard. The Librarian of Congress makes the selections each year after conferring with members of the National Film Preservation Board and receiving public nominations. To be considered, the films must be at least 10 years old. “These films are not selected as the ‘best’ American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture,” said Librarian of Congress James Billington in announcing the selections. “They reflect who we are as a people and as a nation.”They also include some unforgettable characters. Audrey Hepburn landed the lead in 1961’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

even though writer Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe for the part. Film critics and the audience decided Capote was wrong and hailed Hepburn’s portrayal. “A League of Their Own” from 1992 received many public nominations for the film registry over the years. With a cast that included Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell, it told the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Numerous public nominations also were received for “Born Yesterday” from 1950 and “A Christmas Story” from 1983. Both were chosen this year. Other Hollywood features on the list include

“Anatomy of a Murder” from 1959 and “3:10 to Yuma” from 1957. Each title named to the registry will be preserved in the library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, built partially in a bunker in Culpeper, Va, or through collaborations with other archives or studios. Documentaries chosen this year include “The Times of Harvey Milk,” made in 1984 about San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official who was assassinated in 1978, and “Samsara: Death and Rebirth in Cambodia” from 1990 about the struggle to rebuild after Pol Pot’s rule. This year’s selections include some firsts in film history. The 1914 film “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” based on the anti-slavery novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, had been adapted earlier for movies with white actors in the lead roles. But this version was the first feature-length US film to star a black actor when Sam Lucas was chosen for the part. The library will also preserve the first “Kodachrome Color Motion Picture Tests” from 1922. The two-color film features leading actresses posing and miming for the camera to demonstrate the new color film. Before then, to show film in color, black and white images either had to be hand-painted or colored with a stenciling process.—AP


Music, roses at singer Jenni Rivera’s memorial J

Miss USA, Olivia Culpo, center, smiles for the television camera as she is congratulated by other contestants after being crowned as Miss Universe during the Miss Universe competition, Wednesday. — AP

Miss Universe:

Language barrier took spotlight M

iss Venezuela came in third in the Miss Universe contest, a disappointment for the South American nation that has won more crowns in the pageant than any other country besides the US But Irene Sofia Esser Quintero was the talk of the Internet on Thursday after she attempted to answer a question in English during the pageant’s finals. Her answer was unintelligible at times - one of several examples where the language barrier came to the forefront during the pageant. Miss Venezuela interview Pageant officials provided a professional translator so top-five Miss Venezuela could understand her onstage interview question: “If you could change one law, what would it be and why?” Esser was allowed to answer in her native Spanish, but stepped out of her comfort zone and tried her English with this response: “I think that any leys (laws) there are in Constitution or in life, are already made. I think that we should have, uh, a straight way to go in our similar, or, eh, in our lives as is this. For example, I’m a surfer, and I think that the best wave that I can take is the wave that I wait for it. So please do our only, eh, law that we can do. Thank you, Vegas!” Bloggers and observers on Twitter seized on the brunette beauty’s comment, with some lampooning her English and calling the answer nonsensical. Others defended her as brave for trying a second language under the glare of the spotlight. Back home in pageant-crazy Venezuela, which has produced six past titleholders and numerous finalists, her loss was front-page news. An article in the newspaper El Nacional, noted Esser looked quite good, “but an unintelligible answer in

the round of questions lost her the crown.” Because the pageant doesn’t release scores publicly, there’s no way to determine how the answer affected the outcome. The newspaper also referred readers to an online poll asking whether they liked Esser’s response. About 90 percent of those who answered, many of them in Venezuela, said “no.” Shying away from English While Esser stepped out with English, other finalists shied away from the pageant’s lingua franca. In videotaped interviews aired during the telecast, top 10 candidates Miss Mexico and Miss France opted to talk about themselves in Spanish and French, respectively. In the live interview, top-five contestant Miss Brazil took her question - about whether bikinis turn women into sex symbols - in Portuguese, and gave her answer in Portuguese. She finished fifth. The pageant has no language requirement. Pageant spokeswoman Brenda Mendoza said organizers are proud their contestants come from around the globe, and have translators on hand to facilitate interviews for non-English speakers. Facing it head-on Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon addressed the topic directly in the onstage interview. When asked whether English should be a prerequisite for Miss Universe because she’s an international ambassador, Tugonon gave this reply in her own, slightly accented English: “For me, being Miss Universe is not just about knowing how to speak a specific language. It’s being able to influence and inspire other people. So whatever language you have, as long as your heart is to serve and you have a strong mind to - to show

to people, then you can be Miss Universe.” She got loud applause and cheers in reply. Fans in lain America Newly crowned Miss Universe Olivia Culpo may have a little trouble of her own with the language barrier. She either didn’t hear or declined to answer when a reporter at a post-pageant press conference asked her in Spanish whether she spoke Spanish. (Culpo speaks some Italian, but not Spanish). Knowing the language could be a big interviewing asset for a Miss Universe winner - the pageant is a big enough hit among non-English speakers that it was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo. Culpo said she enjoyed the diversity of the contestants and did her best to help the non-English speakers navigate the US in the weeks before the competition. “They looked at me for advice, for translation, for ‘what does this button do,’ ‘how do you get the paper out of the dispenser,’” she said on Thursday. But she acknowledged that contestants from non-English-speaking countries are at a disadvantage. “It definitely makes it harder. But if you’re going into this job, I think you need to be prepared to speak English because you live in New York City and a lot of your events are in New York City. And we speak English.” Past winner Last year’s winner, Angolan beauty queen Leila Lopes, spoke in deliberate English, perhaps refined by Miss Universe appearances and business management studies in England. Her road to the Miss Universe crown last year in Sao Paulo involved winning over the crowd by speaking in Portuguese, their shared language. Angola, like Brazil, is a former Portuguese colony. —AP

enni Rivera’s “celestial graduation” was marked by festive music, heartfelt speeches in Spanish and English and passionate chants of “Jen-ni! Jen-ni!” Rivera’s children and famed singers Olga Tanon and Joan Sebastian performed during the nearly 2 1/2-hour memorial service Wednesday at the Gibson Amphitheatre, where thousands of fans gathered to salute the “Diva de la Banda” who died in a plane crash Dec 9. One fan, Veronika Flores, drove nearly eight hours from her home in Woodland, Calif, near Sacramento, to be united with other fans at the service. “I just came to say goodbye to a Latina woman, La Gran Senora,” she said, invoking the name of one of Rivera’s most beloved songs. Famed Mexican singers Marco Antonio Solis and Ana Gabriel and actors Lou Diamond Phillips and Kate del Castillo were also among the guests at Wednesday’s service. A red casket sat onstage amid a sea of white roses as images of Rivera played on three big screens. Family members embraced and kissed the casket at the conclusion of the service, laying more white roses atop it. While most of the speeches and songs were delivered in Spanish, Rivera’s children spoke in English, often directly to their late mother. “We’re not here to mourn the death,” said son Michael, 21. “We’re here to celebrate the life and graduation of a singer, an entertainer, a diva, a fighter, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and more than anything, a mother the best mother.” He then called for 27 seconds of silence for the victims of the massacre in Newtown, Conn. Rivera’s youngest child, 11-year-old Johnny, was heartbreakingly poised as he said, “The person that everyone’s talking about is my mom.” “Mama, I’ve been crying so much these last few days. I miss you so much,” said the little boy, wearing a red bow tie like many of his family members. “I hope you’re taking care of my dad and I hope he’s taking care of you, too.” Rivera’s second husband, Juan Lopez, died in 2009. The couple divorced in 2003. Rivera’s brothers and sisters spoke lovingly of the singer, calling her “the queen of queens,” “perfectly imperfect” and an “eternal diva.” Her father said Rivera’s “happiness, smile and care for the public will never be forgotten.” He then performed a song he wrote about his daughter, a woman who rose from humble roots to become “la Diva de la Banda.” One of Rivera’s brothers said his sister “made it OK for women to be who they are. Jenni also made it OK to be from nothing with the hopes of being something.” The family asked that Latin radio stations play Rivera’s song “La Gran Senora” at noon Thursday in her honor. The service was closed to most media, although a broadcast of the proceedings was made available. Rivera’s last album before her death, “La Misma Gran Senora,” topped the Latin albums chart this week, selling 27,000 copies - the best sales week for any Latin album this year. Rivera also holds three spots on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Rivera and six other people died Dec 9 in a northern Mexico plane crash that remains under investigation. Rivera, a mother of five children and grandmother of two, was 43. —AP

Fans mourn Jenni Rivera at a memorial televised a on giant television in Universal City in Los Angeles Wednesday. — AP


Mayan shamans take part in a ceremony, celebrating the end of the Mayan cycle known as Bak’tun 13 and the start of the Maya new age, at the Tikal archaeological site, Peten department, 560 kms north of Guatemala City. — AFP photos

Mexico’s I

n the darkness before dawn yesterday, spiritualists prepared white clothes, drums, conch shells and incense ahead of the sunrise they believe will herald the birth of a new and better age as a vast, 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar comes to an end. No one was quite sure at what time the Mayas’ 13th Baktun would officially end on this Dec 21. Some think it already ended at midnight Thursday. Others looked to yesterday’s dawn here in the Maya heartland. Some had later times in mind. “Wait until the dawn on the 22nd; that is when we Maya will speak,” Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu said earlier in Guatemala, another Maya area. Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History even suggested that historical calculations to synchronize the Mayan and Western calendars might be off a few days. It said the Mayan Long Count calendar cycle might not really end until tomorrow. Whatever the details, the chance to welcome a new time seemed to be the main concern among celebrants drawn to the Yucatan peninsula. Many people who came to Yucatan for the occasion were already calling it “a new sun” and “a new era.” “The galactic bridge has been established,” announced spiritual leader

Guatemalan Mayan natives take part in celebrations marking the end of the Mayan age at the Tikal archaeological site, Peten department.

Maya heartland

awaits dawn of new era

A Mayan dancer performs at the Xcaret Eco Theme Park on the outskirts of Playa del Carmen.

People gather in front of the Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen Itza, Mexico.

Alberto Arribalzaga at a “galactic connection” ceremony Thursday in Merida. “The cosmos is going to take us to a higher level of vibration ... where humanity is in glory, in joy,” What nobody was calling it is the end of the world, as some people in recent years have interpreted the meaning of the end of the 13th Baktun - despite the insistence of archeologists and the Maya themselves it meant no such thing. “We’ll still have to pay taxes next year,” said Gabriel Romero, a Los Angeles-based spiritualist who uses crystal skulls in his ceremonies. If the chanting and dancing of a crystal skull ceremony held Thursday weren’t end fears of an apocalypse, scientists chimed in, too. Bill Leith, the US Geological Survey’s senior science adviser for earthquake and geologic hazards, said that by late Thursday, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary had been detected in seismic activities, solar flares, volcanos or the Earth’s geomagnetic field. “It’s a fairly unremarkable day on planet Earth today, and in the last few days,” Leith said. “There are no major erup-

tions going on.” There had been about 120 small earthquakes and a moderate temblor in Japan, he said. “That’s very much a normal day.” Still, there were some who wouldn’t truly feel safe until the sun sets yesterday over the pyramids in Yucatan peninsula, the heartland of the Maya. Mexico’s best-known seer, Antonio Vazquez Alba, known as “El Brujo Mayor,” said he had received emails containing rumors that a mass suicide might be planned in Argentina. He said he was sure that human nature represented the only threat yesterday. “Nature isn’t going to do us any harm, but we can do damage to ourselves,” he said. Authorities worried about overcrowding and possible stampedes during celebrations yesterday at Mayan ruin sites like Chichen Itza and Uxmal, both about 1 1/2 hours from Merida, the Yucatan state capital. Special police and guard details were assigned to the pyramids. As yesterday’s dawn began sweeping around the globe, there was no sign of an apocalypse. Indeed, the social network Imgur posted photos of clocks turning midnight in the AsiaPacific region with messages such as: “The world has not ended. Sincerely, New Zealand.” Average residents of the Yucatan, where the Mayas invented the 394-year calendar cycles known as baktuns, the 13th of which ends yesterday, were pretty upbeat about the day. Yucatan Gov. Rolando Zapata said he felt growing good vibes. “We believe that the beginning of a new baktun means the beginning of a new era, and we’re receiving it with great optimism,” Zapata said. Even before the baktun’s end, hundreds of spiritualists from Asian, North American, South American and European shamanistic traditions mingled amiably with the Mexican hosts at a convention center in Merida on Thursday. Dozens of booths offered people the chance to have their auras photographed with “Chi” light, get a shamanic cleansing or buy sandals, herbs and whole-grain baked goods. —AP


The centuries of luxury behind

football’s top trophy T

he displays at Mellerio jewellers in Paris teem with diamonds and sapphires. But to football fans they pale in comparison with the golden orb on a bed of pyrite crafted by the house for the FIFA Ballon d’Or. Dubbed the Oscars of the football world, the FIFA Ballon d’Or was born in 2010 of the merger of two prizes: the Ballon d’Or, awarded since 1956 by French sports journalists, and FIFA’s World Player trophy, picked since 1991 by coaches and national team captains. The award kept the name and distinctive trophy of the Ballon d’Or, which has stayed more or less the same for half a century: a brass football dipped in gold, resting on a rocky base of pyrite. The coveted prize, to be handed out on January 7, is crafted by one of the world’s oldest jewellers, the family-owned firm Mellerio dits Meller, which has been crafting gems and ornaments for the kings and queens of Europe since 1613. “It’s something we’re happy be a part of,” Francois Mellerio told AFP of the Ballon d’Or. He and his brother Olivier are the 14th generation to run the firm, which also crafts the Musketeers’ Trophy for the men’s singles in the French tennis open.

French artisan Michel Garault works on the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2012 (‘Golden ball’).

A view of the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2012 (‘Golden ball’), at the Mellerio jewelery workshops.

French artisan Michel Garault assembles the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2012 (‘Golden ball’), at the Mellerio jewelery workshops in Paris. —AFP photos

A view of the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2012 (‘Golden ball’) and three plaques reading, “Cristiano Ronaldo”, “Lionel Messi” and “Andres Iniesta”, at the Mellerio jewelery workshops. With 400 years in business the jeweller has made everything from tiaras-like one model from 1910, made of pearls, diamond and platinum-to ciborium, a cup used as part of

the Roman Catholic liturgy. The basement of its store on Paris’ Rue de la Paix, where the Italian family was the first jeweller to settle in 1815, teems with antique order books, dating back to 1780 and including commissions by the Empresses Josephine and Eugenie. Mellerio today employs 12 artisans in Paris, who work with a mix of traditional and modern methods-lasers alongside hand chisels. How many does it take to make the Ballon d’Or? “Eleven on each team,” joked Michel Garault, a metalsmith who has been with Mellerio for over a decade-and one of the six craftsmen who worked on this year’s

Ballon d’Or. ‘No two rocks are identical’ The prize, to be awarded on January 7 to one of three shortlisted players: Lionel Messi of Argentina, Spain’s Andres Iniesta, and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, follows a simple design, but the process still starts almost a year in advance. Two brass disks are shaped into hemispheres, then welded together. Using a real football as a guide, the seam lines are painstakingly chiseled into the ball by hand. Then it is engraved with the award logo and dipped in gold before being attached to

the base. The pyrite base-which is slightly different each year-is what makes each trophy unique, Mellerio explained. “No two rocks are identical, no two emeralds, no two rubies-there’s always a difference, that’s nature,” Mellerio said. The level of secrecy around the Ballon d’Or has changed over time: until a few years ago, Mellerio received the winner’s name in advance. Now nameplates are made for all three finalists and the craftsmen learn the winner’s identity along with the rest of the world, attaching his name at the last minute. This year’s favourite, Messi, has won the past three editions of the Ballon d’Or, a feat matched only by France’s Michel Platini in the 1980s. Nicknamed “The Flea”, Messi is being talked about as the greatest footballer in history after surpassing the 40-year record of 85 goals in a calendar year set by Germany’s Gerd Mueller in 1972. The player had stretched his tally to 90 by mid-December. Among his competition, Barcelona Football Club teammate Iniesta is remembered for scoring Spain’s winning goal in the 2010 World Cup. Ronaldo of Portugal snagged the Ballon d’Or title before Messi’s reign, in 2008. But in spite of an impressive 46 goals in the Spanish league, La Liga, last season, he will struggle to measure up to his Argentinian rival. — AFP


It’s never too late to

plan your


ave you been extremely busy all year to even think of your New Year’s trip? Well, it’s never too late with plenty of seats still available. Here are three hot destinations for New Year holidays recommended to you by Jazeera Airways. Whether you are travelling alone or with family and friends, choose one of the Middle East’s most favored destinations of Luxor, Dubai or Beirut and enjoy an exciting and refreshing break. Let’s take you on a quick tour through the three cities and help you make up your mind. LUXOR: Flight time: 2.5 hours Recommended dates: Depart Friday, 28 December, and return on Thursday, 3 January If you want to start the New Year in the heart of one of the world’s oldest civilizations, then the Egyptian city of Luxor is your place. Known as the world’s greatest open air museum, Luxor contains 70 percent of Egypt’s monuments, and is one of the top touristic destinations in the winter season. Whether you are travelling with your family, friends, or alone, the city promises you a fantastic journey through 7,000 years of civilization, on the banks of the Nile. You will

New Year’s trip! 3 New Year destinations waiting for you


Because the area gets crowded at least three hours before midnight, the ideal location to stay would be the Address Hotel, right in the heart of the Burj Khalifa and the shopping hotspot Dubai Mall area. Jazeera Airways’ Boghdady says the airline offers a wide range of daily flights to and from Dubai. If you are planning to stay beyond January 3, 2013, and extend it to the next weekend, then don’t miss the Dubai Shopping Festival which kicks off on January 3 and lasts until February 3, 2013.

