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NO: 15666

150 FILS


SAFAR 10, 1434 AH

Attackers hack man to death at Avenues Dentist murdered over petty dispute, killer arrested

Max 22º Min 07º High Tide 03:07 & 17:04 Low Tide 09:50 & 22:21

conspiracy theories

Nightmare at Avenues By Badrya Darwish


he young 26-year-old dentist never dreamed in his life that his outing with his family to the Avenues will end up in a nightmare. The young doctor was merely taking his family to dine or shop or for a walk. Little he knew that taking the parking spot would cause his death in a horrible way. According to the Ministry of Interior, the four suspects are non-Kuwaitis. We don’t understand why they are referred to as non-Kuwaiti. Don’t they have any nationality? Murderers could be from any nationality, religion or color. So why hide it? I’m sure if they are sent back to their country of origin, they will be severely punished. I know fights take place at malls or on the streets by youngsters, especially in this era of satellite TV, videogames, violent movies etc. All this is affecting the minds of youngsters and adolescents. But, but, but. I was surprised that a giant mall like the Avenues doesn’t have security measures like in other countries and in places like hotels and airports where they search for arms, etc etc. I visited a mall in Jordan recently, which is a much poorer country than Kuwait. But they still managed to have stringent security in place at the mall, even lady personnel to frisk women if necessary. I’m sure the Avenues can easily set up scanners at the entrances. Of course some will argue that there are shops in the mall where somebody can walk into and buy a knife. But it won’t be as handy than if you have it on you or in your car. Thank God so far we are talking about knives and cleavers and buying them easily at a shop. We haven’t reached the level of countries where you can walk into a shop and buy a gun or rifle, even if you are underage. Talking about guns and rifles, this also reminds me to cleanse the country of guns and rifles, because everyone knows many people own them and keep them at home. This is not a secret, especially since the 1990 invasion. After the Iraqis left, a huge amount of weapons of all sorts, be they simple or sophisticated, were left behind. The government knows about it. I hope the minister of interior will take this issue seriously and confiscate these weapons from everyone regardless of their position or tribe. In clear Arabic - no wasta should be involved. We are also pinning our hopes on the minister that no wasta will interfere in the interrogation of the murderers of the young Lebanese doctor. God bless your soul, Dr Jaber, and may Allah give patience to your mother and the rest of your family.

‘Billion Style’ as Psy reaches Net milestone SEOUL: Psy hailed his ascent to “Billion Style” yesterday, after the South Korean rapper’s viral hit became the first video to break a billion views on YouTube, marking a historic milestone on the Internet. The view counter for “Gangnam Style”, which was only posted on the videosharing site July 15, clicked over into 10 figures at around 1550 GMT Friday, as the global craze for the singer and his horse-riding dance refuses to die down. As of 0630 GMT yesterday, the counter showed 1,010,321,921 views. “Finally becoming #BillionStyle!!!” Psy wrote on Twitter. Among the first to congratulate him was American rapper MC Hammer, of 1990s “U Can’t Touch This” fame, who posted: “Congratulations !!! You made history !!! 1 Billion Views !!!!” Psy thanked new manager Scooter Braun for helping promote the video. “I made 100 million and you made the other 900!!! Brother with Another Mother!!!” he wrote. Braun’s agency also manages Canadian heartthrob Justin Bieber, whose hit “Baby” Psy overtook less than a month ago to take the all-time most-viewed title. Continued on Page 13

KUWAIT: (Left) People help 26-year-old Lebanese dentist Jaber Samir after he was hacked with a cleaver at the Avenues mall late Friday. (Right) Undated images show Dr Samir at work. (Below left) Handout image from the Ministry of Interior shows the suspected killer who was arrested. (See Page 2) By Nawara Fattahova and Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: A young doctor was hacked to death with a cleaver by four men at the Avenues mall late on Friday, allegedly over a parking dispute. The victim, 26-year-old Jaber Samir, a Lebanese dentist at Jabriya clinic whose mother is Kuwaiti, died a few hours later at a hospital. The suspected killer, a 22-year-old nonKuwaiti, was arrested yesterday, but his three accomplices - also non-Kuwaiti - are still at large, according to Col Adel Al-Hashash, PR Director at the Ministry of Interior. Hashash said that after initial interrogations, the suspect said he and the victim had a dispute over a parking spot which angered him. The suspect then purchased the murder weapon from the mall, followed the victim and stabbed him to death. Asked about enhancing the deployment of policemen in the Avenues, Hashash said the administration of the mall also shared part of the responsibility. ”Our officers are present and we have an office at the mall along with first aid staff to deal with any emergency, but it is a huge mall. The Ministry of Interior had previously suggested and demanded from the mall management to install weapon detectors at all entrances of the mall, similar to

Pope pardons butler, expels him from Vatican


the ones installed at hotels. However, they did not respond to our suggestion,” Hashash said. Some eyewitnesses also said the attackers tried to harass a woman accompanying the victim. “The parents of these criminal teenagers and youngsters are responsible for their bad behavior. They have become careless and are not bothered about their children. They care little where their children go or what they do. If they were properly raised and had strict parents, they would not have dared to commit such a crime,” said 35-year-old Noora. “Youngsters are able to find light weapons such as knives very easily across Kuwait. Since they always expect to land up in a fight, especially in the shopping malls, they always carry these weapons with them. Often, the result is fatal. Also, the victims and those who commit these crimes are usually very young,” said 28-year-old Ahmad. Not applying the laws and resorting to wasta is the reason behind these crimes, according to 50-year-old Mahmoud. “Such a person can kill someone whom he doesn’t even know over a silly reason, just because he knows he will not be sentenced to death. If he knew he will get the death penalty, he wouldn’t commit Continued on Page 13

City late show closes gap on leaders United


VP quits as Egypt votes on constitution

Omanis vote in first municipal elections MUSCAT: Hoping for jobs and democratic change, voters in Oman cast ballots in their first municipal election yesterday, a sign of modest reform in response to protests inspired by the Arab Spring. The small Gulf oil producer, ruled since 1970 by Sultan Qaboos, sits opposite Iran on the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for nearly a fifth of globally traded petroleum. Its only other elections are for the Shura Council, a body that has some limited legislative powers. Increased democracy was a main demand of protesters in Omani cities during the Arab uprisings last year, along with jobs and an end to corruption. “We feel the change is coming with this new election that will give us the opportunity to ask officials to openly explain their actions and admit their mistakes,” said voter Harib Khalfan in the Seeb district of Muscat. At the polling station in Seeb, set up in a schoolhouse, about 50 people queued to Continued on Page 13

SAHAM, Oman: An Omani man casts his vote at a polling station yesterday. — AFP

CAIRO: Egypt’s vice-president resigned yesterday as Egyptians voted in a referendum that is expected to approve a new constitution that lays the foundations for the country’s transition to democracy but will strip him of his role. Authorities extended voting by four hours in the second and decisive round of the plebiscite on an Islamist-drafted constitution that the opposition has criticised as divisive and likely to cause more unrest. Just hours before polls closed, Vice President Mahmoud Mekki announced his resignation, saying he wanted to quit last month but stayed on to help President Mohamed Morsi tackle a crisis that blew up when the Islamist leader assumed wide powers. Mekki, a prominent judge who said he was uncomfortable in politics, disclosed earlier he had not been informed of Morsi’s power grab. However, the timing of Mekki’s move Mahmoud Mekki appeared linked to the fact there is no vice-presidential post under the draft constitution. In a resignation letter, Mekki said that although he had held on in the post he had “realised for some time that the nature of political work did not suit my professional background as a judge”. Islamist supporters of Morsi say the charter is vital to move towards democracy, nearly two years after an Arab Spring revolt overthrew authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak. It will help restore stability needed to fix a struggling economy, they say. But the opposition says the document is divisive and has accused Mursi of pushing through a text that Continued on Page 13




Accidents leave 2 dead Security man commits ‘suicide’ KUWAIT: Two people were killed in separate accidents in Kuwait, reports on Friday said. An Indian man died in an accident in Al-Abdaly after he suffered a fatal head injury while an Asian man died after his vehicle turned turtle on the Sixth Ring Road. Investigations were on into both the accidents to determine the exact reasons that caused these. Kidnapper arrested A woman who was kidnapped in a car from Salwa jumped from the moving vehicle and was seriously injured even as the police succeeded in arrested her tormentor within hours on the same day. The Asian victim arrived at the Mubarak Hospital in a critical condition on Thursday. After doctors cleared her to talk to police officers as her condition stabilized, she explained that a man forcibly stopped her taxi in Salwa and pushed her into his own car, claiming himself to be a police detective. When the man tried to assault her sexually, she realized she was actually being kidnapped by a fake detective, and jumped from the car. Hawally detectives were able to identify the suspect by comparing the description provided by the victim with the database for people with criminal records. The Kuwaiti man was soon tracked down and arrested. He will remain in custody pending legal procedures. Stabbers in custody Jahra police managed to arrest a man accused of stabbing two people in Taima recently, while search is on for four other suspects. The 19-year-old Bedouin (stateless) man was found hiding inside a house in Al-Jahra last Friday. The man was charged with attempted murder. He provided information about his accomplices during interrogation. The incident was reported on late Tuesday night when a Kuwaiti and a Saudi national were attacked by a group over old disputes. Man commits ‘suicide’ A security man at a mall was found

dead in a market in Sabhan on Friday morning in what appeared to be a suicide, according to preliminary investigations. The 29-year-old Indian’s coworkers who were searching for him after he went missing for two hours found him hanging in a staircase. The body was taken to the coroner after investigations were carried out at the scene. A case was filed at the Sabah AlSalem police station for investigations to determine the circumstances behind the incident. Teen stabs father A teenager stabbed his father and left him seriously wounded during a family dispute in Salwa on Friday afternoon. As the argument got heated, the boy grabbed a kitchen knife and attacked his father repeatedly before other family members could stop him. The heavily bleeding man was rushed to the Mubarak Hospital in an ambulance. The suspect escaped before police arrived at the scene. Rapist at large Police are trying to track down a man who sexually assaulted a teenager in a Jlai’ah camp after luring him there on the pretext of teaching him how to drive. The 14-year-old victim had engaged in a conversation with an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) driver who had stopped near a grocery store in the camping area. When the boy showed his admiration of the ATV, the suspect offered to teach him how to drive it. Unaware of the suspect’s intentions, the boy fell for the offer and accompanied the ATV driver. Both stopped near the suspect’s tent for some rest where the suspect sexually assaulted the boy before dropping him back to the spot where he had picked him up from. Patrol officers responded to an emergency call but could not find the suspect. The victim’s father was notified about the incident in the meantime and the case was referred to the nearest police station as per the officers’ instructions. — Agencies

KUWAIT: Images taken from social media show the scene of a crime at the Avenues mall where 26-yearold Lebanese dentist Jaber Samir was hacked to death by four attackers late Friday.

Ghazali Bridge demolition temporarily put on hold KUWAIT: Demolishing the Ghazali Bridge, part of the comprehensive Jahra Road project, has been temporarily put on hold until solutions are found to the traffic jams that are expected to take place after the busy bridge and its surrounding roads are shut down, a local daily reported yesterday. “The company carrying out the Jahra Road project was notified of the temporary decision as Ministry of Public Works officials

continue talks with other agencies to find solutions to avoid traffic jams on Ghazali R oa d ”, a s e ni or of f i c i a l t ol d A l -Q a b a s recently. The discussions include finding a solution for the nearly one thousand trucks moving to and from the Shuwaikh Port every day “leading to traffic jams on the Ghazali Road, as well as entrances and exits of the Al-Shuwaikh Industrial Area”, said the source, who spoke on the condition of

anonymity. Of note, Ghazali Road saw notable increases in traffic during the past two weeks after a new detour was created a t t he c r os s r oa d b e t w e e n t he G ha za l i Bridge and Jahra Road, as part of construction for the Jahra Road renovation project. The source added that the road project was designed to put an end to traffic jams at t he S a b a h Me d i c a l Zone a nd K uw a i t University.

Kuwaiti suffers multiple injuries By Hanan Al Saadoun KUWAIT: A 39-year-old Kuwaiti man suffered multiple injuries in an accident that occurred at Jalaia Road number 258. He was rushed to the Adan Hospital. Meanwhile, a 20-year-old Kuwaiti man suffered a head injury in a cycle accident at King Fahad Road near Nowaiseeb. He was taken to the Adan Hospital and admitted to its intensive care unit. In another development, two Syrian expats were suffocated and had to be treated on the spot when a fire broke out in an apartment at Fahaheel Bloc 9. Five ambulances manned by ten technicians rushed to the site even as fire fighters brought the blaze under control without any casualties except for the two Syrians, aged 31 and 14.

MoI targets mixed parties and liquor KUWAIT: Security sources revealed that assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior, Lt General Abdul Hameed Al Awadhi, recently met the General Director of Criminal Investigation and the Director of Morale Detective Administration Brig Mahmoud Al Tabbakh apart from a number of detectives’ top brass to prepare a plan of action to ensure law and order during the new year holiday. The plan would also involve a strategy to keep an eye on the places where mixed parties are held, in which liquor is usually served. The authorities would also be keeping an eye on spring camps in which also such parties are held. Sources said that Al Awadhi’s plan is to maintain order and pre-empt any crime. Check points would be set up, detectives will be able to stop and prevent women from entering suspected places and inspection campaigns will begin at the dawn of the first day of 2013 in order to arrest any suspects. Any citizen, be they men or women, if found to be leaving a suspected place under the influence of liquor, will be sent directly to criminal investigation where blood samples will be taken to determine the alcohol percentage in the blood. They will then be sent to the public prosecutor. As for the expats, same procedures will apply and if proven guilty, they will be jailed and deported.—Agencies

SAIDA: The Kuwaiti public campaign for the relief of the Syrian people announced it will build a medical center and four shelters for Syrian refugees in the Lebanese city of Saida. The campaign chairman, Dr Sulaiman Al-Sahatti said the shelters would house about 250 families.

Kuwait celebrates Arab Police Day KUWAIT: Kuwait recently celebrated Arab police day, which fell on December 18. The celebration included several events, starting with a speech by the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Ahamd Al Hmoud Jaber Al Sabah, in which he greeted policemen

and said the police would continue to confront anyone who threatens the nation’s security, at the same time assuring that police abide by human rights regulations and the law. He said that the dignity of policemen is part of the state’s dignity, and any violations to the law by policemen shall be

dealt with strictly and violators will be punished. During the celebration, a number of students presented flowers to high ranking police officials, including the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, as well as the Undersecretary General, Ghazi Al Omar.



Unlicensed e-trading flourishing in Kuwait ‘Unlicensed but still not illegal’ By Nawara Fattahova KUWAIT: As new technologies are coming up all the time and social media have become popular like never before, many people now run small businesses online or advertise their home businesses through these media even as the Ministry of Commerce or local municipalities have not licensed these activities. In fact, no laws or regulations exist as of now for such activities which are unlicensed but still not illegal and are not subject to any punitive measures. “People are not aware of the threat posed by such unregulated activities. As we have no

KUWAIT: Photos show a nail sticker and a solar mobile charger sold and bought online.

laws or regulations for these activities, more people are using these online tools. No supervision of unlicensed electronic trading or even private businesses run from home is taking place, although some of the goods being sold or bought may be dangerous and harmful,” attorney Mubarak Mijzea told the Kuwait Times. No authority, including police, can enter

any house without a valid warrant. “The privacy of private houses and properties is protected by law, and the police can only enter based on a complaint. The same applies to individuals selling online. I remember a case when someone was selling forbidden performance enhancing pills online and was advertizing these in a publication. Some consumers who bought the product from him and suffered some harm complained. Investigators laid a trap for him and confiscated the pills. He was arrested as he was selling forbidden material, which only a pharmacy can sell - that too, on a medical prescription,” he added. He also explained that undertaking any unlicensed commercial activity is considered a violation, but there are no regulations governing it. “Anybody can complain but from my experience, I know that when such a complaint will go to the court, the defendant will end up innocent as it is hard to prove that a certain website or account belongs to him, and that it was he who sold that particular item,” explained Mijzea. Abduljalil Jawhar from the Consumer Protection Department of the Ministry of Commerce said that his department has no authority to penalize private commercial activities even if unlicensed. “We cannot protect the consumer in case he bought something from an individual who does not own a licensed store. We only act in case of complaints against licensed shops. Buying from these vendors is a mistake, where people risk their health in order to save money. People should not make a mistake and then complain about it,” he pointed out. “People should realize that those who run such unlicensed businesses from home are trying to bypass the law, and are protecting themselves against any complaints. They are cutting costs when compared to licensed business and the consumers are paying for this,” Jawhar further said. At times, such shopping could turn out to be dangerous. “We received some cases of children suffering from diarrhea after consuming some chocolates purchased online. Later, it was found that these were not suitable for human consumption. Also, some electronic items are not suitable for local market and are not only not compatible with voltage available

Kuwait oil minister in Cairo for OAPEC talks CAIRO: Kuwaiti Oil Minister Hani Hussain has arrived in Cairo for Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) talks. Hussain will meet his counterparts from another eight Arab oil-producing member countries, namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Iraq, Algeria, Libya and the host nation, Egypt. Discussions will focus on the environment and climate change - in light of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol; OAPEC’s General Secretariat 2012 activities and technical studies; preparing for the 10th Arab Energy Conference, hosted by Lebanon

in 2014 and adopting a proposal for the organization’s estimated 2013 budget. The winners of OAPEC’s annual prize for scientific research in the field of the petroleum and gas industry will also be announced, with the 2012 competition focusing on technological advancements in the discovery and utilization of unconventional natural gas resources in the Arab world. Upon his arrival, the Kuwaiti minister was welcomed by his country’s Ambassador to Egypt Rasheed Al-Hamad, OAPEC Secretary General Abbas Al-Naqi and Egyotian Minister of Petroleum and Minerals Osama Kamal. —KUNA

John Hopkins deal cancelled KUWAIT: The Ministry of Health (MoH) canceled a deal signed last year with an American hospital, under which it was expected to manage four public hospitals, due to “lack of feasibility on the medical level,” according to minister Dr Mohammad Al-Haifi. The five-year $350 million contract with John Hopkins Hospital was called off after the ministry invoked a clause allowing it to cancel the deal without attracting any penalty if the hospital failed to carry out its end of the deal. Minister Al-Haifi explained to Al-Rai in this regard that the hospital had also sent doctors “less experienced” than the ministry’s own medical staff. The contract was signed as per the MoH’s strategy to improve the quality of medical

services at public medical facilities by utilizing the experience of leading international medical institutes and thus ensure training of the local staff. The deal with John Hopkins was supposed to see staff from the American hospital train doctors, nurses and lab technicians at the Adan Hospital last year, before moving to the Farwaniya, Jahra and Amiri hospitals the following years with an annual cost of $17.5 million. Minister Al-Haifi further indicated that the contract was signed by a caretaker cabinet “without being reviewed by the [MoH’s] international agreements department.” He added that contracts signed with other international universities are currently being reviewed “to determine their feasibility and positive outcome.”

in Kuwait but can even result in a fire accident. By making such purchases, the consumer loses the warrantee that would have otherwise covered the sale in a licensed shop. Also, we are not able to help them,” noted Jawhar. Amal is a young partner in a fashion business but sometimes sells her wares in unlicensed places. “I am a partner in a licensed atelier where we design dresses, which I later sell during licensed exhibitions. In fact, if somebody sold without license, it would not affect me but if they imitated my designs or brought low quality pieces from China and sold these at reduced prices, it will surely affect my business. I will be helpless in that case,” she stated. She also knows that the consumer protection authorities will not entertain any complaint from customers who bought material from unlicensed seller. “I also sell in some unlicensed fairs and online as well. Fortunately, I have so far not faced any problems but if unsatisfied customers were to complain, they will hardly gain anything. I also know some women who have held unlicensed exhibitions at their houses and their neighbors complained of jam and chaos caused in front of their houses because of this exhibition. The Municipality warned them not to repeat such activity. Some of them actually shifted their activity to a multipurpose hall usually used for weddings,” stressed Amal.

KUWAIT: Ahmadi Governor Sheikh Dr Ibrahim Al-Duaij Al-Sabah received the military attache at the Egyptian Embassy, Colonel Nader Al-Khashab, and his deputy Lieutenant Colonel Waleed Al-Shafe’ie in his office recently. They discussed means to improve cooperation and mutual relations between the two countries.

Kuwaitis ‘biggest buyers’ of real estate in the Gulf RIYADH: The number of nationals of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries who bought up real estate properties in another GCC member state, other than their home country, increased by 51.1% in 2011 to 16107, up from 10654 in 2010, recent figures from a report issued here today by the GCC Secretariat’s General Information and Statistical Center showed. In 2011, Kuwaitis were the most buyers of real estate in other GCC countries with 8130 ownerships, followed by Saudis (2312) and Emiratis (2267), said the report. This takes the total such interGCC real estate ownerships to 93767 by the end of 2011, compared to 77804 by the end of the previous year. The UAE came first among GCC nations in terms of attracting nationals of other GCC states to buy proper-

ties there in 2011 with 10873 registered contracts (67.5 percent of all GCC real estate purchase contracts), followed by Oman with 3364 registered contracts representing a 20.9 percent share, and Bahrain in third place with 1189 contracts. Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia came next with 1.9, 1.3, and 1 percentages respectively. Allowing nationals of GCC member countries to own real estate properties in other GCC countries is among the ten domains of the GCC common market as defined by the economic agreement in 2001. The agreement gives GCC nationals of any member state the same treatment accorded to its own citizens, without differentiation or discrimination, in all economic activities including real estate ownership. —KUNA


LOCAL Local Spotlight

In my view

God help you, your highness

Johns Hopkins deal

By Abdallah Bwair

By Muna Al-Fuzai



o one can deny the fact that the responsibility bestowed on HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah AlAhmad Al-Sabah’s shoulders is not only huge, but critical as well, yet no one can also question his ability to live up to it. Despite numerous attempts carried out by some people to create chaos in Kuwait and damage national unity, HH the Amir was there to protect the country through his wise and diplomatic approach. His actions are yet another testimony to the fact that Kuwait will always be safe as long as its people remain united, as shown through various examples during the country’s history; the most evident of which is the Iraqi Invasion era when Kuwaitis of all ages stood as one against the aggressors. After being able to correct the course of the ship and win back respect for the country’s law, constitution and status, HH the Amir has proven to be a man worth a million men and the one to go to in extreme situations. To say thank you is an understatement about how grateful we feel for what he has done for Kuwait, which unfortunately is still unappreciated by the very people who benefit from the privileges he worked so hard to help achieve. HH the Amir stepped in when Kuwait needed him the most. He made sure that the law is firmly implemented, and instructed ministers to exert extra efforts in order to tackle corruption and make sure that the wheel of development starts spinning again. Furthermore, HH asked the government to give extra attention to young citizens, which proves his belief in them as the decision makers of the future. HH the Amir stood by Kuwait to ensure our safety and security at a time when many around the world are missing these two important aspects. God save the Amir and help him continue to be the man we all are proud to call our leader.

kuwait digest

When enthusiasm meets frustrating procedures By Iqbal Al-Ahmad


had a conversation recently with a young man during which he expressed vibrant mixed emotions swinging between excitement and frustration at the same time. On the one hand, he seemed very enthusiastic about a new project through which he planned to start his career, but on the other he was filled with disappointment due to the slow process of work at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor through which he has to finalize the necessary paperwork. During our conversation, he repeatedly voiced his feeling of regret for having started a private business, or having started a business in Kuwait. First, it took him months to have his degree certified from the local education authorities after he obtained it from a top international university through a scholarship paid for by the government. After that, he went on to explain how he found himself forced to violate the law as he put in motion mandatory documentation to obtain a license for his company. “I discovered that finalizing work illegally is the norm in many ministries, and anything else is an abnormality,” he said. When I asked him to explain, he told me that he learnt that bribery is the fastest way to achieve whatever he wanted in a majority of state departments. “Of course, it’s costly, but at least it saves me the trouble of going to the same department day after day, or showing up in time only to find that the concerned employee supposed to handle my transactions had decided to leave work early,” he said. His words would give you the impression that as long as you are willing to pay money under the table, you will be able to overcome all kinds of obstacles in state departments. “It does not need a genius to realize whether the employee is asking for a bribe or not,” he added, further explaining that corrupt employees accept all kinds of things ranging between a prepaid phone credit recharging card, a new set of car tires or a stake in contracts between your company and state departments. I personally cannot say he is lying, because he is the one who has to go through hell everyday to follow up with his company’s licensing procedures, not to mention that I have spoken to many other young citizens who talked to me in a similar tone. “I would change the state’s laws,” he answered when I asked what was the first thing he would do if he was appointed prime minister. “What kind of laws?” I asked. He paused for a while, and then said there are too many to mention any one. “But I am definitely going to add more regulations to monitor work at state departments and penalize lawbreakers because recklessness has reached unacceptable levels,” he said. “Take a tour around restaurants, cafÈs and shopping centers during work hours to have a better idea about where employees can be found at that time.” I wanted to go off topic a little bit, so I asked: “What is the most beautiful thing in our country, and what is the worst thing? I waited as he struggled to find an answer, then I told him that the most beautiful thing was the constitution, while the worst thing is the lack of commitment to implementation of constitutional articles. I am not talking about articles which explain citizens’ rights; those are activated everywhere, but the articles which detail people’s duties, and have been gathering dust for years. He never commented, but shook his head in a way as if he had found the reasons behind his complaints today. —Al-Qabas

kuwait digest

Why has education deteriorated? By Dr Shamlan Y Al-Essa


espite the keen interest that HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad takes in issues concerning education in Kuwait, the bitter truth is that the state of affairs as far as general education was concerned has been deteriorating as confirmed by international reports published lately. We need to ask who is responsible for this deteriorating record in education. Is it the family, school or society? The answer to this question is not easy. The family is the foundational unit in rearing and educating the child, preparing him for life’s battles. We must admit that the Kuwaiti family went through periods during which it neglected the education of its children. In the past, before the discovery of oil, the extended family that had grandparents and their children living together used to pay great attention to their children’s education. Most members of the society were keen on teaching their children reading, writing and reciting the holy Quran. Families used to pay fees to the “mutawaa” (teacher) for educating their children. This keenness goes back to the “mentality of deprivation.” Human beings want education to improve their living standards. Even after the Al-Mubarakiya school was opened, citizens were still paying fees to educate their children. The poor used to receive donations to educate their children, or were exempted from paying if the children turned out to be meritorious. What happened to the Kuwaiti family after oil money came in? In the beginning, during the 50s, 60s and 70s, families were interested in educating their children, but as wealth increased, and dependence on maids to raise children increased, parents became preoccupied with their own problems. They gave up teaching their children because they were busy in trade and work. Teaching was left to the private teacher. Classrooms became crowded and parents relied more and more on private lessons. Soon, they stopped tracking what their children were studying, and left everything to school, hoping that the school may replace the family as far as education was concerned. This was a negative role that Kuwaiti family played in the life of children. Of course, there would be exceptions, but most parents today have reduced their role to just blaming the education ministry, teachers or government. They do not ask themselves why their children skip school and why do they depend on a private teacher? Why have the student’s knowledge and education deteriorated? The reason is clear. It is the negligence of parents towards their children. They are busy with modern information technology systems like television, video, internet, Twitter. Children are indulging in all

this with parents’ encouragement because they think that raising children means appeasing them. No wonder they buy them the latest phones, iPads etc. Parents neglect their children thinking that their role was limited to providing them with material things. They think their mission is over when they send them to school, without thinking that the school has its own problems. As for the education ministry, the first question is why has the education system failed to produce development mechanisms, and why all attempts to enhance education have failed? There is no political vision in education system. We need to ask whether the main goal of education is to maintain the status quo or is it to prepare citizens to usher in change. There is no societal agreement on this point, but the truth is that the political Islam groups have controlled the education curricula because of the government’s laxity and not clearly explaining what it wants. We face two choices today, either to be linked with the new era civilization or remain as we are today, puzzled between our wish to maintain the old, and our ambition for renewal and change. We need to ponder over this question if we are serious about the issue of Kuwait’s openness and want to make it a financial and commercial center. We must confirm that education cannot be delinked from the society’s culture. We must decide whether we are ready to accept the new and the principles of modernity or not. Does the education ministry cerebrally equipped and have a new philosophy that reflects the society’s need and the needs of the national economy? What we know is that the education ministry used to depend on Arab experts to develop curricula in the past, and our Arab brothers from Palestine, Egypt, Iraq and Syria used to write them, but the government’s fear of the nationalistic and Arab expansion has made the education ministry to turn towards political Islam groups, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, for help. The social, humanitarian and natural sciences were manipulated to bring them in tune with the Brotherhood’s understanding of Islam. The ministry neglected the issue of developing education according to scientific research. It refused to be benefitted by contemporary sciences and modern technologies. The ministry also neglected experiences of other nations that made large leaps in modernizing education systems and opened intellectual power houses. What we need today is continuous revision of our curricula and regularly comparing these with the curricula in the distinguished private schools in Kuwait or curricula of other schools that have made large strides in development. — Al-Watan

kuwait digest

Wrong priorities By Mubarak Al-Maosharji


fter reading the first few statements made by the new parliament’s members, I would like to send them this message. Dear MPs, the 39.7 percent of Kuwaiti citizens who voted for you did not elect you to waste public funds on salary increases and allowances, writing off consumer loans, or raising the cap for social and housing loans. They also did not elect you to open old wounds and dig in search for mistakes committed by former lawmakers, or establish investigation committees that waste the parliament’s time and effort instead of focusing on what serves the common good. Kuwaitis who defied the opposition and their boycotting calls on their way to ballot boxes on December 1st did not do that so that you come afterwards and leave the naturalization door wide open, so that the right of a person who meets conditions for citizenship becomes equalized with that of some opportunists and those with connection to people in positions of authority. The early performance of some MPs indicates that their priorities are focused on improving their popularity among voters, even if it comes at the expense of public funds and the state’s demographic struc-

ture and political stability. I urge those MPs to start first with finding ways to eliminate the existing political tension and divisions in the Kuwaiti society, which can be done by proving their honest intention for reform. This is what Kuwaitis voted them for. Stop the enormous wastage of public funds, and shift your attention to strict monitoring and application of State Audit Bureau recommendations. These issues, combined with pushing reform and development, need to be given priority ahead of reopening old files. As for naturalization, this job is already being handled by a committee formed under parliamentarygovernmental agreement and headed by a man who earned the trust of both authorities. I do hope though that the committee speeds up the procedures to naturalize stateless residents who meet the required conditions as soon as possible. If you are able to achieve that, this will help you earn people’s trust and silence the critics who doubted your ability to achieve what none of the previous parliaments have been able to achieve. Furthermore, you will prove to your voters that they did the right thing by voting for you, otherwise they will move to join the opposition’s side. — Al-Rai

am not making this up. It is all over the local media and will soon figure as a major issue in Kuwait. The Ministry of Health (MoH) has canceled the Johns Hopkins agreement that was aimed at upgrading our hospitals and injecting massive funds into medical and health care systems. It seems the MoH has commenced its duties in new Kuwait era. Scrapping an agreement that could have upgraded the health care in Kuwait is what it calls its new development plan and strategy. Hardly a few weeks ago, this government was formed on the promise of how it will lead us, the people of Kuwait, into an era of huge development, construction and pro-people activities. Johns Hopkins is a leading medical brand in the world and it is we who need them; they are hardly dying to get us on board. The agreement with Johns Hopkins was signed by Minister of Health and Minister of Finance on the Kuwaiti side and representatives of the top medical brand on the other side on December 24th, 2011. The $17 million, five-year contract was to inject $700,000 into each of the four hospitals in Kuwait, beginning with the Al-Adan Hospital. Ever since it was signed, the entire deal was being kept confidential and only few details in bits and pieces trickled out every now and then. Along comes the shocking news that MoH does not want Johns Hopkins’ services anymore. If the deal has been cancelled for a proper reason, people deserve to know these reasons. There are precedents in Kuwait and we do have a record of cancelling agreements that should and would have benefitted the Kuwaiti people, particularly in the health and oil sector. Every MP must find out the facts and figures behind this cancellation. The MoH has claimed that the reason behind this cancellation was lack of commitment on the part of Johns Hopkins. I do not know what it means, and who was not ready to do his part, the Kuwaiti side or the American firm? Such vague statements irritate people who desperately want upgrading of the medical sector. We want to know the real reasons behind this cancellation or whether the culture of wasta was involved. How was the contract cleared by so many tender committees? There are too many questions floating in the wind now.

kuwait digest

Kids have grown up! By Yousif Awadh


o sane man can possibly approve of the recent protests and nightly demonstrations, especially those organized in residential areas and which involve youngsters and teenagers who keep parroting some political ideas. This surely calls for a stop. When you hear these young demonstrators’ opinions, you might think they are real political intellectuals. Yet, one should wonder if they see the protest as a means of entertainment and spending some nice time on the streets. Things are clear and dangerous at the same time. Political awareness has changed and ‘kids have grown up’, as the famous comic play was named. People of all ages have become political analyzers. The government could have dealt with them differently taking their young age into consideration instead of mobilizing special forces to face them because, after all, they are the sons of this country. The state should change the way it deals with such new generations forced into politics and political conflicts. They are mainly inadequately educated because of deterioration of our educational services where most people mainly depend on private tutors and we only have one university. Please spare me the talk about the expensive private universities. If it were not for the grants given by the state and the local scholarships, many of these universities would have closed down long ago. Also, spare me the talk about the unjust conditions set by the Civil Services commission to recruit those young people. Culture has become so limited to the elite and sports has been reduced to a level where many sports people hate their own sport that mainly depends on general assemblies rather than achievements on the real field. For instance, very few people know anything about the West Asia Soccer championship that was held in Kuwait. Therefore, young people in many fields have become alienated because of political conflicts that are mainly unjustified. Although it does not run the country nor has a say in decision-making, the opposition is accused of being behind all sorts of deterioration. Now, since the opposition has been alienated leaving everything to the government, what happened? The government’s mistakes and failure have continued, starting with ridiculous elections in which very few voters voted. There was a failure in the cabinet formation. Provocative statements have been made by a cabinet member about the citizens indebted by bank loans. As a Kuwaiti citizen, I will not cry over spilt milk. Let bygones be bygones. Yet, I have not seen any tangible steps that can reassure citizens. Statements about bank loans and the reformation of the demolition committee, that has not been treating citizens equally, only suggest that this cabinet is actually punishing citizens. We need calmness more than any time ever. So, I wish the government reconsidered many issues, mainly those related to youth, their education, building another university and providing more job opportunities for them to fill their time with something useful. — Al-Jarida



No ‘pivot’ away from Mideast: Washington US envoys attend Mideast security summit MANAMA: American envoys challenged assertions yesterday that Washington seeks to diminish its role in Middle East affairs, insisting US political ties and energy needs bind the country closely to a region full of “threat and promise.” The defensive tone by US officials, in response to questions raised at an international security summit in Bahrain, reflects growing speculation about a possible US policy realignment toward Asia at the expense of Mideast initiatives. Gulf Arab states, in particular, have urged the Obama administration to take stronger action on Syria, where Saudi Arabia and Qatar seek to open channels to send heavy weapons to rebel forces fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. The White House has favored a more cautious approach with the Syrian opposition, worried that hard-line Islamist rebel factions could be aided by stepped up arms flow. “The idea that the US can pivot away from the Middle East is the height of foolishness,” Sen John McCain said at the Bahrain gathering, which brings policymakers and political figures from around the world including Iran and the Syrian opposition.

The Arizona Republican, the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, also said he believes there is a “steady increase” in fighters inspired by Al-Qaeda joining the rebel side in Syria’s civil war. The comments follow a diplomatic flap after Bahrain’s crown prince did not mention the US at the opening of the conference Friday as he listed critical allies in the kingdom’s 22-month battle against an Arab Spring-inspired uprising. Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is the Pentagon’s main counterweight in the region against Iran’s military. Many at the conference interpreted the crown prince’s omission as a public slap against Washington for its criticism of Bahrain’s crackdowns, including recent action such as banning opposition rallies and revoking citizenship for 31 activists. More than 55 people have died in the unrest as the island nation’s Shiite majority pushes for a greater political voice in the Sunni-ruled kingdom. The head of the US delegation, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, said Washington’s foreign policy objectives clearly include the “dynamic” rise of Asian economic and political power and “domestic renewal”

to compete in the changing world economy. “For all the logical focus on pivots in other directions, however, the fact remains that the United States cannot afford to neglect what’s at stake in the Middle East,” he said. He credited Bahrain’s leadership for some reforms aimed at easing the tensions, including giving more powers to the elected parliament. But he noted “there is still a long road ahead” in following through with recommendations by an independent fact-finding committee last year that included calls for investigation into allegations of high-level abuses against protesters. The main Bahrain Shiite opposition group, Al Wefaq, said Saturday that it was open to the crown prince’s offer for dialogue, but it was unclear whether any breakthroughs were possible. Past overtures have failed to gain traction. Burns also said Middle Eastern oil remains crucial for the world economy despite projections of a sharp rise in US crude output in coming years from techniques such as extracting oil from shale. Burns, however, pointed out that other nations need to help chart the course

in the region following the Arab Spring suggesting no major unilateral push by Washington over Syria or other simmering disputes such as Iran’s nuclear program. “It is important for Americans, selfabsorbed as we sometimes are, to understand that the Middle East is not all about us ... But if it’s not about us, the future of the region certainly matters a great deal to us,” he told the conference. “It’s a region today that is full of both threat and promise.” Earlier, Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, the Saudi deputy foreign minister, told the conference that “tampering with the stability and security of any Gulf Arab state is considered as tampering with the security and stability of all other Gulf Arab states.” He described the “security and destiny ” of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council as “one and may not be divided.” The GCC includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council plan to meet later this month in Bahrain with issues such as closer intelligence and security coordination on the agenda.—AP

Kuwait Business delegation to visit Iraq By A Saleh KUWAIT: A Kuwaiti business delegation is all set to visit Iraq alongside the planned visit of the Prime Minister, HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, later this month, Kuwait’s top envoy in Baghdad said yesterday. “The delegation hopes to boost Kuwaiti business in Iraq. Iraq needs to create suitable investment environment for Kuwaiti investors,” Ambassador Ali Al-Mo’men said in a press statement, mentioning “security” as one of the requirements needed to create this desired environment. The delegation is likely to comprise 50 businessmen, and might visit Iraq after the premier’s visit, Al-Mo’men added. PM REASSURES COOPERATION The government studies every draft law proposed by the parliament before taking a decision, Kuwait’s Prime Minister HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah told lawmakers during a recent meeting in which he reassured that no proposal is rejected without evaluation. A group of lawmakers had approached the premier to discuss the controversy surrounding proposals calling on the government to write-off citizens’ loans which are backed by the parliament but rejected by the government. According to sources with knowledge of the meeting, HH Sheikh Jaber made the aforesaid remarks in response to a request calling ministers to avoid rejecting proposals even before

KOC to contain burning oil well KUWAIT: Operation to control the burning oil well in the northern region of AlRawdatain is proceeding according to plans, said a statement by Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) yesterday. The KOC added that the team assigned to handle the situation are getting close to sealing the hole which lead to the emission of dangerous gas to the atmosphere. Tip of the well was capped and course of the emitting gas and oil was shifted to two specially-designed craters, the statement explained. It indicated that according to the plan, the buried drilling machine would be pulled out and huge amounts of mud would be injected into the well to seal it permanently. Leakage of hydrogen carbon from the well started last October. The company set the well afire in a bid to stop the emission. — KUNA

Positive messages on housing KUWAIT: Government has sent positive messages indicating cooperation between the two authorities with no objection being raised from the government side about a discussion on the housing issue in a special session, as per a demand filed by five MPs lately. Ministerial sources said the government is agreeable as a matter of principle to discuss the housing issue, but it needs a period of one month to organize all the records and files relating to the case. This was required since the government was formed only recently and the concerned minister is new. He would need some time to know more details about this case.

they are passed. In other news, the parliament’s financial committee resumed discussion of the emergency decree regarding the companies law today (Sunday), with rapporteur Safa Al-Hashim revealing that there was a “semi-consensus” within the panel in its favor. “The members have some concerns with regards to family and limited companies as well as cumulative voting,” Al-Hashim explained, adding that “different views” regarding the subject were set to be discussed today. DUAL CITIZENSHIP Separately, a number of MPs plan to submit a request in order to allocate a parliamentary session to discuss the dual citizenship issue and Kuwait’s demographic structure. According to sources with knowledge of the issue, the request to be submitted next month was aimed at stopping “random naturalization” and implementing the law which bans Kuwaitis from having a second nationality. “The MPs plan to ask the government for a set of procedures to be carried out within a deadline, including withdrawing Kuwaiti citizenship from people who willingly retain different citizenships,” sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said. Meanwhile, a group of MPs finalized a proposal to establish a special committee aimed at maintaining “sophisticated level of speech” inside the parliament

and draft measures against use of abusive language. In this regard, sources with knowledge of the issue revealed that the government “doesn’t mind” establishing the so-called ‘parliamentary values committee’. LIBERALS RESPECT VERDICT Liberal movements plan to release a statement announcing their acceptance of the single-vote system and support to the elected parliament should the Constitutional Court uphold the controversial law, revealed sources with knowledge of the case. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the sources indicated that the statement “to be signed by senior members of the National Democratic Alliance and Kuwait Democratic Forum” is going to call upon the opposition to follow suit “and accept the court verdict” even if it goes against their wish. However, the sources noted that this situation could put the members on a collision course with leaders of their respective movements “who seem adamant not to change their positions regardless of the ruling.” FILED INQUISITIONS Minister of Oil Hani Husain believes that companies which had failed to meet required conditions to carry out projects linked with his ministry and were hence rejected by him were behind a series of inquisitions filed recently by MP Saadoun

Hammad Al-Otaibi. The lawmaker had recently threatened to file a grilling motion with regards to the topics he raised, but Minister Husain believes that the step was based on incomplete information. “The minister is convinced that MP Al-Otaibi had received the questions from other sources which use the lawmaker in order to settle scores with him,” sources close to Minister Husain said. Meanwhile, Minister of Health Dr Mohammad Al-Haifi has reportedly ordered an internal investigation regarding allegations of violations committed in the government’s overseas treatment program during the tenure of his predecessor Dr Ali Al-Obaidi. According to sources, the step comes in response to a parliamentary inquisition made recently in this regard.

Bahraini Minister of State for Media Affairs Samira Rajab

Gulf Union a ‘strategic choice’ MANAMA: The formation of a Union for the GCC will be a strategic choice to meet political, economic, and security challenges in the region, said Bahraini Minister of State for Media Affairs Samira Rajab yesterday. Rajab, who also occupies the Bahraini government’s spokesperson position said that the strategic value of the region made it imperative to form the union to protect the interests of countries in the Gulf as well as protect world economy due to the vast oil resources of the GCC. The GCC states, said the ministers, could use their capabilities to excel within the economic and financial domains, adding that development in the region must stem out of a social responsibility by people who are eager to build a better future. In regards the situation in the Arab region, Rajab affirmed that people have right to share administrative duties, each in their respective country, but such power sharing should come as a result of spreading true democratic ideals and reforms. The 33rd GCC Summit will be held in Bahrain on December 24-25 and will focus on issues pertaining to GCC development and cooperation. Chief amongst those issues is the proposed Gulf Union suggested by Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz. — KUNA

Gulf Bank’s KOC draw on Dec 26 KUWAIT: Gulf Bank will have the fourth and final quarterly KOC draw for 2012 whereby a lucky KOC employee will stand the chance to win a brand new GMC Yukon. The event will take place at Gulf Bank’s branch located in the KOC Head Office on December 26, 2012. KOC employees who bank with Gulf Bank are offered an exclusive banking package with benefits that include: vouchers from X-cite by Alghanim Electronics; free issuance charges for Visa and MasterCard Credit Card and special discounts upon using Gulf Bank cards at over 100 outlets in Kuwait. KOC employees who have their

salaries with Gulf Bank are also automatically entered into the quarterly draw for a brand new GMC Yukon. 2012 winners were: 1st quarter Damu Gopalkrishna Murti, 2nd quarter was Yasmeen Mohammed Al-Mousa and the 3rd quar ter, Mohammed Masoud Al Rahman Mohammed Shams Al Deen. Gulf Bank is the only Bank available at the KOC Head Office and all KOC staff are invited to visit the branch to find out more about the KOC salary package call the Customer Contact Center on 1805805 for assistance and guidance, or log on to, Gulf Bank’s website.



Second Gulfmart mini-supermarket opens in Salmiya Kuwait’s fastest growing retail chain tokes another leap

KUWAIT: Gulfmar t ’s meteoric rise as Kuwait’s fastest growing retail chain took another leap on Friday, 21st December with the opening of a second mini supermarket in Salmiya and the brand’s 16th branch in the country. The new outlet was inaugurated by His Excellency Satish C Mehta the Indian Ambassador to Kuwait, in the presence of Gulfmart’s top management and, a large gathering of customers and well wishers. Speaking to the media after taking a tour of the new mini-supermarket premises, the ambassador expressed his appreciation for Gulfmart’s efforts in bringing quality products at affordable prices from India and other places for the convenience of

customers. Ambassador Mehta also lauded the excellent marketing initiatives in remarketing the brand with its new logo and attractive colors, and he wished Gulfmart all the best. The new Gulfmart branch, located in Building 2 and 3 of Block 12, Street 4, just off Amman Street in Salmiya, sported the brand’s easily visible, refreshingly new twotoned green leaf logo across the facade. The new logo, which the brand has adopted since November 2012, is representative of the brand’s reinvigorated new form and its fresh product offerings. Commenting on the opening of the 16th branch in Kuwait, Arif Sheikh, Managing

Director of Gulfmart Group said, “We are excited at the opening of a second mini supermarket in Salmiya adorned with our new logo, lettering and livery. The new green leaf logo and stylish brand name lettering aims to project Gulfmart’s refreshing and energetic new look as it enters the second phase of its expansion drive in Kuwait. Within the next twelve months, we will complete the change -over of all our branches to the new brand design.” He went on to add, “But none of this rapid expansion and rebranding would have been possible without the full support of our valued customers in Kuwait, and I take this opportunity to thank each one of them

for their wholehear ted patronage.” Elaborating on the Group’s expansion strategy, Dr T.A. Remesh, Country Manager for Gulfmart in Kuwait added, “We are confident that with the continued endorsement from our patrons we will easily fulfill our aim of opening ten more outlets, in different size formats, across Kuwait by mid 2013. This would take our total branches in the country to 25 and cement our status as the fastest growing retailer with the largest number of branches in the country. Our strategy for the future envisions opening Gulfmart branches in three size formats Relatively small mini supermarkets of 800-

3000 sq ft floor area, large format supermarkets ranging in floor size of 8,000 to 40,000sq ft and a hypermarket that extend from 60,000 to 100,000sq ft.” “Following the opening today of our second mini-supermarket in Salmiya, we will soon be launching another mini supermarket in the residential district of Mahboula and then a large-format third supermarket of 30,000 sq ft in Fahaheel. This will be followed by a second branch in Khaitan of 30,000 sq ft and a 10,000 sq ft third outlet in Hawally in the near future. A further five more branches will be added to our lineup during the first-half of 2013,” revealed Dr Remesh.

KU College of Engineering and Petroleum’s 12th health week

The Dean of the college of Petroleum and Engineering (center) with participants.

The Dean with female participants. KUWAIT: Kuwait University College of Engineering and Petroleum concluded its 12th health week, which was held under the slogan (Yourth Health...Your Life). The closing ceremony was attended by the Dean Professor Hussein Ali AlKhayyat, and Director of Guidance office at the college Dr Mishal Al-Gharaballi. Professor Al-Khayyat thanked the participants and gave them some health information and instructions.

The Dean handing a memento to Sebamed’s Ayman Sharaa.

The Dean with Medical Emergencies participants.

Recognizing safety and security department at KU.

The Dean recognizing Dr Heba Hashim from Sebamed.

Recognizing the Red Cresent Society.

