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150 Fils

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

MUHARRAM 28, 1433 AH

No: 15308

Suicide bombers kill 40 in Syria’s capital Damascus blames Qaeda infiltration from Lebanon

BEIRUT: Suicide car bombers struck Damascus yesterday, officials said, killing 40 people, gutting buildings and sending human limbs flying in the bloodiest violence to hit Syria’s capital in a nine-monthold uprising against President Bashar Al-Assad. The attacks, which state media blamed on Al-Qaeda, targeted two Syrian security sites and came a day after the arrival of Arab League officials to prepare for a monitoring team that will check whether Assad is implementing a plan to end the bloodshed. Assad has deployed tanks and troops to try to crush a wave of protest against his rule inspired by other Arab revolts this year. Mainly peaceful rallies are now increasingly eclipsed by an armed insurgency against his military and security apparatus. But yesterday’s blasts in central Damascus signaled a dramatic new escalation in violence, which Syrian authorities blame on armed groups they say have killed 2,000 soldiers and security force members since popular unrest broke out in March. State television said over 150 people were wounded by the explosions. It broadcast footage of mangled bodies being carried in blankets and stretchers into ambulances with sirens wailing. Television footage also showed bloodied streets littered with human remains, blackened car wrecks and other debris, as well as a row of corpses wrapped in sheets laid along a street. State television said the attackers zeroed in on a state security administration building and a local security branch. Syria has generally barred foreign media from the country, making it hard to verify accounts of events from either side. Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdesi said the attacks were carried out by “terrorists (trying) to sabotage the will for change” in Syria, and followed warnings from Lebanon that Al-Qaeda fighters had infiltrated Syria from Lebanese territory. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Assad’s opponents said the attack could have been staged to drive home the government’s argument. “We have all sorts of suspicions that this could be organized by the regime itself,” said Basma Qadmani, spokeswoman for the Syrian National Council. The United Nations says Assad’s forces have killed more than 5,000 people in their crackdown on the protests, which erupted in March instigated by uprisings that toppled autocratic leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya over the course of the year. The intensifying violence on both sides in Syria has raised fears that the country is drifting towards civil war. Downtown Damascus and Syria’s second city Aleppo hitherto had largely escaped the turmoil now common in many other cities and towns. “First I heard an explosion and then, all of a sudden, I saw human limbs flying everywhere,” said one man interviewed by Syrian television near the site of the attack in Kafr Sousa. His head and face were covered in bandages. State media said the Arab League delegation, which will be seeking assurances of free movement for 150 monitors due to arrive in Syria by the end of the month, had visited the sites of the explosions to inspect the damage. The monitors are supposed to verify Syria’s implementation of an Arab League peace plan it agreed six weeks ago, which stipulates a withdrawal of tanks and troops from the streets of protest-hit cities and towns and their surroundings, release of prisoners and reformminded dialogue with the opposition. Arab League sources have said the advance team, led by top League official Samir Seif Al-Yazal, comprises a dozen people, including financial, administrative and legal experts. Activists say Assad, 46, is still trying to suppress public dissent with military force despite being hit with European Union and Arab League sanctions, and his avowed commitment to the peace plan. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Assad’s forces carried out major assaults in the northern and southern provinces this week, apparently trying to quell serious opposition to strengthen his hand before the monitors settle in. Syrian troops surrounded and killed 111 people on Tuesday in the northern province of Idlib, in the deadliest single assault since the uprising erupted, according to the Observatory. France called Tuesday’s killings in Idlib an “unprecedented massacre”. The United States said Syrian authorities had “flagrantly violated their commitment to end violence” while Assad’s former ally Turkey condemned Syria’s policy of “oppression which has turned the country into a bloodbath”. Damascus says more than 1,000 prisoners have been freed since the Arab plan was agreed and the army has pulled out of cities. AntiAssad activists deny any such pullout has occurred. — Reuters

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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Bedoons disperse peacefully following Irada Square rally Families allowed to visit detainees By A Saleh KUWAIT: A demonstration by stateless persons (bedoons) at Irada Square concluded without incident yesterday, after security authorities allowed them one hour to express and voice their demands peacefully. The rally avoided further clashes with security authorities, such as those witnessed last week which resulted in the arrest and prosecution of some stateless persons. Meanwhile, Brig Mahmoud Al-Tabbakh, Criminal Investigations Director at the Ministry of Interior (MOI), said that families of the detained stateless demonstrators will be allowed to visit them today morning to ensure they are unharmed. Speaking at the Irada Square during the demonstration, former MP Mubarak Al-Wa’lan stressed that the government should adopt more serious and practical steps towards solving the stateless problem once and for all, as the issue has been harming the reputation and image of Kuwait internationally. The demonstration yesterday occurred shortly after some Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti political activists, including the Kuwait Human Rights Organization, met and decided to solve the stateless issue without resorting to demonstrations. The rally was a short one, during which flags of both Kuwait and the United Nations (UN) were hoisted. On Thursday night security forces were deployed at Taima, Jahra in preparation for possible rallies. Several check points were set up and warnings issued concerning the participation in illegal demonstrations. These measures paralleled calls from former MPs and current parliamentary election candidates for calm amongst stateless resi-

dents, in return for an successful initiative that will solve their problems. Former MP, Jam’an Al-Harbash urged stateless persons to suspend demonstrations and promised to solve their problems. Additionally, former MPs, Musallam Al-Barrak, Mohammed AlKhlaifa, activists Ahmed Al-Deyyeen, Mohammed Al-Jassim and Khaled Al-Fadhalah created a seven-point initiative to solve the problem. The initiative suggests forming a special team to follow up the problem and contact all relevant authorities, such as Human Rights organizations, The Kuwaitis for Stateless Group, the Kuwaiti Stateless Committee and the Kuwaiti Stateless Alliance, declaring a chart with a fair, humane and final solution of bedoon problems. They proposed setting a bill on such solutions to be reviewed by the new Parliament, and discussing the initiative with all relevant authorities. They appealed to the Public Prosecution to release the detained stateless persons and close cases filed against them. They urged the Ministry of Interior (MOI) to stop all forms of violence when handling peaceful youth rallies. The initiative urges stateless youths to show more self-control and avoid being carried away with irresponsible actions that may result in clashes with security forces. Former MP Saleh Ashour urged Saleh Al-Fadhalah, Chairman of the Stateless Central Bureau, to resolve the problem commencing with those who deserve nationality. ‘Brother Saleh, you have to work on ending the sufferings of 35,000 bedoon who deserve Kuwaiti citizenship, as you have already stated, as soon as possible and all at once with one decree’ he urged, noting that stateless residents in Kuwait have endured enough suffering during the past half a century. ‘Things are at the verge of explosion’, he warned.

KUWAIT: Stateless Arabs, ‘bedoon’ in Arabic, holding Kuwaiti and UN flags and portraits of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, protest for the second week in a row to demand citizenship and other rights in Jahra yesterday. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Parliament candidates increase to 166 on third day

Mohammed Al-Juwaihel

Bader Al-Jeian

KUWAIT: Already 166 candidates, including 8 women, have registered to run in the forthcoming parliamentary elections, according to records at the end of the third day of registration yesterday evening. Meanwhile, Shuaib Al-Muwaizri, a fourth electoral constituency candidate, stressed that he wishes to convey four messages during this candidacy. ‘My first message is to the Kuwaiti people: your vote should be Kuwaitfocused in order to build a better future. Do not be fooled by anybody’, he said asking voters not to be beguiled by socalled heroes. “My second message is to the Government: make sure the elections are decent, transparent ones by all means. Expose all forgery and vote-buying attempts” he added, urging the Government to stop those whom he described as ‘the icons of corruption and their media’ that can sometimes be used to defame opponents. He said his third message is directed to candidates themselves, urging them not to use illegal methods such as insults, blasphemy and jeopardizing national unity during the election season. “My final message is to the next Parliament that should hold to Islamic law and legal principles. MPs must forget about previous actions and learn their lessons.....let us turn over a new leaf in dealing with the government!’, he stressed remarking that, nevertheless, the theft of public funds must not be forgotten or ignored. Commenting on interfering in the election process, Al-Muwaizri said that such interferences has always been there. “But they are not always in favor of pro-ruling family members....They have also been practiced by some influential VIP’s working for corrupt tycoons”, he underlined. Al-Muwaizri further denied knowing of or participating in any by-elections, and predicted more voters will participate in the upcoming elections. ‘Over 70 percent will take part’ he stressed, noting that the majority of voters will be young people who ‘have led the calls for change’. He also predicted changes at 60 per cent in the first constituency, 50 in the second, 40 in the third, 20 in the fourth and 40 per cent in the fifth constituency. Al-Muwaizri also urged the government to retrieve funds allegedly paid to some corrupt lawmakers in bribes. Abdullatif Al-Khader, a fifth constituency candidate, said that his candidacy aims at solving various public con-

Dr Khalil Ali

cerns such as traffic problems and congestion, prices, banking problems, unemployment, housing and the presence of bachelors in residential areas. Al-Khader also criticized former MPs, who deliberately created tension and abused their use of constitutional tools in a way that has hindered and impeded all forms of development. Thus Kuwait has fallen behind in comparison to other regional GCC states. Bader Nasser Al-Jeian, a third constituency candidate, expressed hopes that the coming Parliament will attain more achievements. He also urged everybody to fully observe the Constitution, which safeguards political life and practices in Kuwait. Hassan Naji Al-Bahrani, a first constituency candidate, stressed that he is running to represent the young generation in Parliament and that he has no agenda other than sincere love and devotion to Kuwait, and willingness to serve the public. “I intend to use social networking to address the young generation and communicate with voters’,

Fadhel Al-Atram

Fahad Al-Masoud

Khalid Al-Yaqout

Shuaib Al-Muwaizri

Abdullatif Al-Khader

Bader Al-Muwaizri

he said. Fahad Al-Masoud, a first constituency candidate, predicted a great deal of change in the coming Parliament. ‘I expect at least 50 per cent change,’ he stressed, noting that his top priority would be setting more anti-corruption laws. He also credited youth movements, underlining that both powers had been dissolved thanks to their efforts. Dr. Khalil Abdullah Ali, a third constituency candidate, stressed that his candidacy is motivated by

his fear for the future of his children and family and, consequently, that of Kuwait in general. ‘The whole world is going through hard times and we need to safeguard Kuwait and steer the country out of this dilemma peacefully,’ he stressed, pointing out that states include both institutes and human beings. ‘State institutions are so weary nowadays and need new legislation to reform them,’ he underlined, warning that Kuwait is not a cake to be divided by some influential beneficiaries.


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Kuwait, South Korea discuss cooperation in construction Panel meets in Seoul

PRAGUE: His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s envoy Ambassador Sheikh Faisal Al-Homoud Al-Malek AlSabah arrived in the Czech Republic yesterday to offer condolences over the death of former president Vaclav Havel. He was received by the deputy foreign minister of Czech.

Special needs affairs chairman asked to resign KUWAIT: The Kuwait Society for Special Needs (KSSN) has asked the Head of Medical Committees at the Public Authority for Special Needs Affairs to resign, citing that individuals with special needs are being deprived of their rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The Society has accused the Chairman of Medical Committees of violating local laws and international agreements, including contracts signed with Arab countries to protect the rights of this group. KSSN Chairman Ayed Al-Shimmary said in a press release that the medical committees have been violating the law for the handicapped, especially Article 1. He said this is especially the case if the disability is partial or total without dividing the handicaps. He said local law, particularly the civil law and Amiri decree, was issued in 1981. — Al-Qabas

SEOUL: Construction committees from Kuwait and South Korea discussed yesterday means of boosting cooperation in mutual construction projects. The 3rd committee’s meeting was held from Dec 19 to 23 in the South Korean capital of Seoul. The Kuwaiti committee reviewed a number of projects which will help to transform Kuwait into a financial and economic hub in the region. The Kuwaiti government is planning to implement these projects in the coming years. The South Koreans expressed keen inclination to co-join in building these projects, which are part of Kuwait’s developmental plan. They also hoped that they would benefit from the Kuwaiti expertise in water distillation. The Kuwaiti delegation met with

Kwon Do-youp, the South Korean Minister of Transportation and Maritime Affairs. They also visited a number of companies, hospitals and Yechon International Airport to familiarize themselves with the latest construction methods adopted by the country. The Kuwaiti delegation was headed by Abdulaziz Al-Kulaib, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Public Works and Muteb Al-Mutoteh, Kuwaiti ambassador to South Korea. Meanwhile, South Korea plans to invest $11.8 billion in developing oil and natural gas resources next year as part of efforts to secure sufficient energy for economic and industrial growth, the government said, according to Yonhap News Agency. South Korea is the world’s fifthlargest oil importer and second-

largest liquefied natural gas buyer. The envisioned investment is 34 percent higher than the USD 8.8 billion projected to be spent for the same purpose this year, the knowledge economy ministry said, adding that it will be the nation’s largest annual investment in energy projects. Public enterprises will invest a total of $7.8 billion, while private-sector enterprises will spend about $4 billion. South Korea is stepping up efforts to participate in overseas natural resources development projects aimed at securing stable energy supplies. High crude oil prices, in particular, have been a major concern for policymakers here struggling to tame inflation, which is closely linked to energy prices in overseas markets, the report added. — KUNA

NBK launches official page on Instagram KUWAIT: The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) launched its official page on Instagram and invites customers to send NBK-related photos using this popular photo-sharing application. “NBK customers can send their favorite NBK-related picture and we will post it on NBK’s official page using Instagram,” explained Badria AlReshaid, NBK Social Media Specialist. More than 300 NBK customers have so far shared their Instagram photos, which can be viewed on the Instagram gallery for NBK as well as on NBK’s Official Twitter and Facebook pages. NBK is among the first regional banks to establish a strong social media presence, with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Google+ pages devoted to customer feedback

and engagement. Instagram works with iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. It is a photo-sharing application that allows users to apply various filters to change the look of the photo. Photos sent by customers and staff include a picture of NBK’s London branch, a picture of the Arraya office and a filtered photo of an Arabic coffee cup with the NBK logo. “We greatly value social media as a means of easily communicating with customers and also building a strong and lasting relationship,” Al-Reshaid said. ‘NBK values Social Media as an important channel of communication with customers’ Follow National Bank of Kuwait’s latest news on our official Facebook page, NBK Official page and on Twitter @NBK Page.

Badria Al-Reshaid

Call to implement GCC initiative

MANAMA: Kuwait is keen on supporting and cultivating the energy of Arab youth, said Kuwaiti Ambassador to Bahrain Sheikh Azzam Mubarak Al-Sabah yesterday. This statement came during Sheikh Azzam’s meeting with Kuwaiti participants in the Bahraini festival dubbed Bahrain is Well. He affirmed that the Kuwaiti participation in the event came as a sign of the strong relations amongst the youth of both nations.

UNITED NATIONS: The Security Council yesterday called once again on Yemen to implement the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative in a “transparent and timely” manner, in a spirit of inclusion and reconciliation. In a press statement, Council President Vitaly Churkin of Russia said the Council members reaffirmed their intention to actively monitor the security, political and humanitarian situation in Yemen, and look forward to see further timely updates, including on the status of the implementation of the political transition agreements. The Council was briefed yesterday by UN Special Advisor on Yemen Jamal Ben Omar who said the implementation of the initiative is on track and warned the parties - government and opposition - of consequences if the process is derailed. Council members welcomed in the press statement yesterday the progress in implementing the political transition on the basis of the (GCC) initiative as well as the implementation mechanism which is resulting in a peaceful transition of power. They also welcomed the formation of the government of national unity. They expected the parties to continue to honor the timetable set out in the agreement, including the presidential elections on Feb 21, the national dialogue, the constitution review and the program of reform to tackle the profound security, humanitarian, and economic challenges facing the country. — KUNA


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Kuwait govt urged to find alternative resources to oil ‘Source of wealth will eventually dry up’

A honeybee swarm on my balcony KUWAIT: As it becomes more wintry in Kuwait, a small colony of honeybees swarmed into the balcony of my apartment in Salmiya and formed a cluster on a bougainvillea plant. Honeybees are rarely found in Kuwait and their swarm on my balcony made me curious. Beekeepers say the swarm cluster, hanging off from the plant now, will move on and find a suitable nesting location in the coming few days. Honeybees are usually quite

Al-Mulaifi champions English KUWAIT: It is important to focus on crucial points in school curriculum to achieve better results in the educational process, remarked Ahmad AlMulaifi, Minister of Education and Higher Education. He was speaking during the opening ceremony of the fifth forum for English language, organized at Khalid Ibn Al Waleed school in Mubarak Al Kabeer governorate. He also stressed the importance of the English language. He said academic society in Kuwait must learn and be able to effectively utilize the English language, which is the second most common language in the world. “We should not learn enough merely to pass exams in school,” he said. Pointing out that Kuwait has graduates from all over the world who participate in the teaching process, he demanded that teachers use the best style in order to convey information effectively to students. He said that teachers locally should not depend on traditional methods but use up-todate technology to create an endearing environment to students, making the subject they are studying more appealing. Al-Mulaifi said that teaching in Kuwait has reached an advanced stage. There are 800 schools in Kuwait serving around 350,000 students in different educational levels. - Al-Qabas

inactive during the winter. They survive the winter months by clustering for warmth. By self-regulating the internal temperature of the cluster, the bees maintain 93 degrees Fahrenheit in the center of the winter cluster, regardless of the outside temperature. People say that a bee swarm should always be exterminated for safety reasons. But honeybees are harmless unless provoked. So let us wait and watch for their next move. — Text and photo by Sajeev K Peter

KUWAIT: Ahmad Baqer, Ex Minister of Commerce and Industry, demanded that the new government implement articles and attempt to find alternative resources to oil. Baqer was speaking at a seminar entitled: ‘Analysis Ready for Kuwait Budget’ organized by Kuwait Society for Auditing. He pointed out that from the KD 19.5 billion budget approved in June of this year, KD 9.2 billion are in the form of allowances and KD 4.55 are for subsidized items like gasoline, electricity and water, foodstuffs and agricultural subsidies. The remaining amount, which is KD 5 billion, will be spent on housing, security and growth, health and education. Baqer said that one of the unfortunate things that occurred after the budget’s approval is increased salaries for oil sector employees, military men and teachers. He said that 90 percent of current expenses in the budget are obtained from oil revenues. He said the budget is aimed at increasing revenues by 30 percent from sources other than

oil income. This did not happen, and is very dangerous. He believes that what puts Kuwait in a dangerous situation is its great dependence on oil. He pointed out that this source of wealth will eventually dry up. Meanwhile there is no control over its production or its price as it is linked with world prices. He speculated that increasing expenses, particularly raising salaries, will exceed income and put Kuwait in deficit by 2020. In another development, the Arab Planning Institute urged for the unification of planning policies in the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council, describing it as a necessity for addressing common challenges. “Setting and implementing development plans has become a necessity to achieve economic and social development in these states,” the Kuwait-based institute said in a press statement on the occasion of the release of a new edition of the “Development Bridge” periodical on the development planning in GCC states. It noted that the challenges facing GCC member states are

almost the same. This shows the need for unifying policies to address these challenges and achieve sustainable development. The API also called for introducing structural changes to achieve significant shifts in the economic performance of the GCC states. The Arab Planning Institute is a non-profit regional organization whose primary mission is to advance the cause of economic and social development in Arab countries through training, research, consultancy, expertgroup meetings, and publication. The API’s main objectives are to provide the necessary knowledge-based and experimental skills that will empower Arab countries to keep pace with the cutting edge of Development, Economic Management and Planning. It also includes facilitating the process of research and data retrieval for Arab decision-makers and researchers and increasing the quality of studies and research skills of those specializing in Development, Economic Management and Planning, in the Arab Countries.


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Discussions continue on Jaber Bridge project KUWAIT: Dr. Fadhel Safar, Kuwait’s Minister of Public Works and Minister of State for Municipal Affairs, said on Thursday the project to build Jaber Bridge is still being discussed by the Central Tenders Committee (CTC) and the State Audit Bureau (SAB). “After verifying the viability of the project, the SAB raised two points - the ecological impact and the fair access of bidders to view for launching the project,” the minister stated. He made the remarks during a ceremony to honor the participants at a photo gallery, held at Jaber Hospital. Dr. Safar said his ministry offered documents verifying the project will not have diverse impacts on the local environment to the SAB. “These included a written approval by the Environment Pubic Authority (EPA) of a study developed by the Kuwait University under a mandate from the Cabinet,” he revealed. Asked about the CTC’s decision to delay casting the project to bidders, he said it aimed to ensure the largest possible number of bidders from contractors and major companies. Six companies had initially bid for the project but three of them later decided to back off, believed to be due to the high insurance rate of some KD 70 million. “When the issue was brought to the National Assembly, the SAB suggested delaying the tender and CTC approved the suggestion,” Dr. Safar added. As for the Mubarak Harbor project, he said its implementation is proceeding smoothly and is on schedule.—KUNA

Kuwait marks centenary of public education KUWAIT: Minister of Education and Higher Education and Minister of Justice Ahmed Al-Mlaifi announced Thursday the start of the celebrations of a centenary of the beginning of public education in Kuwait. In a press conference at the Ministry of Education, the minister said the celebrations would be held under the auspices of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. “On Dec 22, 100 years ago the first public school in Kuwait opened,” Al-Mlaifi said. He pointed out that the school, named AlMubarakiyah, was set up by a national initiative from Kuwaiti people. “The efforts of Kuwaiti people and government have united to achieve a quantum leap in education,” Al-Mlaifi said, adding that the number of schools have now grown to about 800 in which about 359 thousand students receive high-quality education. The minister applauded the great support to the educational process and institutions from HH the Amir who sponsors the centenary celebrations. He disclosed the celebrations will include many events and great participation from educational and cultural institutions in Kuwait. For his part, head of the celebrations organization committee Dr Jacob Ghunaim said the events will include art exhibition, book fair and a series of lectures and workshops.—KUNA

KUWAIT: Kuwait National Guard and the US Army embarked on a joint exercise aimed at bolstering military coordination amongst the two armies on Thursday. The exercise went well and the personnel involved gave it their all. KNG thanked the US military for its assistance, hoping the exercise will lead to more joint endeavors in the future.

Drunk woman driver caught red handed in Hawally Intruder ‘invited’ by housemaid KUWAIT: Patrol men in Hawally suspected a woman driving a car erratically. They stopped her and discovered that she was drunk. Security sources said that the policemen tried to take the woman from her car to the patrol car, in order to hand her to the concerned authorities. But she held the liquor bottle tightly and refused to hand it over to the policemen. The woman was sent to concerned authorities with the bottle in her hand. Rumaithiya intruder A man was arrested inside a house in Rumaithiya area. The owner of a house heard a strange noise in their house. The owner of the house came out to see what was going on, but he found nothing. He went to the room of his sons and asked them to comb the house, as he was sure of a strange movement in the house. At last they found a person hiding in one of the rooms. They started beating him until they controlled him and then handed him to Rumaithiya police. They reported finding the person inside their house, but do not know the reason why. After interro-

gating the man, he confessed that he was “invited” by the maid. A case of entering the house for sexual assault to the maid was registered. Two Asians commit suicide An Asian maid committed suicide in the house of her sponsor in Mangaf area, by throwing herself from the sixth floor. Detectives are investigating to find out if there is any foul play. In a second case of suicide, an Asian expatriate hanged himself inside his room at Jleeb Al-Shoyoukh, and a case was registered. Addict robs cancer patient Police received a report about an unknown thief driving a Japanese car. The man hit a woman, who had just left Makki Jumaa hospital where she was receiving treatment for cancer. He robbed her by force. A citizen saw the attack and tried to prevent the thief, but the thief got into his car and knocked down the citizen with his car and drove away. Police circulated a description of the car, and after few minutes the car was spotted at the sea front. Police immediately

arrested the thief. Both the woman and the Kuwaiti man who were run over by the car were able to identify the robber. The thief confessed of his crime, saying he needed the money to buy drugs. Amiri Amnesty Offenders imprisoned in connection with multiple charges will be included in the list of inmates who will be granted annual Amiri Amnesty in late February. This was revealed in a news report which stated that a committee assigned to study files of inmates in Kuwait’s jails will meet conditions covered by the amnesty. Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity added that the committee is studying the files of 4,130 inmates, including 113 women. This is the first time that those convicted in multiples charges will be set free. Inmates jailed for committing unpardonable crimes automatically disqualify for amnesty, sources said. The offenders are freed immediately or the jail term is commuted by half or one quarter. Fines as well as deportation orders are similarly commuted.— Al-Rai, Al-Anbaa


SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Egyptians rally against army over beatings of protesters

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Turkey accuses France of genocide in Armenia row

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Cuba Assembly meets behind closed doors

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World bids farewell to Havel Pope hails courage of former president PRAGUE: International leaders bade farewell yesterday to former Czech President Vaclav Havel, the anti-communist dissident who led the peaceful “Velvet Revolution” and inspired human rights campaigners around the world. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband former President Bill Clinton, joined leaders from France, Britain and many ex-communist countries for the funeral mass in the gothic St. Vitus cathedral at Prague Castle, the seat of Czech kings and presidents. Havel, a dissident playwright who died on Sunday at 75 after a long respiratory illness, served five years in jail for his criticism of oppressive communist rule before rising to the presidency of what was then Czechoslovakia in late 1989. He stepped down as Czech president in 2003 but remained a symbol of struggle for freedom and human rights, although his proclamation that “truth and love must win over lies and hatred” turned bitter to some Czechs amid economic hardship and corruption in the years after the end of totalitarian rule. A thousand guests filled the monumental cathedral for the mass, while thousands more followed the service on large screens outside. “He fought against the communists, stuck to his opinion, made big sacrifices,” said 14year old Anezka Chroustova, who brought a bunch of yellow roses. Havel’s widow, actress Dagmar Havlova, clad in a black veil, sat in the front row at the mass celebrated by archbishop Dominik Duka, the head of the Czech Catholic church. Havel’s casket lay on the floor, covered by a Czech flag. Sirens and church bells rang around the central European country at noon in Havel’s memory and many people stopped on the streets to observe a minute of silence, some moved to tears. Some factories stopped work. On Wednesday, over 10,000 mourners had marched through Prague’s cobblestoned medieval streets, led by his widow, to pay their respects. Thousands of candles were burning at Prague’s Wenceslas Square and Narodni Trida, the main spots of the Velvet Revolution demonstrations. “Remembering how courageously Mr Havel defended human rights at a time when these were systematically denied to the people of your country, and paying tribute to his visionary leadership...I give thanks to God for the freedom that the people of the Czech Republic now enjoy,” Pope Benedict said in a letter read out at Friday’s mass. Havel’s dissident friend Lech Walesa, the first post-communist democratic

president of Poland, was among the guests. Russia, which Havel criticised for human rights abuses and democratic shortfalls as recently as this month, was represented by rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin. Bill Clinton’s presence was testimony to his close relationship with Havel, who took him to drink beer in a Prague pub and play saxophone in a club when he visited in 1994. Havel developed close ties with the United States and took the Czech Republic to NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. “Vaclav Havel was fully aware of human weakness but we will remember him for his resolve not to accept it as a permanent state of being,” said Madeleine Albright, a Czech-born former US secretary of state under Clinton and a friend of Havel. —Reuters

CAIRO: Egyptian protesters against military rule shout slogans at soldiers while holding their national flag as they gather outside the parliament building during clashes in Cairo yesterday.—AFP


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Yemen demo attacked, soldiers killed in ambush SANAA: Loyalists of Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh yesterday attacked demonstrators gathered south of the capital calling for the leader’s trial, a protest organiser told AFP. Further south, in Abyan province, seven soldiers were killed late Thursday near Zinjibar in an ambush by Al-Qaeda suspects, a military source said, adding three militants were also killed in subsequent fighting. Assailants, some of whom were armed, attacked a group of 2,000 demonstrators in Hizyaz, a suburb south of Sanaa, before they could join a rally headed to the capital, said Mondher al-Asbahi. “Dozens of demonstrators were wounded, struck by stones, and one was hit by a bullet,” said Asbahi, a member of a Taez youth

group organising the rally. The “March for Life” procession, which kicked off in the southwestern city of Taez, has amassed tens of thousands of participants along the 270kilometre (167 mile) road to Sanaa. The demonstration is likely to reach the capital today, Asbahi said. Tribesmen are escorting them to ensure the security of the march, which was the target of an armed attack in the province of Dhamar, a tribal chief told AFP. He added that Saleh’s partisans began to gather 30 kilometres south of Sanaa in bid to “block the march.” A security services source told AFP that their were plans for military reinforcements as the march enters Sanaa to “guarantee the safety of its participants and prevent the entry of any

armed participant.” Those marching hope to pressure the new unity government to put Saleh and his chronies on trial over his government’s crackdown on opposition demonstrations, which has left hundreds dead since January. Several demonstrations have called for Saleh to be tried for murder, nepotism and corruption, since he signed a Gulf-brokered deal which calls on him to step down in February in exchange for immunity. Elsewhere, 10 people were killed in a sixth night of clashes pitting militants linked to Al-Qaeda against Yemeni troops trying to retake Zinjibar, Abyan’s provincial capital. “A military vehicle was ambushed by members of Al-Qaeda east of Zinjibar and seven soldiers died,” a military

source said. “Three extremists were killed” in a subsequent gunfight,” the source added. Meanwhile, the Yemeni air force carried out four raids in the southern city of Jaar, also in Abyan province, he said, without being able to specify the number of casualties. Residents, however, said four “Qaeda” militants were killed in the raid. Government forces have been backed by tribal fighters and sometimes supported by US drone strikes in their battle against the Partisans of Sharia, an insurgent group that took over most of Zinjibar in May. Al-Qaeda has profited from the instability caused by 11 months of protests against Saleh, strengthening its positions across the south of the country. — AFP

Egyptians rally against army over beatings of protesters Protesters want swifter military handover of power

MANAMA: Riot police fire tear gas toward antigovernment protesters yesterday, in Manama, Bahrain.— AP

Bahrain police attack oppn offices MANAMA: Security forces firing rubber bullets and tear gas attacked the headquarters of Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition party in the capital yesterday after the group challenged a new government ban on its weekly protests. Police also used tear gas to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters attempting to protest elsewhere in the capital. “I was really shocked to see tear gas and rubber bullets hit our offices,” said vice president of the Al Wefaq party, Sheik Hussain Al Daihi. He said he was inside the building with foreign journalists when the security forces attacked and that a 13-year-old girl among those hurt had a serious injury to her thigh. Yesterday’s clampdown was the latest episode in 10 months of unrest between Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy and an opposition movement led by the country’s majority Shiites, who have long complained of discrimination. “We are a people that won’t be broken. All this repression and brutality is the source of our strength and determination to continue the struggle and defend our national rights,” Al Daihi said later in a statement. Authorities banned the weekly Friday protests for the first time since emergency laws were lifted in June. The Interior Ministry “gave silly excuses” to ban the event, including that it would block traffic and endanger others in the area, Al Daihi said. Defying government orders, Shiite clerics on Friday also held prayer services on the rubble of mosques that had been bulldozed by authorities earlier this year. It was the first time that Shiite clerics have actively taken part in the protest movement, openly defying the government. The Shiite clerics say at least 38 mosques used by their congregations were destroyed since the protests began in February. “We will start a campaign to defend our religious sites and the first such activity starts with a protest at the end of the prayer at Diraz grand mosque,” senior Shiite cleric Sheik Isa Qassim said during his Friday sermon. Diraz is an opposition stronghold northwest of the capital. “We demand democracy for one people, Sunni and Shiite, and we understand the approach of the government that aims to divide our people.—AP

CAIRO: Thousands of Egyptians rallied in Cairo and other cities yesterday to demand the military give up power and vent their anger after 17 people were killed in protests where troops beat and clubbed women and men even as they lay on the ground. One image in particular from the five days of clashes that ended this week has stoked their fury: that of soldiers dragging a woman lying on the street so that her bra and torso were exposed, while clubbing and stamping on her. “Anyone who saw her and saw her pain would come to Tahrir,” Omar Adel, 27, said in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. “Those who did this should be tried. We can’t bear this humiliation and abuse.” Some protesters have been demanding the army bring forward a presidential vote to as early as Jan. 25, the first anniversary of the start of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, or at least much earlier than the mid-2012 handover now scheduled. But other Egyptians fret that 10 months after Mubarak’s downfall Egypt remains in disarray. They want protests to stop so order can be restored and the economy revitalised, voicing such views in a smaller protest in another part of Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood’s party, leading in a staggered parliamentary election that runs to January and is Egypt’s first free vote in six decades, said it would not join yesterday’s rally. It also supports the army’s schedule and says the process must be decided by balloting, not street pressure. Demonstrators in Tahrir chanted, “Down with military rule.” Nearby, new concrete walls bar access from Tahrir to the cabinet, parliament and Interior Ministry, areas where clashes flared in November and December. The November death toll was 42. There were several thousand demonstrators in Tahrir by mid-afternoon but that number paled next to some huge rallies seen in the square during and after Mubarak’s ouster, and fell well short of the one million organisers had called for yesteriday. But there were protests elsewhere. In the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, several thousand people marched to an army base chanting: “Women of Egypt raise your heads, you are more noble than those who stamp

on you.” Smaller rallies to decry the handling of protests and treatment of women were held in the eastern cities of Suez, Ismailiya and Port Said, witnesses said. The army has said it regretted the violence in Tahrir and offered an apology over the woman who was beaten, saying the case was isolated and under investigation. But the

a woman protesting in Tahrir. While the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said it would steer clear of Friday’s rally, the ultraconservative Salafist al-Nour Party, a surprise runner-up in the election so far, said on its Facebook page that it would take part. Many activists accuse the Brotherhood and other Islamists of betraying the grass-