Burj Khalifa - Dubai

Things you can do! December 31: Sandance NYE and Snoop Dogg concerts January 1, 12 am: Citywide fireworks show January 3 - February 3: Dubai Shopping Festival

Snow in Lebanon want to spend around five days in this city, which is located about 700 kilometers south of the country’s capital, Cairo. Your day starts with a visit to one of the Pharaonic temples, which is normally done early in the morning to avoid the heat in the afternoon. You can also stop at the bazaars all over the city, and get loved ones souvenirs. Before sunset, you can take a “felucca” (traditional Nile wooden boat) and enjoy a magical ride along the banks of the blue waters of the Nile, which tourists prefer to do every day during their stay. Several nightlife activities are also available including restaurants, and Nile cruises. As for flights, Rafiq Boghdady, VP Sales at Jazeera Airways, tells us that “Jazeera Airways flies direct three flights from Kuwait to Luxor. You could plan to travel on Friday, 28 December, and be back on Tuesday, 1 January, or stay a couple of days more and come back on Thursday, 3 January”.

Must see in Luxor: Valley of the Kings: This valley is home to 63 Pharaonic tombs and chambers, and was the main burial place of major noble and royal figures in Pharaonic dynasties. Each tomb has its own entrance in the mountains. Karnak Temple: This temple is the world’s most ancient religious site, a great open air museum. The Karnak Temple is the second most popular place for tourists in Egypt, after the Giza Pyramids. This temple can also be visited in the evening. Temple of Hatshepsut: Hatshepsut - meaning the Foremost of Noble Ladies - was one of the most successful Pharaohs. Luxor Temple: One of the biggest temples in the city. Instead of buying a postcard from Luxor, go yourself and take pictures of the magnificent structure. Luxor Museum: One of the few indoor activities that you can do in the city. The Luxor Museum contains more precious artifacts and monuments than the ones present at the renowned Museum of Antiquities in Cairo. DUBAI Flight time: 1.5 hours Recommended dates: Depart Sunday, 30 December, and return on Thursday, 3 January

This lively Gulf city of the United Arab Emirates is just an hour away from Kuwait, and one of the favorite destinations for many travelers in the region. Spending New Year’s in Dubai for sure has a different taste, especially this year. For concerts enthusiasts, two main concerts will be held in Dubai on New Year’s Eve. The Atlantis Hotel, Palm, will be the host of one of the longest concerts ever in the Middle East with the 12 hour Sandance NYE with Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora, Paul Van Dyk, Roger Sanchez and Zane Lowe - playing continuously from 3 pm on December 31, to 3 am on January 1, 2013. If this is too much for you to handle, Snoop Dogg will also be in town for New Year’s, performing at the famous Meydan Racecourse at Nad AlSheba. If you are travelling with your family, then Dubai is also an ideal destination for you. New Year’s traditional fireworks in this Gulf city have not been beaten anywhere else in the region. People start lining up in their cars and on foot several hours before midnight to secure the best view of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, where they could see an astonishing fireworks show celebrating the arrival of the new year. The show is also synchronized with other fireworks shows around the renowned 7-star Burj Al Arab Hotel, and other shows along the Arabian Gulf.

BEIRUT Flight time: 2.75 hours Recommended dates: Depart Sunday, 30 December, and return on Wednesday, 2 January Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, is another breathtaking destination that’s about two and a half hours away from Kuwait. It is an ideal destination for families and friends planning for a fabulous start to the New Year. It is a city for all ages indeed. From the wide range of shopping hot spots like Hamra Street and malls, to gatherings at the famous Solidere Downtown area and Al-Raouche, to touristic visits of sites of the ancient Phoenician civilization, Beirut is a city that never fails to astonish its visitors. If you are a skiing enthusiast, you have to take a trip to the mountains to the Middle East’s biggest skiing resort of Faraya, and on your way to the mountains don’t miss out on the must see ancient district of Jbeil where you can have lunch at any restaurant of your choice while enjoying a view of the Phoenician and Roman ruins in the city. “Jazeera Airways provides up to two flights per day from Kuwait to Beirut, so book the time that better suits your schedule and have a lovely break,” Boghdady said. Things you can do! December 31, 9.30 pm: NYE Gala dinner with Assi El Hellani and Haifa Wehbe Bon voyage!


Riedlbauer’s 70 acres of scenic land includes this pond. —MCT photos

Riedlbauer’s Resort a great place to ring in the New Year

By Samantha Feeuss


wo phrases, “family friendly” and “they made us feel like family,” are staples in travel reviews. But having visited (and reviewed) dozens of hotels and resorts, I can honestly say that neither of those phrases was ever more true than at Riedlbauer’s Resort. It felt like spending the weekend at a favorite aunt’s house, where you’re a little bit spoiled and your only job is to enjoy yourself. Located on 70 acres of scenic land in Green County, in the Catskill Mountains of New York, Riedlbauer’s is truly the perfect family getaway for any and all seasons. At Riedlbauer’s, the food and the decor are as German as the name. So is the music-live and otherwise-that plays over the speakers from before breakfast to well after dinnertime. There are also occasional surprises, such as a local dance troupe that performed authentic dances for us (in German costumes, of course). Many of the guests are native Germans, or have parents who are. Some speak the language, many understand it, and everyone enjoys singing traditional songs after dinner and dessert. Many of the guests are regulars, returning to Riedlbauer’s year after year, season after season. I even met several young parents who’d grown up visiting the resort as children and are now continuing the tradition with their own families. At check-in, I noticed how the resort staff treated other guests like family, and worried that, being newcomers, we’d feel like outsiders. Couldn’t have

been more wrong. The staff-and the other guests-immediately welcomed us as if we were long lost relatives. After just one day, it was kind of like “Cheers,” everybody knew your (and everyone else’s) name. We sang and danced together and enjoyed the evening festivities together. Most

meals were family style with otherswhich I didn’t think I’d like, but very much enjoyed. My 5-year old son quickly found a girlfriend and two of them ate at an adjoining table. The resort is home to many interesting events and activitiesHalloween costume parties, the Barbarian Blitz (an all-terrain obstacle

course, relay race, and test of physical limitations) and of course, the New Year’s Eve party, for which they are still taking reservations. For fun, fantastic (home-cooked!) food and celebration in a truly family friendly atmosphere, I can’t think of a better place to ring in the New Year than Riedlbauer’s. — MCT Riedlbauer’s Resort is in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.



Facebook to charge for some message delivery SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook yesterday began testing the feasibility of charging to guarantee that messages from strangers make it into inboxes of intended recipients at the social network. The Facebook Messages test, limited to the United States, lets a sender pay a dollar to make sure an electronic missive is routed to someone’s “inbox” even when the person isn’t in their circle of friends. Facebook messaging system was billed as being designed to deflect seemingly unwanted correspondence into an “other” folder that can be

ignored. Facebook said that it wanted to determine whether adding a “financial signal” improves its formula for delivering “relevant and useful” messages to members’ inboxes. Facebook already uses social cues, such as connections between friends, and algorithms that identify spam messages. “This test is designed to address situations where neither social nor algorithmic signals are sufficient,” Facebook said in a blog post. “For example, if you want to send a message to someone you heard speak at an event but are not

friends with, or if you want to message someone about a job opportunity, you can use this feature to reach their inbox.” The Menlo Park, California-based social network in 2011 introduced “other” folders as repositories for messages of dubious interest to recipients. The test was introduced along with updates that included “basic” or “strict” filtering settings for inboxes. The strict setting limits inboxes to little more than messages from friends at the social network, while the basic setting opens the door to friends of friends. — AFP

Great Firewall ‘upgrade’ hits China Internet users BEIJING: Chinese authorities who have long sought to limit access to information have reinforced the so-called Great Firewall of China, Internet firms say, frustrating businesses and raising activist concerns. The Great Firewall-the country’s system of online limits and restrictions-has stepped up its targeting of virtual private networks, or VPNs, commonly used to bypass controls on websites the government considers a threat. By using proxy servers located overseas and data encryption, VPNs let users reach sites blocked due to their content or sensitivity, among them Facebook and Twitter, and are also vital to firms by enabling secure communication. At the same time they have compounded authorities’ difficulties in seeking to shape public opinion and limit independent social organization in the country’s online community of 500 million, the world’s largest. Now web users are complaining of VPNs being inaccessible or quickly going down once accessed, while speeds have slowed to a crawl. “For us it’s catastrophic,” said one Western businessman in China, on condition of anonymity. “We are used to working between different offices and subsidiaries using Google Drive, which lets us, save, share and work simultaneously on common documents. Well, we can’t do that here.” Some foreign-based VPN providers blame the problem on system interference due to a strengthening of controls. In a message to its users, VPN provider Astrill identified a technology update to the Great Firewall (GFW), saying the system now has the “ability to learn, discover and block VPN protocols automatically”. “This GFW update is one of the worst so far and it has affected not just all VPN providers but as well as many companies which use VPN protocols to connect different branches of their network,” it said. Witopia, another provider, referred in a tweet to “rolling countrywide protocol

blocks”. The GFW has been built up over time since soon after the Internet began to develop in China, and uses a range of technologies to block access to particular sites’ IP addresses from Chinese computers. “It’s about preventing Chinese citizens from circumventing their grip on information and communication,” the founder of the website, which tracks online censorship in China, said in an email. In addition an army of censors keeps a close eye on China’s weibos, Twitter-like microblogs inside the firewall that have been used to organize protests and challenge official accounts of events such as a deadly 2011 rail crash that sparked fierce criticism of the government. Posts on contentious issues are rapidly deleted, and sometimes those using banned terms-which can at times even include senior leaders’ own names-are blocked entirely. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology did not immediately reply to a request for comment, but the government has previously said controls are designed to limit access to pornographic and violent content and protect children. But yesterday the state-run Global Times-which earlier this month quoted officials saying foreign-run VPNs were illegal-defended restrictions on the Internet in an editorial headlined: “Freedom not at odds with online regulation”. “Problems caused by the Internet have been accumulating,” said the Times, which boasts its own Facebook and Twitter accounts. “It is time to regulate the Internet.” The paper has previously quoted Fang Binxing, credited with designing the Great Firewall of China, as saying he knew of no upgrades to the system. But the founder, who uses the pseudonym Martin Johnson for security reasons, said it was plausible that the authorities could have tweaked the system to affect VPNs. —AFP

HAIKOU: Women use portable devices to browse the Internet in a restaurant in south China’s Hainan province. — AFP

HONG KONG: Sony Playstation promotional girls pose for a picture during the Asia Game Show (AGS) yesterday. AGS is highlighting products from the electronic gaming industry and runs from December 21 to 24. — AFP

Twitter offers users scrapbook of past tweets SAN FRANCISCO: Twitter is offering its more than 200 million users a chance to keep a digital scrapbook of all their tweets. The tool, announced this week, is designed to make it easier for people to review all their activity on Twitter’s trend-setting messaging service. When it’s available, the downloading option will appear at the bottom of each user’s settings menu. Twitter, which is based in San Francisco, said it may take a several weeks, or even months, before everyone gets the feature. After a records request is made, users will receive an email on how to download their personal archive. For Twitter’s earliest users, the records date back to 2006 when Twitter started. Twitter users already have been able to peruse their past tweets by navigating to their personal profile page. But going that route is more cumbersome because it requires scrolling down a page that can sometimes be slow to display additional tweets. The company said that users who download their entire histories should find it easier to search for particular tweets and organize the messages - by month, for example. The new tool also should serve as a

reminder that a copy of everything people have tweeted still resides on Twitter’s computers. Other widely used services, such as Facebook’s popular social network, also have been creating digital portraits of people’s lives as more content gets posted on their sites. Facebook gives its more than 1 billon users the option to download everything they have shared on the service. It has become easier this year for Facebook users to look at their past musings and photos as the service converted people’s profiles into a timeline that sorts content by the month it was

shared. Path, another social network founded by former Facebook executive Dave Morin, is also trying to position itself as a treasure chest of memories. A new feature released Thursday in an update to Path’s’ mobile app allows users to search their past posts on devices running on Apple and Android software. The content can be quickly retrieved by typing in their names’ friends, a specific event or time of year, or just a phrase encapsulating a vacation highlight, such as “hiking in Kauai.” — AP

HONG KONG: A Sony Playstation promotional girl dressed as Wonder Woman poses for a picture next to Iron Man during the Asia Game Show (AGS).



MUMBAI: (Left) This photo taken on December 11, 2012 shows an Indian washermen feeding clothes he washed into a spinner at an open air laundry facility known as the Dhobi Ghat . (Right) An Indian washer whips a bunch of clothes on a stone. — AFP photos

Indian washermen spin out decades-old tradition MUMBAI: The young man swings the sodden red garment around his head and thrashes it against the flogging stone before it is spun and hung out to dry in the fierce Indian sun. This is Mumbai’s Dhobi Ghat, known as the world’s largest outdoor laundry, where hundreds of traditional washer-

men hand-clean the teeming city’s dirty clothes. Built under British colonial rule and now a popular tourist attraction, Dhobi Ghat is integral to Mumbai’s daily life with the laundry even picked up and delivered fresh to the doors of its countless customers. Last year the site set a Guinness World

machines is threatening the livelihood of dhobiwallahs, who earn less than $10 a day. Many of those who can afford it have bought their own machines and for now the 25-acre hub shows little sign of slowing down, as the latest daily batches arrive for a beating to remove the grime of the city. — AFP

‘Dishonored’ tops diverse year in video games

Instagram retreats on some service terms after backlash NEW YORK: Instagram, the popular photo-sharing service, has retreated from some but not all of the controversial changes in its terms of service that prompted a fierce backlash from users earlier this week. In a blog post on Thursday, Instagram founder and CEO Kevin Systrom apologized for a failure to “communicate our intentions clearly.” The terms of service changes pertaining to advertising have been reversed, Systrom said, and restored to what they had been before the changes announced on Monday. Instagram, which allows people to add filters and effects to photos and share them easily on the Internet, was acquired by Facebook earlier this year for $715 million. Some top users of Instagram, including National Geographic magazine, said they would stop using the service after the new rules were announced on Monday. Language that had appeared to allow Instagram advertisers to display user photos without compensation have been removed from updated terms of service posted on Thursday. The updated terms also do not appear to contain a controversial provision which had stated that if a child under the age of 18 used the service, it implied his or her parent had tacitly agreed to Instagram’s terms. However, the new terms still contain a mandatory arbitration clause, which is not included in terms of service for other leading social media companies like Twitter, Google, YouTube or even Facebook itself. That immunizes Instagram from many forms of liability, according to legal experts. Internet experts said Instagram had been very aggressive in asserting its rights to user information and inviting anyone who did not agree to delete their accounts within a few weeks. The updated terms still say that anyone who accesses Instagram agrees to be bound by the new terms which are slated to go into effect on January 19. Also, Instagram kept language which gave it the ability to place ads in conjunction with user content, and “that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.” Instagram representatives could not immediately be reached for comment. Systrom stressed in the blog post that the company had no intention of selling the photos that users post on the service. Many users had read the new terms of service as an indication that the company was reserving the right to do that. “Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work,” Systrom said. —Reuters

Record for the “most people hand-washing clothes simultaneously” at a single location — 496 “dhobiwallahs” washed their way to the title. But its prime position in the city has caught the eye of ambitious property developers, while the rising popularity of washing


he video game universe in 2012 is a study in extremes. At one end, you have the old guard striving to produce mass-appeal blockbusters. At the other end, you have a thriving community of independent game developers scrambling to find an audience for their idiosyncratic visions. Can’t we all just get along? Turns out, we can. For while some industry leaders are worried (and not without cause) about “disruptive” trends social-media games, free-to-play models, the switch from disc-based media to digital delivery - video games are blossoming creatively. This fall, during the height of the pre-holiday game release calendar, I found myself bouncing among games as diverse as the bombastic “Halo 4,” the artsy “The Unfinished Swan” and the quickhit trivia game “SongPop.” Some of my favorite games this year have benefited from both sides working together. The smaller studios get exposure on huge platforms like Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network. The big publishers seem more willing to invite a little quirkiness into their big-budget behemoths. Gamers win. 1. “Dishonored” (Bethesda Softworks, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC): Arkane Studios’ revenge drama combined a witty plot, crisp gameplay and an uncommonly distinctive milieu, setting a supernaturally gifted assassin loose in a gloriously decadent, steampunk-influenced city. 2. “Mass Effect 3” (Electronic Arts, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, PC): No 2012 game was more ambitious than BioWare’s sweeping space opera. Yes, the ending was a little bumpy, but the fearless Commander Shepard’s last journey across the cosmos provided dozens of thrilling moments.

were the often hilarious encounters with the damaged citizens of the godforsaken planet Pandora. 6. “XCOM: Enemy Unknown” (2K Games, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC): A strategy classic returns, as the forces of Earth fight back against an extraterrestrial invasion. It’s a battle of wits rather than reflexes, a stimulating change of pace from the typical alien gorefest. 7. “Fez” (Polytron, for the Xbox 360): A two-dimensional dude named Gomez finds his world has suddenly burst into a third dimension in this gem from indie developer Phil Fish. As Gomez explores, the world of “Fez” continually deepens, opening up mysteries that only the most dedicated players will be able to solve.