Gang rape protesters clash with Indian police Page 11 SUNDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2012

DAMASCUS: A singer leads the choir during evening mass at the St Joseph Church in Damascus yesterday. The majority of the Christian community in Syria has decided to celebrate Christmas without decorations this year amid an ongoing Syrian conflict. —AFP

Syria Islamists warn Christians New patriarch urges peace DAMASCUS: Islamist rebels warned two Christian towns yesterday they will be attacked if they do not evict regime forces, as the new Greek Orthodox patriarch said Syria’s often-fear ful Christians will stay put and urged a peaceful end to the conflict. Yet a key opposition group said Syria’s conflict is not sectarian, contradicting warnings this week by a UN team that increasing sectarianism is threatening whole communities. In a video message to the Hama provincial towns of Mharda and Sqilbiya, one of seven men armed with Kalashnikovs warned residents to expel gangs of (President Bashar al-) “Assad and shabiha (proregime militia) from your towns and convince them not to bomb our villages and families.” “If not, we will immediately attack the hideouts of Assad’s gangs and shabiha,” added the man, who identified himself as Rashid Abul Fida, head of the AlAnsar Brigade in Hama. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said Mharda and Sqilbiya both had pre-war populations in the tens of thousands but that

most of their residents have already fled. As the news circulated, Syria’s new Greek Orthodox leader called in Damascus for Christians to remain in the country despite the conflict. Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Yuhanna X Yazigi also appealed to warring parties to renounce violence “in all its forms” and to start a process of dialogue. In his first press conference since succeeding Ignatius IV Hazim, who died on December 5, he said: “We Christians are here in the country and we will stay here. “We believe that Christ is always present in this region, which is where Christianity was born.” The patriarch sought to downplay dangers faced by Christians. “What is happening to us is happening to others too. We are in the same situation as everyone else, Muslims and Christians, shoulder to shoulder, facing the difficulties,” he said. There are some 1.8 million Christians in Syria. Many have remained neutral in a conflict that erupted in March 2011 and has killed an estimated more than 44,000 people. Others, fearing a

rise of Islamism, have taken Assad’s side. The messages came two days after UN investigators described the 21-month conflict as “overtly sectarian in nature.” In response, the opposition Syrian National Council, hit out against the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, saying the “revolution is neither sectarian nor bloody.” “The only division that Syrian society is witnessing is between a bloodthirsty, oppressive regime... and people calling for freedom and equality,” the SNC said. On Thursday, the commission said the conflict threatened whole communities, and warned that newly formed armed Islamist groups were increasingly operating independently of the main rebel force, the Free Syrian Army. Fabrice Balanche, director of the French research centre Gremmo, says 80 percent of Syrians are Sunnis, around 10 percent belong to Assad’s Alawite community, five percent are Christian, three percent Druze and one percent Ismaili. Meanwhile, there was no letup of violence, as a car bomb in the northeast Damascus district

of Qaboon killed five people and wounded dozens of others, the Britain-based Observatory said. And Haidar al-Sumudi, a cameraman for state television was gunned down outside his Damascus home, the broadcaster said. Elsewhere, warplanes carried out air strikes on several flashpoints, among them the eastern province of Deir Ezzor and Homs in the centre of the strife -torn countr y, said the Observatory. Despite Syria’s raging war, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow that he believed “no one has an appetite for external intervention” in the country’s long-time ally. “I even have the feeling that they are praying for Russia and China to continue blocking permission for external intervention. Because if there is such a decision, they will have to act, and no one is ready to act.” In Syria’s neighbour Lebanon, German Development Minister Dirk Niebel pledged new funds to boost aid efforts for Syrian refugees streaming and called on Syria’s neighbours to keep their borders open to those fleeing. —AFP

Suicide attack kills Pakistan minister PESHAWAR: A suicide bomber killed a senior provincial minister and seven other people at a political meeting in northwest Pakistan yesterday, officials said, in an attack claimed by the Taliban. The bomber struck when around 100 people including the provincial leadership of the Awami National Party (ANP) had gathered at a meeting in the city of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The blast killed Bashir Bilour, the number two to the chief minister of the province, which is on the frontline of Pakistan’s fight against homegrown militancy and is frequently hit by gun and bomb attacks. A week ago a Taliban suicide car bomber and militants armed with rockets attacked Peshawar airport, a joint military-civilian facility, killing five people. A day later police and troops fought a fierce gunbattle with Taliban fighters who fled after the airport attack and holed up in a building, taking six hours to quell the militants. The 69-year-old Bilour, a fierce opponent of the Pakistani Taliban, suffered severe injuries in Saturday’s blast and died in hospital, Arbab Ayub Jan, a minister in the provin-

cial cabinet of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told AFP. A notice on the information board of Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital also announced Bilour and seven others were dead and said 18 people were injured in the attack. Bilour had “wounds to the chest and stomach. We tried our best to save his life” but he died during surgery, Arshad Javed, a senior doctor at the hospital told AFP. The Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP) said they targeted Bilour in revenge for the death of one of their elders. “We claim responsibility for killing Bashir Ahmed Bilour. It is revenge for the martyrdom of our elder Sheikh Naseeb Khan,” TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP. Khan was a teacher at a madrassa where many Taleban members were educated. Bilour’s brother Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, the federal railways minister, sparked international condemnation in September when he offered $100,000 to anyone who killed the maker of a controversial anti-Islam film. The TTP said they had taken him off their “hit list” after he offered the bounty and in Saturday’s statement stressed they had struck Bashir Bilour while his brother was not with him.—AFP



Tougher EU sanctions against Iran come into force BRUSSELS: Rigorous new sanctions against Iran’s banking, shipping and industrial sectors took effect on Saturday, as part of the European Union’s effort to force Tehran to scale back its nuclear programme. The sanctions, agreed in October, entered EU law with their publication in the European Union’s Official Journal yesterday. The toughest EU measures yet, they include bans on financial transactions, sales to Iran of shipping equipment and steel, and imports of Iranian natural gas, adding to earlier bans, including on the OPEC producer’s oil. They reflect heightened concern

over Iran’s nuclear goals and Israeli threats to attack Iranian atomic installations if diplomacy and other measures fail to deliver a solution. Diplomats say they hope talks with Iran can resume in January, but are waiting for an answer from Tehran, which maintains its nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes. In a statement, Britain’s foreign office said there was a clear need “for an urgent solution”. “Iran’s leaders know that sanctions are having a significant impact,” Britain’s Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt said. “They should be in no doubt that the international com-

Iraq without mediator as new crisis looms BAGHDAD: With President Jalal Talabani being treated in Germany after a stroke, Iraq is without a key mediator as a new political crisis brews between the secular Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc and the Shiite premier. Talabani’s stroke may in itself also spark turmoil-his resignation or death could cause a protracted dispute over his successor. The 79-year-old has sought to bring together feuding politicians, Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Arabs and Kurds, during political crises that have plagued Iraq. After at least nine of Finance Minister Rafa al-Essawi’s guards were arrested for alleged terrorism offences on Thursday, Talabani’s mediation skills will be sorely missed. Essawi, a Sunni member of Iraqiya, told a news conference a “militia force” raided the ministry and his home “in an illegal act, without a judicial order,” held Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki responsible and demanded that he quit. Essawi spoke to journalists alongside parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak, fellow Iraqiya members. Maliki, meanwhile, expressed “astonishment” at “linking the issue of the detainees with political disputes” and “trying to pull the whole country toward sectarian strife.” He slammed the idea that the arrests were sectarian, and warned of past years of bloody confessional violence. “Have you forgotten the day we were collecting bodies from the streets? Have you forgotten the day we were collecting severed heads from the streets?” he asked. Iraqiya and other members of Maliki’s unstable national unity government have accused him of concentrating power in his own hands and moving towards dictatorship, leading to calls for his removal from office. Maliki’s opponents ultimately lacked the parliamentary votes to remove him, but Essawi called on Thursday for noconfidence proceedings to be reopened. The arrest of Essawi’s guards comes almost exactly a year after Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi’s guards were arrested and accused of terrorism. Hashemi himself-like Essawi, an Iraqiya member-eventually took refuge in Turkey and has since been given multiple death sentences for charges including murder, as have some of his guards. Talabani, a Kurd, was hospitalised on Monday after suffering a stroke, and was airlifted to Germany on Thursday for spe-

cialist treatment. “ While on paper (Talabani’s) role is somewhat limited, his influence and mediation skills have gone a long way in smoothing over the country’s troubled political scene,” said John Drake, an analyst with AKE Group. “Some may describe his position as ‘ceremonial’ but he has made it a lot more active, simply though dialogue and discussion, which play a strong role in Iraqi politics.” Should Talabani require replacing, choosing a successor would probably be drawn out, contentious and messy. “If Talabani were no longer president... we would likely see a lot of negotiation between different political players, not just over the simple act of replacing him, but over the terms and conditions of selecting an approved candidate,” said Drake. “If an ethnic Kurd is to be selected, political groups affiliated with other communities in the country may only allow it if concessions are made elsewhere. The discussions could last weeks, if not months.” Under Iraq’s constitution, the vice president takes over if the presidency becomes vacant, and a new president must be elected by parliament within 30 days. Vice President Khudayr al-Khuzaie, who is filling in for the president as he undergoes treatment, would take charge temporarily if Talabani stands down or dies. — AFP

severe pain on the Iranian economy, although the country has years of experience of circumventing them by using front companies and tortuous shipping routes. The new European measures make clear natural gas shipments are prohibited in any form and swapping, as opposed to simply buying, cargoes is also outlawed. While imposing a general ban on financial transactions, they make exceptions for those involving humanitarian aid, food and medicine purchases and provisions for legitimate trade. In a statement, the European Commission said the new law brought the number of entities subject to sanc-

tions to 490 and the total number of persons to 105. The latest companies added to the banned list include energy and steel distribution firms and financial companies. The latest individual to be added is Babak Zanjani, owner of the Sorinet Group, based in the United Arab Emirates. He is referred to as “a key facilitator for Iranian oil deals and transferring oil-related money”. Iran says its nuclear project has only peaceful energy purposes and has refused in three rounds of talks since April to scale back its uranium enrichment activity unless major economic sanctions are rescinded. — Reuters

Suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen kidnap 3 foreigners in Yemen Court sentences 3 militants to 6 years SANAA: Gunmen suspected of links to AlQaeda kidnapped two Finns and one Austrian in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Friday, security officials told AFP. One official said the three included an Austrian man and a Finnish man, both students of Arabic, and a Finnish woman who arrived recently in Yemen. The official said the two students, who had been studying for months at an Arabic language and Oriental studies centre in Sanaa, and the Finnish tourist were preparing to travel to the southern port of Aden via second city Taez when they were abducted. “Al-Qaeda is suspected of being responsible for the kidnapping,” the official added. “AlQaeda threatened ten days ago to kidnap foreigners and to stage bank hold-ups if it does not obtain from the authorities the release of members from an imprisoned network,” the official said. The source believed the hostages were still in Sanaa. “It is unlikely that the kidnappers were able to leave the capital with their hostages, as the entrances and exits are controlled by the security forces,” the official said. A security official said earlier that the three were kidnapped at gunpoint. “Four masked gunmen in a vehicle attacked a shop in central Sanaa and abducted three foreign tourists-a woman and two men,” said the official. The source said the trio were kidnapped from an electronics store. “An investigation is under way to track them down,” he said. Hundreds of people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years, many of them by members of the country’s powerful tribes who use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the authorities. Almost all of them have later been freed unharmed. But Al-Qaeda is also held responsible for abductions in Yemen, including that of a Saudi diplomat, Abdallah al-Khalidi, who remains in the hands of the extremist network since his kidnapping on March 28 in Aden.

SANAA: Yemeni soldiers man a checkpoint in Sanaa yesterday following the kidnapping of three foreigners. Gunmen suspected of links to Al-Qaeda kidnapped two Finns and one Austrian in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Friday, security officials said. — AFP Meanwhile, Yemen’s state security court pects held without charges for over a year. Washington considers al-Qaeda’s Yemen has sentenced three Al-Qaeda militants to up to six years in prison for planning attacks on branch as the militant group’s most dangersecurity forces, foreign diplomatic missions ous. In the southern city of Ibb, security officials and medics said eight prisoners died and and state institutions. The court yesterday gave the three mili- dozens injured in a fire that broke out in the tants between two and six years each. They city’s central prison Saturday. The medics said have the right to appeal. The judge also the death toll could rise because more than accused the three of running a training camp 10 prisoners were in serious condition. The for al-Qaeda in the southern Abyan province officials and medics spoke on condition of in 2011. He didn’t provide further details on anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press. the alleged targets. Authorities were still investigating the The court released four others who had already spent about 18 months in detention. cause of the fire, the officials said. The prison, The militants earlier denied the charges. which is one of the biggest in the country, Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi witnessed riots last week by inmates protesthas ordered trials for dozens of al-Qaida sus- ing ill-treatment. — Agencies

UN helicopter shot down in South Sudan

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani

British premier under fire over ‘pleb’ spat LONDON: Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron was under fire yesterday from friends of a minister who quit over claims he called police officers ‘plebs’, saying the PM left Andrew Mitchell ‘swinging in the wind’. Mitchell was forced to step down as the government’s chief whip in October after officers claimed he swore at them and called them “plebs” when they stopped him from cycling out of the main gates of Downing Street a month earlier. The politician-who as chief whip was responsible for enforcing discipline in Cameron’s Conservative Partyhas admitted swearing but has always denied he used the word “plebs”. The issue has exploded again this month with the police now investigating what they call “extremely serious” allegations that a serving police officer fabricated evidence in the case. Security camera footage aired on television this week, which appeared to show little sign of a dispute and few potential witnesses, in contrast to the leaked police log of the incident. Using the same phrase, several newspapers quoted unnamed friends of Mitchell saying Cameron had known about the footage but left Mitchell “swinging in the wind” by not allowing him to see it before he resigned. “It was a disgraceful decision to let it lie and let Andrew swing in the wind,”

munity will keep up the pressure until they are ready to negotiate in good faith and take the concrete steps needed to convince the international community that they are not building a nuclear weapon.” The new sanctions mark a significant change of policy for the 27-member bloc, which previously sought mainly to target specific people and companies with economic restrictions. It has lagged the United States in imposing blanket industry bans because it is anxious to avoid penalising ordinary Iranian citizens, while punishing the Tehran government. Sanctions have increasingly inflicted

one was quoted as saying by The Independent newspaper. Another in The Guardian was quoted as saying: “The prime minister clearly decided not to raise concerns with Bernard Hogan-Howe,” Britain’s top police chief, calling such a decision “astonishing”. “Back in September, Downing Street had three quarters of the facts that are now in the public domain. “It is inexplicable that no questions were asked of the police.” Hogan-Howe is to face a grilling by lawmakers over Scotland Yard’s handling of the incident. The head of London’s Metropolitan Police will face questions in the New Year from the Home Affairs Select Committee scrutiny panel, The Times newspaper said. The cross-party body has written to Hogan-Howe asking for an explanation over Scotland Yard’s handling of the case. “There are serious questions that need answering,” said committee chairman Keith Vaz. A police officer was arrested last weekend on suspicion of misconduct in a public office. Another man was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of “intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of an indictable offence on or around 14 December”. — AFP

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations said South Sudan’s armed forces shot down a UN helicopter on Friday killing all four Russian crew members on board, an attack South Sudan’s military spokesman blamed rebel fighters. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stood by the UN’s account in a statement, strongly condemning the shooting down “of a clearly marked UN helicopter by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army ” and calling on South Sudan’s government to conduct an immediate investigation and prosecute those responsible. Ban sent condolences to the families of the four crew members, whose names were not released, and to the Russian government. The UN Security Council “strongly deplored” the shooting down of the helicopter by the SPLA which it said “jeopardized” the operations of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan and was “a grave violation” of the status of forces agreement between the United Nation and South Sudan. The council called for a swift investigation by South Sudan and the UN mission and urged South Sudan “to hold those responsible for the accident accountable and take all necessary measures to avoid such tragic accidents in the future.” Earlier, UN deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey said the helicopter from the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan was on a reconnaissance mission when it was shot down. The mission, known as UNMISS, said the helicopter was not carrying any passengers. “In subsequent communications between the mission and the South Sudanese Armed Forces, the SPLA told the mission that it has shot down the helicopter in the Likuangole area in Jonglei state,” del Buey said. Pibor County in Jonglei State, where the helicopter was shot down, has been the scene of recent clashes between rebel militia fighters led by David Yauyau and South Sudanese forces. A former member of the South Sudanese Army, Yauyau launched his rebellion after failing to win a parliamentary seat in the Sudanese general elections in April 2010. South Sudan accuses Sudan of arming Yauyau. South Sudan military spokesman Kella Kueth denied that his military shot down the

UN helicopter and told AP: “It was the forces of Yauyau. Yauyau’s forces are working with Khartoum for the downfall of South Sudan.” Earlier, SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer told AP that “the helicopter crashed somewhere between the SPLA base and the Yauyau base in the Pibor area.” He said he didn’t know what caused the crash. “I think the government of South Sudan and UNMISS need to investigate this jointly,” Aguer said. South Sudan Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin, asked about the U.N. statement on SPLA responsibility, said: “That is New York, but UNMISS and us here on the ground are very clear that the cause of the crash is not known and needs to be investigated.” A UN official aware of the incident, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said UNMISS reported that SPLA fighters shot down the Russian-built Mi-8 helicopter. It was painted white - the traditional color for UN air-

craft - and the UN had shared its flight plans with South Sudan’s military, the official said. Kieran Dwyer, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping department, told AP: “It’s extremely concerning that a UN helicopter appears to have been shot down by the host country’s army, and the investigation has to get to the bottom of it.” Del Buey said the UN mission is carrying out an investigation. South Sudan became the world’s newest country in July 2011, the culmination of a six-year peace process which began with the signing of a peace agreement with Sudan in 2005 that ended more than two decades of civil war. On the eve of its independence, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a new peacekeeping force for South Sudan to provide military and police support to help maintain and consolidate peace and security. UNMISS includes over 6,500 troops and military liaison officers and about 550 international police. — AP

GAZA CITY: A Palestinian woman who covered her eyes with black ribbons demonstrate in support of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, some of whom are observing a hunger strike, in Gaza City yesterday. — AFP



Four dead, 3 police hurt in Pennsylvania shootings 20-year-old man shoots mother to death

ROME: Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano speaks at the Quirinale palace in Rome, after meeting Italian political leaders yesterday. Napolitano dissolved parliament, opening way for election following the resignation of prime minister Mario Monti. — AFP

Italy election campaign kicks off amid Monti speculation ROME: Italy’s election campaign kicked off yesterday amid uncertainty over whether Prime Minister Mario Monti will launch himself into the political fray and fight billionaire Silvio Berlusconi for the top job. Monti’s resignation on Friday brought to a head weeks of speculation over whether the former eurocrat will play a major role in the February elections, either as a candidate or a figurehead for parties that pledge to continue his reforms. “On the eve of the most important decision of his political life, the premier halts on the threshold. He’s gripped by doubts, he’s tormented,” the Repubblica daily said, reflecting a slurr y of headlines in the national press over Monti’s apparent indecision. The unelected Monti, appointed to head up a technocrat government last year as Italy battled the debt crisis, has kept his cards close to his chest, appearing reluctant to dive into the rough-and-tumble of Italian electoral politics. But he is expected to announce Sunday whether he will join the race. President Giorgio Napolitano began talks yesterday with political leaders in the key eurozone state. He was then expected to dissolve parliament and formally call a general election likely to take place on February 24. In any bid for leadership, Monti “faces enormous obstacles, real mountains to climb,” Italy’s financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore said. “Either he is convinced he has a mission to carry out in the name of Europe, and thus has no choice but to carry on with determination... or he fears the job is too difficult,” the paper’s columnist Stefano Folli wrote. Some political observers have said Monti is unlikely to run because he risks losing not only the election but also the credibility he has built on the international stage. Instead, he may unveil a memorandum in which he lays out the measures any future government would have to accomplish to keep his programme on track, but not signal whether he will run or give any endorsements. His decision is likely to determine the shape of the campaign, which could become a three-way race between media magnate Berlusconi, centre-left leader Pier

Luigi Bersani and a Monti-backed coalition. Monti’s arch-rival, the flamboyant Berlusconi, has blamed Germany for Italy’s woes and called for an end to austerity, while Monti has urged more budget discipline. In his last speech as prime minister on Friday, Monti said that his 13 months in government had been “difficult but fascinating” and voiced hope that his reform agenda will continue under a new government. European leaders in particular have favoured measures introduced by Monti to rein in Italy’s vast debt and have urged him to run, not only to continue his programme but also to block a bid for power from the irrepressible Berlusconi. Ordinary Italians, however, have been hit hard by Monti’s austerity measures and tax hikes, and his popularity rating has fallen from over 60 percent to around 30 percent in recent months. The current favourite in the polls is Bersani but things could change if Monti decides to join the campaign and back a coalition of small centrist parties as some Italian media have been reporting. Monti’s name cannot officially be on the ballot as he is already a senator for life, but after the elections the former economics professor could still be appointed to a post in government, including prime minister. Three-time premier Berlusconi, 76, has said he will stand, though he has since vacillated wildly between declaring his support for Monti and heavily criticising his economic record. Much of the publicity the party lover has garnered in previous weeks has centred around his new 27-year-old girlfriend-a ploy, critics say, to win back voters. The aim is “to try and cancel out the many stories of orgies which Berlusconi dragged into his mandate for three years... and demonstrate that the old man is caring, is on form, and committed to the job,” the left-wing Repubblica said. Scandal-hit Berlusconi has said he can boost his low popularity back up to the levels of previous victorious campaigns, but his People of Freedom party (PDL) has been hit hard by internal divisions and may find it hard to rally. — AFP

PHILADELPHIA: A man with a pistol fatally shot three people in rural western Pennsylvania, one of them in a church, before he was killed in a shootout with state troopers as he tried to flee in a pickup truck, authorities said. Three state troopers also were injured in their confrontation with the gunman in Frankstown Township, about 100 miles (160 km) east of Pittsburgh, shortly after 9 am EST (1400 GMT), state police said. The violence in Pennsylvania unfolded as bells tolled and many Americans were observing a moment of silence for the 20 children and six adults shot to death one week ago by a gunman at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. The Newtown shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, also shot his mother to death at their home before going on his rampage, which ended with his suicide and has reignited a

national debate over gun control. The National Rifle Association pro-gun lobby marked the occasion on Friday with a statement urging that armed guards be placed at the nation’s schools to improve security. Friday evening, investigators were still piecing together events behind the deadly shootings in Pennsylvania. “We don’t believe it was a domestic dispute, but we also don’t know a motive, because the shooter was not related to any of the victims,” trooper David McGarvey, a state police spokesman, said hours after the unexplained slayings. In fairly rapid succession, the gunman shot and killed a woman inside a church, then fatally shot two men at their respective homes - all within a short distance from each other - before trying to flee in his pickup truck. He opened fire at two state police patrol cars

rushing to the scene as he passed them on a two-lane road and slammed head-on into a third patrol car. The gunman was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police at the crash scene, McGarvey said. The identities the gunman and his victims were being withheld until their next of kin were all notified, he said. All three troopers involved in the chase were injured - one from the collision, one hit in the face by bullet fragments and shattered glass, and one who was shot in the chest but survived thanks to a bullet-proof vest. All three were treated and released from a local hospital, McGarvey said. Another state police spokesman, trooper Adam Reed, said earlier it did not appear that the shooting had any connection to events last week in Connecticut, but added, “that’s all still being looked into.” — Reuters

Sexual assault up 23% at US military academies WASHINGTON: Sexual assaults reported by students at the three US military academies jumped 23 percent in 2012, underscoring what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said was a “persistent” problem that required a “strong and immediate response” from the services. Eighty cases of sexual assault were reported by cadets and midshipmen during the 2011-2012 academic year, compared to 65 the previous year, the Pentagon said on Friday in its annual report on sexual harassment and violence at the academies. The victims were primarily women, although four were men. It was the third straight year of increases, from a low of 25 in 2009. Prior to that, reported sexual assault cases had fallen regularly from 42 in 2006, when the Pentagon first began tracking the issue at the direction of Congress, the report said. “Despite our considerable and ongoing efforts, this year’s annual report ... demonstrates that we have a persistent problem,” Panetta said in a memorandum to the secretaries of the Navy, Army and Air Force. He said the lack of progress at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, merited “a strong and immediate response.” Panetta and he asked the services to identify “new ways to advance a climate of dignity and respect” at the academies and report back to him by the end of March. The findings drew expressions of concern from lawmakers and special

NNSA chief to step down WASHINGTON: The head of the agency responsible for the US nuclear weapons stockpile said on Friday that he will leave his post in January, six months after three elderly peace activists broke into the government’s maximum-security facility for weapons-grade uranium. The departure of Thomas D’Agostino, the administrator at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), has nothing to do with the security breach, an NNSA official said. D’Agostino, who worked for the government for more than 36 years and had been head of the NNSA for more than five years, had been asked to stay in the job but declined, the official said. “I am a strong believer that organizations are healthier when leadership changes on a periodic basis,” D’Agostino said in a statement, noting he would step down on Jan. 18, just before the second term of the Obama administration begins. In July an 82-year-old nun and two other aging peace activists made their way past multiple layers of security and vandalized a building that was supposed to be one of the most secure complexes in the United States. Neile Miller, currently serving as the NNSA’s principal deputy administrator, will serve as the acting chief of the NNSA, said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The Energy Department oversees the agency. Chu lauded D’Agostino’s service and said he led the agency “through a period of unprecedently international attention and complex transition” as it worked to reduce the number of deployed nuclear warheads and clean up contaminated sites. The department’s review of the break-in at the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is still under way. So far, the department’s Inspector General has found that contractors at the plant ignored a broken security camera for months and routinely ignored motion sensors. After the incident, the government also found that guards at the facility were given a copy of a test and its answers before they were to take it. —Reuters

interest groups that track the issue. Representative Niki Tsongas said that while the rise could partly be attributed to improved conditions that encourage people to report assaults, they also showed the issue remains a problem. “Sexual assault remains a persistent and untenable crime throughout the armed forces,” she said in a statement. “These numbers are an affront to the educational institutions that are developing our military’s future leaders.” Nancy Parrish, president of Protect Our Defenders, said the report “shines a light on the severity and scope of the crisis” of sexual assault in the military. “There is a culture of high tolerance for rape and sexual predators in the ranks that pervades the military,” she said. “Clearly all the reforms that have been announced over many years aren’t making a difference.” The academies are implementing programs to try to reduce sexual assaults. At the same time, they are attempting to create an environment that encourages reporting, whether on a confidential basis that enables victims to get care and counseling or an unrestricted basis that also permits full criminal investigation. Of the 80 cases reported in 2012, 42 were unrestricted, allowing authorities to pursue a criminal investigation with the assistance of the victim. Thirty-eight cases remained confidential and were not investigated, officials said. The academies investigated 40 sexual assault cases in 2012, 23 from 2012 and 17 from the previous year. Of that number, 11 were prosecuted

and punished, including eight suspects who were court martialed. The others were not prosecuted, either because the military lacked jurisdiction or evidence, officials said. The Pentagon surveys students every two years to assess gender relations at the schools and to get a better idea about the number of sexual assaults that go unreported. The survey conducted as part of this year’s report found that 12.4 percent of women and 2 percent of men had reported unwanted sexual contact during the previous 12 months - statistically unchanged from the prior survey. Fifty-one percent of women reported experiencing sexual harassment during the previous year, down from 56 percent in the 2010 survey. Ten percent of men reported experiencing sexual harassment, statistically unchanged from the earlier survey. Unwanted sexual contact ranged from rape or sexual assault, to attempted attacks, forcible sodomy and other types of sexual contact, officials said. Major General Gary Patton, director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, said there was an important correlation between sexual assault and sexual harassment. “Eliminating sexual harassment is critical to preventing sexual assault,” he said, adding that those who experience sexual assault in the past year had also been sexually harassed. “The solution to this problem is ... creating a nonpermissive environment where sexual harassment, sexist behavior, stalking and these types of behaviors are not condoned,” Patton said. — Reuters




Suicide bombers attack Nigeria telecom firms KANO: Two suspected suicide car bombers blew themselves up in coordinated attacks yesterday on two major telecoms companies in the volatile northern Nigerian city of Kano, officials said, but no other deaths were reported. One of the attackers blew himself up when he rammed his car into the gate of an Airtel mobile phone company building, setting it ablaze. The second died when his car exploded outside the office of MTN, Nigeria’s largest mobile phone operator, police and the army said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks in Kano, the largest city in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, and no reports of any civilian deaths. The Islamist sect Boko Haram-notori-

ous for shootings and bomb attacks across north and central Nigeria-has in the past targeted phone companies, accusing them of cooperating with the security services. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said in a statement there were “coordinated attacks by suicide bombers at facilities of two telecom operators in separate locations in Kano municipality”. A Kano policeman who requested anonymity confirmed the Airtel attack. “ The bomber rammed his car into the gate and blew himself up. The building is on fire,” he said.Airtel worker Bayo Osho said his leg was injured in the blast. “A car rammed into the gate and forced its way into the premises. The car hit me on the leg and

flung me into a corner before it exploded. I was dragged out and taken to the hospital by soldiers outside the gate,” he told AFP at the hospital where he was taken for treatment. Security agents cordoned off the scene while firefighters battled to put out the fire, a senior Kano state emergency agency official, Abubakar Jibril, told AFP. Officials from Airtel, one of the three biggest mobile phone service providers in Nigeria, were unavailable for comment. In the second incident, a suspected bomber was blown up when his car exploded outside the gate of an MTN office which coordinates the company’s mobile telephone services in about a dozen states in the north, army spokesman Lieutenant Iweha Ikedichi said

No other casualties were recorded in the attack, he added. Kano was the scene of Boko Haram’s deadliest attack yet in January, when at least 185 people were killed in coordinated bombings and shootings. Violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency is believed to have left some 3,000 people dead in Nigeria-Africa’s most populous state and largest oil producer-since 2009, including killings by the security forces. Bako Haram is believed to include various factions with differing aims, in addition to imitators and criminal gangs that carry out violence under the guise of the group. Its targets have included Christian churches as well as symbols of the establishment including police. — AFP

Pope pardons ex-butler, expels him from Vatican Vatican to help butler start new life

ANKARA: People including family members of 300 persons accused of plotting to overthrow Turkish Islamist-rooted government hold banners and pictured as they stage a rally asking for “Justice and fair trial” in Ankara, yesterday. The defendants, including former military chief Ilker Basbug and other army officers as well as lawyers, academics and journalists, face dozens of charges, ranging from membership of an underground “terrorist organisation” dubbed Ergenekon, arson, illegal possession of weapons and instigating an armed uprising against Prime minister Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in 2002. — AFP

Mandela responding to treatment: Zuma PRETORIA: South African President Jacob Zuma yesterday visited Nelson Mandela in hospital and said he was responding to treatment, two weeks after being admitted for tests which revealed a recurring lung infection. Zuma urged the nation to keep praying for the 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero and revered statesman. “We urge South Africans to continue praying for our beloved Madiba during this period. Our hearts are with the whole family and relatives,” he said in a statement, adding that Mandela continues to respond to treatment. Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj, who was imprisoned with Mandela on Robben Island declined to give details about the visit, saying “the focus should be on his health”. Mandela was admitted to a hospital in the capital Pretoria on December 8, after being flown from his rural home, south of the country. Tests revealed that the coun-

try’s first black president had a recurring lung infection and had developed gallstones. On December 15 he underwent successful surgery to have them removed, following an outpouring of well wishes from citizens. On Thursday Zuma described his condition as serious but improving. Maharaj could not say when was he likely to be discharged from hospital. The Nobel peace laureate has a long history of lung problems dating back decades to when he contracted tuberculosis while in jail as a political prisoner. This is the longest time Mandela has spent in hospital since being release from prison in 1990. He was previously hospitalised for an acute respiratory infection in January 2011, when he was kept as an inpatient for two nights. Mandela became South Africa’s president after the country’s first all-race elections in 1994 and stepped down after serving one term. — AP

VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict made a surprise pre-Christmas visit to the jail holding his former butler yesterday and pardoned him for stealing and leaking documents that alleged corruption in the Holy See. The pope and Paolo Gabriele spent about 15 minutes together before Gabriele was freed and allowed to return to his family in their Vatican apartment, a Vatican spokesman said. Gabriele was convicted of aggravated theft on Oct. 6 in a case that shone unwelcome publicity on the Vatican and had been serving an 18month sentence in a jail cell in the city state’s police headquarters. “This was a paternal gesture towards a person with whom the pope shared his daily life for several years,” Father Federico Lombardi, a spokesman, said. “This is a happy ending in this Christmas season,” he said. Gabriele was arrested in May after Vatican police found many documents in his possession that had been stolen from the pope’s office. The former butler gave them to the media in what mushroomed into an embarrassing scandal for Benedict’s pontificate that became known as “Vatileaks”. Gabriele told investigators he had leaked the documents because he saw “evil and corruption everywhere in the Church” and that information was being hidden from the pope. The Vatican said the pope had also pardoned a second Vatican employee, Claudio Sciarpelletti, who was convicted in a separate trial of helping Gabriele and given a two month suspended sentence. Gabriele will no longer be able to work in the Vatican but will be helped to find a job and start a new life outside its walls together with his family, the Vatican said. Gabriele, 46, told the court that convicted him at the trial one of the most sensational in the recent history of the Holy See - that he did not consider himself a thief and that he had done what he did out of “visceral” love for the Church. In one of the most dramatic betrayals of trust in Vatican history, Gabriele, who

VATICAN: Handout photo released by the Osservatore Romano yesterday shows Vatican’s exbulter Paolo Gabriele meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican City prison yesterday. Pope Benedict XVI pardoned his former butler Paolo Gabriele, sentenced to 18 months for leaking secret papal memos, and freed him from his Vatican cell. — AFP

served the pope his meals and helped him dress, photocopied sensitive documents under the nose of his immediate superiors in a small office adjacent to the papal living quarters in the Apostolic Palace. He then hid more than 1,000 copies and original documents, including some the pope had marked “to be destroyed,” among many thousands of other papers and old newspaper clippings in a huge armoire in the family apartment inside the Vatican walls. A former member of the small, select group known as “the papal family”, Gabriele was one of fewer than 10 people who had a key to an elevator leading directly to the pope’s apartments. He said during the trial that from his perch

as papal butler he was able to see how easily a powerful man could be manipulated by aides and kept in the dark about things he should have known. In the course of the trial, intimate details emerged of the inner workings of an institution long renowned for its secrecy. The documents Gabriele leaked triggered one of the biggest crises of Pope Benedict’s papacy when they emerged in a muckraking expose by an Italian journalist earlier this year. The case was all the more embarrassing for the Vatican because it came at a time when it was trying to limit the reputational fallout from a series of scandals involving sexual abuse of minors by clerics around the world as well as from mismanagement at its bank. — Reuters

Russian parliament seals approval of US adoption ban

MADRID: Carmen, right hugs her daughter Azahara after winning part of the main Christmas lottery prize ‘El Gordo’ (‘The Fat One’) in Alcala de Henares, just outside of Madrid, yesterday. Lucky winners of Spain’s cherished Christmas lottery, the world’s richest, celebrated hitting ‘El Gordo’ yesterday in more than a dozen locations across the country where winning tickets had been sold. — AP

Hurting Spaniards celebrate Christmas lottery wins MADRID: Winners of Spain’s cherished Christmas lottery - the world’s richest - celebrated Saturday in more than a dozen locations where lucky tickets were sold, a moment of uplift for a country enduring another brutal year of economic hardship. Initial reports said there were winners of the maximum prize of euro 400,000 ($530,000) in 15 towns or cities. In Madrid, two lottery outlet workers who sold a topprize tickets celebrated with sparkling wine as curious neighbors gathered. The fortunate winner had yet to make an appearance. The lottery sprinkled a treasure chest of euro 2.5 billion ($3.3 billion) in prize money around the country. Unlike lotteries that generate a few big winners, Spain’s version - now celebrating its 200th anniversary - has always shared the wealth more evenly instead of concentrating on vast jackpots, so thousands of tickets yield some kind of return. Almost all of Spain’s 46 million inhabitants traditionally watch at least some part of the live TV coverage showing school children singing out winning numbers for the lottery known as “El Gordo” (“The Fat One.)” It is so popular that frequently three euro 20 ($26) tickets are sold for every Spaniard and many consider lottery day as the unofficial kickoff of the holiday season. Before Spain’s property-led economic boom collapsed in 2008 ticket buyers often yearned to win so they could buy a small apartment by

the beach or a new car. Now people said they needed money just to get by, or to avoid being evicted from their homes. Though ticket sales were down 8.3 percent on last year, according to the National Lottery, in the days preceding the draw hundreds of people line up to buy tickets outside outlets that have sold winning tickets before. Madrid’s Dona Manolita lottery store in Madrid is renowned for being particularly lucky and queues there sometimes go round the block. Unemployed construction company office manager Miguel Angel Ruiz drove 165 kilometers (102 miles) to the shop to buy for a pool of players including his wife and relatives. “We’re buying more hoping we’ll hit it so we can emerge from poverty,” said Ruiz, 39. “Before the crisis, lottery winnings were to buy an apartment or a car, and now it’s to pay debts.” Since so many people chip in to buy tickets in groups, top prizes frequently end up being handed out in the same small town or in one city neighborhood. Last year’s top winning number hit for 1,800 tickets in the northern town of Granen, population 2,000. Townspeople shared about euro700 million ($925 million), and the rest of the euro 1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) was doled out in smaller prizes around Spain. The Dec. 22 lottery began in 1812 and last year sold an estimated euro 2.7 billion ($3.6 billion) in tickets with per-capita spending of about euro 70 ($92) just for the Christmas lottery. —AP

MOSCOW: Russia’s lower house of parliament has given final approval to a contentious bill that retaliates against a new US human rights measure by barring Americans from adopting the country’s children. Washington swiftly slammed the move saying Russian children would be harmed by the measure. The State Duma passed the bill without debate in a quick 420-7 vote on Friday as protesters picketed the building demanding the measure be voted down. But the vote took place in a largely ceremonial third and final reading of the legislation, and its outcome was never in doubt. “We regret the results of today’s Duma vote,” US Ambassador Michal McFaul tweeted shortly after the decision. He told the Interfax news agency separately that the United States was “extremely concerned” by the law’s provisions. The Kremlindominated upper house is now expected to approve the ban next Wednesday before passing it on to President Vladimir Putin for his signature. The Russian leader has indicated he is ready to put his name on the measure so that it could enter law on January 1. The measure, which underscores the severity of the recent strain in Russia-US ties, would end about 1,000 adoptions a year. Caregivers in particular fear the new rules will hit the most disadvantaged children because foreign adoptive parents are often ready to adopt kids rejected by Russian families. Acting US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the bill would ultimately have the effect of keeping Russian children from growing up in loving households in the United States. “What this would do is prevent children from growing up in a family environment of happiness, love and understanding,” he said. “And so that’s the basic premise of our bilateral adoption agreement. It’s something we’ve worked for many months with the Russians on. And so really it’s Russian children who would be harmed by this measure.” The affair has also highlighted cabinet splits between those who subscribe to strong anti-US rhetoric and those who prefer to cast Moscow as a more reasoned partner. Several senior government figures at one stage accused deputies of playing a risky game of

populist politics that risked further upsetting relations between Moscow and Washington. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov flatly called the ban “a mistake,” in a rare instance of a top diplomat disagreeing with what appeared to be the leadership’s position on the most controversial domestic issue of the day. Putin hesitated for nearly a week before backing the measure during his annual press conference on Thursday. “I understand that this was an emotional response by the State Duma, but I think that it was appropriate,” Putin told reporters. Russia’s legislative move comes after US President Barack Obama last week signed into law the Magnitsky Act-a measure paying tribute to a Russian lawyer who died in custody in Moscow in 2009 after blowing the whistle on a $235 million police embezzlement scheme. His family and his employer Hermitage Capital-once Russia’s largest Western investment fund-both believe that he was tortured in prison and died as a result of his beatings.

Russian investigators have dismissed those charges and are still pursuing a fraud case against the late Magnitsky himself. They have also refused to follow up allegations from Hermitage Capital that some of the most senior security officials-including ministers-were involved in the embezzlement scheme. Russia has used adoption in the past to take out its frustration on some US policy decisions. Moscow previously placed moratoriums on adoptions, and now issues formal foreign policy statements whenever adopted Russian children are harmed in the United States. The numbers of children taken in by US families fell to 956 last year from 1,773 three years earlier. “We had wonderful families from the United States. We have absolutely no complaints about them,” said Natalia Karanevskaya, a paediatrician at a Moscow children’s home. “They took the most difficult children that would have never been taken in Russia,” she told AFP. “This law will have its effects.” — AFP

ABIDJAN: Former Ivory Coast Prime Minister Gilbert Ake N’Gbo is welcomed on arrival to a hotel in Abidjan during a welcoming ceremony following their provisional release from jail yesterday in Abidjan. — AFP



Foreigners to blame for corruption: Karzai KABUL: Afghanistan’s president accused yesterday the countries that fund his government and military with enabling the widespread corruption that undermines his efforts to establish rule of law in the war-wracked country. Graft and payoffs are widely recognized as a major problem facing Afghanistan as the government works to establish authority over a volatile country and win the trust of the people over from the Taleban insurgency. The country regularly ranks among the most corrupt in the world in indexes and nearly every Afghan has stories of having to pay a bribe to a police officer or a government official. International donors have long argued that they are trying to help Karzai’s administration clean up the

endemic corruption but are stymied by his unwillingness to prosecute political allies. Karzai in turn has repeatedly said that he has not been given the ability to control the billions of dollars flowing in to Afghanistan from foreign countries and so has not been able to police the funding. “Corruption in Afghanistan is a reality, a bitter reality,” Karzai said in a nationally televised speech. “The part of this corruption that is in our offices is a small part: that is bribes. The other part of corruption, the large part, is hundreds of millions dollars that are not ours. We shouldn’t blame ourselves for that. That part is from others and imposed on us.” Karzai argued that foreign donors give contracts to high-ranking Afghan

officials or to their relatives in an effort to gain influence over the government, thereby sowing the seeds for corruption. As an example, he brought up his half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, who was seen as the main power broker in southern Kandahar province before he was assassinated by insurgents in 2011. Karzai recalled a conversation with former US commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal in which McChrystal told Karzai to rein in his brother because he was corrupt. Karzai said he pointed out that it was the US government, not the Afghan government, that was awarding contracts to Ahmed Wali Karzai. “I asked him, why have you given contracts to the president’s brother? Why give to him and to other high

ranking government officials?” Karzai told the crowd assembled for the speech at a high school in the capital. The question of the roots of corruption in Afghanistan is only going to become more important in the coming years, as donors have made much of their future funding conditional on evidence that the Afghan government is cleaning up the pervasive system off payoffs and patronage. And there has been debate within the Afghan government over who to blame. Even at yesterday’s event, Karzai’s top anti-corruption official spoke first and pointed his finger at other Afghan officials, without mentioning the international donors. He said that the courts have not done enough to prosecute corruption cases and administration

officials and lawmakers need to be forced to explain things like large property acquisitions. “ The system is the problem,” Azizullah Ludin told the crowd. Karzai has repeatedly taken populist stances against his foreign allies, placing blame on them for many of the country’s ills. In the past, he has said that NATO local offices known as Provincial Reconstruction Teams undermine the Afghan government’s authority by doling out money directly to the public, and that foreign countries encourage criminality by funding private security companies that operate outside the law. The foreign security companies have since been shut down and the Provincial Reconstruction Teams are being phased out. — AP

Gang rape protesters clash with Indian police ‘Save women, save India’

ROME: Italian Defence Minister Giampaolo di Paola (2R) welcomes Salvatore Girone (L) as Admiral Luigi Binelli Mantelli (2R ) looks on at Ciampino airport near Rome, yesterday. An Indian court allowed two Italian marines awaiting trial for shooting two fishermen to go home for Christmas, despite prosecution fears that they will not return. — AFP

Italian marines held in India return home ROME: Two Italian marines on antipirate duty charged in India with killing two fishermen in February arrived home yesterday for a family Christmas after India gave them special leave. “Finally we are breathing the air of home. We have to thank all the institutions which made all this possible,” said Massimiliano Latorre on arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport with his colleague, Salvatore Girone. “Ten long months have passed and we really didn’t expect to be coming back for Christmas.” The two sailors, part of a military security team protecting the tanker Enrica Lexie, are accused of shooting the two fishermen they say they mistook for pirates off the southern Indian state of Kerala.

The incident has caused a serious diplomatic dispute between Italy and India, which have traditionally had good relations. The two non-commissioned officers had been out of detention on bail but had not been permitted to leave India until the Kerala high court accepted a request to allow them to return home for Christmas. The Italian government has undertaken to ensure they return to India by Jan. 10. The men were welcomed at the airport by Foreign Minister Giuliano Terzi and Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola. Prime Minister Mario Monti also called the two shortly after their arrival to reiterate the government’s determination to reach a final settlement of the case. — Reuters

DIYATALAWA: Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh (L) inspects a guard of honour during a graduation ceremony for some 157 Sri Lankan army officers in the island nation’s central district town of Diyatalawa yesterday. General Singh is on a five-day official visit to Sri Lanka. — AFP

Pakistanis burn man accused of desecrating Quran alive HYDERABAD: A mob broke into a Pakistani police station and burnt a man accused of desecrating the Quran alive, police said yesterday, in the latest violence focusing attention on the country’s blasphemy laws. The man was a traveller and had spent Thursday night at the mosque, said Maulvi Memon, the imam in the southern village of Seeta in Sindh province. The charred remains of the Koran were found the next morning. “He was alone in the mosque during the night,” Memon said. “There was no one else there to do this terrible thing.” Villagers beat the man then handed him over to police. A few hours later, a crowd of around 200 stormed the police station, dragged the man out and set him on fire, said Usman Ghani, the senior superintendent of police in Dadu district. Ghani said around 30 people had been arrested for the murder and seven police detained for negligence. At least 53 people have been killed in Pakistan since 1990 after being accused of blasphemy, accord-

ing to the Center for Research and Security Studies, and accusations are becoming more frequent. Blasphemy in Pakistan is punishable by death but it is not specifically defined by law. During court cases, lawyers often do not wish to repeat evidence against the accused for fear of being blasphemous themselves. People have been arrested for just discussing or writing about Islam, making mistakes in homework or not joining protests against a film insulting Islam. In some cases, the accusers have had financial disputes with those who are accused. Most recently, international attention focused on the case of Rimsha Masih, a Christian teenager accused of having some burnt pages of a child’s exercise book quoting the Koran in a bag of rubbish she was carrying. The case was dismissed last month after a neighbour came forward to say she was framed, possibly to chase Christians out of her neighbourhood. — Reuters

NEW DELHI: Police in India’s capital used tear gas and water cannons yesterday to push back thousands of people who tried to march to the presidential mansion to protest the gang rape and brutal beating of a 23-year-old student on a moving bus. Some protesters suffered injuries when they repeatedly tried to break through steel barricades in a high-security zone in New Delhi. Police fired tear gas and chased the protesters with sticks, and some of the protesters attacked police with stones during sporadic clashes throughout the day. The protesters were demanding the death penalty for all the six suspects who have been arrested by police following the Dec. 16 attack in New Delhi. The government said Friday that it is seeking life sentences for the assailants. The attack last Sunday 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. On Friday, Indian officials announced a broad campaign to protect women in New Delhi. Some of the protesters Saturday carried placards reading “Save women. Save India” and “Hang the rapists.” V.K. Singh, a retired Indian army chief, joined the protesters and blamed “political and bureaucratic apathy for crimes against women.” He demanded immediate police reforms to train and arm security forces. CPN Singh, a junior home minister, appealed to the demonstrators, who were mostly students, to protest peacefully and avoid vandalizing government property. “The government is hearing you and taking steps necessary to ensure the safety of women,”

NEW DELHI: Indian schoolchildren hold placards and shout slogans during a protest in New Delhi, India, yesterday. Police used tear gas and water cannons to push back thousands of people who tried to march to the presidential mansion to protest the recent gang rape and brutal beating of a 23-year-old student on a moving bus. — AP Singh told reporters. Ravi Shankar Prasad, a spokesman for the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, however, condemned the police action against the protesters and asked government leaders to talk to them. Police reinforcements rushed to the area as the crowds of protesters swelled Saturday morning on the lawns near Parliament House. The area is a high-security zone, with the presidential mansion, the prime minister’s office and various ministries located there.

The victim and her companion were attacked after getting a ride on a chartered bus. Police said men on the bus gang-raped the woman and beat her and her companion with iron rods as the bus drove through the city for hours, even passing through police checkpoints. The assailants eventually stripped the pair and dumped them on the side of a road. The victim is recovering from injuries in a New Delhi government hospital. — AP

Putin to push for arms deals in India MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin travels to India tomorrow on an official visit expected to focus on gaining contracts for Russia’s arms manufacturers and boosting ties with one of Moscow’s oldest allies. Putin flies to New Delhi early tomorrow to hold one-on-one talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and broader delegation talks, followed by a signing of documents, the Russian embassy in New Delhi said. He will also meet the ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi and Sushma Swaraj, the leader of BJP opposition party. The Kremlin said this week that Putin will discuss “concrete steps to further develop strategic partnership” in trade, investment, military and energy policy. The trip will be Putin’s first to South Asia since his return to the Kremlin in May. Dmitry Medvedev met with Prime Minister Singh in New Delhi in late March, shortly before stepping down from his presidency. Putin last travelled to India in 2010, when he was prime minister. India is one of Russia’s key partners, which Putin often praises for sharing Moscow’s geopolitical vision of a multipolar world. Putin will be eager to show Russia’s ally, now the world’s largest arms importer, that it is a key and desirable partner, said Fyodor Lukyanov, who chairs the Russian

council on foreign and defence policy, an independent organisation. “The point of the visit is to sustain the exclusive status of these relations,” said Lukyanov. “The relationship with India is very broad, but it is not developing very well,” he said. India is still Russia’s number one arms importer, and Russian-made military equipment accounts for 70 percent of Indian arms supplies. But while Moscow once had a virtual monopoly over India’s arms market, the situation is now changing because New Delhi has started shopping around, Lukyanov said. “India made a real breakthrough (during the 1990s), one that Russia has slept through,” he said. “Putin is trying to compensate for that, but you cannot take back what is lost.” India is still buying Russian weapons “because it is preparing for a regional conflict, and Russian equipment satisfies its needs, since it’s better than that of the adversary,” said Alexander Golts, an independent analyst. But Moscow has been worried recently by New Delhi’s increasing preference for Western suppliers, especially after Boeing was chosen last month over Russia’s MiL plant for a major helicopter contract. India has also been unhappy with delays of deliveries of some naval equipment, notably

of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, which is being refurbished for the Indian Navy at Russia’s Sevmash naval yard. Russia was originally to deliver the upgraded vessel in August 2008, but the date has now been pushed back to the end of 2013, while the price has more than doubled from $978 million to $2.3 billion. That contract is likely to come up in the course of Putin’s visit, said Igor Korotchenko, director of the Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade. “One of the visit’s goals is to agree that the project will be finished next year,” he said. “It’s a difficult project.” Many potential deals involve Russia’s Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer, including a $3.77 billion deal for 42 Su-30MKI fighters, a $1 billion refurbishment deal for older Su30MKIs already used by India’s airforce, and a deal to produce the fifth generation Sukhoi fighter, a joint Russia-India project, he added. Russia’s Kazan Helicopter Plant has this week delivered to India a shipment of Mi-17 helicopters as part of a contract for 80 that India signed in 2008, Russian Helicopters said Thursday. The remainder of the contract will be delivered in 2013, it said. “India is still Russia’s number one military buyer,” Korotchenko said. “We plan to keep that position.” — AFP

Iran seizes explosives on Pakistan border DUBAI: Iran has seized 20 bombs and other explosives on its border with Pakistan, a police official was quoted as saying yesterday. He called on Islamabad to control its border regions properly. Iranís impoverished southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province, bordering Pakistan, faces serious security problems including bombings and frequent clashes between police and drug dealers and bandits. ‘Border agents learned that subversive groups wished to enter our territory,’ said Ahmad Reza-Radan, Iranís deputy police chief, according to the Mehr news agency. “The agents were successful in identifying and seizing a large shipment of explosives which had entered our country.” The haul included 20 bombs, Radan said. He did not say when exactly the explosives were found. One person had been arrested in connection but others had escaped to Pakistan. “We request that the Pakistani government act on its obligations in controlling border regions, because its border has become a way for bandit traffic,” he was quoted as saying. Radan did not identify the arrested person or the suspected groups involved. In the last major attack in Zahedan, the provincial capital of Sistan-Baluchestan, a suicide bomber killed dozens at a Shiite Muslim mosque in 2010. — Reuters

KABUL: In this Oct. 20, 2009 file photo, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, right, whispers with the US Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, left, as Kai Eide head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan is seen, center, during a press conference, in Kabul. Kerry, President Barack Obama’s choice for secretary of state, is a familiar face to the world leaders vital to American interests. — AP



China bans alcohol in military banquets to curb graft BEIJING: China has banned senior military officers from holding alcoholfuelled banquets or from staying in luxury hotels when on work trips in the latest move by Communist Party chief Xi Jinping to fight corruption, state media reported yesterday. Receptions will also no longer feature welcome banners, red carpets, flowers, honour guards, performances or souvenirs, the powerful Central Military Commission, which Xi over-

sees, has decreed, major newspapers reported. Officers will have to cut back on both the number and length of inspection tours, overseas visits, meetings and reports, according to the new rules. Speakers at meetings should avoid “empty talk”, while the use of vehicles equipped with sirens will be “rigorously controlled during official visits in order to prevent public disturbances”.