CAIRO: Egyptian women shout slogans in Cairo’s Tahrir Square yesterday during a mass rally against the ruling military, which sparked outrage when its soldiers were taped beating women protesters. — AFP military was drawing fierce criticism from many political parties and groups. “The current predicament we have reached is a result of the army council’s reluctance to play its role, its intentional foot-dragging, breaking its obligations and failing over the economy and security, putting the whole country on the edge of a huge crisis,” two dozen parties and groups said in a statement. It said members of the military council, which is led by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, should be held to account out of respect for those killed and women who were mistreated. “Tantawi undressed our daughters, he should be executed,” said Samah Ibrahim, 40,

roots protest movement in order to secure their own positions in the emerging new power structure. The FJP said on its Facebook page it would not participate although it said it was “the right of the Egyptian people to protest and demonstrate peacefully”. “The party emphasises the need for the handover of power to civilians according to the will of the Egyptian people through free and fair elections ... in a stable environment,” said Mohamed al-Katatni, a senior member of the FJP. His remarks indicated the group was sticking to the army’s timetable to hold a presidential vote in June. The Brotherhood has said bringing the vote forward could “create chaos”. —Reuters


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Hungary police remove MPs from protest BUDAPEST: Hungarian police briefly detained former Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and several other lawmakers during a protest outside the parliament building where the government passed laws the opposition sees as a blow to democracy. Parliament, where the ruling Fidesz party has a two thirds majority, passed a key financial stability law despite objections by the European Union, which could jeopardise talks about a new financing deal with international lenders. Hungary is trying to secure the deal with the International Monetary Fund and the EU to retain access to market funding next year, but informal talks have collapsed, leading to a downgrade in Hungary’s debt rating to “junk” by Standard and Poor’s. Parliament also passed an electoral law, which critics say will change the electoral system in favour of Fidesz, and several other disputed bills, prompting opposition MPs to chain themselves to a barrier outside parliament in protest. Gyurcsany, who headed two previous Socialist governments and is now a member of parliament, was forcibly removed

from the protest along with several lawmakers from the green liberal opposition LMP party. Police later detained the head of the Socialist party and several other Socialist lawmakers who tried to prevent LMP activists being taken away from outside parliament. Those detained were later released. “(Prime Minister Viktor) Orban’s autocracy can no longer tolerate even peaceful opposition and protest,” Gyurcsany told Reuters after he was released. MP Gabor Scheiring told Reuters: “I have come here as it’s a shame for the governing majority that people have to defend parliamentary democracy with their own bodies”. “They want to cement the flat tax, under which the majority of people end up worse off ... and the ruling majority of Fidesz wants to approve an electoral law today, with which they will take away the people’s right to replace this government.” The financial stability law cements a flat personal income tax, which the opposition says would tie the hands of any future government. A vice chairman of Fidesz said the protests were a “political parody.” Police said in a statement that by chaining them-

selves to the barriers, protesters blocked the entry of MPs to parliament, and did not obey police requests to leave. “When due to the behaviour of the demonstrators, Parliament became inaccessible at all entries, police intervened and detained 26 individuals,” the statement said. Peter Kreko, political analyst at think tank Political Capital said the police action was unacceptable. “These pictures which show police removing opposition lawmakers, well, we see such photos in undemocratic countries”. “What the government can achieve with this is that its isolation from the West can become much stronger both economically and politically, and if the government goes ahead on this road, then there is no other outcome but failure.” Since it swept to power in 2010, Orban’s government has tightened its grip on the media, curbed the rights of the top Constitutional Court, renationalised private pension assets and dismantled an independent budget oversight body. On Thursday Orban rejected a European Commission request to withdraw two disputed laws in a move which could derail talks with lenders about the

new financial deal, and which analysts say could trigger a full-blown market crisis. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso had asked Orban to scrap two laws - the financial stability law and one on the central bank which the European Central Bank says infringes on the central bank’s independence. The Commission was assessing Hungary’s response, the EU’s executive said yesterday. “Given the importance of the matters at stake, these replies require an in-depth assessment, which is under way and which will be concluded as soon as possible. The Commission will decide on its next steps in the light of this analysis,” spokesman Dennis Abbott said in comments emailed to Reuters. Economy Minister Gyorgy Matolcsy told parliament the financial stability law was key to having stable budgets and debt reduction. Parliament also on Friday passed several amendments to the central bank bill to bring the legislation into line with the European Central Bank’s requests, but left some contentious parts such as the expansion of the Monetary Council. —Reuters

Turkey accuses France of genocide in Armenia row Sarkozy’s father denies role

KIEV: In this Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011 file photo Police officers lead former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko out of the courtroom after a verdict in her case has been rendered at the Pecherskiy District Court in Kiev, Ukraine. A Kiev court has upheld the conviction and seven-year jail sentence for former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, condemned as politically motivated by the West. — AP

More explosions hit Nigerian city KANO: A fresh round of explosions and gunfire hit the Nigerian city of Damaturu yesterday as authorities battled suspected members of Islamist sect Boko Haram, a day after unrest killed six people. Residents reported seeing trucks of soldiers arriving in Damaturu and said authorities gave them 30 minutes to evacuate the neighbourhood of Pompomari. Some took refuge at the city’s central mosque, one resident said. “Our men have been battling with Boko Haram members,” said Lawan Tanko, police commissioner for the northeastern state of Yobe, where Damaturu is located. “Our men have been making attempts to go into the

house they have been using as a hideout to defuse explosives, but they are facing some resistance from the Boko Haram elements who are detonating explosives and firing shots.” “We have all fled our homes,” one Pompomari resident said by phone, adding he had taken refuge at the mosque. “We were given 30 minutes by soldiers to evacuate and they were about to launch an offensive on the Boko Haram members.” Unrest broke out on Thursday in Damaturu and two other northeastern cities, Maiduguri and Potiskum. The death toll from Thursday was at least six, an official and a medical source said.—AFP

ISTANBUL: The war of words between France and Turkey escalated dramatically yesterday, when the Turkish premier accused Paris of committing genocide in Algeria and of stirring hatred of Muslims. Furious that French lawmakers had voted on Thursday to outlaw denial of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey in 1915, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit back directly at France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy. Earlier, Turkey’s ambassador to France had left Paris and Ankara had announced diplomatic sanctionsbanning political visits between the countries-and frozen military ties between the nominal NATO allies. “France massacred an estimated 15 percent of the Algerian population starting from 1945. This is genocide,” Erdogan told reporters, accusing Sarkozy of “fanning hatred of Muslims and Turks for electoral gains.” “This vote that took place in France, a France in which five million Muslims live, clearly shows to what point racism, discrimination and Islamophobia have reached dangerous levels in France and Europe,” he said. Demonstrators gathered in front of the French consulate in Istanbul, chanting “Down with France” and “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest). Paris appeared to have been caught off guard by the fury of Turkey’s response. Sarkozy, in Prague where he was at the funeral of late Czech president Vaclav Havel, was on the defensive. “I respect the views of our Turkish

friends-it’s a great country, a great civilisation-and they must respect ours,” he said. “France does not lecture anyone but France doesn’t want to be lectured. France decides its policy as a sovereign nation. We do not ask for permission. France has its beliefs, human rights, a respect for memory.” But back in France, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe admitted that the vote on the genocide law had “without doubt been badly timed”. He urged calm, while adding that “certain declarations have been excessive”. France fought a long guerrilla war between 1954 and 1962 to try to hang on to its Algerian colony. Estimates for the number of dead vary wildly. Algeria puts it at more

than a million, French historians estimate 250,000. Citing earlier French action against Algerian rebels in the aftermath of World War II, Erdogan said Sarkozy’s father Pal Sarkozy had been a French legionnaire and should be able to tell his son of “massacres”. But Sarkozy senior appeared on French television to mock this claim, pointing out that he had been in the Foreign Legion for only four months and had never been deployed to Algeria. In 1915 and 1916, during World War I many Armenians died in Ottoman Turkey. Armenia says 1.5 million were killed in a genocide. Turkey says around 500,000 died in fighting after Armenians sided with Russian invaders. —AFP

ISTANBUL: A man holds a placard reading “I boycott French goods” during a demonstration in front of the French Consulate in Istanbul to protest against a law, voted the day before by French MPs, that outlaw denial of the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey,yesterday. — AFP


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Bolivia wants Chile compensation over sea access CUSCO: Bolivian President Evo Morales called for compensation from Chile for “historic damages” caused by their annexation of Bolivia’s access to the ocean in a 19th century war. Morales said in a joint press conference with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala that a border agreement reached with Chile after the war in 1904 was “unjust and imposed by force.” Chile defeated allies Bolivia and Peru in an 1879-1883 war over territory rich in sodium nitrate, in high demand

in Europe at the time for use as fertilizer. In the war Bolivia lost its seaport Antofagasta, while Peru lost their southernmost provinces including Arica, now far northern Chile. Resentment over the war remains deep, especially in the Peruvian and Bolivian military. The border between Peru and Chile is one of the most heavily mined areas in the world. To fully integrate into Latin America, “these historic damages must be resolved,” said Morales, whose country lost 400 kilometers (250 miles) of coastline and

128,000 square kilometers (50,000 square miles). Ties between La Paz and Santiago have cooled over landlocked Bolivia’s plan to present their case for access to the Pacific in the International Court of Justice in The Hague. In 2008 Peru filed a case against Chile in The Hague over the maritime border between the two countries. Morales however did not blame the current Chilean government of President Sebastian Pinera, but instead “oligarchies of the past” and “transna-

tionals that made off with our natural resources.” On a visit to Bolivia before taking office in June, Humala, a nationalist former army major, said that he “dreamed” of reviving the 1836-1839 Peru-Bolivian confederation, a shortlived union of the two countries. Morales and Humala met in Cusco, the capital of the ancient Inca empire, to discuss issues concerning port facilities on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world shared by both countries. — AFP

Cuba Assembly meets behind closed doors Plans to take up migration reform MEXICO CITY: A student shouts slogans during a march against violence in Mexico City, Thursday. Protesters demanded the immediate investigation of the death of two students who died last Dec 12 during clashes with police during a protest in Chilpancingo.— AP

16 killed in violence in Mexican state VERACRUZ: A group of gunmen attacked three passenger buses in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz on Thursday, killing seven passengers in what authorities said appeared to be a violent robbery spree. The Defense Department said in a statement that soldiers chased the five assailants and returned fire whey they were “attacked,” killing all of the gunmen. The army said the gunmen, who were carrying rifles, started the attacks in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday, killing three people who were loading vegetables into a truck in the town of El Higo, in northern Veracruz. In the same town, they tossed a grenade that killed another person. Later, the gunmen went to a nearby highway, stopped and robbed a bus and killed two of the passengers aboard, according to the army statement. They later stopped another bus and sprayed it with gunfire, killing four passengers. When the driver of a third bus stopped and got off to see what was happening, they killed him too. Veracruz state government spokeswoman Gina Dominguez said that while the gunmen’s identities and cartel affiliation have not yet been established, the men killed match witness descriptions of the assailants in the bus attacks, Dominguez said. The bloody pre-Christmas bus shootings brought up memories of the brutal murder of dozens of bus passengers whose bodies were found in mass graves in the neighboring state of Tamaulipas in April. A total of 193 bodies had been found in 26 graves, and officials say most of those were Mexican migrants heading to the United States who were kidnapped off buses and killed by the Zetas drug cartel. In the Tamaulipas killings, the Zetas gunmen stopped and boarded buses and removed male passengers and killed them, either because they believed a rival gang was trying to send reinforcements into the region aboard buses or because they wanted to force some of the passengers to join their gang. The buses attacked Thursday were covering local routes in northern Veracruz, though authorities did not release the names of the bus lines operating the route. There was no immediate information on the identity of the dead bus passengers, or the four people killed in El Higo. The area has been the scene of bloody battles between the Zetas and their former allies, the Gulf cartel. The two gangs split in 2010.—AP

HAVANA: Cuba’s parliament met yesterday in one of its twice-yearly sessions to get an update from President Raul Castro on the island’s economic situation after a year of free-market reforms including the legalization of a real estate market and the expansion of private business ownership. Parliament was gathering behind closed doors for what was expected to be a one-day plenary session. There has been speculation lawmakers might ease hated travel restrictions that keep most Cubans from ever leaving the island, but there has been no mention in official news media. The National Assembly convenes briefly twice a year for businesspacked legislative sessions. Foreign journalists have been allowed to attend opening or closing speeches in past sessions, but have no access this time around, and the sessions are not televised live. Communist Party newspaper Granma said some lawmakers, who

have already met in small groups, have heard an exhortation from Castro on the importance of fighting corruption. Cuba is ending the first year of a drive by Castro to reform its moribund economy. The government has allowed citizens to get business licenses for nearly 200 approved jobs, and 355,000 have taken them up on the offer. The state has also legalized a real estate market for the first time in nearly half a century, begun extending bank credits to entrepreneurs and those wishing to fix up their homes, and removed restrictions on the sale of used cars. A parallel effort to trim half a million workers from state payrolls largely foundered. The state employs about 85 percent of all workers and nearly all means of production in Cuba’s Marxist, command economy. One of the biggest reforms not yet implemented is the expected elimination of the “tarjeta blanca” - an exit visa in place since the 1960s which is required by all Cubans that

seek to leave, even temporarily. At parliament’s last session, in August, Castro told lawmakers the government was committed to ease travel restrictions. He said the measures were in place because many of those who left in the years after the 1959 revolution were a threat to Fidel Castro’s nascent government, including people backed by the United States who sought to bring the revolution down. Castro said in August that most of those who leave now do so for economic reasons and are not enemies. He said removing travel restrictions would help “increase the nation’s ties to the community of emigrants, whose makeup has changed radically since the early decades of the revolution.” Cuba has released few details of the effect of the reforms on its economy. The government has lowered growth forecasts for 2011 from about 3 percent to just 2.7 percent, citing poor harvests. — AP

HAVANA: Cuba’s President Raul Castro, left, speaks to First Vice President Jose Ramon Machado during a parliamentary meeting in Havana, Cuba, yesterday. — AP


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Russia opposition to stage new mass protests MOSCOW: Russia’s opposition is to stage new nationwide demonstrations today expected to attract tens of thousands of people to protest alleged rigging in this month’s parliamentary elections. Incensed by claims of wholesale violations in the December 4 parliamentary polls that handed a reduced majority to Vladimir Putin’s ruling party, tens of thousands of people already took to the streets across Russia on December 10. Those protests were the biggest show of public anger in Russia since the chaotic 1990s. A coalition of opposition forces, encouraged by that success, are seeking to drum up support for a new rally on Sakharov Avenue in Moscow, with nearly 40,000 people vowing on Facebook to attend. Other protests are expected elsewhere in Russia. The demonstrations come after President Dmitry Medvedev Thursday proposed a “comprehensive reform of our political system” including the resumption of direct elections for governors and a simplified procedure to register political parties. His proposals-first floated by strongman premier Putin last week-appeared an attempt by the authorities to show the protestors that the authorities had heard their message. But protest leaders

dismissed the two men’s promises as half-hearted concessions and stressed the government has ignored the protesters’ demands to annul the ballot results, sack election commission chief Vladimir Churov, and hold a new vote. In defiance of the protests, the newly elected lower house of parliament, the State Duma, held its first session on Wednesday. “People are demanding the punishment of the guilty, the sacking of Churov,” top opposition leader Vladimir Ryzhkov told AFP. “People do not want to live with the fraudulent Duma for the next five years.” Ruling party United Russia won less than half the vote in the elections and lost 77 seats as fatigue sets in with the 12-year rule of Putin, who is planning to win his old Kremlin job back in March polls and could stay in power until 2024. The opposition says the party’s performance would have been even worse in free elections. Some had thought the protest movement would fizzle out once the initial anger subsides and as Russia heads into the ten-day-long New Year’s holidays. But after Putin insulted protesters, comparing their rallies to an anti-AIDS campaign and the white ribbons many pinned to their lapels to condoms, many said they would attend today’s rally.

The release from prison this week of charismatic anti-Kremlin blogger Alexei Navalny and another prominent activist Ilya Yashin, who were handed 15-day sentences after leading one of the earlier rallies, are likely to give an additional boost the protesters. Putin has dismissed the rallies as insignificant, charging that their leaders were in the pay of the US State Department, while Medvedev said Thursday that authorities would not allow “provocateurs and extremists to drag society into their schemes.” Dozens of prominent cultural figures including film director Valery Todorovsky and musician Alexei Kortnev publicly urged ordinary Russians to come to the protest, which is officially sanctioned by the authorities. “If we want to change something there should be many of us,” they said in an open letter. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who has called for the elections to be re-run, may also attend the protest. “It’s quite possible,” his spokesman Vladimir Polyakov told AFP. “He had that desire but, of course, you need to remember he’s 80.” Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who this month announced he would challenge Putin for the presidency, said he may also come. — AFP

Suu Kyi registers party, enters political arena Makes first parliament visit

MINDANAO: Volunteers help distribute relief goods at an evacuation center in Cagayan de Oro City, in southern island of Mindanao yesterday, as some areas in the city remains without electricity and water. — AFP

More help arrives for Philippine flood victims CAGAYAN DE ORO: Philippines authorities yesterday doubled the number of dead and missing in deadly floods to more than 2,000, as relief groups rushed in aid for desperate survivors. Water, toilets, and other facilities are all urgently needed to head off potential epidemics, said Angela Travis, a local spokeswoman for the UN Children’s Fund. “The water situation is still difficult and we are worried about what this means for their health,” Travis told AFP, adding damaged tap water systems meant firetrucks had to deliver to the camps. Nearly half a million people require immediate assistance, United Nations agencies estimate, including nearly 50,000 at evacuation centres and those reduced to living with relatives and on the streets. Snejal Soneji, country director for the non-government aid organisation Oxfam, said it would put up latrines on top of about 200 portable toilets that Unicef is scheduled to deliver tomorrow. “They’re resorting to unhygienic practices like not washing hands, which could lead to outbreaks of diseases,” Soneji told AFP. The United Nations, which launched a $28.6 million aid appeal on Thursday, likened the force of the disaster to that of a tsunami. A UN High Commissioner for Refugees chartered plane is to fly into Manila on Friday to deliver the first batch of 42 tonnes of emergency shelters, blankets, and kitchen implements intended for the flood areas. As weary survivors of a disaster that swept away coastal shantytowns prepared for a bleak Christmas, authorities said there were now 1,079 people missing after the weekend’s deluge, up from 51. The confirmed death toll meanwhile rose to 1,080 from 1,010. More than half of those killed were from the major port cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan on the large southern island of Mindanao. —AFP

NAYPYIDAW: Myanmar’s democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi registered her opposition party and visited the national parliament for the first time yesterday, as she prepares to enter the mainstream political arena. The visit in the capital Naypyidaw included a meeting with lower house speaker Shwe Mann, number three in the previous ruling junta and still one of the most powerful men in Myanmar, who said he was “glad” to hold the talks. “We have to work together as unity is strength,” he told reporters. Suu Kyi, 66, earlier went to the Union Election Commission office to register her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which must now wait at least a week to be officially endorsed. “They have signed for their party registration already,” a commission official told AFP, referring to Suu Kyi and other senior party members. The NLD was given the green light from authorities this month to rejoin mainstream politics, paving the way for the Nobel laureate to run for a seat in the new parliament. “If she reaches parliament, we will see her continually,” Shwe Mann said after their meeting, at which they mainly discussed the functions of the political body. A quarter of parliament’s seats are taken up by the army while the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which is packed with former military men, holds about 80 percent of the remainder. Upper house speaker Khin Aung Myint, who also met Suu Kyi yesterday, described her visit as “auspicious”. “We wanted this to happen a long time ago and we welcome her.” The NLD was stripped of its status as a legal political party by the junta last year after it chose to boycott a rare and controversial election, saying the rules were unfair. Suu Kyi was released a few days after

NAYPYIDAW: Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi (C) after meeting with speaker of the lower house speaker Thura Shwe Mann (not in picture) at the lower house parliament office in Naypyidaw yesterday. — AFP the November poll, having spent much of the past two decades in detention, and she is now planning to take part in by-elections expected early next year. No polling date has been set. Since coming to power in March, the new military-backed government dominated by former generals has made a series of reformist moves in an apparent attempt to reach out to political opponents and the West. These included releasing some of its many political prisoners, suspending construction of an unpopular mega-dam and holding peace talks with the country’s main armed ethnic groups. Suu Kyi expressed cautious hope earlier this month that democracy would come to Myanmar, as she welcomed Hillary Clinton to the home in Yangon that was her prison for years during a landmark visit by the US Secretary of State. “I am very confident that if we work

together... there will be no turning back from the road to democracy,” Suu Kyi said at the time. The NLD won an election in 1990 by a landslide, while Suu Kyi remained under house arrest, but the ruling generals never allowed the party to take power. Last week, the party said it had chosen the image of a fighting peacock gazing at a white star as its new symbol, replacing its trademark bamboo hat, which was used by a breakaway group that participated in the 2010 election. The NLD refused to participate in that vote-the first in two decadesmainly because of rules that would have forced it to expel imprisoned members. An amendment to a law on political parties has since removed the contentious clause that said prisoners could not be party members, as well as a condition that all parties must agree to “preserve” a controversial 2008 constitution. — AFP


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Chinese activist jailed for nine years: Lawyers BEIJING: Veteran Chinese rights activist Chen Wei was sentenced yesterday to nine years in jail for “subversion”, his lawyers said, in one of the harshest penalties handed down in a crackdown launched this year. Chen, who was a leader of the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests, was among dozens of activists detained in February in the wake of political upheaval in the Arab world that sparked calls for anti-government demonstrations in China. The court in Suining city in southwest Sichuan province convicted the 42-year-old after a trial lasting less than three hours over essays he had written that were critical of the Communist Party, China Human Rights Defenders said. The sentence, for “inciting subversion of state power” was one of the toughest handed down so far to an activist detained in this year’s crackdown, the group said. After it was read out in court, Chen shouted out that he was innocent and declared “democracy will definitely prevail and dictators will definitely fall”, his lawyer Liang Xiaojun told AFP. Chen does not plan to appeal the sentence “because he feels this is a political sabotage and he does not want

to perform any more pantomimes,” Liang added. Another lawyer, Zheng Jianwei, said the severe sentence was “terrifying” because it showed the government was willing to use trumped-up charges to silence critics. “He is not guilty. He criticised the party and there was no law banning that,” Zheng said. “If everybody keeps quiet about politics and political reform then the country will not progress. It will be as harmonious as the party wants.” Chen has campaigned against human rights abuses in China for years. He was imprisoned after the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests and was a signatory to the Charter 08, a bold petition signed by thousands calling for political reform in one-party Communist-ruled China. Activist group Amnesty International criticised the harshness of the sentence and called for Chen’s immediate release. “This extraordinarily long sentence is clearly retaliation for Chen Wei’s peaceful advocacy of human rights and we are calling for his immediate and unconditional release,” Catherine Baber, Amnesty’s deputy AsiaPacific director told AFP.

The charge of subversion is often used to put away government critics-Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo was convicted on the same charge in 2009 and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Another prominent democracy activist, Liu Xianbin, was imprisoned for 10 years in March amid the crackdown on dissidents over prodemocracy articles he had published online. Joshua Rosenzweig, a human rights researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said Chen’s lengthy sentence could be due to his previous convictions. “The sentence has as much if not more to do with Chen’s consistent political activism as it does with the ongoing crackdown,” Rosenzweig told AFP. The plight of human rights activists in China has come under the spotlight since Liu Xiaobo was awarded the prestigious Nobel prize in 2010, with the West pressing for the release of all political prisoners. Chen’s sentencing comes a week after prominent human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was sent back to prison just as his five-year suspended sentence was set to expire this week. — AFP

China police fire teargas as TV shows confessions Latest in growing string of protests

HANOI: This file picture taken on December 21, 2011 shows young Vietnamese girls waving Chinese flags carrying an extra star on them as visiting Chinese vice president Xi Jinping is greeted during an official welcoming ceremony in Hanoi. Vietnam made an embarrassing gaffe this week when receiving China’s Vice President Xi Jinping, considered the future number one in Beijing, by displaying Chinese flags bearing one star too many. — AFP

Vietnam in Chinese flag faux pas HANOI: Vietnam made an embarrassing gaffe this week when receiving China’s Vice President Xi Jinping, considered the future number one in Beijing, by displaying Chinese flags bearing one star too many. The trip was designed to improve strained relations that deteriorated following recent tensions over the disputed South China Sea. But on Wednesday, Xi was greeted with flags picturing six stars, while the official emblem of the People’s Republic of China has only five-one large yellow star surrounded by four smaller ones. A similar incident occurred in October, when the six-star flag was used by Vietnam’s national television broadcaster while mentioning a visit by the Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong to China. When asked about the latest incident by reporters, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said: “The Vietnam side has made an explanation to the Chinese embassy in Vietnam and said it was a technical error”.

Official media of both sides did not mention the gaffe, but exiled Vietnamese websites contained a number of comments. “We must end the activities of those selling the Vietnamese fatherland, looking to make Vietnam the fifth star of China,” lamented an anonymous comment on the dissident site “Dan Lam Bao” (“Citizen journalism”). “The Vietnamese Communist Party wants to become a second-class Chinese citizen. This is a damned flag for the Vietnamese people,” said another. The communist neighbours have had a long-standing dispute relating to sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly island groups, which are in oil-rich waters straddling vital commercial shipping lanes in the South China Sea. Rare anti-Chinese demonstrations were held this summer in Vietnam, which the authorities allowed before clamping down. The two countries fought a brief border war in 1979 before normalising relations in 1991. — AFP

HONG KONG: Riot police fired teargas to break up a protest against a planned power station in southern China yesterday and state media showed confessions by two detained activists in an obvious bid to get protesters off the streets. Hong Kong Cable Television Ltd. showed police firing several rounds of teargas in Haimen town in Guangdong province, sending hundreds of people scuttling, many covering their mouths and noses with their hands. Chinese police also detained a reporter, a cameraman and a technician from Hong Kong Cable at the scene, but released them by late afternoon, according to a station staff. Hong Kong Cable is run by I-Cable Communications Ltd, a unit of Wharf Holdings. Hours after the police action, staterun Shantou Television station carried interviews with two detained protesters, a man surnamed Li and a woman surnamed Yung. Sitting behind bars with their heads bowed and handcuffs in full view, the two took turns to confess. “It was wrong to surround the government and block the highway,” Li said, with his eyes lowered. “I do not know the law. If I knew, I will not block the expressway. If I could have understood this, I wouldn’t have been so brash,” Yung said, her voice shaking. Shantou Television also lined up several Chinese legal experts and quoted them as saying that such actions carried a maximum penalty of five years in jail. The protests in Haimen, a coastal town of about 120,000 people under the jurisdiction of Shantou city, intensified this week just as people about 130 km (80 miles) further along the coast in Wukan village called off a 10day blockade of a protest against a land grab by officials. Protests in China have become relatively common over issues such as corruption, pollution, wages, and land

grabs that local-level officials justify in the name of development. People in China are also increasingly unwilling to accept the relentless speed of urbanisation and industrialisation and the impact on the environment and health. Chinese experts put the number of “mass incidents”, as such protests are known, at about 90,000 a year in recent years. While Communist Party rule is not directly threatened by such incidents of unrest, officials fear they could coalesce into broader, more organised challenges to their power. Residents of Haimen first took to the streets on Tuesday to protest against plans to build a new coal-fired power plant after what they complain has been years of heavy air and water pollution from existing power plants. “Villagers complained that the current power plants had led to a rise in the number of cancer patients, the deterioration of the environment, and a drop in fishing hauls,” Xinhua reported yesterday. “The Shantou city government announced Tuesday

evening, shortly after the protest, that the project would be suspended, said Xinhua, referring to the plan by a joint venture of Huadian Power International Corp to build the coalfired power plant in Haimen. Some village residents said that they knew nothing about the announcement, while others said they had no trust in the suspension decision. The existing power operator in Haimen, Huaneng Power International , denied that the current unrest had anything to do with its business plans. “We say we have no new project because our generators 3 and 4 are nearly complete and will begin operations next year,” a Huaneng spokeswoman told Reuters in Hong Kong. However, a document posted on Nov. 29 on the website of China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection said Huaneng had proceeded with constructing its third and fourth generators without first getting the ministry’s approval. It told Huaneng to cease building them and any plans to operate them. — Reuters

HAIMEN: Villagers gather to protest yesterday in Haimen, China. Riot police in the southern Chinese coastal town fired tear gas at protesters yesterday on the fourth day of unrest over a planned power plant expansion, according to a demonstrator’s account and TV footage. — AP


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INTERNATIONAL

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Strong earthquakes rattle Christchurch

City’s airport evacuated after first quake

WELLINGTON: A series of strong earthquakes struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch yesterday, rattling buildings, sending goods tumbling from shelves and prompting terrified holiday shoppers to flee into the streets. There was no tsunami alert issued and the city appeared to have been spared major damage. One person was injured at a city mall and was taken to a hospital, and four people had to be rescued after being trapped by a rock fall, Christchurch police said in a statement. But there were no immediate reports of serious injuries or widespread damage in the city, which is still recovering from a devastating February earthquake that killed 182 people and destroyed much of the downtown area. The first 5.8-magnitude quake struck yesterday afternoon, 16 miles (26 kilometers) north of Christchurch and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) deep, the US Geological Survey said. Minutes later, a 5.3-magnitude aftershock hit, and about an hour after that, the city was shaken by another 5.8-magnitude temblor. Both aftershocks were less than 3 miles (5 kilometers) deep. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue an alert. The city’s airport was evacuated after the first quake and all city malls shut down as a precaution. Warwick Isaacs, demolitions manager for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, said most buildings had been evacuated “as an emergency measure.” The area has recorded more than 7,000 earthquakes since a magnitude-7 quake rocked the city on Sept. 4, 2010. That quake did not cause any deaths. Rock falls had occurred in one area and there was liquefaction - when an earthquake forces underground water up through loose soil - in several

places, Isaacs told New Zealand’s National Radio.”There has been quite a lot of stuff falling out of cupboards, off shelves in shops and that sort of thing, again,” he said. Isaacs said his immediate concern was for demolition workers involved in tearing down buildings wrecked in previous quakes. “It ... started slow then really got going. It was a big swaying one but not as jolting or as violent as in

tionally shocked by what happened this afternoon.” About 15,000 homes were reported without power after electricity lines were felled in the city’s eastern suburbs. Sewerage services were also cut. Hundreds of miles of sewer and fresh water lines have been repaired in the city since the February quake. One partly demolished building and a vacant house collapsed after yester-

CHRISTCHURCH: Residents help a driver to free his car stuck in a liquefaction sink hole after a 5.8-magnitude quake struck north of Christchurch, New Zealand yesterday. — AP February,” Christchurch resident Rita Langley said. “Everyone seems fairly chilled, though the traffic buildup sounds like a beehive that has just been kicked as everyone leaves (the) town (center).” The shaking was severe in the nearby port town of Lyttelton, the epicenter of the Feb. 22 quake. “We stayed inside until the shaking stopped. Then most people went out into the street outside,” resident Andrew Turner said. “People are emo-

day’s quakes, police said. Central City Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale said the quakes came at the worst possible time for retailers, with people rushing to finish their Christmas shopping. Despite the sizable quakes, there was no visible damage in the central business district, where 28 stores have reopened in shipping containers after their buildings were wrecked by the February quake, he said. — AP