3. “The Walking Dead” (Telltale Games, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, iOS): This moving adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s comics dodged the predictable zombie bloodbath in favor of a finely tuned character study of two survivors: Lee, an escaped convict, and Clementine, the 8-year-old girl he’s committed to protect. 4. “Journey” (Thatgamecompany, for the PlayStation 3): A nameless figure trudges across a desert toward a glowing light. Simple enough, but gorgeous visuals, haunting music and the need to communicate, wordlessly, with companions you meet along the way translate into something that’s almost profound. 5. “Borderlands 2” (2K Games, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC): Gearbox Software’s gleeful mash-up of first-person shooting, role-playing and loot-collecting conventions gets bigger and badder, but what stuck with me most

8. “Spec Ops: The Line” (2K Games, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC): This harrowing tale from German studio Yager Development transplants “Apocalypse Now” to a war-torn Dubai. It’s a bracing critique, not just of war but of the rah-rah jingoism of contemporary military shooters. 9. “Assassin’s Creed III” (Ubisoft, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, PC): A centuries-old conspiracy takes root in Colonial America in this beautifully realized, refreshingly irreverent installment of Ubisoft’s alternate history franchise. 10. “ZombiU” (Ubisoft, for the Wii U): The best launch game for Nintendo’s new console turns the Wii U’s GamePad into an effective tool for finding and hunting down the undead. Runners-up: “Call of Duty: Black Ops II,” “Darksiders II,” “Dust: An Elysian Tail,” “Far Cry 3,” “Halo 4,” “Mark of the Ninja,” “Need for Speed: Most Wanted,” “Paper Mario: Sticker Star,” “Papo & Yo,” “The Unfinished Swan.”

TV listings SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2012

00:50 01:45 02:35 03:25 04:15 05:05 05:55 06:20 06:45 07:35 08:00 08:25 09:15 10:10 11:05 11:30 12:00 12:25 12:55 13:50 14:45 18:25 19:20 20:15 21:10 22:05 23:00 23:55

Animal Cops Philadelphia Buggin’ With Ruud Untamed & Uncut Shark Fight Monster Bug Wars Saba And The Rhino’s Secret Call Of The Wildman Cheetah Kingdom Michaela’s Animal Road Trip Wildlife SOS Talk To The Animals Cats 101 Crocodile Hunter Baby Planet Dick ‘n’ Dom Go Wild Breed All About It Jeff Corwin Unleashed The Really Wild Show National Parks Australia Great Ocean Adventures Crocodile Hunter Crocodile Hunter The Animals’ Guide To Survival The Animals’ Guide To Survival Lions And Giants National Parks Australia My Cat From Hell Ned Bruha: Skunk Whisperer

00:00 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 00:45 Come Dine With Me 01:35 Antiques Roadshow 02:30 Celebrity Fantasy Homes 04:00 Eating With The Enemy 04:45 Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is 05:30 Saturday Kitchen 06:00 Saturday Kitchen 06:30 Eating With The Enemy 07:15 Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is 08:00 Antiques Roadshow 12:25 Kirstie & Phil’s Perfect Christmas 13:15 Kirstie & Phil’s Perfect Christmas 14:05 Come Dine With Me 14:55 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 15:35 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 16:20 Baking Mad With Eric Lanlard 17:10 The Hairy Bakers’ Christmas Special 18:00 Gok’s Clothes Roadshow 18:45 Kirstie & Phil’s Perfect Christmas 19:35 Come Dine With Me 20:25 Antiques Roadshow 21:15 Bargain Hunt 22:00 Masterchef: The Professionals 22:30 Masterchef: The Professionals 23:20 Baking Made Easy 23:50 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

00:00 Business Edition With Tanya Beckett 00:30 Football Focus 01:00 BBC World News America 02:00 BBC World News 02:30 Newsnight 03:00 BBC World News 03:10 Weekend World 03:30 Pick Of The Year 04:00 BBC World News 04:10 Faster, Higher, Stronger 05:00 BBC World News 05:30 Pick Of The Year 06:00 BBC World News 06:30 The Culture Show 07:00 BBC World News 07:30 Fast Track 08:00 BBC World News 08:30 Middle East Business Report 09:00 BBC World News 09:30 Click 10:00 BBC World News 10:10 Weekend World 10:30 Pick Of The Year 11:00 BBC World News 11:10 Football Focus 11:30 Pick Of The Year 12:00 BBC World News 12:10 Why Poverty? 13:00 BBC World News 13:10 World Features 13:30 Newsnight 14:00 BBC World News 14:10 Weekend World 14:30 Our World 15:00 BBC World News 15:30 Equestrian World

00:00 Connect The World With Becky Anderson 01:00 Amanpour 01:30 World Sport 02:00 Piers Morgan Tonight 03:00 World Report 03:30 World Sport 04:00 Anderson Cooper 360 05:00 Piers Morgan Tonight 06:00 Quest Means Business 06:45 CNN Marketplace Africa 07:00 The Situation Room 08:00 World Sport 08:30 On China 09:00 World Report 09:15 CNN Marketplace Africa 09:30 Backstory 10:00 World Report 10:15 CNN Marketplace Middle East 10:30 I Report For CNN 11:00 World Sport 11:30 Open Court 12:00 The Best Of The Situation Room 13:00 Amanpour 13:30 The Brief 14:00 World Report 14:30 Inside Africa 15:00 Talk Asia 15:30 Sanjay Gupta MD 16:00 World Report 16:30 Leading Women 16:45 Future Cities 17:00 News Special 17:30 Backstory 18:00 International Desk 18:30 African Voices 19:00 CNN Marketplace Europe 19:15 CNN Marketplace Africa 19:30 The Brief 20:00 World Sport 20:30 Winning Post 20:45 The Gateway 21:00 International Desk 21:30 Inside Africa 22:00 International Desk 22:30 On China 23:00 The Best Of The Situation Room

SECRET WINDOW ON OSN ACTION HD 16:00 16:15 16:30 17:00 17:30 18:00 18:10 19:00 19:30 20:00 20:30 21:00 21:30 22:00 22:15 22:30 23:00 23:10

BBC World News Sport Today Fast Track BBC World News Dateline London BBC World News Faster, Higher, Stronger BBC World News Our World BBC World News Final Score BBC World News Fast Track BBC World News Sport Today Click BBC World News Why Poverty?

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

Taz-Mania Pink Panther And Pals Moomins Tom & Jerry Kids A Pup Named Scooby-Doo Puppy In My Pocket Wacky Races Looney Tunes Duck Dodgers Dastardly And Muttley Dexter’s Laboratory Wacky Races Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries Tom & Jerry The Garfield Show Moomins Looney Tunes Tom & Jerry Tales What’s New Scooby Doo? Taz-Mania The Looney Tunes Show Tom & Jerry Tales The Garfield Show

09:00 09:25 09:40 09:55 10:10 10:25 10:50 11:05 11:30 12:45 12:55 13:20 13:45 14:00 14:50 15:40 16:30 17:20 18:00 18:50 19:00 19:30 19:55 20:20 20:45 21:00 21:25 21:50 22:15 22:40 23:05 23:30 23:55

Baby Looney Tunes Bananas In Pyjamas Cartoonito Tales Ha Ha Hairies Jelly Jamm Gerald McBoing Boing Moomins What’s New Scooby Doo? Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters Dexter’s Laboratory Taz-Mania The Looney Tunes Show Tom & Jerry The Garfield Show Pink Panther And Pals Tom & Jerry Tales Taz-Mania Johnny Bravo The Garfield Show Dexter’s Laboratory Looney Tunes Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries Taz-Mania The Looney Tunes Show Tom & Jerry The Garfield Show Pink Panther And Pals What’s New Scooby Doo? Moomins Puppy In My Pocket The Perils Of Penelope Pitstop The Addams Family Droopy: Master Detective

00:40 Chowder 01:30 Bakugan Battle Brawlers 02:20 Foster’s Home For... 03:10 Courage The Cowardly Dog 04:00 The Amazing World Of Gumball 04:25 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien

04:50 Adventure Time 05:15 The Powerpuff Girls 05:40 Generator Rex 06:05 Ben 10 06:55 Angelo Rules 07:00 Ed, Edd n Eddy 07:30 Casper’s Scare School 08:00 The Marvelous Misadventures... 08:25 Redakai: Conquer The Kairu 08:45 Grim Adventures Of... 09:35 Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated 09:55 Level Up 10:15 Batman: The Brave And The Bold 10:35 Transformers Prime 11:00 Ben 10: Omniverse 11:25 Thundercats 11:50 Regular Show 12:00 The Amazing World Of Gumball 12:10 The Powerpuff Girls 12:25 Adventure Time 12:40 The Amazing World Of Gumball 13:05 Johnny Test 13:30 Ben 10 14:00 Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman 15:10 Green Lantern: The Animated Series 15:35 Transformers Prime 16:00 Angelo Rules 16:50 Ben 10: Omniverse 17:15 Generator Rex 17:40 Eliot Kid 18:30 Regular Show 19:15 Chowder 19:45 The Amazing World Of Gumball 20:10 Johnny Test 20:35 Ben 10: Alien Force 21:25 The Powerpuff Girls 22:15 Grim Adventures Of... 23:25 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 23:50 The Powerpuff Girls

00:15 01:10 02:05 03:00 03:55 04:20 04:50 05:15 05:40 06:05 07:00 07:25 08:15 09:10 10:05 10:55 11:50 12:45 13:40 14:35 15:30 16:25 17:20 18:15 19:10 20:05 21:00 21:55 22:50 23:45

American Chopper American Chopper Wheeler Dealers Mythbusters Border Security GI Dough Auction Hunters How Stuff’s Made How It’s Made River Monsters How It’s Made Mighty Ships Mega Builders Extreme Engineering X-Machines Rattlesnake Republic Gold Rush American Chopper American Chopper Wheeler Dealers Deception With Keith Barry Mythbusters Curiosity: Volcano Time Bomb Flying Wild Alaska Bear Grylls: How To Stay Alive Ultimate Survival Outback Truckers Deadliest Catch Gold Divers American Guns

00:40 01:35 02:25 03:15 04:05 04:35 05:25 05:50 06:15 06:40 07:05 08:00 08:50 09:15 09:40 09:43 10:10 10:40 11:30

Ten Ways Space Pioneer Apocalypse 2012 Revelations Thunder Races Mean Green Machines 2012 Apocalypse How Do They Do It? How Do They Do It? The Gadget Show The Tech Show Space Pioneer Bad Universe Junk Men Junk Men Head Rush Stunt Junkies Stunt Junkies Man-Made Marvels Asia Gadget Show - World Tour

11:55 How Tech Works 12:20 Gadget Show - World Tour 12:45 How Tech Works 13:10 The Gadget Show 13:35 How Tech Works 14:00 The Gadget Show 14:25 How Tech Works 14:50 The Gadget Show 15:15 How Tech Works 15:45 Killer Outbreaks 16:35 Things That Move 17:00 Head Rush 17:03 Tech Toys 360 17:30 Tech Toys 360 18:00 Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman 18:50 Scrapheap Challenge 19:40 Ways To Save The Planet 20:30 Brave New World 23:50 Brave New World

00:10 00:20 00:35 01:00 01:25 01:50 02:15 02:40 03:05 03:30 03:55 04:20 04:45 05:10 05:35 06:00 06:15 06:40 07:05 07:30 07:55 08:20 08:45 09:35 10:00 10:25 11:50 12:05 12:30 12:55 13:20 13:45 15:25 15:50 16:15 17:00 18:30 18:45 20:10 20:25 20:50 21:15 21:40 22:05 22:30 22:45 22:55 Cody 23:20 Cody 23:45

Fish Hooks Fish Hooks Brandy & Mr Whiskers Brandy & Mr Whiskers Replacements Replacements Emperor’s New School Emperor’s New School Brandy & Mr Whiskers Brandy & Mr Whiskers Replacements Replacements Emperor’s New School Emperor’s New School Brandy & Mr Whiskers Doc McStuffins Suite Life On Deck Suite Life On Deck A.N.T. Farm A.N.T. Farm Jessie My Babysitter’s A Vampire Good Luck Charlie Austin And Ally Gravity Falls Girl vs Monster Phineas And Ferb Austin And Ally My Babysitter’s A Vampire Gravity Falls Jessie Good Luck Charlie Shake It Up Shake It Up Suite Life On Deck Johnny Tsunami Phineas And Ferb Girl vs Monster Phineas And Ferb My Babysitter’s A Vampire Gravity Falls A.N.T Farm Jessie Jessie Fish Hooks Fish Hooks The Suite Life Of Zack And The Suite Life Of Zack And Stitch

00:55 Style Star 01:25 E!es 02:20 E!es 03:15 Behind The Scenes 03:40 Extreme Close-Up 04:10 THS 05:05 THS 06:00 30 Best & Worst Beach Bodies 07:50 Behind The Scenes 08:20 E! News 09:15 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 10:15 Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane 11:10 Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane 12:05 E! News 13:05 Scouted 14:05 Kourtney & Kim Take New York 15:00 Married To Jonas 15:55 Opening Act 17:55 E! News 18:55 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 19:55 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 20:55 Married To Jonas 21:25 Fashion Police 22:25 E! News 23:25 Chelsea Lately 23:55 Dirty Soap

TV listings SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2012

00:40 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 01:05 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 01:30 Guy’s Big Bite 01:55 Holidays At Walt Disney World Resort 02:45 Food Network All-Star 03:35 Chopped 04:25 Kid In A Candy Store 04:50 Unique Sweets 05:15 Charly’s Cake Angels 05:40 Chopped 06:30 Iron Chef America 07:10 Unwrapped 07:35 Unwrapped 08:00 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives Special 08:50 Food Network Challenge 09:40 United Tastes Of America 10:05 Barefoot Contessa 10:30 Barefoot Contessa 10:55 Cooking For Real 11:20 Cooking For Real 11:45 Charly’s Cake Angels 12:10 Unique Sweets 12:35 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 13:00 Iron Chef America 13:50 Guy’s Big Bite 14:15 Cooking For Real 14:40 Barefoot Contessa 15:05 Mexican Made Easy 15:30 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives Special 16:20 United Tastes Of America 16:45 Chopped 17:35 Barefoot Contessa 18:00 Barefoot Contessa 18:25 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives Special 19:15 Kid In A Candy Store 19:40 Unique Sweets 20:05 Charly’s Cake Angels 20:30 Chopped 21:20 Iron Chef America 22:10 Iron Chef America Special 23:00 Chopped 23:50 Holidays At Walt Disney World Resort

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

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

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

Naked Lentil One Man & His Campervan Food Lover’s Guide To The

17:00 Glorious 39-PG15 19:15 Love And Other Impossible Pursuits-PG15 21:00 Cowboys & Aliens-PG15 23:00 Prowl-18

Food Lover’s Guide To The Amish: Out of Order On Hannibal Trail Finding Genghis Deadliest Journeys Deadliest Journeys 2 Perilous Journeys Bondi Rescue Street Food Around The World Market Values Weird & Wonderful Hotels The Best Job In The World Bondi Rescue

00:00 The Task-PG15 02:00 Mad Max-18 04:00 Circle Of Eight-18 06:00 Men In Black-PG15 08:00 True Justice: Blood Alley-PG15 10:00 Tomorrow, When The War Began-PG15 12:00 Rage Of The Yeti-PG15 14:00 True Justice: Blood Alley-PG15 16:00 Odysseus: Voyage To The Underworld-PG15 18:00 Rage Of The Yeti-PG15 20:00 The Running Man-18 22:00 Secret Window-PG15

01:15 03:00 05:00 07:00 PG15 09:00 11:00 13:15 15:00

The Deep Blue Sea-PG15 My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend-PG15 Open Season 3-FAM Marion Jones: Press PauseMy Girlfriend’s Boyfriend-PG15 Moneyball-PG15 Princess Lillifee-FAM Elevator Girl-PG15

00:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 01:00 The Colbert Report 02:00 South Park 02:30 How To Make It In America 03:00 Raising Hope 03:30 30 Rock 04:00 Hope & Faith 04:30 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 07:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 08:00 Hope & Faith 08:30 Raising Hope 10:00 Two And A Half Men 11:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 12:30 Hope & Faith 14:00 30 Rock 15:00 Two And A Half Men 15:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 16:00 The Colbert Report 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 Raising Hope 18:30 30 Rock 19:00 Two And A Half Men 20:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 Saturday Night Live 23:00 How To Make It In America 23:30 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

00:00 The X Factor U.S. 01:00 Glee 02:00 Damages

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

Glee Greek Good Morning America The Practice Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show The Practice The X Factor U.S. C.S.I. New York Glee Live Good Morning America Emmerdale Coronation Street Burn Notice C.S.I. C.S.I. Miami Strike Back Greek

00:00 01:00 02:00 03:00 04:00 06:00 07:00 07:30 08:00 09:00 10:00 12:00 12:30 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 16:30 18:00 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 23:00

Fairly Legal Damages Glee The Tudors The X Factor U.S. Fairly Legal Emmerdale Coronation Street Criminal Minds Glee The X Factor U.S. Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show Criminal Minds Fairly Legal Emmerdale Coronation Street Criminal Minds Burn Notice C.S.I. C.S.I. Miami Strike Back The Tudors

Icarus-18 Scream Of The Banshee-18 Ip Man 2-PG15 Bending The Rules-PG15 Blank Slate-PG15 Ip Man 2-PG15 Rocky IV-PG15 Blank Slate-PG15 Law Abiding Citizen-18 Get Rich Or Die Tryin’-18 Secret Window-PG15 And Soon The Darkness-PG15

00:00 Super-18 02:00 The Extra Man-PG15 04:00 Happy Gilmore-PG15 06:00 Good Boy!-PG 08:00 The Family Stone-PG15 10:00 Sleepless In Seattle-PG 12:00 Happy Gilmore-PG15 14:00 Robots-PG 16:00 Sleepless In Seattle-PG 18:00 The Ladykillers-PG15 20:00 I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry-PG15 22:00 The Guru-18

01:00 03:00 05:00 07:00 09:00 10:45 13:00 PG15 15:00 17:00 19:00 21:00 23:15

Witness-PG15 The Silence Of The Lambs-18 John Rabe-PG15 The Greatest-PG15 Uncorked-PG15 2001: A Space Odyssey-PG15 Ike: Countdown To D-DayUncorked-PG15 Mademoiselle Chambon-PG15 Flight Of The Phoenix-PG15 The Terminal-PG15 Any Given Sunday-18

00:30 127 Hours-PG15 02:30 The Vow-PG15 04:30 Rango-FAM 06:45 Alabama Moon-PG15 09:00 The Smurfs-PG 11:00 Marley & Me: The Puppy Years-PG 13:00 Love The Beast-PG 15:00 The Birth Of Big Air-PG15 16:00 The Smurfs-PG 18:00 Thor-PG15 20:00 Albert Nobbs-18 22:00 Underworld: Awakening-18 23:45 Hemingway & Gellhorn-18

Dr G: Medical Examiner Ghost Lab Psychic Witness Evil, I Evil, I I Escaped Death Dr G: Medical Examiner Ghost Lab Psychic Witness Disappeared Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? On The Case With Paula Zahn Murder Shift Disappeared Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Forensic Detectives On The Case With Paula Zahn Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? Murder Shift Disappeared Forensic Detectives Street Patrol On The Case With Paula Zahn Who On Earth Did I Marry? Nightmare Next Door Couples Who Kill The Haunted Ghost Lab

01:15 Mia And The Migoo-PG 02:45 The Three Bears: Dreadful Dangers-FAM 04:15 Rainbow Valley Heroes-FAM 06:00 The Search For Santa Paws-PG 08:00 Emperor’s Secret-PG 09:45 Little Secrets-PG 11:30 Horrid Henry-PG 13:00 The Three Bears: Dreadful Dangers-FAM 14:30 Looney Tunes: Back In ActionFAM 16:00 Scooby-Doo! Curse Of The Lake Monster-PG 18:00 Little Secrets-PG 20:00 Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate-PG 22:00 The Three Bears: Dreadful Dangers-FAM 23:30 Emperor’s Secret-PG

Amish: Out of Order Danger Beach One Man & His Campervan Food Lover’s Guide To The Food Lover’s Guide To The Amish: Out of Order Bondi Rescue Street Food Around The World Market Values Deadliest Journeys Deadliest Journeys 2 Perilous Journeys Amish: Out of Order

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


00:00 MSNBC Martin Bashir 01:00 MSNBC Hardball With Chris Matthews 02:00 MSNBC Politicsnation 03:00 Live NBC Nightly News 03:30 ABC World News With Diane Sawyer 04:00 MSNBC The Ed Show 05:00 MSNBC The Rachel Maddow Show 06:00 MSNBC Politicsnation 07:00 Live NBC Nightly News 07:35 ABC Nightline 08:00 ABC World News With Diane Sawyer 08:30 Live NBC Nightly News 09:00 MSNBC The Rachel Maddow

Show 10:00 MSNBC The Ed Show 11:00 MSNBC Morning Joe 14:00 MSNBC Caught On Camera 15:00 Live NBC Saturday Today Show 17:00 MSNBC Up With Chris Hayes Saturday 18:57 Live MSNBC Hardball With Chris Matthews 19:38 Live MSNBC The Ed Show 20:19 Live MSNBC The Rachel Maddow Show 21:00 ABC 20/20 22:00 MSNBC News

00:15 The Men Who Stare At Goats18 02:00 The Adventures Of Tintin-PG 04:00 Kung Fu Dunk-PG15 06:00 Hitch-PG15 08:00 Courageous-PG15 10:15 The Adventures Of Tintin-PG 12:15 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol-PG15 14:30 Tim Richmond: To The LimitPG15 15:45 Courageous-PG15 18:00 Dolphin Tale-PG 20:00 Albert Nobbs-18 22:00 Personal Effects-18

02:00 06:00 07:00 10:00 10:30 11:00 14:00 14:30 15:30 19:30 20:30 21:30 22:00

Pool Mosconi Cup PGA European Tour Highlights Twenty20 Big Bash League ICC Cricket 360 Futbol Mundial Live Twenty20 Big Bash League ICC Cricket 360 PGA European Tour Weekly Live Darts PGA European Tour Highlights Trans World Sport ICC Cricket 360 Live Darts

02:00 03:00 07:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 13:30 14:00 15:30 18:30 19:00 22:00 23:00

WWE Bottom Line Darts Darts Trans World Sport PGA European Tour Weekly ICC Cricket 360 Futbol Mundial Volvo Ocean Race Highlights Twenty20 Big Bash League ICC Cricket 360 Twenty20 Big Bash League UFC The Ultimate Fighter WWE SmackDown

00:00 00:30 01:30 02:00 02:30 04:30 06:30 07:00 09:00 09:30 10:30 12:30 14:30 15:00 15:30 16:30 17:00 18:00 18:30 20:15 22:30 23:30

Futbol Mundial Golfing World Spirit of Golf Spirit of Golf Pro 12 Top 14 Asian Tour Golf Pro 12 Spirit of Yachting Trans World Sport Top 14 Pro 12 Spirit of Golf Futbol Mundial Golfing World Spirit of Yachting Trans World Sport Top 14 Highlights Pro 12 Live Pro 12 PGA European Tour Highlights Golfing World

00:00 02:00 03:00 04:00 07:00 08:00 09:00 14:00 16:00 17:00 19:00 20:00 23:00

WWE NXT UFC The Ultimate Fighter UFC 145 WWE SmackDown WWE Bottom Line WWE Vintage PrizeFighter WWE SmackDown V8 Supercars Extra V8 Supercars Highlights UFC The Ultimate Fighter UFC 146 WWE SmackDown


Embassy Information

Bhavns preschool kids showcase talents


havanites’ quest for challenges are forever. Contemplating their powers and strengths to explore the new horizons and transforming the little buds into wonder kids, empowering them to exhibit their talents by the sheer creativity of learning Jack & Jill, thus provides each and every student a formidable platform to showcase the little triumphs and glory. It is indeed a prestigious school to run for a race and hence the so called brains behind every successful individual receive unparalleled adoration and admiration. Winter, a season to flaunt with the best of woollen drapes was indeed a moment to rejoice as the tiny tots participated ecstatically in the Fancy Dress Competition for the lower kindergarten held on 5th and 12th of December on the apt theme , fruits, flowers and vegetables. The magnificent show would not have been so elegant and exquisite without the unstinting enthusiasm, guidance and support of the principal, Rathi Ravindran. The children equally enjoyed dressing up and performing on stage. The little ones’ parents stopped at nothing to showcase their ward’s favorite fruit, flower and vegetable by dressing them up, feeling contented at the dawn of the radiant smile on their happy, innocent faces. The little ones were quite confident in presenting the theme, emphasizing the magnificent essence of floral fragrance

in flowers with varied colors of elegance as well as the source of nourishments in vegetables and the importance of power packed vitamins in fruits essential for healthy living. The participation of the small ones though at times reluctant won the praise of all present in the auditorium. Parents as well as the judges were enthusiastic and enthralled at the mind blowing performance of the kids, making it an innovative, satisfying and fulfilling event of remarkable success. Fancy dress competitions are filled with fun and frolic. The touching and heartfelt joy and happiness on the children’s face as they dress up in a character they aspire and admire to become is indeed a marvel to behold. The parents too should be appreciated and admired for their amazing, creative ideas and taking that extra, sincere effort for presenting a novel item, enhancing the confidence of the children. The competition saw the little ones of Prep KG I in their beautiful, exciting and very interesting costumes enrapturing everyone. Bhavans preschool children always exhibit a keen interest in the area of fine arts, taking part in various competitions and grabbing the wonderful opportunity to prove their ability and develop their innate talent, thus adorning the esteemed name of Bhavans in the field of education.

EMBASSY OF AUSTRALIA The Australian Embassy Kuwait does not have a visa or immigration department. All processing of visas and immigration matters in conducted by The Australian Consulate-General in Dubai. Email: (VFS) (Visa Office); Tel: +971 4 355 1958 (VFS) - +971 4 508 7200 (Visa Office); Fax: +971 4 355 0708 (Visa Office). In Kuwait applications can be lodged at the Australian Visa Application Centre 4B 1st Floor, Al-Banwan Building Al-Qibla Area, Ali Al-Salem Street, opposite the Central Bank of Kuwait, Kuwait City, Kuwait. Working hours and days: 09:30 - 17:30; Sunday - Thursday. Or visit their website www.vfs-au-gcc-com for more information. Kuwait citizens can apply for tourist visas on-line at visa/e676.htm. nnnnnnn

EMBASSY OF CANADA The Canadian Embassy in Kuwait does not have a visa or immigration department. All processing of visa and immigration matters including enquiries is conducted by the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, UAE Individuals who are interested in working, studying, visiting or immigrating to Canada should contact the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, website: or, Email: The Embassy of Canada is located at Villa 24, AlMutawakei St, Block 4 in Da’aiyah. Please visit our website at The Embassy of Canada is open from 7:30 to 15:30 Sunday through Thursday. The reception is closed for lunch from 12:30 to 13:00. Consular services for Canadian citizens are provided from 09:00 until 12:00, Sunday through Wednesday. nnnnnnn

EMBASSY OF CYPRUS In its capacity as EU Local Presidency in the State of Kuwait, the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus, on behalf of the Member States of the EU and associated States participating in the Schengen cooperation, would like to announce that as from 2nd October 2012 all Schengen States’ Consulates in Kuwait will use the Visa Information System (VIS). The VIS is a central database for the exchange of data on short-stay (up to three months) visas between Schengen States. The main objectives of the VIS are to facilitate visa application procedures and checks at external border as well as to enhance security. The VIS will contain all the Schengen visa applications lodged by an applicant over five years and the decisions taken by any Schengen State’s consulate. This will allow applicants to establish more easily the lawful use of previous visas and their bona fide status. For the purpose of the VIS, applicants will be required to provide their biometric data (fingerprints and digital photos) when applying for a Schengen visa. It is a simple and discreet procedure that only takes a few minutes. Biometric data, along with the data provided in the Schengen visa application form, will be recorded in the VIS central database. Therefore, as from 2nd October 2012, first-time applicants will have to appear in person when lodging the application, in order to provide their fingerprints. For subsequent applications within 5 years the fingerprints can be copied from the previous application file in the VIS. The Cypriot Presidency would like to assure the people of Kuwait and all its permanent citizens that the Member States and associated States participating in the Schengen cooperation, have taken all necessary technical measures to facilitate the rapid examination and the efficient processing of visa applications and to ensure a quick and discreet procedure for the implementation of the new VIS.


Alghanim Industries holds blood donation campaign


lghanim Industries held its bi-annual blood donation campaign at its corporate headquarters in Shuwaikh earlier this month in cooperation with Kuwait’s Central Blood Bank (KCBB). The campaign was a huge success, with a large number of employees taking the time to

donate blood to this worthy cause. The company extends its thanks to all employees who participated, as well as to the KCBB doctors and staff who facilitated the event. The annual blood donation campaign is part of Alghanim Industries’ ongoing commitment to corporate responsibility and community engagement.

Runners-Up trophy for ICSK at IDF quiz


he participants from the Indian Community School, Senior Branch, won the runners-up trophy in the Inter-School Health Quiz competition organized by the Indian Doctors Forum on December 8, 2012 at the Kuwait Medical Association Hall at Jabriya. The ICSK team, comprising Master Ajish Sam George, Class XII and Miss Sharan Yadav, Class XI intelligently answered the questions put to them. A total of 16 schools participated in the competition

which started with a preliminary written test. Six teams qualified for the final round of the competition which was the quiz round. There were several rounds of questions that included questions based on audio and video clues as well as a rapid fire round. The IDF health quiz was a well organized competition which saw passionate participation of all the teams. The ICSK extends congratulations to the team for their performance.

KKK cultural program


KK (Kuwait Kannada Koota) is all set to host a cultural extravaganza on Friday, December 28, 2012. Renowned sitarist Ankush N Nayak has been invited to perform at the event which will be held at ICSK Khaitan. Ankush started learning sitar at the tender age of nine and is a disciple of Ustad Rafique Khan, a reputed Khandani sitarist. He has performed for Doordarshan and All India Radio several times. All Koota members are welcome to attend the program.

TIES Centre programs TIES Center Arabic Course - 13/01/13 TIES Center is glad to announce the start of Arabic Courses. Starting January 13 and Ending March 7, 2013. We offer classes for all levels from beginners to advance level. TIES Arabic Classes are intended for all expatriates who wish to learn Arabic for whatever purpose - business, basic communication, as a second language or simply as a hobby. Throughout the course the students will learn how to read, write and speak Arabic in a friendly, relaxed and welcoming environment. Center - 9th January 2013 TIES Center announces new English Course Classes from January 9th 2013 to February 13th 2013, every Wednesday 6pm to 8pm. The course would be conducted by an instructor with vast experienced in teaching English Mr. Mohammad Abdullah Cathcart, native English speaker, California\Minnesota accent and TEFL Certified English teacher. The classes would be at TIES Center in Al Shuhada. First Aid at TIES Center TIES Ladies Club invites all ladies to

learn the basic life saving techniques in our unique Monthly First Aid Workshops. Do not miss this opportunity as you never know when and where these techniques would be required. Though basic but they might make a significant difference in life. Date: Saturday 12th January 2013 Time 11am to 1pm Call and book a seat now as the number of seats are limited English Course at TIES TIES Center International Bazaar - 19th January 2013 Stop by and have the opportunity to see and even own some international antiques on display and taste the delicious foods on display. Also have your name inscribed in Arabic calligraphy at no cost and have a taste of our Arabic Ice Cream. Various items will be available for sale, such as pashmina shawls, accessories, jewellery, Mexican food, Indian food, Cosmetics, Cookies, Handbags, Traditional Kuwaiti - Style dresses and many more. And there would be a lot of fun for kids such as Bouncy Castle for Kids. All Are welcome.

Christmas family gathering


n event to herald in the Good Tidings is organized to be held on 24th December 2012 (Monday) from 9:30 PM to 2:00 AM at the elegant spacious Rajdhani Palace, Khaitan. For

the true spirit of Christmas, join in the entertainment and fun with carols, games for children, DJ music, grand entry of Santa, surprises & prizes, raffle, buffet dinner, and lots more.

Carnatic vocalists and musicians Noorni Sunil, Srikant, Ganesh, Saji and Noorni Krishnan pose for a photo with the members of Samadarshan Kuwait. The musicians who arrived in Kuwait from India presented a semi-classical concert at Indian Community School, Amman branch on Thursday (December 20) evening.