“Additionally, commission officials are required to discipline their spouses, children and subordinates and make sure they do not take bribes.” The rules echo similar demands made of party officials by Xi earlier this month. The party, which has shown no sign of giving up its tight grip on power, has struggled to contain public anger at a seemingly endless stream of corruption scandals, particularly when

officials are seen as abusing their posts to amass wealth. China intensified a crackdown on rampant corruption in the military in the late 1990s, banning the People’s Liberation Army from engaging in business. But it has crept back in recent years due to a lack of transparency, checks and balances and moral decay. A senior officer, Lieutenant General Gu Junshan, was sacked earlier this

year in what Hong Kong media have said would be the biggest military corruption scandal since the Communists swept to power in 1949, though details have not been officially announced. Xi, who takes over as president from Hu Jintao at the annual meeting of parliament in March, warned shortly after becoming party boss that the country risked unrest if graft is not tackled. — Reuters

Japan’s PM pledges to mend ties with China Abe to send special envoys to S Korea and China

FUKUSHIMA: In this March 15, 2011 file photo, a child is screened for radiation exposure at a testing center in Koriyama city, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, after a nuclear power plant on the coast of the prefecture was damaged by March 11 earthquake. Experts and the government say there have been no visible health effects from the radioactive contamination from Fukushima Dai-ichi so far. But they also warn that even low-dose radiation carries some risk of cancer and other diseases, and exposure should be avoided as much as possible, especially the intake of contaminated food and water. — AP

Japanese flee nuclear disaster to Okinawa NAHA: Okinawa is about as far away as one can get from Fukushima without leaving Japan, and that is why Minaho Kubota is here. Petrified of the radiation spewing from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant that went into multiple meltdowns last year, Kubota grabbed her children, left her skeptical husband and moved to the small southwestern island. More than 1,000 people from the disaster zone have done the same thing. “I thought I would lose my mind,” Kubota told The Associated Press in a recent interview. “I felt I would have no answer for my children if, after they grew up, they ever asked me, ‘Mama, why didn’t you leave?’” Experts and the government say there have been no visible health effects from the radioactive contamination from Fukushima Dai-ichi so far. But they also warn that even low-dose radiation carries some risk of cancer and other diseases, and exposure should be avoided as much as possible, especially the intake of contaminated food and water. Such risks are several times higher for children and even higher for fetuses, and may not appear for years. Okinawa has welcomed the people from Fukushima and other northeastern prefectures (states) affected by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that set off the nuclear disaster. Okinawa is offering 60,000 yen ($750) a month to help relocating families of three or four pay the rent, and lower amounts for smaller families. “We hope they feel better, maybe refreshed,” said Okinawan official Masakazu Gunji. Other prefectures have offered similar aid, but Okinawa’s help is relatively generous and is being extended an extra year to three years for anyone applying by the end of this year. Most people displaced by the disaster have relocated within or near Fukushima, but Okinawa, the only tropical island in Japan, is the most popular area for those who have chosen prefectures far from the nuclear disaster. An escape to Okinawa underlines a determination to get away from radiation and, for some, distrust toward Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that operates

Fukushima Dai-ichi. Kazue Sato lived in fear of radiation because the roof of her home in Iwaki, a major city in Fukushima, was destroyed by the earthquake. And so she moved with her husband, a chef, back to Okinawa, where she had grown up. She now lives in her grandparents’ home and hopes to turn it into a coffee shop with her husband. But Sato is still struggling with depression, especially because her old friends criticized her for what they thought were her exaggerated fears about radiation. She struggles with a sense of guilt about having abandoned Fukushima. “Little children have to wear masks. People can’t hang their laundry outdoors,” she said. “Some people can’t get away even if they want to. I feel so sorry for them.” Sato and Kubota are joining a classaction lawsuit being prepared against the government and Tokyo Electric on behalf of Fukushima-area residents affected by the meltdowns. It demands an apology payment of 50,000 yen ($625) a month for each victim until all the radiation from the accident is wiped out, a process that could take decades, if ever, for some areas. Independent investigations into the nuclear disaster have concluded that the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant was unprepared for the massive tsunami, in part because of the nuclear industry’s cozy relationship with government regulators. “We think people have the right to live in an environment not polluted by radiation that may harm their health, and that right has been violated by this accident,” Izutaro Managi, one of the case’s lawyers, said in a meeting earlier this month for plaintiffs in Naha, a major Okinawan city. Japan’s statute of limitations requires that the lawsuit be filed no later than March 11, 2014. About 20 of the evacuees in Okinawa have signed on to the lawsuit, which has gathered 100 other people in the three weeks since it began. Kubota, who now works part time for an Okinawa magazine publisher, said the problem is that no one is taking responsibility for the accident. “Seeking accountability through a lawsuit may feel like such a roundabout effort. But in the end, it’s going to be the best shortcut,” she said. — AP

MUMBAI: In this handout photograph by the District Information Office (DIO) Ratnagiri, Myanmar President Thein Sein (3R) pays homage at the tomb of Burma’s last monarch, King Thibaw and his wife Supayalat during a visit to Thibaw Palace in Ratnagiri district of the western Indian state of Maharashtra some 330 kilometres (200 miles) south of Mumbai yesterday. President Thein Sein became the first of Myanmar’s leaders to visit the tomb of his country’s last king, who was exiled to India more than a century ago. — AFP

TOKYO: Japan’s incoming premier yesterday pledged to seek a thaw in ties with China after a report said he will send a special envoy on a fence -mending mission to Beijing. Ties between Japan and China have become increasingly strained over a disputed island chain-the Tokyo-controlled Senkakus, which Beijing calls the Diaoyus-with neither side willing to budge after months of bitter wrangling. “I want to make efforts to return to the starting point of developing the mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests,” Shinzo Abe told reporters. “ The Japan-China relationship is one of extremely important bilateral ties,” he said. The comments came after the business daily Nikkei reported Abe will send Masahiko Komura, the vice president of his Liberal Democratic Party, to deliver a letter to Chinese authorities next month. They also came a day after China sent ships into territorial waters around the disputed islands, in the first incursion since Japan elected a new government. “I will shoulder grave responsibility (for Japan’s future),” Abe, who will officially be appointed as prime minister on Wednesday, told supporters in his constituency in western Japan earlier Saturday. “My mission is to bring a breakthrough in the serious situations we face in economy, diplomacy, and education.” Abe said Friday he will dispatch former finance minister Fukushiro Nukaga to deliver a letter to South Korea’s president-elect Park Geun-Hye, who also triumphed in national elections just days ago. Tokyo is embroiled in a separate row with Seoul over a different set of islets, with tensions flaring up earlier this year after outgoing South Korean president Lee Myung-Bak paid a sudden visit to the disputed territory. “Abe intends to improve frayed ties with

NAGATO: Incoming Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe (L), and his wife Akie (R) offer prayers as they visit the grave of their family in Nagato, Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan yesterday. Abe, whose party won the country’s general election on December 16, will seek a thaw in ties with China as a report said he will send a special envoy on a fencemending mission to Beijing next month. — AFP South Korea and with China by sending spe- of economic ties with Beijing-China is Japan’s cial envoys,” the Nikkei said, without citing biggest trading partner-Abe stressed the sources. Abe’s sweeping parliamentary victory need to build relations with other countries, on Sunday was greeted with caution in such as India and Australia. Analysts have said at least some of this Beijing and Seoul, with China saying it was “highly concerned” over Japan’s future direc- could be posturing, with some believing Abe’s LDP will have easier communication with tion under the new government. In one of his first broadcast interviews after China due to the contacts it developed during the parliamentary win, Abe said there was no its more than half a century rule before it was room for compromise on the sovereignty of ousted in 2009. Abe said Saturday there was “no change in the disputed islands, calling them “Japan’s inherent territory”, and putting the onus for our plans to study” stationing officials on the disputed islands-a controversial policy option improved relations on Beijing. Despite warm words about the importance that would further provoke Beijing. — AFP

N Korea detains American 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 on Friday. 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. The operator of a Korean language website for the Korean community in the Northwest, Chong Tae Kim of, said the detainee’s father lives in Korea and his mother lives in Lynnwood, Washington. “She hopes the State Department and Swedish Embassy help with his release,” he said Friday. “She’s trying not to speak to reporters, fearing that could affect her son’s release.” The office of US Rep. Suzan DelBene says it has reached out to the mother and is pressing the State Department for information. “We are very concerned about it and seeing what can be done on our end to help with this,” said spokesman Viet Shelton. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell yesterday would only say that they were aware of the detention and that Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang is providing consular services. “We can, indeed, confirm that a US citizen has been detained in North Korea,” Ventrell said, adding that he could not say more because of privacy restrictions. — AP

MANILA: This file photo taken on November 2, 2007 shows Nikita de los Reyes, 10, placing a flower over the portrait of her missing grandfather, labor leader Jose de los Reyes, during a memorial for victims of abductions at the shrine for ‘desaparecido’ or the disappeared in Redemptorist Church in Manila as relatives marked All Souls Day. The Philippines has passed a landmark law that criminalises ‘enforced disappearances’, a presidential spokeswoman said yesterday, in a move hailed by human rights groups. — AFP

Philippines criminalises forced disappearances MANILA: The Philippines has passed a landmark law that criminalises “enforced disappearances”, a presidential spokeswoman said yesterday, in a move hailed by human rights groups. Under the new law, enforced disappearances-or abductions carried out by government forceswill be treated as a separate category to ordinary kidnapping and could invite up to life imprisonment as punishment. It means the military can also no longer cite the so-called “order of battle”, a list of supposed communist insurgents that until now was used to justify holding a person. President Benigno Aquino approved the legislation late Friday, spokeswoman Abigail Valte said amid a growing outcry over alleged abductions of activists and government critics by security forces. The law also prohibits secret detention facilities and authorises the government to conduct “regular, unannounced... inspections of all places of detention and confinement”. Valte said both government employees and ordinary people were now required to report cases of enforced disappearances. “The important thing is that we now

have a duty to report if we know of any case of enforced disappearances. It also provides for the creation of an updated list of all the people held in our detention facilities,” she said. Human Rights Watch welcomed the new law, saying it was “the first of its kind in Asia and a major milestone in ending this horrific human rights violation”, and the group urged the government to act quickly to enforce it. “This law is a testament to the thousands of ‘disappearance’ victims since the Marcos dictatorship, whose long-suffering families are still searching for justice,” HRW said. Congressman Edcel Lagman, who authored the bill, said the new law would force government officials who are accused of enforced disappearances, to report if they are holding anyone. “The law seeks to end impunity of offenders even as it envisions a new... breed of military, police and civilian officials and employees who respect and defend the human rights and civil liberties of the people,” he said. “Disappearances” of activists rose sharply after then-president Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972. — AFP



‘Billion Style’ as Psy reaches Net milestone Continued from Page 1 Bieber was still in second place Saturday with more than 813 million views. Kevin Allocca, YouTube trends manager, attributed Psy’s success “to the universal appeal of catchy music - and er, great equine dance moves”. 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 walk-on roles at major world events like the US presidential election. And the timing of the one-billion views breakthrough dovetailed with a viral social network hoax that had the 16th century French seer Nostradamus apparently referencing Psy as a harbinger of the Dec 21 apocalypse. said “Gangnam” was estimated to have generated $2,000,000 from YouTube alone at a reported rate of two dollars for every 1,000 views, with digital downloads and on-demand services bringing earnings from the song to $6.01 million in just five months. The video also earned Psy a contract with Bieber’s management agency and a number of assessments have been posted claiming the song has generated over $8.1 million in advertising deals. Rolling Stone put “Gangnam Style” at number 25 on its top 50 list of best songs for 2012 and labelled Psy as “Seoul Brother Number One”. The singer, who is nominated for seven gongs at the World Music Awards, plans to wrap up the year with an appearance on

“New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” on ABC in New York, his agency said. Although the demise of the “Gangnam” phenomenon has been predicted many times, another parody, another celebrity or even another world leader has always popped up in time to administer some publicity CPR. The song - which refers to a trendy Seoul district - has spawned a mini tribute video industry, with copy-cats including British soldiers in Afghanistan and Philippines prisoners. It has also been coopted by an impressive roster of big names, including Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, and the public has joined in, with tens of thousands turning out for giant flashmob performances in cities like Paris and Rome. The quirky star, whose real name is Park Jae-Sang, has won adulation in his homeland for the global hit and was this month awarded one of South Korea’s highest cultural honours, the Okgwan Order of Cultural Merit. Psy hit a speed bump in the United States last month when anti-American views he voiced a decade ago caught up with him - but he apologised 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 neighbours 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

Omanis vote in first municipal elections Continued from Page 1 cast their ballots while others stood in the shade and discussed which way to vote. Voting in the capital and nearby coastal town of Barka appeared quieter than during last year’s election for the Shura Council. Activists from last year’s protest movement welcomed the election but cautioned that it was too early to tell whether it would lead to meaningful change. “It’s good. This is what we’ve been protesting for, but it’s too early to celebrate. Let’s wait and see,” said activist Ismail Al-Rasbi. Some 1,475 candidates are seeking places on 192 local councils in the country of 2.8 million people. There were no reports of protests or other incidents across the country on Saturday afternoon. Each polling station Reuters visited had a police car parked outside to prevent trouble. Protests erupted in several Omani towns early last year inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings, as demonstrators blocked major roads and went on strike demanding better pay, more jobs, action against graft and some democratic changes. But Sultan Qaboos remains a popular figure in a country that was mostly undeveloped and faced war in its Dhofar

region when he seized power from his father. After the demonstrations, he swiftly reshuffled his cabinet and the government promised to create thousands of jobs, announced plans for municipal polls and granted the Shura Council some legislative power, with the right to approve or reject draft laws. The sultan, however, retains the final say. Two of the Shura Council members elected last year were activists from the industrial town of Sohar, the site of the biggest protests. Nine council members now sit in the 28-strong cabinet. “I am here to vote because I feel the elections will eventually create a government that will entirely consist of an elected cabinet of ministers,” said Maryam Shariff, a 32-year old university lecturer, as she waited to vote. Although municipal councils have only limited powers, some voters expressed hope they might spur job growth via their influence over local businesses. “I am here on the guarantee that the person I am voting for will work hard to find us jobs,” said Badr Saif, a 24-year old school dropout from Barka. Oman says it created 52,000 public sector jobs in the first 10 months of this year, and at least 22,000 in the private sector, cutting the number of registered unemployed by three-quarters to just over 17,000. — Reuters

Attackers hack man to death at Avenues Continued from Page 1 such a crime. Also, wasta plays a great role, as many criminals believe their wasta links will save them even after a serious crime,” he pointed out. Some regular visitors of this mall said they do not feel safe going there, especially during the weekends. “After the news about fights that I read on weekly basis, I am not surprised by anything. I do not like to visit the mall on weekends, but my daughters insist on going as they have school on other days and their friends are going. So I have to take them. But I cannot let them roam about alone and have to be with them all the time. Also, I always leave a

mall before 10:00 pm as I feel it becomes more risky after some shops close,” said 42-year-old Manal. MPs blamed the Minister of Interior Sheikh Ahmad AlHumoud Al-Sabah. MP Safa Al-Hashem asked where Sheikh Ahmad was at a time like this, and warned against attempts to use any wasta in favor of the criminals. MP Yousef Al-Zalzalah said that this crime was an evidence of the inability of the government to maintain law and order in the country, and that some veteran officers at the ministry need to be shunted out. He also warned of more problems if the prime minister did not make changes in the Ministry of Interior and rectified the poor choices of ministers.

MANAMA: A Bahraini Shiite woman holding the national flag sprays slogans on the street during an antigovernment demonstration in the western Manama suburb of Jidhafs yesterday. Thousands of Shiite protesters in Bahrain demanded a transition government and the removal of Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, who has been premier since 1974. — AFP

VP quits as Egypt votes on constitution Continued from Page 1 favours his Islamist allies while ignoring the rights of Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the population, as well as women. “I’m voting ‘no’ because Egypt can’t be ruled by one faction,” said Karim Nahas, 35, a stockbroker, heading to a polling station in Giza, a province included in this round of voting which covers parts of greater Cairo. At another polling station, some voters said they were more interested in ending Egypt’s long period of political instability than in the Islamist aspects of the charter. “We have to extend our hands to Morsi to help fix the country,” said Hisham Kamal, an accountant. Queues formed at some polling stations around the country and voting was extended by four hours to 11 pm. Unofficial tallies are likely to emerge within hours of the close, but the referendum committee may not declare an official result for the two rounds until tomorrow, after hearing appeals. As polling opened yesterday, a coalition of Egyptian rights groups reported a number of alleged irregularities. They said some polling stations had opened late, that Islamists urging a “yes” vote had illegally campaigned at some stations, and complained of irregularities in voter registration irregularities, including the listing of one dead person. Last week’s first round of voting gave a 57 percent vote in favour of the constitution, according to unofficial figures. Analysts expect another “yes” on Saturday because the vote covers rural and other areas seen as having more Islamist sympathisers. Islamists may also be able to count on many Egyptians who are simply exhausted by two years of upheaval. Among the provisions of the new basic law are a limit of two four-year presidential terms. It says the principles of sharia law remain the main source of legislation but adds an article to explain this further. It also says Islamic authorities will be consulted on sharia - a source of concern to Christians and other non-Muslims. If the constitution is passed, a parliamentary election will be held in about two months. If not, an assembly will have

to be set up to draft a new one. After the first round of voting, the opposition said alleged abuses meant the first stage of the referendum should be re-run. But the committee overseeing the two-stage vote said its investigations showed no major irregularities in voting on Dec 15, which covered about half of Egypt’s 51 million voters. Even if the charter is approved, the opposition say it is a recipe for trouble since it has not received sufficiently broad backing from the population. They say the result may go in Mursi’s favour but it will not be a fair vote. “I see more unrest,” said Ahmed Said, head of the liberal Free Egyptians Party and a member of the National Salvation Front, an opposition coalition formed after Morsi expanded his powers on Nov 22 and then pushed the constitution to a vote. Said cited “serious violations” on the first day of voting, and said anger against Mursi and his Islamist allies was growing. “People are not going to accept the way they are dealing with the situation.” The head of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group that represents Morsi’s power base, said the vote was an opportunity for Egypt to move on. “After the constitution is settled by the people, the wheels in all areas will turn, even if there are differences here and there,” the Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, said as he went to vote in Beni Suef, south of Cairo. “After choosing a constitution, all Egyptians will be moving in the same direction,” he said. The vote was staggered after many judges refused to supervise the ballot, meaning there were not enough to hold the referendum on a single day nationwide. The first round was won by a slim enough margin to buttress opposition arguments that the text was divisive. Opponents who include liberals, leftists, Christians and more moderateminded Muslims accuse Islamists of using religion to sway voters. Islamists, who have won successive ballots since Mubarak’s overthrow, albeit by narrowing margins, dismiss charges that they are exploiting religion and say the document reflects the will of a majority in the country where most people are Muslim. — Reuters





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Remembering Bethlehem By Dr James J Zogby ourteen years ago, I went with then President Bill Clinton to Bethlehem where he participated in the lighting of the tree in Manger Square. As we looked out from the Square we could see Jerusalem and in between a green hill which was called Jabal Abul Ghnaim. The Israelis had announced plans to construct a settlement on that land, and despite Clinton’s stern protests, the hill was already scarred by bulldozer tracks preparing the way for what was to come. Today, Jabal Abul Ghnaim, formerly a part of Bethlehem, is called Har Homa, an Israeli settlement, housing over 17,000. It and several other Israeli colonies (19 in total) and a nearly 30 foot concrete wall now separate Bethlehem from Jerusalem and are strangling the little town inhibiting its growth and the ability of its residents to conduct normal commerce. Announcements this week that Israel will build another 6,000 homes in these settlements and construct two new colonies in the area around Jerusalem have raised grave concerns in Bethlehem. These developments, when completed, will completely cut Bethlehem off, not only from the Holy City, but from the northern part of the West Bank. This will cause irreparable damage to the Palestinian inhabitants of the land and to the future of peace. It is, one might say, a cruel and terrible way to commemorate the Christmas season. The Obama Administration has, of course, protested, calling these Israeli actions part of a “pattern of provocation”. But we’ve seen this play out before. Israel will pocket the protests, as they have done for decades, and continue to build. Unless the international protests are followed by some decisive action, by next Christmas these settlements will be completed, destroying lives and the hopes and the aspirations of so many who yearn for freedom and justice. It is a tragic irony that when we, in America, sing this Christmas of “the little town of Bethlehem”, what comes to mind is not the living, breathing, suffering, and real Palestinian city, rather it is a Bethlehem that exists only in our imagination. A few years back we conducted some polling here in the US in an effort to understand what Americans understood about Bethlehem. Most, it turned out didn’t know where it was. Six in ten thought it was an Israeli city, populated by Jews. Only one in seven knew it was a mixed Palestinian Christian/Muslim town. Most Americans believed that Bethlehem should be protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, but there was no public outcry when Congress cut UNESCO funds last year as punishment for the Palestinian Authority gaining membership in that world body so that they could push, over Israeli objections, for this recognition for Bethlehem. Americans also don’t know that the city is literally corralled by a huge and oppressive concrete wall or that most of its surrounding lands have been stolen and used for Jewish-only housing projects. And they don’t know that there are in Bethlehem today, hundreds of unemployed skilled craftsmen who were once world-renowned for their olive wood carvings and mother of pearl artistic creations. They have been idled by occupation, the blockade of their city, and their lack of access to export markets. The lack of understanding in the West for the plight of Bethlehem and our silence in the face of its suffering is a metaphor for the entire Palestinian situation. In our mind’s eye we can clearly see Israel and our imagined Bethlehem, but the Palestinian people of today do not exist. They remain an abstraction or simply a problem to be solved on Israel’s terms. As I have noted before, it might a good thing for all of us to resolve this Christmas to come to know the real Bethlehem and the real people of that town Christians, who have been living there since the time of Jesus, and Muslims - the lives they live and what might be done to ease their burdens. If we do, we might be able to join the heavenly hosts whom we are told greeted the birth of Jesus singing “peace on earth, good will to men” and help bring some of each to the people of the land of Palestine. NOTE: Dr James J Zogby is the President of the Arab American Institute.


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Future of Morocco Islamist group uncertain By Simon Martelli he future of Morocco’s largest Islamist group is uncertain after the death of its charismatic leader, but analysts say it could still play a more important political role in the kingdom. The tens of thousands of followers who attended Abdessalam Yassine’s funeral on Dec 14 were proof of the devotion that the founder of Al-Adl wal-Ihsan (Justice and Charity) inspired right up to his death, aged 84. The group joined the Arab Spring demonstrations that erupted in Morocco last year, but the demands of the February 20 reform movement leading the protests were essentially secular, and Sheikh Yassine’s followers eventually withdrew. Their withdrawal was considered a key reason for the street protests losing momentum.But the death of Yassine - a sharp critic of the monarchy - could embolden the Islamist movement’s youth, said Mohammed Tozy, a professor of politics. “The contact with the street, after the February 20 movement, has excited the young Islamists, who gained a certain legitimacy... on the ground, compared with the religious old guard who clung to the sheikh,” he told AFP. Banned but tolerated in the kingdom, the secretive, austere group has shunned mainstream politics since it was founded in 1973, and the number of its followers is hard to gauge. But it is active in many poor neighbourhoods across the north African country, and the huge crowd that gathered at the mosque in central Rabat last week reinforced the view that it is the most popular opposition movement. Yassine repeatedly criticised the wealth and power of the monarchy, arguing that it was unacceptable from an Islamic perspective - a view that landed him in jail several times during the rule of the late king Hassan II. His movement, which advocates non-violent change, refuses to recognise the king’s title of commander of the faithful, a key difference with the moderate Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) that came to power after an election triumph


late last year. In another sign of the Sufi leader’s wideranging influence, Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, who heads the PJD, visited Yassine’s home after his death, an event which nevertheless was barely mentioned in Morocco’s official media. Who will succeed Yassine remains unknown. A spokesman told AFP the new leader will be democratically chosen, but he give no time frame, and Mohammed Abbadi, the sheikh’s closest confidant in the guidance council, has ruled himself out. “The death of the sheikh is not likely to reduce the tensions (with the authorities), as those who succeed him have lived all their lives under him,” Mohammed Darif, a professor at Casablanca University, told AFP. The “new generation will undoubtedly seek to leave the status quo behind and become more active in the legal political arena,” Darif argued. Reflecting this activist trend, Yassine’s daughter Nadia has played an increasingly prominent role in the movement, and was notably involved in the protests that erupted in Morocco last year as uprisings swept the region. But even if its younger members are pushing for greater participation, unless Al-Adl wal-Ihsan radically modifies its position on the monarchy, it seems unlikely that it will be allowed to register as a legal political party. “The burning question for observers is whether the movement will reconsider a cornerstone of Yassine’s thinking - the rejection of the monarchy’s religious and political legitimacy,” said Myriam Francois-Cerrah, a specialist on Islamic movements in Morocco. If it does, and the moderate Islamist party currently in power loses support for failing to bring about the changes it promised, including tackling endemic corruption, there is a chance the palace may one day have to turn to the group. “Charity and Justice embody Moroccan Islam, a local Islam that is Sufi in essence,” said Tozy. “It could become a key ally of the regime in battling the Islam imported from the east,” he argued, referring to the hardline Salafist movement that has gained ground in Egypt and Tunisia since their dictators were ousted. —AFP

Putin to push arms in India By Maria Antonova ussian President Vladimir Putin travels to India tomorrow on an official visit expected to focus on gaining contracts for Russia’s arms manufacturers and boosting ties with one of Moscow’s oldest allies. Putin flies to New Delhi early tomorrow to hold one-on-one talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and broader delegation talks, followed by a signing of documents, the Russian embassy in New Delhi said. He will also meet the ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi and Sushma Swaraj, the leader of BJP opposition party. The Kremlin said this week that Putin will discuss “concrete steps to further develop strategic partnership” in trade, investment, military and energy policy. The trip will be Putin’s first to South Asia since his return to the Kremlin in May. Dmitry Medvedev met with Prime Minister Singh in New Delhi in late March, shortly before stepping down from his presidency. Putin last travelled to India in 2010, when he was prime minister. India is one of Russia’s key partners, which Putin often praises for sharing Moscow’s geopolitical vision of a multipolar world. Putin will be eager to show Russia’s ally, now the world’s largest arms importer, that it is a key and desirable partner, said Fyodor Lukyanov, who chairs the Russian council on foreign and defence policy, an independent organisation. “The point of the visit is to sustain the exclusive status of these relations,” said Lukyanov. “The relationship with India is very broad, but it is not developing very well,”


he said. India is still Russia’s number one arms importer, and Russian-made military equipment accounts for 70 percent of Indian arms supplies. But while Moscow once had a virtual monopoly over India’s arms market, the situation is now changing because New Delhi has started shopping around, Lukyanov said. “India made a real breakthrough (during the 1990s), one that Russia has slept through,” he said. “Putin is trying to compensate for that, but you cannot take back what is lost.” India is still buying Russian weapons “because it is preparing for a regional conflict, and Russian equipment satisfies its needs, since it’s better than that of the adversary,” said Alexander Golts, an independent analyst. But Moscow has been worried recently by New Delhi’s increasing preference for Western suppliers, especially after Boeing was chosen last month over Russia’s MiL plant for a major helicopter contract. India has also been unhappy with delays of deliveries of some naval equipment, notably of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, which is being refurbished for the Indian Navy at Russia’s Sevmash naval yard. Russia was originally to deliver the upgraded vessel in August 2008, but the date has now been pushed back to the end of 2013, while the price has more than doubled from $978 million to $2.3 billion. That contract is likely to come up in the course of Putin’s visit, said Igor Korotchenko, director of the Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade. “One of the visit’s goals is to agree that the project will be finished next year,” he said. “It’s a difficult project.” —AFP

Allies to lose socialist patron if Chavez goes By Andrew Cawthorne urals adorning a Caracas slum that has given militant backing to President Hugo Chavez over the years are a virtual pantheon of international radicals. From Colombia’s FARC guerrillas to the Palestine Liberation Organization and Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the images and slogans on teeming slopes above Chavez’s presidential palace hail socialist revolutionaries the world over. Beside them are tributes to Chavez himself - testimony to the Venezuelan leader’s bid to place himself at the front of global “anti-imperialism” in his ever-controversial 14-year rule. Now, though, as Chavez battles cancer in a Cuban hospital, his role as garrulous international activist and rich godfather to fellow leftists around Latin America is under threat. “All Venezuelan revolutionaries, and all people of good faith around the world, are praying for his recovery,” said Greivis Garcia, a 26-year-old mechanic at a vigil for Chavez in the January 23 slum full of revolutionary images. “We need him so much. And so does the world. But whatever happens, Chavez will live forever, damn it!” Should he die or be forced to stand down, faraway friends from Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko and Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad would lose a loud and highly visible supporter. Chavez has provided some concrete help to such allies skirting Western sanctions to send a few controversial fuel shipments to Tehran and Damascus, and doling out home-building contracts to Chinese and Belarussian companies. Yet his international role has been mainly symbolic. From visiting Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in 2000 to cheering Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi during his final days in 2011; from calling former US leader George W Bush “the devil” to hailing the veteran Marxist militant known as Carlos the Jackal, Chavez has never lost an opportunity to goad and shock the West, and the United States in particular. “Venezuela used to be known only for two things: oil and beautiful women. Now, it is famous the world over for just one:


Chavez,” said a senior Western diplomat in Caracas. He has deliberately courted controversy from day one. It is hard to imagine that booming voice falling silent.” Chavez has influenced some election campaigns around Latin America in recent years by showing support for leftist candidates and making clear that their victory could bring economic support from his government. Unlike former Cuban leader Fidel Castro during the Cold War, however, Chavez has not committed troops to foreign wars or helped train Marxist guerrillas to fight right-wing governments in their home countries. He does not have a nuclear weapons program and he has continued to sell oil to the United States even when fiercely criticizing its policies. In geopolitical terms, he is much more a man of rhetoric than of action. The quietening of Chavez’s voice might be a relief to Washington and local foes who see him as an embarrassing friend of dictators. But to many, especially round the Third World, he is admired - a bit like Castro - for standing up to US power and daring to say what plenty of others thought. Chavez is due to start a new, sixyear term on Jan 10, but he is still fighting to recover from his fourth cancer operation in just 18 months. He has named a preferred successor, Vice President and Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, to be the ruling party’s candidate in an election should Chavez be forced out. There is little sign that Maduro - a former bus driver, union activist and committed socialist who has faithfully echoed his boss’s views around the globe for the last six years would change Venezuela’s foreign policies. Yet without the flamboyant personality of Chavez promoting these policies, the impact would be diminished. Under the many speculative scenarios - from death to a full recovery - one would be that Chavez takes a Castro-like role, leaving day-to-day affairs to Maduro but opining from behind the scenes as an elder statesman. In his Latin American backyard, where Chavez has led a resurgence of the left since his own rise to power in 1999, there is far more at stake from a possible end to his rule. Around the region, smaller nations whose governments are politically allied

with Chavez - from Cuba and the Dominican Republic to Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador - have come to rely on Venezuela’s subsidized oil supplies and other economic aid. Communist-run Cuba, whose economy was tied to the Soviet Union for decades and then, when that nation collapsed, was perilously adrift in the 1990s before Chavez came to power, is particularly dependant. It receives more than 100,000 barrels per day of crude from Venezuela on preferential terms, covering 60 percent of its energy needs. Last year, Venezuela accounted for $8.3 billion of its $20 billion foreign trade - most of that as payment for more than 40,000 medical staff and other Cuban workers in Venezuela. While a post-Chavez government led by an acolyte such as Maduro would be unlikely to end such generosity, it might be tempted to roll it back at the edges given that many Venezuelans are not over-enthusiastic at the international solidarity. Opposition politicians play on that, saying Chavez has scandalously neglected local needs with politically motivated foreign patronage. During the recent presidential election, they showed pictures of a gleaming Venezuelan-sponsored hospital in the Dominican Republic next to a rundown medical ward at home. So there is little doubt that should the opposition win a new vote triggered by Chavez’s departure, the aid would dry up. “We cannot afford these giveaways while Venezuelans still have so many problems,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles has said. Though Chavez is the undisputed head of the ALBA bloc of leftistled nations in the Caribbean and Latin America, his leadership role has arguably waned given the general preference for Brazil’s “soft left” model over his more radical brand. “His regional and international influence shrank as the Venezuelan economy deteriorated and his seemingly endless energy and vitriol began to fade with his illness,” said Peter Hakim, president emeritus of US-based Inter-American Dialogue. “Chavez’s death will not change the broad dynamics of regional affairs, but some things will change. Brazil’s predominant role in South America will be reinforced. It will have less reason to compromise with Venezuela or its allies on the continent - and it may even feel freer to criticize Venezuela, whoever ends up in charge.” Speculation is rife over who would inherit Chavez’s mantle as the new firebrand on the block. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa seems to be the favorite - but insisted it would be teamwork. “There are lots of extraordinary leaders in the region,” he said. “But careful, let’s not kid ourselves. The historic changes in our nations are not because of Rafael Correa, (Argentina’s) Cristina Fernandez, (Bolivia’s) Evo Morales or Chavez. It’s because our people said ‘That’s enough!’” —Reuters


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West Coast clash heads drama for playoff spots NEW YORK: Sunday’s divisional clash between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers headlines a fascinating penultimate weekend of regular season National Football League (NFL) action where playoff dreams are on the line. Nineteen teams still have a mathematical shot at qualifying for the playoffs but the field of hopefuls dreaming of a berth in February’s Super Bowl will be cut after the weekend action. The New England Patriots (AFC East), Houston Texans (AFC South), Denver Broncos (AFC West), Green Bay Packers (NFC North) and Atlanta Falcons (NFC South) have already secured their respective division titles. The Baltimore Ravens and 49ers, still looking to lock up their division titles, are guaranteed places in the 12-team playoff where five more spots are up for grabs. Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, who took over a team that finished with the NFL’s

worst record last season, can cap a remarkable Colts turnaround as a win at the Kansas City Chiefs or a Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, would give his team a playoff berth. A victory by the Bengals, who enter the game having won five of their last six contests, will give head coach Marvin Lewis’s team a surprise ticket to the playoffs and knock the Steelers out contention. Several other teams know that a win on Sunday keeps their playoff hopes alive going into the final day of the regular season on Dec. 30. There is much at stake in Seattle this week where two stingy defenses meet when the Seahawks, undefeated at home this season, host the 49ers in a matchup featuring two teams chasing the NFC West division crown. The 49ers are ranked first in scoring defense, allowing just 15.6 points per game, while Seattle have given up just one more point over the season.

Seattle, riding a three-game winning streak and enjoying solid form from rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, need a win to secure a playoff spot while a victory for the 49ers secures them the divisional title. “We have got our work cut out this week, we have to keep him contained,” 49ers safety Dashon Goldson said about Wilson. “He looks a lot more comfortable back there. He is making a lot of plays with his feet. He’s scoring touchdowns and making big runs.” The 49ers have also hit form at the right time. Since Colin Kaepernick took over at quarterback from Alex Smith, San Francisco have gone 4-1. “Colin is giving them a spark that they obviously really favor,” said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. “He has such a strong arm and he really can fire the ball downfield and when he gets out and runs he can really go.” The defending Super Bowl champion New York

Giants have won just two of their last six games and need another late-season turnaround to make it out of the tough NFC East, starting at Baltimore on Sunday. The Minnesota Vikings are one of the teams hoping their ambitions last until at least the final week of the season but they face a tough test at Houston. While the focus is on team achievement at this crucial stage of the campaign, the Vikings can be forgiven for celebrating if their running back Adrian Peterson reaches an individual goal. Peterson is 188 yards shy of his first 2,000-yard season and also has a chance to beat Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, set in 1984. The Vikings running back’s numbers are impressive enough in themselves but are remarkable when in the context of a recovery from major reconstructive knee surgery a year ago. — Reuters

T’wolves get past Thunder MINNEAPOLIS: JJ Barea scored 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and the Minnesota Timberwolves ended Oklahoma City’s 12-game winning streak with a 99-93 victory over the Thunder on Thursday night. Kevin Love had 28 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists and Nikola Pekovic had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota. But it was Barea who was the key, scoring 12 straight at one point for the Wolves to hold off the team with the best record in the league. Kevin Durant had 33 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for the Thunder, who had not lost a game since Nov. 23 at Boston. Heat 110, Mavericks 95 In Dallas, 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 In Potland, 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. — AP

NBA results/standings Toronto 93, Orlando 90; Philadelphia 99, Atlanta 80; Milwaukee 99, Boston 94 (OT); Chicago 110, NY Knicks 106; Detroit 100, Washington 68; Indiana 99, Cleveland 89; Memphis 92, Dallas 82; San Antonio 99, New Orleans 94; LA Clippers 97, Sacramento 85; Golden State 115, Charlotte 100. Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L PCT GB NY Knicks 19 7 .731 13 12 .520 5.5 Brooklyn Boston 13 13 .500 6 Philadelphia 13 14 .481 6.5 Toronto 9 19 .321 11 Central Division Chicago 15 10 .600 14 11 .560 1 Milwaukee Indiana 15 12 .556 1 Detroit 8 21 .276 9 Cleveland 5 23 .179 11.5 Southeast Division Miami 17 6 .739 15 9 .625 2.5 Atlanta Orlando 12 14 .462 6.5 Charlotte 7 19 .269 11.5 Washington 3 21 .125 14.5

Western Conference Northwest Division Oklahoma City 21 5 .808 13 11 .542 Minnesota Denver 14 13 .519 Utah 14 13 .519 Portland 12 12 .500 Pacific Division LA Clippers 20 6 .769 18 9 .667 Golden State LA Lakers 12 14 .462 Phoenix 11 15 .423 Sacramento 8 18 .308 Southwest division Memphis 18 6 .750 20 8 .714 San Antonio Houston 13 12 .520 Dallas 12 15 .444 New Orleans 5 21 .192

7 7.5 7.5 8 2.5 8 9 12 5.5 7.5 14

LOS ANGELES: Sacramento Kings forward Chuck Hayes (left) and Blake Griffin go after a loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game. — AP

No final decision on Pakistan tour, say Bangladesh DHAK A: Bangladesh have not made a definitive decision to tour Pakistan next month, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hasan said yesterday, contradicting statements by his counterpart Zaka Ashraf. Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ashraf said on Friday that the BCB had confirmed a visit in Januar y, which would make Bangladesh the first international side to set foot in Pak istan since armed militants attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009. “They have given us a date, which is January 12. We will ask the ICC to complete

their security assessment for match officials and the moment they finalise their stance, we can give our confirmation,” Nazmul told the BBC’s Bengali service. Nazmul hopes the International Cricket Council (ICC) will give its go-ahead. “We have made a commitment to travel to Pakistan. It is my understanding that it is even in the minutes of an ICC meeting that we will go,” Nazmul added. “Since we have made the commitment and if we think the security arrangement is satisfac tor y, I think we should go.” Bangladesh had agreed to send a team to

Pak istan in April this year to play a Twenty20 match and one-day international in Lahore. However, the Dhaka High Court issued a restraining order stopping Bangladesh from playing in Pakistan due to security concerns. Eight Pakistanis were killed and six Sri Lanka players wounded in 2009 when gunmen fired on their coach as they were being driven to the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore. “We will take every possible precaution before going. In my opinion, we can reach a final decision in the next 2-4 days,” Nazmul said. — Reuters

Oram opts out of NZ contract

SAN ANTONIO: New Orleans Hornets’ Greivis Vasquez (21) shoots over San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker (9) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game. — AP

NEW ZEALAND: All-rounder Jacob Oram has opted out of his New Zealand Cricket (NZC) central contract to focus on his professional Twenty20 career. The 34-year-old Oram, who played 33 tests and 160 one-day internationals, secured an early release from his contract, NZC said in a statement yesterday. “This was a very difficult decision but in recent weeks I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer make a full-time commitment to NZC,” Oram said in the statement. “Various factors have led me to make this decision including my age, the stage of my career and the impending birth of my second child. “I really enjoy the Twenty20 format and see it as a way to stay involved in cricket for a while longer.” Oram, who quit test cricket in 2009 in a bid to prolong his career, has struggled with injuries in recent years and managed only one ODI and a T20 match against Sri Lanka on tour in October and November. He was left out of the team’s T20 tour squad for South Africa and would be unlikely to feature in New Zealand’s three one-day matches against the Proteas from Jan. 19-25, a NZC spokesman said. Oram would continue to play T20 cricket for domestic side Central Districts and play in competitions overseas, he said. However, the door would still be open for his return to international cricket again, NZC said. A powerful striker of the ball, the 1.98 metre (6-ft-6in) left-hander compiled

over 1,780 test runs at an average of over 36 and 2,434 runs in ODIs. He also netted 60 test wickets with his right-arm medium pace bowling and 173 ODI

wickets at an average of just over 29. NZC said it would offer another player to take over Oram’s contract for the remainder of the period to July 31.