N Korea raps South’s response to Kim’s death SEOUL: North Korea has accused South Korea of an “intolerable” response to Kim Jong-Il’s death, a blast that came as diplomats at the United Nations held a mass boycott of a tribute to the late leader. Pyongyang’s official media says millions are braving bitter cold to mourn the “Dear Leader” after his sudden death on December 17 — and South Koreans are welcome to join the condolences. Its Uriminzokkiri website said any mourning delegations from the South would be accepted, and lashed out at the Seoul government’s “inhuman” decision to allow only two such visits. The world is closely watching Kim’s chosen successor-his untested youngest son Kim Jong-Un-for clues about the future direction of the impoverished but nuclear-armed state. Uriminzokkiri’s comments, dated Thursday and seen yesterday, seemed to suggest no immediate change in frosty cross-border ties. The South blames its neighbour for two deadly border attacks last year but has taken a conciliatory stance since Monday’s announcement of Kim’s death. Seoul’s government sent its sympathies to the North’s people, scrapped a controversial plan to display Christmas lights near the border and announced that South Koreans could send pre-approved condolence messages north-

wards. It said there would be no Seoul government delegation to offer condolences but authorised two groups to pay respects in Pyongyang. By law, Seoul’s unification ministry must authorise all contacts between South and North Koreans. The two sides have stayed technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict. Uriminzokkiri said all South Korean delegations wishing to visit Pyongyang to mourn Kim “with a warm heart” would be accepted. It was unclear whether they would be allowed to stay on for the actual funeral next Wednesday. But it said the South was blocking such visits and trying to escalate confrontation by strengthening security. “These are intolerable actions of mockery and insult against our dignity.” The website described Seoul’s ban on most delegations as an “unacceptable, uncivilised and inhuman action” which could have a “significant impact” on relations. In an apparent reference to the South’s failure to send an official delegation, it also accused Seoul of disrespect. “We will keep in mind those who do not understand even the most basic actions of respect and humanity and who insult our dignity, and we will make them pay a very expensive price for that for years to come,” it said. — AFP

Father-daughter reunite after Indonesia boat capsize SIDOARJO: A 10-year-old Iranian girl was reunited with her father yesterday, after the two were separated when their Australia-bound migrants’ boat capsized in Indonesian waters. Athena Hardani broke down in tears after hugging her father Mohammad at a hotel near the city of Surabaya, where some of the survivors from last Saturday’s capsize are being housed by Indonesian immigration authorities. The Hardanis were among 250-odd asylum seekers on board a heavily overloaded people-smuggling boat that was heading for Australia’s Christmas Island when it sank at the weekend. Only 47 people are known to have survived. Hardani’s wife and eight-year-old daughter Mobina have not been found, and the father said he believed they were dead. “I got renewed hope to live when I saw my daughter,” Hardani told AFP. “God willing, I will also be able to give her the hope to live,” added the 36-year-old welder from the Iranian city of Ahvaz. “She asked about her mother and sister and I tried to console her,” he said. “My heart is sad because my mother and sister are not here. I know nothing about them,” Athena told AFP on Thursday. She was rescued within hours by a passing fishing boat, along with 33 others, but her father spent three days with a dozen other survivors clinging to the wreckage before being picked up by a ferry in the area. The pair is believed to be the only related survivors from the accident. On Thursday evening, police retrieved 16 bodies that had been swept roughly 300 kilometres east from where the boat capsized and were retrieved around Indonesia’s resort island of Bali, and another seven were found on Friday, bringing the confirmed death toll to 97. Indonesian police arrested eight people Thursday in connection with the accident, including four soldiers, national police spokesman Saud Usman Nasution said. Survivors said that men in plain clothes but carrying guns and badges, whom they suspected to be soldiers, had helped get them on the ill-fated boat. Saturday’s capsize is believed to be the largest loss of life yet from a sinking of one of the many boats packed with Asian and Middle Eastern migrants who undertake the perilous voyage. Australia’s federal police have been working with their Indonesian counterparts to untangle the people smuggling network that orchestrated the perilous journey to Australia’s Christmas island. Nearly 50 would-be migrants are believed to have died in wild seas during a shipwreck there in December 2010. “I just hope that some country will have mercy on us and give us refuge,” Hardani said after reuniting with his daughter. “My wish is to finish this journey for which we have paid such a high price and get to Australia,” he said. “I want to help my daughter forget what happened and begin a new life,” he added. — AFP

MEULABOH: Indonesian 2004 tsunami survivor Mary Yuranda (R), 14, is seen with her father Tarmius (L) at the family’s home in Meulaboh in Aceh province yesterday after she was reunited with her family. — AFP


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Afghan president to replace top human rights officials KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai will replace four people at the national human rights commission to bring fresh blood into the group, and not because he is seeking to remove some of his most outspoken critics, his spokesman said yesterday. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) is appointed by the state but acts independently. Any move by the government to oust its workers could raise questions about the state’s commitment to protecting human rights. Aimal Faizi, chief spokesman at the president’s office, said Ahmad Nader Nadery, Ahmad Fahim Hakim, and Moulawee Ghulam Mohamad Ghareb will

leave the commission after serving two 5year terms. A fourth commissioner, Hamida Barmaki, was killed in a suicide attack on a supermarket in Kabul in early 2011 and would need to be replaced as well, he added. Faizi denied reports that the three men will be replaced because of a report by the rights commission detailing war atrocities over the past three decades, which is expected to be released in early 2012. “The president is authorised by law to extend or not extend their mission if he wants to. We just want fresh people, new people,” Faizi told Reuters. “The fact that they were working on a report on war

Bangladesh cracks down on boat migrants to Malaysia DHAKA: Bangladesh has launched a crackdown on groups smuggling economic migrants and ethnic Rohingya refugees out of the country to Malaysia, via a perilous and sometimes fatal sea crossing. According to police, dozens of wooden boats overloaded with Rohingyas and Bangladeshi migrants, have attempted the approximately 3,200 kilometre (2,000 mile) journey since the monsoon rains ended in October. Last week a boat carrying 120 people-mostly ethnic Rohingyas-capsized in the Bay of Bengal, said Colonel Zahid Hasan of the Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB). “Some 100 people have survived, we learned from fishermen, but the rest are missing and presumed drowned,” he told AFP. Since the accident, a series of BGB raids in the southeast coastal towns of Teknaf and Sabrum, which border Myanmar and host a large population of Rohingya refugees, have prevented a number of boats from illegally setting sail. Described by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities on earth, thousands of Muslim Rohingyaswho are not recognised as citizens in Myanmar-stream across the border into Muslim-majority Bangladesh every year. Bangladesh recognises 28,000 of them as registered refugees, who live in two official UN camps near the border. This figure is a fraction of the 200,000 to 300,000 “unofficial” refugees, according to government estimates. The Rohingyas are driven by a sense of “utter frustration” to attempt the boat trip to Malaysia, said Mojibur Rahman, a registered refugee at the UN’s Kutupalong refugee camp. “For many, the risky sea journey is better than the squalor and near starvation in the refugee camps in Bangladesh. A lot of Rohingyas know that the trip is like suicide. But do they have any choice?,” he told AFP. Bangladesh stopped a UN-managed program to help Rohingya refugees resettle in third countries last year, said Rahman, who estimated that at least 3,000 Rohingyas had embarked on the sea crossing to Malaysia since late October. They have been joined by a large number of impoverished Bangladeshis living in southeast coastal villages, who see Malaysia as their best-and closest-opportunity for carving out a new life. The vast majority hope to secure unregistered work as manual labourers on construction sites. “Traffickers charge only around 20,000 taka ($300) for a boat ride to Malaysia, which is at least 15 times cheaper than the migration fees being charged by recruiting agencies,” said Teknaf police chief Mahbubul Haq. Earlier this year, Malaysia announced an amnesty for more than half a million Bangladeshi illegal migrants. The deal was only valid for two weeks in July, but still triggered a surge in the number of people willing to risk the sea crossing. Nearly 200 people-half of them Rohingyas-have been arrested and some 10 boats seized since the latest wave of migration began in early November, Haq said. “We have put undercover agents along the border. They are tipping us off to any moves by traffickers to get Rohingyas and Bangladeshis into the boats to attempt the journey. “But I am afraid many boats may have evaded our crackdown and set sail anyway,” he said. — AFP

atrocities has nothing to do with it because we cannot stop the publication of such a report.” He said the president would announce the new commissioners in coming days. Nadery and his colleagues have been frank in the past speaking out on issues plaguing war-torn Afghanistan, from women’s rights, land grabs, child labour, civilian deaths by Taleban and NATO forces, to the fraud-marred presidential election in 2009. Nadery said the government was violating procedures which require a consultative process before appointments in the human rights body are made or dismissed. “I’m waiting for an official letter or decree

to see what exactly the reason for my dismission was,” he said. Depending on who is appointed to replace them, the activists’ removal could be seen as a blow to Afghanistan’s human rights campaigners. It may also undermine international efforts to foster good governance in the country, combat corruption and strengthen the rule of law as the West is preparing to withdraw the last of its combat troops by the end of 2014. Karzai’s government has also been seeking to negotiate a deal with the hardline Islamist Taliban, which many activists say could compromise the progress made in securing rights of women and other minorities in the past 10 years. — Reuters

Pakistani army denies intention to oust govt Memo scandal heightens ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s army chief has denied accusations that the military is working to oust the country’s civilian government amid tension over a secret memo sent to Washington earlier this year about an alleged coup, the military said yesterday. The memo scandal has heightened long-standing tensions between the army and the government at a time when the country is struggling to deal with a violent Taliban insurgency, a stuttering economy and deteriorating relations with its most important ally, the United States. Pakistani Taleban fighters attacked a paramilitary fort in northwestern Pakistan yesterday, killing one soldier and kidnapping 15 others, police said. The brazen attack was followed by a statement to media in which the militants said they would kill the abducted troops. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani claimed Thursday that there was a conspiracy under way to topple the government. He did not specifically point to the military, but said the army must be answerable to the parliament and cannot operate as a “state within a state.” Army chief Gen. Pervez Ashfaq Kayani denied the allegations and pledged the force would continue to support democracy in Pakistan. “The army is fully cognizant of its constitutional obligations and responsibilities,” Kayani said Thursday, during a trip near the Afghan border. His remarks were cited in an army statement yesterday. The army is the strongest institution in Pakistan and has ruled the country for much of its 64-year history after carrying out a series of coups. Analysts have expressed doubt that a coup is likely at this time, but have speculated the army may try to pressure the country’s embattled president to resign over his alleged role in the memo scandal. Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, has been accused of masterminding the memo, which asked Washington to help avert a sup-

posed coup in the wake of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison town in May. Haqqani allegedly acted with President Asif Ali Zardari’s support. Both Haqqani and the president have denied the allegations, but the envoy resigned in the wake of the scandal. Tension has increased this

Another 15 are still missing and believed to have been kidnapped, he said. Pakistani Taleban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to The Associated Press and said it was carried out to avenge the death of a local Taleban commander. He claimed 30 sol-

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, right, Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, center, and Pakistani intelligence Chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, left, attend a meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan. Kayani has denied accusations that the military is working to oust the country’s civilian government.— AP week as the Supreme Court opened a hearing into the memo. The political crisis could distract the army from its fight against the Pakistani Taleban, who aim to topple the government, partly because of the country’s alliance with the US. The nearly three dozen Pakistani Taleban fighters who attacked a paramilitary fort in Tank district with assault rifles before dawn Friday burned down buildings and captured a significant amount of weapons, said local police chief Ejaz Abid. One soldier was killed and two were wounded in the fighting, said Abid.

diers were kidnapped. But another Taleban commander who said he carried out the attack, Asmatullah Shaheen, told the AP that he had 15 soldiers in his custody. Some others managed to escape after the militants captured them, he said. Abid, the police chief, said at least 22 soldiers were missing originally, but seven managed to return. Shaheen said the militant commander being avenged, Taj Gul, was killed in a US drone strike in October in South Waziristan, an important sanctuary for the Pakistani Taleban next to Tank.—AP


Oil holds near $108 on US data, supply jitters

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Stark: Bond buys one reason for departure

Business

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US jobs data give Asian markets Christmas boost

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

India PM strikes back at corporate critics

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BOWLING GREEN: Shoppers scramble for door buster deals at Target, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. US consumers spent at a lackluster rate in November as their incomes barely grew, suggesting that US households may struggle to sustain their spending into 2012.—AP

US consumer spending ‘tepid’ Incomes show weak November gains

WASHINGTON: American consumers spent at a lackluster rate in November as their incomes barely grew, suggesting that US households may struggle to sustain their spending into 2012. Consumer spending rose just 0.1 percent in November, matching the modest October increase, the Commerce Department reported yesterday. Incomes also rose 0.1 percent. That was the weakest showing a 0.1 percent decline in August. Both the spending and income gains fell below expectations. Economists have said that solid increases in spending could boost economic growth in the final three months of what has been a disappointing year. Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics, called the consumer spending figure disappointing. He said it would probably mean lower economic growth than had been expected. Rather than grow at an annual rate of up to 3 percent in the October-December quarter, the economy will likely expand at a rate of about 2.5 percent this quarter, Ashworth says. That would still be an improvement from the 1.8 percent growth in the July-September quarter. While the economy remains vulnerable to threats, particularly a recession in Europe, the job market has improved, lifting hopes for next year. The government said this week that appli-

cations for unemployment benefits fell by 4,000 last week to 364,000. It was the third straight weekly drop. And it pushed applications to the lowest level since April 2008, in the midst of the Great Recession. The weakness in incomes reflected a decline in wages and salaries, the biggest component of incomes, in November. The sluggish gain in spending was held back by a 0.3 percent fall in spending on non-durable goods such as food, clothing and gasoline. Spending on durable goods jumped 0.8 percent. It reflected the solid auto sales during the month. Spending on services, which includes such items as medical treatments and rent, rose a modest 0.1 percent. After-tax incomes showed no growth in November. The savings rate dipped to 3.5 percent of after-tax incomes, down from 3.6 percent in October. Both months marked the lowest savings rate since late 2007. They show that consumers are having to tap their savings to finance their spending because of the weak income growth. The small rise in overall consumer spending was puzzling given that other reports have shown solid holiday shopping this season. Those reports had caused many economists to revise up their growth forecasts for the current quarter.

Analysts at JPMorgan think the economy is growing at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the current October-December quarter. That would be up from 1.8 percent growth in the JulySeptember quarter and would be the best quarterly gain since the spring of 2010. Economists still expect that growth to be driven by an improvement in consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. Spending rose at a 1.7 percent rate in the third quarter, more than double the second-quarter gain. JPMorgan analysts expect consumer spending to grow at a 3 percent pace in the current quarter. Even with the spurt of activity at the end of the year, economists think growth for all of 2011 will be a lackluster 1.7 percent. They had much higher expectations when the year began. But then a spike in gasoline prices held back consumer spending for other items. And the earthquake in Japan disrupted supply chains for auto and electronic parts, dampening factory production in the United States. Many analysts do not expect growth in 2012 to be significantly better than in 2011. JPMorgan economists predict the economy will expand 1.9 percent in 2012, only slightly better than this year. — AP


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Oil holds near $108 on US data, supply jitters

PARIS: A media website with triple “A” letters. The top three rating agencies — Moody’s, with Standard and Poor’s and Fitch — have all warned that the crisis has put the EU ratings at risk, with France in particular seen as most likely to lose its prized triple-A level. — AFP

Poll: France leads world as gloomiest over economy PARIS: France leads the world as the “most pessimistic” country in terms of the economic outlook, with the lowest recorded score in more than 30 years, according to a global poll published yesterday.The “End of Year” survey by Gallup International of 51 countries found that France beat second placed Ireland and third placed Austria for the dubious recognition as most pessimistic, economically-speaking. Its score of negative 79, a drop of 20 points from last year, was the lowest the poll has recorded since 1978. “Even in 1978, after the second oil crisis that called into question an entire economic system, the French have never shown themselves as pessimistic as today,” said the poll. “Europe leads in despair, followed by North America,” it said. “The rest of the world, lead by Africa, remains mostly optimistic.” With an April presidential election on the horizon and a euro zone crisis threatening havoc at home and on the continent, French voters are increasingly gloomy. Concerns are pervasive over high unemployment, dwindling purchasing power and the fear that France’s traditionally strong social support system is unraveling, even though France has mostly been spared the austerity measures taken in countries such as Greece and Spain. “After the Second World War, there was reconstruction and our country was one of the pioneers of Europe. Today the French ‘Savior State’ model, praised by both Left and Right for decades, is basically considered obsolete,” said the poll. “What can the French be proud of tomorrow?” Among a list of 51 countries, Nigeria was found to be the most optimistic country, when considering economic prosperity, followed by Vietnam and Ghana. —Agencies

LONDON: Oil held around $108 a barrel yesterday, supported by fresh signs of a strengthening US economy and concern of potential supply disruptions in Iran and Iraq. New US claims for unemployment benefits dropped to their lowest in 3-1/2 years, a government report showed, while consumer sentiment in the world’s biggest oil consumer improved in December to the highest in six months. Brent crude was down 24 cents to $107.65 a barrel by 1158 GMT. US crude gained 14 cents to $99.67. “The highlight is the continuation of good data on the US economy. China also seems to have managed to orchestrate a soft landing, which is supportive of oil prices,” said Ben Le Brun, market analyst with OptionsXpress in Sydney.

“The problem child is still Europe.” For the week, Brent is poised to rise over 4 percent, reversing losses in the previous week. The US benchmark is set for a 6.5 percent weekly gain, after falling the week before. Trading volume is expected to be low as investors stay away from riskier assets ahead of the Christmas break. The US dollar slipped against the euro and a basket of currencies, making dollardenominated assets like oil cheaper for other currency holders. European shares were up in early trade, following gains in Asia. Rising tension between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear work and in Iraq renewed concern of crude supplies being disrupted from the two OPEC producers. Iran’s navy will launch a 10-day

war game in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, state TV said, raising concern about a possible closure of the key oil shipping route. In Iraq, a wave of bombings that killed at least 72 people in Baghdad on Thursday provided further evidence of a deteriorating security situation just days after the last US troops left the country. Such supply breaks would pose a bigger risk to the market now as oil stockpiles in developed countries have fallen significantly over the past year, JP Morgan analysts said in a research note. “With the Libyan outage, crude spiked about $20 a barrel, but the impact was cushioned by ample inventories. Moving into 2012 however, the global economy does not have this luxury,” the bank said. — Reuters

Australia’s Gloucester, China’s Yanzhou in tie-up

SYDNEY: Australia’s Gloucester Coal said yesterday it had agreed to a merger with China’s Yanzhou in a deal valued at some Aus$2.2 billion ($2.3 billion) to create a major listed Australian coal firm. The announcement followed a statement late Thursday from Yanzhou Coal Mining, China’s third-largest listed coal miner by output, saying the tie-up reflected the company’s ambition to grow its Australian business. “Gloucester Coal has entered into a merger proposal deed with Yanzhou Coal Mining Company Limited and its wholly owned Australian subsidiary, Yancoal Australia Limited, following an approach from Yanzhou,” Gloucester Coal said. Under the proposal, Gloucester’s assets, including coal mines in Queensland and New South Wales, will be combined with Yancoal’s Australian assets, which also include coal mines and an interest in a coal export terminal. Any deal, which comes amid consolidation in Australia’s mid-tier coal sector, will require approval by shareholders, Australia’s Foreign Investment Review board (FIRB) and is subject to due diligence by both parties. State-owned Yanzhou had approached Gloucester, which has a market capitalisation of some Aus$1.44 billion ($1.46 billion), after taking over Australian coal miner Felix Resources in 2009 in a deal worth

$3.2 billion. Yanzhou had also reportedly been interested in Whitehaven Coal before that company announced a merger with fellow Australian miner, Aston Resources, to form an independent coal company worth Aus$5.10 billion. Under the Gloucester deal, Yanzhou proposes owning 77 percent of the merged company, with the remaining 23 percent held by Gloucester shareholders. Gloucester shareholders will receive Aus$700 million in cash in a special dividend equal to about Aus$3.20 for each share, meaning the total deal is valued at about Aus$2.2 billion, Dow Jones Newswires said. Under the proposal, the board of the merged company will comprise six Yanzhou nominees and five independent directors agreed by Gloucester and Yanzhou, with the chairman to be one of the Yanzhou nominees. The merger proposal is conditional on the merged company obtaining a listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) but already has the approval of Gloucester’s major shareholder Noble Group, Gloucester said. Gloucester said Noble intends to vote its 64.5 percent stake in favor of the merger proposal, subject to the deal’s approval by Noble’s board of directors and in the absence of a better proposal. — AFP

Russia CB cuts interest rates MOSCOW: Russia’s central bank cut its main refinancing rate for the first time since June 2010 yesterday citing uncertainties about global economic growth. The bank said its cut of 25 basis points to 8.0 percent was “based on the assessment of inflationary risks and risks to stable economic growth, including those caused by uncertainty over the foreign economic situation.” It marks the first time that rates have come down in Russia since June 1, 2010 and underscores concerns over how Europe’s sovereign debt problems may affect the domestic financial sector. Russia raised rates for the first time since the 2008 global financial crisis in May 2011 when inflationary pressures began to threaten a fragile recovery. But officials have since voiced much greater concern about European contagion spreading to Russia while inflation has been tempered by modest growth of around four percent. President Dmitry Medvedev warned starkly on Thursday that a “global economic depression could last several years” and called for new efforts to step up the country’s business competitiveness. The central bank statement Friday said that it had

a strong handle on inflation and did not expect price pressures to emerge in the economy until the middle of 2012 at the earliest. It reported an annual inflation rate of 6.4 percent for this month compared to 6.8 percent in Novemberboth figures well within government forecasts. Analysts said the interest rate cut was sparked in part by concerns that threats of a banking liquidity crisis were becoming more evident. “Despite the yearend budget spending splurge, the banking sector has not yet (seen) any significant inflows to corporate or retail accounts,” Moscow’s Alfa Bank said in a research note. Russia’s overnight lending reached a new high of 6.5 percent yesterday, reflecting how funds were hard to come by for the banks. Economists also blame the spike in borrowing costs on continued outflows of capital from Russia that reached $18.6 billion in the third quarter and which have continued in recent weeks. Capital outflows are now expected to reach $85 billion for the year-more than five times the 2010 figure. “Because of the recent spike in capital outflows, the prospect of a decline in (interbank) market rates in

LISBON: People wait for a train at Santa Apolonia train station during a strike in Lisbon yesterday. Workers from the national train company (CP- Comboios de Portugal) will be on strike for the next three days to protest against the government budget. —AFP


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China to cut railway spending in 2012

BEIJING: China will cut spending on its railways next year, state media said yesterday, after authorities borrowed heavily to fund the rapid expansion of the country’s massive network. The railways ministry will invest 400 billion yuan ($63 billion) on rail infrastructure in 2012, the official Xinhua news agency said, down from an estimated 469 billion yuan this year and 700 billion yuan in 2010. The cash-strapped ministry is

sinking under a mountain of debt after borrowing to finance railway projects and some banks have stopped lending it money, state media said previously. Xinhua said last month that the ministry will receive 200 billion yuan in financial support to help fund projects, amid reports that more than 80 percent of projects currently being built are facing construction delays. Many projects face a oneyear delay in completion, previous

reports said. The railway ministry was 2.1 trillion yuan in debt at the end of June, bringing its debt-toassets ratio to nearly 59 percent. China has developed its vast transport network at breakneck speed, building the world’s largest highspeed rail system from scratch in less than a decade. But the government has been accused of overlooking safety in its rush to develop, most notably after the deadly July high-speed rail crash

near Wenzhou city and a metro collision in Shanghai in September that injured nearly 300. In the weeks following the July crash, the government announced a halt to new train projects. The planned budget cuts come weeks before millions of Chinese board trains and buses to journey home for the Lunar New Year celebrations at the end of January, in the world’s biggest annual human migration. — AFP

Payroll tax deadlock ends as Republicans succumb Obama wins a clear victory

WASHINGTON: The front of a Boeing 777 jet stands in a production line at the company’s manufacturing plant, in Everett, Washington. US business demand for longlasting manufactured goods rose by the largest amount in four months in November, driven higher by a big jump in orders for airplanes. — AP

US economy to show stamina as global growth slows WASHINGTON: The US economy is gaining momentum and should push through next year with only a few bruises despite an almost certain European recession and slower global growth. A firming in the anemic US labor market should put the economy in reasonable shape to withstand headwinds from overseas, although the recovery will likely slow at the start of the year after a surprisingly solid fourth quarter. “The US economy will be one of the better stories in an otherwise gloomy global economy next year,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University in the Channel Islands. “It will not go into recession.” Data from employment to manufacturing imply US growth will top a 3 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, which would be the fastest pace in 18 months. Much of that expansion reflects the release of pent-up demand for autos and a restocking of inventories by businesses, temporary factors that could lead to a lull early in 2012. But a healing labor market provides a signal of a more-lasting and fundamental strengthening of the recovery. The jobless rate fell to a 2-1/2 year low of 8.6 percent in November and first-time claims for jobless benefits have dropped to the lowest level since early 2008. That’s good news for the consumers who drive twothirds of US economic activity. “The consumer is going to be able to spend simply because job growth is picking up,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania. “As job growth picks up, income picks up.” Many economists now look for growth of between 2.3 percent and 3 percent in 2012, even given the clouds overseas. While far from stellar, that would mark an acceleration from an expected 2 percent expansion this year and it could offer some mild relief to President Barack Obama, whose handling of the economy is key to his re-election hopes. The debt crisis in Europe and bickering over budget policy in Washington are the biggest threats. — Reuters

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama won a clear political victory when Republicans in the House of Representatives caved to demands by the president, congressional Democrats and fellow Republicans in the Senate for a short-term renewal of payroll tax cuts for all workers and unemployment benefits for millions. Yesterday’s unusual session of Congress, if all goes according to plan, will send a bill to Obama to become law for two months and put off until January a fight over how to pay for the 2 percentage point tax cut and extend jobless benefits averaging around $300 a week. Thursday’s breakthrough of the latest partisan standoff almost certainly spares workers an average $20 a week tax increase Jan. 1. The payroll tax cut was the centerpiece of Obama’s campaign-style drive for jobs legislation that seems to have contributed to an uptick in his poll numbers - and taken a toll on those of congressional Republicans. Almost forgotten in the firestorm is that Republicans had extracted a major victory last week, winning a provision that would require Obama to make a swift decision on whether to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would bring Canadian oil to the U.S. and create thousands of construction jobs. To block the pipeline, Obama would have to declare that is not in the nation’s interest. Obama wanted to put the decision off until after the 2012 election. House Republicans were under fire from their constituents and

Republican establishment figures incensed that they would risk losing the tax cut issue to Democrats at the dawn of the 2012 presidential and congressional election year. House Republican arguments about the legislative process and the “uncertainty” a two-month extension would mean for business were unpersuasive. After days of wrangling that even Republican House Speaker John Boehner acknowledged “may not have been politically the smartest thing in the world,” Boehner abruptly changed course Thursday and dropped demands for immediate holiday season talks with the Senate on a full-year measure that all sides said they want. Senate leaders had insisted on the two-month extension to buy time for talks next year. The compromise legislation would

renew the tax break through Feb. 29. “Because of this agreement, every working American will keep his or her tax cut - about $1,000 for the average family,” Obama said in a statement. “That’s about $40 in every paycheck. And when Congress returns, I urge them to keep working to reach an agreement that will extend this tax cut and unemployment insurance for all of 2012 without drama or delay.” If the cuts had expired as scheduled, up to 2 million people without jobs for six months would start losing unemployment benefits averaging $300 a week. Obama, Republicans and congressional Democrats all said they preferred a one-year extension but the politics of achieving that eluded them. All pledged to start working on that in January. — AP

WASHINGTON: Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio speaks at a news conference to announce an agreement for a 2-month extension to the payroll tax cut on Capitol Hill on Thursday. —AP

Swiss RE inks tie-up with Irish insurer DUBLIN: Ireland’s Quinn Healthcare has been sold to management in a deal that will see its 500,000 policies underwritten by Swiss reinsurer Swiss Re, the company said. Quinn Healthcare, Ireland’s second-largest health insurer after state-owned VHI, was under the control of the state-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation following the collapse of the business empire of its former owner, Sean Quinn. “Management confirmed that a bid by senior management, enabled by Swiss Re as the reinsurer, has been successful,” Quinn Healthcare said in a statement. No financial details were provided. The company will intro-

duce a new brand, but there will be no changes to the terms and conditions of policy-holders and the current staff of 334 will be retained, the statement said. “We see this as an excellent fit with our business,” Swiss Re executive Bruce Hodkinson said. Quinn Healthcare was originally launched in Ireland as BUPA Ireland in 1996, but was bought by Sean Quinn in 2007. Hikes in premiums by Ireland’s major health insurers in recent years has led to calls for the reform of the sector. The government has said it is considering a system of mandatory health insurance chosen from a range of providers. — Reuters


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Moody’s says Austria top rating backed up by strong economy VIENNA: Moody’s said yesterday that Austria’s top credit rating is firmly based on its well diversified economy, low unemployment rate and strong financial system but the euro-zone debt crisis is a potential risk. Moody’s said Austria’s Aaa rating “is underpinned by very high economic strength, thanks to a skilled labor force and a competitive export sector that have helped Austria to grow faster than the European average in recent years. “In so doing, Austria has achieved high average incomes, a well-diversified economy and structurally low unemployment,” the agency said in a year-end summary of its credit rating opinion on the country. Austria has the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union with 4.1 percent of the active population jobless in October. Moody’s also hailed Austria’s decision to introduce a “golden rule” law obliging the government to keep the budget balanced, with a deficit limited strictly to no more than 0.35 percent of gross domestic product from 2017. “It is an important characteristic of Aaa-rated sover-

eigns that they implement speedy and decisive policy action if problems emerge,” it said. Austria’s deficit is expected to fall to 3.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product this year and to 3.2 percent in 2012 but this should come in under the EU ceiling of 3.0 percent-a level most EU countries have failed to keep-after additional measures are taken. Its total accumulated debt is set to inch up from 73.6 percent of GDP this year to 74.6 percent in 2012, above the EU limit of 60 percent but still much better than most of its EU peers. Austria is one of the six euro-zone nations-along with Germany, Finland, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands-to retain its top credit rating but the eurozone debt crisis has put the whole bloc under intense pressure. The top three agencies-Moody’s, with Standard and Poor’s and Fitch-have all warned that the crisis has put the EU ratings at risk, with France in particular seen as most likely to lose its prized triple-A level. Moody’s said Friday that “the government’s financial strength is considered to be very high,” with debt interest

payments as a ratio of revenues at a very low 6.0 percent. “At the same time, the public debt burden is on an upward trend that is unlikely to be reversed before 2014 under current deficit projections,” it noted. Additionally, “susceptibility to event risk is judged as low rather than very low as in many of Austria’s closest peers,” it said, highlighting the exposure of Austria’s “relatively large banking sector” to Eastern Europe. “Moody’s notes positively that the authorities are taking steps to limit the sovereign’s contingent liabilities that may arise in particular from the banks’ large exposure ... However, these developments will take time to bear fruit.” On the rating outlook, Moody’s said its ‘stable’ assessment “increasingly becomes dependent on a resolution of the wider euro zone crisis which has begun to negatively affect core euro area member states like Austria. “The longer the sovereign and bank funding markets remain volatile, the more likely it is that further credit pressures will develop for most euro area countries, including Aaa-rated countries.” — AFP

Stark: Bond buys one reason for departure Nervous banks stash money with ECB

MADRID: Spain’s Minister of Economy and Competitiveness Luis de Guindos (left), Spain’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment Miguel Arias Canete and other ministers pose for a group picture at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid yesterday. — AFP

Gold firms as upbeat data lifts euro, stocks LONDON: Gold prices firmed a touch in Europe yesterday, tracking gains in the euro as upbeat US data boosted interest in assets seen as higher risk at the dollar’s expense, though volumes were light as financial markets wound down towards year-end. Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,607.55 an ounce at 1310 GMT. The precious metal remains on track for its worst quarterly performance in more than three years, although it has climbed more than 13 percent this year. “Markets have now moved into a pretty rock-steady price range, with most investors on the sidelines ahead of the new year,” said Pradeep Unni, senior analyst at Richcomm Global Services. “Volatility too has declined significantly.” “In the immediate term it looks like gold will be associated with the other risky assets and may slip lower when we see a spike in the US dollar. The safe-haven status of gold seems to have been tarnished a bit.” Positive jobs and consumer sentiment data from the United States sparked a retreat in the dollar-which has been a beneficiary of safe-haven flows recently-and a rise in the euro. Gold, which becomes cheaper for holders of other currencies as the US unit weakens,

rose. Stock markets climbed to a twoweek high in Europe as nominally higher-risk assets benefited from the data, although they remain overshadowed by the euro-zone debt crisis. Doubts remain over whether this week’s European Central Bank tender of half a trillion euros’ worth of cheap loans will be effective in easing the strain for troubled euro-zone economies. The threat of sovereign downgrades throughout the eurozone is still hanging over the euro, keeping sentiment towards the currency bearish heading into the new year. “We still stress the vulnerability of precious metals to a tightening of euro-zone money market liquidity which might result from the region’s sovereign debt problems,” Standard Bank analysts said in a note. The world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, the SPDR Gold Trust, recorded an outflow of just over 13 tons on Thursday. Its holdings are on track to decline just over 26 tons this year, which would be its first annual outflow since the fund was launched in 2004. ETFs issue securities backed with physical metal, giving investors exposure to the underlying asset price without having to buy, store and insure it. —Reuters