Long-lived bats offer clues on diseases, aging HONG KONG: The bat, a reservoir for viruses like Ebola, SARS and Nipah, has for decades stumped scientists trying to figure out how it is immune to many deadly bugs but a recent study into its genes may finally shed some light, scientists said yesterday. Studying the DNA of two distant bat species, the scientists discovered how genes dealing with the bats’ immune system had undergone the most rapid change. This may explain why they are relatively free of disease and live exceptionally long lives compared with other mammals of similar size, such as the rat, said Professor Lin-Fa Wang, an infectious disease expert at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore who led the multi-centre study. “We are not saying bats never get sick or never get infections. What we are saying is they handle infections a lot better,” Wang said in a telephone interview. What was missing from both species of bats was a gene segment known to trigger extreme, and potentially fatal, immune reactions to infections, called the cytokine storm. Cytokine storms end up killing not only offending viruses in the body, but the host’s own cells and tissues too. “Viruses rarely kill the host. The killing comes from the host’s immune response. So it looks like what bats are doing is depress the inflammation (cytokine storm). If we can learn that, we can design drugs to minimize the inflammation damage and control viral infection,” Wang said. The study, which saw the participation of researchers from China, Denmark, Australia and the United States, was published yesterday in the journal Science. Compared with other mammals of similar size, bats live a long time, with lifespans of between 20 and 40 years. Rats live between 2 and 3 years, on average. Immune genes linked to flight Interestingly, Wang and his colleagues found that the highly evolved genes that give bats their superior immune system also enable them to fly. Out of more than 5,000 types of mammals on the planet, bats are the only one capable of sustained flight and some species can fly more than 1,000 km in a single night. Such intense physical exertion is known to produce toxic “free radicals” that cause tissue damage and it is these same genes that give the bat the ability to repair itself, Wang said. “What we found was the genes that evolved fastest were genes involved in repairing DNA damage. That makes sense ... because when you fly, metabolism goes up and it generates free radicals that are toxic to cells,” Wang said. “Because bats fly, they (would have had) to evolve and adapt... to get genes that can repair DNA damage.” —Reuters

What’s in a name? Losing Asperger’s label not such a big change CHICAGO: Struggling to describe her son, Suzanne Kolen of Long Island, New York, uses a friend’s recent description: He’s the 13-year-old boy bouncing down the road in the rain looking very much like Winnie the Pooh’s friend, Tigger. “He’s a genuinely happy kid,” Kolen says of her son, a bright boy who loves nature and paleontology and has never been defined by his diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism marked by social awkwardness and narrow interests that make personal relationships challenging. Matthew’s diagnosis will soon be dropped in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5, the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic reference book, to be subsumed into the broader category of autism spectrum disorder. Although autism can range from highly functioning individuals like Matthew to those with severe speech and intellectual disabilities, in general individuals struggle with difficulties in communication, behavior and social interaction. Dropping the Asperger’s diagnosis in the new DSM, due out this spring, has caused consternation for some families. “One of the biggest concerns is that some who are higher functioning will no longer meet the more stringent criteria and will therefore have difficulty getting services,” says Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, an autism researcher at the University of California Los Angeles. —Reuters

MUMBAI: Indian protesters lift a balloon shaped like a medicine capsule during a demonstration against Swiss drug manufacturer Novartis, outside their offices. Demonstrators including cancer patients were protesting against the potential impact of the company’s legal battle in India. Novartis is engaged in a legal battle over a part of the country’s patent law that led to the company being denied a patent by an Indian court on their cancer drug “Gleevec”. — AFP

9/11 cancer study won’t settle debate over risks ‘No evidence that 9/11 caused any of these cancers’ CHICAGO: The most comprehensive study of potential World Trade Centerrelated cancers raises more questions than it answers and won’t end a debate over whether the attacks were really a cause. The study suggests possible links with prostate, thyroid and a type of blood cancer among rescue and recovery workers exposed to toxic debris from the terrorist attacks. But there were few total cancers and even the study leaders say the results “should be interpreted with caution.” The study involved nearly 56,000 people enrolled in a registry set up to monitor health effects from those exposed to the aftermath of the trade center attacks. Most participants volunteered for enrollment, which could skew the results if people who already had symptoms were more likely to enroll than healthier people. Cancers diagnosed through 2008 were included in the study, but that’s just seven years after the 2001 attacks, and cancer often takes longer to develop. People diagnosed with cancer before the attacks were excluded from the study. Cancer rates were compared with those in the general New York state population. But the researchers had no data on whether people in the study had risk factors for getting cancer, including a strong family history, or if they had existing cancer that wasn’t detected until after the disaster. Participants are being monitored for health issues and may have gotten more cancer screening than other people, which also could skew the results. The increased risks were seen only in rescue and recovery workers, who likely had more direct, sustained contact with potential cancer-causing substances in the dust, smoke and debris from the attacks. But cancers weren’t more common in workers who had the most

exposure - a finding that would seem to contradict the theory that contact was the cause. The study comes just a few months after the federal government added dozens of types of cancer to a list of illnesses related to the trade center attacks that will be covered by a program to pay for health coverage. The study results “won’t settle the question because it’s still too early,” said Dr Thomas Farley, New York City’s health commissioner. “People are very, very interested in this topic and we thought it was important to get the data out that we have even though it is early.” Marijo Russell O’Grady, dean of students at Pace University’s New York City campus, was at her office near the trade center during the attacks. She also lives nearby, and said she worries about how exposure to choking dust, ash and an “overwhelming burnt plastic smell” might affect her family, including her then 1 1/2 year-old son. They are all enrolled in the health registry. Cancer is her greatest concern and

it’s “always present in the back of my mind,” she said. Researchers from the city’s health department led the study, which was partly paid for by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. NIOSH spokesman Fred Blosser said the agency welcomes the results and that longer follow-up is needed to examine risks for cancers with that take a long time to develop. The study appears in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association. Earlier research from the same registry linked the attacks with respiratory problems including asthma and symptoms of post-traumatic stress. The new study involved a broader array of people, including firefighters and other emergency workers, along with residents and employees of workplaces near ground zero, Farley said. In the new study, possible links were mainly seen with cancers diagnosed in 2007 and 2008 in rescue and recovery workers. —AP

NEW YORK: In this Monday, Sept 24, 2001 file photo, rescue workers examine the site of the Sept 11, 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks. — AP

























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information SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2012



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Departure Flights on Saturday 22/12/2012 Flt Route 976 GOA 981 WASHINGTON 637 FRANKFURT 573 MUMBAI 413 AMSTERDAM 621 ADDIS ABABA 773 ISTANBUL 442 LAHORE 381 DELHI 240 SIALKOT 68 DUBAI 854 DUBAI 644 MUSCAT 306 ABU DHABI 613 CAIRO 139 DOHA 149 DOHA 164 DUBAI 212 BAHRAIN 771 ISTANBUL 54 DUBAI 156 LONDON 256 BEIRUT 534 CAIRO 101 LONDON 1785 JEDDAH 787 JEDDAH 324 AL NAJAF 671 DUBAI 122 SHARJAH 537 SOHAG 856 DUBAI

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Word Search

Yesterdayʼs Solution

C R O S S W O R D 4 6

ACROSS 1. South American wood sorrel cultivated for its edible tubers. 4. A mixture of nectar and pollen prepared by worker bees and fed to larvae. 12. An emotional response that has been acquired by conditioning. 15. A number of sheets of paper fastened together along one edge. 16. The levorotatory form of dopa (trade names Bendopa and Brocadopa and Larodopa). 17. The syllable naming the sixth (submediant) note of a major or minor scale in solmization. 18. A flat wing-shaped process or winglike part of an organism. 19. Expletives used informally as intensifiers. 20. The amount a salary is increased. 22. Presence of excess lipids in the blood. 25. A city in northeastern Ohio. 27. (astronomy) A measure of time defined by Earth's orbital motion. 29. A very poisonous metallic element that has three allotropic forms. 34. According to the Old Testament he was a pagan king of Israel and husband of Jezebel (9th century BC). 39. Cubes of meat marinated and cooked on a skewer usually with vegetables. 40. A pilgrimage to Mecca. 41. Any tropical gymnosperm of the order Cycadales. 42. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. 46. A river in north central Switzerland that runs northeast into the Rhine. 47. Member of a Jewish sect that observes a form of strict Orthodox Judaism. 53. Romanian violinist and composer (1881-1955). 55. A heavy rain. 57. A Buddhist who has attained nirvana. 61. A person from whom you are descended. 64. A laborer who loads and unloads vessels in a port. 65. Title for a civil or military leader (especially in Turkey). 66. God of the underworld and judge of the dead. 69. Type genus of the Ardeidae. 70. A user interface in which you type commands instead of choosing them from a menu or selecting an icon. 71. An animal having teeth consolidated with the summit of the alveolar ridge without sockets. 73. A doctor's degree in education. 74. The fatty flesh of eel. 75. Characterized by undue haste and lack of thought or deliberation. 76. A usually soluble substance for staining or coloring e.g. fabrics or hair.

6. That part of the central nervous system that includes all the higher nervous centers. 7. Capital and largest city of Italy. 8. A lyric poem with complex stanza forms. 9. Surface layer of ground containing a matt of grass and grass roots. 10. The sciences concerned with gathering and manipulating and storing and retrieving and classifying recorded information. 11. American professional baseball player who hit more home runs than Babe Ruth (born in 1934). 12. A steep high face of rock. 13. Freedom from difficulty or hardship or effort. 14. Fertility goddess in ancient Greek mythology. 21. Noisy quarrel. 23. Jordan's port. 24. A compartment in front of a motor vehicle where driver sits. 26. The cry made by sheep. 28. An inhabitant of ancient Thebes. 30. Any of numerous local fertility and nature deities worshipped by ancient Semitic peoples. 31. 36th President of the United States. 32. A village of huts for native Africans in southern Africa. 33. A small unit serving as the nucleus of a larger political movement. 35. Lower in esteem. 36. 3 to 30 gigahertz. 37. Date used in reckoning dates before the supposed year Christ was born. 38. Someone who works (or provides workers) during a strike. 43. Become adolescent. 44. The basic unit of money in Romania. 45. (neurology) Of or relating to the vagus nerve. 48. A rare chronic progressive encephalitis caused by the measles virus and occurring primarily in children and young adults. 49. A ship with a reinforced bow to break up ice and keep channels open for navigation. 50. A room or establishment where alcoholic drinks are served over a counter. 51. Sounding as if pronounced low in the throat. 52. Essential oil or perfume obtained from flowers. 54. An overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety. 56. Long-tailed arboreal mustelid of Central and South America. 58. Combined or joined to increase in size or quantity or scope. 59. Poor enough to need help from others. 60. Relating to or used in or intended for trade or commerce. 62. Look at with amorous intentions. 63. A barrier consisting of a horizontal bar and supports. 67. An agency of the United Nations affiliated with the World Bank. 68. An adult female hog v 1. 72. A silvery soft waxy metallic element of the alkali metal group.

Yesterdayʼs Solution

DOWN 1. A translucent mineral consisting of hydrated silica of variable color. 2. City in southwestern Colombia in a rich agricultural area. 3. (Babylonian) A demigod or first man. 4. United States painter born in Germany. 5. A port in southern Sweden.

Daily SuDoku

Yesterday’s Solution



NHL moves ‘likely’ to cancel entire season NEW YORK: The National Hockey League (NHL) moved closer to calling off the entire 2012-13 season after canceling all games through Jan 14 on Thursday due to a bitter labor dispute with players. The widely-expected decision brought the total number of lost regular season games to 625, or 50.8 percent of the season, the NHL said in a brief statement. With no talks scheduled between the two sides, who have not met face-to-face since Dec13 when negotiations involving US federal mediators failed to kickstart the process, hopes of salvaging a season were fading quickly. The NHL, which normally runs an 82-game regular season, has previously said teams would need to play at least 48 games to forge a legitimate season. That meant a new deal must be reached by mid-January to ensure the

Stanley Cup playoffs end in June. Key sticking points in the dispute, which began when the NHL locked out players in September, revolved around the length of a new contract, rules governing term limits on contracts and the transition rules to help teams get under the salary cap. There were also a handful of smaller issues yet to be agreed upon, most notably the continued participation of NHL players in the Olympics and rules governing drug testing. The NHL’s latest move came as players were casting ballots on whether or not to give their executive board the authority to file a disclaimer of interest, which would essentially dissolve the union and allow individual players to file anti-trust lawsuits against the league.

Confronted with yet another showdown between billionaire owners and millionaire athletes, the NHL and its players are once again testing the loyalty of sponsors, business partners and fans suffering from lockout fatigue. The labor dispute is the third in a short span to rock a professional North American sports league following lockouts in the National Football League and National Basketball Association last year. It is also the NHL’s fourth work stoppage in 20 years and first since a lockout forced cancelation of the entire 2004-05 season. When a labor dispute led the NHL to run a 48-game campaign for the 1994-95 season, an agreement with players was reached by Jan 11 and the season opened on Jan 20.— Reuters

Douglas grabs AP female athlete of the year award NEW YORK: When Gabby Douglas allowed herself to dream of being the Olympic champion, she imagined having a nice little dinner with family and friends to celebrate. Maybe she’d make an appearance here and there. “I didn’t think it was going to be crazy,” Douglas said, laughing. “I love it. But I realized my perspective was going to have to change.” Just a bit. The teenager has become a worldwide star since winning the Olympic all-around title in London, the first African-American gymnast to claim gymnastics’ biggest prize. And now she has earned another honor. Douglas was selected The Associated Press’ female athlete of the year, edging out swimmer Missy Franklin in a vote by US editors and news directors that was announced yesterday. “I didn’t realize how much of an impact I made,” said Douglas, who turns 17 on Dec 31. “My mom and everyone said, ‘You really won’t know the full impact until you’re 30 or 40 years old.’ But it’s starting to sink in.” In a year filled with standout performances by female athletes, those of the pint-sized gymnast shined brightest. Douglas received 48 of 157 votes, seven more than Franklin, who won four gold medals and a bronze in London. Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon and the US Open two years after her career was nearly derailed by a series of health problems, was third (24). Britney Griner, who led Baylor to a 40-0 record and the NCAA title, and skier Lindsey Vonn each got 18 votes. Sprinter Allyson Felix, who won three gold medals in London, and Carli Lloyd, who scored both US goals in the Americans’ 2-1 victory over Japan in the gold-medal game, also received votes. “One of the few years the women’s (Athlete of the Year) choices

Gabrielle Douglas of the United States

are more compelling than the men’s,” said Julie Jag, sports editor of the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Douglas is the fourth gymnast to win one of the AP’s annual awards, which began in 1931, and first since Mary Lou Retton in 1984. She also finished 15th in voting for the AP sports story of the year. Douglas wasn’t even in the conversation for the Olympic title at the beginning of the year. That all changed in March when she upstaged reigning world champion and teammate Jordyn Wieber at the American Cup in New York, showing off a new vault, an ungraded uneven bars routine and a dazzling personality that would be a hit on Broadway and Madison Avenue. She finished a close second to Wieber at the US championships, then beat her two weeks later at the Olympic trials. With each competition, her confidence grew. So did that smile. By the time the Americans got to London, Douglas had emerged as the most consistent gymnast on what was arguably the best team the US has ever had. She posted the team’s highest score on all but one event in qualifying. She was the only gymnast to compete in all four events during team finals, when the Americans beat the Russians in a rout for their second Olympic title, and first since 1996. Two nights later, Douglas claimed the grandest prize of all, joining Retton, Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin as what Bela Karolyi likes to call the “Queen of Gymnastics.” But while plenty of other athletes won gold medals in London, none captivated the public quite like Gabby. Fans ask for hugs in addition to photographs and autographs, and people have left restaurants and cars upon spotting her. She made Barbara Walters’ list of “10 Most Fascinating People,” and Forbes recently named her one of its “30 Under 30.” She has deals with Nike, Kellogg Co and AT&T, and agent Sheryl Shade said Douglas has drawn interest from companies that don’t traditionally partner with Olympians or athletes. “She touched so many people of all generations, all diversities,” Shade said. “It’s her smile, it’s her youth, it’s her excitement for life. ... She transcends sport.” Douglas’ story is both heartwarming and inspiring, its message applicable those young or old, male or female, active or couch potato. She was just 14 when she convinced her mother to let her leave their Virginia Beach, Va, home and move to West Des Moines, Iowa, to train with Liang Chow, Shawn Johnson’s coach. Though her host parents, Travis and Missy Parton, treated Douglas as if she was their fifth daughter, Douglas was so homesick she considered quitting gymnastics. She’s also been open about her family’s financial struggles, hoping she can be a role model for lower income children. “I want people to think, ‘Gabby can do it, I can do it,’” Douglas said. “Set that bar. If you’re going through struggles or injuries, don’t let it stop you from what you want to accomplish.” The grace she showed under pressure - both on and off the floor - added to her appeal. When some fans criticized the way she wore her hair during the Olympics, Douglas simply laughed it off. “They can say whatever they want. We all have a voice,” she said. “I’m not going to focus on it. I’m not really going to focus on the negative.” Besides, she’s having far too much fun. Her autobiography, “Grace, Gold and Glory,” is No. 4 on the New York Times’ young adult list. She, Wieber and Fierce Five teammates Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney recently wrapped up a 40-city gymnastics tour. She met President Barack Obama last month with the rest of the Fierce Five, and left the White House with a souvenir. “We got a sugar cookie that they were making for the holidays,” Douglas said. “I took a picture of it.” Though her busy schedule hasn’t left time to train, Douglas insists she still intends to compete through the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.—AP