BANGALORE: Pakistan cricketers, in green coats, Shahid Afridi (center left) and Umar Gul (center right) arrive at the airport ahead of their first Twenty20 cricket match against India. Pakistan’s cricket team is touring India for a short series, the first between the neighbors in five years which features two Twenty20 and three One Day International matches beginning at Bangalore on Dec. 25. —AP


sp orts

Never-say-die Giants cap season of surprises NEW YORK: The never-say-die San Francisco Giants’ rousing drive to the World Series title capped a year of surprises, sensational individual achievements and big-name doping controversies in Major League Baseball (MLB). Miguel Cabrera of the pennant-winning Detroit Tigers claimed the first Triple Crown sweep of the American League’s (AL) major offensive categories in 45 years by slugging 44 home runs with 139 runs batted in, while batting .330. San Francisco’s Matt Cain, Phillip Humber of the Chicago White Sox and Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners put their names in the record books with perfect games, a remarkable triple considering the total of 23 perfectos since Lee Richmond threw MLB’s first recorded one in 1880 for Worcester. Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout had one of the best rookie seasons ever, hitting 30 home runs, 83 RBIs, batting .326 and leading MLB with 49 stolen bases to finish runner-up to Cabrera in the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) voting at age 21. Those feats marked 2012 as a special year, with the Giants’ rise to the top providing the crowning touch. San Francisco fought off elimination six times during the playoffs, overcoming a 2-0 deficit with three straight road wins in the best-of-five Division Series against the

Cincinnati Reds, and battling back from 3-1 down against the 2011 champion St. Louis Cardinals to reach the World Series. In the Fall Classic against the Tigers, the Giants served immediate notice they would no longer play from behind. Stocky third baseman Pablo Sandoval, nicknamed Kung Fu Panda, powered home runs in his first three at-bats to kick-start San Francisco on their way to a fourgame sweep. Venezuela’s Sandoval, saluted by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez via Twitter, joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players with three homers in a World Series game. Giants catcher Buster Posey, 25, returned from a home plate collision that aborted his 2011 season to win National League (NL0 MVP honors. It was also a banner year for Venezuelan players. Sandoval won the World Series MVP award, following compatriot Marco Scutaro, who was MVP of the National League Championship Series for San Francisco. Cabrera claimed the American League MVP award and in addition to the perfect game by fellow-Venezuelan “King Felix” Hernandez, countryman Johan Santana of the Mets threw the first no-hitter by a Mets pitcher in their halfcentury of existence. The Tigers had reached the World Series by

sweeping the New York Yankees, who had some serious concerns going forward. Yankees captain Derek Jeter fractured his ankle diving for a ball at shortstop in the series against Detroit, and slugging third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who suffered through an abysmal postseason, was found after the season to need hip surgery that will sideline him for half the 2013 season. Making the Giants’ climb to the top even more unlikely was the loss of outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was hit with a 50-game suspension in August for testing positive for testosterone while leading the majors with a .346 batting average. A week later starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (10-9) of the Oakland Athletics, across the bay from San Francisco, also received a 50-game ban for testosterone. The loss of Colon did not impede the Athletics either, as they rode a rotation that featured four rookie pitchers all the way to AL West title over two-time champion Texas Rangers. The Baltimore Orioles gave the AL a second Cinderella team, as they reached the postseason for the first time in 15 years, reversing a 6993 2011 record, and knocked out Texas in this season’s debut of a wildcard playoff game. The Washington Nationals reached the playoffs for the first time in their eighth season in

the U.S. capital and posted the best record in the majors with 98 wins. Even before the season started, doping was a prominent talking point as NL MVP Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers was found to have tested positive for a performance enhancing drug. However, Braun won an appeal against an automatic suspension by proving that his urine test had been mishandled. Doping news also grabbed attention after the season when Hall of Fame ballots went out with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens listed as candidates for the first time. Bonds, a seven-time NL MVP and the all-time career and single season home run king, and seven-time Cy Young winning pitcher Clemens would ordinarily be first-ballot shoo-ins, but a cloud of doping suspicion hovers over both of them and turns the vote into a referendum on the taint of the Steroids Era. The year closed with some tantalizing prospects for the new season. The big-spending Los Angeles Dodgers added top free agent pitcher Zack Greinke to MLB’s biggest payroll, the Toronto Blue Jays opened their wallets to take on high-priced talent from the economizing Miami Marlins, and the Los Angeles Angels signed premier slugger Josh Hamilton to fortify their lineup. — Reuters

Golden year for Murray, regrets for Nadal

Lance Armstrong

Armstrong scandal sends shockwaves, Britain rules PARIS: The Lance Armstrong scandal left a huge gap in cycling’s record books and further tainted the sport in a year when Britain experienced Olympic bliss in the wake of Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France title. Armstrong was banned for life and stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles after the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) uncovered what it said was the “most sophisticated” doping programme ever found. It was, however, a vintage year for British cycling as they won their maiden Tour through Wiggins and scooped 12 medals at the London Olympics. But the feelgood factor for the sport was shortlived as on Aug. 23, Armstrong announced he would no longer fight doping charges after failing to have the process blocked by a judge. His decision prompted the U.S. AntiDoping Agency to announce the Texan would lose his Tour titles from 1999-2005. It was not until mid-October, however, that the extent of Armstrong’s fraud was exposed when USADA published a 1,000-page report featuring testimonies from former team mates incriminating the American, a cancer survivor who went on to dominate the sport’s greatest race more than anyone else. His accusers said that with Armstrong effectively in charge, hotel rooms were transformed into blood banks, doctors were paid off and riders were warned about tests in advance. Faced with the weight of evidence from Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Jonathan Vaughters and more, the governing UCI had little choice but to ratify USADA’s decision and leave a blank in the record books, with president Pat McQuaid saying that Armstrong had “no place in cycling”. As a result, Armstrong, who has always denied any wrongdoing, was dropped by sponsors such as Nike and even had his name dropped from the cancer foundation he himself created. Rabobank, a long-time sponsor of the sport, also left cycling because of the negative effects of the Armstrong scandal. With the sport on its knees, the UCI set up a commission to look into USADA’s decision and into allegations that the governing body had failed to do everything it could in the fight against doping. By that time, Wiggins was still trying to come to terms with the fact he had won the Tour. The kid from the London district of Kilburn had an outstanding season, winning the Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine week-long races before becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France as Team Sky’s obsession with details paid off. Wiggins built his success on his impressive time-trialing abilities and benefited from his team’s support in the mountains, with Chris Froome sacrificing his own chances for his leader but still finishing second overall. The race was not the most spectacular in recent Tour history but it rewarded a rider and a team who left little to chance. The year 2012 was also special for Tom Boonen as the Belgian won a recordequalling fourth Paris-Roubaix title, snatched a unique second Roubaix-Tour of Flanders double and became the first rider to achieve the Flemish cobblestones quadruple of E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Alberto Contador made his much-awaited return from a doping ban just before the Tour of Spain (Vuelta), which he won after one of his trademark solo efforts that unsettled

eventual world number one Joaquim Rodriguez. The Spaniard, one of only five riders with titles in all three grand Tours (France, Italy, Spain), made his move when nobody expected it and then hung on for the red jersey to become the third grand tour winner of the year after Wiggins and Giro champion Ryder Hesjedal of Canada. Spain’s Rodriguez finished the year as world number one but there was nothing he could do to prevent Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert becoming world champion thanks to a brutal attack in the final climb in Valkenburg, Netherlands. Gilbert succeeded British sprinter Mark Cavendish, who had a rough year, being reduced to a domestique role on the Tour de France to help Wiggins claim the title although he still managed to win three stages to take his tally to 23. Cavendish left Team Sky to join Omega Pharma-Quick Step as the Manxman bids to one day beat Eddy Merckx’s stage-wins record of 34. He suffered a further low as Britain failed in their bid to take him to a much-awaited victory in the road race at the Olympics. Britain were outfoxed by the Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov, who prevailed thanks to a bold attack which saw the victory of old school cycling. Britain bounced back from the early Games disappointment, reasserting their domination in Olympic cycling with another awe-inspiring medal haul on the track and Wiggins’ terrific victory in the road time trial. The squad took the velodrome by storm in a spine-chilling atmosphere with Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy leading the charge with two golds while the pursuit teams shattered world records as Britain equalled their Beijing record of seven titles. Britain’s rivals were generally left picking up the crumbs. The team, led by British Cycling director of per formance David Brailsford, grabbed a total of 12 medals across all disciplines, eight of them gold, while no other delegation managed more than one title. Australia were spared total embarrassment when Anna Meares beat British media darling Victoria Pendleton 2-0 in the individual sprint final on the day Hoy prevailed in the keirin to become Britain’s most successful Olympian. Hoy has seven Games medals, six of them gold, which put him ahead of Wiggins on ‘gold difference’ and took him past rower Steve Redgrave’s previous record British tally of five golds. It was a year to forget, however, for the Schleck brothers, who were expected to give Wiggins a run for his money on the Tour de France. Andy did not even take part after sustaining a hip injury in June that ruined most of his season while his older brother Frank was withdrawn form the race by his RadioshackNissan team after testing positive for a banned diuretic. Doping was not the only issue cycling faced in 2012 as investors wanting to secure the sport, as well as several teams looking for a larger piece of the pie, opened talks to launch the World Series of Cycling, 10 four-day grands prix all around the world organised in a possible joint venture with the UCI. How it can fit in a very busy calendar with cycling’s historical races is an unanswered question. In women’s road cycling, Dutchwoman Marianne Vos confirmed she was the female version of the great Merckx, winning the world and Olympic titles. — Reuters

LONDON: For Andy Murray 2012 marked a golden milestone, for Novak Djokovic the year was an emphatic reminder of his status as the world’s best male player, and for Roger Federer and his army of fans it was proof that the old master’s magic still sparkles. Serena Williams used the second half of the year to demonstrate that she continues to be head and shoulders above her rivals in the women’s game, whatever the rankings suggest. Of the sport’s marquee names, only Rafa Nadal will reflect on the past year with regret after six months out with a knee injury, and all eyes will be studying the 11-times grand-slam winner’s form once the new season swings into action. Nadal, one of four different winners of the men’s grand-slam titles this year, has not played a match since a shock Wimbledon defeat by Lukas Rosol. He hopes to return at the Australian Open although he has sensibly lowered expectations of an immediate impact. In any other era the absence of a player of Nadal’s calibre would be an impossible void to fill yet such is the quality at the top of the men’s game that the Mallorcan’s extended lay-off merely took a little gloss off what was otherwise a vintage year. Murray began it with a new coach in Ivan Lendl but still without a grand-slam title on his CV having lost in his first three major finals without taking a set. The Scot became Britain’s first male Wimbledon singles finalist since Bunny Austin in 1938 but Federer’s grasscourt brilliance deprived Murray of the title. Three weeks later Murray returned to the All England Club lawns like a man on a mission and he rode a wave of national euphoria to thrash Federer in the Olympic singles final. Fuelled with belief, Murray then strode into New York and when a fifth shot at a grand-slam final duly arrived he rose to the occasion to beat Djokovic in a five-set epic. It was a setback for Djokovic but the Serbian, who began the year by beating Nadal to retain the Australian Open title in the longest-ever men’s grand-slam final, finished it off as year-end world number one for the second season running. “Considering the circumstances that I had to face on and off the court, expectations, all these things, I believe that this year has been even more successful for me,” Djokovic, who won three major titles in 2011, said after beating Federer to win the ATP Tour Finals at London’s 02 Arena. Though Federer’s year ended in defeat, the 31-year-old Swiss will look back on 2012 with pride. A record-equalling seventh Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal title took his grand-slam haul to 17 and propelled him back to the top of the world rankings long enough to surpass Pete Sampras’s record of 286 weeks as number one. The father-of-two is expected to scale back his schedule in 2013 but will still be a force to be reckoned with when the big prizes are up for grabs. “I think it’s been a fantastic season to be part of,” Federer said. “Four different grand-slam champs. Then having the Olympics, as well, was obviously very unique.” Fellow 31-year-old Serena Williams had a relatively slow start to the year but after losing in the first round of the French Open to Virginie Razzano she was unstoppable. The American won a fifth Wimbledon title, completing a golden slam by winning the Olympic singles gold in London, as well as the doubles with sister Venus, and a fourth U.S. Open title and capped the year by not dropping a set at the WTA finals in Istanbul. Belarus’s Victoria Azarenka ended the year as a worthy number one having captured the Australian Open and five other titles, while Maria Sharapova completed a career grand slam at the French Open but Williams was rightly named WTA Player of the Year. After her battles with serious injury and health problems in recent years, Williams appears as hungry as ever and will be the woman to beat

when the new season begins at the end of December. “It’s amazing that I’m still considered like one of the top players to beat. For me it’s the ultimate honour and the ultimate compliment,” Williams said in Istanbul before suggesting that the best might still be to come. “I definitely think I can improve,” said the 15times major winner. “The day I feel that I can’t improve, I think that’s the day I should probably hang up my racquet.” Should Nadal return to his full force in 2013 the top four of the men’s game looks set in stone, although several players have shown in 2012 that they can shake up the top order. Juan Martin del Potro enjoyed an injuryfree year and got back to the form that saw him win the 2009 US Open final while Canada’s Milos Raonic, Japan’s Kei Nishikori and Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz will be worth watching. On the women’s side, 2011 Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova looks the most likely to threaten the leading trio, although consistency remains her undoing. In team tennis the Czech Republic dominated. Their men beat Spain to win the Davis Cup for the first time as an independent nation - reward for Tomas Berdych, one of the most consistent performers on the tour throughout the year — while the women retained the Fed Cup, beating Serbia. — Reuters

Sting in the tail for All Blacks after stellar year

Aaron Smith

LONDON: After ending their World Cup pain in 2011 New Zealand stamped their authority all over 2012, only for their triumphant run to be cut short spectacularly in the final game of the year. When the All Blacks ran out at Twickenham on Dec. 1 within three games of matching their record 23-match unbeaten sequence and, with only an 1818 draw with Australia blotting their copybook, they were being touted as the best team of all time. But in an afternoon that encapsulated the tantalising unpredictability and eternal appeal of international sport, they fell to their second-worst defeat, 38-21, against England. A sweep of the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) awards - Steve Hansen was named best coach, Dan Carter best player and the All Blacks best team - will have been scant consolation for a team who bucked the trend of recent World Cup winners by kicking on and improving in the year after their success. Hansen made sure his squad kept developing with the introduction of players who brought an extra dimension to an already superb side. He blooded nine new players as he started the reconstruction of a side that would otherwise be dominated by players in their mid-30s by the time they defended their title in England in 2015. Changes is the first-choice side saw Aaron Smith inject verve at scrumhalf while fearsome winger Julian Savea’s tally of 12 tries in nine tests in his debut season tells its own story. Their brand of rugby was a step up even from that which they displayed in last year’s triumph on home soil, mixing all the physicality expected of the All Blacks with a ruthless exploitation of turnover ball and an explosiveness out wide that few teams were able to stop. “This year they have shown they are one of the great sides,” said their former captain Sean Fitzpatrick. “They are trying to play the perfect game. They want to take it to a new level.” Hansen was not drawn into the debate about where his side might stand in the all-time rankings.

“It’s for other people to judge whether we are the greatest team or not - or if we are a great team,” Hansen said after his team’s 25th successive win over Wales. Australia were unable to match their neighbours on a regular basis but they bow to nobody when it comes to resilience. Ravaged by injuries and humiliated 33-6 by France, the Wallabies climbed off the canvas to end their season with a hat-trick of wins over England, Italy and Wales. Stopping the New Zealand juggernaut via their June draw was also an impressive display a month after they had been whacked 31-8 by South Africa. Heyneke Meyer ’s first year in charge of the Springboks produced a home series win over England and a November three-game European clean sweep in which they won every one of their lineout throws. But they managed only two wins in the Championship and were held to a draw by Argentina amid criticism, hardly original, that their physical approach was one-dimensional. After crying out for years for more meaningful competition, Argentina got their wish and performed creditably in their first year in the Championship, and they played twice as many matches in 2012 as they had in any previous nonWorld Cup year. They grew into the competition, developing expansive rugby and losing only narrowly away to Australia. Coach Santiago Phelan and his squad, always increasing in depth and quality, will have learned a lot to take into their second year, though they looked exhausted in their final November match in Dublin when they were thrashed 46-24. New Zealand and Argentina’s anti-climatic finales were as nothing, though, compared with Wales’s precipitous fall. Having followed up their run to the World Cup semi-finals with their third Six Nations grand slam in eight years, they lost their next seven games, including yet another to their Cardiff nemeses Samoa. —Reuters



Vettel takes triple in year of surprises

Peyton Manning in action in this file photo.

New generation of QBs emerge but NFL league faces threats MIAMI: A new generation of talented quarterbacks emerged in 2012 but a refereeing fiasco, worries over concussions and player behavior all left their mark on the National Football League (NFL). The year was also a tantalizing tale of the Mannings with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning winning his second Super Bowl title in four years with a win over New England in the same stadium where older brother Peyton played for Indianapolis. After a year out with serious neck problems, Peyton Manning restarted his career with the Denver Broncos after 14 years with the Colts and quickly cast aside any doubts over his durability by leading his team to a playoff berth and division title. Manning’s revival came at the expense of Tim Tebow, the most talked about player in 2011, who has spent most of this year on the sidelines after being traded to the New York Jets. ‘Tebow-mania’ reached its peak in January when he led the Broncos to a playoff win over Pittsburgh but a crushing loss to the New England Patriots a week later was the last in a Denver uniform for the unorthodox quarterback. Tebow’s charisma, his noted religiosity and clean-cut good looks made him one of the most popular NFL players in years but that did not stop Jets head coach Rex Ryan leaving him as a bit-player and back-up to Mark Sanchez with most critics agreeing that Tebow’s poor passing technique has hampered his career. Tebow’s fans understandably view 2012 as a year in which an exciting player’s talent was wasted but in the big picture there has been no shortage of exciting new talent to enjoy in the NFL. It was hard to imagine anyone exceeding the record-breaking impact made in 2011 by Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton but it did not take long for the top two picks in this year’s NFL Draft, Indianapolis’s Andrew Luck and Washington’s Robert Griffin III respectively, to make an impact. Luck ushered in the post-Manning era faster than anyone had imagined, with his outstanding passing and classy composure indicating he is a player who could enjoy similar dominance to his predecessor. Griffin, or RG3 as he is widely known, is a different quarterback altogether - his speed and courage make him a genuine doublethreat, able to rush but he is also, as critics of Tebow have noted, an accomplished pocket passer too. Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Miami’s Ryan Tannehill have also made good impressions in their rookie years and with Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and the Mannings still on top of their game, it has become an era of unprecedented passing yards for quarterbacks. Given the key role quarterbacks play, the abundance of talent at the position should mark a golden-era for America’s most popular league but the game has a nasty underbelly which has been revealed

on several occasions this year. The NFL has long been plagued by offfield problems, most notably domestic violence, gun crime and drunk driving, and there have been tragic examples of all three this year. Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend at their home moments before killing himself in front of his coach and general manager at the team’s training facility in December. A week later, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter after the car he was driving flipped over and caught fire, killing team mate Jerry Brown, a passenger in the car. In May, former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowl selection, was found dead at his home in May, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. The manner of Seau’s death and his families willingness to let his brain be examined for evidence of the impact of repeated injuries from his playing days, brought the issue of concussions back into focus. Over 1,500 former football players have sued the NFL over head injuries and there have been accusations that the league concealed links between the game and brain injuries. The NFL has disputed those allegations and points to its intensive education work on the issue and also the stricter new regulations covering treatment of players who are concussed. Concern over the potential impact of excessive violence on players was also behind NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s strong sanctions against the New Orleans Saints, a story that hung over the league for much of the year. The Saints were accused of running a bounty program from 2009-2011 that gave players cash rewards for knocking opponents out of games. While Saints head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire season and other members of the coaching staff received shorter bans, much of the attention was on the sanctions given to four players, all of whom had their punishments overturned. The decision by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, with little compelling reasoning behind it, was a strange end to an affair which did little good for the league’s image. That image also took a hit from the contract dispute with referees which led to an early season lockout and resulted in some farcical decisions By the replacement referees. The dispute culminated in botched call in a nationally televised game that handed Seattle victory over Green Bay and caused so much outrage that a deal was swiftly reached for the regular refs to return in early in the season. But while referee dispute, off-field troubles, bounty schemes and concussion fears generated plenty of negative attention for the league they did nothing to weaken the NFL’s position as the dominant sport in North America and the top draw on U.S. television. — Reuters

NHL Lockout dampens year where Kings reign supreme TORONTO: National Hockey League (NHL) Commissioner Gary Bettman kicked off 2012 toasting the New Year at the lucrative outdoor Winter Classic game, painting a glowing picture of a league whose stock was on the rise. But as the year draws to a close, a dour Bettman is painting a much gloomier portrait of a league bleeding cash in the midst of a labor dispute with locked-out players that could wipe out the entire 2012-13 season. At a lavish New Year’s Eve party in Philadelphia, the good times rolled as the NHL celebrated a $2 billion television deal, record revenues, attendance and TV ratings along with a feeling that the league had finally arrived on the US sporting scene. There were still a few nagging trouble spots to consider, like trying to unload the league-owned team in Phoenix, but the problems appeared small as the NHL prepared to open the second half of the season with its signature Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. Even as 50,000 chilled fans exited Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park after a 3-2 Rangers win, Bettman was meeting with the media, singing the praises of the outdoor game that has scooped more sports marketing and business awards than Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky in his prime. More good news followed in March when Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, the face of the NHL, returned to the ice

after missing most of two seasons recovering from concussion like symptoms. Concussions and a lockout have robbed fans of watching one of hockey’s best players in his prime, the 25-year-old Canadian playing in 28 games since absorbing two hits to the head in successive games in early 2011. The NHL would cap the season in glorious fashion, watching the seeds of the southern expansion planted decades ago finally bear fruit with the Los Angeles Kings beating the New Jersey Devils 4-2 in a best-of-seven series for their first Stanley Cup championship since entering the league in 1967. After qualifying for the playoffs as the last seed from the Western Conference, the Kings upset the topthree seeded teams, the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes, en route to becoming the first eighth seed to win a Stanley Cup. A team that played in obscurity for many years, overshadowed by the Staples Center’s more celebrated tenants, the National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, the Kings were suddenly the talk of Tinsel Town. But in a city built on celebrity, fame is fleeting and there is concern that hard won fans may have already moved on as the Kings’ Stanley Cup banner that was to be raised to the rafters at their home opener in October gathers dust. —Reuters

LONDON: Formula One fans have learned to expect the unexpected and 2012, despite Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull ending up as world champions for the third year in a row, was predictably unpredictable. While Sebastien Loeb racked up a ninth successive championship with Citroen in rallying an outcome that surprised absolutely nobody and Audi won Le Mans for the 11th time in 13 years, followers of grand prix racing had a nailbiting ride right to the end. This was the year of eight different winners, an unprecedented seven of them in the first seven races, from six separate teams who spent months getting to grips with the Pirelli tyres. Vettel becoming, at 25, the sport’s youngest triple champion was an easy prediction to make at the end of 2011 when the German ran away with his second title and Red Bull were dominant. It looked less likely as the sport headed off for its summer break and, after 13 rounds of a record 20-race season, Vettel still had only one victory to his credit and was 42 points off the lead. “People were not even mentioning us when they were talking about the championship, but I think the most important thing was that we always kept believing,” the German said after being taken down to the wire in Brazil in a duel with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Alonso, driving the wheels off an ugly car that had been painfully slow out of the box, was - against all expectation - comfortably clear of the rest as the championship entered its second half. Even if Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone held up Vettel as a new benchmark for the sport, team principals voted Alonso their driver of the season and the Spaniard had no doubt about what he had done in a car he knew was not the fastest. “It was by far the best season of my career and I will remember this 2012 like some dream season,” said the man who won two titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006. The Spaniard’s win in rain-hit Malaysia, the second race of the season, was a stunning result considering how far off the pace Ferrari had been in testing and in the Australian opener. Alonso, lucky to escape unhurt after Romain Grosjean’s Lotus skimmed past his head in Belgium in an incident that got the Frenchman banned for a race, and Vettel were the main men in a field of six champions - five of them race winners in 2012. There were few gasps of surprise when seven times world champion Michael Schumacher, three years into an unimpressive comeback with Mercedes and six years on from his last win with Ferrari, decided to call it a day for the second time at the age of 43. There were rather more when 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton cut the umbilical cord with super-successful McLaren and signed for Mercedes, whose otherwise bleak year was illuminated only by their first win as a works team since 1955. That bombshell was comparable to the shock in MotoGP when Australian Casey Stoner announced in May that he was calling it a day at

Sebastian Vettel in action in this file photo.

the age of 26 because he had fallen out of love with the sport. Spain’s Jorge Lorenzo won that title with Yamaha, the second of his career. Hamilton leaving McLaren for a far less successful team would have been dismissed by many at the end of 2011, and they might have scoffed also at the idea of Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado winning the Spanish Grand Prix for Williams - whose chairman Adam Parr had resigned only weeks after being lined up as founder Frank Williams’ heir apparent. How many would have expected Mercedes to dominate the Chinese Grand Prix or for Jenson Button, winning the first and last races of the year, to end up scoring more points than Hamilton over their three year McLaren partnership? But he did. There would have been few bets on Ferrari academy youngster Sergio Perez ending the season, after the Mexican had celebrated three podium finishes for mid-table Sauber, with a McLaren contract in his pocket. The United States returned to the calendar in Austin, the Texan capital that prides itself on being weird and showed it by taking foreign Formula One to its heart in a country more enamoured of NASCAR and oval racing. Some locals were doubtless more interested in NASCAR’s final weekend at Homestead, which clashed with the Austin race, that saw Brad Keselowski winning his first Sprint Cup title with Dodge and denying Jimmie Johnson a sixth championship. American motorsports fans also had an emotional triple winner to acclaim when Scotland’s Dario Franchitti triumphed in the Indy 500, a year on from his late friend Dan Wheldon. Bahrain defied international condemnation and put on a race that many had expected to be cancelled due to civil unrest and violent anti-government protests. That race, that

saw the sport’s ethics and values questioned on front pages around the world, ultimately troubled Ecclestone far less than a court case in Germany, increasing legal actions elsewhere and the shelving of advanced plans to float the sport in Singapore. At 82, the British billionaire still had a spring in his step after marrying Brazilian Fabiana Flosi, his 35-year-old third wife. Barcelona, the most predictable race on the calendar, produced a 500-1 winner in Maldonado while Valencia and Abu Dhabi, both yawn-fests in the past, turned out to be thrillers. The latter race even delivered one of the quotes of the championship from winner Kimi Raikkonen. “Leave me alone. I know what I’m doing,” the Finn told his Lotus team over the radio as they offered advice he felt he could do without. The sport welcomed its first woman team principal when Monisha Kaltenborn took over the reins from Peter Sauber and shuddered at the freak testing accident that cost Marussia’s female Spanish tester Maria De Villota the use of an eye as well as inflicting horrific injuries. If at the start of the season, the smart money would have been on Vettel and Hamilton fighting for the title with Red Bull’s design genius Adrian Newey likely to come out on top, next year promises to be different. Even if Vettel again looks the man to beat in a season where the cars will be very similar - if more attractive due to ‘modesty panels’ allowed to cover up the broken, stepped noses Hamilton may have to wait until 2014 before he gets a truly competitive car again. That will give Button a real chance as McLaren’s most experienced driver, while Alonso can be counted on to fight all the way and Raikkonen will be doing what he knows how to do after an impressive comeback season. — Reuters

Enaya Insurance Company holds annual golf tournament for business leaders KUWAIT: Enaya Insurance is passionate about sports and endeavors to promote exciting sporting events in Kuwait. Towards this, it has setup its annual “ENAYA Golf Tournament” that would provide an exciting participation opportunity for the golf enthusiasts in Kuwait. The inaugural competition focused at business leaders in Kuwait, showcased the enormous golfing talent in the Kuwait’s business community. It was held at the Sahara Golf Club on December 7, 2012 in Stable Ford format play to ensure fast and exciting play-off. With beautiful weather, over one hundred players participated in the event and played hard for the ENAYA Championship Trophy. The premier event proved to be an ideal setting for outdoor leisure and also provided a prime networking opportunity for the participants. After spending time on the green, navigating through a challenging course filled with excitement of some great putts and some near misses, the ladies and gents participants enjoyed a lavish buffet in Sahara Golf Club’s dining area where the winners received the Enaya Golf Tournament’s awards for 2012. Mr. J. H. Bae from STX Group lifted the Inaugural ENAYA Golf Championship trophy. As a Kuwaiti company, Enaya Insurance is promoted by Alghanim Industries with a paid up capital of KD 10 million. Led by one of the most experienced management teams in the GCC and equipped with a Board of Directors of great eminence in the local business community, Enaya

stays at the cutting edge of the insurance industry with exciting products and services which are accessible through its online portal at Enaya Insurance has proven to be the insurance provider of choice for individuals as well as businesses in Kuwait, for a variety

of insurance services including but not limited to motor, travel, life, medical, property, marine cargo and hull, engineering and liability insurance With a joyful good bye Enaya’s team greeted their guests with promises for a more exciting tournament in 2013.



Messi & Co will win without coach SPAIN: Even if Lionel Messi and his Barcelona teammates had no coach to guide them, you would think long and hard about betting against perhaps the greatest collection of players assembled by one club. Their success is built on foundations so solid it has seemingly become self-perpetuating, almost capable of taking care of itself. So Messi & Co. will weather the absence, hopefully brief and temporary, of Tito Vilanova while he undergoes chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Even if the coach’s recovery from the recurrence of a tumor on a saliva gland takes longer than expected, his team is plenty strong enough to keep winning without him, to wrest the Spanish league title from Real Madrid and to muscle past AC Milan in March to advance deep into the final rounds of the Champions League and even win that, too. For such an astoundingly talented and wellblended team to underperform in either of those competitions in 2013 would be shocking, regardless of who is coaching it. The acid disappointment of losing La Liga to Madrid and falling to Chelsea in the Champions League semifinal in 2012 should be motivation enough for the players, without needing Vilanova to remind them they should do better next year. Barcelona is less coach-centric than other teams, because its methods, tactics, philosophy and identity are woven into its fabric, not dependent on any single personality. At Manchester United, Real

Madrid or Arsenal, the imprint of managers Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger is evident. If those strong leaders took protracted time off, there would be probing questions about how their players might cope without them. But only a lengthy injury for Messi, its record-setting goal scorer, would spark grave doubts about Barcelona’s chances of success in the months ahead. At Barca, the players are for the most part brighter stars than Vilanova, their coach. But at Real Madrid, Man United and Arsenal, it’s mostly the other way round. The center of Barcelona’s universe isn’t a person but a training academy, La Masia. That is where Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol and other vertebrae in the backbone of Barcelona’s first team were drenched in the club’s traditions. Once housed in an 18th-century Catalan farmhouse, the academy is now in a modern five-story building located at Barca’s training grounds on the outskirts of the city. Vilanova is a La Masia alumni. So is the man he replaced as coach at the end of last season, Pep Guardiola. So is Vilanova’s assistant coach, Jordi Roura. Roura will warm Vilanova’s seat and direct the team while he is on sick leave but won’t formally replace him as coach - a nice touch that makes Barcelona look like a club with class, which sticks by its own through thick and thin. Barcelona said that after surgery Thursday on his parotid gland and a few days in hospital, Vilanova

might be able to coach during his expected six weeks of chemo and radiation treatment. Until he’s back, Barcelona sports director Andoni Zubizarreta said the team was in “great hands” with Roura. A former Barcelona player under coach Johan Cruyff, Roura worked on Guardiola’s staff, studying rival teams, before becoming Vilanova’s assistant coach. La Masia’s production line of success and talent gives Barcelona continuity in difficult times like these. While other clubs head-hunt managers, chopping and changing in search of success, Barcelona’s deep wells of experience have enabled it to recruit in-house for leadership since Guardiola replaced Dutchman Frank Rijkaard as coach in 2008. Even though Vilanova is undefeated in the Spanish league this season and has led the team to the best league start ever by any team in Spain, his sudden absence mid-season shouldn’t provoke a slump and might barely be noticed on the field. Tactics and lineups didn’t change massively when Guardiola handed over the reins to Vilanova, nor will they while Roura is caretaking. Barcelona calls itself “more than a club.” It is also more than any one coach. “Few things have changed,” midfielder Xavi said Dec. 13, talking about the handover from Guardiola to Vilanova. “Everything has stayed the same.” It was Guardiola who once described Barcelona soccer so succinctly: “Take the ball, pass the ball, take the ball, pass the ball.” It is, of course, more complex than

that. But Messi and his teammates have for years now been honing Barcelona’s passing game into an art. They could probably find each other with their eyes shut and definitely with Roura on the coach’s bench. Barcelona has a nine-point league lead over Atletico Madrid and a 13-point jump on Real Madrid after just 16 games - a gap so whopping that Atletico coach Diego Simeone said Spain’s top league has become “boring.” Although this won’t be how he or the players think, Roura can afford to lose a few games before he will come under sustained pressure for wins. His first match is at Valladolid in the league on Saturday, Barcelona’s last game of 2012. Barcelona’s announcement this week that Messi, Xavi and Puyol all agreed to renew their contracts also gives the team long-term stability and removes an issue that potentially could have distracted the players and Roura. Since last month, Barcelona has again been able to field Puyol and Pique in defense together after both recovered from injuries. David Villa also looks like the dangerous forward he used to be before eight months out with a broken leg. And Messi, well, how can more praise be heaped on a player who has scored a record 90 goals in 2012? So no excuses. Barcelona should keep winning while Vilanova gets better. He surely wouldn’t settle for anything less. — AP

Arsenal back on track as Arteta sinks Wigan Wigan 0

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LONDON: Fulham’s Swedish midfielder Alexander Kacaniklic (second left) vies with Liverpool’s English defender Glen Johnson (left) and English midfielder Stewart Downing (right) during the English Premier League football match. —AFP

Downing ends drought as Liverpool thrash Fulham Liverpool 4

Fulham 0

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool winger Stewart Downing finally ended his Premier League goal drought as the Reds swept to a 4-0 victory over Fulham at Anfield yesterday. Downing had gone 44 league matches without a goal since joining from Aston Villa in a £20 million deal in 2011 that has been widely ridiculed as a major mistake by then Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish. Brendan Rodgers, who replaced Dalglish at Anfield in the close-season, had fared no better with the under-achieving England international and Downing last week revealed he has been told he can leave the club. But the 28-year-old started against Fulham and seized the chance to put himself in the shop window. After Martin Skrtel lashed in Liverpool’s opener early in the first half, Downing set up England captain Steven Gerrard for the second goal with a fine pass and then bagged the third himself after the break. It was just his fifth goal for Liverpool, the others coming in the FA Cup and Europa League, and his first in the top-flight since he scored for Villa against his current club in May 2011. “I’m just trying to enjoy it, do the best I can and give the manager a problem,” Downing said. Liverpool’s biggest victory of the season was the ideal response to last weekend’s dismal 3-1 home defeat against Aston Villa and lifted the Reds to eighth place, five points behind fourth-placed local rivals

Everton. “Every level of our game was fantastic,” Rodgers said. “The quality of our football was terrific. I knew we would get a reaction today because of the honesty of the group. “I thought Stewart Downing was brilliant. We had a conversation about six weeks ago and said if he is not a regular then we will look at it January.” It helped that Fulham, notoriously bad travellers, came bearing gifts in the form of a wide-open defence that Liverpool exploited time and again. The hosts needed only eight minutes to take the lead when a Gerrard corner picked out Skrtel, and with former Reds full-back John Arne Riise slow to close down the Slovakia defender he brought the ball down and smashed a volley past Mark Schwarzer. Daniel Agger was unable to emulate his central defensive partner as the Dane fired over from Suarez’s cross. But Downing’s first significant intervention helped Liverpool take total control in the 36th minute. Downing’s superb reverse pass from the edge of the penalty area deceived everyone except Gerrard and the Liverpool captain ran clear to clip a shot across Schwarzer and just inside the far post. Any doubts about the result were erased in the 51st minute when Gerrard picked out Downing on the right flank and the winger cut inside before blasting home a shot which appeared to release months of pent-up frustration. Downing played like a man with a point to prove at times and saw another blistering drive sail just over the angle of crossbar and post. Rodgers’ side sealed only their fourth home league win of the season when Uruguay forward Luis Suarez side-footed home in stoppage-time for his 11th league goal of the season. — AFP

West Brom end Norwich run West Brom 2

Norwich 1

WEST BROMWICH: West Bromwich Albion brought Norwich City’s 10-match unbeaten run in the English Premier League to a crashing halt with a 2-1 win at the Hawthorns yesterday. Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku headed the winner with eight minutes to go to leave West Brom sixth in the table, five points ahead of Norwich. Robert Snodgrass gave Norwich the lead with a 23rd-minute free kick but Zoltan Gera ended the hosts’ near six-hour goal drought two minutes before the break. Lukaku, on loan from European champions Chelsea, then capitalised on West Brom’s momentum by nodding in the decisive goal. For Albion, former England goalkeeper Ben Foster returned after seven matches out with a groin injury, replacing Boaz

Myhill. West Brom manager Steve Clarke rested top scorer Shane Long, bringing Lukaku in, while midfielder Graham Dorrans came in for the suspended Youssouf Mulumbu. Norwich made one change, with Steve Morison replacing hamstring injury victim Grant Holt in attack. Lukaku headed just over Mark Bunn’s crossbar in the third minute, and had an even better chance in the 21st, taking a pass in his stride but Bunn dealt comfortably with his shot across goal. Norwich wasted no time in punishing the Black Country side for not taking their chance as three minutes later Snodgrass curled in a free kick. Peter Odemwingie had brought Snodgrass down and though Foster got a hand to the ball, he could only deflect it into the roof of the net. West Bromwich went on the counter-attack and got their reward when Hungary midfielder Gera levelled. Bunn parried Jonas Olsson’s downward header from a corner onto the crossbar but Gera reacted quickest to volley in the rebound. It was Lukaku who eventually made the difference, climbing high above Javier Garrido to meet Goran Popov’s cross with a powerful header to score. — AFP

WIGAN: Mikel Arteta’s controversial penalty gave Arsenal a hard-fought 1-0 victory over struggling Wigan at the DW Stadium yesterday. The three points lifted Arsene Wenger’s team into third place in the Premier League table, although Chelsea and Tottenham can both climb back above the Gunners with wins this weekend. But the narrowness of the margin reflected the considerable contribution of Wigan, who did not look like a team languishing third from bottom, and another erratic performance from Arsenal. Arsenal’s third successive league win was secured by the second half penalty converted by Spanish midfielder Arteta after Jean Beausejour challenged Theo Walcott from behind. “It was very important because we beat West Brom at home and now we have two away wins (against Reading and Wigan),” Wenger said. “It was a difficult game because they stopped us from playing. I believe they are in the wrong position in the table.” Wigan manager Roberto Martinez added: “The penalty was very soft. Theo Walcott is very clever there. “We are in the middle of a period where calls are not going our way but we played with a great mentality and I couldn’t be prouder.” Arsenal had an early scare when Arouna Kone was flagged marginally offside from James McArthur’s pass as Wigan took the game to Arsenal. Latics goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, making his 100th appearance since being signed from Bolton, had to save from Alex Oxlade Chamberlain after a smart move from Arsenal. Santi Carzola, their hat-trick hero in Monday’s 5-2 win at Reading, produced a fabulous pass to send Arteta surging through the middle to threaten Al Habsi’s goal. At the other end Kone, heading for the Africa Cup of Nations next month with Ivory Coast, slipped past two tackles but elected to shoot

LONDON: Wigan Athletic’s Jean Beausejour (left) and Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, in action during their English Premier League soccer match at the DW Stadium. —AP from long range and gave Wojciech Szczesny a became the first player in the referee’s book but routine save. But Arsenal were finding plenty of was extremely unlucky to be penalised for what space in the Wigan half. Lukas Podolski saw his replays showed to be a perfectly fair tackle on fierce shot beaten out by Al Habsi and Boyce Maloney. Al Habsi had to mark his century was obliged to clear Cazorla’s low raking cross appearance for Wigan with a marvellous save soon after. Franco Di Santo’s fine backheel set up from Walcott to prevent Arsenal taking the lead a one-two with Shaun Maloney but his team- after 48 minutes. Oxlade-Chamberlain reached mate’s return was too far ahead and Szczensny the byeline before pulling the ball back for the unmarked Walcott to shoot first time from six got there first. Then after 23 minutes Di Santo conjured the yards but Al Habsi was equal to it. But when the Gunners did take the lead on pass of the game, a brilliant effort from inside his own half that allowed Kone to get the advan- the hour, Walcott was at the centre of things as tage over Per Mertesacker, only for the striker to he went down in the penalty area under minimal contact from Beausejour. Referee Jon Moss pull his shot wide when Szczesny rushed out. The huge groans of frustration from the had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty home crowd indicated that they were not spot, and Arteta stepped up to send Al Habsi the expecting to have many more chances of that wrong way with the penalty kick. Wigan’s response suggested an equaliser quality against Wenger’s team. Ronnie Stam did cut in after a good Wigan might be on the cards, but Maynor Figueroa’s passing move but his weak shot was easily low shot was saved and Kone had another beatsmothered at the near post. Jack Wilshere en out by Szczesny. — AFP

Spurs frustrated in Stoke stalemate

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Sunderland 1 Tottenham 0

Saints slip up, Sunderland steal points

Stoke 0

LONDON: Tottenham slipped down to fifth place in the Premier League after being held to a frustrating 0-0 draw by Stoke at White Hart Lane yesterday. Andre Villas-Boas’s side could have gone third with a victory but instead they dropped out of the Champions League places after a dour encounter. Villas-Boas and his assistant Steffen Freund regularly complained about the physicality of Stoke, who had four players booked, but the visitors, well marshalled by defenders Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth, were worth a draw. Even Gareth Bale, returning to the Tottenham side after his hamstring injury, couldn’t break down the Stoke back-four and Tony Pulis’s team, who have kept nine clean sheets this season, have now gone eight matches unbeaten. Just 45 seconds had gone before Kyle Walker’s wayward pass let in Kenwyne Jones, but the Stoke striker lost his balance and could only shoot over. Stoke threatened again when Steven N’Zonzi fed Jones on the counter-attack and the forward’s shot beat Hugo Lloris, only for Sandro to clear off the line. Tottenham sparked into life when Bale put in one of his trademark lungbusting runs and beat his marker, but Shawcross cleared before Jermain Defoe could tap in. Spurs went close to breaking the deadlock just before the break through Mousa Dembele, who fired just over the bar. Pulis was on his feet moaning at Bale just before the hour when the Welshman, often criticised for diving, went to ground in an attempt to win a free-kick just out-

LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur’s Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor (right) vies with Stoke City’s German defender Robert Huth (left) during their English Premier League football match at White Hart Lane. —AFP side the box.Bale almost gave the per fect response when he leapt to meet Aaron Lennon’s cross, but he could only head over. Long range efforts from Bale and substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson failed to trouble Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic as the visitors dug in. Sigurdsson had Spurs’ best chance to win it in stoppage-time, however Begovic pulled off a world-class save and the hosts had to settle for a point — AFP

SOUTHAMPTON: Southampton’s recent revival after a dismal start to the season came to an abrupt halt at home to fellow-strugglers Sunderland as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat yesterday. Despite dominating for long periods, Saints could not break down a stubborn Sunderland defence and the large band of travelling supporters left St Mary’s happy as the Black Cats moved up to 15th. Southampton, meanwhile, are fourth-frombottom and only escape the relegation places on goal difference from Wigan. Sunderland took the lead three minutes before the break against the run of play and with a goal which had more than a suspicion of good fortune about it. Adam Johnson broke free down the left and cut the ball back to Stephane Sessegon, who appeared to mishit the ball across the box and out-of-sorts striker Steven Fletcher suddenly popped up in the right place to lash the ball past Kelvin Davis. Southampton had looked the better side with Uruguayan record signing Gaston Ramirez, ably deputising for injured captain Adam Lallana and running the midfield, producing a cunning 25-yard shot just before the half-hour which caused Sunderland ‘keeper Simon Mignolet all kinds of problems. Saints talisman Rickie Lambert also had Mignolet tied up in knots with an early free kick which fortunately for the visitors flashed narrowly wide. —AFP



SPORTS Soccer results/standings Liverpool 4 (Skrtel 8, Gerrard 36, Downing 51, Suarez 90) Fulham 0; Manchester City 1 (Barry 90) Reading 0; Newcastle 1 (Ameobi 81) QPR 0; Southampton 0 Sunderland 1 (Fletcher 42); Tottenham 0 Stoke 0; West Bromwich 2 (Gera 43, Lukaku 82) Norwich City 1 (Snodgrass 23); West Ham 1 (Cole 14) Everton 2 (Anichebe 64, Pienaar 73); Wigan 0 Arsenal 1 (Arteta 60-pen). Playing today: Swansea v Manchester Utd, Chelsea v Aston Villa. English Football League results Championship Birmingham 2 Burnley 2; Crystal Palace 1 Huddersfield 1; Ipswich 1 Bristol City 1; Leeds 2 Middlesbrough 1; Leicester 0 Cardiff 1; Millwall 1 Barnsley 2;Peterborough 5 Bolton 4; Sheffield Wednesday 2 Charlton 0; Watford 2 Nottingham Forest 0. Postponed: Blackburn v Brighton Played Friday: Blackpool 1 Wolverhampton 2; Derby 1 Hull 2 Division One Coventry 1 Preston 1; Crawley 0 Sheffield Utd 2; Walsall 1 Colchester 0; Yeovil 4 Oldham 1. Postponed: Brentford v Stevenage; Crewe v Bournemouth; Doncaster v Milton Keynes; Hartlepool v Portsmouth; Notts County v Leyton Orient; Scunthorpe v Carlisle. Played Friday: Bury 2 Shrewsbury 2; Swindon 5 Tranmere 0 Division Two Accrington 1 Plymouth 1; Northampton 2 Aldershot 0 Postponed: Bristol Rovers v Rotherham; Morecambe v Dagenham and Redbridge; Oxford v Fleetwood Town; Port Vale v Wimbledon; Torquay v Exeter; Wycombe v Bradford; York v Gillingham. Played Friday: Barnet 4 Burton 1; Rochdale 4 Cheltenham 1; Southend 3 Chesterfield 0. Scottish Premier League results Aberdeen 2 (McGinn 63, 81) St Johnstone 0; Celtic 4 (Brown 46, Hooper 53, 64, Forrest 70) Ross County 0; Inverness CT 4 (McKay 12-pen, 48, Jones 24, Shinnie 70) Dundee 1 (Riley 19). Played Friday: St Mirren 2 (Thompson 39, 42) Motherwell 1 (McHugh 77) LONDON: English Premier League goals for, goals against, points): Man Utd 17 14 0 3 43 Man City 18 11 6 1 34 Arsenal 18 8 6 4 32 Everton 18 7 9 2 30 Tottenham 18 9 3 6 30 Bromwich 18 9 3 6 26 Chelsea 16 8 5 3 28 Liverpool 18 6 7 5 27 Stoke 18 5 10 3 15 Norwich 18 6 7 5 20 Swansea 17 6 5 6 26 West Ham 18 6 5 7 22 Fulham 18 5 5 8 28 Newcastle 18 5 5 8 20 Sunderland 18 4 7 7 19 Aston Villa 17 4 6 7 15 Southampton 17 4 3 10 22 Wigan 18 4 3 11 18 QPR 18 1 7 10 15 Reading 18 1 6 11 21 English Football League tables Championship Cardiff 23 15 2 6 44 Hull 23 14 2 7 35 Crystal Palace 23 12 7 4 44 Middlesbrough23 13 2 8 40 Leicester 23 11 4 8 37 Watford 23 11 4 8 41 Millwall 24 10 7 7 37 Leeds 23 10 5 8 35 Brighton 23 8 10 5 31 Derby 23 9 6 8 36 Nottingham 23 8 9 6 30 Blackpool 23 8 8 7 40 Wolverhampton23 9 4 10 31 Burnley 23 8 6 9 36 Huddersfield 23 8 6 9 29 Bolton 23 7 8 8 36 Blackburn 22 7 8 7 29 Charlton 23 7 8 8 28 Birmingham 23 6 8 9 30 Ipswich 23 6 6 11 23 Sheffield Wed 23 6 3 14 27 Barnsley 23 5 6 12 23 Bristol City 23 5 4 14 33 Peterborough 23 6 1 16 30 Division One Sheffield Utd 23 11 10 2 31 Tranmere 23 11 8 4 38 Brentford 22 11 8 3 33 Doncaster 22 12 4 6 31 Swindon 23 11 6 6 37 Milton Keynes 22 11 6 5 31 Stevenage 22 10 7 5 30 Notts County 22 9 8 5 33 Bournemouth 22 9 8 5 37 Crawley 23 10 5 8 31 Yeovil 23 10 3 10 36 Crewe 22 9 6 7 28 Coventry 23 8 7 8 38 Leyton Orient 22 10 1 11 25 Preston 23 7 9 7 33 Oldham 23 7 5 11 23 Walsall 23 6 8 9 26 Shrewsbury 23 5 8 10 27 Colchester 23 6 5 12 23 Carlisle 22 6 5 11 28 Portsmouth 22 5 6 11 27 Bury 23 4 8 11 25 Scunthorpe 22 5 5 12 24 Hartlepool 22 1 6 15 15 Division Two Gillingham 22 13 6 3 41 Port Vale 22 11 7 4 45 Cheltenham 23 11 6 6 32 Southend 23 10 7 6 38 Rotherham 22 11 4 7 35 Bradford 22 10 6 6 33 Exeter 22 10 4 8 33 Fleetwood Town22 8 9 5 30 Northampton 23 9 6 8 37 Rochdale 23 9 6 8 38 Burton Albion 23 9 6 8 32 Torquay 22 8 8 6 29 Chesterfield 23 8 8 7 29 Redbridge 22 8 7 7 34 York 22 7 9 6 30 Morecambe 22 7 6 9 29 Accrington 23 7 6 10 27

Playing today: Kilmarnock v Hibernian; Hearts v Dundee Utd Scottish Football League results First Division Airdrie United 1 Falkirk 4; Cowdenbeath 1 Livingston 1 Postponed: Dumbarton v Raith Rovers Second Division Alloa 2 Forfar 1 East Fife 3 Stenhousemuir 2 Postponed: Brechin v Ayr Third Division East Stirlingshire 1 Annan 1; Elgin City 2 Rangers 6; Stirling Albion 1 Peterhead 0. Postponed: Berwick v Queen’s Park Spanish football results Real Betis 1 (Etxebarria Urkiaga 5) Real Mallorca 2 (Victor 30, Javi Marquez 47-pen); Valladolid 1 (Guerra 89) Barcelona 3 (Xavi 43, Messi 59, Tello 90+4) Playing later Osasuna v Granada, Malaga v Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao v Zaragoza Played Friday Valencia 4 (Soldado 1, Jonas 7, Ricardo Costa 30, Nelson Valdez 90+4) Getafe 2 (Vazquez 13, Ruano 59); Atletico Madrid 1 (Adrian 77) Celta Vigo 0. Played Thursday Rayo Vallecano 3 (Nacho 59, Piti 80, Franco Vazquez 90) Levante 0; Espanyol 2 (Simao 31, Stuani 88) Deportivo La Coruna 0; Real Sociedad 2 (Vela 18, Alberta De la Bella 69) Sevilla 1 (Medel 49). Italian League results Inter Milan 1 (Cambiasso 85) Genoa 1 (Immobile 77); Palermo 0 Fiorentina 3 (Jovetic 50, 83-pen, Gonzalo 89-pen); Siena 0 Napoli 2 (Maggio 86, Cavani 90-pen); Atalanta 1 (Denis 40-pen) Udinese 1 (Muriel 33); Bologna 1 (S?rensen 54) Parma 2 (Valdes 56, Sansone 66); Sampdoria 0 Lazio 1 (Hernanes 31); Torino 2 (Thereau 12-og, Gazzi 26) Chievo 0. Playing later AS Roma v AC Milan Played Friday Pescara 2 (Celik 23, Togni 90+5) Catania 1 (Barrientos 36); Cagliari 1 (Pinilla 16-pen) Juventus 3 (Matri 75, 90+2, Vucinic 90+5).

table after yesterday’s matches (played, won, drawn, lost, 24 15 18 22 25 22 17 23 13 27 22 22 33 26 24 24 33 33 31 37

42 39 30 30 30 30 29 25 25 25 23 23 20 20 19 18 15 15 10 9

28 27 29 31 22 31 33 36 23 34 28 33 30 39 36 37 31 30 37 44 40 36 46 44

47 44 43 41 37 37 37 35 34 33 33 32 31 30 30 29 29 29 26 24 21 21 19 19

18 23 22 21 18 17 29 22 33 33 34 28 30 26 28 30 37 32 35 43 33 38 40 40

43 41 41 40 39 39 37 35 35 35 33 33 31 31 30 26 26 23 23 23 21 20 20 9

20 24 32 23 31 24 32 22 31 37 32 26 27 29 31 31 35

45 40 39 37 37 36 34 33 33 33 33 32 32 31 30 27 27

Wycombe 22 7 5 10 27 Oxford Utd 22 7 5 10 31 Plymouth 23 5 8 10 27 Aldershot 23 5 6 12 20 Barnet 23 4 7 12 22 Wimbledon 22 5 4 13 24 Bristol Rovers 22 4 6 12 24 Scottish Premier League table Celtic 18 11 4 3 37 Inverness 19 8 8 3 42 Motherwell 19 8 6 5 31 Aberdeen 19 7 6 6 24 Hibernian 18 8 3 7 29 St Johnstone 19 6 7 6 22 Dundee Utd 17 6 6 5 26 Kilmarnock 17 6 4 7 27 Hearts 18 5 7 6 18 St Mirren 19 5 5 9 23 Ross County 19 3 9 7 20 Dundee 18 3 3 12 12 Scottish Football League tables First Division Partick 14 10 2 2 34 Dunfermline 15 9 3 3 35 Morton 15 8 5 2 33 Livingston 15 6 5 4 23 Raith 15 5 6 4 23 Falkirk 15 5 5 5 21 Cowdenbeath 15 3 5 7 19 Hamilton 14 3 4 7 14 Airdrie Utd 15 3 3 9 17 Dumbarton 13 1 2 10 11 Second Division Queen of South15 12 2 1 33 Alloa 16 10 2 4 31 Forfar 16 7 2 7 30 East Fife 16 6 2 8 25 Arbroath 15 5 5 5 24 Brechin 14 6 1 7 24 Stenhousemuir16 4 7 5 28 Ayr 14 5 2 7 22 Stranraer 15 4 3 8 18 Albion 15 3 2 10 20 Third Division Rangers 15 11 3 1 44 Elgin 16 7 6 3 35 Queen’s Park 14 6 5 3 22 Montrose 16 6 5 5 30 Peterhead 16 6 4 6 17 Berwick 15 5 4 6 24 Annan Athletic16 4 5 7 27 Clyde 14 5 1 8 16 East Stirling 15 4 2 9 22 Stirling 15 4 1 10 24 Spanish League table Barcelona 17 16 1 0 57 Atletico Madrid17 13 1 3 37 Real Madrid 16 10 3 3 39 Malaga 16 8 4 4 25 Real Betis 17 9 1 7 26 Levante 17 8 3 6 21 Real Sociedad 17 7 4 6 24 Rayo Vallecano17 8 1 8 22 Valencia 17 7 3 7 23 Getafe 17 7 3 7 21 Valladolid 17 6 4 7 23 Athletic Bilbao16 6 3 7 21 Real Zaragoza 16 6 1 9 18 Sevilla 17 5 4 8 22 Real Mallorca 17 4 4 9 16 Celta Vigo 17 4 3 10 16 Espanyol 17 3 6 8 19 Osasuna 16 3 5 8 13 Granada 16 3 4 9 11 Deportivo 17 2 6 9 21