FRANKFURT: A top European Central Bank official says the bank’s decision to buy government bonds was the final push for his decision to resign. Juergen Stark said in an interview published yesterday on the website of Germany’s Die Welt newspaper that the controversial purchases were one of the developments that convinced him the euro-zone “was on the wrong track.” That came on top of a decade-long failure by governments to control debt and deficits as required by membership in the euro. Stark is leaving his job on the ECB’s six-member executive board 21/2 years ahead of the end of his eight-year term. Banks from the 17 countries that use the euro stashed 347 billion euros ($453 billion) overnight with the European Central Bank on Thursday, in another sign that Europe’s debt crisis is still putting pressure on the banking system despite massive central bank support. The figure announced yesterday is the highest for 2011, topping 346.4 billion euros earlier this month. It’s a sign of mistrust in the interbank lending market where banks raise operating funds, suggesting they are depositing money with the central bank at low interest rates because they are afraid to lend it to other banks - for fear they won’t get paid back. Europe is suffering from a debt crisis marked by concerns that heavily indebted governments such as Italy may be unable to pay off their bonds. That means trouble for banks because they typically hold government bonds. The large deposits come despite Wednesday’s massive central bank credit operation, in which the ECB let banks borrow as much as they wanted for up to 3 years. As a result 523 banks took 489 billion euros, the largest ECB loan operation in the 13-year history of the euro. The European Central bank has

stepped up lending to banks to help them get through the crisis. Some of the banks are finding it extremely difficult to raise money elsewhere, so the bank steps in as lender of last resort, a typical role for central banks in times of turmoil. The bank has refused to play the same role for governments by buying large amounts of their bonds, saying they must get their debts under control through their own efforts and not wait for a central bank rescue. Italian 10-year bond yields remained elevated Friday at 6.90 percent, another sign that the markets remain fearful of a default by the euro-zone’s thirdlargest economy. Before the crisis spread to Italy, it was able to borrow at under four percent as recently as October 2010. European governments are trying to win back the confidence of bond market investors by reducing deficits, a difficult job in a slowing economy. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti won approval Thursday from the Italian Senate for ?30 billion in additional cutbacks and revenue increases. Greece is working on a deal to cut its debt by making bondholders

accept a bond exchange that would mean a 50 percent reduction in the value of their investments. The bondholders could accept that instead of the larger losses that would come from a disorderly default not agreed in advance. A top ECB policymaker said in an interview published Friday that the central bank could use its power to create new money to buy financial assets if a deteriorating economy threatens the euro-zone with deflation - falling prices. Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, who is leaving office next week, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying he saw “no reason” why the bank could not use the technique, called quantitative easing by economists. Both the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England have used it after lowering interest rates to record low levels and finding that their economies still needed more stimulus. The ECB’s mandate is to provide price stability, so fighting deflation could be consistent with that. At the moment, however, inflation is running at 3.0 percent, well above the ECB’s goals of just under —AP

Juergen Stark, European Central Bank governing board member, during an Economist roundtable conference in Lagonissi near Athens. — AFP


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US jobs data give Asian markets Christmas boost HONG KONG: Asian stock markets rose yesterday as investors welcomed better-than-expected jobs data from the United States that suggest the economic recovery there is gaining traction. But while the final trading day before the Christmas break was positive there were still lingering concerns over the European debt crisis, which has roiled markets for most of the year. Seoul closed 1.07 percent, or 19.73 points, up at 1,867.22, while Sydney ended 1.21 percent, or 49.6 points, higher at 4,140.4. Hong Kong rose 1.37 percent, or 250.94 points, to 18,629.17 and Shanghai finished 0.85 percent, or 18.48 points, higher at 2,204.78. Tokyo and Wellington were closed for a public holiday. The day got off to a bright start after the US Labor Department said on Thursday that new claims for jobless benefits fell to the lowest level since April 2008, with fewer layoffs in most states. The figures beat economists’ forecasts, with claims hitting 364,000 last week versus the consensus estimate of 380,000, representing a third straight weekly fall. “Better US data has helped sentiment,” said Stephen Halmarick, Sydney-based head of investment markets research at Colonial First State Global Asset Management. However, “the (European) debt crisis will clearly remain a key negative for markets early in the New Year”, he told Dow Jones Newswires. Europe’s crisis has led to the fall of several governments this year while global markets have also been hammered amid concerns over a break-up of the euro-zone and another deep, painful recession. The European Central Bank’s move this week to provide hundreds of billions of euros in cheap loans to under-pressure lenders was seen as a doubleedged sword as it gave a lifeline but also exposed the region’s massive fiscal problems. The single European currency was at $1.3079, from $1.3051 late Thursday in New York, and at 102.05 yen from 102.01 yen. The dollar was at 78.01 yen from 78.15 yen. “The problem child in the yard is still Europe. This may remain until debt can be reined in and that will not be an overnight fix,” Ben Le Brun, market analyst at optionsXpress said in a note. “The backdoor quantitative easing from the (European Central Bank) is a definite step in the right direction ifand it’s a big if-banks start supporting euro government bonds.” On oil markets New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, gained 65 cents to $100.18 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for February delivery rose 34 cents to $108.23. Gold was trading at $1,612.50 an ounce at 0820 GMT, against $1,614.60 an ounce late Thursday. — AFP

SEOUL: A currency trader reacts at the foreign exchange dealing room of the Korea Exchange Bank headquarters in Seoul yesterday. Asian stock markets rose yesterday in thin holiday trading on signs the US economy is improving. —AP

India PM strikes back at corporate critics

Criticisms dampen investor confidence NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has struck back at his corporate critics, saying their negative comments over his government’s reform program have only served to dampen economic confidence. Singh’s Congress party-led government has been the target of mounting attacks from business leaders upset over its inability to push through muchvaunted reforms and a string of multibillion-dollar corruption scandals. It was “disappointing to sometimes hear negative comments emanating from our business leadership or be told government policies are causing slowdown and pessimism,” Singh said in a speech posted on his website Friday. “Such comments have added to (economic) uncertainty,” said the 79-year-old leader whose personal reputation has taken a beating with critics describing him as the dithering captain of a rudderless administration. “Our government is committed to creating a growth-oriented economic environment,” he told the Council on Trade and Industry, an advisory body that includes corporate luminaries such as Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani, in the closed-door speech. Businesses have slammed the government’s retreat this month on plans to open up the estimated $470 billion retail sector to foreign competition, saying the move was symptomatic of policy drift and inaction. Singh, known as India’s economic liberator for easing the government’s grip on the economy in 1991 as then-finance minister, argued that the country’s sometimes fractious democracy required patience. “In a democratic polity like ours and in the era of coalition politics, it often becomes necessary for the government to build a broad consensus on major public policy issues,” he said. “This may sometimes take longer than what we would like.”

Since its re-election in 2009, the government has taken no major liberalization initiatives, hobbled by multi-billion-dollar corruption scandals linked to the Commonwealth Games and the allotment of telecom spectrum. But Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee insisted Delhi

shaded downward his expectations for India’s economic growth to a range of 7.25 percent to 7.50 percent from a previous forecast of 7.50 percent. At the year’s start, the government was projecting nine percent growth. Business leaders have expressed alarm about the

AMRITSAR: Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hold placards as they protest against the central government and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the retail sector during a demonstration in Amritsar. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a statement yesterday has struck back at critics who accuse him of weakening the country’s economy by failing to pursue bold economic reforms. — AFP had not abandoned plans to allow foreign investment in multi-brand retail and other economic reforms. “We are working hard to build a consensus,” he told another business audience Friday. “We have problems... but that does not mean that we have shelved it (retail reform).” Mukherjee

slowing economy, which grew an annual 6.9 percent in the most recent quarter, the weakest pace in more than two years. Some have suggested the slowdown is due to investment uncertainty over the government’s economic policies as well as aggressive monetary tightening to curb high inflation. — AFP

Copper up in thin trade on growth hopes, data eyed LONDON: Copper rose in thin trade yesterday as an optimistic outlook for growth in the United States and demand for metals gathered pace following a recent run of encouraging data from the world’s largest economy. Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was at $7,620 a tonne in official rings, up from Thursday’s close of $7,540. The metal used in power and construction earlier hit its highest level in more than a week, although light volumes on the last trading day before Christmas exaggerated moves. Following upbeat data on the labor market and encouraging consumer sentiment numbers in the previous session, investors focus will now turn more US data due later in the session, including November’s durable goods orders and new home sales figures. “US data has been quite impressive recently, but I don’t expect to see a sustained rally just before year-end because there is still uncertainty out there,” said Andrey Kryuchenkov, analyst at VTB Capital. “The key point is that trading is very thin so we could still push to $7,800 a tonne for copper on these low volumes.” Helping cement gains was a stronger euro against the dollar. A weak dollar makes commodities priced in the US unit cheaper for holders of other currencies.

“Our short term view is that the metals may well get some further lift as short-covering takes place ahead of the Christmas break and the firmer equities and a slightly weaker dollar should help facilitate that,” FastMarkets analysts said in a note. Copper prices have risen around 3 percent so far this week, snapping two weeks of falls, but are on track fall by more than 20 percent this year in the first annual drop since 2008. With caution about the euro-zone debt crisis likely to persist into the new year, analysts reckon early 2012 could bring renewed pressure for the base metals complex. Gains in copper were limited by easing supply disruption fears as thousands of striking workers at Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc’s mine in Indonesia will start returning to work today to end three months of industrial action. The mining company had faced strikes and blockades in Indonesia and also its Cerro Verde plant in Peru this year as workers demanded pay increases. In other metals, aluminum was at $2,021 in official rings, from Thursday’s close of $2,018 a ton, while zinc , used in galvanizing, was at $1,862 from $1,850 a ton. Battery material lead traded at $2,010 from $2,000 and stainless steel ingredient nickel traded at $18,750 from $18,695. — Reuters


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Jobless data boosts battered US economy Q3 growth cut to 1.8% on healthcare spending

HUTHINSON: Laura Frerichs, 31, is shown on her organic farm outside of Hutchinson, Minnesota. Frerichs discovered her passion for farming about a year after she graduated from college with an anthropology degree and is among more people in their 20s and 30s going into farming. —AP

Arkansas farmers plant peanuts as prices go up LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas: Drought and strong prices could push more peanut production out of traditional regions and into states such as Arkansas and Mississippi not known for growing the crop but with ample water to give it a try. Some major peanut states, including Georgia and Texas have struggled to grow the crop amid an extended drought, leading farmers elsewhere to consider cashing in on prices that have soared as production dropped. In 2010, American farmers harvested 2.1 million tons of peanuts, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service. That fell to 1.8 million tons in 2011, a 15 percent drop that caused prices to more than double to about $1,000 a ton. “Peanuts are going to be a real good option,” said Greg Gill, who has started growing peanuts on his farm near Walnut Ridge, in northeastern Arkansas. Gill said he was growing rice on his sandy soil, but as fuel prices rose, it became increasingly costly to run pumps needed to flood his fields. Besides avoiding that cost, he said peanuts don’t require as many costly treatments for weeds and pests as other crops common to the area, such as soybeans, corn and cotton. “You get a lot more net money on the farming side on those types (of sandy) soils,” Gill said. Although more farmers are considering peanuts, Gill remains a rarity in Arkansas. This year, farmers in the state planted only 4,000 acres, up from 1,000 acres in 2010. Georgia produces by far the most peanuts, though it dropped from 565,000 acres planted in 2010 to 475,000 acres in 2011. Alabama and Texas are the other big producers, with smaller crops in states including North Carolina, Florida and Oklahoma. Kerry Colbert, who signs up farmers to sell their crops to peanut processor Clint Williams Co. of Madill, Okla., said Mississippi growers planted about 16,000 acres in 2011 and could expand to 30,000 acres next year. One stumbling block, Colbert said, is that farmers need closer collection points. Clint Williams is trying to respond to that concern by building up to three new collection centers in Arkansas and Mississippi. Colbert, who put more than 11,000 miles on his truck last month traveling to meet with farmers, said his company wants to ensure a more consistent supply. “If you are centered in one area, it’s a great risk. We can spread our risk out by getting out in a different area,” Colbert said. So far, they have been pleased with the response. “We’ve been relatively surprised at the amount of interest,” he said. “We knew there would be some, but we didn’t know so many would completely go in.”The abundant water sources in Arkansas from lakes, rivers and aquifers makes the state attractive for peanuts and other crops. Still, growing peanuts is an adjustment for farmers, who must change their techniques to harvest the bean, which grows underground. “Disking the soil, the planting, that’s about the same,” said Mike Andrews, who works for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “But when you get to the harvest part of it, that’s different.”—AP

WASHINGTON: The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits hit a 3-1/2 year low last week, bolstering views the economy was gaining momentum, even though thirdquarter growth was revised down. Other data Thursday underscored the firming tone in the economy, with consumer sentiment scaling a six-month high in December and a barometer of future activity rising for a seventh straight month in November. While the economy is wrapping up 2011 with a spring in its step, bickering over budget policy in Washington and the debt crisis in Europe have cast a cloud over its prospects next year. A payroll tax cut and benefits for the long-term unemployed, both of which are due to expire at year end, have become tangled in partisan politics and it is unclear whether they will be renewed. There were signs Thursday the impasse had been broken, with House Speaker John Boehner informing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid he will set a vote on a Senate-passed two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, according to a Democratic leadership aide. “The economy is carrying some clear momentum into 2012,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania. “If Congress doesn’t kill that by failing to extend the tax breaks, we can look forward to a better year ahead.” Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 4,000 to 364,000, the Labor Department said. That was the lowest level since April 2008 and just a month after the collapse of Bear Stearns. The claims data, which covered the survey period for the December nonfarm payrolls report, helped to take the sting out of a separate report showing the economy expanded at only a 1.8 percent annual rate in the third quarter. Growth, which had previously been reported to have expanded at a 2 percent pace, was held back by a sharp

NEW YORK: People wait to talk with potential employers at a job fair sponsored by National Career Fairs, in New York. The number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped to its lowest level since April 2008, continuing a downward trend that reflects a strengthening job market. —AP drop in healthcare spending, the Commerce Department said. A month ago, it had said healthcare spending had risen. The revision to healthcare spending estimates reflected new source data, which showed losses at nonprofit hospitals. However, spending on long-lasting goods was stronger than previously estimated, indicating consumer demand remained healthy. Prospects for spending were boosted by the rise in consumer confidence. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s sentiment index rose to 69.9 from 64.1 in November as measures of both current conditions and future expectations increased. The data helped stocks on Wall Street to post their third straight day of gains. The U.S. government bond market largely ignored the data, while the dollar was flat against a basket of currencies. Even as much of the rest of the world

is slowing down, with a mild recession forecast for Europe next year, the US economy remains resilient. The labor market is improving, households are spending, home building is picking up and factory output is expanding, putting the economy on course for at least a 3 percent growth pace in the fourth quarter. That would be the fastest pace in 18 months. An index from the private sector Conference Board that seeks to predict the strength of future economic activity rose for a seven straight month in November, suggesting the economy could pick up even more speed by spring. While claims for first-time unemployment benefits tend to be volatile this time of the year, they have dropped for three straight weeks. A four-week moving average, a better measure of trends, is now at its lowest level since June 2008. — Reuters

FCC approves AT&T buy of Qualcomm spectrum SAN FRANCISCO: The Federal Communications Commission approved wireless carrier AT&T Inc’s $1.93 billion purchase of unused wireless spectrum from Qualcomm Inc. AT&T Inc. said a year ago that it planned to buy the spectrum to add capacity to its fourth-generation, or “4G” network, which it has been rolling out across the country. The network’s higher speeds make it faster to load video and websites on phones. Mobile technology company Qualcomm Inc. had used the spectrum for its FLO TV mobile television service, which it shut down because of weak customer interest. On Thursday, the FCC said the purchase brings up some competitive concerns but they could be eased by conditions the commission outlined in its approval, including offering data roaming to competitors. AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook could not immediately comment on the approval. The approval comes just days after Dallas-based AT&T, which runs the second-largest

wireless network in the US, gave up on its $39 billion deal for smaller carrier T-Mobile USA following government concerns that the deal would raise prices and reduce competition. The spectrum deal will help AT&T better compete with cellphone carriers Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. the largest and third-largest wireless service providers in the nation, respectively. Like AT&T, Verizon is already deploying a network that uses LTE, or Long-Term Evolution, technology, and Sprint intends to use the technology, too. And recently Verizon has been building out its share of airwaves available for its 4G network by making deals with several cable companies to buy airwave licenses. This month, Cox Communications, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks all agreed to sell some of their spectrum to Verizon and in exchange Verizon will resell their cable services in its stores. Qualcomm stands to make a handsome profit on the spectrum. —AP


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Amaro wins ‘The X Factor’ Page 25

Jolie hopes Bosnia War movie speaks to her generation Page 24

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Singer Nicole Scherzinger poses on the red carpet at The X Factor Finale show in Los Angeles on Thursday. Singer Melanie Amaro was chosen as the winner for the first season of the show. She will be awarded with a $5 million record deal and a Pepsi ad campaign.—AP


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Cruise refuses to get help when buying Christmas presents T

he Hollywood actor - who has a five-yearold daughter, Suri, with actress wife Katie Holmes, as well as two adopted children, Isabella, 19, and 15-year-old Connor from his marriage to Nicole Kidman - likes all his gifts to be personal so would never send an assistant out to buy them. He said: “We go out and get them. We go to the shops.” The ‘Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol’ star says he and Katie love the holiday season and really enjoying decorating their house. During an appearance on ‘The Jonathan Ross Show’, he said: “It’s huge. It’s my wife’s favourite time of year. Suri loves it. She loves decorating the tree and she’s very creative. She’ll create ornaments, so there’s lots of arts and crafts in the house. It’s fantastic.” Tom, 49, also revealed how he didn’t tell 33year-old Katie about the stunts he had to perform in ‘Ghost Protocol’ until he’d done them because he didn’t want to worry her. He said: “It was pretty gruelling. We were there for eight or nine days. The first time I went off the building it took my breath away. We say afterwards, but she knows me. She knows I do everything to make it as safe as possible.”

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he former Beatles star has almost doubled his earnings in the past year, after banking £16.4 million in 2010. His company made a pre-tax profit of £12.8 million, while the previous year the figure stood at £9 million. However, the 69-year-old musician - who tied the knot with third wife Nancy Shevell in London in October - hasn’t increased his spending, with company reports showing he paid himself just £1 million, in comparison to the £6.7 million salary he gave himself in 2010. A source told The Sun newspaper: “McCartney must have picked up a few lucky coins in the past couple of years. “Not only has he got married to a lovely lady, he’s also had a hugely successful world tour and brought out another album.” The ‘You Never Show Me Your Money’ singer looks set to add to his mammoth earnings in 2012 when he releases an album of cover songs, something which he has been planning to do for the past 20 years. He recently said: “If I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it. “It was very spontaneous, kind of organic, which then reminded me of the way we’d work with The Beatles.”

hopes her sister is expecting a girl

has made 29 million in 2011

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Kendall Jenner

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eality TV starlet Kourtney recently revealed she is expecting her second child with boyfriend Scott Disick in May and Kendall wants them to have a baby girl this time because she thinks their firstborn son, Mason, two, would be a protective big brother. Kendall told E! Online: “I want [Kourtney] to have a girl. It would be so cute because when they’re older, Mason could be like the protective big brother. And I feel like Kourtney could have fun with a girl-dress her up in little tutus and everything.” 16-year-old Kendall who is set to star in her own reality TV show with sister Kylie, 14 - also revealed she wants to break into acting and has a huge crush on Ryan Gosling. She said: “I wouldn’t do acting as my full-time career. But I think it would be fun to do something just for fun, just to do a movie for fun. “I love movies like ‘The Notebook’. That’s why I like Ryan Gosling. I love those romantic movies that you wish could happen to you but they never do.”


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Steve Jones plans to ask Scherzinger out

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he Welsh presenter insists his relationship with judge Nicole is strictly professional at the moment but admits she is “smokin’ hot” and he would jump at the chance to date her if they were no longer colleagues. He said: “She’s smokin’ hot but we’re colleagues and good friends. If I ever leave ‘X Factor’, Scherzinger’s phone will be smoking hot from me ringing it constantly because if we’re not colleagues ... Oh, she’s fair game. Oh yeah!” However, Steve might change

his mind about dating Nicole as it was recently claimed he could be replaced as host by Nicole, who took up a role on the judging panel alongside L.A. Reid, Paula Abdul and show boss Simon Cowell after Cheryl Cole was sensationally axed from the series after just four rounds of auditions. Although Steve’s job is reportedly under threat after critics blasted his performance during the debut series, he insists he doesn’t mind if he is not asked back for the second season. He told ‘Access Hollywood’: “If

I’m back, great, if not I’ll do something else - simple as that. “But quite frankly, we have been 100 per cent focused on making it the best show possible for our viewers. I don’t want to pull the focus back on to me.” Steve has previously enjoyed romances with a bevy of famous beauties, rumoured to include Paris Hilton, Pamela Anderson and Halle Berry. Nicole recently split from Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton after four years of dating, but the sportsman is believed to want her back.

Nick Lachey excited about first Christmas with wife T

he pair tied the knot in July and Nick - who has previously been married to singer Jessica Simpson - admitted he can’t wait to spend the festive season with his bride and the couple are also planning an ugly sweater party with their friends. He said: “It’s our first Christmas as a married couple, so we’re looking forward to that. “[Vanessa] went shopping for my sweater yesterday. From what I’ve seen in pictures, it’s pretty heinous.” While Nick has spoken of his desire for kids in the past, he said he and Vanessa are just enjoying some time alone for now. He told People: “”I don’t think there’s necessarily any timetable for it. We’re definitely excited about being parents at some point, but I think whenever that happens, we’ll embrace it and be excited for it. There’s no real sense of urgency at this point.” Nick, 38, has previously revealed he and Vanessa hope to raise their children in his hometown of Cincinnati so they will get to know his brother Drew’s kids. He said: “[Vanessa has] really growing to love Cincinnati, it’s obviously not LA or New York but it’s a great place to raise a family. It’s where my family is and it’s kind of her family now, and we’re loving it. I love the idea of raising kids in the Midwest, where the values are good and I love the idea of raising my kids next to my brother. “That’s kind of that brother dream. We’re gonna grow up and have houses next to each other. Our kids are going to play in the back yard together.”

Pattinson goes on

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a shopping spree for Kristen Stewart

he British actor visited retro shop TINI in Los Angeles where he and a pal stocked up on a stack of gifts for his ‘Twilight Saga’ co-star and girlfriend Kristen. A source told HollywoodLife.com: “Rob stayed for a little over an hour picking out Christmas gifts for his girlfriend Kristen Stewart. Rob’s been at TINI’s before, he seems to get a real kick out of all the unique items. “He kept asking his friend, ‘Do you think Kristen would like this?’ “He ended up getting an oversized vintage letter R made out of metal, ($115) , an antique wooden radio, ($395), a movie poster for the film ‘I, A Woman’ ($75), and a vintage Hollywood headboard for a kingsize bed, ($285).” Kristen may have been buying her boyfriend’s Christmas present yesterday too as she was spotted shopping with her dad John at Norman’s Rare Guitars, where Robert is a frequent customer.

Radcliffe wants to be a writer

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he former ‘Harry Potter’ star is “convinced” he wants to pen a play or a film but says he’s not completely confident he will achieve his dream because of a lack of ideas. He said: “Every time I see a play or a film, I’m at that point where I want to write something. I’m convinced in my heart that I am a writer but I have no ideas.” Despite being lacking in inspiration, the 22-year-old actor - who portrayed the boy wizard in the film franchise for 10 years - also revealed after having launched his career at the age of 12, there are “very few things” that faze him on a film set. Daniel added to Total Film magazine: “I suppose ‘Potter’ has stood me in good stead for almost any situation. There are very few things on a film set, I think, that will faze me because I’ve been lucky enough to experience it all when I was young.”


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Jolie hopes

Bosnia War movie

speaks to her generation

In this Saturday, Dec 3, 2011 file photo, actress Angelina Jolie poses for a portrait to promote her directorial debut of the film “In the Land of Blood and Honey” in New York. —AP

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ngelina Jolie didn’t plan on directing a movie. But the more she learned about the 1990s Bosnia war, the more she felt responsible for bringing it home to her generation. Jolie threw her energy into “In the Land of Blood and Honey”, writing, co-producing and directing the complex love story set against the horror of the 1992-95 conflict in which more than 100,000 people are believed to have died. The movie, which initially stoked controversy in Bosnia, opens in US theaters yesterday and has been nominated for a Golden Globe award for foreign language film. “I didn’t go into this wanting to be a director, I went into this film because I was moved by the themes,” Jolie, 36, told Reuters. “It wasn’t a nor-

mal film experience for me, it was an education everyday in humanity and in unity, and also getting to know a culture,” she said. The Oscar-winning “Girl, Interrupted” actress was just 17years-old and working to establish herself in Hollywood when the conflict in Bosnia erupted on the other side of the world. But it wasn’t until years later, when she became a United Nations Goodwill ambassador and visited Bosnia, that she learned about the war and its victims. “As I looked into Bosnia-because this was (when) I was a teenager-I felt responsible to pay more attention because I didn’t at the time ... I was too young and living my life,” said Jolie. “This is my generation that went through this in Europe. So I read more and I learned more and I was just so taken by how little I knew, how little the world speaks about it, and I felt compelled to put this story together,” she said. “Blood and Honey” is the tale of a Serbian man and a Bosnian woman on the eve of the ethnic conflict, who later meet when he is an army officer and she is his detainee. Jolie cast unknown Bosnian actors Goran Kostic and Zana Marjanovic as the leads and filmed in both English and SerboCroat. But before reading the script, female victims of the war raised objections, and Jolie was forced to shoot

In this file image released by Film District, Zana Marjanovic, left, and Boris Ler are shown in a scene from “In the Land of Blood and Honey.” —AP many of the scenes in Hungary, rather than Bosnia as she had planned. The movie has since received an enthusiastic reception in Bosnia and Jolie was given an honorary award in July by the Sarajevo film festival. “This film belongs to this country and these people, it’s their story and their film,” Jolie said. “They’re the most talented actors and nobody could have done these roles better.” Responsibility also weighed heavily on the two lead actors. “You try very hard to do the best job you can and represent that conflict and your people as best as

you can,” said Marjanovic, who plays Ajla. Kostic, who plays Serbian character Danijel, said the movie was very personal. “It’s very close to our hearts, and of course, coming from the region, it’s easy to tap into that emotional landscape,” he added. Jolie, who was last seen on screen in the 2010 action romance “The Tourist”, is yet to schedule her next project. “I still can’t believe somehow I ended up doing this, but I was so compelled by this particular story and I have such a unique crew and cast,” she said. — Reuters

China film stirs passions anew before Japan PM visit

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hen Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda arrives in China tomorrow, a new blockbuster movie will ensure that the foremost image of the Japanese in many Chinese people’s minds will once again be of the country’s brutal wartime

misdeeds. The story of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, around which Zhang Yimou’s “The Flowers of War” is set, is taught from a young age in China, and countless television serials, documentaries and books ensure the topic is never out of the public eye for long.

Since going on wide release last week, the film, which stars Hollywood actor Christian Bale, has played to sell-out audiences who weep openly during its more disturbing scenes, and has taken 200 million yuan ($31.6 million) at the box office to date. The film has

Four aliens in Portland artist Matt Henderson’s “Alien Nativity” exhibit are displayed Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011, in Portland, Ore. A former NE Portland church is decked out this holiday season for a 3-D journey that is, intentionally, confusing and provocative. Henderson has created an odd twist on nativity scenes - one that replaces the three wise men with four aliens and also includes a Santa Claus as a shaman, complete with a deer’s skull carrying antlers. —AP

won top-level political support. Its opening night was held in a government building and it is China’s Oscar entry for best foreign language film, though it has received rather tepid reviews in the United States. And director Zhang, who once made edgy films that challenged conventions, has since gone mainstream. He is now firmly viewed as a national hero after orchestrating the dazzling opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “The Flowers of War”, with its dark hints of necrophilia and male rape and scenes of graphic violence, resembles in parts Chinese government-made anti-Japanese propaganda films, and it is certainly having that effect on many in the audience. “What horrible people the Japanese are,” said student Zhao Lan, after going to a packed showing at a Beijing cinema. “How can they be that crazy and mad!” “The Japanese soldiers are terrible, and I cannot understand why they still do not want to apologise for their wrongdoings,” added a man who gave his surname as Sun. China says invading Japanese troops slaughtered 300,000 men, women and children in Nanjing, then known as Nanking. An Allied tribunal after World War Two put the death toll at about 142,000. The film has also triggered a surge of anti-Japanese comments on China’s popular Twitter-like microblogs. “After watching that film, my hatred of Japan has suddenly deepened!” wrote “Ruruzh” on Sina’s Weibo. —Reuters


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Melanie Amaro wins

‘The X Factor’

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Singer Paula Abdul poses on the red carpet at The X Factor Finale show in Los Angeles on Thursday. Singer Melanie Amaro was chosen as the winner for the first season of the show. She will be awarded with a $5 million record deal and a Pepsi ad campaign.—AP

he powerful 19-year-old vocalist from Sunrise, Fla, won the Fox talent competition Thursday over soulful 30year-old singer Josh Krajcik of Wooster, Ohio. Amaro, who was mentored by judge Simon Cowell and was at one point eliminated then reinstated to the contest, was awarded the grand prize: a $5 million recording contract and a starring role in a Pepsi commercial. “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God,” Amaro repeated after host Steve Jones announced her as the champion. Despite continued prodding from Jones, an overly emotional Amaro couldn’t quite formulate words when she was revealed to have captured the most viewer votes, and she struggled through tears to reprise Beyonce’s “Listen,” the soaring ballad that Amaro crooned at her audition and on Wednesday’s final performance round. “I want to say, ‘America, thank you for giving this girl an opportunity,’” said Cowell. Krajcik, the struggling single father who delivered a stripped down rendition of “At Last” for his final routine, seemed content with his status as “X Factor” runner-up to Amaro, who was born in the British Virgin Islands. “Melanie deserves it,” Krajcik said. “She has a wonderful voice. I had such an incredible experience here. I got to be myself, sing what I want to sing, and I couldn’t be happier.” Chris Rene, the recovering 28-year-old singer-rapper from Santa Cruz, Calif., came in third place. Before the winner was unveiled, the three finalists crooned classic Christmas tunes, and Justin Bieber, Stevie

Wonder, Leona Lewis, Pitbull, Ne-Yo and 50 Cent performed various songs with former contestants. Amaro and Krajcik also dueted on David Bowie’s “Heroes.” Unlike “American Idol,” the contest was open to both solo singers and groups, and had a lower minimum age of 12 and no upper age limit. The judges also served as mentors. Cowell represented female vocalists, including Amaro; L.A. Reid headed

male singers, including Rene; Nicole Scherzinger was in charge of over-30 singers, including Krajcik; and Paula Abdul helmed the groups. Despite consistent viewership, “The X Factor” has failed to achieve popularity similar to “Idol,” which Cowell left last year to import “The X Factor” from the UK to the US Fox announced last month that “X Factor” would return for a second season next fall. — AP

From left to right, Chad Stubbs, Pepsi Executive, presents the 2011 THE X FACTOR Pepsi trophy to Melanie Amaro, with mentor and judge, Simon Cowell, backstage after the finale in Los Angeles, Thursday. —AP

Jazz musician views handicap as blessing, not burden

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ne of the most crucial abilities of any jazz musician is to improvise, and that is exactly what John Britton has done not just onstage-but throughout his life. Britton was born with all 10 of his fingers cut off below the first knuckle after the umbilical cord wrapped around his hands. He was also born into a musical family in Odenton, Maryland, just outside of Washington. All four of his brothers and sisters play instruments or sing, and rather than opting out of music because of his drastically shortened fingers, Britton decided to improvise with the hands he did have. While his siblings first sat down to play the piano when they were five years old, Britton started lessons two years earlier at the age of three in order to compensate for the increased difficulties he faced as his small digits traveled along the keys. And when as a teenager Britton realized that because of his shortened reach he would never be able to play the piano

at the advanced level he wanted to achieve, he set his sights instead on the trumpet, where he says his shortened fingers translated into an edge rather than a handicap. “With trumpet players, a lot of

times you have a third grader or fifth grader and they don’t want to bend their fingers. And with me, I don’t have an extra knuckle to bend,” says Britton, wiggling his fingers as if pressing a trumpet’s valves. “Because