NEW DELHI: In this file photo, XIX Commonwealth Games Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi covering his eyes as he takes questions from journalists during a press conference in New Delhi. — AFP

India’s former Olympics chief faces fraud charges NEW DELHI: A judge yesterday ordered prosecutors to charge India’s former Olympics chief and five other sports officials with fraud relating to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. Suresh Kalmadi, who headed the Games organizing committee, his deputy Lalit Bhanot and four others were accused of favoring a particular company while awarding contracts for installing a timing system for the Games. Judge Talwant Singh ordered the prosecution to frame charges of “cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy and for other offences under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act” by January 10, the Press Trust of India reported. Also facing charges are the organizing committee’s director-general VK Verma, procurement director Surjit Lal, sports director ASV Prasad and treasurer M Jayachandran. Two Indian companies and the firm Swiss Timing, which was awarded a contract to supply equipment, are also accused in the case, the Press Trust of India said. Police alleged in 2010 that Swiss Timing had supplied equipment “at exorbitant rates of one 1.07 billion rupees ($18 million)... thereby causing huge loss to the government”. It was unclear whether the judge has also ordered the prosecution of the companies. The firms and the six Indian officials accused, who are all currently on bail, have denied wrongdoing. The judge said they would be formally charged on January 10. Kalmadi, a serving member of parliament, headed the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), which was suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on December 4 for unethical practices during controversial IOA elections. Kalmadi did not run in the IOA elections earlier this month, but Bhanot was elected unopposed as secretary-general, even though the IOC had declared the entire election process illegal. Suspension from the IOC means India will not receive funding from the body and its officials are banned from attending Olympic meetings and events.—AFP



Giants rule again; Japan seeks Classic threepeat WASHINGTON: Two sets of Giants, San Francisco’s and Tokyo’s, won this year’s elite baseball leagues while Japan prepared to seek a third World Baseball Classic title in 2013 with no Major League Baseball stars. The San Francisco Giants won their second North American title in three years by sweeping the Detroit Tigers in the World Series last October. The Giants won their first crown since leaving New York in 1958 over Texas in 2010. “I’m numb to the fact we’ve won two World Series in the past three years. I’m kind of speechless,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s amazing. I’m proud of a group of guys who were not going to be denied.” San Francisco third baseman Pablo Sandoval was named Most Valuable Player of the World Series, the Venezuelan slugger nicknamed “Kung Fu Panda” hitting three home runs in game one and knocking in 13 runs over four games. “I was ready for the moment,”

Sandoval said. “I was waiting for the opportunity so I pulled everything together.” The Giants were often on the brink of elimination in the playoffs, winning the last three games of their first post-season series against Cincinnati and taking three must-win games over St. Louis just to reach the World Series. “When our backs are to the wall, that’s the time when we’re having fun,” Sandoval said. Giants catcher Buster Posey, the National League batting champion with a .336 average, was named the league Most Valuable Player (MVP). He missed most of the 2011 campaign with a broken bone and torn ligaments in his left ankle. Venezuelan slugger Miguel Cabrera of Detroit won the American League MVP award after becoming the first batter since Boston leftfielder Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the Triple Crown by leading the league in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and runs batted in (139).

The Tokyo Yomiuri Giants captured their record 22nd Japanese baseball crown by defeating Hokkaido’s Nippon Ham Fighters in six games in the Japan Series. Tokyo pitcher Tetsuya Utsumi won two games and was named the series MVP. Japan League talent will be called upon to subdue the best Major League Baseball has to offer next March when the third World Baseball Classic will be staged in Japan, Taiwan, Puerto Rico and the United States. Yu Darvish, the Japanese star who went 16-9 for Texas last season in his first North American campaign, said he will not play for his homeland in the Classic because he must rest before the North American season starts in April. “This was a very difficult decision for me as it is always a tremendous honor to represent my native country,” said Darvish, the ace of Japan’s 2009 championship team. “Getting ample rest is the most important thing for me right now as I prepare

for the 2013 season.” Ichiro Suzuki was the only top US major league player on Japan’s roster when the Samurai won the inaugural 2006 Classic crown, but Suzuki has joined other top Japanese players on US clubs in begging off for next year’s Classic. “We have to live with what has been decided. We have no choice but to move forward,” said Japan manager Koji Yamamoto, a former Hiroshima Toyo Carp manager named in October to guide Japan’s Classic lineup. Japan’s next young pitching star, 18-year-old Shohei Otani, had said in October he wanted to sign with a US club but was expected to join the Ham Fighters in Japan for the 2013 season. Japan won the Little League World Series title for the eighth time as Noriatsu Osaka went 4-for-4 with three homers and four RBI as Japan beat Goodlettsville, Tennessee 12-2 in the title game. It was Japan’s fifth trip to the final in seven years. —AFP

Surging, stumbling toward NFL playoffs NEW YORK: Some teams surge toward the NFL playoffs. Look at the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins and Green Bay Packers. Others struggle to stay in the mix: Try the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants and Chicago Bears. This penultimate weekend of the regular schedule could propel a few of them and eliminate others.Chief among the clubs that could go either way: Defending champion New York, who have lost their last three road games and conceded 82 to fall to an 8-6 win-loss record. Not even coach Tom Coughlin is sure what he has as they head to the Baltimore Ravens tomorrow. “It would be easy for me to say I do, but the reality of it is we haven’t been able to play to substantiate what I would say is the personality of this team,” said Coughlin, whose club gets a wild card, for sure, by winning its last two games. “So I’m definitely counting on the veterans to go ahead and prove this and do it with consistency. “Last year we did it over a six-game run and, exactly, we’re in that situation again.” Even though the Ravens have already sewed up a playoff spot, it’s a critical game for Baltimore (9-5) to get back on track after three straight defeats - two at home and one a bit down the road in Washington. “We dug this hole we’re in,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “We can’t blame anybody but ourselves. We don’t like losing three straight games. Nobody does. It’s at the point right now where we have to get back at it, man. We dug the hole, now we’ve got to find a way to get out of it.” The action begins today, when Atlanta could clinch home-field advantage through the NFC with a win at slumping Detroit. There are no more Monday night games this season. Cincinnati travels to Pittsburgh in what amounts to an AFC playoff elimination game. The Steelers (7-7) need two wins to play into January while the Bengals (8-6) need at least one more victory to assure themselves of a rare second straight playoff berth. Cincinnati hasn’t made consecutive postseason appearances since 1981-82, or before all but five players on the current squad were even born. Reeling and injury-ravaged, Chicago heads to Arizona having dropped three straight games and five of its last six. There’s some discord in the locker room, Coach Lovie Smith’s job security has become shakier, and they no longer can win the NFC North division. Still, a wild-card spot is available if Chicago wins its last two games, and even though the Cardinals routed Detroit last week, it was Arizona’s first win in 10 games. The last game of the round, between Seattle and San Francisco, is the spotlight matchup, even though it won’t decide the NFC West. San Francisco can take the division for the second successive season by beating Arizona in its finale even if it falls at what will be a rocking CenturyLink Field. The 49ers earned at least a wild card with their 41-34 victory at New England last weekend. “Given my first four years, around this time, we probably wouldn’t be playing for much, maybe a chance to win a game and maybe get in or waiting on three other teams to lose,” star linebacker Patrick Willis said. “It feels good to know that you’re playing for something. We have a playoff berth, but we want the division. And we also want to have that first-week bye, and we know we have to win this week first.” The Seahawks are 6-0 at home, have won five of their last six overall, and

KANSAS CITY: In this file photo, Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Jovan Belcher smiles before an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Kansas City. Belcher was apparently worried he would lose his baby and money to his longtime girlfriend before fatally shooting her and killing himself, according to newly released police reports. — AP scored 58 and 50 points the last two weeks. They aren’t likely to come close to that against the NFL’s stingiest defense; The Niners have allowed 218 points, one fewer than Seattle. Also tomorrow, it’s Washington at Philadelphia; New Orleans at Dallas; Minnesota at Houston; Indianapolis at Kansas City; Cleveland at Denver; Tennessee at Green Bay; New England at Jacksonville; St. Louis at Tampa Bay; Buffalo at Miami; San Diego at New York Jets; and Oakland at Carolina.— AP

Thailand aims for F1 BANGKOK: Thailand expects to host a floodlit Formula One Grand Prix in Bangkok in 2015 after plans were pushed back a year, the governor of the national sports authority said yesterday. “An F1 race is likely to take place here in early 2015 instead of in 2014 in our initial plan,” Kanokphand Chulakasem told the Bangkok Post newspaper. The 2014 season is due to see two new races, at Sochi in Russia and at a New Jersey street circuit, on a calendar which already has a record 20 rounds, but Thailand would be a novelty for the year after. Bangkok’s Rajamangala stadium recently hosted the annual Race of Champions event with Red Bull’s triple world champion Sebastian Vettel teaming up with Michael Schumacher to win the team title for Germany. The paper’s website quoted Red Bull’s Michael de Santiesteban, representative of the energy drink’s Thai coowner Chalerm Yoovidhya, as saying talks with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone were going well. “It is likely to be held in Bangkok. With Thailand on the calendar, a current race is likely to be removed,” he said. Chulakasem met Ecclestone at this year’s Singapore Grand Prix in September and said then that there was an agreement in principle for a race in 2014. Tourism and sports minister Chumpol Silpa-archa said at the same time that the government would bear 60 percent of the total cost and the rest would come from private companies. Red Bull’s British-based Formula One team have won both championships for the past three years and are expected to back the Thai race. Southeast Asia already has two races, in Malaysia and the night-time Singapore Grand Prix. — Reuters



UEFA punishes Malaga GENEVA: Champions League contender Malaga was banned from European club competitions for one upcoming season by UEFA yesterday for failing to pay players wages and tax bills on time. UEFA said the Qatari-owned Spanish club could be banned for a second season within the next four years if it misses a March 31 deadline to pay its debts, which are reported to include 9 million euros ($11.6 million) in unpaid player wages. Malaga published a statement criticizing “disproportionate and unjustified” actions by UEFA, which wants clubs to pay debts and attempt to break even on football business to meet “Financial Fair Play” rules. UEFA announced the sanctions yesterday, one day after Malaga was drawn to play FC Porto in the Champions League last-16 round. It will be barred from the first Champions League or Europa League it qualifies for in the next four seasons. UEFA’s club finance judicial body also fined Malaga 300,000 euros ($396,000). The club can appeal the sanctions direct to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and Malaga said that it intended to fight the decision “energetically and without rest until justice is served by appealing to all the necessary institutions.” Malaga is set to collect around 25 million euros

($33 million) from UEFA in prize money and share of television revenues from playing in this season’s Champions League. Malaga qualified for world football’s most prestigious club competition for the first time by finishing fourth in the Spanish league last season. The club’s rise was fuelled by a takeover by Qatari investor Sheik Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani and a spending spree on players. Malaga said that Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser AlThani was still fully committed to the team, as shown in his “recent injection of 7 million euros ($9.2 million) into the entity.” Malaga is currently fourth in the league which before yesterday’s sanction - would have been enough to earn the right to play in the Champions League playoff round in August, needing to beat one opponent to enter the lucrative 32-team group stage. Malaga said UEFA was using the club as a “scapegoat” in order to “set an example.” The club also said that the information regarding unpaid wages and transfer fees was incorrect. “Contrary to all the information that has appeared regarding the unmet commitments with Osasuna and its very own players, Malaga affirms that said commitments have been met according to established agreements,” the club said.

Clubs must pay their football and tax debts as a condition of getting a license from their national association to play in UEFA competitions. UEFA has enforced a licensing system for almost a decade, but the rules and potential sanctions have gained a higher profile in the “Financial Fair Play” era. Since 2011, UEFA has been monitoring clubs’ finances more closely and now requires them to aim toward breaking even on their football-related business as a condition of entry for the Champions League and Europa League. Eight other European clubs were also punished yesterday by UEFA’s financial control body. Five clubs - Bucharest clubs Dinamo and Rapid, Serbian club Partizan Belgrade, and Croatia’s Hajduk Split and Osijek - face a one-year ban from European competition within the next three years if they miss the March 31 deadline to settle debts. Four of the clubs were also fined100,000 euros ($132,000) each, and Hajduk was ordered to pay80,000 euros ($105,000). Arsenal Kiev of Ukraine was fined 75,000 euros ($99,000), with 30,000 euros ($39,600) becoming due only if the club misses the March deadline to settle. Vojvodina of Serbia was fined 10,000 euros ($13,200). The case against Lech Poznan of Poland was dropped.— AP

Bahrain set for 21st Gulf Cup KUWAIT: Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, the Executive Committee chairman of the 21st Gulf Cup, (to be hosted by Bahrain from January 5 to 18, 2013) said the Kingdom is now ready to embrace this major regional football tournament as the countdown begins. Stressing on the tremendous efforts by the working committees in the past period, which had contributed to the completion of all necessary arrangements well ahead of the tournament’s kick-off, Sheikh Salman believes that Bahrain is about to host one of the most outstanding editions of the gulf cup next month. This came during the ninth Executive Committee meeting held at the headquarters of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports, in the presence of members Sheikh Abdulla bin Rashid Al-Khalifa, Abdulrahman Sadiq Askar, Lt Col Khalid Al Khayat, Yousef Hassan Jassim, Jihad Khalfan, Dr Saeed AlYamani, Jaffar Al-Qassab, Mohammed Abdulrahim, Ahmed Al Nuaimi and Khalid Al-Hajj. At the beginning of the meeting, Sheikh Salman noted that having the 21st Gulf Cup in Bahrain is a major challenge in order to achieve outstanding organization of the region’s

most popular football competition. He extended his appreciation to the Bahrain government for its continued support to organizing committee and eluding all challenges that could have been major barriers to the kingdom’s bid to host the event on home soil for the fourth time. Audrey Roatta, founder of the French firm (SEITEN EVENT) and responsible for setting up the program of the opening ceremony, gave an animated presentation on the opening ceremony, during which several messages will be delivered which tell the strong bonds linking the people of the Gulf region. Roatta also briefed the committee members on the procedures that the French firm has taken in order to show the bright image on Bahrain that would be satisfactory for everyone. Askar and Al-Hajj then spoke on the maintenance process on several sports facilities to host the championship. They include the National Stadium, which had major renovation and construction on the VIP stands, players, referees and administrative rooms, besides a comprehensive maintenance of its natural grass turf. Both officials also revealed the development on maintenance on sports facilities at Khalifa

Sports City Stadium in IsaTown, which included major upgrades in the players, referees and administrators rooms, laying a new natural grass turf as well as establishing supporters stands opposite the VIP area. Other facilities being prepared are new analysis studios as well as fixing a hi-tech electronic scoreboard, the first of its kind in the Gulf region. Latest updates on other facilities which were under construction recently were also presented at the meeting. The football stadiums of Al-Ahli, Al-Najma, Riffa, Hamad Town and Askar are now set to host the training sessions of the eight GCC teams coming to Bahrain next month. Al-Hajj also briefed the attendees on the outcome of the visit made by the GCC Inspection Committee, tasked at inspecting the sports facilities and evaluating its conditions before the tournament kickoff. On his part, tournament director Al-Nuaimi presented a report on what have been accomplished so far in terms of the teams lists that were recently approved. Al-Nuaimi also noted other accomplishments by different sub committee, including public relations, accommodation and hospitality, ceremonies and reception.