32 37 32 36 38 41 44

26 26 23 21 19 19 18

14 33 26 21 27 25 25 23 20 32 30 35

37 32 30 27 27 25 24 22 22 20 18 12

11 16 20 21 21 19 25 21 36 40

32 30 29 23 21 20 14 13 12 5

8 17 33 23 30 24 33 25 30 32

38 32 23 20 20 19 19 17 15 11

13 29 16 31 17 26 34 22 38 35

36 27 23 23 22 19 17 16 14 13

19 17 14 10 28 24 20 32 26 25 21 32 24 26 29 22 26 17 24 39

49 40 33 28 28 27 25 25 24 24 22 21 19 19 16 15 15 14 13 12

Matches on TV (Local Timings)

English Premier League Swansea v Man United Abu Dhabi Sports HD 3 Abu Dhabi Sports HD 5 Chelsea v Aston Villa Abu Dhabi Sports HD 3 Abu Dhabi Sports HD 5



Real slip 16 points behind Barcelona MADRID: Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho was under renewed pressure yesterday after his team lost 3-2 at Malaga, a defeat which left the champions 16 points behind leaders Barcelona. The disappointment was compounded by Mourinho’s controversial decision to drop goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas from the starting line-up. It was the first time in 10 years that the Spanish World Cup winner had been axed with 25-year-old Antonio Adan called up to take the place of the benched veteran. Isco and Roque Santa Cruz, with a double, grabbed the goals for Malaga. Madrid did level at 1-1 with an own-goal by Samuel Sanchez and Karim Benzema made it 3-2 eight minutes from time but the home side clung on to celebrate their first win over Real in 29 years. Malaga’s win left the Costa del Sol club in fourth, two points behind Madrid on 31 points while Atletico Madrid, who beat Celta Vigo 1-0 on Friday, are second, nine points behind Barcelona. Barca had earlier won 3-1 at Valladolid, a timely boost for cancer-stricken coach Tito Vilanova who left hospital Saturday 48 hours after undergoing surgery to remove a tumor in his saliva gland. Isco opened the scoring for Malaga after 48 minutes with a well-placed shot from just outside the area, that Adan could do nothing about, after Joaquin Sanchez had found space on the left. Mourinho brought on Kaka on 63 minutes and his side equalised immediately when the Brazilian’s cross caused chaos in the home defence and Sanchez turned the ball into his own goal. However Malaga’s attacking play was justly rewarded with two further goals, both from the same source. On 72 minutes, Joaquin’s clever back-heel found ex-Manchester City forward Santa Cruz, who had replaced former Real star Javier Saviola, in front of goal and three

SPAIN: Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema from France (right) shoots to score against Malaga’s Martin Demichelis from Argentina, during a Spanish La Liga soccer match.—AP minutes later the Paraguayan finished well from a clever Joaquin pass. Benzema gave Madrid hope but Mourinho’s side never looked like getting anything from the game in the closing stages. Xavi Hernandez, Lionel Messi and Cristian Tello steered La Liga leaders Barcelona to victory at Valladolid. Jordi Roura took charge of Barca in the absence of the 44-year-old Vilanova who will be out of the game for a number of months to undergo radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The win allowed Barcelona to finish 2012 with with 16 wins in 17 games this season, the 2-2 home draw with Real Madrid being the only game in which Barca have dropped points. “The result could not be more

satisfying. We have ended the year very well in a sporting sense and if we add to this the good news about Tito, we can be very happy”, said Roura. “The only way we had to help him was winning the game and, once again, the team’s attitude has been remarkable.” Alexis Sanchez should have opened the scoring as early as the fifth minute, but after running onto a Dani Alves pass, he shot wide with the goal at his mercy. Valladolid goalkeeper Dani Hernandez was called into action on 11 minutes to stop a shot from Messi and Xavi went close with a curling free-kick after 26 minutes. Messi hit a free-kick against the post on 35 minutes after centrehalf Henrique Sereno had blocked Thiago Alcantara on the edge of

the area. Barca took the lead with three minutes of the half remaining when a quick attack saw Messi find full-back Jordi Alba in an advanced position on the left and his cross left Xavi with the easiest of finishes. Messi doubled the lead with a stunning goal on the hour mark. The Argentine put the ball through a defender’s legs during a driving run before hitting a crisp left-footed shot into the corner to finish 2012 on a staggering 91 goals. The capacity 26,500 crowd sportingly applauded Andres Iniesta onto the pitch as a late substitute before Javi Guerra gave the home side a late consolation from close range. But substitute Tello made it three for Barca with his only touch of the game in injury time.—AFP

Inter held by Genoa

BANGKOK: Singapore soccer players celebrate after winning the AFF Suzuki Cup final over Thailand at Supachalasai national stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.—AP

Singapore lifts Suzuki Cup BANGKOK: Singapore lifted the AFF Suzuki Cup for a record fourth time with a 3-2 aggregate win over Thailand, who could only muster a 1-0 second leg victory in Bangkok yesterday despite dominating the game. Singapore took a two-goal advantage over Thailand and clung on despite nearrelentless pressure from the spirited home side who were left to rue their dismal 1-3 first leg loss in the city-state on Wednesday. Desperate to make amends Thailand’s War Elephants threw everything at the visitors, with a bullet header from Kirati Keawsombut just before half-time giving them hope of securing a victory in front of fevered home support. But they could not find a second goal to take the game into extra-time, with Singapore’s defence resolute in the face of wave after wave of Thai attacks. It was an impressive third cup victory for their coach Radojko Avramovic, who guided Singapore to the 2004 and 2007 titles. But he will inevitably face criticism for negative tactics despite a pre-match vow to go for the jugular in Thailand. In reality his side barely registered a shot in the Supachalasai Stadium and were guilty of blatant time-wasting throughout as they set out to defend their lead. “In the end we deserved to win, because we scored three goals,” an unrepentant Avramovic said after the game, which will be his last in charge. “It was a long, hard campaign. Thailand were not the losers today, we won at home and they won here, but the difference is that we had some luck.” Baihakki Khaizan, who scored the

killer third goal in Singapore on Wednesday, starred for the visitors, making a series of key blocks and headers at the heart of the defence to keep the plucky Thai front line-including the prolific Teerasil Dangda-at bay. He was helped by his goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud who made a vital save minutes from the end after substitute Chanathip Songkrasin slalomed into the box before unleashing a shot which would have taken the final into added time. “They all gave 100 percent but it was just not quite enough. I don’t like to come to second but I’m proud of it,” said Thailand’s German coach Winfried Schafer. “This team was fantastic and everybody can see Thailand has enough talent.” Thailand, who have been runnersup three times in the last four years, probed throughout the first-half without making a breakthrough, hitting the bar and frequently finding space out wide to cross into the packed box. Kirati’s goal came after 15 minutes of pressure, powering in a header from a right side corner which sparked delirium in the stands as a giant Thai tricolore cascaded down one stand and smoke from flares wafted over the pitch. But they could not find the second despite the jinking runs of Jakkapan Pornsai, or the pin-point crossing of Piyaphon Buntao from right midfield. Ultimately the Lions had their dominant first-leg performance to thank for their historic win, with goals from Mustafic Fahruddin, Khairul Amri and Khaizan leaving Thailand with too much to do.—AFP

ROME: Inter Milan fell further behind Serie A leaders Juventus yesterday after being held 1-1 at home to struggling Genoa. Inter, nine points behind the defending champions who beat Cagliari 3-1 on Friday, had to rely on a goal from Argentinian veteran Esteban Cambiasso five minutes from time to rescue a point. Genoa’s Ciro Immobile had given the visitors the lead in the 77th minute with an exquisite shot with the outside of his right foot. Cambiasso headed the leveller after being set up by Italian forward Antonio Cassano. The hosts should have stolen all three points in the final minute of normal time but for a remarkable miss by 19-yearold Croatian Marko Livaja, who missed an open goal and hit the post. The point could ease the pressure on Genoa coach Luigi Delneri, though, they remain second from bottom and have taken just five points since he took over on October 22. “We didn’t play very well in the first half but after the break we had a number of chances we were unable to put away,” said Cambiasso. “We came back by digging really deep, maybe the football wasn’t that pretty but we showed belief.” Lazio later leapfrogged Inter into second place, eight points behind Juventus, after edging Genoa’s city rivals Sampdoria 1-0 with a goal by Brazilian midfielder Hernanes to take their tally to 17 points from their last 21. Despite their impressive run of form, Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic insisted that his side were not even thinking of catching Juventus. “Are we setting our sights on Juventus? No, we are looking only at Lazio. Our ambition must be to always improve and be convincing,” he said. “This Lazio has done well, but not enough to be a contender to Juventus.” Napoli got back to winning waysafter two defeats to Bologna in four days in Serie A and then the Italian Cup-beating bottom side Siena 2-0 with late goals from Christian Maggio, who was set up by Slovakian Marek Hamsik, in the 86th minute and Edinson Cavani who scored his 13th of the season from the penalty spot in the 90th minute. Juventus needed two goals in stoppage time to seal a come-from-behind 3-1 win at Cagliari on Friday. Cagliari, just a point above the relegation zone, went ahead after 16 minutes through a Mauricio Pinilla penalty awarded after Arturo Vidal had chopped down Marco Sau in the box. In a contentious game, Cagliari played the last 30 minutes a man short after the sending off of Davide Astori, who had already been booked, for a foul on Sebastian Giovinco. Alessandro Matri, playing against his old club, levelled for Juventus 10 minutes later and added another in the second minute of injury time. Mirko Vucinic put away the third in the fifth minute of time added on. “I have waited for this moment for a long time. My morale had gone down because I wasn’t scoring but I always believed in myself,” said Matri, who hadn’t found the back of the net since September 29.—AFP

MILAN: Genoa goalkeeper Sebastian Frey, of France, saves on an attempt to score by Inter Milan forward Rodrigo Palacio, of Argentina, during a Serie A soccer match.—AP

Arsenal back on track as Arteta sinks Wigan

T’wolves get past Thunder




Vettel takes triple in year of surprises

Page 17

LONDON: Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta (centre) jumps for the ball against Reading’s Pavel Pogrebnyak during their English Premier League soccer match at The Etihad Stadium.—AP

Barry keeps City in title hunt Man City 1

Reading 0 MANCHESTER: Gareth Barry scored a controversial late winner as Manchester City kept in touch with Manchester United at the top of the Premier League after a 10 victory over struggling Reading yesterday. Barry rose to head in David Silva’s cross in the third minute of stoppage-time,

leaving Reading to protest furiously that the England midfielder had climbed over his marker Nicky Shorey before scoring. Not for the first time this season Roberto Mancini’s men laboured to turn their possession into chances, but the win at least moved them within three points of leaders United, who travel to Swansea today. Returning to Eastlands for the first time since seeing a two-year unbeaten home league record come to an end in the Manchester derby, City should have decided the game during the first half. Sergio Aguero might have won a penalty after 10 minutes when he breezed to the by-line, being tripped by Adrian

Mariappa in the process, but elected to stay on his feet and won only a corner from his far-post cross. Silva then collected a pass from Carlos Tevez and saw his shot deflected behind. Barry’s cross was laid off superbly by Aguero for Tevez whose near-post strike was well saved by keeper Adam Federici, when the City forward should have arguably been more clinical. City really should have ended the home fans’ frustration after 34 minutes when neat passing play between Tevez and Silva ended with the former picking out Barry with a cross which the England midfielder headed too close to Federici. Pablo Zabaleta went close after 41

minutes when his shot hit Jem Karacan and looped over the keeper, landing on the roof of the net. The second half opened with Zabaleta required to head clear a dangerous cross from Karacan and, after 53 minutes, Ian Harte’s corner was met by Alex Pearce’s powerful leap and a header which just cleared the City bar. But, once more, the traffic flowed in one direction only. Tevez was found in the area by Zabaleta’s pass, shooting disappointingly into the side-netting soon after, and Tevez’s 18-yard free-kick might have curled in at the far post had Federici not made an emphatic punched clearance. Mancini brought on Edin Dzeko, the

Pienaar goal helps Everton go fourth

after 75 minutes when Reading might have claimed the most implausible opening goal. Pavel Pogrebnyak pounced on an error by Kolo Toure and surged down the left before crossing into the City area, where Matija Nastasic appeared to handle as he attempted to intercept. The visitors appealed for a penalty before Jimmy Kebe picked out Pogrebnyak whose deflected shot was easily saved. As City pushed forward relentlessly, Kebe launched a late counter-attack and should have done better in his attempts to find Pogrebnyak in a two-on-one situation, a miss that proved especially costly given the late drama.—AFP

Redknapp blasts over-paid flops Newcastle 1

performances to match his salary. “He didn’t want to be on the bench and didn’t want to be a substitute, so he went home,” Redknapp said. “He has been fined two weeks’ wages, £130,000. Not too bad for two weeks, decent isn’t it? Not too bad for playing on a Saturday, it’s okay.” —AFP


West Ham 1

Everton 2

LONDON: South Africa midfielder Steven Pienaar lifted Everton into fourth place in the Premier League as his team came from behind to win 2-1 at West Ham yesterday. David Moyes’ side climbed above Chelsea and Tottenham into the final Champions League berth thanks to Pienaar’s second half winner after Victor Anichebe had cancelled out Carlton Cole’s early opener for the Hammers. Everton enjoyed a slice of good fortune as West Ham had Cole controversially sent off soon after Anichebe’s equaliser. Referee Anthony Taylor also dismissed Everton midfielder Darron Gibson in stoppage-time, but it was too late to stop the visitors taking the points. Everton, without suspended star midfielder Marouane Fellaini, went close early on when Leighton Baines’ free-kick was headed over by Sylvain Distin. Baines produced another fine set-piece three minutes later, his corner headed home by Leon Osman but ruled out

scorer of so many vital goals off the bench for the City this season, in place of defensive midfielder Javi Garcia just before the hour mark, leaving City with four frontline strikers in their ranks. Dzeko might have made an immediate impact, after 62 minutes, when Zabaleta worked his way to the by-line but the fullback’s cross was frustratingly behind the substitute who had an open net at his mercy. The Bosnian forward again showed his aerial threat after 65 minutes, meeting Silva’s corner with a trademark, powerful header which again threatened, but ultimately missed, the Reading goal. City could count themselves lucky, however,

LONDON: West Ham United’s Modibo Maiga (right) competes with Everton’s Darron Gibson during their English Premier League soccer match at Upton Park.—AP

seemingly for Anichebe’s block on Jussi Jaaskelainen. Everton’s players were furious and their anger only increased when Cole fired West Ham in front two minutes later, the striker cutting inside the recalled Johnny Heitinga far too easily before cracking in a low drive from the edge of the box. Nikica Jelavic got his timing all wrong again four minutes after half-time when a rare mistake from James Collins saw the ball ricochet through to the Everton striker, who could only send it straight at Jaaskelainen. But West Ham forward Modibo Maiga was booked for pushing Pienaar over in the 64th minute and, from the resultant

free-kick, the ball was worked left to the South African, whose cross was glanced home by Anichebe for his first goal in three months. Just three minutes later Cole hung his leg out in a bid to control a dropping ball and made contact with Baines, prompting Taylor to show a straight red card. Everton had the momentum now and in the 73rd minute Osman’s cross inadvertently played against Pienaar by Kevin Nolan before trickling into the net. Nolan was unable to prod home a dramatic equaliser from a good position as West Ham tried to salvage a point, then Gibson saw red for crashing into Mark Noble in stoppage-time in a frantic finale.—AFP

NEWCASTLE: QPR manager Harry Redknapp has slammed his QPR flops as over-paid under-achievers after the west London side’s 1-0 defeat at Newcastle yesterday. Redknapp was seething with his players in the aftermath of his first defeat since officially taking over from Mark Hughes last month and the former Tottenham boss claimed too many of his squad aren’t earning their vast salaries. Backed by QPR’s Malaysian owner Tony Fernandes, Hughes, who was sacked to make way for Redknapp, embarked on a pre-season spending spree that saw a host of big name players, including Jose Bosingwa, Esteban Granero, Julio Cesar and Andrew Johnson, arrive at Loftus Road on high wages. But those stars have failed to repay the club’s investment and will reach Christmas second bottom of the Premier League with just one win from 18 matches. “There are a lot of players at this club who earn far too much money for what they are; far, far, far too much money for their ability and what they give to the club,” Redknapp said. “I don’t really want to see the owners have their pants taken down like they have in the past. There’s a lot of agents made money out of them. “I fined a player last week and he was earning more than any player earned at Tottenham. “You shouldn’t be paying massive wages when you’ve got a stadium that holds 18,000 people. “This club (Newcastle) holds 52,000 and most of their players will be nowhere near some of the wages some of the players are earning here (at QPR).” Redknapp also confirmed that Portugal right-back Bosingwa had been fined a fortnight’s wages after refusing to sit on the bench for last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Fulham. Bosingwa signed from Chelsea in pre-season on a big-money contract but has so far failed to deliver the

NEWCASTLE: Queens Park Rangers’ Argentinian midfielder Alejandro Faurlin (left) vies with Newcastle United’s English midfielder James Perch (right) during the English Premier League football match.—AFP

Kuwait budget surplus to reach KD11-13bn Page 23

The US ‘fiscal cliff’ disaster of John Boehner Page 24


China to open longest high-speed rail line

Xerox Kuwait supplies printing technologies to Four Films Page 26

Page 22

WASHINGTON: Reporters try to get a question in as President Barack Obama leaves the podium after speaking about the fiscal cliff in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington on Friday.—AP

Obama urges scaled-back ‘fiscal cliff’ package Lawmakers leave for Xmas holidays without deal WASHINGTON: Democrat and Republican lawmakers mulled their next move yesterday after leaving Washington for the Christmas holidays without reaching agreement on averting a year-end fiscal crisis that threatens Americans with stiff tax hikes and drastic budget cuts. On Friday, US President Barack Obama urged lawmakers to pass a scaled-down tax package to avert the so-call fiscal cliff. Obama said he still wanted a comprehensive and large deficit-cutting bill to put the US economy on the path to long-term prosperity, but that effort stalled when talks broke down between the White House and House Republicans this week. So to avoid automatic and massive spending cuts and tax hikes due to kick in on all Americans on January 1, Obama called for a stop-gap bill to protect middle-class tax payers and to avert what has been dubbed the

“fiscal cliff.” “There is absolutely no reason, none, not to protect these Americans from a tax hike. At the very least, let’s agree right now on what we already agree on. Let’s get that done.” Obama said he met Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid and spoke to Republican House speaker John Boehner on the phone to discuss a fall-back plan, though stressed he still believed a big compromise was possible. He called on Congress to next week produce a package that at a minimum prevents a tax hike on the middle class, would extend unemployment insurance and which lays the groundwork for further deficit reduction next year. The move would still satisfy his demand to raise taxes on the richest Americans, as all Bush-era taxes will go up on January 1, and Obama only envisions extending the lower rates for middle class earners. “Everybody can cool off, everybody can drink some egg nog, have some Christmas cookies, sing some

Christmas carols,” Obama said. “Call me a hopeless optimist, but I actually still think that we can get it done,” said Obama, who will spend Christmas in his native Hawaii, but told reporters he would be back in Washington next week. Obama’s suggestion would extend tax breaks to 98 percent of Americans — those earning below $250,000 a year. In talks with Boehner on a larger compromise, the president had offered to raise that threshold to $400,000. Obama seemed frustrated that Republicans were not willing to offer him a compromise after, in his eyes, he made major concessions to his opponents. “Nobody gets 100 percent of what they want,” Obama said. On Thursday, Republicans rejected a bid by Boehner to pass a backup bill to solve the crisis, leaving Washington in turmoil, markets spooked and renewing fears that America’s political gridlock could spark a

recession. Boehner’s spokesman Brendan Buck accused Obama of failing to offer any solution to the year-end crisis so far. “Speaker Boehner will return to Washington following the holiday, ready to find a solution that can pass both houses of Congress,” he said. Boehner earlier said he remained committed to a grand bargain with Obama that would reform the US tax code and slash spending, notably in entitlement programs like Medicare healthcare for the elderly. “How we get there, God only knows,” Boehner said. Obama’s aides privately say they doubt that conservative deficit hawks, who oppose raising taxes as a matter of principle, will ever back a deal agreed with the president. In that case, Boehner could opt to pass a compromise in the House with the help of votes from minority Democrats-but that could undermine his position as speaker with his own party.

Three largest economies struggled in eventful 2012 WASHINGTON: This would be the year when the global economy finally regained its vigor. At least that’s what many had hoped. It didn’t happen. The three largest economies the United States, China and Japan struggled again in 2012. The 17 countries that use the euro endured a third painful year in their financial crisis and slid into recession. Emerging economies slowed. President Barack Obama defied predictions by sailing to re-election. And his landmark health care plan surprisingly survived Supreme Court review. Obama’s re-election triggered a face-off with Republicans over averting the “fiscal cliff” - the drastic spending cuts and tax increases that were set to kick in Jan 1. The tech world dueled over smartphones and tablets and saw Facebook’s IPO sour as fast as it had sizzled. The housing market inched toward recovery. And Americans suffered both a catastrophic drought and a catastrophic superstorm. Least surprisingly, perhaps, another gallery of rogues brought investigative scrutiny to Wall Street. The achingly slow global economic recovery was chosen as the top business story of the year by business editors at The

Associated Press. The US presidential election came in second, followed by the Supreme Court’s upholding Obama’s health-care plan. Worldwide growth was slack again in 2012. The global economy grew just 3.3 percent, down from 3.8 percent in 2011 and 5.1 percent in 2010, the International Monetary Fund estimates. The US economy, the world’s largest, failed to gain traction. Five years after a recession seized the economy and more than three years after it ended, growth in the United States was only about 2 percent. Unemployment remained a high 7.7 percent. Europe fared worse. Its financial crisis did stabilize, thanks in part to the European Central Bank’s plan to buy government bonds to help countries manage their debts. But the euro alliance sank into recession. Europeans, in turn, held back China, the world’s No 2 economy, by cutting back on Chinese goods. China’s economy grew at a 7.4 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter. Though a scorching pace for developed countries, that marked a 31/2year low for China. And at year’s end, Japan’s economy, the world’s thirdlargest, was shrinking. — AP

In the search for a comprehensive bill, Boehner has made an offer to Obama that would raise $1 trillion in tax revenue-mostly through closing loopholes and ending certain deductions-and another $1 trillion in spending cuts, including in some social programs like Medicare. “I told the president on Monday these were my bottom lines,” Boehner said. The White House has described its offer as $1.2 trillion in tax revenues and nearly $1 trillion in spending cuts, although Republicans dispute whether all of the austerity measures are real. One way to make a tax hike on the wealthy more palatable for Republicans is to not make them vote for one at all. Should the new year arrive with no deal, taxes will automatically rise for everyone. Congress could then technically vote to lower taxes on the middle class, something conservatives might be more willing to do. — AFP

Polls: Greeks trust govt, pessimistic over future

MEGEVE, France: People walk in a street of the French luxury ski resort of Megeve, French Alps. — AFP

ATHENS: Greeks largely trust their government despite a painful new austerity deal, but remain heavily pessimistic about the future, according to polls published in two newspapers yesterday. A survey published in the Typos tis Kyriakis daily revealed that 45 percent trust the country’s current coalition government to deal with the economic crisis, compared to around 24 percent who would prefer the main opposition Syriza party to take the reins. The same poll, conducted by the Rass company, showed that 63 percent believe Greece must remain in the euro-zone at all costs, compared to 36 percent who do not. Despite protests against the latest austerity package’s tough cuts and reforms, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras won a surprising 48 percent of backing, compared to 47 percent of negative reviews. But Greeks remain mostly pessimistic about the future, according to another poll carried out by the Marc company on behalf of the Ethnos daily. More than 64 percent of those surveyed believe the country’s situation will worsen in 2013, while only 20 percent believe things will improve. Sixty-seven percent also doubted that the government’s reforms would lead to economic growth. European leaders decided last week to unblock a total of 49.1 billion euros ($64.7 billion) from the country’s outstanding financial assistance package by early next year in return for a new austerity deal in Athens. The austerity package has caused the three-party coalition government to lose a considerable portion of its parliamentary majority. — AFP


BUSINESS weekly report

Five reasons professionals quit their jobs By Lama Ataya ou know you are not a quitter, never were, never will be, but every now and then you may find yourself staring at the office front door, wishing you could put it behind you for good. Here are six things that career experts at, the Middle East’s #1 jobsite suggest you consider if you are seriously thinking of leaving your job without another career prospect at hand.


BEIJING: A high-speed train departs a platform in Hebei province south of Beijing yesterday. China showed off the final link of the world’s longest high-speed rail route, set to open on December 26, stretching from Beijing to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. — AFP

BEIJING: A stewardess carries tea for journalists aboard a high-speed train in Hebei province south of Beijing yesterday. — AFP

China to open longest high-speed rail line Network to connect Beijing and Guangzhou BEIJING/ZHENGZHOU: China will open the world’s longest high-speed rail line next week when a link between Beijing and the southern metropolis of Guangzhou is inaugurated, officials said yesterday, underscoring its commitment to a trouble-plagued transport scheme. The 2,298-km (1,428-mile) line, parts of which are already in operation, will begin full service on Wednesday, halving travel time to less than 10 hours on trains which will run at 300 kph (186 mph). The new route offers a chance for China’s railways ministry, which has been dogged by scandals and missteps, to redeem itself. A July 2011 crash of a high-speed train killed 40 people and raised concerns about the safety of the fast-growing network and threatened plans to export high-speed technology. “We have developed a full range of effective measures to manage safety,” Zhou Li, head of the ministry’s science and technology department, told reporters on a trial run from Beijing to the central city of Zhengzhou.

“We can control safety management,” he added. Last year’s accident near the booming eastern coastal city of Wenzhou occurred when a high-speed train rammed into another stranded on the track after being hit by lightning. Rail investment slowed sharply in the wake of that accident and state media reported earlier this year that the government had cut planned railway investment by 500 billion yuan ($80.27 billion) to 2.3 trillion yuan under a five-year plan to 2015. But that may reflect cuts that have already taken place as the Ministry of Railways has raised its planned investment budget three times this year as part of government efforts to bolster a slowing economy. The ministry plans to spend a total of 630 billion yuan in 2012 and has been given clearance to sell more bonds to finance the investments - one of the few outright spending commitments made by the central government in a slew of project approvals worth $157 billion which have not specified how they will be funded. The approvals include 25 rail invest-

ments, state media say. Despite its expanding network, the Ministry of Railways struggles to make money. It suffered an after-tax loss of 8.8 billion yuan in the first half of 2012 in the face of rising operating costs and mounting debts. However, the government says it remained committed to building highspeed railways between its major cities, with China eventually planning to run them into Russia and down to Southeast Asia. “High-speed railways are needed for national development, for the people and for regional communication. Many countries have boosted their economies by developing high-speed rail,” Zhou said. China said in May it would open up the railway industry to private investment on an unprecedented scale, but private investors have been skeptical. The need for funding is acute. China still needs billions more in rail investment to remove bottlenecks in cargo transport, ease overcrowding in passenger transport and develop commuter lines in its sprawling megacities. — Reuters

Iraq oil output hits 3.2m bpd, targets 4 million for 2014 CAIRO: Iraq’s oil production has exceeded 3.2 million barrels a day (b/d) so far this month and it hopes to hit capacity of 4 million b/d in 2014, its Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi said yesterday. “Next year we’re planning production close to 3.7 (million b/d),” he added in remarks to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC). Iraq, rebuilding its energy industry after decades of war and sanctions, has emerged as the second biggest producer

in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), leading to rivalry with top producer Saudi Arabia. The two countries have backed different candidates to succeed Libya’s Abdullah alBadri as OPEC secretary general. His term was extended until the end of next year. “There will be another debate in the first months of the new year... (the decision) should be by the end of May 2013,” Luaibi said. Saudi Arabia has also pressed for Iraq to join any future rounds of supply curbs that OPEC makes to support prices if ener-

gy markets weaken. Baghdad has resisted this, insisting it should first regain the 4 million b/d output capacity it lost during the 1980-88 war with Iran, a decade of harsh sanctions in the 1990s and civil war since 2003. “We haven’t reached the quota that was set over 40 years ago. We haven’t reached it yet,” Luaibi said. “The issue of quotas will for sure need to be reviewed based on many indicators such as production capacities and reserves and others. It is known that Iraq was deprived for many years because of the wars.” — Reuters

1. Managers change Survey after survey shows that the prime reason for professionals quitting their job is a poor relationship with a direct manager. In fact results from’s poll on ‘Reward Programs and Employee Engagement’ showed that 8.5% of professionals said that a good relationship with their manager or supervisor is what they most need to make them feel more engaged at work. Also 7.2% of professionals claimed what they need most to succeed in their career is “a better boss”. If you are in a company you respect, are well compensated and find the work you are doing meaningful, it is probably well worth your while to make a serious effort to address the issues and salvage that relationship via. constructive win-win dialogue and open communications, before you think about throwing in the towel. Remember also that bosses leave companies, change roles and are promoted; so if the relationship is bearable, the bigger picture is attractive and your long-term interests can be protected, you may want to put up with the less than exemplary management style. 2. Your lifestyle isn’t as healthy as it could be Sometimes you overlook the real elephant in the room. Is the source of your unhappiness really the job? It may well be that the real source of your discontent lies in a poor diet or exercise regime or a generally unhealthy lifestyle. You may want to revisit your lifestyle holistically and rebalance your physical and mental spaces and habits and activities before you blame your job fully for your dissatisfaction.’s recent ‘Work-Life Balance in the MENA’ poll shows that 57% of professionals admit that they are unable to spend enough time exercising. In a separate poll, 31.7% of professionals feel that their eating habits are not very healthy at work (MENA Professionals Health and Eating Habits poll). 3. There is still some learning in it for you Have you really learned all there is to learn on the job? If the answer is yes, consider you may perhaps be limited only by the boundaries of your own initiative and imagination. If the answer is that there is still plenty of learning potential, you may want to really reassess the value of that learning to you before you consider quitting. Many jobseekers, particularly in early stages of their career, or those considering

career transitions, will actually pay for essential learning, especially if it is imparted from respected industry veterans and market practitioners, and will even work for free if the learning gradient is steep and the potential for growth and visibility is attractive. In a poll, over 30% of polled professionals indicated what is most needed to succeed in ones career is “willingness to learn” and 21% of polled respondents indicated what they most want in their career is “to be known and respected as a true expert” in their field. 4. You own your job You may have a boss, but then so does your boss, and almost every other boss on the planet, and no one really controls your job description, performance and upward trajectory in the long run as much as you do. If you can be at peace with the fact that you are master of your own destiny, you can amend your performance and expectations. With a little patience, planning, and professional communication you can make pretty much what you like of your job. 5. The grass is not always greener on the other side If you are leaving a job without truly understanding the reasons you are leaving and without a constructive game-plan for making the next career round better, you may well encounter the very same problems all over again. Understand exactly what irked you and how you will avoid that in the future before you seek to take the plunge again. Dig below the surface; it sometimes isn’t what it seemed at face value and it sometimes is as much about you as it is about external factors. Sometimes taking a few assessment tests or psychometric tests is a good idea to reassess and reevaluate your career game plan and view matters with a fresh perspective. 6. The sun will come out tomorrow Working overtime and around the clock? It may be a productivity issue, a morale issue, a time management issue or simply poor planning on behalf of your seniors; but that doesn’t mean it can’t be sorted out. Results of’s ‘Work-life Balance in the MENA’ poll indicated that 35.4% of professionals very often end up working outside work hours by choice and 27.8% of professionals admit that they work outside work hours due to necessity. If the overtime is chronic, talk to your manager and suggest an alternate solution you would be happy with; if it’s a seasonal or temporary issue, you may want to grin and bear it while you ensure that your efforts are not going in the least bit unnoticed, unappreciated or unrewarded. On the bleakest of work days remind yourself of all the wonderful reasons you took that job in the first place and think of all the different things that inspire you to a better life.

EXCHANGE RATES Commercial Bank of Kuwait US Dollar/KD GB Pound/KD Euro Swiss francs Canadian Dollar Australian DLR Indian rupees Sri Lanka Rupee UAE dirhams Bahraini dinars Jordanian dinar Saudi riyals Omani riyals Egyptian pounds

.2740000 .4510000 .3650000 .3010000 .2830000 .2940000 .0040000 .0020000 .0762300 .7426870 .3880000 .0720000 .7280720 .0430000

CUSTOMER TRANSFER RATES US Dollar/KD .2808000 GB Pound/KD .4532670 Euro .3673990 Swiss francs .3031740 Canadian dollars .2852790 Danish Kroner .0492470 Swedish Kroner .0420500 Australian dlr .2963280 Hong Kong dlr .0362310 Singapore dlr .2299190 Japanese yen .0033600 Indian Rs/KD .0000000 Sri Lanka rupee .0000000 Pakistan rupee .0000000 Bangladesh taka .0000000 UAE dirhams .0764810 Bahraini dinars .7451240 Jordanian dinar .0000000 Saudi Riyal/KD .0749000 Omani riyals .7296350 Philippine Peso .0000000

Al-Muzaini Exchange Co. ASIAN COUNTRIES

Japanese Yen Indian Rupees Pakistani Rupees Srilankan Rupees Nepali Rupees Singapore Dollar Hongkong Dollar Bangladesh Taka Philippine Peso Thai Baht Irani Riyal - transfer Irani Riyal - cash

3.342 5.145 2.871 2.186 3.220 231.580 36.335 3.455 6.852 9.205 0.271 0.273

.2840000 .4620000 .3740000 .3120000 .2930000 .3030000 .0067500 .0035000 .0769960 .7501510 .4060000 .0770000 .7353900 .0510000 .2829000 .4566570 .3701460 .3054420 .2874120 .0496150 .0423650 .2985440 .0365020 .2316380 .0033850 .0052480 .0022060 .0029160 .0035230 .0770530 .7506970 .4001410 .0754600 .7350920 .0069410

Saudi Riyal Qatari Riyal Omani Riyal Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham

GCC COUNTRIES 75.123 77.405 731.710 748.240 76.709

ARAB COUNTRIES Egyptian Pound - Cash 47.700 Egyptian Pound - Transfer 45.561 Yemen Riyal/for 1000 1.314 Tunisian Dinar 181.970 Jordanian Dinar 397.380 Lebanese Lira/for 1000 1.890 Syrian Lier 3.060 Morocco Dirham 33.928 EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer 281.600 Euro 374.250 Sterling Pound 459.570 Canadian dollar 286.470 Turkish lire 158.390 Swiss Franc 309.960 Australian dollar 297.090 US Dollar Buying 280.400 GOLD 319.000 161.000 83.500

20 Gram 10 Gram 5 Gram

Australian dollar Bahraini dinar Bangladeshi taka Canadian dollar Cyprus pound Czek koruna Danish krone Deutsche Mark Egyptian pound Euro Cash Hongkong dollar Indian rupees Indonesia Iranian tuman Iraqi dinar Japanese yen Jordanian dinar Lebanese pound Malaysian ringgit Morocco dirham Nepalese Rupees New Zealand dollar Nigeria


301.000 750.090 3.690 289.600 553.900 46.000 50.400 167.800 47.900 375.300 37.080 5.490 0.032 0.161 0.242 3.480 399.700 0.191 94.000 45.500 4.340 242.200 1.827

51.400 732.630 3.080 7.220 78.020 75.310 232.810 35.230 2.686 459.700 43.200 310.800 3.400 9.580 198.263 76.900 282.400 1.360

732.450 2.915 6.886 77.590 75.310 232.810 35.230 2.192 457.700 309.300 3.400 9.400 76.800 282.000

GOLD 1,807.790

10 Tola Sterling Pound US Dollar



TRAVELLER’S CHEQUE 457.700 282.000


300.100 750.090 3.497 288.100

232.800 45.830 373.800 36.930 5.210 0.031


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

301.89 290.16 311.87 373.94 281.25 458.58 3.45 3.479 5.173 2.194 3.236 2.886 76.64 748.87 45.66 400.69 731.98 77.67 75.21


300.000 289.000 311.000 372.250 282.500 458.500 3.690 3.620 5.460 2.330 3.600 3.100 77.200 748.000 47.700 398.500 734.000 77.850 75.500

Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd 399.660 0.190 95.900 3.260 240.700

Rate for Transfer

US Dollar Canadian Dollar Sterling Pound Euro

Selling Rate

281.350 284.945 458.465 372.425

Swiss Frank Bahrain Dinar UAE Dirhams Qatari Riyals Saudi Riyals Jordanian Dinar Egyptian Pound Sri Lankan Rupees Indian Rupees Pakistani Rupees Bangladesh Taka Philippines Pesso Cyprus pound Japanese Yen Thai Bhat Syrian Pound Nepalese Rupees Malaysian Ringgit

308.480 744.865 76.580 77.225 74.990 396.605 45.571 2.182 5.134 2.881 3.472 6.846 690.150 4.340 9.285 4.365 3.305 92.155

Kuwait Bahrain Intl Exchange Co.

UAE Exchange Centre WLL

Bahrain Exchange Company COUNTRY

Norwegian krone Omani Riyal Pakistani rupees Philippine peso Qatari riyal Saudi riyal Singapore dollar South Africa Sri Lankan rupees Sterling pound Swedish krona Swiss franc Syrian pound Thai bhat Tunisian dollar UAE dirham U.S. dollars Yemeni Riyal

Rate per 1000 (Tran)

US Dollar Pak Rupees Indian Rupees Sri Lankan Rupees Bangladesh Taka Philippines Peso UAE Dirhams Saudi Riyals Bahraini Dinars Egyptian Pounds Pound Sterling Indonesian Rupiah Yemeni Riyal Euro Canadian Dollars Nepali rupee

281.600 2.884 5.191 2.205 3.458 6.885 76.775 75.250 748.600 45.619 459.400 2.990 1.550 375.000 291.600 3.265

Al Mulla Exchange Currency

Transfer Rate (Per 1000)

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

281.000 374.200 459.200 286.150 3.370 5.105 45.558 2.230 3.480 6.830 2.885 748.200 76.500 75.000



Kuwait budget surplus to reach KD11-13bn NBK ECONOMIC REPORT KUWAIT: After the volatility seen for much of the year, November was a quieter month for crude oil prices. The price of Kuwait Export Crude (KEC) traded in the narrow range of $105 to $108 per barrel (pb) for most of the month, with modest upward pressure in the middle of the month fading out by early December. Brent crude traded in a similarly narrow range of $108-111 pb for most of November. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) - the benchmark US blend - remained at a significant discount, at $85-$90. The average November WTI spread below Brent reached a 2012 record of $23. Against KEC, it reached an all-time high of $20. The broad stability of prices can be linked to a receding - for now at least of both the European sovereign debt crisis and geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. But these issues have not been resolved, and either could emerge as a dominant market theme in early 2013. Attention has now shifted to the US ‘fiscal cliff’, which could potentially tip the US economy into recession next year. But even here, the complexity of the negotiations and the seeming intransigence of both sides of the debate have encouraged market participants to adopt a wait-and-see approach. Meanwhile, oil market fundamentals remain evenly balanced. Although a loosening of the supply-demand balance is widely anticipated for 2013, the extent of the shift is uncertain. One key factor in this is OPEC policy. At the organization’s meeting on December 12th it decided to leave its overall production levels unchanged - officially at least. Its ability to make a coordinated and decisive policy move is complicated by internal political dynamics as

well as external forces affecting some of its members’ output. These include Baghdad-Kurdistan relations in Iraq, international sanctions on Iran and supply disruptions in some African states. The consensus is that OPEC will need to cut output significantly to prevent prices from falling next year. Oil demand outlook A weak global economy means that oil demand growth is seen improving only slightly in 2013, following a modest rise in 2012. Analysts expect incremental oil demand of around 0.7 to 0.9 million barrels per day (mbpd), or 0.8% to 0.9%, up from 0.7 to 0.8 mbpd this year. Surprisingly, the improvement comes from OECD markets where demand - though still seen falling - is expected to do so at a slower pace than in 2012. Growth in emerging economies on the other hand, is positive at 1 mbpd or more, but expected to slow. A combination of fiscal austerity, structurally weak growth in the euro-zone, banking sector weakness, and growth in alternative fuels are forecast to undermine oil demand in developed markets for the foreseeable future. In emerging markets, however, there is still scope for oil demand growth to remain solid, particularly through the use of looser policy to offset weakness in major export markets. Oil supply outlook Crude output of the OPEC-11 (i.e. excluding Iraq) fell slightly by some 64,000 bpd in October to just under 27.8 mbpd, a 12-month low. The bulk of this decline came from Nigeria, where output plunged to its lowest level in 3 years. This was the second month of 100,000 bpd, or larger,

declines in the country, due to a combination of severe flooding in the oil producing Niger River Delta region and a force majeure declared by Shell following a series of sabotage and vandalism incidents. Iran has also seen significant declines with output falling to 2.6 mbpd in October, almost 1 mbpd lower than a year ago. Iranian oil production levels have now been overtaken by Iraq, Kuwait and more recently the UAE. Elsewhere, there were some considerable production gains, notably in Angola where output was up by 108,000 bpd following the completion of field maintenance work. Total OPEC production (including Iraq) was down for the second consecutive month to just under 31 mbpd. Iraqi oil output, which has seen significant production increases this year, was down only slightly by some 5,000 bpd to 3.2 mbpd. However, data from ‘direct communication’ or official government figures, point to much larger declines of 200,000 bpd. Further expansion of Iraq’s upstream capacity

will depend on the development of key infrastructure projects, which so far have seen slow progress. Following significant increases in the final quarter of this year, non-OPEC supplies are seen rising further by 0.10.3 mbpd in 1Q13. At least one-third of this increase will come from OPEC natural gas liquids (NGLs). Non-OPEC supplies have been driven by the continued surge in North American production. In total, global oil supplies are expected to have risen by more than 2 mbpd this year, and are seen rising more modestly in 2013 as lower OPEC production partially offsets continued increases in non-OPEC supplies. Price projections Our forecast horizon covers the relatively short period to 1Q13. Given soft demand and rising non-OPEC supplies, oil market fundamentals are expected to loosen over this period. Based upon a 0.1 mbpd quarter-on-quarter decline in global oil demand in 1Q13, and a non-OPEC supply increase at the higher end of expectations and a modest

cut in OPEC supply of 0.2 mbpd, global oil inventories are seen rising by a large 1.3 mbpd in the first quarter. In this scenario, the price of KEC is expected to fall in early 2013, but remain close to $100 pb. If, on the other hand, expected cuts in OPEC production are not realized in 1Q13, then stock levels would rise even further to some 1.5 mbpd. In this case, the price of KEC would fall steeply to under $100 pb in 1Q13 and further thereafter. This would subsequently prompt OPEC members to lower production levels before the end of the year. Alternatively, growth in non-OPEC supplies could turn out below expectations in the first quarter - or oil demand could turn out stronger, perhaps receiving a boost from a cold winter. In this case, the price of KEC remains supported at above $100 pb in early 2013 and rises thereafter. Budget projections The three scenarios described above would generate average oil prices of $104 - $105 pb for this fiscal year. Together with high oil production rates, this indicates another bumper year for government budget revenues. Indeed, official figures for the first half of FY2012/13 reveal that revenues reached KD 16.0 billion, above the government’s projection for the entire year. If as we expect, spending comes in 5-10% below the government’s forecast and revenues much higher, this year’s budget surplus could end up between KD 10.8 billion and KD 12.6 billion before allocations to the Reserve Fund for Future Generations (RFFG). This would equate to 22% to 25% of forecast 2012 GDP.

Christmas comes slowly to austerity-hit Europe Shoppers doing more browsing than buying

NICOSIA: A Cypriot woman carrying grocery bags walks past a supermarket in the old city of Nicosia yesterday. Nicosia’s main shopping street Makarios avenue has set up its Christmas lights, but many of its stores have their shutters down and others are practically empty, reflecting Cyprus’s poor economic state.

Dollar up as euro slips on ‘fiscal cliff’ concerns NEW YORK: The US dollar rose against the euro Friday as concerns about the “fiscal cliff” crisis encouraged investors to move away from the common European currency. At about 2200 GMT, the euro stood at $1.3181, down from $1.3241 late Thursday. It also lost against the Japanese yen, reaching 110.05 yen compared to 111.72 a day earlier. The greenback dipped against the yen, edging lower to 84.25 yen from 84.38 late Thursday. The markets are closely monitoring whether Washington can fend off the so-called fiscal cliff, a mix of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect in January that could take the world’s biggest economy back into recession. “Failure to reach a deal would result in a massive fiscal shock to the

economy that would all but certainly result in recession,” Omer Esiner of Commonwealth Foreign Exchange wrote in an analysis. “Ironically, the dollar stands to benefit from the resulting flight to safety if lawmakers fail to reach a deal.” Negotiations between President Barack Obama and top Republican John Boehner on averting the “fiscal cliff” have stalled with just days to go before an end-of-year deadline. On Friday, Obama said he still believed a deal could be reached, asking lawmakers to draw up a scaled-back package to avert the year-end fiscal crisis. In other currencies, the dollar climbed to 0.9164 Swiss francs, while the pound slipped to $1.6167. — AFP

Belize PM says debt deal reached with creditors BELIZE CITY: Belize has reached a deal in principle with creditors to restructure about half of its unpaid debt after “long and arduous” talks, allowing the country to avoid default, officials said Friday. Prime Minister Dean Barrow told a press conference that he would release details about the restructuring of the $544 million bond in the coming days. “The agreement is comprehensive and it is sustainable,” Barrow said. In August, the tiny Central American country of just 330,000 inhabitants missed a $23 million bond payment. In September, it made an $11.7 million interest payment, only about half of what it owed but enough to avoid fullblown default. The government here had proposed rescheduling debt payments over 50 years at a lowered rate of two percent, a position analysts qualified as

extreme. Mark Espat, leader of Belize’s negotiating team on the debt restructuring, explained that details of the deal could not be made public until they were explained to all of Belize’s creditors. Belize-a low-lying, English-speaking nation on Central America’s Caribbean coast-is famous for diving, fishing, hiking and ecotourism. Its foreign debt of $1.1 billion is a drop in the bucket by world standards, but a serious challenge for a country already hit hard by poverty and weak economic growth. The sluggish global economy has taken a toll in Belize, where 25 percent of the economy is linked to tourism. Growth is at two percent. Belize, which aid organizations say has a poverty rate of about 40 percent, became independent from Britain in 1981. — AFP

PARIS: Across Europe, holiday “shoppers” this season are doing more browsing than buying. Retailers remain hopeful for a last-minute burst of Christmas consumerism, and some governments are encouraging it by allowing stores to open today. But with economies across the region slowing and unemployment soaring, analysts say holiday spending in Europe is bound to disappoint for the fourth year in a row. In Rome, some shopkeepers say holiday sales are down 20 percent from last year. In Paris, refurbished second-hand toys are attracting buyers. And in Spain, which has Europe’s highest unemployment rate, some families are contemplating whether to give gifts at all. As in the US, holiday shopping is vital to many businesses: British non-food retailers can make up to 50 percent of their profits in the end-of-year push. In Germany, holiday business accounts for 30 percent of annual toy sales. But the arc of the holiday shopping seasons is a little different in every country. The Dutch open presents on Dec 5, the eve of St Nicholas day and the last night of their “Sinterklaas” celebration. In Spain, many children tear open presents on Jan. 6, when tradition has it the Three Wise Men brought gifts to the baby Jesus. In Britain, France and most of Europe gifts are exchanged on Dec. 25. As the 17-country euro-zone slips back into recession, this festive season may mark a new normal for Europe, analysts say. Gone are the heady days when every holiday season meant a new record breached for sales. Instead, shops will have to fight it out for shoppers, hunting for bargains and quality and willing to wait for both. “Every year it comes later,” said Joachim Stoll, who co-owns Leder-Stoll OHG, a leather and luggage retailer just off the glittering Zeil pedestrian shopping quarter in Frankfurt, Germany. “People wait longer and longer, even after Christmas.” European retailers are crossing their fingers that a boost will still come, as it did this year for the US. There, total sales for the four-day weekend that kicks off the holiday shopping season around Thanksgiving in late November rose 2.7 percent to $22 billion, compared with the same period a year ago, according to ShopperTrak. Sales since then have fallen 4.4 percent compared with last year, ShopperTrak reported Wednesday. Austerity measures implemented to combat the continent’s debt crisis have hit Europe’s economies hard: Nine countries in the 27-member European Union are in recession and unemployment across the region is 10.7 percent. Retail sales across Europe have been on a steady decline since August and have yet to match levels last seen since the start of the Great Recession in 2008. In October, the latest month for which official figures are available, retail sales in the European Union fell 1.1 percent from the previous month and 2.4 percent from the previous year, according to Eurostat. In Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, retail sales fell 3.8 percent in October from the previous year. “After a relentlessly tough year for retailers throughout 2012, many are now bracing themselves as spending doesn’t seem to be

headed for a big step-up at Christmas,” said Shweta Chaudhury of MasterCard SpendingPulse, which estimates total UK retail sales across all payment forms. Many customers may only be drawn out by the very best sales. Some shoppers say they may even start shopping for the 2013 holidays in the new year sales. “There’s this sort of conflicting trend, where retailers are pushing Christmas earlier and earlier each year, but at the same time shoppers are actually delaying their purchases to as late as possible,” said Natalie Berg, global research director at research firm Planet Retail. “Shoppers are very savvy today, and they know that the deals will come.” In an attempt to bolster sales in the run-up to Christmas, leading British department store John Lewis has already started discounts on some items ahead of its usual New Year’s sales. Women’s Armani chinos were discounted 70 percent, and 50 pounds ($80) has been taken off the price of a 479-pound ($780) Bosch washing machine. European officials are also doing their best to encourage shoppers. Italy ended its prohibition on stores opening on Sundays, and stores in Madrid and across France suspended their bans during the holiday season. In Rome, thousands turned out to see Pope Benedict XVI inaugurate the season on Dec. 8 with a prayer at the statue of Mary at the foot of the Spanish Steps in the heart of the city’s posh shopping district. But afterward, there seemed to be more gawking then buying. “We are down about 20 percent from last Christmas season, and this is a rich area,” said Lucia Ruffini, a salesperson in the Pandemonium boutique in Rome’s upscale Parioli neighborhood. “Let’s hope for the (post-Christmas) sales.” Some shoppers, like Omero Petrocchi, have been doing their homework all year. “There are sales, super sales, discounts, super discounts and nothing more. So where I see I can spend less, I snatch (gifts),” he said while browsing on Rome’s chic Via Condotti, where

some of Italy’s most famous designers have shops. “Then I put everything in the closet, so we already have it all for next year.” But in Paris’ upscale Galeries Lafayette department store, discounts were almost nowhere to be found, as shoppers buzzed around a giant Christmas tree in the store’s famed central cupola. A handful of clothing racks and Christmas decorations were marked down, but there were no sales to be had in the bustling toy department. The lack of pre-Christmas sales is pushing some Parisian shoppers across town to the workshop of a non-profit group that fixes up used, donated toys. “These are toys at less than half the price of new ones that are practically new,” said Antoinette Guhl, co-director of ReJoue. But she said that price is just one motivator; many shoppers are also drawn by the fact that association gives jobs and training to the unemployed and is recycling toys that otherwise would have been tossed. “It’s a more responsible purchase.” Bryan Roberts, an analyst with Kantar Retail, warns that it’s hard to generalize about this Christmas in Europe and turnout has been “incredibly patchy.” For instance, in Spain, which has the EU’s highest unemployment rate at 26.2 percent, many were preparing for a more sedate holiday. “We’ll have to see what the mood is among the family to see how much money we have to spend,” said Elsa Barona, 59, an executive with an international food company. Barona said her immediate family - her son, daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend - was still trying to decide what kind of meal to have and whether to give one another gifts; both her son and her daughter’s boyfriend are unemployed. “As I’m divorced, it’s down to me to pay for myself and my close family group, so things are obviously going to be tighter than in the best years.” Victor Simpson and Patricia Thomas in Rome, Harold Heckle in Madrid, David McHugh in Frankfurt, Germany, and Toby Sterling in Amsterdam contributed. — AP

SALEM: Shoppers are seen at a mall in Salem on Friday. Stores are counting on procrastinators for a final holiday sales boost. —AP



The sinking of ‘Plan B’ The US ‘fiscal cliff’ disaster of John Boehner WASHINGTON: Had there been a vote on Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” to avert the so-called US fiscal cliff on Thursday night, it would not have been close. He was probably 40 to 50 votes short of the number he needed to avoid a humiliating defeat at the hands of his own party, according to rough estimates from Republican members of Congress and staff members. It was not for lack of effort. Boehner and his two top deputies, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy, along with other House Republican leaders, tried for three days to muster support for the measure, which would have cut government spending and raised taxes on millionaires to head off across-theboard tax hikes and spending cuts set for January. They failed for a variety of reasons, according to interviews. But chief among them was this: They were asking anti-tax conservatives to take a big risk for no discernable reward. Plan B, as Boehner named his alternative to President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on earnings of $400,000 a year and above, would never become law because the Democratic-controlled Senate would not pass it. Nor was it likely to put pressure on Obama to reach a deal, as Boehner intended. Indeed, based on interviews with Republican members of Congress and some of their staffers, the wonder is not that Plan B crashed and burned, but that Boehner apparently thought - and announced in advance - that it would fly. For Republican members of Congress like John Fleming, it was kind of mystifying. Fleming, of Louisiana, said he was getting emails from people who raise money for campaigns saying, “‘If you support tax increases without significant cuts ... don’t even bother to call me.’ The conservatives and donor class have laid the gauntlet down. They get that their taxes may go up, but they don’t think that there is any reason to make that kind of sacrifice as government spending goes up.”