This 2009 photograph courtesy The Britton Brothers shows jazz saxophonist Ben Britton (L) and trumpet player John Britton (R) sharing a laugh. John Britton was born with all 10 of his fingers cut off below his first knuckle after the umbilical cord wrapped around his hands. —AFP

there’s actually less movement with my fingers going up and down, I can play faster and a lot easier.” Britton credits his ability to always see the silver lining to his family’s positive attitude toward his hands. There were never pity parties at the Britton housejust jam sessions and light-hearted jokes. Growing up, for a laugh Britton would tell new friends that his fingers were cut off because when he was younger, his older brother Ben stuck his fingers in the electric garbage disposal machine, he says now years later, chuckling. His brother Ben has always been a big influence on the younger Britton, especially when it comes to music. ‘See it in a positive light’- “I always sort of followed in his footsteps,” says Britton of his 28-year-old brother. “He got into jazz, so I got into jazz.” Their mutual love of jazz has lasted into adulthood. Though he now lives in Rochester, New York, Britton travels back to the Washington-area often to visit his family. —AFP


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

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hy do kids believe a chubby guy in a flying sleigh can deliver joy across America? Because their parents do. A whopping 84 percent of grown-ups were once children who trusted in Santa’s magic, and lots cling to it still. Things are changing fast these days, with toddlers wishing for iPads, grade schoolers emailing their Christmas lists and moms wrestling over bargain toys at midnight sales. Despite all the pressures on the rituals of the season, an AP-GfK poll confirms that families are sticking by old St. Nick. “It’s important for kids to have something to believe in,” says great-grandmother Wanda Smith of Norman, Oklahoma. And so they do. Year after year, Santa Claus survives the scoffers and the Scrooges and the 6-year-old playground skeptics. He endures belittling commercials that portray him shopping at Target or taking directions from an iPhone. He shrugs off scolds who say his bagful of toys overshadows the reason for the season. Two-thirds of parents with kids under 18 say Santa’s an important part of their celebrations this year. Moms, especially, have a soft spot for the man in red - 71 percent of them say he’s important, and that’s a big jump from 58 percent just five years ago. His overall popularity is up slightly from an AP-AOL poll in 2006, before the recession hit. In these bleaker times of homes lost to foreclosure and parents sweating out their next paychecks, the poll shows Santa riding high with families both wealthy and poor.

know it. Our mother and daddy made it a wonderful time for us.” In multicultural America, Father Christmas isn’t just for Christians any more. Threefourths of non-Christian adults say they believed in Santa when they were children. And half feel he’s important to their holiday celebrations now. Developmental psychologist Cyndy Scheibe,

A whopping 84 percent of grown-ups were once children who trusted in Santa’s magic, and lots cling to it still. Maybe that’s because the big guy’s always known how to stretch a dollar to make a kid smile. Smith, whose childhood gifts were mostly handmade by her mother - things like cookies and knit scarves - remembers that every year Santa Claus managed to put one present under the tree for her to share with her two brothers (four more siblings came later). “One year it was a bicycle, one year we had a sled. One year we got a puppy - his name was Jack and he was a border collie,” recalls Smith, now 70. “We didn’t have a lot,” she said, “but we didn’t

who’s been interviewing kids about Santa since 1986, said lots of Jewish children told her that Santa Claus was real, even though he didn’t stop at their houses on Christmas Eve. And many non-Christian parents embrace Santa because they see Christmas serving as a secular as well as religious holiday in the US , she said. “Santa Claus is more than someone who just comes and gives you a present, it’s this whole spirit of giving and magic that you get to be a part of and celebrate,” said Scheibe, an associate profes-

sor at Ithaca College in New York. That’s what keeps Santa going over the decades and across cultures, she said. “That, and there’s almost nothing as much fun as getting to see your kid’s face so completely excited.” Scheibe knows firsthand. She used to climb a ladder to the roof every Christmas, her daughter watching, to leave a key tied to a big red bow, because they didn’t have a fireplace. It’s not all snowflakes and mistletoe in Santaland, however. Even among Christians, there’s tension about how big a role, if any, a jolly old elf deserves in the celebration of Christ’s birth. Almost half of Americans polled said Santa detracts from the religious significance of Christmas more than he enhances it. When she was growing up, Naomi Stenberg’s fundamentalist Baptist parents didn’t want her mixed up with Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or Halloween trick-or-treating. “I didn’t understand why everybody else got to believe in Santa, and me and my brother didn’t,” says Stenberg, 32, now a stay-at-home mom in Baxter, Minn. “I felt left out.” Her own three children have gotten the full Kris Kringle experience, but sometimes she feels ill-equipped to handle the tough queries from her youngest, 6-year-old Rylen. “She’s been asking questions like how does Santa fit through the chimney,” she said. “I don’t know how to answer things like that.” Matt Hoyt vividly remembers seeing Santa’s black boots peeking out from behind his bedroom curtains when he was a boy. He froze. “I was just trying to pretend to be asleep,” Hoyt said, “so I’d get my presents.” Only much later did he realize those were probably the black shoes of his dad, hanging his new “Star Wars” drapes. Now Hoyt, a 35-yearold computer engineer from Houston, is awaiting the birth of his first child in April, and wondering how long that child will believe.—AP

An Indian man dressed as Santa Claus entertains children during Christmas celebrations at a school in Ahmadabad, India yesterday. Christmas Day is observed as a national holiday in India. —AP

In this Dec 12, 2011, file photo, Santa Claus gestures toward first lady Michelle Obama, at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington. Why do kids believe a chubby guy in a flying sleigh can deliver joy across America? Because their parents do. —AP


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

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ore than spirits are being lifted this holiday season. During the four weeks leading up to Christmas, an estimated $1.84 billion in merchandise will be shoplifted this year, according to The Global Retail Theft Barometer, a survey of retailers worldwide. That’s up about 6 percent from $1.7 billion during the same period last year. “They shoplift for Christmas gifts, they steal for themselves, for their family,” says Joshua Bamfield, executive director of the Centre for Retail Research and author of the survey. The crowded stores and harried clerks make it easier to slip a tablet computer into a purse or stuff a sweater under a coat undetected. But higher joblessness and falling wages have contributed to an even bigger rise this year, with people stealing everything from necessities to luxuries they can no longer afford. “It’s really a question of need versus greed,” says Joseph LaRocca, senior advisor of asset protection for the National Retail Federation trade group. “People will rationalize what they are stealing: ‘Oh, I’m feeling the economy. I lost my job’.” Some experts say shoplifters are stealing for reasons this holiday season that have nothing to do with economic turmoil. Among them, some do it for a rush or thrill. For others, it’s about filling a void. Still others are trying to relieve anxiety, boredom or depression - all emotions that are particularly common during the holidays. “Shoplifting is generally a crime of opportunity- and opportunities abound at the holiday,” says Barbara Staib, a spokeswoman for the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, a nonprofit that provides shoplifting prevention programs. “The stressors that come with the holiday will certainly help them rationalize their need for bad behavior.” An estimated one in 11 Americans shoplift, according to the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention, based on research collected on people who enroll in its prevention courses. Three-quarters of shoplifters are adults - equally men and women - while kids make up about 25 percent. More than 70 percent of shoplifters say their crime was spontaneous. All the stealing translates into hundreds of billions of dollars in losses for retailers each year.—AP

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here is one hot item this holiday season that won’t be resting under the Christmas tree. It will be on a shelf - watching you. In a few short years, the “Elf on the Shelf” picture book and accompanying elf doll has been transformed from a phenomenon known mostly around the Atlanta area to a national sensation sold in 12,000 stores. For parents, the elf is an adorable yuletide enforcer. They ensure he pops up in a different place each morning to watch over children and ensure they are not naughty, but nice. Carol Aebersold and her daughters Chanda Bell and Christa Pitts, creators of “Elf on the Shelf,” say it has its roots in their family tradition dating to the 1970s. An elf would appear every year after Thanksgiving only to vanish each evening, the children were told, on a journey to the North Pole with reports for Santa on who had dared to pout, misbehave or cry. In 2005, Aebersold and Bell wrote the book to encourage others to adopt the tradition in their families. All major publishers rejected it. Undeterred, the family founded CCA and B Publishing in Marietta, Ga., to put out the $30 book and the 10-inch elf doll by themselves. Some think its sweet, and some think it’s just creepy. Undisputed: It’s been a massive success since the company’s founding in 2005. About 2.5 million have been sold to date. And this year, it reached No 2 on USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. It sold out at Target stores in the first year the chain carried it. Last month, on a nationally televised special on the day after Thanksgiving, 4.2 million viewers tuned in to watch “Elf on the Shelf: An Elf’s Story,” on CBS, according to Nielsen. It’s become a social media darling, too. Elf on the Shelf has 7,564 (and counting) Twitter followers and 92,545 friends on Facebook. There are blogs about where to place it in the house, a different spot every morning, and how to dress it up. “We have seen the sales of The Elf grow every year since 2008,” Barnes & Noble spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating said. “It is wildly popular with our customers.” CCA and B Publishing has had at least doubledigit sales increases every year since 2008. The company has grown from three employees to 25

and recorded $10 million in revenue last year. “We used to have to stop people in the aisles at retail shows and explain what this was,” said Christa Pitts. This year, at book signings, “people are coming in and they already know. It’s taken on a much more mainstream relevance and awareness that has been really thrilling to see.” No one can quite put their finger on why sales of an elf, with the accompanying book, have been so strong.—AP

This photo provided by CCB&A, LLC, shows the Elf sitting on the Shelf. There is one hot item this holiday season that won’t be resting under the Christmas tree. It will be on a shelf _ watching you. —AP

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t will be a traditional Christmas weekend for Queen Elizabeth II’s extended family, which now includes Kate Middleton, with the quiet holiday break to be followed by a year’s worth of festivities to mark the queen’s 60th year on the throne. Most of the senior royals, including Middleton and her husband, Prince William, will be dispatched across the globe to help the aging monarch celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in grand style. Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, are planning to mark the event with a series of tours throughout England to culminate with a celebration in London in early June that will include an unprecedented pageant on the River Thames with up to 1000 boats taking part. In a carefully choreographed scenario, the flotilla will be led by the queen aboard the Royal Barge. “They’re hoping the Diamond Jubilee will be as successful as the Golden Jubilee in 2002,” said Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine. “The media then thought the public wasn’t interested, but by the big weekend there were 1 million people in the streets celebrating. I think that will happen again.”He said the queen was surprised by the outpouring of affection in 2002. “Even after 60 years she is very self-effacing, and she’s always amazed when people turn out to celebrate her achievements,” he said. —AP Some 1,000 volunteers clad in Santa Claus costumes gather to deliver gifts for the poor in downtown Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Dec 16, 2011. Christmas is one of the biggest holidays in the country where over half of the population are Christians. —AP


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

AYUTTHAYA: Elephants dressed in Santa Claus costumes perform for students ahead of the Christmas festival at a school in Ayutthaya province yesterday. The event was held as part of a campaign to promote Christmas in Thailand. —AFP

Epiphany festival draws crowds to Florida

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n a spectacle repeated every Jan. 6 for more than a century, dozens of teenage boys set out from the stately Greek Orthodox cathedral in this Florida Gulf Coast town to seek God’s blessing in the chilly waters of a bayou several blocks away. They dive off row boats and, in a chaotic flailing of arms and legs, grope in the murky water for a wooden cross tossed in by a priest. The one lucky enough to surface with it earns instant celebrity status, a ride through the streets on the shoulders of his peers and - the Greek-American boys believe - the favor of God in the coming year. The Tarpon Springs “Cross Dive” is the centerpiece of what locals call the largest Epiphany event in the Western Hemisphere, celebrating the day Orthodox Christians believe Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan. Equal parts religious ceremony and community jubilee, it is the signature festival for the waterfront village that draws tourists year-round to its working sponge docks and colorful assortment of Greek restaurants and shops. Tarpon Springs, 45 minutes northwest of Tampa, boasts one of the largest per-capita concentrations of GreekAmericans in the country among its modest population of 22,000. (About 8,000 in town claim such status.) And the Mediterranean influence is everywhere, from the dome of the grand St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral downtown to the intricate murals on the walls outside the shops that line Dodecanese Boulevard across the street from the sponge docks. The city’s population will at least double for the cross dive and Greek festival that follows on Jan. 6. Sixty boys will dive in Spring Bayou this year, with the cross likely thrown by Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. The boys are 16, 17 and 18 years old, and participation is limited to members of the handful of Greek Orthodox churches in the Tampa Bay area. “We actually receive requests from all around the country from youths who want to participate,” says Nick Mantzanas, this year’s Epiphany committee chairman, who dove for the cross himself as a teen two decades ago, as did his father before him. —AP

No-snow winter puts Finnish ‘snow-how’ on ice H elsinki’s streets are festive with vibrant Christmas decorations and bright advertisements tout the season’s must-have gifts as shoppers bustle through packed stores, yet something is amiss: there’s no snow. The absence of white stuff has not only left Christmas revellers gloomy, it has affected businesses ranging from ski resorts to retailers and of course, snow removal companies. The situation is in stark contrast to last year’s heavy snowfalls at this time of year, when Finns showed off their “snowhow” to the grid-locked continent, including state-of-the-art snow removal and special motorist support teams. But that was then. Now, Helsinki is experiencing uncharacteristically mild December temperatures, and only light dustings of snow have come and gone. “At the beginning of December it was on average six degrees warmer than is usual for this time of year,” meteorologist Pauli Jokinen told AFP. He said the snow’s no-show in the south of the country this year was partly due to natural variations, but also a footprint of global warming. “You can’t put a single season down to climate change, but we have seen that climate change has lifted the baseline temperatures,” he explained. The meteorologist confirmed what many Finns, especially in the milder, southern parts of the country, already fear. “Our best guess is that in many parts of southern and western Finland it will be a black Christmas,” Jokinen declared. After last year’s excesses, this year’s lack of snow has stonewalled many businesses. The balmy autumn forced the cancellation of two major skiing events in Levi, Finland’s northern nerve centre for competitive and recreational winter sports. “The World Cup race and the European Cup had to be cancelled because of the lack of snow. These are very big events for the area,” explained Tarja Nikkanen, marketing manager for Levi Ski Resort. ‘All hope is not lost’- Nikkanen pointed out though, that with about 25 centimetres (10 inches) of snow on the ground and accommodation booked months in advance, the Christmas season still looks promising for tourists seeking a picture-perfect winter wonderland. However she noted that the ski slopes tell a different story. “We have the biggest snowmaking equipment in Finland, but we’re not able to use it because the temperatures are not low enough to keep the

Combo picture shows a view of the street Siltasaarenkatu in the Kallio district of Helsinki on November 24, 2011 (top) and the same view taken a year before on November 23, 2010. —AFP snow,” she added. During the dark winter months, when the Finnish sun sets in the mid-afternoon, residents often long for the light-reflecting quality of snow to relieve the gloom. In northern climes like this, some people are susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition marked by bouts of depression which some research has linked to a lack of sunlight. —AFP


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Bullock coaxed into return by ‘Extremely Loud’

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andra Bullock wasn’t looking to return to acting when Stephen Daldry called about “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.” Bullock’s last film, 2009’s “The Blind Side,” was the kind of career apogee of which most actresses dream, winning her a best actress Academy Award in what essentially amounted to a coronation of Bullock as America’s most beloved female movie star. But the accomplishment - which would normally be followed by a wave of projects to capitalize on the momentum - was soon marred by public scandal. Bullock’s husband, “Monster Garage” host Jesse James, was revealed to have been unfaithful. The fallout, which led to divorce, was covered relentlessly by the tabloids. Bullock went ahead and adopted a baby boy. When Daldry, the director of “The Hours” and “The Reader,” approached her about “Extremely Loud,” Bullock wasn’t sure she would return to acting at all. “I was perfectly content to be permanently broken,” she says. Recognizing how that might sound in print, she smiles at the unintended hint of her personal turmoil, and adds “time-wise” to clarify the break as one from moviemaking.”I honestly didn’t think I was in a place where I wanted to work or wanted to step out of where I was,” she says. “I wasn’t prepared. But the opportunity was louder than my head.” The chance was to play a supporting but key role in Daldry’s adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel. In it, Bullock plays the mother of an uncommonly bright, precocious child (Thomas Horn), whose father (Tom Hanks) dies on Sept 11.

It’s a particularly wrenching story about grief and reconciliation. “What a great way to get back on the horse,” says Bullock, who was staying at a hotel 20 blocks from the World Trade Center on 9/11. “It was hard, but it was what it’s supposed to be.” It took some courting. Daldry visited Bullock at her house, and when he asked her

what she might bring to the role, the actress was frank. “I said, ‘I haven’t the slightest idea,’” she says. “I was like, ‘The well is deep. It’s your job to stop it or get it.’” Bullock and Daldry have a charming, easy manner with each other, showering one another with compliments. Asked why he pursued her for the part, the British director quips, “She’s cheap as chips.” “I have watched just about everything you’ve ever made,” says Daldry. Bullock, whose self-deprecating humor is undimmed, doesn’t miss a beat: “I’m so sorry.” “I needed a partner in the project, somebody that would be a leading lady and look after me, look after herself, look after the character, look after the kid and look after the creation of the whole process,” says Daldry. “Sandy was literally like a partner on it for me. We would write and rewrite and focus down.” One of the film’s most striking and emotional scenes is a flashback to Bullock’s character speaking on the phone with her husband, who is calling from atop one of the burning towers. “The thing that made it so poignant for me was that Tom Hanks showed up that day,” says Bullock. “He sat in a room not far from where I was and made that call every single time. Every time I pick up that phone, it was Tom Hanks on the other end of the line. My husband who is calling because he knows he’s going to die, giving me some gift, some joy, some jewel - something that he can leave me with so he knows I’m going to be OK.” If Bullock, 47, was hesitant to return to acting, she’s now appears fully back. She recently finished shooting another highly anticipated movie: Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity,” a space thriller co-starring George Clooney. — AP

‘Marilyn’ actor Branagh parallels his character

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ong before Kenneth Branagh stepped into the role of Sir Laurence Olivier in “My Week With Marilyn,” there already were strong parallels between them. Both are synonymous with film adaptations of William Shakespeare, delivering lines with implausible realism, and earning accolades for their troubles. Each starred and directed their own successful adaptations of “Hamlet” and “Henry V” that earned Oscar nods for their work on both sides of the camera. (Olivier received an honorary award that included directing the film). With such similarities, it seems fitting that Branagh earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as the legendary actor. “He was a master of his craft, and at the same time very vulnerable,” Branagh says of Olivier. “My Week with Marilyn,” is in theaters and stars two-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. It’s based on the writings of Colin Clark, who spent a week with the iconic actress in 1957 while she was filming “The Prince and the Showgirl” in the United Kingdom. “When they were making this film, Olivier, saw it as means to reinvigorate his career, especially in the states,” Branagh said. “But he found it a challenge to work with Marilyn

(Monroe), whom he considered less than professional.” Olivier eventually lightened up to Monroe, admitting she was wonderful in the film. But Branagh says his co-star, Michelle Williams, who plays the iconic Monroe, has been wonderful from the start. “Before we ever started filming, she learned everything she could about Marilyn, and played her flawlessly.” “After some time you live the character, and stop playing it,” he added. Olivier was 50 when he starred and directed “The Prince and the Showgirl,” and Branagh was 50 when he portrayed Olivier in the film. “He had this attitude of, ‘It’s not over, yet,’ and I feel the same way,” Branagh said. The actor always has held Olivier in high regard and is humbled whenever critics draw comparisons. That comes as no surprise when you consider Olivier’s body of work. Classic performances include Heathcliff in “Wuthering Heights,” the title characters in “Othello” and “Richard II,” and Andrew Wyke from “Sleuth.” “How could you not be an Olivier fan? Just think of that scene in Marathon Man, where he’s torturing Dustin Hoffman with a dentist’s drill. That scene alone could be responsible for a generation of British not going to the dentist,”

Branagh said before breaking into laughter. So while he’s a serious actor, Branagh also has a good sense of humor. And he’s going to need it at the Golden Globes, where Ricky Gervais returns as host. Branagh and Gervais grew up in the same

English town of Reading; Branagh moved there as a child from Belfast. Branagh is a year older than Gervais and says their schools often played football games against one another. Branagh was an avid footballer through school. “I’m not sure if he ever played,”

the actor said of Gervais. “But if he did, we certainly played against one another.” Because of the hometown connection, Branagh expects Gervais to focus some the jokes about growing up in Reading. And the actor says he has no problem with that. — AP

Indian artist Jasuben Shilpi, known as the Bronze Woman of India, adjusts the glasses on a bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi at her workshop near Adalaj, around 25 kms from Ahmedabad yesterday. The Mahatma Gandhi bronze statue will be installed at Trimurti LLC in California in the USA. —AFP


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TECHNOLOGY

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Yahoo exploring sale of Asian holdings SAN FRANCISCO: Yahoo appears to be getting closer to giving its frustrated shareholders something they’ve long wanted: a sale of the Internet company’s holdings in China and Japan. The prospect of Yahoo Inc. finally consummating a deal with China’s Alibaba Group and Softbank Corp., the controlling owner of Yahoo Japan, emerged in online reports published Wednesday by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, both newspapers reported Yahoo is exploring a proposal valued at about $17 billion, or $14 per share. The price reflects Wall Street’s belief that Yahoo’s investments in Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan have become the company’s most valuable pieces. Yahoo’s U.S. business has lost its

luster as the company’s website loses traffic and advertising revenue to Internet search leader Google Inc. and Facebook’s social network. Yahoo ended Wednesday with a market value of about $20 billion, based on its stock closing price of $15.99. The shares gained 88 cents, with most of the surge occurring after the reports of Yahoo’s talks with its Asian partners. If the deal comes together, Alibaba and Softbank would contribute cash and certain assets to newly formed entities. Yahoo would then surrender its 35 percent stake in Yahoo Japan and most of its holdings in Alibaba to gain control of new entities, according to the Times. Yahoo would retain a 15 percent stake in privately held Alibaba, down from 42 percent as of Sept. 30,

according to the company’s most recent quarterly report. The transaction would be designed to avoid a big tax bill - a stumbling block in Yahoo’s previous discussions to sell its Asian holdings. Yahoo declined to comment Wednesday. Alibaba didn’t respond to requests for comments. The renewed talks among Yahoo, Alibaba and Softbank are the latest bit of boardroom intrigue that that has been unfolding since Yahoo abruptly fired Carol Bartz as CEO in early September after losing patience with her attempts to turn around the company during her 21/2 years on the job. Since then, Yahoo’s board has been mulling a variety of options that have included selling the Asian holdings, selling a 20 percent stake to buyout

firms or even auctioning off the whole company.The nine-director board has been leaning in different directions as it ruminates. Just a few weeks ago, it appeared the board was leaning toward selling a large stake to a group led by Silver Lake Partners for $16.60 per share or TPG Capital for $17.60 per share. That idea didn’t go over well with some of Yahoo’s major shareholders, including hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, who has been threatening to overthrow the company’s board. Yahoo’s board is scheduled to discuss the proposed divestiture of the company’s Asian holdings in a Thursday meeting, according to the Times. The newspaper said the directors intend to decide whether to intensify negotiations that could last for a few more weeks. — AP

Oracle misfires in fiscal Q2, raising tech worries Technology decision makers delay signing contracts SAN FRANCISCO: Oracle stumbled in its latest quarter as the business software maker struggled to close deals, a signal of possible trouble ahead for the technology sector. The performance announced Tuesday covered a period of economic turbulence which has raised concerns that major companies and government agencies may curtail technology spending. Oracle’s results for the three months ending in November suggested the cutbacks have already started. Management reinforced that perception with a forecast calling for meager growth in the current quarter, which ends in February. The developments alarmed investors, causing Oracle Corp. shares to slide 10 percent. In a telling sign of weakening demand, Oracle’s sales of new software licenses edged up just 2 percent from the same time last year. Analysts had expected a double-digit gain in new software licenses. The company had predicted an increase of at least 6 percent and as much as 16 percent. Wall Street focuses on this part of the business because selling new software products generates a stream of future revenue from maintenance and upgrades. Oracle’s software is a staple in companies and government agencies throughout the world. Its database products help companies store and manage information. Its line of applications automates a wide range of administrative tasks. Part of the problem was that technology decision makers delayed signing contracts during the final few days of the quarter, according to Safra Catz, Oracle’s chief financial officer. That could be an indication that companies and financially strapped government agencies are treading more carefully as Europe’s debt problems threaten to hobble a still-fragile global economy. “Clearly, this quarter was not what we thought it would be,” Catz told analysts during a Tuesday conference call. She said the company is hoping some of the deals that were postponed in the last quarter will be completed within the next two

months. Oracle’s weakest markets were in the US, Europe and Japan. Things looked even bleaker in Oracle’s computer hardware division, which the company has been trying to build since buying fallen Silicon Valley star Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion last year. Oracle’s hardware revenue dropped 10 percent from the same time last year Oracle earned $2.2 billion, or 43 cents per share, in its fiscal second quarter. That was a 17 percent increase from net income of $1.9 billion, or 37 cents per share at the same time last year. If not for certain items, Oracle said it would have earned 54 cents per share. That figure fell below the average estimate of 57 cents per share among analysts polled by FactSet. Revenue for the period edged up 2 percent from last year to $8.8 billion. Analysts, on average, had projected revenue of $9.2 billion. In the current quarter, Oracle expects its adjusted earnings per share to range from 55 cents to 58 cents - below the average analyst estimate of 59 cents per share. Revenue is expected to rise by 2 percent to 5 percent from the same time in the previous year. If Oracle hits that top end of that target, it would translate to revenue of about $9.2 billion - below the analyst estimate of $9.4 billion, according to FactSet. Oracle has expanded its sales force by about 1,700 people to fish for more customers during the second half of its fiscal year. About 111,000 employees worked at Oracle as of Nov. 30. The company’s shares shed $2.91 to hit $26.26 in extended trading after the second-quarter figures were released. The stock has been sagging since hitting $36.50 in May. In an effort to bolster the stock, Oracle announced it will spend an additional $5 billion to buy back its shares. The company, which is based in Redwood Shores, Calif., didn’t set a timetable to complete the stock purchases. Oracle spent about $1 billion buying 33 million shares in its most recent quarter. —AP

This product image provided by Rara shows the computer interface of the company’s allyou-can-listen music service. Rara, a startup led by serial entrepreneur Rob Lewis, this week launched an all-you-can-listen music service that gives users unlimited access to 10 million tracks over mobile phones for an introductory price. — AP

IBM predicts mind-reading gadgets within five years

SAN FRANCISCO: Computers and smartphones will be able to read your mind within five years, IBM scientists predict in the company’s annual list of five technology developments likely to become mainstream within the next half-decade. Other advances foreseen by the boffins at the leading technology company include the end of passwords, the demise of junk mail, the use of body motion to power gadgets and the narrowing of the digital divide. “If you just need to think about calling someone, it happens,” IBM said of its mindreading gadgets. “Or you can control the cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about where you want to move it.” The list was released on Monday. Mindreading technology, known as bioinformatics, has already shown up in simple forms from toy makers such as Mattel, and engineers at IBM and other companies “have designed headsets with advanced sensors to read electrical brain activity that can recognize facial

expressions, excitement and concentration levels, and thoughts of a person without them physically taking any actions,” the report said. “Within five years we will begin to see early applications of this technology in the gaming and entertainment industry,” IBM said. Another big change in the tech world will be the obsolescence of passwords, which will replaced by biometric data, the company said. Google has already shown the way in this with its use of facial recognition technology to unlock the latest version of its Android operating system. “Your biological makeup is the key to your individual identity, and soon it will become the key to safeguarding it,” IBM said. “Imagine you will be able to walk up to an ATM machine to securely withdraw money by simply speaking your name or looking into a tiny sensor that can recognize the unique patterns in the retina of your eye. Or by doing the same, you can check your account balance on your mobile phone or tablet.” —dpa


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Technology

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Steve Jobs to get Grammy for revolutionizing music NEW YORK: First it was a bronze statue in Hungary. Now it’s a Grammy. The accolades for Steve Jobs, who died Oct 5, are still pouring in. The Recording Academy said Wednesday it is giving the co-founder of Apple a special “Trustees Award” Grammy. The Grammys, of course, are the top honors in the U.S. music industry.

“As former CEO and co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs helped create products and technology that transformed the way we consume music, TV, movies, and books,” the Recording Academy said in a statement. “A creative visionary, Jobs’ innovations such as the iPod and its counterpart, the online iTunes store, revolutionized the industry and how music was dis-

tributed and purchased,” the statement added. A formal acknowledgment of his award will be made during annual Grammy Awards ceremony on Feb. 12 in Los Angeles. In 2002, Apple was a recipient of a technical Grammy award for contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording field. — Reuters

Vietnam makes Christmas tree from cellphones HANOI: Southeast Asia is closer to the equator than the North Pole, but an electronics store in Vietnam is ringing in the holidays with a 15-foot Christmas tree made from more than 2500 unusable cellular phones. Nguyen Trai, a store manager at Westcom Electronics in the southern city of My Tho, says 10 workers spent two weeks building the cellular Christmas tree that he hopes will raise awareness about hazardous waste and promote environmental responsibility. The glittering, cone-shaped creation has been on display for about two weeks outside the store in southern Tien Giang Province. Between 700 and 800 people visit daily, Trai told the Associated Press. “Many of them have taken pictures with the tree,” he said. Cellphones are ubiquitous in Vietnam, where more than 60 percent of the population is under 30 and hordes of young people flaunt flashy electronics to mark their rising wealth even as the country struggles to contain one of Asia’s highest inflation rates. Although the majority of communist Vietnam’s 87 million people are Buddhist, there is a sizable Catholic minority and an enthusiastic general embrace of all things Christmas. The country’s two largest cities Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City - are studded with holiday lights all winter long, with bright-eyed teens promenading in Santa hats and yuletide-themed electronic music blaring in sidewalk cafes. Westcom Electronics plans to auction its cellphone tree next year and donate the proceeds to charity, said store manager Nguyen Trai, adding that staff members are already collecting unusable phones in hopes of erecting an even bigger Christmas “pine tree” next year. There are tens of millions of cellphones in circulation in Vietnam, but it’s impossible to know how many used phones are dumped each year because the government doesn’t collect such data, said Nguyen Thanh Yen of Vietnam’s Environment Administration. Yen said he welcomed the idea of raising awareness about hazardous waste, but Westcom Electronics has violated Vietnamese law, which requires businesses to seek official permission before using hazardous waste for new purposes. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, people working in the informal sector collect the majority of “recyclable and reusable waste” in urban areas of Vietnam. — AP

SAN FRANCISCO: In this Nov. 23, 2011 photo, an Associated Press reporter demonstrates an app for shopping on her smartphone, in San Francisco. If you’re trying to save cash and time this holiday season, a slew of smartphone apps can help. — AP

US Internet users not as scam-savvy as they think Tablet computers made particularly strong lures SAN FRANCISCO: US Internet users are suckers for online scams, especially if the promised prize is a chance at a hip new gadget such as a tablet computer, according to study results released on Thursday. More than half of those surveyed in a Ponemon study backed by Internet security firm PC Tools indicated they would reveal mobile phone numbers, email addresses or other information when told they might get something for nothing. “Even in scenarios where people realize it is too good to be true, they are falling for it,” said PC Tools senior manager of online strategy Eric Klein. “I don’t know why people keep falling for it, really,” he added. Cyber crooks have long exploited human nature with scams relying on “social engineering” to get people to reveal secrets such as passwords or unwittingly install computer viruses. Manipulations can range from telling people they will be entered in prize drawings after filling out detailed surveys or getting them to open booby-trapped files said to contain sexy or graphic imagery.

“The results found a clear difference between how aware consumers think they are of scams and how likely they are to be taken in by the given scenarios,” Ponemon Institute researchers concluded. “It is clear from the findings that the threat posed by scams is still being underestimated.” Scenarios people fell for included offers of supposed free anti-virus software to install in computers and get-rich-quick opportunities, according to Ponemon. People were particularly susceptible to biting when ploys were baited with promises of chances to win tech prizes such as mobile phone ring tones or tablet computers. “People in the United States were, frankly, more cheap and looking for something to get out of it,” Klein said. “The idea of getting rich made them more likely to put security aside,” he continued. Versions of the study were also done in Australia and Britain; with Australians being unlikely to fall for ploys while British Internet users were more susceptible but far more wary than those in the United States.