T-Wolves end own losing skid Timberwolves snap Thunder winning streak MINNEAPOLIS: The Minnesota Timberwolves, boosted by a brilliant fourth quarter from diminutive guard JJ Barea, got a welcome shot of confidence with a 99-93 win over Oklahoma City on Thursday to snap the Thunder’s winning streak at 12 games. The uplifting win for the T-Wolves, coming off a pair of losses on a California road trip, snapped their own 12-game losing streak against Oklahoma City. The NBAleading Thunder battled back after trailing by 14 to move within a point at 76-75 early in the fourth before Barea took over. Sinking long three-pointers and scrambling under the hoop, Barea scored 10 points in a 12-2 run that restored Minnesota’s double-digit lead at 88-77 and then helped the T-Wolves hold off the Thunder the rest of the way. “The fourth quarter for us has kind of been our Achilles heel this whole season, but we fought through and JJ Barea was awesome tonight,” said Minnesota’s All Star forward Kevin Love. The loss dropped Oklahoma, last year’s losing NBA Finalists, to 21-5 while Minnesota improved to 13-11, seven games behind the Thunder in the Western Conference’s Northwest Division. Love led Minnesota with 28 points and 11 rebounds, and center Nikola Pekovic of Montenegro had 24 points and 10 boards, while Puerto Rico’s Barea came off the bench to score 18 points. Three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant paced the Thunder with 33 points, and Russell Westbrook added 30, but Oklahoma City’s reserves contributed just seven points in all. “This is a big win here against one of the top teams in the league,” said Love, a team mate of Durant and Westbrook on the US basketball team that won gold at the London Olympics. “We learned we can fight through and beat any team in the league if we’re playing well. “Soon as guys really get in shape, get back healthy, and Ricky (Rubio) starts playing the way he’s capable of playing and gets back from that injury, we’re going to be a lot better team.” Spanish guard Rubio, working his way back from a serious knee injury, played 18 minutes without scoring for Minnesota but handed out three assists and had three rebounds. The Timberwolves used brisk ball movement to spring Pekovic for easy layups and set up Love for open looks beyond the three-point arc as they went on a 19-6 run for a 25-11 lead in the first quarter. Oklahoma City closed within seven points in the second quarter and got within five after intermission but Minnesota responded each time to restore a cushion, with Barea doing the job in the fourth quarter. Next up for the Thunder will be a Christmas Day rematch against NBA champions Miami. HEAT 110, MAVERICKS 95 LeBron James scored 24 points with some early baskets on nifty passes from Dwyane Wade, and Miami rolled to a victory over the injury plagued Mavericks. James has scored at least 20 points in all 23 games, the longest streak to start an NBA season since Karl Malone’s 24 in a row opening the 1989-90 season. Dallas, still waiting for the season debut of 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki after right knee surgery, was also without starting point guard Derek Fisher (right knee) and post players Elton Brand (right groin) and Brandan Wright (right ankle). The Heat never trailed after James drove for a short floater 3 minutes into the game to make it 6-4. Wade had 19 points and six assists while Chris Bosh had 17 points. Rookie Jae Crowder had 15 points to lead six Dallas players in double figures. Dahntay Jones and Bernard James had 12 points each. TRAIL BLAZERS 101, NUGGETS 93 JJ Hickson had 18 points and 18 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double, and the Trail Blazers beat the Nuggets. Nicolas Batum had 22 points to give the Blazers their first four-game winning streak of the season despite missing forward LaMarcus Aldridge because of a sprained left ankle. The Nuggets were 0 for 22 from 3-point range, breaking the NBA record of 20 misses set by the Trail Blazers in a game against Toronto last week. Denver had 74 points in the paint. The Blazers led by as many as 18 in the first half and while the Nuggets were able to close the gap, they were never able to pull even.— Agencies

NBA results/standings Minnesota 99, Oklahoma City 93; Miami 110, Dallas 95; Portland 101, Denver 93. Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L PCT NY Knicks 19 6 .760 Brooklyn 13 12 .520 Boston 13 12 .520 Philadelphia 12 14 .462 Toronto 8 19 .296 Central Division Chicago 14 10 .583 Milwaukee 13 11 .542 Indiana 14 12 .538 Detroit 7 21 .250 Cleveland 5 22 .185 Southeast Division Miami 17 6 .739 Atlanta 15 8 .652 Orlando 12 13 .480 Charlotte 7 18 .280 Washington 3 20 .130

PORTLAND: Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (right) shoots over Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore. — AP

Western Conference Northwest Division Oklahoma City 21 5 .808 Minnesota 13 11 .542 Denver 14 13 .519 Utah 14 13 .519 Portland 12 12 .500 Pacific Division LA Clippers 19 6 .760 Golden State 17 9 .654 LA Lakers 12 14 .462 Phoenix 11 15 .423 Sacramento 8 17 .320 Southwest Division Memphis 17 6 .739 San Antonio 19 8 .704 Houston 13 12 .520 Dallas 12 14 .462 New Orleans 5 20 .200

GB 6 6 7.5 12 1 1 9 10.5 2 6 11 14

7 7.5 7.5 8 2.5 7.5 8.5 11 5 6.5 13

Russia reconsiders Tour of Russia after Katusha snub MOSCOW: Russia is reconsidering plans to introduce a major annual cycling race in 2014 after Katusha, the country’s top professional team, was dropped from the World Tour. Last week, the license commission of the cycling’s world governing body (UCI) rejected Katusha’s application to compete in the top flight next year because of the team’s doping record over the past four years. “It just doesn’t make any sense to stage the Tour of Russia under the current circumstances,” Alexander Gusyatnikov, an advisor to Russian cycling chief and Katusha boss Igor Makarov said. “We have a verbal agreement with the UCI to stage the Tour of Russia in 2014, although we haven’t signed a contract yet. “The idea was to stage a major race in Russia on an annual basis, starting in 2014, so that Katusha could compete on home soil and Russian fans could watch our best riders in person.” Katusha, who finished second in the World Tour standings this year and have world number one Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain riding for them, have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. UCI president Pat McQuaid has been trying to make cycling a global sport by staging

major races around the world. “We have a Tour of Russia coming up in 2014, we have had a lot of discussions and India will be another place. Brazil is certainly a market because of the 2016 Olympics,” McQuaid told Reuters this month. “These are huge markets. If we get in with big events it can motivate a focus on the development of the sport.” Earlier this year, the Russian cycling federation (FVSR), unveiled an ambitious project involving staging the first major race in the world’s largest country. “The original plan was to have something like a smaller version of the Tour de France,” Gusyatnikov said at the time. “It would start in St Petersburg, continue to Moscow, then riders would fly to Sochi for another three or four days through the Caucasus mountains.” Gusyatnikov said the FVSR wanted to benefit from the much-improved infrastructure in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics, to stage their event. “Sochi will have good roads, hotels and everything else we would need for the staging of the Tour of Russia. Now, this whole project is in big doubt,” he said. — Reuters



Sociedad frustrate struggling Sevilla BARCELONA: Real Sociedad dealt another blow to Sevilla’s slumping season with a 21 home win Thursday that kept the Basque club unbeaten in seven rounds of the Spanish league. Also on Thursday, Espanyol beat last-place Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 to escape the relegation zone, while Rayo Vallecano downed visiting Levante 3-0. Sociedad forward Carlos Vela netted his team-high seventh goal of the season in the 18th minute when he took a pass by Antoine Griezmann inside the area and slotted a left-foot shot past goalkeeper Diego Lopez. Gary Medel leveled for Sevilla in the 50th, but Alberto de la Bella reached fellow defender Carlos Martinez’s cross at the far post in the 68th to put Sociedad back in front for good. Jorge “Coke” Moreno received his second yellow card in the 74th, leaving the visitors with 10 men and with little hope of equalizing. Sociedad climbed into seventh place, while Sevilla is in 13th. Sevilla is winless in five games and with just one victory in its past nine, and coach Michel Gonzalez

acknowledged the pressure is increasing on him as the team heads into the winter break. “Confidence is not limitless, regardless of the effort,” said Michel. “Either due to our lack of scoring touch or whatever it is, the dynamic is not good. I don’t have to say it, it’s clear it’s very negative.” Golfer and Sociedad fan Jose Maria Olazabal was honored before the game for captaining Europe’s Ryder Cup victory earlier this year. Sociedad also paid tribute to its fans by bearing the names of 22 randomly selected club members on the front of their players’ shirts instead of paid advertising. Espanyol’s much-needed home win confirmed its turnaround under new coach Javier Aguirre, who had recorded three straight draws since taking over for the fired Mauricio Pochettino. “We didn’t take that step forward in quality that I wanted, but the players needed to feel the joy of winning and they worked hard to earn it,” said Aguirre. “We are on a good streak.” Espanyol midfielder Simao Sabrosa headed in a poor clearance by Deportivo goal-

keeper Dario Lux to score for the hosts at the half-hour mark. A drab Deportivo never reacted, and substitute striker Christian Stuani doubled Espanyol’s advantage two minutes from time. Deportivo coach Jose Oltra’s days in La Coruna could also be numbered after his team did little to stop its winless streak from reaching seven games. “We are worried about the situation and will do everything we can to change it,” said Oltra. Before the match Espanyol showed its support for Tito Vilanova, the coach of crosstown rival Barcelona who was operated on for the reappearance of a throat tumor earlier Thursday, by displaying an image of the manager with the message “Keep Your Spirits Up, Tito” on the Cornella-El Prat stadium monitors. Earlier, Rayo scored two long-range goals as the topflight minnow rose into eighth place and handed sixth-place Levante its first loss in six away matches. Rayo dominated possession in the first half, but Levante was firm in defense with


Barca battle on without Vilanova for time being MADRID: Barcelona will have to continue their march at the top of La Liga without Tito Vilanova after it was revealed the coach has suffered a relapse of a tumor on which he was operated just over a year ago. The 44-year-old who took over from Pep Guardiola at the beginning of the season was thought to have fully recovered from surgery last November to remove the growth on his parotid gland, and he was back at work within 15 days. However after an operation on Thursday it is thought he will have treatment for at least six weeks and he may or may not be available to return to work at some stage during that time. Until then, Sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta confirmed on Thursday, the side will be led by Vilanova’s assistant Jordi Roura. “Without going into too much detail about the sporting side today and whether we win or not at Valladolid today, just to say we’ll continue with our coaching staff and our way of working, we’ll be in extraordinary hands and Tito I’m sure will be watching us on TV,” he said. Barca president Sandro Rossell added “the most important thing for the club at this moment is the full recovery of Tito”. Vilanova has led Barcelona to the most successful start to a season in La Liga’s history, with 15 wins and one draw in 16 matches so far. With the final round of La Liga games of 2012 brought forward to allow the players an extra day of Christmas holidays, Barca will make it a great finish to the year, on the pitch at least, if they take three points at Valladolid today. Last weekend’s win over closest rivals Atletico Madrid increased the Catalan side’s lead to nine points and with Real Madrid’s surprise draw with Espanyol leaving them 13 points back in third, for some La Liga title is already destined for the Nou Camp in May. That win was followed with the news on Monday that Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez will stay at Barca until at least 2016 and Lionel Messi until 2018, and it was all looking positive until Wednesday’s shock news. Last Sunday’s clear dominance over their closest rivals Atletico Madrid, especially in the second-half of the 41 win left most observers concluding that it is the Catalan side’s title to lose. Atletico’s challenge seems to have ground to a halt with defeats at neighbors Real and now Barcelona since December began. They play Celta Vigo on Friday in the hope of continuing an excellent run of eight home wins since the league began, to keep up some sort of pressure on the Catalans. Meanwhile Real Madrid face a tricky trip to fourth placed Malaga less than a week after manager Jose Mourinho said the title was “almost impossi-

Barcelona’s Tito Vilanova ble now.” Defeats at Getafe, Sevilla, and Betis followed by the draw last Sunday have left Madrid so far adrift and Malaga. One player the ‘Merengues’ missed last Sunday was French forward Karim Benzema. Benzema is closer to a return than colleague Gonzalo Higuain, but could still miss the trip to Malaga with a foot injury. However he has pledged his future to the club this week, despite his name being linked with Paris SaintGermain. Malaga come into the game with the best defensive record in the league having conceded only 10 goals in 16 games and full-back Nacho Monreal is confident. “We’re going to be up for the Madrid match, we’re doing well, we’re at home and we know that Madrid is not going too good, but they’re a good team and it will be difficult. I just hope we can take our chances and get the three points,” he said. — AFP

Papakouly Diop patrolling the midfield and providing its best chance when he fired into the side netting. Rayo broke through in the 59th when left back Ignacio Martinez unleashed a left-footed strike that curled outward to fool goalkeeper Gustavo Munua before going in off the post. Forward Francisco “Piti” Medina then sealed Rayo’s second straight victory with a perfectly struck free kick in the 80th. Franco Vazquez added Rayo’s third in stoppage time. “It’s a pity this isn’t the end of the season,” said Rayo coach Paco Jemez, whose team was expected to suffer to stay up this season. “The worst and the best are yet to come.” Yesterday, secondplace Atletico Madrid hosted Celta Vigo, as Getafe visited Valencia. League leader Barcelona visits Valladolid on Saturday, with assistant coach Jordi Roura taking Vilanova’s place on the sideline. Also, thirdplace Real Madrid visits fourth-place Malaga, Athletic Bilbao hosts Real Zaragoza, Mallorca visits Real Betis, and Osasuna plays Granada. — AP

Barca back ‘in charge’ BARCELONA: With Barcelona having made a record start to the season and Lionel Messi hitting the most goals in a calendar year it is easy to forget the clouds of uncertainty that hung over the Camp Nou last summer as they sought to topple champions Real Madrid. It appeared as though Barca had reached the end of an era as Pep Guardiola chose to walk away after being pipped to the title by his nemesis Jose Mourinho whose side notched up a record 100 points and 121 goals in the process. It had taken Mourinho two seasons but he had finally ended Barcelona’s hegemony that had seen them win three consecutive championships and two Champions Leagues since Guardiola returned to the club in the summer of 2008. During his first year a fear element set in at the Bernabeu as Mourinho desperately sought and failed to find a way to counteract Barca’s technically strong passing game but last April Real came out on top 2-1 in a key game to decide the title at the Nou Camp. Real seemed to be a team on the up as they had consolidated without the need to spend lavishly in the transfer market, but rather they attempted to fine tune the squad with the addition for example of Luka Modric from Tottenham Hotspur to add competition for Mesut Ozil in midfield. It would be easy to think that Guardiola decided to leave in the face of this and indications that his Barcelona team was on a downward curve. While Lionel Messi was prolific as ever with a record of 73 goals for the 2011-12 season the club had become more dependent on him and rumors had developed that Guardiola had lost the support of members of the dressing room like Dani Alves, David Villa and Cesc Fabregas who were not happy about sitting on the bench. In a number of league games they had struggled as the opposition packed the midfield and prevented Barca from playing and although the team did capture the King’s Cup against Athletic Bilbao they were also knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea in the semi-finals despite dominating in both legs. The decision to promote Tito Vilanova to the top job was widely supported to ensure a smooth transition but there were plenty of questions over whether Guardiola’s reserved assistant had the charisma for the role. Fears were raised as Real came out on top in the domestic Super Cup, the season’s curtain raiser between the league and cup winners, but since then Barcelona’s form has been relentless. Despite a catalogue of injuries especially in defense, the Catalans made a record start to the league season as they only dropped points in a 2-2 draw with Real and the main reason for the prolific form has been the displays of Messi. Having swept aside Gerd Muller’s record of goals in a season he also bettered his 85 goals in a calendar year for Bayern Munich and Germany set in 1972. At the same time Real seemed to suffer a hangover from their league victory and there was a general mood of overconfidence. — AFP


New Leeds United owners won’t spend ‘crazy money’ Emirati firm completes Leeds takeover LONDON: Dubai-based GFH Capital said it would not spend “crazy money” to restore former English champions Leeds United to the Premier League after completing a takeover reportedly worth 52 million pounds ($84.6 million). GFH has bought the club from majority shareholder Ken Bates, the former owner of Chelsea and a familiar figure in English soccer for the past three decades. Bates, 81, is not severing all ties with Leeds. He will remain club chairman until the end of the season. Well supported Championship (second division) clubs like Leeds are drawing interest from foreign investors who have their eye on promotion to the lucrative Premier League. “Leeds United is a great foot-

ball club, It’s got history, it’s got pedigree, it’s got a fantastic base on which we can build. We looked at a number of clubs but for us Leeds United was the most attractive,” GFH Capital executive Salem Patel told a news conference. “We’re not going to be spending crazy money like some football club owners have. What we want to do is to make the investment sustainable and make the club successful,” he added, saying the business model was not predicated on the club being in the Premier League. FINANCIAL FIREPOWER? Money from Abu Dhabi has helped to turn Manchester City into Premier League champions but questions have been raised about the financial stability

of GFH Capital and its Bahrain parent firm Gulf Finance House. David Haigh, a GFH Capital executive and Leeds fan who has acted as the frontman for the bid, defended the takeover and the credentials of the company. “We’ve bought this club with cash, there is no debt,” he said. “We are a Dubai-based regulated bank, owned by a Bahrainbased regulated bank that is listed on four stock exchanges including London.” Leeds have not been in the Premier League since 2004 and are currently mid-table in the Championship. Their limitations were exposed when Chelsea beat them 5-1 in the League Cup this week. The club last won the English top-flight title in 1992, the final season before the Premier League was launched. — Reuters