WASHINGTON: Speaker of the House John Boehner speaks to reporters about the fiscal cliff negotiations at the Capitol in Washington. —AP With Senate Democrats and Obama making floor of the House. “He told them, ‘This is important clear that they would not go along with Boehner’s ... This will empower our position ... this will put Plan B, said Fleming: “Why would we put ourselves Democrats in a difficult position,’” said on record” in favor of “raising taxes for a bill that’s Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a member not going to become law?” of the Republican leadership whose job it was to A staff member to a Republican congressman argue Boehner’s case. expressed the sentiments of some members more “Some of the freshmen members said they had colorfully. “You don’t come out and announce you been contacted frequently and had long conversahave the votes when you do not have the votes,” tions,” said Fleming. “As far as anyone complaining she said. “It’s like saying ‘Here’s the flaming bag of about being threatened or berated, I never heard poo. We’re going to leave it on your doorstep and anything like this,” he said. run.’ That doesn’t look like you’re a leader.” Fleming, a supporter of the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement, said that McCarthy, the thirdLeadership Lobbying ranking Republican in the House, contacted him to Boehner had talked with members one-on-one find out why he was opposing the leadership. “He in his Capitol office, on the telephone and on the asked me why I was voting (no),” Fleming said. “I

gave him my interpretation. He listened very patiently. He came back with a couple of responses. At the end he had to admit some of my points were good points, that this bill would not do some of the things that needed to be done.” But, Cole said, dozens of members convinced themselves that Boehner’s bill amounted to a tax hike despite evidence to the contrary. “Some people really really really really talked themselves into believing it was a tax increase even though Grover Norquist, of all people, said it wasn’t,” said Cole, referring to the anti-tax activist responsible for “the pledge” not to raise taxes that most Republicans sign. “That is like me talking myself into believing something is a sin even though the Pope tells me it is not,” Cole said. Representative Patrick Tiberi, a 12-year veteran of the House who serves on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, said the opposition was not just from conservatives. “It was a very mixed bag of people,” he said. “Some members determined that it was politically easier to vote on this in January when people realize that their taxes have gone up, rather than now. For others, it wasn’t the right policy.” “I think we’re going to go over the cliff,” Tiberi said, adding, “I don’t see something getting done.” Confidence in public Boehner and Cantor publicly voiced confidence on Thursday that they could gather enough votes to pass the bill. “I never saw a football coach who went into a game saying ‘We are going to lose,’” Cole said. But behind the scenes the leadership team was uncertain. The staffer sensed the bill was doomed before it was actually pulled from the floor Thursday night from a sudden slowdown in her email traffic. “It went dead silent.” With the start of the vote set for 7:30 pm Thursday, Boehner made the decision at about 7 pm after it was clear that they would fall 40 to 50 votes short of the needed 217 for passage..” — Reuters


Six ways the US ‘fiscal cliff’ crisis could end

WASHINGTON: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, meets with reporters about the fiscal cliff negotiations at the Capitol in Washington on Friday. She is joined by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. — AP

WASHINGTON: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor speaks at a news conference about the fiscal cliff negotiations at the Capitol in Washington on Friday. — AP

Boehner on averting fiscal cliff: ‘God only knows’ Stocks fall as leaders squabble WASHINGTON: Stocks fell, congressional leaders squabbled and the fiscal cliff drew implacably closer. “How we get there, God only knows,” said House Speaker John Boehner, referring Friday to the increasingly complicated attempts to beat the Jan. 1 deadline and head off the perilous combination of across-the-board tax hikes and deep spending cuts that threaten to send the economy into recession. Progress was invisible one day after House Republican rebels thwarted Boehner’s plan to prevent tax increases for all but the nation’s million-dollar earners. And while neither House is expected to meet again until after Christmas, officials in both parties said there was still time to prevent the changes from kicking in with the new year. Yet they pointedly disagreed which side needed to make the first move. “It’s time for the speaker and all Republicans to return to the negotiating table,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Late Friday, Reid was meeting with Obama at the White House, and Obama was to make a statement. He said that, for now, Boehner should allow a vote on legislation that would block all tax increases except for individuals making more than $200,000 and couples making $250,000 - the position that Obama carried through his successful campaign for re-election. Reid said it would pass the House with votes from lawmakers from both parties, and, separately, some Democrats said it was possible similar legislation may yet be launched in the Senate.

Moments later, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats had “spent all day yesterday defeating” the legislation in the House - even though Boehner himself said it had been deep-sixed by GOP opposition. Countering Reid’s offer, McConnell said the Senate should pass legislation extending tax cuts at all income levels and requiring a comprehensive overhaul of the tax code. Beyond that, he said, “”Look: It’s the president’s job to find a solution that can pass Congress. He’s the only one who can do it.” Rhetoric aside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 121 points in what analysts said was a reaction to the events in the capital. The developments marked yet another baffling turn in a week that began with news that Obama and Boehner had significantly narrowed their differences on a plan to erase the cliff. Both were offering a cut in taxes for most Americans, an increase for a relative few and cuts of roughly $1 trillion in spending over a year. Also included was a provision to scale back future cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients - a concession on the president’s part as much as agreeing to higher tax rates was for the House speaker. GOP officials said some senior Republicans balked at the emerging terms. Boehner stepped back and announced what he called Plan B, legislation to let tax rates rise on incomes of $1 million or more while preventing increases for all other taxpayers. Despite statements of confidence, he and his lieutenants decid-

ed late Thursday they were not going to be able to secure the votes needed to pass the measure in the face of opposition from conservatives unwilling to violate decadesold party orthodoxy never to raise tax rates. Officials said as many as two dozen rank-and-file Republicans had made it clear they would oppose the bill, more than enough to send it to defeat given unanimous Democratic opposition. At his Friday morning news conference several hours later, Boehner dismissed suggestions that he was concerned the turn of events could cost him his speakership. “No, I am not,” he said. “While we may have not been able to get the votes last night to avert 99.81 percent of the tax increases, I don’t think - they weren’t taking that out on me,” Boehner said of the Republican rank and file. “They were dealing with the perception that somebody might accuse them of raising taxes.” Boehner also said that last Monday he had told Obama he had submitted his bottom line proposal. “The president told me that his numbers - the $1.3 trillion in new revenues, $850 billion in spending cuts was his bottom line, that he couldn’t go any further.” That contradicted remarks by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who said on Thursday that Obama has “never said either in private or in public that this was his final offer. He understands that to reach a deal it would require some further negotiation. There is not much further he could go.” — AP

WASHINGTON: So what now? The US House of Representatives’ rejection of a bill to raise taxes on just 0.18 percent of Americans - those making more than $1 million a year - has raised questions about the Republican-led chamber’s ability to approve any plan to avert the looming “fiscal cliff.” Unless President Barack Obama and the US Congress can forge a deal during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season, the largest economy in the world could be thrust back into a recession because of the steep across-the-board government tax increases and spending cuts that are due to kick in January. The threat of spending cuts and tax increases about $600 billion worth - was intended to shock the Democratic-led White House and Senate and the Republican-led House into moving past their many differences to approve a plan that would bring tax relief to most Americans and curb runaway federal spending. For weeks, Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, have struggled to find a compromise. But after a glimmer of hope that a deal was close early this week, Boehner apparently under pressure from anti-tax House Republicans aligned with the conservative Tea Party movement - pressed the “pause” button on negotiations. He then tried to push a backup plan through the House late on Thursday, only to see his fellow Republicans kill it. Where do Obama and Congress go from here? Here are some possible scenarios. 1) Obama’s ‘fiscal cliff light’ If you can’t do a huge deal, aim for a small one. In a statement from the White House on Friday, Obama urged congressional leaders to promptly find a middle ground on a partial solution to the fiscal cliff. He called for preventing tax increases for 98 percent of Americans and extending expiring unemployment benefits. A quick deal, Obama said, would lay the groundwork for future deficit reduction. Obama was not specific about who should be targeted for tax increases. During his re-election campaign this fall he called for raising taxes on households with net incomes above $250,000 a year. In recent negotiations with Boehner, Obama raised his proposed threshold to $400,000, compared with the $1 million level the House rejected under Boehner’s plan. Absent from Obama’s latest offer was his demand for an increase in the US government’s debt limit of about $16.4 trillion, a level likely to be reached in roughly two months. If Congress does not raise the nation’s debt limit, by mid-February the Treasury Department would likely exhaust its ability to borrow. That would put the nation at risk of defaulting on its debt. Obama offered no details on how large of a deficit-cutting plan he would seek next year. Also not mentioned were his previous calls for more infrastructure spending or to find ways to curb spending on Social Security retirement benefits. A potential problem: Many Republicans would be loathe to go along with any tax increases without significant, long-term spending cuts. But House Democrats might be able to join forces with a couple dozen Republicans to pass a limited bill. 2) Secret negotiations Now that the president has pared back his expectations for what can be achieved by Dec. 31, there may be little incentive to work behind closed doors on a major deficit-reduction package by year’s end. But if Boehner were to agree with Obama the two sides are close to a major, long-term deal, they could try to achieve one.

A compromise with possibly $1 trillion in new taxes and $1 trillion in new, long-term spending cuts could be a tough sell for both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Boehner would have to persuade enough Republicans on the idea of tax increases. Obama, meanwhile, would have to get Democrats in Congress to back cuts to some social safety net programs such as Social Security pensions and Medicare and Medicaid health insurance for the elderly and poor. House Republicans appear to be the tougher sell. 3) A message from the stock market A huge, year-end drop in stock indexes would send a loud message to Washington politicians to stop arguing and cut a quick but meaningful deal. That is what happened in late September 2008, after Congress rejected a massive financial bailout package despite warnings by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson of economic collapse if the bill failed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 700 points and Congress quickly reversed course, approving the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program just days later. The “fiscal cliff” may not be as dramatic a situation, but the tax increases and cuts in federal spending could deal a stiff blow to the economy. 4) Jump off the fiscal cliff - temporarily On Jan 1, income taxes would go up on just about everyone. During the first week of January, Congress could scramble and get a quick deal on taxes and the $109 billion in automatic spending cuts that most lawmakers want to avoid. Why could they reach a deal in January if they fail in December? The reason would be that once taxes go up, it would be easier to allow a few of those increases to remain in place - mostly on the wealthy and repeal those that would hit middle-and lowerincome taxpayers. Such a scenario would mean no member of Congress technically would have to vote for a tax increase on anyone - taxes would have risen automatically - and the only votes would be to decrease tax rateAs for most Americans back to their 2012 levels. 5) Fighting through the winter If Congress does not raise the nation’s debt limit, by mid-February the Treasury Department likely would exhaust its ability to borrow. Republicans have withheld their approval of the debt-limit increase as leverage to try to get the kind of fiscal solution they want: Fewer increases in spending and taxes, and more cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This is the strategy they employed in mid-2011 during the last fight over the debt limit, when it was raised to $16.4 trillion. Republicans wrung spending cuts out of Democrats in return for new borrowing authority, but paid a political price. Global financial markets were rocked by the uncertainty brought on by the standoff in Congress, one ratings agency downgraded the US government’s credit rating and Republicans saw their public approval ratings sink. 6) A fiscal slope Under this scenario, stock markets would not tank and Washington politicians would conclude that the fiscal cliff is not such a bad thing, after all. Congress and the White House could continue sniping at each other throughout 2013 and 2014 as they try to revamp tax policy and impose long-term spending cuts. — Reuters



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Delite unveils Sharp’s giant LED screens in Kuwait 90-inch professional LED screens launched under slogan ‘Bigger is Better’ KUWAIT: “Delite”, the exclusive distributor of “Sharp Professional” screens in Kuwait, launched its most recent product range under the slogan “bigger is better”, in an exquisite ceremony in AlBaraka Hall at the Crowne Plaza and was attended by many VIPs and business entrepreneurs. “As the largest addition to Sharp’s continually growing large-screen professional portfolio, and offering size and scale unlike any other LED display to date, this 90-inch LED monitor is at the forefront in the industry of commercial displays,” said Tomoo Shimizu, Director, Business Solutions Division, Sharp Middle East. “With a growing demand in Kuwait and the wider Middle East for versatile, large size LED displays, we are committed to providing solutions which meet these criteria. Working closely with our preferred partner in Kuwait, Al-Hudebiya International Co, we are able to bring class-leading, value-adding solutions like the 90 Inch LED to our customers and we are looking forward to introducing more of our innovative products in 2013.”

World’s largest 90 inch display

“Sharp” does not only display large-sized screens but also focalizes on the versatility of showcasing all its products during its first appearance in the markets. During the ceremony, “Sharp” also shed the light upon its second advanced 80” touch screen in addition to the topnotch computer screen of 19.5 inches that performs via touch application of Microsoft Window s8 to gather 10/10 points ranked due to functions screen and a wide range of applications that are currently in the market. “Sharp Middle East” was founded in 1998 in the free zone of Jebel Ali -Dubai - United Arab Emirates as a subsidiary of “Sharp”, and is the office of the Regional Centre for the Middle East and Africa, and covers about 60 countries. Sharp includes primary business activities of audio and visual equipment, communications, health, environment, information equipment, and crystalline equipment and thin solar cells. For more information, please visit:

A view of the guests in Baraka Hall at Crowne Plaza.

‘Fiscal cliff’: Armageddon or just ‘eh’? NEW YORK: You’ve heard the predictions for what happens if the country goes over the “fiscal cliff”: The economy will shrink, nervous consumers will stop spending, and the stock market will plunge. But those doomsday predictions are overblown, some professional investors say. Even if Congress and the White House can’t reach a deal, the higher taxes and lower government spending that would follow would kick in only gradually. A recession is not guaranteed. What’s much more important to the stock market, the experts say, are economic fundamentals. “History has shown that the economy is going to do what the economy is going to do,” says Scott Carmack, co-portfolio manager at Leader Capital in Portland, Ore. “And politics don’t create some sort of disaster.” Whatever happens, the “fiscal cliff” - sweeping tax increases and government spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 1 - is going to dominate the headlines and the market for the next week. The Associated Press posed a few big questions to investing experts. Q: What’s going to happen in the stock market between now and the budget deadline of Dec 31? The market hates uncertainty. If there’s no deal next week, expect stocks to fall. “We always knew we were going to get some volatility here,” Carmack says. “Depending on leaders in Washington to come to some kind of agreement is like pulling teeth.” Besides, there are other incentives for people to pull money out of the market. Some professional investors are selling to lock in gains for the year. Others are selling because investments could be taxed at higher rates next year. “It’s been a pretty good year in the market,” says Peter Tuz, co-manager of the Chase Growth and Chase Mid Cap Growth mutual funds in Charlottesville, Va. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index is up more than 13 percent in 2012. “People might look at that uncertainty and say, ‘I’m happy with that, and now I’ll take some money aside, and sell,’” he says. Q: What about after Jan 1? Deal or no deal, many investors don’t expect the effects of the “fiscal cliff” to linger in the stock market for too long. One big reason is that everyone has seen it coming for months.

“We’re not overly concerned,” says David Hefty, CEO of Hefty Wealth Partners in Auburn, Ind. “The thing to keep in mind is that what hurts investors, what hurts the market, are things that are unexpected.” He adds: “Everybody has 2008 burned into their minds. They think the fiscal cliff will be the next 2008 event. A 2008 event is when nobody sees it coming, and everyone is blindsided. Nobody’s going to be blindsided by this.” Hefty says he’ll watch whether the Federal Reserve continues its policy of pumping money into the economy, and fundamentals like housing and unemployment, to decide how to invest in 2013. “We’re looking at two key things that matter the most,” he says. “The ‘fiscal cliff’ isn’t one of them.” Donald Quigley, the co-manager of the Artio Total Return Bond mutual fund, is more wary of the “cliff” for its political impact than its economic impact. If Republicans and Democrats can’t reach a compromise, he says, the world could take that as a sign that the US government is dysfunctional. “It basically says, ‘We really don’t have our act together,’” Quigley says. “To have to admit that your country is ungovernable is not the best way to run a country.” Q: What if there’s no deal? The impact of higher taxes and lower government spending would be felt only gradually, and Congress could always repeal them later, which is why many analysts don’t expect panic. For example, if higher taxes kicked in, workers might get less money in their first few paychecks of the year, and then the government might reach a compromise and refund the money. “The fiscal cliff is not really a cliff - it’s more like a $600 billion hill that will accrue over the year,” Carmack says, referring to the amount of money that could be taken out of the economy from higher taxes and lower spending. Bob Phillips, managing partner at Spectrum Management Group in Indianapolis, compared the “fiscal cliff” to the Y2K scare. “The thought was that every computer in the whole world is going to malfunction on Jan. 1, 2000, and it’s going to be a disaster,” Phillips says. “I think this is a similar thing. It’s been built up to this perception that everything will

fall apart, and it’s not.” Jeffrey Saut, chief investment strategist at Raymond James, says he believes government spending cuts will be “bullish” for stocks because the federal budget will be closer to balance. He says: “So, if we do take the ‘cliff’ dive, and it’s not for too long a period of time, the market takes a hit but the economy resets itself. And we continue to grow going forward.” Q: If there is a deal on time, will the market shoot higher? Not necessarily. Stocks have been rising more or less steadily since mid-November, a sign investors already believed lawmakers would compromise. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has climbed more than 5 percent since Nov 15. That signals that a successful compromise is factored into stock prices already. Much more important to the market’s performance in 2013 is the economy. Some investors, like Phillips, are pessimistic, pointing to an unemployment rate that is still much too high and personal income growth outpaced by inflation. “You really have to stretch to find a positive trend,” he says. Tim Biggam, market strategist at the brokerage TradingBlock in Chicago, says other world economic problems that have faded from the headlines, like the European debt crisis, could roar back. “It’s kind of a false sense of security,” he says, “to have the ‘fiscal cliff’ put everything to the back burner.” Concerns about the US government budget won’t be wrapped up by a “cliff” compromise, either. “Even if they come up with a near-term budget agreement, it will not be enough to solve many of the fiscal imbalances,” said Mike McGarr, a Portland, Ore.-based co-manager of Becker Value Equity mutual fund. He predicts that stock market returns for 2013 could be “pretty muted.” “Once you get past whatever sort of budget deal they will come up with, there will be the realization that the story is not over,” he adds. “There’s going to be a lot more drama.” But others, including Hefty and Carmack, were more confident, pointing out that the housing market is improving, consumer confidence is rising and the unemployment rate is falling. “I’m pretty optimistic,” Saut says. “Not cautiously optimistic - I’m pretty optimistic.” — AP

A lump of coal for ‘Fiscal Cliff-mas’ WALL STREET WEEKLY OUTLOOK NEW YORK: Wall Street traders are going to have to pack their tablets and work computers in their holiday luggage after all. A traditionally quiet week could become hellish for traders as politicians in Washington are likely to fall short of an agreement to deal with $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts due to kick in early next year. Many economists forecast that this “fiscal cliff” will push the economy into recession. Thursday’s debacle in the US House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner failed to secure passage of his own bill that was meant to pressure President Obama and Senate Democrats, only added to worry that the protracted budget talks will stretch into 2013. Still, the market remains resilient. Friday’s decline on Wall Street, triggered by Boehner’s fiasco, was not enough to prevent the S&P 500 from posting its best week in four. “The markets have been sort of taking this in stride,” said Sandy Lincoln, chief market strategist at BMO Asset Management US in Chicago, which has about $38 billion in assets under management. “The markets still basically believe that something will be done,” he said. If something happens next week, it will come in a short time frame. Markets will be open for a half-day on Christmas Eve, when Congress will not be in session, and will close on Tuesday for Christmas. Wall Street will resume regular stock trading on Wednesday, but volume is expected to be light throughout the rest of the week with scores of market participants away on a holiday break. For the week, the three major US stock indexes posted gains, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 0.4 percent, the S&P 500 up 1.2 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index up 1.7 percent. Stocks also have booked solid gains for the year so far, with just five trading sessions left in 2012: The Dow has advanced 8 percent, while the S&P 500 has climbed 13.7 percent and the Nasdaq has jumped 16 percent. Equity volumes are expected to fall sharply next week. Last year, daily volume on each of the last five trading days dropped on average by about 49 percent,

compared with the rest of 2011 - to just over 4 billion shares a day exchanging hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT in the final five sessions of the year from a 2011 daily average of 7.9 billion. If the trend repeats, low volumes could generate a spike in volatility as traders keep track of any advance in the cliff talks in Washington. “I’m guessing it’s going to be a low volume week. There’s not a whole lot other than the fiscal cliff that is going to continue to take the headlines,” said Joe Bell, senior equity analyst at Schaeffer’s Investment Research, in Cincinnati. “A lot of people already have a foot out the door, and with the possibility of some marketmoving news, you get the possibility of increased volatility.” Economic data would have to be way off the mark to move markets next week. But if the recent trend of better-than-expected economic data holds, stocks will have strong fundamental support that could prevent selling from getting overextended even as the fiscal cliff negotiations grind along. Small and mid-cap stocks have outperformed their larger peers in the last couple of months, indicating a shift in investor sentiment toward the US economy. The S&P MidCap 400 Index overcame a technical level by confirming its close above 1,000 for a second week. “We view the outperformance of the mid-caps and the break of that level as a strong sign for the overall market,” Schaeffer’s Bell said. “Whenever you have flight to risk, it shows investors are beginning to have more of a risk appetite.” Evidence of that shift could be a spike in shares in the defense sector, expected to take a hit as defense spending is a key component of the budget talks. The PHLX defense sector index hit a historic high on Thursday, and far outperformed the market on Friday with a dip of just 0.26 percent, while the three major US stock indexes finished the day down about 1 percent. Following a half-day on Wall Street on Monday ahead of the Christmas holiday, Wednesday will bring the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. It is expected to show a ninth-straight month of gains.—Reuters




A quantum leap in world of digital printing Xerox Kuwait supplies Four Films Printing Group with latest digital printing technologies KUWAIT: In a move that defines its leading position in the world of digital printing, Four Films Printing Group has invested in the latest digital printing technology from Xerox, the IGen 4 XXL Matt and Nuvera 144, as well as a total Xerox software suite. This investment represents Four Films strategic move to the digital world, which is occurring in parallel to the company’s move to a new building. Four Film’s strategic investment in the world of digital printing is a stepping stone toward providing its customers with the most innovative technological advances in the printing business. Working with Xerox Kuwait, Four Films has streamlined its production workflow with Xerox’s FreeFlow Process Manager, CMI Color Management and XMpie Personalization Software. This enables Four Films to provide its customers with a full range of services to enhance every aspect of operations, from creation to fulfillment. Four Films held a launch event at its new premises in Shuwaikh, to celebrate the arrival of these new digital printing solutions. The event was attended by Four Films senior executives including George Moujaes, Founder, and David Moujaes, Managing Director, as well as Ahmad Hammoud,

Vice President - Engineered Products, Alghanim Industries, and Ayman Mattar, General Manager - Xerox Kuwait. Also present at the event were Joe Rouhana, Global Workflow Production and Line-of-Business Solutions Manager - Xerox USA, representatives from Xerox MEA, members of the advertising industry, related businesses and the media. Mattar stated, “We are extremely delighted about Xerox Kuwait’s successful venture with Four Films. We believe that by providing a winning combination of applications, equipment, workflow tools and business development support, we will help Four Films move into a new era of printing.” Throughout its history, Xerox has had a proven record of success based on superior products and continued technological advances, making it the global pioneer in the world of digital printing. Four Films chose Xerox as its main solution provider based on its leadership in the industry, a move that will improve Four Films’ production quality and as a result, its clients’ satisfaction. Four Films Four Films Printing Group, founded by George Moujaes in 1976, has evolved from the early days of word

Burgan Bank completes acquisition of Eurobank Tekfen in Turkey A strategic growth market for Burgan Bank KUWAIT: Burgan Bank, one of Kuwait’s leading banks with a regional presence in Jordan, Iraq, Algeria and Tunisia, announced yesterday that it has completed its acquisition process to acquire a 99.26% stake in Eurobank Tekfen from Eurobank EFG for a deal value of KD98.88 million (approximately TRY627mn). Eurobank Tekfen and its subsidiaries (EFG Istanbul Equities & EFG Leasing) are fully owned subsidiaries of Burgan Bank as of December 21, 2012. Burgan Bank has received all the regulatory approvals in Kuwait and Turkey for this acquisition. Burgan Bank Chairman, Majed Essa AlAjeel, said: “The Turkish economy and banking sector have continued to demonstrate solid performance and resilience throughout the recent global financial crisis and offer opportunities for continued long term expansion. Turkey’s young and rapidly growing population, combined with its strategic positioning between Europe and the Middle East offers strong potential for further economic growth in

the medium-to-long term, with increasing business flows with the Middle East.” “We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Central Bank of Kuwait, BRSA, the Turkish Capital Markets Board, Eurobank EFG, Tekfen Group, our advisers, our new colleagues - the Management and staff of Eurobank Tekfen & its subsidiaries for their support throughout the sales and handover process,” added Al-Ajeel. Eduardo Eguren, Burgan Bank Chief Executive Officer further elaborated on the acquisition: “In-line with our Corporate Strategy’s objective of expanding our footprint, scale and capabilities through strategic acquisitions, Burgan Bank will gain access to the attractive Turkish banking market through an established franchise led by seasoned management team and offering broad banking services to Corporate, SME and Retail clients at an attractive pricing level with no creation of goodwill. Our presence in Turkey will further enhance and support Burgan Bank’s regional expansion strategy.”

Eduardo Eguren, Burgan Bank Chief Executive Officer

Burgan Bank Chairman Majed Essa Al-Ajeel

processing and metal lead-slug machines to state-of-theart offset and digital printing services. A major reason for this transformation into a 21st century industry leader in Kuwait and the Middle East is Four Films talented, skilled and well-educated team. At Four Films, craftsmanship and creative design combine with unsurpassed service and cutting-edge technology. With an exemplary track record, Four Films has all the answers to print and beyond. The first of Four Films four departments is the PrePress Department that ensures a smooth transition from the design concept to print using advanced digital proofing. A completely personalized workflow solution is provided by way of the latest technologies. The Printing Press Department brings color to life on paper with a fleet of state-of-the-art offset printing machines complemented by UV, water-based varnishes, laser-technology for die-cutting, lamination and NCR. The Post-Press Department provides services including hard covers, gold and silver edging, stamping, engraving, laser die-cutting, packaging and PUR glue for high-tech binding and finishing machines to create superior quality books and maga-

zines that resist harsh climactic elements typical of the Gulf region. The Leatherworks Department comprises a skilled team that can design and execute unique jewelry boxes, leather folders and other refined customizable products including executive desk sets, photo albums and more. Xerox Kuwait Xerox Kuwait is the premier distributor of Xerox products in Kuwait and is committed to providing the highest quality products and services to its customers. Operating as part of Alamana Industries, a Yusuf A. Alghanim & Sons company, Xerox Kuwait is a technologies and services unit that helps different industries and businesses deploy smarter document solutions strategies and find better, more efficient ways to work. It provides innovative technologies, products and services that customers can depend upon to improve their business results. Xerox Kuwait strives to be the market leader in technology, document and consulting services, and works with customers to improve their document work processes and business results.

Al-Safeer Educational Program hosts international congress KUWAIT: Al-Safeer Educational Program-an initiative of Dubai Convention Bureau (DCB) has taken place from 17-19 December, bringing together various stakeholders to drive best practice in bringing associations’ conferences to the emirate. The objective of the program - taking place for the first time - is to share knowledge on how individuals and organizations can locally work with the convention bureau in their city to host more international conferences and raise the profile of their city within a particular sector. Dubai Convention Bureau partnered with the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) to deliver the contents with regional specialist input from DCB. ASAE represents more than 21,000 association executives and industry partners representing 10,000 organizations. Through this partnership, Al-Safeer Program target individuals and organizations who are members of international associations and can help the city to attract more congresses. The program is not only new in Dubai and UAE but is a first for the whole region, and raising awareness is key to achieving the program objectives. The agenda of the program was intensive and varied, including: how associations work; how associations begin; the importance of associations holding meetings abroad; the role of (and criteria for selecting) congress ambassadors; how congress ambassadors can promote Dubai and the UAE in any association meetings; and best practice for other convention bureaus in working with congress ambassadors. The educational program consisted of group presentations for organizations with large network of association members, and a group presentation to Dubai MICE stakeholders. Several organizations welcomed the concept from its beginning, including the Dubai Health Authority, the Society of Engineers in UAE, Emirates Medical Association and IEEE UAE Section. Interest was strong from the

start, with an Al-Safeer Stakeholder event at the JW Marriott Marquis involving more than 120 participants. Certain events over the three-day Al-Safeer program were filmed, to disseminate the collected expertise to a prestigious international audience. Essa Al-Maidoor, Director General of Dubai Health Authority and President of the Society of Engineers - UAE, said: “We are very keen to support the Al-Safeer Educational program as the objective of the event is aligning with our vision “Towards Best Engineering Practices in the UAE”. We believe that the educational program will share knowledge and best practices on how individuals and organizations locally work with convention bureau in their city to bring more international conferences which raise the profile of their city within that sector. It will further promote Dubai as the ideal destination to host various events due to its unique accessibility with direct flights from all continent, excellent infrastructures with state-of-

the-art Convention and Exhibition Centre and Dubai have hosted countless international exhibitions, conferences and other events. Dubai has emerged as a global city and a business hub over the past years. The event was of great value to our members and we sincerely hope that as proof of concept it will lead to many more similar programs in the future”. Said Hamad Bin Mejren, Executive Director for Business Tourism at DCB: “We are proud to have brought this important new event to the calendar for the first time. Dubai is becoming one of the world’s top cities for hosting business conferences, for reasons of location, climate, infrastructure, facilities and expertise. We are therefore pleased that we can not only encourage associations to hold their congresses here in Dubai, but we can teach others about the lessons we have learned in getting to where we are today”.

Gulf Bank announces winners of 50th Al-Danah draw for 2012 KUWAIT: Gulf Bank held its fiftieth Al-Danah weekly draw on December 16, 2012, announcing a total number of ten Al-Danah weekly prize draw winners, each awarded with prizes of KD 1,000. The 50th Al Danah weekly winners are: Abdulrazzaq Abdullatif Al-Nesef, Asaed Ali Ahmed Al-Furaih, Wafa Sadaf Ali Al-Bahrani, Bahjah Abdulhamid Hussain Marafee, Hanadi Zaid Ali Al-Khabbaz, Azizullah Mohammad Hassan,

Ahmed Fahaid Ghamlas Al-Kharainj, Fahima Ahmad Chehady, Laila Abdullah Taher Al-Ramzi, Rashid Ali Faleh Al-Hujailan. Gulf Bank encourages everyone in Kuwait to open an Al-Danah account and/or increase their deposits to maximize their chances of becoming a winner in the upcoming weekly (KD1000 each for 10 winners). Gulf Bank’s Al-Danah allows customers to win cash prizes and encourages them to save money. Chances increase the more money is deposited and the longer it is kept in

the account. Al-Danah also offers a number of unique services including the Al-Danah Deposit Only ATM card which helps account holders deposit their money at their convenience; as well as the Al-Danah calculator to

help customers calculate their chances of becoming an Al-Danah winner. To be part of the Al-Danah draws, customers can visit one of Gulf Bank’s 56 branches, transfer on line, or call the Customer Contact Center on 1805805 for assistance and guidance. Customers can also log on to, Gulf Bank’s website, to find all the information regarding Al-Danah or any of the bank’s products and services or log on www.e, to find out more about Al-Danah and who the winners are.



Click, print, shoot: Downloadable guns possible SAN FRANCISCO: Downloading a gun’s design plans to your computer, building it on a threedimensional printer and firing it minutes later. No background checks, no questions asked. Sound farfetched? It’s not. And that is disquieting for US gun control advocates. At least one group, called Defense Distributed, is claiming to have created downloadable weapon parts that can be built using the increasingly popular new generation of printer that uses plastics and other materials to create 3-D objects with moving parts. University of Texas law student Cody Wilson, the 24-year-old “Wiki Weapons” project leader, says the group last month test fired a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle - one of the weapon types used in last week’s Connecticut school massacre - which was built with some key parts created on a 3-D printer. The gun was fired six times before it broke. Though no independent observer was there to verify the test, a short video clip showing the gun firing and breaking was posted to YouTube. Federal firearms regulators said they are aware of the technology’s gun-making potential but do not believe an entire weapon has yet been made. Rep. Steven Israel said the prospect of such guns becoming reality is reason enough for the renewal of the Undetectable Firearms Act, which makes illegal the building of guns that can’t be detected by X-ray or metallic scanners. That law expires at the end of 2013. “What’s chilling is that last month a group of kids used a 3-D printer to actually manufacture (key parts) of the AR-15 and fire six bullets,”

the Democrat said. “When the (act) was last renewed in 2003, a gun made by a 3-D printer was like a Star Trek episode, but now we know it’s real.” Even with gun control pushed to the top of the national political conversation, Wilson is steadfast about reaching his goal of making a fully downloadable gun. This weekend, he and his partners plan to print four new lower receivers - the part of the gun that includes the trigger, magazine and grip. He keeps three of these AR-15 parts in his tidy student apartment in Austin, Texas. While saddened by the Connecticut school killing, Wilson said Thursday that protecting the constitutional right to bear arms by giving everyone access to guns is more important in the long term than a single horrible crime. “Clearly what happened in Connecticut was a tragedy,” he told AP. “Still, by affording the Second Amendment protection, we understand events like these will happen.” He said he discussed with his partners whether they should suspend their effort, and they all decided it was too important to stop. Wilson acknowledged there still are many technical hurdles to creating a complete gun from a 3-D printer and provided no estimate on when his goal might be reached. Special Agent Helen Dunkel of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which helps enforce gun laws, said the agency is familiar with Wilson’s project. She didn’t offer an opinion but noted there is nothing illegal about making many types of guns at home.

Exceptions would be high-powered weapons like machine guns and those not detectable by airport scanners. 3-D printing technology was developed for the automobile, aerospace and other industries to create product prototypes from the same hard plastics used in toys like Legos. Hobbyists mainly use the printers to design Christmas ornaments, toys and gadget accessories. Prices on the machines have fallen as the consumer market grows, leading to a surge in interest from people in the so-called “maker” scene. Lowend 3-D printers can now be purchased online from between $1,500 and $4,000. The more highend printers needed to make gun parts are still priced from $10,000 and up. Stratasys Ltd of Minnesota makes 3-D printers. Shane Glenn, director of investor relations, said gun-making was never something envisioned for the machines. “The gun issue is something that the 3-D printing industry will have to address going forward,” Glenn said. Right now, most people interested in 3-D printing rent time on one. There are a number of businesses and co-ops in major cities that allow access to the machines for a nominal fee. At San Francisco’s TechShop, which features a 3-D printer for its members, “assembling firearms is strictly prohibited and our staff is trained on that policy”, company spokeswoman Carrie Motamedi said. Wilson acknowledged his idea has met resistance from those active in 3-D printing. “The early adopters of 3-D printing technology seem to be an

educated, more liberal group who were against firearms to begin with,” he said. Wilson said some are worried the gun project might spur regulations that will hurt or curtail their projects. Early schematics created by Wilson’s group were posted on Thingiverse, a New Yorkbased website that serves as a hub for 3-D printing aficionados. After the school shooting, Thingiverse took down Wilson’s links. The site’s spokeswoman, Jenifer Howard, said its focus is “to empower the creative process and make things for good”. Howard said Thingiverse’s terms of service state that users cannot use the site to share content that contributes to the creation of weapons. Wilson said the group has already posted the links on its own website. Paul Saffo, a Silicon Valley technology forecaster who teaches at Stanford University’s engineering school, said Defense Distributed’s work carries on a long tradition of tech geeks using innovation to make a political point, in this case on gun control and constitutional freedoms. “If you want to get people’s attention in Washington, you say something. If you want to do it in Silicon Valley, you make something,” Saffo said. He said the technology exists now for a highly motivated group to make a plastic gun on a 3-D printer that could avoid airport scanners. But the equipment is still too expensive for most people. “Nobody right now needs to worry about the bright teenager making a gun on a printer in their bedroom,” he said. — AP

Technology reviving Aboriginal languages

Tajikistan orders Twitter ban DUSHANBE: Tajikistan has ordered local Internet providers to block Twitter, one of more than 100 sites including popular Russian-language social networks starting next week, an industry representative told AFP yesterday. “The (government) communications service has sent Internet companies a huge list of 131 sites that must be blocked in the country from Monday,” said Asomiddin Atoyev, the head of the Tajik association of Internet providers. “The list includes social networking sites that are actively used by Tajik Internet users including government officials,” Atoyev said. Among the blocked sites are Vkontakte, or In Touch, and Odnoklassniki, or Classmates, the most popular social networking sites in Russia with many users in the ex-Soviet Union, and, an email service. “We don’t understand the criteria for drawing up the list and what they are pursuing. The communications service does not give reasons in its letter for blocking the sites,” Atoyev said. No official at the communications service was available for comment yesterday. The Central Asian country bordering Afghanistan lifted only this month a ban on Facebook, which was blocked from late November for almost two weeks on the order of the same state-run communica-

tions service. The service said it blocked Facebook because of a “deluge of lies” and “insults to the head of state and government members”. But after urging from the United States, the authorities unblocked Facebook in December, saying they had been carrying out “preventative technical” work. Several news sites, including regional portals and and Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, have been blocked in Tajikistan for months. Local media in Tajikistan avoids criticising President Emomali Rahmon, who has led the country since 1992, fearing government checks and closure of their publications. Tajikistan, the poorest ex-Soviet country, has a population of around eight million people, of whom around one million work in Russia, often as labourers. The money they send back home accounts for 40 percent of the country’s GDP. The country will hold presidential elections next year and many fear the authorities will tighten control on the Internet. “The next presidential elections will be held in Tajikistan in November 2013, and this will bring even more harsh control of Internet resources and independent media,” predicted the head of the National Association of Independent Media of Tajikistan, Nuriddin Karshiboyev. — AFP

SYDNEY: In a high-school classroom in western Sydney, teacher Noeleen Lumby is asking her pupils to recall the Aboriginal name for animals that indigenous Wiradjuri people have used for hundreds of years. As she holds up stuffed toys representing some of Australia’s native wildlife, including a kangaroo, an emu and a cockatoo, the class of about 25 - many from Vietnamese and Cambodian backgrounds - come to grips with the ancient tongue. “I like this because you get to learn new skills and you can speak some indigenous language,” said 12-year-old Tien Nguyen. Lumby, who oversees the students as they use their new knowledge to create projects on computers and iPads, is passionate about filling a gaping hole in Australian education - the study of Aboriginal languages. “I think it’s important that the kids learn language and culture at the same time,” she told AFP. “And because most of the students that I teach are non-Aboriginal, we look at culture across the whole of Australia and look at the diversity of culture.” Only a small handful of the 1,110 students at St John’s Park High School are indigenous, but for Lumby one of the joys of teaching is when students were “talking in language with me”. Australia’s Aborigines once spoke 250 to 270 different languages but best estimates now suggest less than 70 are still being spoken on a daily basis, with even fewer passed on to younger generations. “We’re losing languages as we speak because kids are increasingly not learning their parents’ language or languages; they are learning a form of Aboriginal English,” said Sydney University lecturer John Hobson. “Australia is kind of close to holding the world record for the extinction of indigenous languages; we haven’t just wiped out the mammals, we’re doing pretty well on indigenous heritage as well.” Hobson said that while a small number of schools in remote Aboriginal areas held classes in indigenous languages, by and large the language of instruction in Australia - settled by the British more than 200 years ago - is English. Although indigenous language teaching is undergoing a revival, many Aboriginal communities are geographically isolated making it a struggle for those working to keep such languages alive. A crucial problem is the lack of resources both in terms of textbooks and resources as well as teachers. Hobson, who in 2006 began a masters course instructing teachers how to teach their own indigenous languages in schools, said in many cases his students created the resources they needed for the classroom. “Our gang have to start from scratch for pretty much everything. They have to produce their own,” he said, adding it was a far cry from the French or Mandarin teacher who could easily access dictionaries and other resources. Hobson said his students were mostly teachers from an indigenous background who were involved in the revitalisation movement. “Some of them would have ambitions to restore those languages to vernacular use... but others would be simply working, at this stage anyway, on having language back as a badge of honour,” he said. The revival movement is making some progress; some languages which would have once been referred to as “extinct” are now more likely to be seen as “sleeping”. “We’d like to think that people could restore languages to full use,” Hobson said. “But even if they do, one of the issues that invariably has to be dealt with is the fact that the records of the language either in living memory or in recordings or paper records... are not complete. So people would need to embrace the idea of reconstruction... which you might think of in terms of some language engineering.” Hobson sees the course he offers, believed to be the only one of its kind in Australia, as a “kind of stop-gap measure” to try and build a supply of trained teachers to keep up with demand. “The underlying issue is that Aboriginal people do want to bring their languages back ... people increasingly talk about how to reawaken their language,” he said. Jodi Edwards, one of the masters students in Hobson’s class, is one such person. “Your own language is a part of your soul, it’s a part of who you

SYDNEY: In this picture taken on Oct 14, 2012 teacher Noeleen Lumby teaches Aboriginal languages to children at St Johnís High School. — AFP

Gifting music takes a new tune NEW YORK: Got a music lover on your holiday gift list? Still not sure what to get? It’s a lot harder these days. CDs that were once wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree have given way to digital music libraries and iTunes gift cards. But it’s awfully hard to wrap an MP3 file with a nice bow, and you can’t labor lovingly over unpackaging a playlist, as you would a CD. In this post-CD world, giving music for the holidays is undergoing a transformation that has some music aficionados worried. They say music has been diluted from a soul-nourishing art form, at once both deeply intimate and social, to little more than background noise. People are still buying and giving music this holiday season, but like nearly all types of shopping, more of it is happening online. Digital music stores like iTunes, cloud music players and streaming services like Spotify and Rhapsody make CD players look like antiques. More music lovers are requesting a Spotify subscription or a gift card to Amazon’s digital music store. “The CD continues to slide,” said Mike McGuire, vice president of research for media industry services at Gartner. “It just hasn’t bottomed out yet.” Digital music sales beat CD sales for the first time last year, according to Nielsen. Now, the iTunes gift card is one of the most popular ways of giving music during the holidays - a study by the NPD Group shows that more than a third of all music downloads last year were purchased with a gift card. Other options for giving digital music include emailing songs - iTunes has holiday gift e-notices - using a cloud-sharing program like Dropbox or downloading songs to a flash drive. “Music gifting is not just about festively wrapped CDs anymore,” said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at The NPD Group. “There are many ways to stuff a stocking.” But something is lost. McGuire said music lovers used to open a CD or record the way Apple fans unpack an iPhone - with a display of reverence and excitement. “It’s like enjoying a cup of tea,” is how Gary Saxon, who owns independent music store The Record Man in Redwood City, California, describes it. But Crupnick of NPD cautions not to dismiss the CD just yet. Holiday shoppers are buying and giving CDs this year - box sets of legends like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan and holiday albums from pop and country singers are popular. Some still like the discs, and many people still listen to CDs in the car. “It’s a complete myth” that CDs are dead, Crupnick said. “Will we be buying them in 10 years? I don’t know, but we’re buying them now.” Even Amazon sells lots of CDs, although it also offers digital music. “People love CDs around the holiday time,” said Jason Fischel, director of Amazon’s digital music store. He said CD sales have jumped for the holidays, but

Amazon’s MP3 marketplace has also seen a surge of holiday customers downloading songs and buying gift cards. “The trend is very clear that ... the growth of digital music outpaces physical music,” Fischel said. But it’s getting harder to find CDs, at least at brick and mortar stores. A decade ago, shoppers could pop into a record store - a rare sight these days - to browse new releases and pick up a selection of tunes worthy of placing under the Christmas tree. Now, many independent music stores are shuttered and CD retailer chains are bankrupt, the digital music revolution having made CDs, and the retailers who sell them, increasingly obsolete. “It’s harder and harder for the shopper to just go buy CDs,” McGuire said. So shoppers have had to find new ways of buying music. In the past, Crupnick said, music buyers bought on impulse, browsing music stores and mulling over CD covers and album song lists. Now, they’re browsing vast electronic libraries of songs, searching for band websites and clicking through social media sites. The task is often overwhelming and requires shoppers to have a deeper knowledge of music to make the right purchase. McGuire said that giving “music has become more complex with all the choices. It requires some musical knowledge that you didn’t need to have before.” First, you’ve got to know how your friends and family listen to music: In the car? On an iPod? From a laptop? How they listen will determine the format of music you buy. You also have to know which artist they like, whether they prefer a complete album or just a few hit songs, and how to find the best tracks in the vast expanse of the Internet. Such expansive music knowledge is becoming rare as more young music listeners handpick one or two songs from an artist to download than follow a band’s career or stay loyal to a particular music scene. More music buyers are interested only in the pop star of the moment or the hit song of the month, and their musical knowledge may be limited to the list of top MP3 downloads on Amazon’s website. Media players like Google Play and new generations of the iPod that commingle music with movies, audio books and other entertainment have contributed to the erosion of music appreciation and knowledge, industry experts said. Music has become just another layer of noise, lost in an ever-expanding media ecosystem. “It gets edged into the background,” McGuire said. But Saxon of The Record Man said music is in the forefront of his customers’ minds during the holidays. He’s been busy with his store’s Christmas sale this week. True music lovers will always delight in giving music - and Saxon will be delight in selling it. “It’s a niche group, but for those who love it, it’s real,” he said. “It’s their soul.” — MCT



health & science

New Mowasat Hospital and CHIREC join forces Ophthalmology Center of Excellence opens KUWAIT: Following its affiliation with CHIREC in September 2012, New Mowasat Hospital launched an event to mark the official opening of its ophthalmology center with its Belgium partner. CHIREC (The Centre Hospitalier Interregional Edith Cavell) is the largest medical center in Belgium and one of the most reputable institutions for eye care services. The opening which was hosted in New Mowasat’s ophthalmology center, was attended by Didier Reynders - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Belgium and Damien Angelet - Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to Kuwait, Nabila AlMulla ambassador of Kuwait to the kingdom of Belgium and Salah M Al-Wazzan Chairman & Managing Director of Al-Mowasat Holding Company, Moreover the event was attended by all Mowasat, members of Senior Management, in-house physicians and representatives from CHIREC who celebrated the momentous occasion. In the press conference, New Mowasat hospital announced that its Ophthalmology Center of Excellence is fully equipped with the latest technology in the field, such as the iFS Femtosecond and the Schwind Amaris 750S. Its state-of-the-art facilities and highly-qualified doctors from Kuwait and Belgium place New Mowasat Hospital in a leading position to provide the most comprehensive and advanced eye care services. Salah M Al-Wazzan, Chairman and Managing director of Al-Mowasat Holding company expressed his gratitude to Didier Reynders and the Belgium delegation, wishing great success to the affilation between CHIREC and New Mowasat Hospital. Didier Reynders also declared his great pride in seeing such large healthcare institutions collaborating, which will surely result in better medical services offered in New Mowasat Hospital. On this occasion, Nadeem Nazir, hospital director stated; “This center; which is an affiliation project with CHIREC Hospital Belgium, will bring together highly qualified doctors from Kuwait and Belgium in a state-of-the-art facility; allowing patients and public, local access to international,

comprehensive and advanced eye care services.” Moreover, Nadeem Nazir emphasized the positive outcome of this strategic partnership saying, “This affiliation will make available the most advanced international practice in the field of ophthalmology”. In his opening speech, Dr Eduard Lotz, New Mowasat’s Deputy Hospital Director, noted: “New Mowasat’s essential role is

ance here even more.” Dr Bali and his team will collaborate with Dr Mohamed Abd Al-Naby, Dr Ghazi Al-Hamdan and Dr Mohamed Wagih El-Deeb, Consultant Ophthalmologists in New Mowasat Hospital, to guarantee that all procedures will be performed at the highest international standards to ensure only the best care is provided to New Mowasat’s

caring for patients, noting that since its founding almost 50 years ago, Mowasat has continuously taken initiative in promoting Quality, as evidenced by its accreditation from the Accreditation Canada International (ACI) & the Joint Commission International (JCI). He added “This event marks a milestone for New Mowasat, whereby international quality, techniques and technology are now accessible.” Dr Jacques Detoeuf, CEO of CHIREC Brussels, noted his pleasure of CHIREC’s affiliation with New Mowasat Hospital, one of the leading hospitals in Kuwait. Whereas Dr Ernesto Bali, Cataract and Vitreo Retinal Surgeon at CHIREC, emphasized “New Mowasat is fully equipped with the most reliable and advanced machines available today in the international market and that will give us the opportunity to enhance our perform-

patients. The New Mowasat Hospital was established in 1965 as one of the leading healthcare providers in Kuwait. The hospital is an accredited healthcare facility by the Accreditation Canada International (ACI) and the Joint Commission International (JCI). With forty seven years of leadership, the New Mowasat Hospital continues to expand and improve on its range of services to better serve the local citizens and residents alike. The Centre Hospitalier Interregional Edith Cavell, or CHIREC, was established in 1936 in Belgium. It consists of four hospital sites and a medical centre, offering treatment in almost every medical and surgical discipline. Due to willingness to constantly aim for high performance, CHIREC has been awarded a number of quality labels.