Tablet computers made particularly strong lures in all three countries, according to surveys. “Whenever those gadgets are being hyped they are trendy things to have,” Klein said. “People interpret it as status, so they will go to great lengths to get one.” The holiday season brings with it increased chances for online scams as people hunt for gift bargains and cyber crooks expand arsenals to include false offers of tremendous deals on hot items. “It is really about tricking people into giving up information,” Klein said. “Some of the data is pretty alarming.” People were advised to check for secure “https” website addresses for transactions and to watch for misspellings that could signal a ruse. Klein recommended avoiding websites with addresses in Eastern Europe, particularly Russia, due to the number of scams originating there. “Take your time, double check what site you are on and look for hints they are not legit,” he said. “Before you give out any personal details make sure it is a real offer.” — AFP


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TV listings

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

18:35 Generator Rex 19:00 Powerpuff Girls 19:25 The Marvelous Misadventures Of Flapjack 19:50 My Gym Partner’s A Monkey 20:15 Adventure Time 20:40 The Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy 21:05 Chowder 21:30 Courage The Cowardly Dog 21:55 Cow & Chicken 22:20 Best Ed 22:45 I Am Weasel 23:00 Ben 10 23:25 Bakugan Battle Brawlers 23:50 The Secret Saturdays

00:50 Maneaters 01:45 Animal Cops Houston 02:40 Monster Bug Wars 03:35 Whale Wars 04:30 Maneaters 05:25 Dogs 101: Specials 06:20 Animal Cops Houston 07:10 New Breed Vets With Steve Irwin 08:00 Monkey Life 08:25 Michaela’s Animal Road Trip 09:15 Breed All About It 09:40 Talk To The Animals 10:10 Animal Planet’s Most Outrageous 11:05 Dick ‘n’ Dom Go Wild 11:30 Monkey Life 12:00 Crocodile Hunter 12:55 Bondi Vet 13:20 Bondi Vet 13:50 Speed Of Life 14:45 Animal Kingdom 15:10 Animal Kingdom 15:40 Venom Hunter With Donald Schultz 16:35 Dogs 101 17:30 My Cat From Hell 18:25 Dogs/Cats/Pets 101 19:20 Dogs vs. Cats 20:15 America’s Cutest Pet 21:10 Dogs 101: Specials 22:05 Shark Attack File 2 23:00 Into The Shark Bite 23:55 Shark Invasion

00:00 After You’ve Gone 00:30 Beautiful People 01:00 Lab Rats 01:30 The Weakest Link 02:15 Married, Single, Other 03:10 Doctor Who 04:00 Last Of The Summer Wine 04:40 Little Robots 04:50 The Large Family 05:00 Penelope K, By The Way 05:15 Poetry Pie 05:20 Tweenies 05:40 Balamory 06:00 Little Robots 06:10 The Large Family 06:20 Penelope K, By The Way 06:35 Poetry Pie 06:40 Tweenies 07:00 Charlie and Lola 07:10 Balamory 07:30 Little Robots 07:40 The Large Family 07:50 Penelope K, By The Way 08:05 Poetry Pie 08:10 Tweenies 08:30 The Tale of Jack Frost 09:00 Little Robots 09:10 The Large Family 09:20 Penelope K, By The Way 09:35 Poetry Pie 09:40 Poetry Pie 09:45 Buzz & Tell 09:50 Tweenies 10:10 The Tale of Jack Frost 10:40 My Family 11:10 My Family 11:40 Prince William & Prince Harry 12:35 Doctor Who 13:20 EastEnders 13:50 EastEnders 14:20 EastEnders 14:50 EastEnders 15:15 Last of the Summer Wine 15:45 After You’ve Gone 16:15 Gracie! 17:35 Doctor Who 18:15 The Weakest Link 19:00 After You’ve Gone 19:30 Holby City 20:20 Holby City 21:10 Doctor Who 21:55 Robbie the Reindeer: Legend of the Lost 22:25 Last of the Summer Wine 23:00 Gavin & Stacey: Christmas Special 2008

00:15 Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey: Christmas 01:10 Rick Stein’s Taste Of Italian Opera 02:05 The Hairy Bakers’ Christmas Special 02:55 Chef At Home 05:15 Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey: Christmas

ROLLERBALL ON OSN ACTION HD 06:10 Rick Stein’s Taste Of Italian Opera 07:00 Chef At Home 07:25 Indian Food Made Easy 08:00 Glamour Puds 08:50 Kirstie & Phil’s Perfect Christmas 12:15 Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey: Christmas 13:10 The Hairy Bakers’ Christmas Special 14:00 Glamour Puds 16:00 Kirstie & Phil’s Perfect Christmas 19:25 Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey: Christmas 20:20 The Hairy Bakers’ Christmas Special 21:10 James Martin’s Champagne 23:15 James Martin’s Brittany

00:00 00:30 01:00 01:30 01:40 02:00 02:30 03:00 03:10 03:30 04:30 05:00 05:30 06:00 06:30 07:00 07:30 08:00 08:30 09:00 09:30 10:00 10:10

BBC World News America World Football Focus BBC World News Sport Today Weekend World BBC World News America Newsnight BBC World News Weekend World BBC World News Best Of 2011 BBC World News Best Of 2011 BBC World News Adopting Abroad: Saira’s Story BBC World News Fast Track BBC World News Middle East Business Report BBC World News Click BBC World News Weekend World

10:30 11:10 11:30 12:00 12:10 13:00 13:10 13:30 14:00 14:10 14:30 15:00 15:30 16:00 16:15 16:30 17:00 17:30 18:00 18:10 18:30 19:00 19:30 20:00 20:30 21:00 21:10 21:30 22:00 22:15 22:30 23:00 23:10 23:30

BBC World News World Football Focus Best Of 2011 BBC World News Best Of 2011 BBC World News The Health Show Newsnight BBC World News Weekend World Talking Books BBC World News Talking Movies BBC World News Sport Today Fast Track BBC World News Dateline London BBC World News World Features Best Of 2011 BBC World News Click BBC World News Final Score BBC World News World Features Adopting Abroad: Saira’s Story BBC World News Sport Today Fast Track BBC World News The Health Show Talking Movies

00:15 00:40 01:05 01:30 01:55 02:20

Samurai Jack Megas XLR Robotboy Squirrel Boy George Of The Jungle Cramp Twins

02:45 Chop Socky Chooks 03:10 Best Ed 03:35 My Gym Partner’s A Monkey 04:00 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 04:25 Generator Rex 04:50 Adventure Time 05:15 The Marvelous Misadventures Of Flapjack 05:40 Chowder 05:55 Powerpuff Girls 06:30 Ed, Edd n Eddy 06:55 I Am Weasel 07:20 Squirrel Boy 07:45 Cow & Chicken 08:00 Total Drama Action 08:25 Powerpuff Girls 08:50 Angelo Rules 09:05 Eliot Kid 09:30 Chowder 09:55 The Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy 10:20 Adventure Time 10:45 The Amazing World Of Gumball 10:55 Cow & Chicken 11:30 Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated 11:55 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 12:20 Generator Rex 12:45 Batman: The Brave And The Bold 13:10 Bakugan: Gundalian Invaders 13:35 Ben 10: Ultimate Challenge 14:00 Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman 15:15 Best Ed 15:40 Chowder 16:05 The Marvelous Misadventures Of Flapjack 16:30 Courage The Cowardly Dog 16:55 Cow & Chicken 17:20 Adventure Time 17:45 Codename: Kids Next Door 18:10 Batman: The Brave And The Bold

00:00 Connect The World With Becky Anderson 01:00 Backstory 01:30 World Sport 02:00 The Situation Room 03:00 World Report 04:00 Anderson Cooper 360 05:00 Piers Morgan Tonight 06:00 Quest Means Business 06:45 CNN Marketplace Africa 07:00 Erin Burnett Outfront 08:00 World Sport 08:30 Backstory 09:00 World Report 09:15 CNN Marketplace Africa 09:30 I Report For CNN 10:00 World Report 10:15 CNN Marketplace Middle East 10:30 Mainsail 11:00 World Sport 11:30 Road To Durban 12:00 Talk Asia 12:30 African Voices 13:00 Inside Africa 13:30 I Report For CNN 14:00 World Report 14:30 World Sport 15:00 Piers Morgan Tonight 16:00 World Report 16:30 Road To Durban 17:00 News Special 17:30 The CNN Freedom Project 18:00 International Desk 18:30 African Voices 19:00 CNN Marketplace Europe 19:15 CNN Marketplace Africa 19:30 Inside Africa 20:00 Mainsail 20:30 World Sport 21:00 International Desk 21:30 I Report For CNN 22:00 World Report 22:30 Road To Durban 23:00 Piers Morgan Tonight

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

Surviving The Cut Surviving The Cut How It’S Made Dirty Jobs Ultimate Biker Challenge South Beach Classics Wheeler Dealers Fifth Gear American Chopper Penn & Teller Tell A Lie Mythbusters Curiosity How Stuff’S Made How It’S Made Flying Wild Alaska Flying Wild Alaska How Stuff’S Made Marley Africa Road Trip Coal Gold Rush: Alaska Deadliest Catch Surviving The Cut How Stuff’S Made

00:40 01:05 01:35 02:25 02:50 03:40 04:35 05:00 05:25 05:50 06:40 07:10 08:00 08:55

The Gadget Show The Tech Show Superships Stunt Junkies Futurecar Eco-Tech The Gadget Show The Gadget Show How Stuff’s Made Superships One Step Beyond Brainiac Race To Mars Head Rush

08:58 09:25 09:55 Ships) 10:45 11:35 15:20 15:45 15:48 16:15 16:45 17:10 17:35 18:00 18:50 19:40 20:30 21:20 22:10 23:00 23:50

Sci-Fi Science Weird Connections Ldrs (Large Dangerous Rocket

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

Kendra Style Star Too Young To Kill 25 Most Stylish Sexiest Extreme Hollywood THS Behind The Scenes E! News Kourtney & Kim Take New York Kourtney & Kim Take New York Bridalplasty Bridalplasty E! News THS Holly’s World Holly’s World Fashion Police E! News Holly’s World Holly’s World The Soup Kendra Kendra E! News Chelsea Lately The Soup

Robocar Green Wheels Green Wheels Head Rush Sci-Fi Science Weird Connections Bang Goes The Theory The Gadget Show The Gadget Show Mega World Race To Mars Smash Lab Prototype This Weird Or What? Sci-Fi Saved My Life Smash Lab Prototype This

00:40 Extreme Forensics 01:30 The Haunted 02:15 A Haunting 03:05 True CSI 03:50 True Crime with Aphrodite Jones 04:40 Extreme Forensics 05:25 The Haunted 06:15 A Haunting 07:10 Life Or Death: Medical Mysteries 08:00 FBI Files 08:50 Forensic Detectives 09:40 Murder Shift 10:25 Life Or Death: Medical Mysteries 11:10 Real Emergency Calls 11:35 Real Emergency Calls 11:55 On the Case with Paula Zahn 12:40 Disappeared 13:25 Murder Shift 14:15 Life Or Death: Medical Mysteries 15:00 Real Emergency Calls 15:25 Real Emergency Calls 15:50 On the Case with Paula Zahn 16:35 Disappeared 17:20 Forensic Detectives 18:10 Murder Shift 19:00 FBI Files 19:45 Real Emergency Calls 20:10 Life or Death: Medical Mysteries 20:55 Who On Earth Did I Marry? 21:20 On the Case with Paula Zahn 22:10 Disappeared 23:00 The Haunted 23:50 Ghost Lab

00:00 01:00 02:00 02:30 03:00 04:00 05:00 06:00 07:00 08:00 08:30 09:00 10:00 11:00

Somewhere In China Geo Sessions Earth Tripping Travel Madness Madventures Around The World For Free A World Apart Somewhere In China Geo Sessions Earth Tripping Travel Madness Madventures Around The World For Free A World Apart


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TV listings

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011 12:00 13:00 13:30 14:00 15:00 15:30 16:00 17:00 18:00 19:00 19:30 20:00 21:00 22:00 23:00

Somewhere In China Word of Mouth Food School Danger Men Going Bush Going Bush Don’t Tell My Mother Don’t Tell My Mother Bite Me With Dr. Mike Leahy Word of Mouth Food School Danger Men Going Bush Don’t Tell My Mother Don’t Tell My Mother

00:00 02:00 04:00 06:00 08:00 10:00 12:00 14:00 16:00 18:00 20:00 22:00

Carriers-PG15 Fighting-PG15 Mindhunters-18 S.W.A.T.: Firefight-PG15 The Thirteenth Floor-18 Altitude-PG15 Tank Girl-PG15 The Thirteenth Floor-18 Stonehenge Apocalypse-PG15 Tank Girl-PG15 Paranormal Activity-PG15 Rollerball-18

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

The Client List-PG15 The Gray Man-PG15 Hachiko: A Dog’s Story-PG15 Flipped-PG The Karate Kid-PG Hachiko: A Dog’s Story-PG15 The Nanny Express-PG15 Freestyle (2010)-PG15 The Spy Next Door-PG The Tender Hook-PG15 Burlesque-PG15 Fading Of The Cries-18

15:00 16:00 17:00 18:00 18:30 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 23:00

Survivor: South Pacific Live Good Morning America The Ellen DeGeneres Show Emmerdale Coronation Street Breakout Kings The Killing C.S.I. Miami Top Gear (UK) The Glades

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

Supernatural Drop Dead Diva Damages The X Factor (US) Glee Survivor: South Pacific Tower Prep Kojak The X Factor (US) Glee Tower Prep The Ellen DeGeneres Show Kojak Drop Dead Diva Modern Family Marathon Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show Kojak Breakout Kings The Killing C.S.I. Miami Top Gear (UK) The Chicago Code

01:00 The Gene Generation-18 03:00 The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations-18 05:00 Carriers-PG15 07:00 Rocky III-PG15 09:00 The Box-PG15 11:00 The Karate Kid II-PG

13:00 15:00 17:00 19:00 21:00 23:00

The Karate Kid III-PG The Box-PG15 X-Men-PG15 The Alphabet Killer-18 Rollerball-18 Rage: Carrie 2-PG15

00:00 Blue Streak-PG15 02:00 Love Hurts-PG15 04:00 Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement-FAM 06:00 Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel-FAM 08:00 The Parent Trap-PG 10:30 I’ll Be Home For ChristmasPG15 12:00 The Big Green-PG 14:00 Frank Mcklusky, C.I.-PG15 16:00 Blue Streak-PG15 18:00 The Making Of Plus One-PG15 20:00 Reality Bites-PG15 22:00 Tomcats-18

00:15 02:15 04:15 07:30 09:00 11:15 13:00 14:45 17:00 19:00 21:00 23:00

Tresor-PG15 Thunderheart-18 Titanic-PG15 Winning Time-PG15 Mary, Queen Of Scots-PG15 Who Is Clark Rockefeller-PG Not Since You-PG15 The Italian Job (1969)-PG North-PG Veronica Guerin-PG15 Little Man Tate-PG Whiteout-18

01:15 03:00 04:45 07:00

Team America: World Police-18 Dean Spanley-PG Glorious 39-PG15 Paper Man-PG15

09:00 11:00 13:00 15:00 17:00 19:00 21:00 PG15 23:00

The Glades The X Factor (US) Glee No Ordinary Family Good Morning America The Glades The Bachelor The Ellen DeGeneres Show Downsize Me The View The X Factor (US) No Ordinary Family

Repo Men-18

00:00 The Three Musketeers (2008)FAM 02:00 The Nutty Professor-FAM 04:00 A Venetian Rascal Goes To America-PG15 06:00 The Three Musketeers (2008)FAM 08:00 The Nutty Professor-FAM 10:00 Casper Haunted ChristmasFAM 12:00 Christmas In New York-PG 14:00 Legend Of The Guardians-PG 16:00 Astro Boy-FAM 18:00 Casper Haunted ChristmasFAM 20:00 Marmaduke-PG 22:00 Christmas In New York-PG

00:00 PG15 02:00 04:00 06:00 08:00 10:00 12:00 14:00 16:00 18:00 20:00 PG15 22:00

00:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 01:00 The Colbert Report 01:30 Louie 02:00 Neighbors From Hell 02:30 The Cleveland Show 03:00 Raising Hope 03:30 The Office 04:00 Will And Grace 04:30 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 05:30 Seinfeld 06:00 Two And A Half Men 06:30 Melissa And Joey 07:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 08:00 Will And Grace 08:30 Raising Hope 09:00 Seinfeld 09:30 30 Rock 10:00 Hot In Cleveland 10:30 Melissa And Joey 11:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 12:00 Two And A Half Men 12:30 Will And Grace 13:00 The Office 13:30 Seinfeld 14:00 Melissa And Joey 14:30 Hot In Cleveland 15:00 30 Rock 15:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 16:00 The Colbert Report 16:30 Happy Endings 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 Raising Hope 18:30 2 Broke Girls 19:00 30 Rock 19:30 Hot In Cleveland 20:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 Saturday Night Live 23:00 The Cleveland Show 23:30 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

00:00 01:00 03:00 04:00 05:00 07:00 08:00 09:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 14:00

Our Family Wedding-PG15 Just Wright-PG15 The Joneses-PG15 Sleepover-PG15 Our Family Wedding-PG15 An Education-PG15 The Men Who Stare At Goats-

BURLESQUE ON OSN CINEMA

The Haunting In ConnecticutLittle Fockers-PG15 Shanghai-PG15 School Of Rock-PG15 13 Going On 30-PG15 Bond Of Silence-PG15 Ways To Live Forever-PG15 Furry Vengeance-PG 13 Going On 30-PG15 Grown Ups-PG15 The Men Who Stare At GoatsLottery Ticket-PG15

00:00 01:00 03:00 04:00 07:00 09:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 15:00 15:45 18:00 18:30 19:00 20:00 23:00

WWE Vintage Collection WWE SmackDown WWE Bottom Line Masters Football WWE SmackDown WWE Bottom Line WWE NXT WWE Vintage Collection Masters Football Powerboats UIM Live Scottish Premier League Powerboats F1 Powerboats UIM Trans World Sport UFC 135 Scottish Premier League

02:00 World Cup of Pool 03:00 World Pool Masters 04:00 Ping Pong World Championship 05:00 Volvo Ocean Race 06:30 ICC Cricket World 07:00 PDC World Darts Championship 11:00 ICC Cricket World 11:30 Futbol Mundial 12:00 Masters Football 15:00 SPL Highlights 15:45 Live Scottish Premier League 18:00 Futbol Mundial 18:30 The Open Championship Official Film 19:30 The US PGA Championship Official Film 20:30 European Tour Weekly Review 21:30 ICC Cricket World 22:00 PDC World Darts Championship

02:30 Darts PDC World Championship 06:30 World Hockey 07:00 Trans World Sport 08:00 Masters Football 11:00 The Open Championship Official Film 12:00 The US PGA Championship Official Film 13:00 European Challenge Cup 15:00 Darts PDC World Championship 19:00 Trans World Sport 20:00 Scottish Premier League 22:00 Masters Football

00:00 01:00 03:00 04:00 07:00 09:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 16:00 16:30 17:00 18:00 19:00 20:00 23:00

WWE Vintage Collection WWE SmackDown WWE Bottom Line UFC 134 WWE SmackDown WWE Bottom Line WWE NXT WWE Vintage Collection V8 Supercars Championship Prizefighter Power Boats F1 UFC All Access WWE Tough Enough Speedway V8 Supercars Championship UFC 135 WWE SmackDown

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

The Garfield Show Scooby Doo Where Are You! The Perils Of Penelope Pitstop Droopy: Master Detective The Flintstones Johnny Bravo Duck Dodgers King Arthur’s Disasters The Scooby Doo Show Popeye Classics Tom & Jerry Popeye The Jetsons The Flintstones Looney Tunes Pink Panther & Pals Tex Avery Duck Dodgers The Garfield Show The Addams Family Popeye Paddington Bear Gerald McBoing Boing Bananas In Pyjamas

09:15 09:40 09:55 10:20 10:45 11:10 11:35 12:00 12:30 12:55 13:20 13:45 14:05 14:30 14:50 15:15 15:40 16:05 16:30 16:55 17:20 17:45 18:10 18:35 18:55 19:20 19:30 21:00 21:30 21:50 22:05 22:40 23:05 23:30

Baby Looney Tunes Jelly Jamm Puppy In My Pocket Help! It’s The Hair Bear Bunch Yogi’s Treasure Hunt The Garfield Show Pink Panther And Pals Looney Tunes The Scooby Doo Show Tom & Jerry Top Cat Popeye New Yogi Bear Show Tex Avery The Addams Family Droopy & Dripple The Flintstones The Garfield Show Duck Dodgers Wacky Races Scooby-Doo And Scrappy-Doo Dastardly And Muttley The Jetsons Wacky Races Scooby Doo Where Are You! Popeye Classics Scooby Cinema Top Cat Dastardly And Muttley Tom & Jerry Wacky Races The Scooby Doo Show Tom & Jerry Johnny Bravo

00:00 00:25 00:50 01:15 01:35 02:00 02:25 02:50 03:35 04:00 04:25 04:50 05:15 06:00 06:25 06:45 07:10 Pooh 07:30 08:00 08:25 08:50 09:15 09:40 10:05 10:30 12:00 12:50 13:15 13:40 14:00 14:25 14:50 15:15 15:35 15:55 16:32 16:45 17:10 17:30 18:00 18:20 18:45 19:10 19:30 21:05 21:25 21:50 22:15 22:40 23:05 Cody 23:30

Kim Possible Fairly Odd Parents Fairly Odd Parents Stitch Stitch Replacements Replacements Emperor’s New School Stitch Stitch Replacements Replacements Fairly Odd Parents Phineas And Ferb Phineas And Ferb Suite Life On Deck Mini Adventures Of Winnie The So Random A.N.T. Farm Good Luck Charlie Suite Life On Deck Suite Life On Deck A.N.T. Farm Wizards Of Waverly Place Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure Suite Life On Deck Good Luck Charlie Good Luck Charlie A.N.T. Farm A.N.T. Farm Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place Fish Hooks So Random Phineas And Ferb Phineas And Ferb My Babysitter’s A Vampire My Babysitter’s A Vampire Shake It Up Shake It Up A.N.T. Farm A.N.T. Farm Good Luck Charlie Starstruck Wizards Of Waverly Place My Babysitter’s A Vampire Good Luck Charlie Suite Life On Deck Sonny With A Chance The Suite Life Of Zack And Hannah Montana

00:55 The Outrage 02:30 Dark Of The Sun 04:10 Brewster Mccloud 05:55 Torpedo Run-FAM 07:30 TCM Presents Under The...-U 08:00 Tom Thumb-FAM 09:30 The Bad And The Beautiful-PG 11:25 A Patch Of Blue-PG 13:10 Jailhouse Rock-PG 14:45 How The West Was Won-PG 17:15 The Yellow Rolls-Royce-PG 19:20 Show Boat-FAM 21:05 Clash Of The Titans 23:00 The Year Of Living Dangerously-PG


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WHAT’S ON

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

IDF to hold free medical seminar on diabetes

Indian Educational School holds ASSET Awards ceremony

I

ndian Educational School, Jleed AlShoyoukh, Kuwait hosted an Asset awards ceremony, where the Principal of the school. Premkumar congratulated all the students who have earned the Outstanding category and inspired all the other students who have appeared in the ASSET test. He also thanked Educational Initiatives for conducting Asset Test and has also expressed his desire to students for further improvement and improvisation so that they can emerge with much more better result next time. ASSET (Assessment of Scholastic Skills through Educational Testing) is the flagship product of Educational Initiatives, Ahmedabad

India. ASSET is a scientifically designed, skillbased assessment developed in India. Sanghita Deb, the Educational Advisor of El in Kuwait, congratulated all the students and thanked the Bhavan’s Management for providing an opportunity to the students to appear in ASSET test. In her brief speech she mentioned that in less than 2 years ASSET test received tremendous support from schools in Kuwait, currently major schools in Kuwait have enrolled for Asset test in Kuwait. Among the other dignitaries who enriched the event by their presence were Lalitha Premkumar, the vice principal and the Asset coordinators Sheeba Balraj, Uma Maheshwari

and Elizabeth George. Lalitha Premkumar appreciated El vision of students everywhere learning with understanding. Some of the outstanding students described ASSET test as very interesting and one of the best examinations that they have ever appeared. Among the Outstanding students three Kuwait toppers were Duvvuri Pratyusha of Class VIII, Esha Joe of class IV and David L Mohan of Class VI. Duwuri Protyusha emerged as one of the GCC Toppers. The School authorities and Educational Initiative is highly optimistic about extensive participation from the students in the next sessions.

Birthday Greetings Open doors at the embassy of Peru

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he embassy of Peru holds every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday “Welcome Kuwait Open Doors Days” from 9 am to 1 pm. Prior appointment is not necessary to all who will come and visit the “Expo Peru Tour, Trade and Investment Room”. The Expo and Investment Room features detailed information on products and tourism sectors of Peru that offer profitable investments as well as answer questions. The Open Doors event will be held in Sharq, Ahmed Al-Jaber Street, AlArabiya Tower, Sixth Floor. Several friends and relatives gathered at A R Subbaraman’s residence on Monday when he turned 60. They cut a birthday cake and celebrated the occasion with a grand dinner party.

Diabetes shortens a person’s life by 10 years on an average. Studies have shown that it is the major cause for the heart diseases, kidney failures, blindness, stroke and other neurological problems, gangrene, non healing ulcers and amputations and greatly reduces the quality of life in those affected. The quality of life is further decreased by frequent infections, high/low blood sugars, sexual difficulties, side effects of medications, psychosocial factors etc. Under the patronage of Kuwait Medical Association, Indian Doctors Forum in cooperation with Dasman Diabetes Center, sponsored by AMMA Kuwait, Indian associations and health services, is holding a free seminar titled ‘How to Improve Quality of Life and Longevity in People with Diabetes’ to empower people to manage their health better and to have better quality of life now and in the future. The seminar will be held on Friday, December 30, 2011 at Kuwait Medical Association Auditorium, Jabriya (Near Mubarak Hospital and the Blood Bank). Registration and free blood tests will start at 3:30 pm and seminar will begin at 5:30 pm followed by interactive session with experts in all fields of medicine. The seminar will have informative lectures in simple and easy to follow English by top experts in the specialties of diabetes, cardiology, nephrology, ophthalmology, neurology and surgery. The seminar will be a good opportunity for those affected with Diabetes, those who are at risk, or care givers to know more on how to improve health and quality of life. People who wish to attend the free seminar must register their attendance through Indians in Kuwait website by visiting http://www.indiansinkuwait.com/Diab etes/. For logistic reasons registration will close when the number of registrants reach 500 or on 25/12/11, whichever is earlier. A limited number of blood tests will be done for the registrants on a ‘first come , first served’ basis. HbA1c test also will be done for a limited number as decided by the physician. If you have a diabetes related query, you can ask through the above web site at the time of registration and the same will be answered by the specialist during the Seminar and the interactive session that follows. For more information, get in touch with admin@indiandoctorsforum.org, Dr Noble Zachariah 55960097, Dr Murali Gopal 94093848 or ammakuwait@yahoo.com 99540511, 23711832.


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WHAT’S ON

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Gulf Spic, Bentley Systems hold technical seminar

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ulf Spic General Trading & Contracting Co WLL, and Bentley Systems Inc, jointly conducted a technical seminar on ‘STAAD.Pro V8i/RAM & ProStructures (ProSteel/ProConcrete)’ December 8, 2011 - Thursday at Safir Hotel & Residency, Fintas. The seminar started with welcome address by Dr Abdulhadi Al-Awadi , Vice Chairman, Gulf Spic. Kareem Sherif, regional sales engineer moderated the seminar

in a professional manner which contained several advanced uses of STAAD.Pro/RAM & ProStructures of Bentley software. Ashish Kumar, industry sales director has explained about affiliation with Gulf Spic and benefits of using other Bentley software like Auto PLANT & Auto PIPE. He also informed that investment towards Bentley software gives the benefits of SWAP method to fulfill future requirements of other software for projects.

The enthusiastic engineers from KNPC, joint operations, KOC and other contracting companies like SSHI, PACE, HEISCO etc, attended the seminar. Bill Dewald, Sr director, Gulf Spic, concluded the seminar with a vote of thanks.

Kalabhavan Kuwait annual day

Farewell to Aloysius Thomas

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alabhavan Kuwait director lights the lamp to inaugurate the 3rd and 9th annual day celebration of Kalabhavan at its Salmiya branch. Hundreds of students learning in Kalabhavan presented stage performances on the occasion.

loysius Thomas, who was working in the food analysis division of the Public Health Laboratory and who was active in various social and cultural activities in Kuwait over the past four decades is being accorded warm farewell. He was instrumental in the formation of

Alumni Association of St Berchmans’ College (AASBCO), Kuwait Malankara Rite Movement (KMRM), and Kuwait Malayalee Catholic Association (KMCA) and was also president of these associations.

Upcoming events New Year Hangama The RAK Dance Academy (RDA) Kuwait, is planning to put a charity event in celebration of its New Year Hangama 2012, on 31st December, 2011, from 6 pm onwards, at Carmel School Khaitan. All participants are well known artists from Kuwait. The main purpose of this celebration is to collect donations and raise money for supporting handicapped children in India. contributions from you. Your attendance is your donation. Please join for an evening for a good cause. Call 99692266, 65925730 for details. Aware Center Arabic lessons The AWARE Management is glad to inform you that Winter 1 Arabic language courses will begin on November 20th, 2011 until January 12th, 2012. AWARE Arabic language courses are designed with the expat in mind. The environment is relaxed and 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. We cater to teachers, travelers & those working in the private business sector. Arabic classes at the AWARE Center are unique because students are provided with the chance to practice their Arabic through various social activities that aim at bringing Arabs and Westerners together. AWARE Arabic courses highlight: l Introductory to Level 4 Arabic language basics l Better prepare you for speaking, reading and writing Arabic l Combine language learning with cultural insights l Taught in multi-nationality group settings l Provide opportunities to interact with Western expatriates and native Kuwaitis/Arabs. For more information or registration, call 25335260/80 ext 105/104/0 or log onto: www.aware.com.kw.