Wenger interested in ‘exceptional’ players LONDON: Arsene Wenger has rejected claims the Arsenal board have failed to back him in the transfer market and indicated he is only interested in signing ‘exceptional’ players in January. Alisher Usmanov, the club’s second-largest shareholder, claimed Wenger, whose side travel to Wigan this weekend, should have been given more finances for new signings after Robin van Persie became the latest high-profile player to leave the north London club in the last transfer window. Yet after recovering from the humiliating League Cup quarter-final defeat to League Two minnows Bradford by beating Reading 5-2 this week, Wenger reiterated his belief that Arsenal’s current crop of players are good enough to have a successful season. “What is important is this team develops in the way we want to play,” Wenger said. “I saw some interesting aspects on Monday night at Reading. Let’s see how far this team can go. If we can add one or two exceptional players, we will do it. “What we do not want to do is add players just because people put us under pressure to buy players. “That is where we have to be strong enough. If we find a player who will give us something special, we will do it - but in January that will not be easy. “We have money, and why should I not spend it if it is to find the right players? I believe as well the first and most important thing is to keep confidence in the players we have. If we are consistent, we can come back.” Five players, including young England players Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, signed new deals this week to keep them at the Emirates Stadium on a longterm basis. That will give the side a lift ahead of the trip to the DW Stadium when Arsenal know a victory could take them above London rivals Chelsea, who play Aston Villa 24 hours later. But Wenger insisted he has no problem with the amount of money he has been given to spend in the transfer market over the past few seasons, despite also losing stars like Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Alex Song. “I believe I have always had the support from the board, and am very grateful for that,” Wenger said. “We have worked over the years in respecting what we did, which is to always work within our financial resources. “Therefore we made decisions which from outside looked not based on purely footballing reasons, but it was based as well on financial reasons.” Wigan could once again be without as many as eight first-team players with their defense looking particularly short on options. Spanish defender Antonio Lopez could be out for eight weeks with a hamstring problem and he joins Ben Watson, Ryo Miyaichi, who is on loan from the Gunners, and Albert Crusat as long-term absentees. Latics manager Roberto Martinez hopes that defenders Gary Caldwell, Antolin



Forrest desperate to fire again for Celtic GLASGOW: Celtic winger James Forrest says he is desperate to prove his fitness and play his part in helping the Parkhead side with their hectic festive schedule. The Hoops, who were drawn against Italian giants Juventus in the Champions League second round draw on Thursday, have five games in 15 days over the Christmas and New Year period starting with today’s game against Ross County. Forrest has been out of action with a hamstring injury since the 2-0 defeat to Kilmarnock at Parkhead in the SPL at the end of October but returned to full training this week. The 21-year-old is hopeful of making a first-team appearance again before the two-week winter break at the start of January. However, Forrest says if he doesn’t make it then he has complete confidence in his teammates’ abilities to guide Celtic safely through the busy schedule of games. “It is a squad game and if I can’t play then we will have others who can come into the team and do a good job,” the Scotland international said. “I watched the game with Arbroath last month and thought the young lads who came in that day, Joe Chalmers, Rabiu Ibrahim and Dylan McGeouch, all did very well. “Okay, at the end of the 90 minutes the team didn’t win and perhaps that looks bad to some people. But the overall performance was decent. “Yes, we should be looking to win every game that we play at home, be it in the league or cup or in Europe, and can have no excuses if we fail to do so. “But the stats after the Arbroath game showed that we had 19 shots on target. It was really just one of those games where we couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net, try as we might. “The young lads who were involved all train with the first team and any time a place becomes available they are all looking for a start. “We have got a lot of guys in the squad, but that can only help us at this time when we have two games every other week. “With the number of games we have in the cup, the league and in Europe everyone is going to be called on to play at some point and they will get their chance.” Manager Neil Lennon will be without Welsh midfielder Joe Ledley and Kris Commons for the match against Ross County due to injury. Elsewhere today, Inverness will look to seize back second spot when they take on bottom of the table Dundee at the Caledonian Stadium. Aberdeen, who have only won twice at home all season, will try to improve on that record when St Johnstone visit Pittodrie. — AFP

Ajax trash Groningen

Arsene Wenger Alcaraz and Ivan Ramis and key midfielder James McCarthy will be available over Christmas but expects Saturday’s game to come too soon for the quartet. Wigan have lost five of their last seven matches, but Martinez said: “It’s rare to have the amount of injuries we’ve had, and in one position, but we can look forward. “We’re looking forward to the game and it’s an opportunity for the players available to show what they can do. “They were impressive at Reading the way they moved the ball and opened Reading up. “You are starting to see the new signings adapt to the league and people like (Lukas) Podolski and (Santi) Cazorla were at their best and Arsenal have real style and real talent. “It will be an open and exciting game but we feel we are in need of getting points.” — AFP

ROTTERDAM: Goals from Siem de Jong, Christian Eriksen and Viktor Fischer within an hour took Ajax Amsterdam to a 3-0 win at Groningen to reach the quarter-finals of the Dutch Cup on Thursday. The visitors were denied an early opening goal when keeper Luciano saved a shot from Derk Boerrigter then De Jong made no mistake after 25 minutes with a shot from 20 metres that went in off the post. Four minutes into the second half Eriksen made it 2-0 with a superb running volley that went over Luciano and Boerrigter set up Fischer to settle the match in the 60th minute. “We played very effectively today although we didn’t create many chances but we controlled the match,” said Ajax skipper De Jong. “Our early second goal was decisive as Groningen changed their tactical plan after the break by playing one-on-one in their defense to try to get back in the match.” Ronald Koeman’s Feyenoord beat Marco van Basten’s Heerenveen 7-6 on penalties on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals, joined by Vitesse Arnhem who hammered amateurs ADO’20 Heemskerk 10-1. Holders PSV Eindhoven also reached the last eight with a comfortable 40 win at Rijnsburgse Boys on Tuesday. — Reuters



Mancini happy with Balotelli’s decision MANCHESTER: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini yesterday said that he believed Mario Balotelli “respected himself” when he climbed down in his attempts to overturn a club fine. Italy striker Balotelli, 22, was set to take his club to a Premier League tribunal in an attempt to overturn a fine of two weeks wages over his poor disciplinary record last season. Balotelli will miss the game against Reading at the Etihad Stadium with a virus that has kept him out of training this week. But Mancini was pleased that the situation over Balotelli’s conduct has now been resolved. Mancini said: “He’s very unlucky he is ill. This is an old situation and it is normal when someone makes a mistake he should take his responsibilities and Mario did this. It’s normal.” Asked if Balotelli had dropped his action out of respect for the manager, Mancini added: “He respected himself, not me because it’s important for him to respect himself, very important. “I am his manager like other players and if he deserves to have other chances he will have them.” Mancini celebrates three years in charge this week and is pleased with the progress the club has made during his tenure. In his first full season City won the FA Cup and then ended the club’s 44-year wait for a league title last season. Mancini accepted that the success he has enjoyed is well ahead of schedule and the was also proud that he has helped shift the balance of power in Manchester, after years of dominance from the red half of the city at United. He added: “I think that we worked really well because when I arrived here three years ago I didn’t think that maybe in two years we would win the Premier League and FA Cup. “I thought that maybe four or five years to win the Premier League because it isn’t easy to change things in England and Manchester in particular because for 20 or 30 years United won everything and we changed this because we did well. “We’ve also made mistakes, which is normal when we work and it can happen, and we need to continue to work hard to improve our game.” Midfielder James Milner is set to return after a hamstring problem and defender Vincent Kompany should be back after a groin injury.But France winger Samir Nasri will miss most of the festive period with a hamstring injury and

NEWCASTLE: Manchester City’s manager, Roberto Mancini applauds their supporters at St James’ Park in Newcastle. — AFP Aleksander Kolarov is absent with a hip injury. Jack Rodwell and Micah Richards are facing longer spells on the sidelines. City trail United by six points but Mancini is sure his team will improve in the second half of the campaign. He acknowledges there have been issues in the opening months of the season, from signings arriving just before the transfer deadline to a host of injury problems. City finished bottom of their Champions League group and did not even qualify for the Europa League. United, meanwhile, are set to face Real Madrid in the last 16 for the Champions League

but Mancini believes a lack of European football will benefit his team in the new year. “I think that we had some problems because we didn’t have all the players in pre-season and we didn’t work with them. It’s a big problem. “We had seven or eight players that arrived one week before the Charity Shield and didn’t do a pre-season and we had injuries. With all of these problems to be there is a good position. “I think it’s normal. We can work better but at the same time I think that we need to do more than last year in the first six months we need to work better. That’s individuals and the group.” — AFP

Epl Preview

Injuries bite as City launch Utd pursuit LONDON: Manchester City’s bid to reel in Premier League leaders Manchester United has been jeopardized by injuries to key players as they prepare to open their Christmas campaign at home to Reading today. Six points off the pace after their 3-2 loss in the Manchester derby on December 9, the champions could be missing captain Vincent Kompany and midfielder Samir Nasri for the Royals’ visit to the Etihad Stadium. Kompany limped out of the derby with a groin injury, forcing him to miss last weekend’s 3-1 win at Newcastle United, and he is a major doubt for today’s game. Nasri picked up a similar injury in the game at St James’ Park and looks set to be out for two weeks, potentially ruling him out of City’s entire festive program. To compound matters for coach Roberto Mancini, central midfielder Jack Rodwell has revealed that he will probably be out of action until the beginning of 2013 due to a hamstring injury that he sustained in October. “I’ve just had a little bit of a setback with my hamstring injury,” Rodwell told the club website. “It will probably be another few weeks, so I’m looking into the new year.”

Injuries aside, Mancini will expect his side to take all three points at home to a Reading team who sank to the foot of the table last weekend and were thrashed 5-2 at home by Arsenal on Monday. City can close to within three points of top spot if they beat Reading, with United not in action until their lunchtime trip to Swansea City tomorrow. The festive season is a pivotal period in the Premier League, with teams facing four games in the space of only 12 days. Arsenal kick off the weekend program at home to third-bottom Wigan Athletic today, when victory would provisionally propel them up to third place. Buoyed by the rout at Reading, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was given further reason for optimism in mid-week when Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Alex OxladeChamberlain, Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Ramsey all agreed new contracts. The Frenchman faces demands from supporters to improve his squad in the January transfer window, but he says the performance at Reading proves that the team are on the right track. “What is important is this team develops in the way we want to play. I have seen some

interesting aspects on Monday night at Reading,” he said. “Let’s see how far this team can go. If we can add one or two exceptional players, we will do it.” Tottenham Hotspur quietly stole into the top four last weekend and they can put pressure on third-place Chelseawho host Aston Villa tomorrow-with victory at home to Stoke City. Gareth Bale and Michael Dawson are both expected to return from injury for Spurs, who found out on Thursday that they will face goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’ former club Lyon in the Europa League last 32. Everton, who have slipped to sixth after winning just two of their last 11 fixtures, visit West Ham United, while West Bromwich Albion will also hope to buck a run of disappointing results when they host Norwich City. Having finally secured a first win of the campaign at home to Fulham last weekend, Queens Park Rangers bid to maintain their unbeaten record under new manager Harry Redknapp when they visit Newcastle United. Liverpool, stunned 3-1 at home by Villa last weekend, host Fulham, while Southampton tackle fellow relegation candidates Sunderland at St Mary’s. — AFP

No Xmas for non-stop EPL LONDON: Christmas lights and festive shop displays foretell a season of indulgence in Britain but for Premier League footballers they herald the arrival of the most grueling period of the year. Uniquely among Europe’s major leagues, England’s footballers are granted no winter break and must cram in an energy-sapping sequence of fixtures while the rest of the country is tucking into the traditional roast turkey and mince pies. There are games in the Premier League on the weekends immediately before and after Christmas Day on December 25, as well as the traditional Boxing Day fixtures on December 26. The New Year brings no let-up, with a full round of league games on January 1 and 2 followed by the FA Cup third-round fixtures the following weekend. It is an arduous routine and woe betide any team with ambitions of progressing in the cup competitions as Britain’s winter months take hold. Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez has already presided over eight games since taking charge at Stamford Bridge on November 21. Commitments in the European Champions League, the Club World Cup in Japan and the English League Cup have been piled on top of the league program, stretching the squad to its limits. TV HAS TOO MUCH POWER After losing 1-0 to Corinthians in the Club World Cup final in Yokohama tomorrow, Chelsea faced a 13-hour return flight and then had only 48 hours to prepare for their League Cup quarterfinal at Leeds United on Wednesday. A shock had been on the cards after Leeds took the lead in the 37th minute but the Blues battled back to win 51, easing the pressure on Benitez. But starting tomorrow, last year’s Champions League winners face league games with Aston Villa, Norwich City, Everton and Queens Park Rangers-all in the space of just 11 days. Benitez, though, says he cannot complain about the scheduling if he wants his team to amass as much silverware as possible. “We have to win every competition if we can,” said the Spaniard, whose side’s victory against Leeds adds a League Cup semi-final to their heaving schedule. “Christmas time is a crucial period because you can play so many games that will change everything.” Boxing Day fixtures traditionally pit teams against their local rivals to spare fans the inconvenience of long journeys on a day when many public transport providers run restricted services. Chelsea’s fans nonetheless face a 240-mile round-trip by road to the eastern English city of Norwich, which could take over six hours, while the match at Everton four days later will necessitate a 442-mile hike. Managers have long campaigned for a change to the calendar over the Christmas period, amid claims it puts English teams at a disadvantage in European competition and tires out England players for major tournaments. “It is not just to give the players a rest-it is to get rid of all the little injuries they carry,” said Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson last season. “It would also freshen everyone up mentally, including my staff, because they could do with that break as well. “But somehow they just will not listen to the people who really matter in the game: supporters, players, staff and coaches. “That’s when maybe you think TV has too much power.” Benitez and Ferguson could be forgiven for casting envious glances at Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and his West Ham United counterpart Sam Allardyce. Their sides’ Boxing Day clash has been postponed due to a proposed strike on the London Underground transport network. It will mean more fixture congestion in January, but just for once, their players might be able to enjoy a second helping of pudding and an extra glass of wine on Christmas Day. — AFP



Emirati firm completes Leeds United takeover


ACCRA: Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure speaks after winning the African Footballer of the Year award at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) awards in Accra, Ghana. — AP

Toure named African Footballer of the Year Ivorian wins CAF award for 2nd successive time

Yaya Toure

ACCRA: Manchester City’s Yaya Toure won the African Footballer of the Year award for a second successive time on Thursday, holding off a strong challenge from compatriot and Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba. The 29-year-old midfielder topped the annual poll of African national team coaches and technical directors to add to the award he won in 2011. Toure played a pivotal role for both club and country, helping Ivory Coast to the African Nations Cup final in February and then playing a big part in taking Manchester City to the Premier League title in a dramatic season finale. “Toure’s immense contribution in helping Manchester City win their first domestic championship in 44 years saw him pick up Africa’s most prestigious individual award,” said the citation from the Confederation of African Football, who did not

release the tally of votes. He was also a goal scorer in August’s FA Community Shield against Chelsea, won 3-2 by City, and helped the Ivorians easily past a strong Senegal side in Nations Cup qualification in September and October. Voters picked him ahead of sentimental favorite Drogba, whose dramatic celebrations after converting the decisive penalty for Chelsea against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final were among the abiding images of the footballing year. Winning the Champions League completed a full sweep of trophy success at club level with Chelsea for Drogba but also heightened the drama of just three months earlier when he missed a penalty for the Ivory Coast in the Nations Cup final. Drogba led his side on a seemingly unstoppable march to the final in Libreville, where they were runaway favorites, but he ballooned over the crossbar a

second half penalty that would have won Ivory Coast a prize that has consistently eluded them. Instead Zambia went on to win in post-match shootout although Drogba, who signed a two-and-ahalf year deal with Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua in June, won praise for bravely again stepping up to take a kick and scoring. Drogba’s other achievement of the year was to become the first player to score in four separate FA Cup finals when Chelsea beat Liverpool at Wembley. Third in the voting was Cameroon midfielder Alex Song, whose elevation to the trio of finalists was unexpected after a year of turmoil for the national side and no success at club level with Arsenal before he moved to Barcelona. The award was made at the annual CAF gala in Accra, a rambling affair filled with foibles including the incorrect announcing of a winner of one of the other minor awards. — Reuters

Iraq denies eyeing Maradona BAGHDAD: The Iraqi Football Association (IFA) yesterday denied media reports that it was negotiating with Argentine great Diego Maradona to take over as a coach of the national team. “There is no negotiation between Iraqi Football Association with Diego Maradona and it doesn’t have any intention to hire him,” deputy IFA head Abdul-Khaliq Masoud said over the phone. The denial came a day after an Argentine football official was quoted as saying that Maradona was a leading candidate to take over as Iraq coach. Hernan Tofoni, the general manager of World Eleven which

organizes international friendly matches for Argentina’s national team, was quoted by Argentina’s state-run news agency Telam as saying the leadership of the IFA was expected to meet Friday and complete an offer to Maradona. Tofoni told Telam that Iraq had wanted to hire an Argentine coach and Maradona’s name surfaced as a candidate. The Buenos Aires daily La Nacion also reported that Maradona was close to signing a deal with Iraq. Maradona was fired in July as the coach of Dubai club Al-Wasl despite having a year left on his contract. He was dismissed as Argentina’s national

coach following the team’s elimination in the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. His time in charge split public opinion in Argentina with criticism of his tactical decisions, offset by the respect he commands for his achievements as a player. Former Brazil great Zico resigned as Iraq coach last month over what he said was the Iraqi association’s failure to live up to its commitments. Zico said he was owed four months’ salary by the IFA, adding that he was disappointed by the lack of consideration for his work. He had been coach since August 2011. —AP

22 Dec  

Kuwait Times

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