US professor nominated for Nobel Prize dies CINCINNATI: Elwood Jensen, an awardwinning University of Cincinnati professor nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for work that opened the door to advances in fighting cancer, has died of pneumonia. He was 92. Jensen died Sunday, the university announced Thursday. He was nominated multiple times for the Nobel Prize for his discovery of hormone receptors while at the University of Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s. Back then, Jensen focused on the impact breast tissue had on estrogen, whereas most other researchers were looking at how the hormone influenced tissue. At the time, the standard treatment for breast cancer was to take out the ovaries or adrenal glands, but after creating a way to radioactively tag estrogen, Jensen found that only a third of breast tumors carry estrogen receptors. The discovery allows doctors today to identify which patients will respond to anti-estrogen therapy and which need chemotherapy or radiation. The ground-breaking finding has helped doctors treat breast, thyroid and prostate cancer. Jensen was repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Prize and won dozens of awards for his work, including a Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, a prize that is considered America’s Nobel. Dr Sohaib Khan, a professor of cancer biology at Cincinnati and a friend of Jensen’s, said Jensen’s greatest disappointment in life was not winning the Nobel - he even brought it up during their last conversation about a week before his death. “He was talking about how fortunate he was to live a life like he has,” Khan said. “But one qualm he had was that he did not get the Nobel Prize. He felt pret-

ty strongly that he really deserved it, and most people in the field think exactly the same way.” Nobel Prizes are not awarded post-humously. Khan called Jensen’s work “monumental” and described the man as down-to-earth, humble, funny and always ready to tell an old story from his boxing days in college or when he climbed the 14,690foot (4,500-meter) Matterhorn in the Alps in 1947. Jensen also worked to encourage young people to study science and stick with it, including current University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono. The two first met in 1980 when Elwood - by then already an icon in his field - was teaching at the University of Chicago and Ono was a freshman. Ono said that even though he wasn’t his student, Elwood “was warm and gracious,” spent more than an hour speaking to him about his interest in medical research and offered him advice he’ll never forget. “I will forever be grateful for his encouragement of my career,” Ono said in a statement. Jensen grew up in Springfield in western Ohio and graduated from Wittenberg College. He got his doctorate in organic chemistry at the University of Chicago. For the past 10 years, Jensen was a professor at the University of Cincinnati’s department of cell biology, neurobiology and anatomy. He had been teaching at the university since 2002 after leaving the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, where he was the Nobel visiting professor. He is survived by his wife and two grown children, a daughter living in New Hampshire and a son living in Ecuador. A memorial service is tentatively set for Jan 10 at the university’s Vontz Center for Molecular Studies. —AP

Great Ormond Street Hospital leads on teen arthritis research KUWAIT: The world’s first research centre dedicated to understanding how and why arthritis affects teenagers has launched in the UK. Researchers at the £2.5 million Centre, which is a collaboration between UCL, University College Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital, aim to understand why rheumatic diseases such as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) or juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus (JSLE) can be more severe in teenagers and why specific types of arthritis are more likely to occur in this age group. It is hoped that the research carried out at the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Adolescent Rheumatology will lead to better treatments for teenagers and young people with the condition. There are approximately 15,000 children and young people in the UK living with arthritis. It causes disability, pain, fatigue and irreversible joint damage. Having arthritis as a teenager makes the physical, psychological and sexual changes teenagers go through more difficult. Side effects of drug treatments can be debilitating and can increase the risk of infections. Steroid use is common and often leads to a change in face and body shape and weight gain. The condition impacts on all aspects of life, including education, social life and work. Research has shown that people who develop arthritis in childhood and adolescence often face educational difficulties that affect their employability in later life. Professor David Isenberg, Professor of

Lucy Wedderburn Rheumatology at University College London, said, “As well as dealing with the challenges of being a teenager, young people with arthritis have to come to terms with having a disease that they may have to live with for the rest of their lives and affects every aspect of their life including appearance,

education and job prospects.” Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, said, “Having arthritis at any time in your life is difficult but having arthritis as a teenager is particularly challenging.” “At the moment, we know too little about this disease. Research into how arthritis affects teenagers has been underfunded and we need to do more to develop life-changing treatments. The Arthritis Research UK Centre for Adolescent Rheumatology will help to give hope to young people currently living with arthritis, helping them to grow up free from pain and disability.” Professor Wedderburn, Head of Rheumatology at the UCL Institute of Child Health and a Consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital, said, “This is the world’s first Centre dedicated to understanding the very specific needs of young peo-

ple who are growing up with arthritis. By focusing our attention on understanding why and how arthritis is different in adolescence, and what happens as they enter adult life, we hope to dramatically improve treatment and care for young people living with this painful disease.” The centre aims to: Improve our understanding of the long-term effects of arthritis in adolescents and the drugs used to treat it. The inclusion of teenagers in these studies will enable monitoring of young patients taking specific drugs and their disease progression. ● Improve the number of young people included in clinical trials and increase access to therapeutic drugs. To date, teenagers with arthritis have had limited access to clinical trials, therefore the treatments used to treat young people with arthritis have been based on research carried out on adults and children. ● Improve care by creating a group of world class experts in adolescent rheumatology. ● Establish a UK-wide, national network of researchers working with teenagers with arthritis and related conditions to extend the benefits of the centre across the UK and internationally. ● The centre officially began work on October 1, 2012 and research is due to start in early 2013. ● The centre will have twelve staff from across the three participating institutions. ●



health & science

Fast-growing fish won’t harm nature WASHINGTON: US government health regulators say a genetically modified salmon that grows twice as fast as normal is unlikely to harm the environment, clearing the way for the first approval of a scientifically engineered animal for human consumption. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday released its environmental assessment of the AquaAdvantage salmon, a faster-growing fish which has been subject to a contentious, yearslong debate at the agency. The document concludes that the fish “will not have any significant impacts on the quality of the human environment of the United States.” Regulators also said that the fish is unlikely to harm populations of natural salmon, a key concern for environmental activists. The FDA will take comments from the public on its report for 60 days before making it final. The FDA said more than two years ago that the fish appears to be safe to eat, but the agency had taken no public action since then. Executives for the company behind the fish, Aquabounty, speculated that the government was delaying action on their application due to push-back from groups who oppose genetically modified food animals. Experts view the release of the environmental report as the final step before approval. “We are encouraged that the environmental assessment is being released and hope the government continues the sciencebased regulatory process,” AquaBounty said in a statement. If FDA regulators clear the salmon, as expected, it would be the first genetically altered animal approved for food anywhere in the world. Critics call the modified salmon a “frankenfish.” They worry that it could cause human allergies and the eventual decimation of the natural salmon population if it escapes and breeds in the wild. Others believe breeding engineered animals is an ethical issue. AquaBounty has maintained that the fish is safe and that there are several safeguards against environmental problems. The fish would be bred female and sterile, though a very small percentage might still be able to breed. The company said the potential for escape is low. The FDA backed these assertions in documents released in 2010.

Since its founding in 1991, Aquabounty has burned through more than $67 million developing the fast-growing fish. According to its midyear financial report, the company had less than $1.5 million in cash and stock left. It has no other products in development. Genetically engineered - or GE - animals are not clones, which the FDA has already said are safe to eat. Clones are copies of an animal. In GE animals, the DNA has been altered to produce a desirable trait. The AquaAdvantage salmon has an added growth hormone from the Pacific Chinook salmon that allows the fish to produce growth hormone all year long. The engineers were able to keep the hormone active by using another gene from an eel-like fish called an ocean pout that acts like an “on” switch for the hormone. Typical Atlantic salmon produce the growth hormone for only part of the year. It is still unclear whether the public will have an appetite for the fish if it is approved. Genetic engineering is already widely used for crops, but the government until now has not considered allowing the consumption of modified animals. Although the potential benefits - and profits - are huge, many people have qualms about manipulating the genetic code of other living creatures. If the salmon are eventually approved for sale, consumers may not even know they are eating them. According to federal guidelines, the fish would not be labeled as genetically modified if the agency decides it has the same material makeup as conventional salmon. AquaBounty says that genetically modified salmon have the same flavor, texture, color and odor as the conventional fish, and the FDA so far has not shown any signs of disagreeing. Wenonah Hauter, director of the advocacy group Food and Water Watch, said forgoing labeling not only ignores consumers’ rights to know what they are eating, but also “is simply bad for business, as many will avoid purchasing any salmon for fear it is genetically engineered.” Hauter urged members of Congress to block the impending approval of the fish. Congressional opposition to the engineered fish has so far been led by members of the Alaska delegation, who see the modified salmon as a threat to the state’s wild salmon industry. —AP

This photo provided by AquaBounty Technologies shows two same-age salmon, a genetically modified salmon, (rear), and a non-genetically modified salmon, (foreground). —AP

Ice-dwelling seals to get US Endangered Species Act listing ANCHORAGE: Two species of far-north seals, victims of disappearing sea ice and dwindling snowpack in their Arctic habitat, will be granted protections under the Endangered Species Act, federal officials announced on Friday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ordered “threatened” listings for populations of ringed seals and bearded seals in the waters off northern Alaska, in parts of Russia and other regions of the Arctic. Both types of seals depend on sea ice and snow, which is becoming scarce in the Arctic region during the non-winter months, NOAA officials said in a written statement. “Our scientists undertook an extensive review of the best scientific and commercial data. They concluded that a significant decrease in sea ice is probable later this century and that these changes will likely cause these seal populations to decline,” said Jon Kurland, protected resources director for the Alaska region of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

The listings will become effective 60 days after NOAA’s notice is published in the Federal Register. Ringed seals use snow caves to nurse and protect their pups, NOAA said. The warming climate has brought autumn rains instead of the snowfalls that used to be dominant, and the warming trend has caused an earlier spring melting that leaves snowpack too shallow for cave formation, NOAA said. Bearded seals use sea ice for breeding, nursing and raising their young, NOAA said, and both types of seals depend on floating sea ice during their early summer molting period, when they shed old fur to make way for new fur. Arctic sea ice coverage this year shrank to the lowest level since satellite records began in 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. Ringed seals are the primary prey for polar bears, which in 2008 were listed as threatened because of similar problems with disappearing sea ice. Polar bears were the first animals grant-

ed Endangered Species Act protections because of climate change. Now several other icedependent animals have been or are expected to be listed. The decision covers bearded and ringed seals outside of US territory as well as those off Alaska including a listing for a rare subspecies of ringed seal that lives in Ladoga Lake in Russia. The listing decisions and studies have been prompted largely by petitions and litigation from an environmental organization, the Center for Biological Diversity. The center has also advocated for Endangered Species Act listings of the spotted and ribbon seal and the Pacific walrus. A Center official said Friday’s listing decision was a good step, but called on the Obama administration to do more. “The Obama administration has to take decisive action, right now, against greenhouse gas pollution to preserve a world filled with ice seals, walruses and polar bears,” Shaye Wolf, the center’s climate science director, said in a statement. —Reuters



Supervisor, Ghloum with the students’ council.

Al-Sultan, Al-Tarrah, Borhama and Al-Haqqan among the audience.


Senior social worker, Al-Fayyoumi with SW, Hani Hassan.

Jaber Al-Ali partakes in High School Democratic Dialogue By Hassan A Bari special seminar titled “Democratic Dialogue, Secondary School Students Perspective” was held at Sulaiman Al-Adsani secondary school. The area’s school activities director, Essa Borhama, Jahra Security Director, Maj General Ibrahim AlTarrah and the Amiri Diwan advisor, Dr Khaled AlSultan not only spoke but also conducted a dialogue with a panel of heads of the area’s secondary


school students’ councils, headed by chair-student, Mohammed Al-Tarrah. The seminar was held under the auspices of Mubarak Al-Kabeer Educational Area’s director general, Talaq Al-Haim. Among those who attended were the social and psychological services supervisor, Badriya ALWehaib, the social workers’ supervisor, Seddiqa Ghloum and senior social worker, Magdi AlFayyoumi. Speaking to supervisor Ghloum and Jaber Al-Ali’s secondary school’s social worker, Hani

Hassan, of the organizing committee, they stressed that the seminar, attended by many area social workers, school directors and students, focused on promoting the concepts of democratic dialogue, national unity and solidarity amongst younger generations. They also said that a survey that had been conducted amongst secondary school students was analyzed and discussed on the seminar.

Praise God Ministry holds 7th thanksgiving festival SEND US YOUR INSTAGRAM PICS hat’s more fun than clicking a beautiful picture? Sharing it with others! Let other people see the way you see Kuwait - through your lens. Friday Times will feature snapshots of Kuwait through Instagram feeds. If you want to share your Instagram photos, email us at


he Praise God Ministry held its annual Stuthi Swaralapana festival last weekend. The Festival the seventh since it began in 2005 - was attended by over 2,000 people who celebrated the evening with two hours of musical and dramatic performances. The festival is held each year as a way of saying thank you to underprivileged members of the workforce in Kuwait by providing them an opportunity to enjoy themselves at an evening of thanksgiving. The highlight of the event was the performances of drama, music and dance by members of the congregation. The majority of the songs performed at the event were written and performed by members of the congregation. The event also welcomed a very special guest, Mohammed Al Bisher. Al Bisher is Vice Chairman of Burgan Bank and Board Director of the Abdul


Rahman Al Bisher & Zaid Al Zazemi Group. Mr Al Bisher was thanked for his kindness, generosity and hospitality towards the Ministry and its members. Pastor Ratna Maitra said the 2012 Festival was a huge success and the result of a lot of very hard work from everyone involved: “The Stuthi Swaarlapana, or Praise Music festival, is our way of expressing our gratitude to everyone in our congregation - our family members, our mentors, our pastors, our friends and colleagues. Without their fantastic help and support we would be unable to hold this event. This Festival also provides an opportunity for all of us to have a good time with an evening of entertainment and enjoy an excellent home cooked meal. “ “Every year at this event we discover new people with hidden talents. This year was no exception with

truly wonderful performances from people who not only performed, but also wrote and composed their act. I think it warms everyone’s heart to see so much generosity from those who have so little.” “I would like to give special thanks to Al Bisher for giving us his time and support. Above all, I would like to thank all the members of our congregation and the broader community for being part of this big and loving family.” “Like previous festivals, this year’s event required a lot of hard work, sacrifice and commitment from many of the Praise God Ministry family members. Each member of the organizing team has worked very hard over the past two months to make the evening possible.” Pastor Ratna Maitra said the congregation enjoyed the evening and that everyone is looking forward to next year’s event.


Shirva feast hirva Welfare Association Kuwait (SWAK) will be celebrating their Shirva Parish feast-2013 here in Kuwait. On this occasion there will be a mass offered at 9.15 am on February 8, 2013 at the Holy Family Cathedral. Kuwait and the celebration / get-together with a of variety entertainment programme will he held from 4:30 pm - 9 pm on the same day at the Indian Community School, Salmiya. SWAK members or their children who would like to participate in the variety entertainment programme and show their talent are requested to contact any of the SWAK committee members listed below to avail the opportunity before January 10, 2013. Likewise if any of members children have excelled in academics or any other extra curricular activities in the past 1 year will be appreciated and hence are requested to inform any of the SWAK committee members listed below before the 10th of January. Last date for enrollment in the talent show is January 15, 2013.


Arabic courses WARE will begin Winter 1 Arabic language courses with new textbooks and curricula on from December 2, 2012 until January 24, 2013. AWARE Arabic language courses are designed with the expat in mind. The environment is relaxed & courses are designed for those wanting to learn Arabic for travel, cultural understanding, and conducting business or simply to become more involved in the community. For more information or registration, please log-on to our website.


KNES kindergarten, pre-school concert he youngest children of Kuwait National English School took to the stage on Thursday December 13th for their annual Winter Concert. It was a great success as the small children from 2-4 years old sang and performed for a very large of audience. The children were a delight and all staff and parents were very proud of their great accomplishments in only a few months. Happy Holidays from Kuwait National English School Early Years Kindergarten!


Charity show n the occasion of New Year Hangama 2013, which will be held on December 31, 2012 , from 6:00 pm to 12:00 am at Carmel School, Khaitan. Rak Dance Academy is conducting dance competition in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Hindi. The winners will be rewarded.


Write to us Send to What’s On upcoming events, birthdays or celebrations by email: Fax: 24835619 / 20

St Thomas Mar Thoma Women’s Forum celebrates Christmas and New Year with delicious dates cake is also seen Vicar Rev Thomas Koshy Panachamoottil.

Kuwait Kerala Muslim Cultural Center gave a reception to Kerala Government Chief Whip P.C. George. The reception meeting was presided by Sharafudeen Kanneth and inaugurated by Sayed Naser Mashoor Thangal. Varghese Puthukulungara, Mathew, James, Krishnan Kadalundi, Abdul Raheem, Hussain Pattambi, Azeez thikkodi, KTP Abdul Rahiman, Farouq Hamadani were present in the function. Basheer Batha welcomed the audience and H. Ibrahim Kutty rendered vote of thanks.



Movenpick Hotels & Resorts opens first property in Paris ovenpick Hotels & Resorts has launched its first hotel in Paris offering guests a level of upscale comfort that is as refined as the exclusive Neuilly district in which the hotel is based. The Movenpick Hotel Paris Neuilly is just three metro stops from the famous Arc de Triomphe, but light years from the capital’s hustle and bustle, situated in a residential oasis of calm and sophistication on Boulevard Victor Hugo. Movenpick Hotels & Resorts took over the hotel on December 19. From summer 2013 work will begin on the remodelling of the hotel’s 281 rooms and 19 suites as part of a multi-million-euro refurbishment project. The renovation will be carried out on a floor-by-floor basis to ensure in-house guests are never disturbed during their stay. Taking inspiration from the hotel’s prestigious neighborhood, each room will celebrate Parisian style with custom designed chaise longues, soft tone French made fabrics and unique three-dimensional wall features inspired by traditional moulded wall coverings. The art works will emphasize Parisian finesse through subtle French motifs and contemporary flourishes. A key feature will be the cutting-edge shower room with discrete glass panels allowing natural light to flood through from the bedroom. The glass shows an abstract frosted image depicting a map of Paris. Combined with integrated high-tech work spaces, the new room comes


from a design concept created by London based international company Ara Design. “The hotel is already a magnet for local residents as a result of the relaxed ambience and modern flavors of the Victor Hugo brasserie as well as the busy 58 Bar & Lounge. With Movenpick Hotels & Resorts we are looking forward to building on this suc-

cess,” said Pascal Leprou, general manager of Movenpick Hotel Paris Neuilly. The hotel will be renovating its famous garden and terrace to provide a sanctuary of city calm in which to enjoy a relaxing lunch, drink or the new Sunday brunch which will feature classic Swiss dishes and family

favorites. For business travellers Movenpick Hotel Paris Neuilly will introduce a complimentary ‘tuk-tuk’ service to provide a unique form of fast transport around the ‘golden business triangle’. The hotel is in the heart of Neuilly-sur-Seine, Levallois Perret and La Defense and within easy reach of Porte de Versailles and Paris Nord Villepinte conference centers as well as the capital’s transportation hub of Porte Maillot and a 10-minute walk from the famous Bois du Boulogne, “France is one of the world’s top five economies, with Paris at its heart, so I am delighted we have been offered the opportunity to manage this prestigious hotel,” said Jean Gabriel PÈrËs, president and chief executive officer of Movenpick Hotels & Resorts. “As a native of Paris I can appreciate how the Movenpick Hotel Paris Neuilly and its wonderful residential location offer both international travelers as well as savvy Parisians the chance to experience the capital in such an extraordinary way.” The hotel brings the European portfolio of Movenpick Hotels & Resorts up to 22 properties and a global portfolio of 77 hotels, resorts and Nile cruisers currently in operation. Movenpick Hotel Paris Neuilly will offer an introductory rate starting at 228 Euro including breakfast.

ASSE organizes Defensive Driving Awareness course s part of ASSE KUWAIT Chapter’s community outreach strategy, a Defensive Driving Awareness session was organized on 10th December 2012 for the bus drivers of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan School, Jleeb. Around 55 bus drivers utilized this opportunity and got benefited. Premkumar, Principal, Bhavans Vidhya Bhavan, started the day’s proceedings with a welcome speech and he briefed about the core responsibility of a school bus driver and thanked ASSE Kuwait Chapter for the initiative taken. It was followed by an introductory speech by V S V R A Babu, Head, Outreach & Membership committee, ASSE Kuwait Chapter and shared the the traffic violation and fatality statistics of Kuwait for the first six months. Farhad Khan, the speaker of the program delivered the awareness presentation for the drivers. His presentation featured inspection of vehicle, crossing signals, mirror adjustments, road traffic signs, seat belts, taking diversions, joining roads, intersections, roundabout, lane change, mobile phone usage, driving with fatigue and insufficient sleep, drowsiness, driving in extreme weather conditions, fines for violations, vehicle parking and reversing and speeding. The participants were given real time examples through the videos and slide shows. The session as followed


Warm festive season at Radisson Blu Hotel he mood is celebratory, the evening truly special and the setting at our restaurants is ideal. Feast on our traditional Christmas delicacies and celebrate a new beginning with a festive dinner in a warm and friendly atmosphere of Rangoli or Al Boom restaurants at the Radisson Blu Hotel Kuwait. Enjoy a traditional Christmas Feast and the Christmas Day Brunch with a large buffet spread in Rangoli to take your pick from fresh salads and cold appetizers, a wide array of fresh fish & seafood items, soup and cheese boards, hot main courses and serving stations offering varieties of premium meats including traditional stuffed turkey and US prime rib, followed by display of seasonal desserts. For Turkey lovers, have our chefs prepare a whole roast turkey with all the trimmings or a delicious meal of your choice to be collected and taken away wherever you are... Enhance the celebrations with delectable Goodies including pumpkin pie, ginger bread house ,Yule log, chocolate Santa, bells, angels, mince pies, Christmas cookies and many more at Rangoli & the Viking Club CafÈ until the end of the month. Celebrate the New Year’s Eve with a festive Int’l buffet creation at Rangoli or A la carte menu in settings that exude seasonal warmth and authenticity of a traditional Kuwaiti dhow at Al Boom restaurant. The Management and Staff of the Radisson Blu Hotel Kuwait extend their warmest Season’s Greetings.



Embassy Information 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. ■■■■■■■

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, E-mail: The Embassy of Canada is located at Villa 24, Al-Mutawakei 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. ■■■■■■■

with a quiz and question and answers. The session was very interactive and useful for the drivers. P V Rao concluded the session with some best Practices in Driving and thanked the school management for the support. The session was concluded with the certificate distribution and refreshments.

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. ■■■■■■■

Victory Day of Bangladesh he Victory Day of Bangladesh was observed by the Bangladesh Military Contingent to Kuwait with solemnity and profound festivity. On 15th December 2012 afternoon, a cultural program was organized to mark this festive day. All members of Bangladesh Military Contingent and officers family attended the cultural program. On 16th December Bangladesh Military Contingent Command Headquarters hosted a lunch for the occasion. Both the programs were attended by the ambassador of Bangladesh H E Syed Shahed Reza as chief guest. Besides, officials from Kuwait Armed Forces and Bangladesh Embassy were present in both the occasion. Later the Commander Bangladesh Military Contingent Brigadier General Hamidur Rahman Chowdhury, PSC along with H E the ambassador of Bangladesh Syed Shahed Reza, Lieutenant Colonel Nabil Abdullah AlHasan from Kuwait Armed Forces, Defense AttachÈ Brigadier General Md Nasimul Gani, AFWC, PSC and other invited guest joined a cake cutting ceremony to mark the Victory Day of Bangladesh.


EMBASSY OF KENYA The Embassy of the Republic of Kenya wishes to inform the Kenyan community residents throughout Kuwait and the general public that the Embassy has acquired new office telephone numbers as follows: 25353982, 25353985 - Consular’s enquiries 25353987 - Fax Our Email address: ■■■■■■■

EMBASSY OF MYANMAR Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar would like to inform the general public that the Embassy has moved its office to new location at Villa 35, Road 203, Block 2, Al-Salaam Area in South Surra. The Embassy wishes to advice Myanmar citizens and travellers to Myanmar to contact Myanmar Embassy at its new location. Tel. 25240736, 25240290, Fax: 25240749, ■■■■■■■

EMBASSY OF NIGERIA The Nigerian embassy has its new office in Mishref. Block 3, Street 7, House 4. For enquires please call 25379541. Fax25387719. Email- or ■■■■■■■

EMBASSY OF PERU The Embassy of Peru is located in Sharq, Ahmed Al Jaber Street, Al Arabiya Tower, 6th Floor. Working days / hours: SundayThursday /9 am - 4 pm. Residents in Kuwait interested in getting a visa to travel to Peru and companies attracted to invest in Peru are invited to visit the permanent exposition room located in the Embassy. For more information, please contact: (+965) 22267250/1.



00:20 Ned Bruha: Skunk Whisperer 00:50 I’m Alive 01:45 Animal Cops Philadelphia 02:35 Lions And Giants 03:25 My Cat From Hell 04:15 Ned Bruha: Skunk Whisperer 04:40 Ned Bruha: Skunk Whisperer 05:05 National Parks Australia 05:55 Animal Cops Philadelphia 06:45 Baby Planet 07:35 Wildlife SOS 08:00 Talk To The Animals 08:25 Dogs/Cats/Pets 101 09:15 Crocodile Hunter 10:10 Baby Planet 11:05 Dick ‘n’ Dom Go Wild 11:30 Breed All About It 12:00 Jeff Corwin Unleashed 12:25 The Really Wild Show 12:55 Sharkman 13:50 The Animals’ Guide To Survival 14:45 The Animals’ Guide To Survival 15:40 Shamwari: A Wild Life 16:05 Shamwari: A Wild Life 16:35 Rescue Vet 17:00 Rescue Vet 17:30 Too Cute! 18:25 My Cat From Hell 19:20 Call Of The Wildman 19:45 Call Of The Wildman 20:15 Gator Boys 21:10 In Search Of The Giant Anaconda 22:05 Biggest And Baddest 23:00 Shamwari: A Wild Life 23:25 Shamwari: A Wild Life 23:55 Wildest Islands

00:35 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 01:20 Kirstie & Phil’s Perfect Christmas 02:10 Come Dine With Me 03:00 Antiques Roadshow 03:50 Bargain Hunt 04:35 Masterchef: The Professionals 05:05 Masterchef: The Professionals 06:00 Rick Stein’s French Odyssey 06:30 Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is 07:15 Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is 08:00 Eating With The Enemy 08:45 Rick Stein’s French Odyssey 09:15 Rick Stein’s French Odyssey 09:45 The Hairy Bakers’ Christmas Special 10:40 Gok’s Clothes Roadshow 11:25 Kirstie & Phil’s Perfect Christmas 12:15 Come Dine With Me 13:05 Antiques Roadshow 14:00 Bargain Hunt 14:45 Masterchef: The Professionals 15:15 Masterchef: The Professionals 16:05 Baking Made Easy 16:35 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 17:15 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 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 22:55 Masterchef: The Professionals 23:20 Baking Made Easy 23:50 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

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BBC World News Dateline London BBC World News The Culture Show BBC World News World Features Middle East Business Report

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BBC World News World Features Equestrian World BBC World News Dateline London BBC World News Why Poverty? BBC World News Newsnight BBC World News Click BBC World News India Business Report BBC World News Fast Track BBC World News World Features Equestrian World BBC World News World Features Dateline London BBC World News Faster, Higher, Stronger BBC World News World Features The Culture Show BBC World News World Features Newsnight BBC World News Pick Of The Year BBC World News Sport Today Click BBC World News Pick Of The Year BBC World News Why Poverty? BBC World News India Business Report BBC World News The Culture Show BBC World News Pick Of The Year BBC World News Sport Today Equestrian World BBC World News Faster, Higher, Stronger

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Yogi’s Treasure Hunt Duck Dodgers Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries Dastardly And Muttley Popeye Wacky Races Scooby Doo Where Are You! The Flintstones The Jetsons What’s New Scooby Doo? Taz-Mania The Looney Tunes Show Tom & Jerry Tales Johnny Bravo Moomins Dexter’s Laboratory What’s New Scooby Doo? Taz-Mania The Looney Tunes Show Tom & Jerry Tales The Garfield Show Baby Looney Tunes Bananas In Pyjamas Cartoonito Tales Ha Ha Hairies Jelly Jamm Gerald McBoing Boing Moomins What’s New Scooby Doo? The Garfield Show Dexter’s Laboratory Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries Taz-Mania The Looney Tunes Show Tom & Jerry The Garfield Show Pink Panther And Pals Pink Panther And Pals Tom & Jerry Tales Taz-Mania Taz-Mania Johnny Bravo Yogi & The Magical Flight Of... Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries Taz-Mania The Looney Tunes Show Tom & Jerry The Garfield Show Pink Panther And Pals What’s New Scooby Doo?

22:15 22:40 23:05 23:30 23:55

Moomins Puppy In My Pocket The Perils Of Penelope Pitstop The Addams Family Droopy: Master Detective

00:40 Chowder 01:30 Bakugan Battle Brawlers 01:55 Bakugan Battle Brawlers 02:20 Foster’s Home For... 02:45 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 06:30 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 Thundercats 11:25 Thundercats 11:50 Regular Show 12:00 Chowder 12:25 Adventure Time 12:40 The Amazing World Of Gumball 13:05 Johnny Test 13:30 Ben 10 13:55 Ben 10 14:20 The Powerpuff Girls 15:10 Green Lantern: The Animated Series 15:35 Transformers Prime 16:00 Angelo Rules 16:50 Thundercats 17:15 Generator Rex 17:40 Eliot Kid 18:30 Regular Show 19:15 Ed, Edd n Eddy 19:30 Robotboy 19:45 The Amazing World Of Gumball 20:10 Johnny Test 20:35 Ben 10: Alien Force 21:00 Ben 10: Alien Force 21:25 The Powerpuff Girls 22:15 Grim Adventures Of... 23:00 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 23:25 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 23:50 The Powerpuff Girls

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World Report News Special Open Court World Sport World Report Talk Asia World Report Amanpour CNN Marketplace Europe CNN Marketplace Africa The Brief CNN Presents CNN Newsroom I Report For CNN Inside Africa World Sport Leading Women Future Cities World Report CNN Marketplace Middle East Talk Asia World Report CNN Marketplace Europe Sanjay Gupta MD World Sport Winning Post The Gateway African Voices The Brief CNN Presents

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World Report News Special Fareed Zakaria GPS World Report On China State Of The Union International Desk Political Mann Global Exchange CNN Marketplace Africa Global Exchange CNN Marketplace Middle East World Sport Open Court International Desk African Voices International Desk Leading Women Future Cities Fareed Zakaria GPS

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Cook County Jail Manhunt: Search For A Killer How Stuff’s Made How It’s Made How Stuff’s Made How It’s Made How Stuff’s Made How It’s Made How Stuff’s Made How It’s Made How Stuff’s Made How It’s Made How It’s Made How Stuff’s Made American Chopper American Chopper Wheeler Dealers Outback Truckers Deadliest Catch How It’s Made Dirty Money Dirty Money GI Dough GI Dough GI Dough Border Security Mythbusters Mythbusters Deception With Keith Barry Walking The Amazon Curiosity: X-Ray: Yellowstone Superhuman Showdown

00:40 Brave New World 01:35 Killer Outbreaks 02:25 Prophets Of Science Fiction 03:15 Things That Move 03:45 Gadget Show - World Tour 04:10 How Tech Works 04:35 Gadget Show - World Tour 05:00 How Tech Works 05:25 The Gadget Show 05:50 How Tech Works 06:15 The Gadget Show 06:40 How Tech Works 07:05 The Gadget Show 07:30 How Tech Works 08:00 Ways To Save The Planet 08:50 Prophets Of Science Fiction 09:40 Head Rush 09:43 Stunt Junkies 10:10 Stunt Junkies 10:40 Man-Made Marvels Asia 11:30 Apocalypse 2012 Revelations 12:20 Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman 13:10 Mega World 14:00 Junk Men 14:25 Junk Men 14:50 Bad Universe 15:45 Ways To Save The Planet 16:35 Things That Move 17:00 Head Rush 17:03 The Tech Show 17:30 The Tech Show 18:00 Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman 18:50 Scrapheap Challenge 19:40 Apocalypse 2012 Revelations 20:30 How Tech Works 23:50 How Tech Works

00:10 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 09:10 09:35 10:00 10:25 11:55 12:05 12:30 12:55 13:20 13:45 14:10 14:35 15:00 15:25 15:50 16:15 16:25 16:40 17:00 18:20 18:45 20:15 20:25 20:50 21:15 21:40 22:05 22:30 22:45 22:55 Cody 23:20 Cody 23:45

Stitch A Kind Of Magic A Kind Of Magic Replacements Replacements Emperor’s New School Emperor’s New School A Kind Of Magic A Kind Of Magic Replacements Replacements Emperor’s New School Emperor’s New School A Kind Of Magic 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 Good Luck Charlie Austin And Ally Gravity Falls Johnny Kapahala Phineas And Ferb Austin And Ally My Babysitter’s A Vampire Gravity Falls Jessie Good Luck Charlie Good Luck Charlie Good Luck Charlie Good Luck Charlie Shake It Up Shake It Up Fish Hooks Fish Hooks Austin And Ally Lion King 1.5 Good Luck Charlie Johnny Kapahala 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

00:25 Holly’s World 00:55 Style Star 01:25 THS 02:20 15 Most Infamous Child Star Mugshots 04:10 THS 05:05 Extreme Close-Up 05:30 Extreme Close-Up 06:00 THS 07:50 Behind The Scenes 08:20 E! News 09:15 Extreme Close-Up 09:45 Extreme Close-Up 10:15 E!es 11:10 Opening Act 12:05 E! News 13:05 Married To Jonas 13:35 Married To Jonas 14:05 Kourtney & Kim Take New York 14:30 Kourtney & Kim Take New York 15:00 THS 15:55 Fashion Police 16:55 Behind The Scenes 17:25 Behind The Scenes 17:55 E! News 18:55 Married To Jonas 19:25 Ice Loves Coco 19:55 Ice Loves Coco 20:25 Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane 21:25 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 22:25 Opening Act 23:25 Opening Act

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Dr G: Medical Examiner Ghost Lab Crime Scene Psychics Crime Scene Psychics I Married A Mobster I Married A Mobster Reel Crime/Real Story Dr G: Medical Examiner Ghost Lab Crime Scene Psychics Crime Scene Psychics Disappeared Killer Outbreaks Street Patrol Street Patrol Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? On The Case With Paula Zahn Murder Shift Disappeared Killer Outbreaks 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 True Crime With Aphrodite Who On Earth Did I Marry? Nightmare Next Door Couples Who Kill Deadly Affairs Deadly Women

02:05 Women In Love 04:15 Hardware 05:50 Tryst 07:35 What Did You Do In The War Daddy 09:30 Ring Of The Musketeers 11:00 Yentl 13:10 Report To The Commissioner 15:05 Futureworld 16:55 Mgm’s Big Screen 17:10 Women vs. Men 18:40 Oleanna 20:10 Alice 22:00 Bananas 23:20 Blow Out

00:15 Bondi Rescue 00:45 Bondi Rescue 01:10 Bondi Rescue 01:40 Race To The Bottom of The Earth 02:35 Hugh’s Three Hungry Boys 03:30 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 03:55 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 04:25 Street Food Around The World 04:50 Market Values 05:20 Amish: Out of Order 06:15 One Man & His Campervan 06:40 One Man & His Campervan 07:10 Earth Tripping 07:35 Earth Tripping 08:05 Earth Tripping 08:30 Earth Tripping 09:00 On The Camino De Santiago 09:25 On The Camino De Santiago 09:55 Bondi Rescue 10:20 Bondi Rescue 10:50 Bondi Rescue 11:15 Bondi Rescue 11:45 On Hannibal Trail 12:10 Finding Genghis 12:40 3 wheels 13:35 Exploring The Vine 14:00 Exploring The Vine 14:30 Street Food Around The World 14:55 Market Values 15:25 The Frankincense Trail 16:20 Earth Tripping 16:45 Earth Tripping 17:15 On The Camino De Santiago 17:40 On The Camino De Santiago 18:10 Bondi Rescue 18:35 Bondi Rescue 19:05 Amish: Out of Order 20:05 One Man & His Campervan 20:30 One Man & His Campervan 21:00 Earth Tripping 21:30 Earth Tripping 22:00 The Best Job In The World 22:25 Market Values 22:55 One Man & His Campervan 23:20 Exploring The Vine

00:00 01:00 02:00 03:00

Shark Men Megastructures Big, Bigger, Biggest Fight Science

GLORIOUS 39 ON OSN CINEMA 04:00 Animal Autopsy (AKA Inside Nature’s Giants) 05:00 Hooked 06:00 Ancient Megastructures 07:00 Dangerous Encounters With Brady Barr 08:00 Shark Men 09:00 Megastructures 10:00 Big, Bigger, Biggest 11:00 Fight Science 12:00 Animal Autopsy (AKA Inside Nature’s Giants) 13:00 Hooked 14:00 Megastructures 15:00 Dangerous Encounters With Brady Barr 16:00 Shark Men 17:00 Megastructures 18:00 World’s Toughest Fixes 19:00 Untamed Americas 20:00 Access 360¬∞ World Heritage 21:00 Swamp Men 22:00 Untamed Americas 23:00 World’s Toughest Fixes

00:00 Animal Intervention 01:00 Night Stalkers 01:55 Monster Fish 02:50 Swamp Men 03:45 Kalahari Supercats 04:40 Caught In The Act 05:35 Unlikely Animal Friends 06:30 Dangerous Encounters With Brady Barr 07:25 Dangerous Encounters With Brady Barr 08:20 Monkey Thieves 09:15 Snake Wranglers 10:10 Fish Tank Kings 11:05 Untamed Americas 12:00 Hidden Worlds 13:00 Monster Fish 14:00 Built for the Kill 15:00 Asia’s Deadliest Snakes 16:00 Hunter Hunted 17:00 Kalahari Supercats 18:00 Wild Case Files 19:00 Hidden Worlds 20:00 Monster Fish 21:00 Built for the Kill 22:00 Asia’s Deadliest Snakes 23:00 Hunter Hunted

00:00 My Bloody Valentine-R 02:00 The Running Man-18 04:00 Secret Window-PG15 06:00 Rage Of The Yeti-PG15 08:00 Go Fast-PG15 10:00 Odysseus: Voyage To The Underworld-PG15 12:00 Rocky v-PG15 14:00 Go Fast-PG15 16:00 The Cry Of The Owl-PG15 18:00 Rocky v-PG15 20:00 Constantine-PG15 22:00 Sanctum-18

01:00 03:15 05:30 07:00 09:00 11:15 13:00 15:00 17:00 19:00 21:00 23:00

The Way Back-PG15 Glorious 39-PG15 Princess Lillifee-FAM Elevator Girl-PG15 Glorious 39-PG15 Ways To Live Forever-PG15 Big Fat Liar-PG The Adjustment Bureau-PG15 Black Forest-PG15 Daydream Nation-PG15 30 Minutes Or Less-18 Powder Blue-18

00:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 01:00 The Colbert Report 01:30 Saturday Night Live 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 18:30 Hot In Cleveland 19:00 Two And A Half Men 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 American Dad 22:30 Curb Your Enthusiasm 23:00 How To Make It In America

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

Fairly Legal C.S.I. Strike Back The Tudors Burn Notice C.S.I. Miami Fairly Legal Emmerdale Coronation Street Criminal Minds Strike Back C.S.I. Burn Notice Emmerdale Coronation Street Criminal Minds Fairly Legal Emmerdale Coronation Street Criminal Minds Burn Notice The River The Closer Sons Of Anarchy The Tudors

01:00 Get Rich Or Die Tryin’-18 03:00 Secret Window-PG15 05:00 Law Abiding Citizen-18 07:00 Rocky IV-PG15 09:00 Riddles Of The Sphinx-PG15 11:00 Law Abiding Citizen-18 13:00 Green Lantern: Emerald Knights-PG15 15:00 Riddles Of The Sphinx-PG15 17:00 True Justice: Urban WarfarePG15 19:00 A Dangerous Man-18 21:00 Botched-18 23:00 Paintball-18

00:00 Held Up (2010)-18 02:00 I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry-PG15 04:00 The Ladykillers-PG15 06:00 Sleepless In Seattle-PG 08:00 Robots-PG 10:00 The Decoy Bride-PG15 12:00 The Ladykillers-PG15 14:00 The Beverly Hillbillies-PG15 16:00 The Decoy Bride-PG15 18:00 The American President-PG15 20:00 Failure To Launch-PG15 22:00 The Trotsky-PG15

01:45 03:15 05:30 07:30 PG15 09:00 11:00 PG15 13:00 15:00 17:00 PG15 19:00 21:00 23:45

Apres Nous Le Deluge-18 The Terminal-PG15 Flight Of The Phoenix-PG15 Ike: Countdown To D-DayThe Color Of Money-PG15 Mademoiselle ChambonSoldier Love Story-PG15 The Color Of Money-PG15 Le Crime Est Notre AffaireDragonfly-PG15 The Insider-PG15 One Hour Photo-18

02:15 Thor-PG15 04:15 Love The Beast-PG 06:00 The Birth Of Big Air-PG15 07:30 Marley & Me: The Puppy Years-PG 09:00 On Strike For Christmas-PG15 11:00 Thor-PG15 13:00 Another Year-PG15 15:15 The Conspirator-PG15

17:15 On Strike For Christmas-PG15 19:00 Red Riding Hood-PG15 21:00 Honey 2-PG15 23:00 The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo-R

01:00 Maroons-FAM 02:45 The Three Bears: Dreadful Dangers-FAM 04:30 Emperor’s Secret-PG 06:00 Little Secrets-PG 08:00 Maroons-FAM 10:00 Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil-PG 11:30 Scooby-Doo! Curse Of The Lake Monster-PG 13:00 Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back-PG 14:15 Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate-PG 16:00 Rh+ The Vampire Of SevillePG 18:00 Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil-PG 20:00 Dolphin Tale-PG 22:00 Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back-PG

02:00 Twenty20 Big Bash League 05:00 Volvo Ocean Race Highlights Official Film 06:30 Extreme Sailing Series 07:00 Trans World Sport 08:00 ICC Cricket 360 08:30 Live Twenty20 Big Bash League 11:30 Live Twenty20 Big Bash League 14:30 Trans World Sport 15:30 Live Darts 19:30 Extreme Sailing Series 20:00 Extreme Sailing Series 20:30 Extreme Sailing Series 21:00 PGA European Tour Highlights 22:00 Live Darts

03:00 07:00 11:00 11:30 13:00 14:00 14:30 17:30 20:30 21:00

Darts Darts Futbol Mundial Volvo Ocean Race Highlights PGA European Tour Weekly ICC Cricket 360 Twenty20 Big Bash League Twenty20 Big Bash League NFL Game Day Live NFL

00:30 Asian Tour Golf 01:00 Pro 12 03:00 Pro 12 05:00 Top 14 Highlights 05:30 PGA European Tour Highlights 06:30 Asian Tour Golf 07:00 Pro 12 09:00 Spirit of Yachting 09:30 Spirit of Golf 10:00 PGA European Tour Highlights 11:00 PDC World Darts Championship 15:00 Pro 12 17:00 Spirit of Yachting 17:30 Spirit of Yachting 18:00 Trans World Sport 19:00 PGA European Tour Highlights 20:00 Pro 12 22:00 Twenty20 Big Bash League

01:00 02:00 03:00 04:00 07:00 08:00 09:00 10:00 10:30 11:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 19:00 20:00 23:00

WWE Bottom Line V8 Supercars Extra UFC The Ultimate Fighter UFC 146 WWE Bottom Line WWE NXT WWE Experience This Week in WWE UAE National Race Day PrizeFighter European Le Mans Series European Le Mans Series WWE Bottom Line WWE SmackDown UFC The Ultimate Fighter UFC 147 UFC The Ultimate Fighter

Classifieds SUNDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2012

FOR SALE Indoor plants, 7-seater coffee colored velvet sofa, center table and other. items at Hateen Villa. Contact: 25221890 / 99405162. (C 4257) 20-12-2012 Mazda (6) white color 2003, excellent condition, insurance one year, KD 1,100. Mob: 66729295. (C 4256) 18-12-2012 Mazda (6) white color 2003, excellent condition, insurance one year, KD 1,100. Mob: 66729295. (C 4256) 17-12-2012

SITUATION WANTED Accountant (5 years’ experience) B.Com, MBA Finance, Finalization of accounts, B/S, P/L, TB, Bank Transaction, Cash, Debtor, Creditors and Inventory Management, ERP Tally, Oracle. Seeking suitable position. Contact: 97176224. (C 4255) 18-12-2012

MATRIMONIAL Orthodox parents invite proposals for their son 30/172 cm M.Com PGDBA, B & B in Kuwait and employed in a reputed MNC in Kuwait from parents of Orthodox/ Jacobite/ Marthoma B.E/MCA/MBA/M.Com/B.ED or other suitably qualified and

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Prayer timings


CHANGE OF NAME I, Ali Bhai, holder of Indian Passport No: G1349572 hereby change my name to ALI BHAI JIVAJI ALI KAKA. 19-12-2012 I, Muhammed Abdulla, holder of Indian Passport No: F6634470, have changed my name to MUHAMMED KUNHI ABDULLA. I, Parayil Puthen Veetil Abdul Rahim, holder of Indian Passport No: K3650340, hereby change my name to AZAD MANZIL ABDUL RAHIM. (C 4254) 18-12-2012

TUITION AutoCAD tuition available by Highly Qualified Experienced Teacher, Learn professionally AutoCAD 2D&3D with Projects, Flexible Schedule, and individual tutorial. Contact: 99302850 / 22467301. (C 4251) 20-12-2012

Kuwait Parliament

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THE PUBLIC AUTHORITY FOR CIVIL INFORMATION Automated enquiry about the Civil ID card is

1889988 Ministry of Interior website:





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Time 0:05 0:15 0:40 1:00 1:10 1:20 1:30 2:25 2:45 2:55 3:15 3:45 3:50 4:00 4:10 4:50 6:05 6:55 7:00 7:05 7:35 8:15 8:15 8:25 8:45 9:05 9:10 9:30 9:35 9:45 9:55 9:55 10:00 10:00 10:05 10:05 10:30 10:40 11:30 11:40 11:50 12:10 12:15 12:20 12:55 12:55 13:00 13:45 13:50 14:15

Directorate General of Civil Aviation Home Page (


58 561 673 473 342 503 617 141 238 304 513 538 135 858 641 216 184 511 128 266 145 3554 134 982 64 439 62 648 571 394 120 619 171 230 403 308 137 222 301 60 860 575 351 205 373 417 147 343 502 218 415 411


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



s ta rs CROSSWORD 47

STAR TRACK Aries (March 21-April 19) Wonderful plans are underway and it may seem like there is just too much to do before you can sit back and really enjoy this time of year. Just verbalize your needs and your willingness to return a favor and you will have more help than you expected. Laughter can be heard over a walkie-talkie or cell phone and when your chores are completed, you will look forward to helping the ones that helped you. You usually begin your day with a positive attitude, knowing that any negative will balance out with or without your help. You will find things have a way of working out in magical ways. An idea for a play or book may be running through your head and this evening would be a great time to take notes or begin to collaborate with your mate or partner.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) If you leave a project for too long, you could be surprised at how hard it is to complete what you began. Keep on the path and you will be rewarded by day’s end. Selfimprovement and the influence of those around you can go along educational, religious, philosophical or cultural lines. It is time to plan to travel or do business over a distance. There is a yearning to broaden your horizons. Talk of places unseen and adventures missed may have you and your friends planning the ultimate vacation for next year. You could hit the high spots and just navigate through these wonderful places or create some time to really get to know the culture and the country and take pictures and record sounds. Think on these things; perhaps travel during the holidays.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

ACROSS 1. The central part of a car wheel (or fan or propeller etc) through which the shaft or axle passes. 4. The tenth month of the Moslem calendar. 11. A metallic tapping sound. 15. (Irish) Mother of the ancient Irish gods. 16. An industrial city in south central Finland. 17. Exhibiting or restored to vigorous good health. 18. The first month of the year. 19. Syncopated music in duple time for dancing the rumba. 20. A formal expression of praise. 21. Type genus of the Juglandaceae. 23. (music) The pace of music measured by the number of beats occurring in 60 seconds. 25. Black honeycreepers with yellow feathers around the tail. 26. An associate degree in nursing. 27. An international organization of European countries formed after World War II to reduce trade barriers and increase cooperation among its members. 28. The biblical name for ancient Syria. 30. The father of your father or mother. 34. Type genus of the Hirundinidae. 38. Hired for the exclusive temporary use of a group of travelers. 41. (geology) Before the appearance of life. 42. Wear away. 43. (astronomy) The angular distance of a celestial point measured westward along the celestial equator from the zenith crossing. 44. Being one more than three. 45. (British) A waterproof raincoat made of rubberized fabric. 46. A black colloidal substance consisting wholly or principally of amorphous carbon and used to make pigments and ink. 47. In such a manner as could not be otherwise. 49. A city in southern Turkey on the Seyhan River. 51. Bulky grayish-brown eagle with a short wedge-shaped white tail. 53. A sock with a separation for the big toe. 55. Mild yellow Dutch cheese made in balls. 56. A radioactive gaseous element formed by the disintegration of radium. 60. A compartment in front of a motor vehicle where driver sits. 63. A state in northwestern North America. 67. Colonial siphonophore of up to 130 ft long. 72. A branch of the Tai languages. 73. Capital and largest city and economic center of Peru. 77. An independent ruler or chieftain (especially in Africa or Arabia). 78. Genus of tropical hardwood timber trees. 80. A light touch or stroke. 81. A small ball with a hole through the middle. 82. Capital and largest city of Iraq. 83. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. DOWN 1. A pilgrimage to Mecca. 2. Relatively small fast-moving sloth. 3. A vigorous blow. 4. Cut off or left behind. 5. German chemist who was co-discoverer

with Lise Meitner of nuclear fission (18791968). 6. Pleasantly occupied. 7. The rate at which words are produced (as in speaking or typing). 8. English writer and a central member of the Fabian Society (1858-1943). 9. A member of a North American Plains people (now living in Oklahoma and Wyoming). 10. A chronic inflammatory collagen disease affecting connective tissue (skin or joints). 11. The tenth month of the civil year. 12. The United Nations agency concerned with atomic energy. 13. Burrowing marine mollusk living on sand or mud. 14. A game in which numbered balls are drawn and random and players cover the corresponding numbers on their cards. 22. East Indian tart yellow berrylike fruit. 24. The use of nuclear magnetic resonance of protons to produce proton density images. 29. An anti-TNF compound (trade name Arava) that is given orally. 31. Spiritually reborn or converted. 32. American professional baseball player who hit more home runs than Babe Ruth (born in 1934). 33. Chief port of Yemen. 35. A member of a people who have no permanent home but move about according to the seasons. 36. English aristocrat who was the first wife of Prince Charles. 37. English scholastic philosopher and assumed author of Occam's Razor (12851349). 39. The 8th letter of the Greek alphabet. 40. A family of Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in southeastern Asia. 48. A metallic element having four allotropic forms. 50. Corrupt morally or by intemperance or sensuality. 52. A small cake leavened with yeast. 54. The United Nations agency concerned with civil aviation. 57. French soldier said to be fearless and chivalrous (1473-1524). 58. A silvery soft waxy metallic element of the alkali metal group. 59. A bluish-white lustrous metallic element. 61. A silvery ductile metallic element found primarily in bauxite. 62. (folklore) A corpse that rises at night to drink the blood of the living. 64. The main city of ancient Phoenicia. 65. Cubes of meat marinated and cooked on a skewer usually with vegetables. 66. Jordan's port. 68. Ice crystals forming a white deposit (especially on objects outside). 69. Air pollution by a mixture of smoke and fog. 70. A woman hired to suckle a child of someone else. 71. Port city in northwestern Belgium and industrial center. 74. A state-chartered savings bank owned by its depositors and managed by a board of trustees. 75. A flat wing-shaped process or winglike part of an organism. 76. Someone who is morally reprehensible. 79. (Akkadian) God of wisdom.