Rak dance academy new year hangama-2012 The RAK Dance Academy (RDA) Kuwait, is planning to put a charity event as celebration of its New Year Hangama 2012, on 31st December, 2011, from 6.00pm onwards, at Carmel School Khaitan. All participants are well known artists from Kuwait. The main purpose of this celebration is to collect donations and raise money for supporting handicapped children in India. Advertisement will be published throughout Kuwait absolutely free of charge. We are expecting huge crowd for this event. The fund raised will be beneficial handicapped children. In order to make this event joyous and successful we are seeking kind contributions from you. Your attendance is your donation. Please join for an evening for a good cause. Darla Srinivasulu Achari, 99 692266; Mob: 65728740 K. Eswar Babu, Phone 99692266, Lashmeesha 65925730 Email: rakdanceacademy@gmail.com


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health & science

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Very preterm boys less likely to live than girls Babies born extremely prematurely have much better survival odds now than in years past, but boys seem to be lagging behind girls despite advances in medical care, according to an Australian study. Researchers whose findings appeared in Pediatrics found that of more than 2,000 infants born very preterm - in the 28th week of pregnancy or earlier—boys had a somewhat lower survival rate and were more likely to have long-term neurological problems like blindness, deafness or cerebral palsy. “In the modern era of neonatal management, male infants still have higher mortality and poorer longterm neurologic outcome,” wrote lead researcher Alison Kent, of

Canberra Hospital and the Australian National University Medical School. Of 1,394 baby boys out of the more than 2,500 infants studied, 23 percent died in the hospital compared with 19 percent of girls. The extreme preemie boys had a higher rate of moderate to severe “functional disability” by the time they were three years old, with nearly 20 percent affected versus 12 percent of girls. But the gender gap appeared to disappear among infants born during the 27th or 28th week of pregnancy, though researchers said the pattern should be “interpreted with caution”. Pregnancy normally lasts about 40 weeks, with babies born before the 37th week considered

preterm and those born before the 34th week being “early preterm.” In the United States, between three and four percent of births are early preterm. It is well known that the earlier an infant comes into the world, the greater its risks of death or long-term health problems. But what is not so clear is why very early birth seems more dangerous for boys. The Y chromosone, which determines male sex, also influences certain health factors, Kent said in an email. It is known, for instance, that more male fetuses than female are lost to miscarriage. “There is also evidence that there are sex differences in how the brain responds to injury, which may account for the differences in neuro-

logical outcome,” she added. Another possibility could be differences in boys’ and girls’ “cardiovascular responses,” Kent said. Problems in the cardiovascular system, such as blood pressure dysfunction, are more common the earlier an infant is born. If boys are less able to handle those problems, it might help explain why the gender gap is seen in the very earliest births, but not at week 27 or 28. Kent said she expected that results would likely be similar in other nations with intensive infant care comparable to Australia’s. But since most of the infants were white, it was unclear if the findings would be similar in a more diverse population. — Reuters

Walmart pulls formula from US shelves after baby dies CHICAGO: Walmart has pulled infant formula from the shelves of its 3,000 stores after two babies in Missouri got sick and one of them died, the retailer said Thursday. Health officials have not yet determined whether the bacterial infection which sickened the newborns was linked to the powdered formula, but Walmart said it was pulling the product “out of an abundance of caution.” “We extend our deepest condolences to this baby boy’s family as they try to come to grips with their loss,” Walmart spokesperson Dianna Gee told AFP. The retailer only removed Enfamil formula from the lot number in question: ZP1K7G, Gee said. “Walmart customers who may have purchased the item at our stores can return it for a full refund or exchange it for another brand of formula,” she added. The formula manufacturer said it tests all of ingredients and products prior to shipment and does not believe the bacteria was present at time of sale. “The batch of our product used by the child’s family tested negative for Cronobacter when it was produced and packaged, and that has been reconfirmed from our batch records following this news,” spokesman Chris Perille said. “We are highly confident in the safety and quality of our products - and the rigorous testing we put them through.” Mead Johnson Nutrition is “working with the health authorities to support their efforts to identify the source or cause of this infant’s infection,” he said, adding “our hearts go out to the child’s family for their tragic loss.” Missouri health officials have sent the formula to federal labs for testing and urged parents to be careful because “powdered infant formulas are not commercially sterile products.” They noted that powdered infant formula is the only type of food linked to outbreaks of this type of infection and that “no exclusively breastfed infants have been reported to have” the infection. They urged parents to careful store powdered formula, prepare only small amounts that will be used right away, sterilize bottles, boil water used to prepare formula for at least two minutes and wash their hands thoroughly in order to prevent contamination. “Until testing is completed it cannot be determined whether the illness is linked to Enfamil Newborn Formula 12.5 oz. cans Lot # ZP1K7G or an outside source,” the health department said in a statement. —AFP

PARIS: Director of Public Health Jean-Pierre Grall, left, and head of the National Cancer Institute Agnes Buzin, right, participate in a media conference in Paris yesterday. — AP

France advises 30,000 to remove breast implants Government stresses no urgency PARIS: France’s health ministry yesterday advised 30,000 women with breast implants made by French firm PIP to have them removed as, while there is no proven cancer risk, they could rupture dangerously. The government stressed there was no urgency but the advice will likely add to the concern of tens of thousands of other women around the world who have the implants made from industrial rather than medical quality silicone. Women with PIP implants “do not have a higher risk of cancer than women who have implants manufactured by other firms”, a health ministry statement said but added there were “well-established risks of ruptures.” But Health Minister Xavier Bertrand called for their removal as a “precautionary measure”, while stressing that this was not urgent. The eight cancer cases involved mainly breast

cancer. Medical insurance will pay for the implants’ removal, but only women who had the implants as part of reconstructive surgery after breast cancer, rather than for purely aesthetic reasons, will have new implants paid for. The government advised women with PIP implants to contact their doctor and “a precautionary removal will be offered, even without clinical signs of deterioration of the implant.” Any woman who declines the removal must have a breast scan every six months, the health ministry added. The now-bankrupt Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) was shut down and its products banned last year after it was revealed to have been using nonauthorized silicone gel that caused abnormally high rupture rates in its implants. Facing financial difficulties, the

company, once the world’s thirdlargest producer of silicone implants, replaced the medical-grade silicone in its implants with industrial-strength material. Documents obtained by AFP on Wednesday showed that tens of thousands of women in more than 65 countries, mainly in South America and western Europe, received implants produced by PIP, which ceased trading last year. The government statement came after the National Cancer Institute (INCA) handed its experts’ report to the health ministry on Thursday evening. “Given the absence of new information about the substandard gel or new clinical data on specific complications, the experts feel there is insufficient proof to advise the preventative, systematic removal of the implants,” the statement said. — AFP


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health & science

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

No surgery for now on Brazil’s two-headed baby

SAO PAULO: Doctors in Brazil said Thursday they have decided for now not to attempt to surgically separate a set of conjoined twins who have two heads but share one body and various vital organs. Doctor Neila Dahas of the Santa Casa de Misericordia Hospital in the northern town of Belem, saying in a statement that “it is impossible to take a decision with relation to surgery, not only because of

physical reasons, but ethical ones as well.” The two-headed newborn is actually a set of conjoined twins sharing one body because of a rare birth defect, doctors said Thursday. The twins, born on Monday and named Jesus and Emanuel in honor of the upcoming Christmas holiday, have distinct brains and spinal cords but share internal organs, appearing externally as a single baby with

two heads. Because both brains are functioning and the twins are in stable condition, doctors have ruled out any kind of surgery for the moment, according to the Santa Casa de Misericordia Hospital in the northern town of Belem. The two babies “would be twins but ended up being joined together because of a delay in the cellular division,” the hospital said. — AFP


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

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11 crocodiles, alligator seized in home search BRUSSELS: Christmas has come early for 11 Nile crocodiles and an alligator found by police searching a villa in north Belgium. The Nature Rescue Center in Opglabbeek, eastern Belgium, says the reptiles were discovered Thursday when police searched the villa of a German man suspected of fraud in the village of Lapscheure. Frederik Thoelen, a biologist at the center, said yesterday that the animals were neglected. The owner has given up his rights to them as he did not have the necessary papers. Thoelen says “that is very good news because now we can look for a new place for the animals.” But the reptiles will definitely spend Christmas at the rescue center. Thoelen says they won’t get any special treats for the holidays, since “they got their biggest present yesterday” when they were rescued. — AP

LOST State Life Insurance Policy # 633000165 - Name: Maqsood Ali and Policy # 633001462 1471 Mumtaz Hussain has been lost. Anybody found, please contact SLIC office No.: 2245208-9. (C 3794) 23-12-2011

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information SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

DIAL 161 FOR AIRPORT INFORMATION In case you are not travelling, your proper cancellation of bookings will help other passengers to use seats Airlines JZR KLM JZR ETH THY PIA UAE QTR OMA DHX MSR FDB ETD GFA THY DHX FCX JZR JZR KAC BAW KAC KAC FDB KAC KAC JZR KAC KAC UAE ABY QTR ETD FDB GFA JZR RKM IRC IRM KAC MSR CLX KAC MSR FDB MSR UAL VOS KNE SVA RJA KAC KAC SVA KAC JZR SVA LMU QTR SVA KNE JZR ETD JZR UAE KAC SVA IRC GFA SVA JZR ABY JZR

Arrival Flights on Saturday 24/12/2011 Flt Route 185 DUBAI 447 AMSTERDAM/BAHRAIN 539 CAIRO 620 ADDIS ABABA 772 ISTANBUL 239 SIALKOT 853 DUBAI 138 DOHA 641 MUSCAT 370 BAHRAIN 612 CAIRO 67 DUBAI 305 ABU DHABI 211 BAHRAIN 770 ISTANBUL 170 BAHRAIN 201 DUBAI 503 LUXOR 555 ALEXANDRIA 416 JAKARTA/KUALA LUMPUR 157 LONDON 412 MANILA/BANGKOK 206 ISLAMABAD 53 DUBAI 352 COCHIN 302 MUMBAI 531 ASSIUT 362 COLOMBO 344 CHENNAI 855 DUBAI 125 SHARJAH 132 DOHA 301 ABU DHABI 55 DUBAI 213 BAHRAIN 165 DUBAI 310 RAS ALKHAIMAH 6807 SHIRAZ 5066 MASHAD 382 DELHI 610 CAIRO 792 LUXEMBOURG 672 DUBAI 621 ASSIUT 57 DUBAI 606 LUXOR 982 WASHINGTON DC DULLES 93 KANDAHAR/DUBAI 745 JEDDAH 500 JEDDAH 640 AMMAN 562 AMMAN 786 JEDDAH 2612 JEDDAH 284 DHAKA 257 BEIRUT 2602 JEDDAH 611 ALEXANDRIA 134 DOHA 2616 JEDDAH 839 JEDDAH/MEDINAH 535 CAIRO 303 ABU DHABI 357 MASHAD 857 DUBAI 118 NEW YORK 2610 JEDDAH/MEDINAH 6791 MASHAD 215 BAHRAIN 510 RIYADH 269 BEIRUT 127 SHARJAH 777 JEDDAH

Time 0:20 0:30 0:50 1:45 2:15 2:20 2:35 2:40 2:50 2:55 3:00 3:05 3:10 3:15 4:50 5:15 5:30 5:55 6:00 6:25 6:40 6:45 7:40 7:45 7:50 7:55 8:00 8:20 8:25 8:30 9:00 9:05 9:15 9:20 9:55 11:20 11:45 12:35 12:40 12:45 12:55 13:15 13:20 13:30 13:50 13:55 14:05 14:15 14:25 14:30 14:40 14:45 14:50 15:00 15:00 15:00 15:05 15:10 15:25 15:30 16:15 16:25 16:50 16:50 16:55 16:55 17:05 17:10 17:15 17:20 17:30 17:40 17:45

ALK KAC JZR FDB QTR KAC JZR KAC KAC IRA KAC KAC KAC KAC SYR JAI OMA AIC DHX KNE KAC MSR MEA GFA QTR UAE JZR KAC KLM KAC SVA FDB JZR UAL KNE AXB BBC

227 550 177 63 6130 542 125 178 618 607 674 104 774 790 341 572 647 975 372 789 788 618 402 217 136 859 135 502 445 614 2604 61 239 981 945 393 43

COLOMBO/DUBAI SOHAG/SHARM EL SHEIKH DUBAI DUBAI DOHA CAIRO BAHRAIN GENEVA/FRANKFURT DOHA MASHAD DUBAI LONDON RIYADH MEDINAH DAMASCUS MUMBAI MUSCAT CHENNAI/GOA BAHRAIN JEDDAH JEDDAH ALEXANDRIA BEIRUT BAHRAIN DOHA DUBAI BAHRAIN BEIRUT AMSTERDAM BAHRAIN JEDDAH DUBAI AMMAN BAHRAIN JEDDAH KOZHIKODE/COCHIN DHAKA

Airlines PIA UAL AIC JZR DLH KLM KAC ETH THY PIA KAC FDB UAE OMA DHX MSR ETD QTR THY JZR GFA FDB BAW KAC JZR JZR KAC KAC KAC UAE ABY ETD KAC FDB QTR

Departure Flights on Saturday 24/12/2011 Flt Route 216 KARACHI 981 WASHINGTON DC DULLES 976 GOA/CHENNAI 530 ASSIUT 637 FRANKFURT 447 AMSTERDAM 283 DHAKA 621 ADDIS ABABA 773 ISTANBUL 240 SIALKOT/ISLAMABAD 381 DELHI 68 DUBAI 854 DUBAI 642 MUSCAT 371 BAHRAIN 613 CAIRO 306 ABU DHABI 139 DOHA 771 ISTANBUL 164 DUBAI 212 BAHRAIN 54 DUBAI 156 LONDON 671 DUBAI 256 BEIRUT 534 CAIRO 561 AMMAN 785 JEDDAH 101 LONDON/NEW YORK 856 DUBAI 126 SHARJAH 302 ABU DHABI 549 SOHAG/SHARM EL SHEIKH 56 DUBAI 133 DOHA

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

Time 0:30 0:45 0:50 1:15 1:20 1:45 2:40 2:45 3:15 3:30 3:30 3:45 3:50 3:55 3:55 4:00 4:00 4:55 5:50 6:55 7:00 8:25 8:40 9:00 9:00 9:15 9:20 9:25 9:35 9:40 9:45 10:00 10:00 10:05 10:10

GFA JZR JZR KAC KAC JZR RKM IRC JZR MSR IRM MSR FDB MSR KAC KNE CLX UAL KAC RJA KAC JZR LMU SVA SVA KAC KAC KAC KAC SVA SVA KNE JZR ETD JZR QTR VOS UAE IRC GFA SVA ABY SVA JZR KAC JZR ALK FDB JZR QTR IRA SYR KAC DHX KAC JAI OMA KNE KAC DHX KAC MSR MEA GFA FCX QTR KAC JZR UAE KAC KLM FDB SVA JZR KNE KAC

214 356 268 165 541 776 311 6808 176 611 5065 622 58 607 673 746 792 982 789 641 617 124 612 505 9312 787 501 773 153 9302 9316 840 238 304 538 135 82 858 6792 216 9310 128 511 266 613 134 228 64 184 6131 616 342 331 171 351 571 648 790 543 373 675 619 403 218 102 137 301 554 860 205 445 62 9304 528 946 411

BAHRAIN MASHAD BEIRUT ROME/PARIS CAIRO JEDDAH RAS ALKHAIMAH SHIRAZ DUBAI CAIRO MASHAD ASSIUT DUBAI LUXOR DUBAI JEDDAH HONG KONG BAHRAIN MEDINAH AMMAN DOHA BAHRAIN ALEXANDRIA JEDDAH JEDDAH JEDDAH BEIRUT RIYADH ISTANBUL JEDDAH JEDDAH JEDDAH AMMAN ABU DHABI CAIRO DOHA BAGHDAD DUBAI MASHAD BAHRAIN JEDDAH SHARJAH RIYADH BEIRUT BAHRAIN BAHRAIN DUBAI/COLOMBO DUBAI DUBAI DOHA AHWAZ DAMASCUS TRIVANDRUM BAHRAIN COCHIN MUMBAI MUSCAT JEDDAH CAIRO BAHRAIN DUBAI ALEXANDRIA BEIRUT BAHRAIN BAHRAIN DOHA MUMBAI ALEXANDRIA DUBAI ISLAMABAD BAHRAIN/AMSTERDAM DUBAI JEDDAH ASSIUT JEDDAH BANGKOK/MANILA

Directorate General of Civil Aviation Home Page (www.kuwait-airport.com.kw)

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


To Yester

Word Sleuth Solution

Yesterday始s Solution

C R O S S W O R D

5 3 7

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

ACROSS

1. A group of countries in special alliance. 5. How a result is obtained or an end is achieved. 10. Standard temperature and pressure. 13. An extravagantly enthusiastic review. 14. Primitive chlorophyll-containing mainly aquatic eukaryotic organisms lacking true stems and roots and leaves. 15. The 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet. 16. An independent ruler or chieftain (especially in Africa or Arabia). 17. Speaking a Slavic language. 19. A member of an agricultural people in southeastern India. 21. The French-speaking part of the Canadian Maritime Provinces. 23. Conforming to truth. 25. Artists or writers whose ideas are ahead of their time. 28. A silvery ductile metallic element found primarily in bauxite. 30. The basic unit of money in Nicaragua. 34. A sudden very loud noise. 36. A flat wing-shaped process or winglike part of an organism. 38. South American armadillo with three bands of bony plates. 39. (Old Testament) Wife of Isaac and mother of Jacob and Esau. 43. A federal agency established to coordinate programs aimed at reducing pollution and protecting the environment. 44. The branch of computer science that deal with writing computer programs that can solve problems creatively. 45. Of or relating to near the ear. 47. A state in southeastern India on the Bay of Bengal (south of Andhra Pradesh). 54. Rounded like an egg. 55. System of measurement based on centimeters and grams and seconds. 57. 100 kopecks equal 1 ruble. 59. (British) A waterproof raincoat made of rubberized fabric. 60. The cry made by sheep. 62. Any of various minerals consisting of hydrous silicates of aluminum or potassium etc. that crystallize in forms that allow perfect cleavage into very thin leaves. 64. A summary that repeats the substance of a longer discussion. 66. A compartment in front of a motor vehicle where driver sits. 67. (botany) Of or relating to the axil. 68. A genus of Ploceidae. 69. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. DOWN 1. (informal) Exceptionally good. 2. A Tibetan or Mongolian priest of Lamaism. 3. Roman poet remembered for his elegiac verses on love (43 BC - AD 17). 4. One of the often brightly colored and branching hornlike structures on the back of the nudibranch (and other related mollusks) that serve as gills. 5. An independent group of closely related Chadic languages spoken in the area between the Biu-Mandara and East Chadic languages. 6. An extension at the end and at right angles to the main building. 7. Title for a civil or military leader (especially in Turkey). 8. A member of an Athapaskan people that migrated to Arizona and New Mexico and Utah. 9. A toxic nonmetallic element related to sulfur and tellurium. 10. Any of a number of fishes of the family Carangidae. 11. Of or relating to or characteristic of Thailand of its people. 12. A city in Tuscany. 18. English monk and scholar (672-735). 20. A long thin fluffy scarf of feathers or fur. 22. An emotional response that has been acquired by conditioning. 24. Aircraft landing in bad weather in which the pilot is talked down by

ground control using precision approach radar. 26. Fermented alcoholic beverage similar to but heavier than beer. 27. Tag the base runner to get him out. 29. Resinlike substance secreted by certain lac insects. 31. An organization of countries formed in 1961 to agree on a common policy for the sale of petroleum. 32. (Scotland) A small loaf or roll of soft bread. 33. A constellation in the southern hemisphere near Telescopium and Norma. 35. Relating to or resembling or made of or adorned with pearls or motherof-pearl. 37. A white soft metallic element that tarnishes readily. 40. An independent agency of the United States government responsible for collecting and coordinating intelligence and counterintelligence activities abroad in the national interest. 41. Alternative names for the body of a human being. 42. A member of an Indian people formerly living along the Gulf coast of Louisiana and Texas. 46. A material effigy that is worshipped as a god. 48. A means of serving. 49. The capital and largest city of Bangladesh. 50. A long steep slope or cliff at the edge of a plateau or ridge. 51. A very poisonous metallic element that has three allotropic forms. 52. Cubes of meat marinated and cooked on a skewer usually with vegetables. 53. Jordan's port. 56. (Greek mythology) Goddess of the earth and mother of Cronus and the Titans in ancient mythology. 58. Large burrowing rodent of South and Central America. 61. Someone who is morally reprehensible. 63. A colorless and odorless inert gas. 65. Being one hundred more than three hundred.

Yesterday始s Solution


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Qatari women target 2012 Olympics DOHA: Three weeks before the Arab Games in Doha, Qatari sports officials called Nada Mohammed Wafa to tell her she would be competing in the Middle East’s biggest sporting event. Surprised - and a bit scared - the 17-year-old swimmer replied: “Oh wow! Sure!” Wafa, who had only competed in school-level events until then, trained hard to make up for the short time she had before making history by becoming the first woman on Qatar’s national swim team. “It’s a good feeling, but it’s also very lonely,” Wafa said. “It’s just me, myself and I.” Wafa may be Qatar’s lone female swimmer, but she is part of a group of emerging athletes in the conservative Muslim country that hopes to send women to the Olympics for the first time in London next year. And if Wafa’s phone rings in five months or somebody confirms her name is on the list, she would be delighted to go and compete. “I’d be over the moon,” Wafa said. Along with Saudi Arabia and Brunei, Qatar has never sent female athletes to the Olympics. Last year, the International Olympic Committee urged the three countries to end the practice of sending all-male teams

to the games, hoping that naming and shaming would do more for female athletes than banning their nations from the Olympics. While Saudi Arabia’s plans to send women to the London Games remain

DOHA: Fatima Abdulla of Qatar bites her gold medal as she poses on the podium after winning the women’s individual Trampoline event at the 2011 Arab Games in Doha. — AFP

Cavendish wins BBC award LONDON: World road race champion Mark Cavendish claimed Britain’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year award on Thursday, beating off competition in a public vote from golfer Darren Clarke and athlete Mo Farah. The 26-year-old, also the Tour de France’s green jersey winner, became only the second road cyclist to take the award, following the late Tommy Simpson’s win in 1965. Northern Irish golfer Clarke, this year’s British Open champion, was voted into second place with world 5,000 metres gold medallist Farah third. The build-up to this year’s showpiece event was overshadowed by a row over the lack of any women on the 10-strong shortlist despite a 2011 that produced several British female world champions. Cavendish, who is one of Britain’s top hopes for a home gold at next year’s London Olympics, topped the 2011 Tour de France’s points table after winning five stages and followed it up with a thrilling win in the World Road Race Championships in Denmark in

wrapped in secrecy, Qatar is feverishly working to escape the stigma that comes with failing to include women. Over the past decade, the tiny but rich Gulf country has been targeting sports as

September. “I am absolutely speechless, some of my team-mates here will say that is a rare thing,” joked Cavendish. “This award is a landmark for cycling,” he added. “For cycling to be recognized in a non-Olympic year is unheard of.”The BBC award capped off a fine year for the Isle of Man-born cyclist, awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) medal in November. Elsewhere, England’s cricketers were named Team of the Year, with their coach Andy Flower winning the Coach of the Year award, in recognition of their rise to the top of the world Test rankings. Meanwhile Wimbledon tennis champion Novak Djokovic won the Overseas Sports Personality of the Year. Five-times Olympic rowing gold medallist Steve Redgrave won the Lifetime Achievement award and former Grand National winning jockey Bob Champion was given the Helen Rollason Award in recognition of the money he’d raised for cancer charities since overcoming the disease himself. — AFP

SALFORD: Cyclist Mark Cavendish wins the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at the awards ceremony in Salford, England. — AP

a vehicle to showcase its global aspirations. Last year, it became the first Arab country to win the right to host the World Cup in 2022. And Qatar’s bid for the 2020 Olympics adds the pressure to include women on the teams in London. Qatar Olympic Committee President Sheik Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said female athletes have been competing in international tournaments for the past three years, including last year’s Youth Olympics in Singapore. The only reason women were not included for the 2008 Beijing Games is because they didn’t qualify in any sport, Sheik Saoud said. He added that Qatar is talking to the IOC about sending female athletes to the games next year on wild-card invitations. “That’s the thing with the Olympics. They can’t go if they don’t qualify,” Sheik Saoud said. “It’s not about us being unwilling to send women to the tournament. But it takes time to prepare athletes to compete on the international level.” It also takes time to change mindsets in a deeply conservative society. Qatar follows the Wahhabi branch of Islam, a strict version that predominates in Saudi Arabia.—AP

Milan reach last 16 as CSKA stay perfect BELGRADE: An inspired performance by American imports Malik Hairston and Omar Cook allowed triple Euroleague winners Emporio Armani Milan to keep alive their dream of winning their first title since 1988 after a 72-66 win at Partizan Belgrade on Thursday. Needing to win by at least four points to reach the last 16, Milan overcame an 11-point deficit in the third quarter and clinched a berth in the second group stage of the competition. Shooting guard Hairston scored 18 points, playmaker Cook added 17 and Drew Nicholas had six, including a crucial three-pointer coupled with a free throw. Milan were one of the four teams to secure a top 16 berth in the final round of matches in the preliminary stage and Hairston said it was down to the team’s character. “We had faith in ourselves all along because you can’t ever quit and we now have to mature as a basketball team and play better in the top 16 than we did in the preliminary pool,” the 24-year-old told Reuters. “The atmosphere in the Pionir Arena was incredible, the fans did all they could for their team but we got going when the going got tough and we are delighted.” Cook, who had faced Partizan and their boisterous fans several times when he played for city rivals Red Star and Spanish side Malaga, was also impressed by the noise level. “I’ve been here before but it was never like this. We are slowly coming together as a team and learning how to win tight games and what we pulled off tonight was amazing,” he said. Nicholas added: This is one of the toughest away courts in Europe and it’s almost impossible to win here so we will head into the top 16 devoid of any pressure but confident that we can progress to the quarter-finals.” The second stage features four groups of four, with the top two advancing to the best-of-five quarter-final series whose winners will qualify for the May 11-13 Final Four in Istanbul. Six-times Euroleage winners CSKA

Moscow completed their perfect preliminary stage record with a 10th win after Serbian point guard Milos Teodosic poured 18 points and compatriot Nenad Krstic scored 14 in a 91-83 win at Unicaja Malaga. It was only the third perfect regular season record since the turn of the century, as CSKA emulated their own achievement in the 2004-05 season and Barcelona’s in 2009-10, when the Spanish outfit won the title. Rampant CSKA had secured a top 16 berth with four games to spare but kept their foot on the gas pedal, much to the delight of their Lithuanian coach Jonas Kazlauskas. “I hope our fans enjoyed the game and I am happy with the way we played tonight,” he told the competition’s official website (www.euroleage.net). “We came out focused on both ends of the court and beat a great team.” In contrast, Panathinaikos coach Zeljko Obradovic was fuming after the holders laboured to a 71-66 home win over unfancied German side Bamberg and finished behind CSKA in their preliminary pool with a 7-3 record. Although Panathinaikos had little trouble in securing a second-stage berth in an easy group, their unconvincing performances prompted Obradovic to warn the players that some of them were perilously close to being shipped off. “We need more players who are aware what is needed over here because the door is open to those who are not,” said Obradovic, who won five Euroleague titles with Panathinaikos as well as one each with Partizan, Real Madrid and fellow Spaniards Joventut. “Unfortunately, we have players who don’t help the team and I cannot pretend the situation is perfect. Things have to change and all players must be ready to play.” Elsewhere, Bilbao beat Caja Laboral 77-72 and knocked them out of the competition in an all-Spanish dogfight while Turkish side Fenerbahce Ulker also advanced with an 83-76 success at already qualified Bennet Cantu of Italy. — Reuters


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

England on top as fixing still haunts cricket LONDON: Cricket and controversy, never far apart, were closely linked in a year where England finally achieved their long-held objective of climbing to the top of the world Test rankings. Nothing that happened on the field in 2011 rocked world cricket quite like the jail sentences handed down by an English court to former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif for their roles in a ‘spot-fixing’ scam during last year’s Lord’s Test against England. But the fact the case came to light as a result of a newspaper investigation left many asking what was the point of the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption unit. England had gone 21 years without winning a series in Australia but a 3-1 Ashes triumph sealed in January, with all three victories coming by innings margins, ended that barren spell in emphatic fashion. Alastair Cook made a colossal 766 runs in the Ashes series and the Essex lefthander carried on during England’s 4-0 home Test rout of World Cup winners India, including a monumental 294 at Edgbaston. Australia’s woes continued even after the Ashes, with their batsmen looking especially vulnerable against swing and seam bowling. In November, Australia slumped to 47 all out against South Africa in Cape Town, with debutant fast-medium bowler Vernon Philander taking a stunning five for 15 in seven overs. Then New Zealand, without injured allrounder Daniel Vettori, enjoyed their first Test win on

Australian soil in 26 years. Seamer Doug Bracewell, took six for 40 as New Zealand won by seven runs in Hobart in a match where Australia had needed just 82 runs for victory with eight wickets standing, Zimbabwe, after six years of self-imposed exile sparked by a race row over selection, returned to Test cricket in August with a 130run win over Bangladesh-a result that said as much about the losers as anything else. In an age of few genuine fast bowlers, South Africa quick Dale Steyn’s average of 22.82 stands comparison with the all-time greats. In December he became the second fastest bowler in history to take 250 Test wickets, reaching the landmark in his 49th Test-one more than legendary Australia fast bowler Dennis Lillee. “There’s no doubt for me that he’s the best South African bowler we’ve seen thus far-at least since readmission in 1991,” said former Proteas seamer and captain Shaun Pollock. “His ability to swing the ball away with incredible pace is phenomenal.” West Indies cricket was overshadowed by the standoff between Chris Gayle and Caribbean administrators which deprived a largely young team of a fine batsman. But having gone 2-0 down in their series in India, they battled back in the Mumbai finale which ended in a draw with the scores level-only the second time this had happened in Test history. This year saw the deaths of several prominent cricketers including former India captain the

Nawab of Pataudi, Australia’s Sam Loxton and ex-England all-rounder Trevor Bailey, with Graham Dilley, one of the heroes of England’s ‘500-1’ win against Australia at Headingley in 1981, passing away aged just 52. Meanwhile former Somerset captain turned cricket journalist Peter Roebuck leapt to his death in bizarre circumstances in South Africa. But in terms of their impact on both world cricket and wider society, few could match Basil D’Oliveira, who died in November aged 80. D’Oliveira became an England all-rounder after his path was blocked in his native apartheid-era South Africa, an impressive enough achievement in itself. But he made front-page headlines in 1968 when he was included in the England squad for the tour of South Africa which was called off when the South African government refused to accept his presence. It marked the start of South Africa’s cricketing isolation, which would last until the early 1990s. D’Oliveira was one of the few people to emerge with any credit from the incident, not least when it was later revealed he’d refused to accept a huge cash bribe to make himself unavailable for the 1968 tour. “Throughout this shameful period in South Africa’s sporting history, Basil displayed a human dignity that earned him worldwide respect and admiration,” said Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola. “His memory and inspiration will live on among all of us.”— AFP

No let-up for Lanka’s struggling batsmen DURBAN: There will likely be no let-up for Sri Lanka’s under-fire batting lineup in next week’s second test, with rain in Durban yesterday hinting at another field day for South Africa’s buoyant fast bowlers. Having been bowled out for 180 and 150 to lose the first test by an innings, Sri Lanka’s misfiring batters look set to face another green-tinged, seamer-friendly surface at Kingsmead from Monday as they aim to fight their way back into the three-test contest and avoid a fourth straight series defeat. Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan said his team’s underperforming top order - experienced as it is was responsible for the poor recent run. The skipper conceded the group was now suffering from a lack of confidence as well as runs, leading to the tourists swapping training for teambonding sessions this week. The Sri Lankans have not won in 15 tests after falling to a heavy defeat in Centurion under an onslaught from the Proteas’ quicks to start their first long format tour of South Africa in nine years in familiar fashion: the tourists have never won a test here and are now 0-7 with one draw in South Africa. Dilshan, Tharanga Paranavitana, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene all failed in the series opener with more expected, especially, of No 1 test batsman Sangakkara and former captain Jayawardene. Recalled veteran Thilan Samaraweera and allrounder Angelo Mathews fared slightly better. There was no excuse for the poor performances, Sri Lanka batting coach and former player Marvan Atapattu said after Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn ripped through the visitors lineup twice inside three days - not even a long-running saga over Sri Lanka’s players not being paid salaries for nine months. “There have been more than a couple of batting failures in the last six

months or so,” Atapattu said. “Obviously we have had various issues but as of now there are no excuses. This is the best, or let me put it this way, this is the most experienced six batsmen we can have from Sri Lanka in test match cricket. “They have put runs on the board earlier and it is their responsibility to put runs on the board over and over again while they play for Sri Lanka. Simple as that.” Sangakkara made 1 and 2 in the first test, although he was playing with a recently dislocated finger. Jayawardene’s run out in the second innings as he tried to scramble through for his 10,000th test run highlighted his recent jitters despite a glittering past record. The stylish righthander has a highest score of 39 in his last eight test innings, while Dilshan has one half-century in eight knocks. “As a batting group we have to take the responsibility, definitely,” Dilshan said. “We have to put some runs on the board, no doubt about that.” After two days of tough work at altitude in Pretoria straight after the morale-sapping innings and 81-run loss in the first test, Sri Lanka decided not to train earlier this week down on the east coast in Durban. Instead, the Sri Lankans held a series of team meetings and dinners and focused on trying to recover some of their confidence, which has been steadily seeping away since the team’s last test win in July 2010. Following that victory over India 18 months ago, Sri Lanka drew against the Indians and West Indies and lost to England, Australia and Pakistan. Dilshan has dropped his first three series as captain without winning a match. “We wanted to give a rest to the players to think about their game plan, how they can lift their game for the next test match. —AP

DHAKA: Pakistan’s Misbah-ul-Haq plays a shot during the fourth day of the second cricket test match against Bangladesh at Mirpur in Dhaka on Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011. — AP

Confident Misbah ready for England LAHORE: Pakistani skipper Misbah-ul Haq said yesterday his high-flying team can beat England-world’s leading Test side-when they meet next year, believing his side are unstoppable on current form. Pakistan returned home yesterday after routing Bangladesh in two Twenty20s, three one-day internationals and two Tests, ending the year with five Test wins and without losing a series, both in five-day matches and limited overs. They now take on England over three Tests, four onedays and three Twenty20 matches in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a series starting next month. Misbah said England will be a real test for his side, who are now fifth in Test rankings. “The series against England is important as well as very tough,” Misbah told reporters. “England is the world’s best Test team but in current form we can beat any team if we keep the good form and co-ordination which we showed this year.” Since taking over as Test captain in 2010 following a spot-fixing scandal, which resulted in jail terms for players

Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer, Misbah has led Pakistan in 13 Tests. Misbah, who has guided Pakistan to six wins, six draws and a single loss, said his team needs to improve to beat England. “Despite achieving some good results we still need to overcome some of the mistakes which we committed and the management as well as the players are determined to overcome them because England will be really tough,” said Misbah. “Our targets on the Bangladesh tour were to keep consistency in our performance, overcome some of the mistakes and improve our rankings and that we achieved,” said Misbah. Pakistan also beat the higher-ranked Sri Lanka 1-0 in Tests and 4-1 in one-days in the UAE in October-November. Misbah said his team has gelled over the last year. “The best part about this team is that we have good coordination among the seniors and juniors, the support staff is helping players and each and every player realizes his duty and that will help us against England,” said Misbah.—AFP