Careful, if you concentrate only on what is in front of you—you may miss some important information. A sense of renewal gives you energy for leadership and improved recognition for your creative efforts. An influential person can be significant to you now. If any emotional issues come up, step back to look at the situation from a different perspective. If you did not ask for or receive a blank page diary for your birthday— consider one. It will be perfect for keeping track of the dreams you will be having during the next few months. There might be some special clue into their meanings, particularly if you write down what you think might have caused you to dream the dream. Make it fun! Your creative insight is high; writing and storytelling is a plus.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) Stimulating situations today are quite interesting in that you offer your expertise in making changes that will end in positive ways. Be aware that you might be tempted to jump into a situation too quickly. This afternoon you will find that friends need your input. This, however, may not be the best time to make important decisions that affect your living situation or life circumstances. Being more involved with neighbors or siblings satisfies a deep emotional need. You can demonstrate great understanding and sensitivity to the needs of others and are in a good position to help coordinate upcoming events. You have the talent of using your imagination in creative ways and will certainly be pleased at the results of your efforts.

Leo (July 23-August 22) In the workplace today, there is a strong urge among all of the workers to lean more toward the social part of the day. You could find yourself having some difficult moments when you try to become organized. Going with the flow may be the better choice today. Consider any one of the problems you may find today as opportunities. You have an opportunity to deal with people in positions of power and the impressions they have of you are positive so stop worrying. You may be relaxed this evening and find it easy to communicate even if a touchy conversation arises. Many find you especially witty, particularly this evening—you have new material. You recheck your plans for New Year’s and have great ideas about entertaining—there is room for two.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) The desire to complete the invitations to a party and the purchase of party favors has you up early this morning. A neighbor’s child, your children or a sibling’s children will be in your care this afternoon. There are opportunities to enjoy some nearby entertainment especially for children. Perhaps this includes a play with children, music, dance or a storybook reading by the author. Your afternoon is most enjoyable and you seem to have a special magic—the Pied Piper touch with young people. Your inner resources and emotions are accented. Expect a sense of support and goodwill from those around you. Perhaps you feel this is really you. Romance and recreation take on an unusual character, out of step with ordinary expectations but most positive.

Word Search

Libra (September 23-October 22) You plan to devote a half day or even a full day this week to catching up on the smaller items that were set aside this last week. Communication, particularly with superiors or authority figures, could prove quite successful this morning. The time you have spent away from work in preparing some new ideas and the way in which you present your ideas are impressive. There are rewards in the making. Long journeys could be in order soon. Prepare your passport. Education or business is stimulating, especially if you are in publishing or religion. You will find a way around or through nearly any obstacle you may come across now. Your sense of internal direction is strong and you will find many opportunities to express yourself today.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) This is a very lucky day for making plans or decisions and finding your way through just about any problem you may discover. Work progress is commendable—you feel successful and able to move beyond any difficulties. Good advice from an older person may be forthcoming. Anything is possible now and you are looking forward to the New Year. You have optimism, faith and a bravery to match your feelings. This is a good day to reflect and understand your own situation. Someone you care about—a child or lover, perhaps—may be a cause for concern. You could be most persuasive with this person and you are eloquent in communication. The situation is a natural for self-expression and lends itself to your particular ideas.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) You are the perfectionist today and it may take a real persuading to get you to leave the workplace early. Because you are one of a few working on a particular project today, you may find it difficult to find someone to step in and help you. Although this devotion to your work may bring you some control or power in the workplace, in the end it all may mean you have little escape. You may decide to write down the steps you take with these special jobs. This could be one way to open opportunities for you to have a support system. This perfectionist quality can be used for or against you—balance is essential. An important relationship, perhaps with an older person or someone in authority, may come into focus today—there is an opportunity for growth.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) This could be a day of challenge, so straighten your back and prepare your mind for this day; you will be most pleased with the results of your efforts. Take the time to be thankful for the challenges as it presents opportunities to show how you solve problems as well as showing off your positive attitude. Your mind could be quite clear and natural just now. Ideas are flowing and come with ease. You can talk, talk, talk. You feel able to accomplish whatever is set before you. With each success, you gain confidence; remember you can teach through your example. There are some secrets that you do not know but they are not detrimental to how you solve problems today. This afternoon and evening are for your enjoyment.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) Communicating and getting your message across to others is at a high. Your timing should be perfect and those around you should find you most spontaneous and energetic. You may be feeling that anything is possible if you concentrate and keep the faith. There is a tendency to feel that you can take chances at the deepest emotional level. You may feel more passion for life than you normally feel. Others find much incentive when they are with you. Remember these feelings when the mood goes in the other direction and aim for a balance. You may have ideas for a better public health program. Read and be up-to-date with the arguments. Make your own suggestions to the representatives of your state. Enjoy this time.

Pisces (February 19-March 20) Others may disagree with what you say or think about some ideas that you have today. It may be wise to reassess your ideas or show an example of your ideas to others—as in the famous chart and graph presentation. Keep an open mind—you could come up with new solutions. It is not strange to find you checking out subjects on the spooky or near death and today; you could be deeply involved in conversations along these lines. UFO or ESP subjects keep your curiosity aroused. Someone needs your help in a decision later today and you are the right person to help. You can assess, compare and help this person with their search for a result. Enjoy these last few days of this year—next year may be liberating! Enjoy the sounds of music this evening.

Yesterday’s Solution

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


Amiri Hospital


Maternity Hospital


Mubarak Al-Kabir Hospital


Chest Hospital


Farwaniya Hospital


Adan Hospital


Ibn Sina Hospital


Al-Razi Hospital


Physiotherapy Hospital


Kaizen center














Abdullah Salem




Industrial Shuwaikh






Bneid Al-Gar






Ayoun Al-Qibla










Maidan Hawally




Sama Safwan Abu Halaifa Danat Al-Sultan

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

23915883 23715414 23726558


Modern Jahra Madina Munawara

Jahra-Block 3 Lot 1 Jahra-Block 92

24575518 24566622


Ahlam Khaldiya Coop

Fahad Al-Salem St Khaldiya Coop

22436184 24833967


New Shifa Ferdous Coop Modern Safwan

Farwaniya Block 40 Ferdous Coop Old Kheitan Block 11

24734000 24881201 24726638

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

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

25726265 25647075 22625999 22564549 25340559 25326554 25721264 25380581 25628241



Te el.: 161




Partly cloudy with light to moderate north westerly becoming north easterly wind, with speed of 10 - 32 km/h with a chance for scattered rain


Clouds will decrease gradually with light to moderate north easterly becoming north westerly wind, with speed of 12 - 35 km/h with a chance for scattered rain that might be thundery at times No Current Warnings arnin a


15 °C


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13 °C


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W Hawally



20 °C

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New Jahra


West Jahra


South Jahra


North Jahra


North Jleeb




22/12/2012 0000 UTC

4 DA AYS Y FORECAST Temperatures DA AY





Wind Direction

Wind Speed



cool + scattered clouds

20 °C

11 °C


10 - 30 km/h





cool + scattered clouds

21 °C

14 °C


08 - 26 km/h

partly cloudy + scattered rain

22 °C

14 °C


12 - 35 km/h



partly cloudy

23 °C

14 °C


20 - 45 km/h





MAX. Temp.

25 °C




MIN. Temp.

14 °C





90 %




41 % S 53 km/h





MAX. Wind

N Khaitan







All times are local time unless otherwise stated.

6.6 mm V1.00

22/12/12 02:41 UTC


PRIVATE CLINICS Paediatricians

Plastic Surgeons Dr. Mohammad Al-Khalaf


Dr. Khaled Hamadi

Dr. Abdal-Redha Lari


Dr. Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rashed

Dr. Abdel Quttainah


Family Doctor Dr Divya Damodar


Psychiatrists Dr. Esam Al-Ansari


Dr Eisa M. Al-Balhan


Gynaecologists & Obstetricians DrAdrian arbe


Dr. Verginia s.Marin

2572-6666 ext 8321


25665898 25340300

Dr. Zahra Qabazard


Dr. Sohail Qamar


Dr. Snaa Maaroof


Dr. Pradip Gujare


Dr. Zacharias Mathew


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



Dr. Fozeya Ali Al-Qatan


Dr. Majeda Khalefa Aliytami


Dr. Shamah Al-Matar


Dr. Ahmad Al-Khooly


Dr. Anesah Al-Rasheed



Dr. Abidallah Al-Amer


Dr. Faysal Al-Fozan


Dr. Abdallateef Al-Katrash


Dr. Abidallah Al-Duweisan


Dr. Bader Al-Ansari


Dr. Salem soso General Surgeons Dr. Amer Zawaz Al-Amer


Dr. Mohammad Yousef Basher


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

22666300 25728004

Dr. Nadem Al-Ghabra


Dr. Mobarak Aldoub


Dr Nasser Behbehani





Dr. Abd Al-Naser Al-Othman

Dr. Sohal Najem Al-Shemeri


Dr. Jasem Mola Hassan


Gastrologists Dr. Sami Aman


Dr. Mohammad Al-Shamaly


Dr. Foad Abidallah Al-Ali


Kaizen center 25716707


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


Dr. Musaed Faraj Khamees


Rheumatologists: Dr. Adel Al-Awadi

Dr Anil Thomas

Soor Center Tel: 2290-1677 Fax: 2290 1688

















Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh












Expected Weeather for the Next 24 Hours

20 °C

Psychologists /Psychotherapists




Issue Time


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





Ext.: 262 2627 - 2630


Fax: 24348714






Dr. Khaled Al-Jarallah


Internist, Chest & Heart DR.Mohammes Akkad

24555050 Ext 210

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


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

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

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



LIFESTYLE G o s s i p

Selena Gomez isn’t certain about Justin Bieber T

he ‘Love You Like A Love Song’ singer - who was left furious when Justin, 18, recently spent time with her ex-boyfriend Nick Jonas, 20, and has been listening to her pal Taylor Swift’s new album ‘Red’ which contains break-up anthems including ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ - has reportedly told friends she doesn’t want to get back together with the Canadian popstar again following their latest spat despite being spotted jumping on a private jet with him in California. A source close to the actress-turned-singer told “Selena said she doesn’t want to get back together with him, but she just wants to talk. I didn’t know she would jump on a jet, but

Lily Allen is worried she’s overspent this Christmas he ‘Smile’ singer - who is currently expecting her second child with husband Sam Cooper - admits she has really spoilt her loved ones this year and is dreaded to seeing how much she has spent on her credit card. Referring to the prediction the world was going to end Lily wrote on her Twitter page yesterday :”I hope it is the end of the world tomorrow, anything to not have to look at next month’s credit card bill. #spendyspendy #xmas #FEAR #GUILT (sic)” And it’s not just presents Lily has splashed out on as it seems she is hosting Christmas Day and recently did a big food shop to make sure she won’t run out of tasty treats. She tweeted: “Have I forgotten anything ? #xmasshop (sic)”, alongside a picture of her shopping list which included bacon, carrots, Christmas pudding, chestnuts, roasting parties and nutmeg. Lily has certainly been getting into the Christmas spirit and recently dressed her 13-month-old daughter Ethel as a festive elf. She tweeted: “If I didn’t care about the future mental state of my child, and if I thought it was ok to enter her into becoming public property, I would tweet you all the picture I just took of her in a full on all in one Elf suit. The cutest fricking thing !!!! (sic)”


who knows. She loves the flash of that lifestyle though, so it makes sense. I’m guessing they will get back together again because she gets weak around him, but who knows. But the last I heard, she said no.” Friends of the 20-year-old brunette beauty previously revealed Justin wins her back every time they break up by pulling on her heartstrings. One insider said: “He cries over the phone. She takes him back again. Don’t underestimate the power of the holiday season.”

Taylor Swift believes in Santa Claus he 23-year-old singer - who is dating One Direction hunk Harry Styles - thinks people won’t receive gifts if they aren’t open to the belief that presents are delivered by the bearded sleigh traveller. She said: “You have to believe in him, if not, he won’t bring you any gifts. Everybody knows that.” Whether the ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ singer will be spending this Christmas with Harry or not, she’s likely to get a kiss from someone as she hangs mistletoe, a plant which traditionally means two people must share a smooch if they stand underneath it together. She told “There’ll be mistletoe hung at my house.” Taylor - who has previously dated


many famous men including Joe Jonas, Jake Gyllenhaal and John Mayer - has openly revealed she draws inspiration for her songs from her love life and it seems she likes to listen to other people’s tracks which are about romances. The blonde beauty says her favourite Christmas song is Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ because it recalls an old romance which ended badly for those involved. Asked her favourite festive song, she said: “‘Last Christmas’. I like the song because it is about an old relationship.”

Gerard Butler’s wild days are behind him he 43-year-old Scottish stud has given up on womanising and partying since meeting his model girlfriend Madalina Ghenea earlier this year and admits nowadays he is more likely to be found tucked up in bed reading a good book. He said: “I think I’ve had that going on for a while now. I’m not saying I don’t like to have my fun but I’m nowhere near the wild kid that I once was. “Sometimes you’re sitting there, doing your thing. Maybe you’re alone in bed reading your book and thinking, ‘I wish they could see me now! The crazy womanising Gerard Butler is in bed reading’.” The ‘Playing For Keeps’ actor wants to shed his reputation


Mel C was nearly thrown out of the Spice Girls he 38-year-old singer has revealed there was often a strained relationship between the five band members Geri Halliwell, Mel B, Emma Bunton, Victoria Beckham and herself - and she was also forced out while others threatened to quit before Geri eventually left in May 1998. Speaking in upcoming British TV documentary ‘The Spice Girls’ Story: Viva Forever!’, she said: “She’d (Geri) left before but not publicly. I mean, I think a few of them had left, well, Melanie and Geri left a few times. “I nearly got kicked out once as well, but that’s another story. So yeah, I mean, it was difficult and you know, I think Geri would say these things herself. But you know she was having some personal issues and it’s no secret that her and Melanie had a very fiery relationship in the past. “They are the closest of all of the band. You know, they’re absolutely in each other’s pockets or they can fight like cat and dog.” After Geri’s departure the group continued as a foursome until disbanding in December 2000. All five members reformed in 2007 for a reunion tour and they got together again this summer for a performance at the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony. This month, the musical ‘Viva Forever!’ - which is based on the Spice Girls songs and was penned by Jennifer Saunders - opened with all the girls attending the premiere.


Ben Affleck hints at a career in politics he 40-year-old ‘Argo’ star - who is tipped to win an Oscar for his performance in the critically acclaimed movie - has admitted he might be tempted to run for the US Senate in the future despite his hugely successful careers in front of and behind the camera because he is very fond of the country’s political system. When asked if he would consider running for election, the father-of-three told CBS’s ‘Face The Nation’ in a pre-recorded interview yesterday which will air tolday: “One never knows. I’m not one to get into conjecture. I do have a great fondness and admiration for the political process in this country. It’s a big deal for me to come down here and be on your show that I’ve watched so much, but I’m not going to get into speculation about my political future.” Ben - who is also an outspoken human rights activist for the Congo - has been married to his beautiful actress wife Jennifer Garner for eight years with whom he shares daughters Violet, seven, and Seraphina, three, and son Samuel, nine months, - and recently admitted he thinks his wife is out of his league. The Hollywood couple has had to adjust their lifestyles to cater for their expanding family, and Ben admits Jennifer has sacrificed her love of travel for the sake of their kids. He said: “My wife would just love to travel, but having three children in a row has meant that I travel more than she does. She wants to travel so much.” —Bangshowbiz


Naomi Campbell mysteriously injures her leg he supermodel was spotted in New York City on Wednesday night hobbling around on crutches and in a leg brace but her injury didn’t hamper her spirit as she enjoyed pre-Christmas drinks and food with friends at the Beatrice Inn. The 42-year-old catwalk queen removed her brace when she sat down with Vogue editor Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele and photographer Steven Meisel. Three of the world’s top fashion designers, Donna Karan, Vera Wang and Calvin Klein, were dining at a nearby table and all three went over to say hello to Naomi. A onlooker told the New York Post newspaper: “It takes a special person, i.e. Naomi, to get those three to get up and walk to someone else’s table.” It is not clear how Naomi injured herself, and there was no mention of any accidents on her Twitter page, with the beauty tweeting wise sayings instead. On Wednesday, she tweeted: “What you choose is what you will have. What you allow is what will continue. Blessed day x N. (sic)” Naomi - who famously fell off her platform shoes during a fashion show in the 90s - has had a busy few weeks and last month threw a lavish party to mark her boyfriend Vladislav Doronin’s 50th birthday in Jaipur, India. Naomi, 42, and Vladislav were joined by many famous guests including Kate Moss, Vivienne Westwood, Bob Geldof, Demi Moore and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, to enjoy a 1930s-themed dinner, with entertainment from Diana Ross, Chaka Khan and Bluesman Buddy Guy. She also announced the launch of a specially-designed bag to help raise money for charity, Udayan Care, which helps women and children in India.


as one of Hollywood’s serial daters after being linked to stars like Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz and Paris Hilton in the past and hopes settling down with Madalina who he has been dating for seven months - won’t end up being another “mistake”. Gerard told The Metro newspaper: “I think I’ve been propelled through life from one mistake to another, I can look back and say in my philosophical mode that I needed to make those mistakes and I learnt from all of them. But overall I do think that whatever happens is supposed to happen.”




Camels walk in the Liwa desert, 220 kms west of Abu Dhabi, on the sidelines of the Mazayin Dhafra Camel Festival yetserday. The festival, which attracts participants from around the Gulf region, includes a camel beauty contest, a display of UAE handcrafts and other activities aimed at promoting the country’s folklore. —AFP

Ashton Kutcher files for divorce from Demi Moore shton Kutcher filed court papers Friday to end his seven-year marriage to actress Demi Moore. The actor’s divorce petition cites irreconcilable differences and does not list a date that the couple separated. Moore announced last year that she was ending her marriage to the actor 15 years her junior, but she never filed a petition. Kutcher’s filing does not indicate that the couple has a prenuptial agreement. The filing states Kutcher signed the document Friday, hours before it was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Kutcher and Moore married in September 2005 and until recently kept their relationship very public, communicating with each other and fans on the social networking site Twitter. After their breakup, Moore changed her name on the site from (at)mrskutcher to (at)justdemi. Kutcher currently stars on CBS’ “Two and a Half Men.” Messages sent to Kutcher’s and Moore’s publicists were not immediately


returned Friday. Moore, 50, and Kutcher, 34, created the DNA Foundation, also known as the Demi and Ashton Foundation, in 2010 to combat the organized sexual exploitation of girls around the globe. They later lent their support to the United Nations’ efforts to fight human trafficking, a scourge the international organization estimates affects about 2.5 million people worldwide. Moore was previously married to actor Bruce Willis for 13 years. They had three daughters together - Rumer, Scout and Tallulah Belle - before divorcing in 2000. Willis later married model-actress Emma Heming in an intimate 2009 ceremony at his home in Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands that attended by their children, as well as Moore and Kutcher. Kutcher has been dating former “That ‘70s Show” co-star Mila Kunis. The divorce filing was first reported Friday by People magazine. —AP

Hugh Grant wins ‘substantial’ phone-hacking damages H ugh Grant has accepted a “substantial sum” from Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloid publisher over phone hacking by the News of the World, the British actor’s lawyer said on Friday. The “Four Weddings and a Funeral” star will donate the damages to the Hacked Off campaign against press intrusion. “My aim has always been to ensure that cash is redistributed from Mr Murdoch to help those his company has harassed,” Grant said in a statement through the campaign group. His lawyer Mark Thomson said the damages would be transferred to Hacked Off as soon Grant, 52, receives the payment, with a statement made in open court in the New Year. “Hugh Grant has today settled his claims for damages and other legal remedies arising out of the unlawful activities of News of the World journalists and others over a number of years,” Thomson said in a statement. “News Group Newspapers (NGN) have agreed to pay him a substantial sum by way of damages. He has instructed us to donate all of his damages plus an additional payment from him to the Hacked Off campaign for a free and accountable media.”

Grant, one of the most high-profile celebrity victims of phone-hacking by the News of the World, has become a vocal campaigner for press

Hugh Grant reforms since media baron Murdoch was forced to close down the 168-year-old tabloid weekly over the scandal in 2011. Revelations that the

newspaper’s staff accessed the voicemail messages of a murdered schoolgirl, as well as dozens of celebrities, politicians and sport stars, had prompted a wave of public disgust. The scandal sparked a judicial inquiry into press ethics and three police investigations. NGN has since paid compensation to dozens of people, including actors Jude Law and Sienna Miller, footballer Ashley Cole and former deputy prime minister John Prescott. A Hacked Off spokesman said: “At the outset of his legal action, Hugh Grant announced that any damages would be going to Hacked Off to be spent on providing support for victims of phone hacking and other press abuse, especially those who don’t have access to expensive lawyers. “Mr Grant is one of a growing list of donors who are helping to ensure that the campaign is well-funded for the battle ahead, and can continue to represent people who would otherwise be without a voice in the debate.” Hacked Off is campaigning for the recommendations of judge Brian Leveson’s inquiry into press ethics to be implemented in full, including a new independent regulator with statutory backing. —AFP

Kurt Geiger autumn winter collection: Graphic urban landscape showcased for women ith punk in mind, classic styles are customized and trimmed to various extremes with studding, buckles, straps and jewels. Flaunting with masculinity, chunky loafers, brothel creepers and brogues sit pretty with regal elegant styles, brocades, lace and laser-cut detailing. Restraining the season with classic minimalism is the knee-high boot, the cut-out court and the chunkier mini heeled Mary-Janes, which are newly proposed and perfectly untouched. Black and white, rose and gold, oxblood, scarlet, fuchsia and electric blue, stilettos, Mary-Janes, wedges, super platforms, sneakers and motorcycle boots. Silhouettes without compromise change from high-rise to flat, exploring details that often identify classic British design including the chelsea, brogue and military boot. Also introducing unexpected British combinations- the chelsea and high-top wellingtons. And the slipper on a stiletto “Slipetto”! Kurt Geiger’s third handbag collection continues to stamp a design authority with further exploration of statement chains, exposed zips and edgier stud detailing. Carrying your life in your bag is left to the continuation of the classic totes, as the new proposals are more compact this Autumn Winter. The ‘Humbug’ collection adds a new squarer white Nappa leather clutch and other structured shapes are proposed with new styles like the ‘Sherbet Jazz’, ‘Liquorice’, ‘Rhubarb Rock’, ‘Lollidrop’ and ‘Gobstopper’.


Bases of linear architectural inspirations are given depth through striking contrast colours, white leopard print calf hair leather and softly textured snake-cut leathers. ‘Mildred’, the Metal bulldog and chain is new and noteworthy in the jewellery offering. ‘Mildred’ comes as a statement wrist leash, on key rings or as a delicate menace on a gold chain bracelet and necklace. Other statement jewels stand out with combinations of faceted glass, pearls, Plexi and chains. Palettes play from iridescent tones to an assortment of one colour, highlighting textural combinations. The Candy collection continues a purse-friendly play with accessories including pouches, cardholders, wallets, trinkets, more structured technology

accessories, bags and new padded nylon weekenders. Clean minimalist shapes and soft embossed snakes in red, nude, teal and black get wild with harsher textural surfaces, animal print and bold box chains. KG Kurt Geiger reworks a traditional palette including rich burgundy, navy, emerald, brown and grey whilst exploring details that often identify classic British design including the chelsea, brogue and military boot. Trimmed with statement studs and contrast soles, traditional treads find new unexpected personalities. Technology accessories take more structured shapes for AW12. Clean, minimalist soft embossed snakes in red, nude, teal and black sit with chunky statement knitwear.



A young child wearing a festive hat sleeps in a horse cart during a Christmas procession in Jammu, India yesterday.

Christmas decorations are seen over Paulista avenue in Sao Paulo, Brazil.— AP/AFP photos Fireworks explode over Christmas illuminations at Tokyo Bay area in Tokyo.

Father Frost and Snow Maiden march along a street during the traditional opening of the New Year celebrations in central Stavropol.

Syrian women decorate a Christmas tree at a cafe in the old city of Damascus.

ilm, television and music stars including Jeremy Renner, Gwyneth Paltrow and Beyonce have recorded a hard-hitting video urging action on gun control following the Newtown school massacre. Julianne Moore, Jamie Foxx, Selena Gomez and Chris Rock also appear in the video, backing a “Demand a Plan” campaign which notably seeks a ban on assault weapons, as well as criminal background checks for every gun sold in America. “Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson. Aurora. Fort Hood. Oak Creek. Newtown. Newtown. Newtown,” they intone in the black-and-white video, taking turns to list the names of America’s worst gun massacres of recent years. “How many more? How many more colleges? How many more classes? How many more movie


Hussein Al-Shibibi, 37-years-old, decorates a cake in preparation for Christmas in Baghdad, Iraq yesterday.

theaters? How many more houses of faith? How many more shopping malls?” they add. The video, also featuring Ellen DeGeneres, Jon Hamm, Reese Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston and Conan O’Brien, appears on the website of the campaign claiming 750 mayors and 750,000 supporters “to demand that President Obama and Congress step forward with a plan to end gun violence.” “For the children of Sandy Hook,” says Beyonce, referring to the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman slaughtered 20 young children and six adults last Friday, in one of the worst US massacres ever. The “Demand a Plan” campaign calls for criminal background checks to be required for every gun sold in America; assault weapons and high-capacity magazines to be banned; and that gun

trafficking be made a federal crime. “Our efforts cannot bring back the 20 innocent children murdered in Newtown .. or the 34 people murdered with guns every day in America. But we can prevent future tragedies by passing common sense legislation,” it says. The video can be seen at Obama this week appointed Vice President Joe Biden to head a task force charged with framing proposals within a month to stem a rash of US gun violence. On Friday, the National Rifle Association (NRA), breaking a week-long silence, called for armed police to be deployed in every school in the country, saying: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” — AP

In this combo photo, Beyonce (left) is pictured with Gwyneth Paltrow (center) and Jeremy Renner. — AFP

A man participates in winter solstice celebrations to complete the Christmas ‘Blukis’ (stump) burning ceremony at Lukiskes Square in Vilnius.

he studio that made “The Godfather” movies has settled a lawsuit with the estate of author Mario Puzo, who created the Mafia family saga. Paramount Pictures Corp sued in February in an attempt to block a new book in the “Godfather” series, which it said was being published without its permission and in violation of copyright agreements. Notice of the settlement was filed in the US District Court in New York on Thursday, but terms were not disclosed as the “parties have agreed that the terms of the settlement are confidential,” said Richard Kendall, a lawyer for Paramount, a unit of Viacom Inc. “We’re very pleased with the settlement,” said Bertram Fields, a lawyer for the Puzo estate. Puzo, who died in 1999, was the author of the 1969 bestseller “The Godfather” and other novels on the same theme. Paramount sued Puzo’s estate in February, saying it had approved sequels without the movie studio’s permission and in violation of its copyrights. The family had received Paramount’s permission for the publication of only one sequel, “The Godfather Returns,” by Mark Winegardner, in 2004. The Puzo family moved ahead with a second sequel, “The Godfather’s Revenge,” by Winegardner in 2006,


without Paramount’s permission, the lawsuit said. A third book, a prequel called “The Family Corleone” by Ed Falco, was released by Grand Central Publishing in May. An interim settlement agreement provided that funds earned from the book would go into escrow, according to a September court decision. In the lawsuit, Paramount also claimed its agreements with Puzo automatically gave it motion picture rights to “The Family Corleone” and any other sequels. The estate filed a counterclaim in March seeking $10 million and accusing the studio of breaching a 1969 agreement with Puzo. It also asked the court to cancel Paramount’s rights to the original “The Godfather” book. In September, US District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan denied a motion by Paramount to dismiss the estate’s counterclaim, but dismissed the attempt to cancel the book rights. The case is Paramount Pictures Corporation v. Anthony Puzo, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-1268. — Reuters



This image shows Keegan-Michael Key (left) and Jordan Peele from the sketch comedy series “Key & Peele.”

This image released by FX shows the cast of ‘Sons of Anarchy’.

hat was TV like in 2012? As with every year, it was a mix of the ridiculous and the sublime, the sacred and the profane. A TV-centric political season provided many memorable moments (President Barack Obama’s missing-in-action debate performance; Clint Eastwood’s empty-chair duet). Excellence persevered with series such as HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and “Treme,” AMC’s “Mad Men,”


are assessed, 10 notable achievements emerge, for better or worse. “Breaking Bad” (AMC): It’s notable not only for how twisted, funny and shocking it is, but also for how it keeps on upping the ante. This summer’s satisfying mini-season ended in a most unlikely fashion, hinting that Walter White (series star Bryan Cranston) might actually break free from his life of spiraling disaster and

History’s surprisingly splendid “Hatfields & McCoys,” ABC’s promising new “Nashville,” CBS’ “The Good Wife” and, of course, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” with its icky charm. Then there were stinkers like the best-forgotten ABC sitcom “Work It,” which, focusing on two guys who dress as women to get jobs, was mercifully axed after just two airings. ABC’s “Good Morning America” finally managed to out-fluff NBC’s “Today” and stole the ratings crown. “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” wore on. Bottom line: It’s not easy to narrow down a Top 10 anything for TV. Still, once this year’s thousands of hours

resurrect his happy home. But then, in the last scene, Walter’s drug-enforcement agent brother-in-law made the connection that had always eluded him: the drug lord he’s been chasing all this time is Walter! Once again, the series’ never-broken promise was upheld. Next summer’s final eight episodes aren’t going to be pretty! “Fox & Friends” (Fox News Channel): We could easily salute shows that keep us laughing like “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” “The Colbert Report,” “Saturday Night Live” and “Real Time with Bill Maher.” But maybe we could more appropriately single out one obvious

l Pacino came back again and Jessica Chastain showed up for the first time. “Annie” returned and so did “Evita” and “Elf.” Katie Holmes made a second appearance and that old stalwart “The Lion King” celebrated its 15th anniversary. Yes, 2012 was a year of old and new, theatrically speaking. It also was a year in which the theater community tried to keep the show going despite several disasters - a natural one in Superstorm Sandy and two man-made ones in misleading monologist Mike Daisey and the phantom investors of “Rebecca.” None of those, of course, made our Top 10 list of the best moments in 2012:

This undated image shows Lena Dunham in a scene from the series “Girls.” —AP photos

wellspring for those shows’ humor. I’m referring, of course, to “Fox & Friends.” With their three-part harmony, co-hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade offer up a unique brand of jovially partisan delivery. Theirs is a seamless, finish-one-another’s-sentence knack for issuing the network-designated messages as news. Contrary viewpoints are admissible only to be mocked. But mostly cheerful unity prevails, a tidy single-minded package of riffs as predictable as the tides - but as amusing as any deliberate caricature. Let’s give credit where it’s due: These Friends cry out to be spoofed. “Girls” (HBO): Lena Dunham this, Lena Dunham that. Blah, blah, blah. She, in her mid-20s, created, wrote, directed, produced and starred in a half-hour comedy series about 20-something adulthood, femininity and sexuality. She sparked adulation, conversation, arguments and green-eyed envy of her talent. “Girls” was a series that couldn’t be ignored - at least, by pop-culture cognoscenti. It will surely be welcomed back in January with even more attention, if possible (with always the threat of a backlash), as viewers resume arguing: Does the series measure up to all the hype? Nuff said. Up to now, indisputably, “Girls” has been monumental. And a gas. “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” (TLC) and “Killer Karaoke” (truTV): Two new reality shows blazed new trails of idiocy. One capitalized on redneck stereotypes and a 6-year-old beauty pageant veteran. The other invited contestants to sing their hearts out while being zapped with electricity or dunked in a vat of snakes. In a TV universe swamped with reality shows, these two stood apart as groundbreaking, inspired and dismaying - if for no other reason than they served as a reminder that each is merely a way station en route to the next extreme in outrageous crassness. “Homeland” (Showtime): In its second season, this series remained suspenseful, disturbing and riddled with surprises. It mined drama from possibly the most damaged pair of protagonists, opponents and starcrossed lovers in TV history. Marine Sgt Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) was a prisoner of war in Afghanistan who had returned home a national hero and soon-tobe-elected US Congressman - and, covertly, a terrorist turncoat. Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) was a former CIA agent suffering from a bipolar disorder as well as emotional ties to the man she was obsessed with bringing down. They could have titled this series “Homeland Insecurity.” “Key & Peele” (Comedy Central): The biracial status of comedy partners Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan

Peele (black fathers, white mothers) is notable only because it gives them unique insight sizing up the human condition. And they made the most of that insight on their sketch-and-standup half-hour series. In particular, they scored with Peele in an unsurpassed impersonation of Obama where the unflappable president is joined by Key as “anger translator” Luther, who demonstrates, comically unfiltered, what Obama really thinks. But whatever they did, the humor of Key and Peele proved fresh and smart. And without ever preaching, they illustrated how the issue of race (in their words) “always boomerangs back to culture” and ultimately “is an absurd thing.” Doggone funny, too. “Luck” (HBO): This drama set at a California racetrack boasted the rich density of David Milch’s writing and a king’s ransom of a cast: Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina, Jill Hennessy and Richard Kind for starters. It explored a strange and fascinating world while capturing the horse races with breathtaking footage. But three horses died during production of the series. That sad fact, and another - the show wasn’t exactly a ratings blockbuster - led to HBO canceling “Luck” after its first season, in a bow to bad publicity led by animal-rights activists. Amid the hubbub about the horses’ welfare, there was a question no one seemed inclined to ask: Assuming every reasonable precaution had been taken, was risking the lives of a few horses an excessive price to pay to keep an excellent drama series on the air? “Smash” (NBC): This NBC musical drama put a bright, sexy sheen on one of filmdom’s most timeless tropes: Hey, kids, let’s put on a show! Which “Smash” did, embedding songs and dance into the story of how a Broadway musical comes to life. Sure, “Smash” took knocks for unbelievable plotlines, cardboard characters and trite show tunes. It gave new life to the term “hatewatch” (that act of watching something solely to delight in its awfulness). So what? With a show-mustgo-on defiance emblematic of Broadway, “Smash” never flagged in its unique charm and meticulous artistry. And if anything about it seemed over-the-top, its naysayers should consider the recent cockamamie reallife fraud that sank the Broadway musical “Rebecca.” As “Smash” knows and demonstrated proudly, nothing is too wacky for Broadway.—AP





This theater image shows (from left) Tracy Letts, Amy Morton, Madison Dirks and Carrie Coon during a performance of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Booth Theatre in New York.

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”: This masterpiece of a play by Edward Albee is now celebrating its 50th anniversary on Broadway with an astonishing production courtesy of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Starring Tracy Letts and Amy Morton, it is vicious and yet hysterically funny, crisp and loving and savage. Bring a date! “Once”: Yes, many of the songs came from a movie. Yes, the plot also came from the movie. But the show at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre is still somehow fresh and poignant. It is an ode to heartbreak, making a lasting connection even if its two lead actors cannot. “Clybourne Park”: If you missed it, shame on you. Bruce Norris’ Tony and Pulitzer winner had everything anyone would want in a play: smart, witty, provocative and wonderfully acted by a well-knit ensemble, particularly Jeremy Shamos. Squirming in your seat while overhearing racially insensitive jokes has never been funnier.



James Corden: The British actor was pure silly bliss in the delirious “One Man, Two Guvnors,” playing a down-at-hisheels manservant who overtaxed his limited mental capacity by simultaneously working for two demanding bosses. We should welcome Corden back as soon as possible.

9. 7.

Neil Patrick Harris: As the Tony Awards host, he’s always graceful, always funny and always delightfully tweaks Broadway’s pretensions. This year, his third time, Harris offered a rousing original number in which he wished real life was more like theater and also performed with “The Book of Mormon” cast. Is there any way to lock him in as host for the next decade? Kevin Spacey as Richard III: With his aviator sunglasses and military jacket brimming with medals, Spacey’s Richard at the Brooklyn Academy of Music was overblown and cartoonish and yet impossible to stop watching, part Groucho

“Nobody Does It Better” and Streisand brought the crowd to its feet when she finished “The Way We Were.” Wow.

Marx and part Moammar Gadhafi - a sarcastic, snarling tornado of resentment whose reign of terror somehow was funny.

8. 6.

This photo shows Al Pacino in a scene from “Glengarry Glen Ross” at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in New York. — AP photos

“If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet”: Nick Payne’s clever, edgy domestic drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal is a delight. Making it even more special was the set design by Beowulf Boritt under the direction of Michael Longhurst: All the furniture was piled in the center of the stage and each piece was taken and then discarded after every scene (appropriate for a play that discusses trashing the planet). It culminated in major watery magic as the stage flooded. Can sets get a standing-O? The Sad Death of Marvin Hamlisch in August brought together three divas who took turns honoring the composer at a moving service at The Juilliard School - Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin and Liza Minnelli. Minnelli sang “If You Really Knew Me,” Franklin gave a soulful rendition of

“A Christmas Story, The Musical”: It dares to mess with one of the most popular Christmastime movies of all time and yet manages to not only do the film justice, but also top it. It is an auspicious Broadway debut from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the songwriters we will all hear a lot from in the future. Plus, you will be amazed by 9-year-old tap dancing prodigy Luke Spring.

10. The Welcome Return of “Forbidden Broadway” After a Three-year absence. The latest edition goofs on shows including “Annie,” “Newsies,” “Once,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Evita,” “Porgy and Bess,” “Anything Goes” and “Follies.” Bernadette Peters, Matthew Broderick, Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin get roasted. Among many others, of course. — AP

US stars in video demanding gun control action



People dressed in different animal costumes perform.

ens of thousands of mystics, hippies and tourists celebrated in the shadow of ancient Maya pyramids in southeastern Mexico on Friday as the Earth survived a day billed by doomsday theorists as the end of the world. New Age dreamers, alternative lifestyle gurus and curious onlookers from around the world descended on the ruins of Maya cities to mark the close of the 13th bak’tun - a period of around 400 years - in the Maya Long Calendar. Dismissing a widely disseminated myth that the Maya had predicted some kind of apocalypse on Dec 21, 2012, they celebrated what they hope is the start of a new and better era for humanity. After the sun rose in Mexico and the world continued to spin, the visitors to the Maya heartland gave thanks. “It is a transformation, the dawning of the age of Aquarius,” said Jonah Bolt, 33, a radio show host from North Carolina who had brought a large quartz with him to “download” energy from the sacred spot. “We hope that everyone’s intention and love and light focused on this day will just help awaken others to just a better way of living.” The end of the 13th bak’tun in the 5,125-year-old Maya calendar had inspired pockets of fear around the world that the end was nigh or that lesser catastrophes lay in store. A US scholar said in the 1960s that the end of the 13th bak’tun could be seen as a kind of Armageddon for the Maya. Over time, the idea snowballed into a belief by some that the Maya calendar had predicted the Earth’s destruction. Fears of mass suicides, huge power cuts, natural disasters, epidemics or an asteroid hurtling toward Earth had circulated on the Internet, especially in recent months. In the end, there were no reports of natural or man-made catastrophes linked to the doomsday predictions. To the people congregating in the imposing ruins of the city of Chichen Itza, a focal point for the celebrations in Mexico, it was a day for celebrations. “It’s not the end of the world, it’s an awakening of consciousness and good and love and spirituality and it’s been happening for a while,” said Mary Lou Anderson, 53, an information technology consultant from Las Vegas. Around 50,000 people visited Mexico’s main archaeological sites by early afternoon, authorities said. A few minutes before the north pole reached its position furthest from the sun on Friday, a spotlight illuminated the western flank of the Temple of the serpent god Kukulkan, a 100-foot-tall (30-meter) pyramid at the heart of Chichen Itza. Then a group of five tourists dressed in white made their way across the plain, dropped their bags and faced the pyramid with their arms raised before park officials cleared them away. As the sun climbed into the sky, a man with dreadlocks played a didgeridoo - an Australian wind instrument - at the north end of the pyramid. Nearby, groups of tourists meditated on brightly colored mats. Visiting the Yucatan peninsula on Friday, new President Enrique Pena Nieto sought to harness the energy of renewal to give Mexico and its economy a boost. “Today a cycle of the Mayan calendar closes, and some thought it meant a fatalistic end, but we and the Mayans are sure it’s the start of a new era,” he said. “May this spirit of renewal infect us all.”


Party time In Turkey, thousands of tourists flocked to Sirince, a picturesque village east of the Aegean Sea that believers in a potential cataclysm had said would be spared on Friday. At 1:11 pm local time (1111 GMT), visitors to Sirince gathered in the town square to await the return of Noah’s Ark on a nearby hill. They counted down from 10 and applauded when the vessel failed to appear and the world did not end. In Bugarach, France, a village that was said to be harboring an alien spacecraft in a nearby mountain that would enable people to survive an apocalypse, authorities cordoned off the area, fearing an influx of doomsday believers. But on Friday journalists and partygoers outnumbered the survivalists. Meanwhile in New York, Buck Wolf, executive editor of crime and weird news for the Huffington Post, organized an end of the world party at Manhattan’s Hotel Chantelle on Thursday night. Wearing a gray T-shirt with a black Maya calendar on it, Wolf said he was inspired by a similar party he had attended in 1999 related to Nostradamus’s doomsday prophecies. “It’s all a big scam,” Wolf said. “You might as well throw a good party.” In China, the United Nations issued a tweet on its official Weibo

Indigenous people and settlers take part in a ceremony.

microblog denying it was selling tickets for an “ark” in which people could escape the apocalypse after such tickets were offered for sale online, albeit apparently as a joke. Maya experts, scientists and even US space agency NASA had insisted the Maya had not predicted the world’s end. “Think of it like Y2K,” said James Fitzsimmons, a Maya expert at Middlebury College in Vermont, referring to the year 2000. “It’s the end of one cycle and the beginning of another cycle.” Companies have also had fun with the date. On Friday, the makers of Mini cars placed a full-page ad in the New York Times headlined, “Well, So Much For The 2014 Models.” It suggested customers hurry to their local dealership in case time was running out to buy the car. ‘Pure Hollywood’ The New Age optimism, stream-of-consciousness evocations of wonder and awe, and starry-eyed dreams of extra-terrestrial contact circulating on the ancient sites in Mexico this week have left many of the modern Maya bemused. “It’s pure Hollywood,” said Luis Mis Rodriguez, 45, a Maya selling obsidian figurines and souvenirs shaped into knives like ones the Maya once used for human sacrifice. The Maya civilization reached its peak between AD 250 and 900 when it ruled over large swaths of what is now southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. The Maya developed hieroglyphic writing, an advanced astronomical system and a sophisticated calendar that helped provide the foundation for the doomsday predictions. The buzz surrounding the Maya “end of days” has generated massive traffic on the Internet, but the speculation stems from a long tradition of such prophecies. Basing his calculations on prophetic readings of the Bible, the great scientist Isaac Newton once cited 2060 as a year when the planet would be destroyed. US preacher William Miller predicted that Jesus Christ would descend to Earth in October 1844 to purge mankind of its sins. When it did not happen, his followers, known as the Millerites, referred to the event as The Great Disappointment. In 1997, 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult, believing the world was about to be “recycled,” committed suicide in San Diego in order to board an alien craft they said was trailing a comet. More recently, American radio host Harold Camping predicted the world would end on May 21, 2011, later moving the date forward five months when the apocalypse failed to materialize. Sporting a long gray beard, dark glasses and a cowboy-style jacket, Raja Merk Dove, a self-proclaimed “interplanetary ambassador” from Asheville, North Carolina, said he believes aliens helped the Maya build Chichen Itza, for centuries a major Mayan metropolis, trading hub and ceremonial center, and he is hoping they will drop by. — AP

View of the stele of king Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awill, 13th governor of Copan state at the archaeological site in Copan Ruinas, 400 km northeast of Tegucigalpa.

Performers take part in a ceremony to celebrate the end of one Mayan cycle and the start of a new one.

Performers hold up boards to form the symbol for “Baktun 13” take part in a ceremony to celebrate the end of one Mayan cycle and the start of a new one, in Copan Ruinas, 400 kms northeast of Tegucigalpa, early yesterday — AFP photos

A man plays an ancient Mayan ball game during a ceremony.

23 Dec  

Kuwait Times

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