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Ageing Ponting still awaiting his Indian summer MELBOURNE: In a defiant captain’s swansong, Ricky Ponting hit a fighting century in a losing cause as Australia bowed out of the World Cup earlier this year and then spoke of his hopes for a “Tendulkar-like” re-birth. Nine months later, the gritty Tasmanian is still gazing at the horizon, waiting for a new dawn that has stubbornly refused to break. In Australia’s four-test series against India starting Dec 26, Ponting will face off once again with the man he desperately wants to emulate. Former captains alike and the most prolific run-scorers of all time in tests and onedayers, Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar are still two of the brightest stars in cricket’s firmament. They head into the Boxing Day test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground both desperate for a century but for very different reasons. Tendulkar, afforded God-like status in a nation of a billion people, needs one more to complete his 100th international century, a near-mythical landmark that many doubt will ever be eclipsed. Ponting, who stepped down from the captaincy in March and

turned 37 on Monday, needs a first test ton in nearly two years merely to save his career. Each have had their chances, with Tendulkar especially tantalizing as he reached 94 in the third test against the West Indies in Mumbai last month before nicking an edge to the slips. The 38-year-old also threatened with a 76 in the first West Indies test following a 91 in the fourth test against England at the Oval in August. He arrives in Australia still near the peak of his powers, having amassed 651 runs in eight tests for an average of 46.50 this year. Ponting, conversely, is a shadow of his former dominant self. Two halfcenturies in his last four tests have lifted his average to a paltry 24.84 for the past year. Ponting’s recent dismissals, flailing across the crease with the ball invariably cannoning into his pads, have been seen as an indication of a man no longer the master of his technique, let alone the match of the world’s best bowlers. With debate raging about his place in the team, his captain Michael Clarke has backed him to follow Tendulkar into his own Indian

summer - as soon as that elusive third digit again appears next to his name on the scoreboard. “Once he makes that score, he’ll go on like Sachin and the next few years of his career could be his best,” Clarke said before Australia’s tour of South Africa last month. “Ricky’s a huge help to a lot of the young guys in our group, passing on experience and knowledge. I still do a lot of work with him on my batting,” he said. Ponting and Tendulkar’s will undoubtedly loom large in cricket long after they bow out of the game but their careers may be viewed quite differently. Tendulkar’s legend was born when the curlyhaired 16-year-old defiantly batted on with a blood-stained shirt after being struck in the mouth by a Waqar Younis delivery during his 1989 debut in Pakistan. His aura only grew from there as he racked up century after century with an effortless grace that Don Bradman remarked was similar to his own. Ponting hammered 96 on debut as a 20-year-old against Sri Lanka, and his fiercely competitive nature and front-

foot aggression has propelled him to 39 test centuries and 42 test wins as captain, the most ever. Moulded in a succession of ruthless teams bound by a culture of winning, the belligerent Tasmanian remains a figure of respect rather than adulation in Australia. The public is unlikely ever to forgive or forget his crime of captaining the team to a third Ashes series loss earlier this year, and a protracted departure will not help. “It is a tough thing to decide when it is the end,” former Australia skipper Greg Chappell told local radio this week. “The players of Ricky Ponting’s calibre are rare and it is better to give them one game or one series too many than one game or one series too few because there aren’t that many that can replace them. “There does come a point - and I don’t want to make a comment one way or another about Ricky’s stage - where there is a diminishing return on the investment and the decision has to be taken as to whether there is somebody else who can do as well at the moment but has a chance to get better.” — Reuters

India’s old hands warm to the Boxing Day task

MELBOURNE: Sachin Tendulkar of India holds a protective helmet during the team’s training at the MCG in Melbourne yesterday. — AP

Bets on Tendulkar 100th international century SYDNEY: Indian cricketing superstar Sachin Tendulkar is favored to bring up his 100th international century in the first Test against Australia in Melbourne, according to one Australian bookmaker. Online bookmaker sportsbet.com.au has installed the Boxing Day Test as the most likely venue for the historic milestone at odds of 9/4. Poised on 99 international centuries across Test and one-day matches, Tendulkar retired on 92 in the tourists’ final day of a two-day tour match against the Chairman’s XI in Canberra last week. “He is in good form with a 90-odd against the Chairman’s XI already under his belt since arriving in Australia and he’s a very good chance to achieve the phenomenal milestone during the Boxing Day Test,” the firm’s Ben Hawes said. “And if not, he can take some respite in the fact that the next game is at the SCG where he has pummeled Australia on several occasions.” The Sydney Cricket Ground is the second chance favorite with punters, with odds at 3/1, followed by the third Test at Perth at 5/1 and the fourth Test at Adelaide 7/1. The prospect of Tendulkar-who has been a perennial thorn in the side of Australia’s bowlers, averaging 60.6 with 11 centuries in 31 Tests against them completing the series without hitting his 100th century is at 12/5. — AFP

MELBOURNE: Australia’s callow bowling attack has tantalized with the promise of a brave new era, but faces its stiffest examination against India’s veteran batsmen in the first test in Melbourne starting Monday. Sachin Tendulkar, Vangipurappu Laxman and Rahul Dravid will almost certainly face Michael Clarke’s team for the last time Down Under in the four-test series, having come agonizingly close in the past to pulling off India’s first series win on Australian soil. Unlike many chastened visitors, the prolific run-scoring trio have delighted in Australia’s quick and bouncy decks and relish the idea of continuing the harvest at the batsman-friendly MCG with unfinished business on their minds. “Winning against Australia is the dream of all cricketers, not only from India but anywhere in the world, because when you play Australia in Australia it’s probably one of the toughest cricket (contests) a player can play,” Laxman told reporters on Friday in the bowels of the famed stadium. “Australian surfaces are best for batting. Personally, I always relish batting on such conditions than the subcontinent conditions because once you see the new ball, there’s true bounce on the wicket and you can play a lot of your shots and you get value for your shots. “I think the key would be to get a big score in the first innings and I firmly believe that at the MCG if you can get a big total in the first innings you can put the opposition under pressure straight away.” India, second in test rankings, have arguably their best shot of breaking their duck Down Under in decades, coming against a fourth-ranked Australian side in flux following their humbling Ashes defeat on home soil last year. With Mitchell Johnson ruled out for the series and Shane Watson sidelined, Australia’s bowling hopes rest largely on the shoulders of a talented 21-year-old quick who has played only two tests and an offspinner who has contested seven five-day matches. Paceman James Pattinson impressed with two fivewicket hauls in his first two tests against New Zealand but enjoyed the benefit of devilish pitches in Brisbane and Hobart. Nathan Lyon has given rise to hopes that Australia has found a quality spinner to fill the gaping hole left by Shane Warne, but faces an acid test against India’s accomplished players of spin. More concerning for Australia has been the form of their batsmen, however, who have perfected the art of suffering batting collapses when pressing for victory. Their 47 against South Africa in Cape Town and their dismal buckling to lose the Hobart test against New Zealand prompted Australia’s cricket honchos to convene a batting boot camp to get them to sharpen up before the Boxing Day test. It also led to the dumping of youngsters Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja, who squandered

their chances to cement their places at the top of the order. Shaun Marsh has been rushed back into the side to give the batting line-up some spine, ironically after suffering a debilitating back injury, while Ed Cowan, the form player in the Sheffield Shield, will debut at the top of the order after scoring a century during the tour match in Canberra this week. Australia’s transition remains stuck in the middle to some extent, however, with former captain Ricky Ponting and his fellow greybeard Mike Hussey seemingly determined to hang on like party guests ignoring their hosts’ hints to leave. — Reuters

MELBOURNE: Virender Sehwag of India bats in the nets during the team’s training at the MCG in Melbourne yesterday. — AP


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Senators sink Panthers Flames clip Red Wings 3-2 OTTAWA: Ottawa’s Bobby Butler scored 2:02 into overtime to lift the Senators to a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday, notching their third straight win and moving into a share of second place in the NHL Northeast Division. Daniel Alfredsson scored his 399th goal and had two assists for Ottawa, which gave up leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2. Chris Neil and Erik Karlsson each had a goal and an assist. Tomas Kopecky drew Florida even at 3-3 with 1:12 left in the third and with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker. Michal Repik and Shawn Matthias also scored for Florida, whose lead atop the Southeast Division was sliced to six points.

and Tim Stapleton also scored while Ondrej Pavelec notched his third shutout of the season for Winnipeg, which has earned seven of a possible 10 points on a six-game

Darryl Sutter’s debut as coach. Despite their second straight 3-2 shootout win, it was the 13th straight game in which the Kings scored fewer than three goals in reg-

ulation - their longest such streak in franchise history Niklas Hagman and Lubomir Visnovsky each had a goal and an assist for the Ducks. — AP

FLAMES 3, RED WINGS 2 In Calgary, Curtis Glencross scored twice in Calgary’s victory over Detroit. Glencross got what stood as the winner in the second period when he broke into the Detroit zone on a 2-on-1. Instead of passing, Glencross fired a low shot that bounced off the post and in behind the Red Wings goalie to put Calgary up 3-0. Blake Comeau also scored for the Flames, who won their fifth in a row at home. Jiri Hudler and Ian White pulled back goals in the third period goals for the Red Wings. OILERS 4, WILD 1 In Edmonton, Jordan Eberle scored twice as Edmonton snapped a four-game losing skid by downing Minnesota. Ryan Smyth and Lennart Petrell also scored for the Oilers, who are last in the Northwest Division topped by the Wild. Dany Heatley scored for Minnesota, which has now lost six games in a row to follow a seven game winning streak. MAPLE LEAFS 3, SABRES 2 In Toronto, Nazem Kadri scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period, lifting Toronto past Buffalo. David Steckel and Phil Kessel also scored for the Maple Leafs. Kadri, recalled Wednesday after a 22-game stint in the minors, got his first goal of the season when he scored off the goalie’s glove. Jason Pominville had given the Sabres the lead in the second period, while Derek Roy scored for equalizing goal early in the third. RANGERS 4, ISLANDERS 2 In New York, Brandon Dubinsky scored his first goal in more than a month to help the Rangers win the all-New York clash. Dubinsky staked the Rangers to a 1-0 lead in the first period, and Marian Gaborik with his NHL-leading 20th - and Michael Del Zotto connected in the second for the Rangers, who have won three straight. John Mitchell scored an empty-net goal with 1:33 remaining to seal it. PA Parenteau got the Islanders even at 1-1 with a power-play goal just 18 seconds into the second period, and Matt Moulson added a man-advantage goal in the third. JETS 4, CANADIENS 0 In Winnipeg, Blake Wheeler scored twice to lead Winnipeg over slumping Montreal. Wheeler, who also had an assist, has overcome early scoring troubles with three goals in the past three games. Tanner Glass

CALGARY: Miikka Kiprusoff #34 of the Calgary Flames loses track of the puck during the last minute of third period NHL action against the Detroit Red Wings on December 22 , 2011. — AFP homestand. The Canadiens lost their fifth straight. PREDATORS 6, BLUE JACKETS 5 In Nashville, Martin Erat scored with 8.4 seconds remaining to give Nashville victory in a thriller against Columbus. Mike Fisher, Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling, Roman Josi, and David Legwand also scored for Nashville, which has won six of its past seven. Jeff Carter had a hat trick in the first period and Ryan Johansen had the other two goals for the Blue Jackets, who have lost four straight. The Predators trailed 5-2 midway through the second period before scoring the game’s last four goals. Spaling and Josi’s goals pulled the Predators within one less than six minutes later, and Legwand’s power-play score with 3:46 to go tied it. KINGS 3, DUCKS 2, SO In Los Angeles, Dustin Brown scored in the second period and got the deciding goal in a shootout, lifting Los Angeles to victory over Anaheim. Mike Richards scored in his return to the lineup from a concussion, while Drew Doughty had two assists for the Kings, who at least won in

NHL results/standings Toronto 3, Buffalo 2; NY Rangers 4, NY Islanders 2; Ottawa 4, Florida 3 (OT); Nashville 6, Columbus 5; Winnipeg 4, Montreal 0; Calgary 3, Detroit 2; Edmonton 4, Minnesota 1; Los Angeles 3, Anaheim 2 (So); (OT denotes overtime win, SO os shootout victory) Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L OTL GF GA PTS Philadelphia 21 8 4 116 95 46 NY Rangers 20 8 4 95 70 44 Pittsburgh 19 11 4 110 90 42 New Jersey 18 14 1 91 96 37 NY Islanders 11 15 6 74 103 28 Northeast Division Boston 22 9 1 111 63 45 Toronto 17 13 4 105 110 38 Ottawa 17 14 4 110 120 38 Buffalo 16 15 3 92 101 35 Montreal 13 16 7 88 101 33 Southeast Division Florida 18 10 7 94 90 43 Winnipeg 16 13 5 95 100 37 Washington 17 14 1 95 97 35 Tampa Bay 14 17 2 89 114 30 Carolina 10 19 6 89 120 26

Western Conference Central Division Chicago 22 9 4 118 102 48 Detroit 21 12 1 111 78 43 St. Louis 19 10 4 84 72 42 Nashville 18 12 4 92 93 40 Columbus 9 21 4 85 117 22 Northwest Division Minnesota 20 11 5 86 82 45 Vancouver 21 11 2 114 82 44 Calgary 16 15 4 87 97 36 Colorado 17 17 1 94 104 35 Edmonton 15 16 3 93 91 33 pacific division San Jose 18 10 3 93 76 39 Dallas 19 13 1 86 93 39 Phoenix 18 13 3 90 89 39 Los Angeles 16 14 4 75 83 36 Anaheim 9 19 6 80 113 24 Note: Overtime losses (OTL) are worth one point in the standings and are not included in the loss column (L).


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Colts shock Texans

NFL result/standings NFL result and standings on Thursday. Indianapolis 19, Houston 16.

New England NY Jets Miami Buffalo Baltimore Pittsburgh Cincinnati Cleveland Houston Tennessee Jacksonville Indianapolis Denver Oakland San Diego Kansas City Dallas NY Giants Philadelphia Washington Green Bay Detroit Chicago Minnesota New Orleans Atlanta Carolina Tampa Bay San Francisco Seattle Arizona St. Louis

American Football Conference AFC EAST W L T OTL PF PA 11 3 0 0 437 297 8 6 0 0 346 315 5 9 0 1 286 269 5 9 0 0 311 371 AFC North 10 4 0 0 331 236 10 4 0 0 285 218 8 6 0 0 305 283 4 10 0 1 195 274 AFC South 10 5 0 0 359 252 7 7 0 0 279 278 4 10 0 0 207 293 2 13 0 0 230 411 AFC West 8 6 0 0 292 343 7 7 0 0 317 382 7 7 0 2 358 313 6 8 0 0 192 319 National Football Conference NFC East 8 6 0 1 348 296 7 7 0 0 334 372 6 8 0 0 342 311 5 9 0 1 252 300 NFC North 13 1 0 0 480 297 9 5 0 0 395 332 7 7 0 1 315 293 2 12 0 1 294 406 NFC South 11 3 0 0 457 303 9 5 0 1 341 281 5 9 0 0 341 368 4 10 0 0 244 401 NFC West 11 3 0 1 327 185 7 7 0 0 284 273 7 7 0 0 273 305 2 12 0 1 166 346

INDIANAPOLIS: The Indianapolis Colts scored a touchdown in the final minute to stun AFC South rivals Houston 19-16 at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday. It was the second consecutive win for the Colts, who lost their first 13 games of a miserable season. The Texans (10-5), who have already clinched the division, suffered their second loss in a row. With several key players out with injuries both teams struggled offensively, scoring one touchdown each. The Colts continue to miss quarterback Peyton Manning, who has been out following off-season neck surgery and were without tight end Dallas Clark. The Texans started TJ Yates in place of injured quarterbacks Matt Schaub and Matt Leinhart and wide receiver Andre Johnson remains out with a hamstring injury. Dan Orlovsky, starting in place of Manning, led the Colts on a 12-play, 78yard scoring drive in the final two minutes of the game, capping the drive with a one-yard pass to Reggie Wayne in the corner of the end zone with 19 seconds left. “He walks by my locker every day and says: ‘Throw left,’” Orlovsky told reporters. “He walked by me in pre-game tonight and said: ‘Throw left.’ I think he deserved the opportunity.” The Texans scored their touchdown in the opening minute. Brian Cushing sacked Orlovsky on the first play of the game and two plays later Arian Foster scored on a nine-yard run. “I’ve got to give them a lot of credit,” Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. “Dan (Orlovsky) did a great job on that last series. “If we had made one more play on offense, or one more play on defense, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” In between the two touchdowns, the teams settled for field goals with Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri connecting on four of five attempts while Neil Rackers was three-for-three for the Texans.— Reuters

PCT .786 .571 .357 .357 .714 .714 .571 .286 .667 .500 .286 .133 .571 .500 .500 .429 .571 .500 .429 .357 .929 .643 .500 .143 .786 .643 .357 .286 .786 .500 .500 .143

Denver controls its own destiny INDIANAPOLIS: Indianapolis Colts’ Reggie Wayne makes a touchdown reception against Houston Texans’ Kareem Jackson during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game on Thursday, Dec 22, 2011. Indianapolis won 1916. — AP

South Africa seek ruthless approach D U R B A N : South Africa have to become more ruthless in their approach as they seek to secure a series-winning victory in the second test against Sri Lanka, captain Graeme Smith said yesterday. South Africa have not won a home series since beating Bangladesh in 2008. They have lost and drawn two series against Australia and drawn series against England and India. The hosts are coming off a comprehensive innings and 81-run win over Sri Lanka in the first test in Centurion and have the chance to win the three-test series when the second test starts at Kingsmead in Durban on Dec. 26. “We are in the process of improving certain facets of our game. Being more ruthless, being able to string three sessions together in a day is something that we are really trying to do. We haven’t been able to do that consistently and that is where we have been costing ourselves so we want to improve on that,” Smith told a news

conference. South Africa’s skipper went on to say that it was important that his team did not lose their focus during the Christmas break. “The preparation is going to be important. Making the most of our time at this time of year is crucial. During Christmas it is important that you maintain your focus. Our preparation is a key factor to that,” he explained. South Africa have had a mixed start to their home international season this year drawing a two-test series against Australia before the heavy win over Sri Lanka. Smith said that he felt that his team had shown improvement, partly down to the fact that the same XI had taken to the field in three consecutive tests. “We have got better as the season has gone on. There was a more settled nature within the squad during the Centurion test against Sri Lanka because of the confidence shown in players,” he said. “That stability around the team, having not played a test match since January, is crucial and it’s

good to see that the players have taken that on board and performed.” Smith’s opposite number, Tillakaratne Dilshan, has a completely different set of problems as he tries to lift his players after a run of 15 tests without a win. “We have had a lot of meetings over the last two days about what areas we need to improve on. I feel everybody is mentally strong at the moment. They know what their roles are and they will give 100 percent,” said Dilshan. “One thing that we can do is that our batting unit has to stand up and get some runs on the board because then we can try and put some pressure on them (South Africa). “We have an experienced batting line-up in Mahela (Jayawardene), Kumar (Sangakkara), Thilan Samaraweera and myself. We need to apply ourselves out in the middle. We are preparing well but we have not clicked at as a unit and that is the main reason we have not done well.”— Reuters

LOS ANGELES: With the postseason fast approaching, the fate of the first-place Denver Broncos rests in their own hands, as they travel to Buffalo to face the Bills today. Of the four teams that remain in the hunt for the playoffs in the AFC West, the Broncos are the only one that controls its own destiny. “We have to play a whole lot better if we want to win,” Broncos cornerback Andre Goodman said. “We haven’t played our best football yet, but I think we feel good about the position we’re in, in terms of the division race and right now that’s the only thing we can focus on.” There are two weeks left in the regular season and the Broncos are seeking to return to the postseason for the first time in a half dozen years. If the Broncos beat Buffalo and the Kansas City Chiefs at home in the final week of the season, they would reach the postseason for the first time since the 2005 season. Denver could also clinch the division with a victory this weekend and an Oakland Raiders’ loss at Kansas City today. The Broncos take an 8-6 record into the final stages of the regular season. In 2008 and 2009, Denver lost their final three games and failed to make the postseason. Denver’s six-game winning streak ended with a 41-23 loss to New England on Sunday, bringing back memories of those season-ending failures. The Broncos have a one-game division lead over Oakland and San Diego, and are two games ahead of Kansas City. The Bills are hoping to avoid their eighth consecutive loss today at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The week kicked off Thursday night with the Indianapolis Colts winning their second straight game by beating the Houston Texans 19-16. The Colts had lost their first 13 games of the season. With Christmas Day today, the majority of the games are being played in week 16 today so players can spend the holiday with their families. In today games it is St Louis at Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay at Carolina, Minnesota at Washington, Oakland at Kansas City, Cleveland at Baltimore, Miami at New England, Jacksonville at Tennessee, New York Giants at New York Jets, Arizona at Cincinnati, San Diego at Detroit, Philadelphia at Dallas and San Francisco at Seattle. In the lone game on Christmas, the Chicago Bears will have their hands full with Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers who lost last week but rarely has two poor games in a row. The Monday night game features the red-hot New Orleans Saints against the equally impressive Atlanta Falcons.— AFP


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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

Manchester dominant as racism rears its head LONDON: Manchester was confirmed as the football capital of England in 2011 as the long-dormant specter of racism re-emerged to cast a shadow over the sport. A quirk of fixture scheduling meant that in the space of a few memorable hours in May, Manchester City ended their 35year wait for a trophy by winning the FA Cup shortly after Manchester United had clinched a record 19th title. The unique double triumph for the Manchester clubs underscored the new paradigm of English football, with the recently enriched City joining long-time aristocrats United at the summit of the domestic game. The pre-emimence of the Manchester duo was further emphasized by the opening months of the 2011/2012 Premier League campaign, where both teams got off to flying starts to annex first and second place. Yet United’s freescoring start to the campaign unraveled spectacularly at Old Trafford in late October when City came to visit in one of the most eagerly anticipated Manchester derbies in years. A brutal 6-1 drubbing-United’s heaviest home defeat since 1955 - gave City a five-point lead at the top of the table and left Sir Alex Ferguson reflecting on what he described as his “worst ever day.” While the full implications of City’s extraordinary victory remain to be seen-and United have been prematurely written off many times before-it left many wondering whether the blue half of Manchester was now poised to dethrone their more successful cross-town rivals. Certainly few clubs, including United, can match City’s crushing dominance in the transfer market. Abu Dhabi-based billionaire Sheikh Mansour has spent an estimated £800 million in the three years since he acquired City, a largesse that has allowed manager Roberto Mancini to construct a lavishly talented squad that looks capable of dominating English football for years to come. A demonstration of City’s sheer financial might can be seen in the way the club handled the saga over Carlos Tevez, who was accused of failing to appear as a substitute during a Champions League match against Bayern Munich in September. Tevez, a darling of the fans who played a key role in the successes of the previous season, has been effectively cast into the wilderness since the episode. The received wisdom of the post-Bosman era dictates that all the power resides with players, not clubs. City have bucked that trend by adopting a hardline stance over Tevez, happy to let the player rot in the reserves-or, more accurately, on the golf courses of his homeland-unless a suitor weighs in with an acceptable transfer offer. No other club in England has the wherewithal to allow a player paid an estimated £200,000 per week to sit idle, all in the name of making a point. The question for City however is whether they can curb their spending enough to satisfy UEFA’s looming Financial Fair Play regulations, which dictate that clubs must balance their books in order to play in European competitions. A net loss of nearly £200 million in the last financial year suggests that City have plenty to do if they are to keep European football’s rulers happy. But while United and City remain in a league of their own in England, 2011 saw the European ambitions of both clubs suffer twin setbacks. United had looked stylish as they romped into a dream Champions League final against Barcelona at Wembley in May. But 90 chastening minutes later and a glum Ferguson was left to ponder a 3-1 defeat that exposed the gulf between the English champions and the Spanish giants, who celebrated their second win in the competition in three seasons. United’s hopes of returning to avenge their defeat in the 2011/2012 competition were dashed in the group stage, with the club bundled out after a defeat by FC Basel in December which left them in third place. City, too, fell at the first hurdle in the Champions League, eliminated after finishing behind Bayern Munich and Napoli. Meanwhile, the closing months of 2011 were dominated by the twin racism controversies embroiling Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Chelsea and England captain John Terry. Suarez was hit with an eight-match ban by the FA for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, allegations that the Uruguayan international and his club Liverpool strongly deny. Terry meanwhile faces a court battle to clear his name in 2012 after the bombshell announcement on December 21 that he had been charged with hurling racist abuse at QPR’s Anton Ferdinand during a match at Loftus Road.— AFP

Genoa fire coach, appoint Marino Malesani sacked after Napoli thrashing ROME: Genoa sacked manager Alberto Malesani on Thursday, one day after a 61 drubbing at Napoli, and appointed former Parma coach Pasquale Marino to replace him. Genoa sit 10th in Serie A but the heavy loss in Naples on Wednesday ended Malesani’s tenure. Malesani took charge in June after impressing in a spell with Bologna. Marino, who has been out of management since he was sacked by Parma in April, has signed a contract until June

30, 2013. “Genoa has entrusted the conduct of the first team to Pasquale Marino,” the club said in a statement on their website (www.genoacfc.it). “The club thanks the coach Alberto Malesani for the work he did during his time at the club.” Marino’s tenure at Parma ended with the club perched just two points above the relegation zone, but he remains a respected coach whose CV boasts four promotions and qualification for the

UEFA Cup with Udinese in 2008. “Getting a great club like Genoa is the most beautiful Christmas gift I could imagine,” Marino, who also replaced Malesani at Udinese in 2007, said. “I was contacted this morning. I want to thank the chairman and the club and intend to repay the faith they have shown in me. I’m looking forward to starting work.” Marino will be presented to the media when the team resumes training on Dec 29.— Reuters

ACCRA: Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure, who plays for Manchester City, receives the award of 2011 CAF Footballer of the Year in Accra from Globacom human resource executive director Adewale Shangowawa (right). — AFP

Toure named African Footballer of Year Toure edges out Mali’s Keita and Ghanaian Ayew ACCRA: Ivory Coast and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure was named African Footballer of the Year on Thursday. The 28-year-old finished ahead of Mali’s Seydou Keita and Ghanaian Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew in polling by national coaches of the 53-member associations of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). The full tally of votes was not immediately released by CAF, African soccer’s governing body. Toure thanked his family, including brother and City team mate Kolo, in a brief acceptance speech at the CAF awards in Ghana. “This award is not important for me alone. It’s for my country and for my club,” he said. “This

is a big step in my career, I’m very thrilled. To be the winner is fantastic.” Toure, the second Ivorian to land the award after twice-winner Didier Drogba of Chelsea, enjoyed a fine year for club and country. He scored the winning goal in Manchester City’s 1-0 victory over Stoke City in the FA Cup final and this season has impressed in his club’s rise to the top of the Premier League. Toure also helped Ivory Coast finish their African Nations Cup qualifying campaign with a 100 percent record. WORLD CUP The midfielder joined City from

Barcelona for a fee of around 24 million pounds ($37.64 million) after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Toure, who had a nomadic early career in Europe, was ever present for his country in 2011. The Ivorians were the only side to win every game in the preliminaries for the 2012 finals and are among the favourites for next month’s competition in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Midfielder Keita, who won the Champions League and La Liga with Barcelona, was runner-up to Toure. Ayew, whose father Abedi Pele won three African Footballer of the Year awards from 1991-93, finished third.— Reuters


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SPORTS

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2011

News

in brief

Arsenal suffer injury blow LONDON: Arsenal suffered a fresh injury blow yesterday after confirmation that Kieran Gibbs faces a further month on the sidelines following surgery on a groin problem. Gibbs has been out of action since October with a hernia problem but had been targeting the Christmas program for his return only to suffer a setback during his recovery. “Kieran Gibbs has had surgery on his left groin and he will be out for a month,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “It was a blow, but first what is important is if he cannot play you have to make the decision that we had to make yesterday and have surgery for him.” The injury depletes Arsenal’s options at a time when fullbacks Andre Santos and Bacary Sagna are both sidelined. “Hopefully it will only be one month because Santos will not come back before March,” Wenger added. Sagna is on the mend after suffering a broken leg earlier this season, with Wenger saying Friday he hoped to have the defender back by the end of January.

Suarez grateful for support LONDON: Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has defended the club’s support of Luis Suarez following criticism for their reaction to the eight-match ban given to Uruguayan who was found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. Suarez is free to play for the club until an appeal is heard and his team mates showed they were fully behind the striker when they all wore T-shirts emblazoned with his picture before the Premier League match at Wigan Athletic on Wednesday. “He was quite emotional and very grateful,” Dalglish told reporters at Liverpool’s training ground yesterday as they prepare for a hectic holiday fixture list. “I don’t think it’s ever a disappointment when your team mates and the people you work for give you their undivided support. For me, that’s the least he deserves.” Liverpool are waiting for full documentation of the case from the Football Association and Dalglish was reluctant to go into detail about what it might contain. The club was criticized by anti-racist organizations and some former players on Thursday for their stance over Suarez, but Dalglish said his players had done nothing wrong. “We’ve certainly said what we have to say. We’ll wait until we get the judgment and take it from there,” Dalglish said.

Cacic to revive Dinamo ZAGREB: Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb yesterday appointed Ante Cacic as their new coach nearly three weeks after Krunoslav Jurcic’s sacking in the wake of a crushing 7-1 home defeat to Lyon in the Champions League. Jurcic was sacked within an hour of the December 7 match against former French champions Lyon-Dinamo’s worst ever defeat in European competition and one of the largest winning margins in the Champions League. Zagreb-born Cacic, who has coached several Croatian first and second division clubs in a two-decade long career, moves from Lokomotiva Zagreb. “Cacic is a great coach and has achieved good results with all Croatian clubs,” Dinamo official Zoran Mamic told media. “He has never won a championship since he did not have a chance to lead Dinamo or Hajduk” Split, he said in a reference to the top flight’s long-time rivals. “This is a great honor and the high point in my career,” said the 58-year-old Cacic. “I believe I can improve (Dinamo’s) game and I’m certain that I will succeed.” Dinamo finished bottom of Group D without a point after conceding 22 goals over six matches-also a record since the Champions League competition started in 1992.

BARCELONA: Barcelona’s Thiago (left) scores against Hospitalet’s goalkeeper Craviotto during a Spanish Copa del Rey soccer match at the Camp Nou stadium on Thursday, Dec 22, 2011. — AP

Ruthless Barcelona rout Hospitalet 9-0 Valencia thump Cadiz 4-0 in cup MADRID: Pep Guardiola showed Hospitalet no mercy as the Barcelona coach fielded a full-strength side that demolished the third-tier team 9-0 to reach the last 16 of the Copa del Rey on Thursday. While Lionel Messi was missing from the Club World Cup champions’ starting lineup, the Argentina forward’s absence made little difference as Barcelona raced into a 5-0 lead by halftime before netting four more goals after the break to win 10-0 on aggregate. Guardiola left nothing to chance after four topflight clubs were eliminated in the fourth round on Wednesday. “One part of me is bold and the other fearful,” Guardiola said. “These types of games fill me with some fear.” But his decision to field many of his Spain internationals proved costly as Andres Iniesta injured his right thigh, and Cesc Fabregas also appeared be hurt in the second half. Only four days on from its 4-0 rout of Santos in Japan, Messi was among the handful of regulars rested but Guardiola still opted to include Xavi Hernandez, Carles Puyol, Thiago Alcantara, Fabregas, and Iniesta as his team delivered the biggest victory of his coaching career. “We were jet-lagged and I asked the players to take the game seriously. I didn’t know how they would feel today and the game could have easily ended with them winning 1-0,” said Guardiola, who won his 13th trophy from 15 competitions in Japan. “To see how composed these players that have won everything shows why we are so admired and why we are the best team in the world this year.” Emerging talents like Isaac Cuenca showed just how deep Barcelona’s squad is as the speedy winger won two penalties, including Pedro Rodriguez’s 11th-minute opener. Xavi then threaded through to Fabregas, who crossed into the area for Iniesta to tap into the empty goal in the 19th minute. Guardiola celebrated, but he soon

wrapped his hands around his head in worry after Iniesta tangled with goalkeeper Carlos Craviotto. The playmaker came off after half an hour with the injury that will sideline him for at least two weeks. Thiago scored the first of two goals in the 23rd before Xavi converted Fabregas’ lob from inside the area. Guardiola took no risks with the FIFA Golden Ball candidate after that as he substituted Xavi for 20-year-old Cristian Tello in the 39th, and the B-team player had an immediate impact as he scored the first of two goals four minutes after coming on. Cuenca scored in the 49th before provoking a penalty that Thiago converted in the 54th, and the 20-year-old winger capped the emphatic victory by firing a high shot over Craviatto after Tello had notched his second from an individual effort. Earlier, Valencia thumped third division side Cadiz 4-0 to advance by the same

aggregate scoreline after a scoreless first leg. Victor Ruiz, Jonas and Roberto Soldado scored first-half goals at the Mestalla stadium to put the hosts in control, and Ever Banega marked his return from injury with a goal in the 69th minute. Atletico Madrid and Villarreal both fired their coaches after being eliminated by third division clubs on Wednesday, when topflight teams Real Betis and Zaragoza also failed to advance from the fourth round. Defending champion Real Madrid is among the 16 teams which will be drawn for the next round starting Jan 4. Alcorcon, Cordoba, Mirandes and Albacete are the four lower-tier teams left in Friday’s draw, with the remaining clubs coming from the first division. They are: Athletic Bilbao, Mallorca, Racing Santander, Real Sociedad, Osasuna, Espanyol, Sevilla, Levante, and Malaga. — AP

Ancelotti to replace Kombouare at PSG PARIS: Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti is reportedly on the verge of taking over at big-spending French club Paris SaintGermain. PSG is widely expected to part ways with Antoine Kombouare despite leading the French league going into the winter break, with French and Italian newspapers reporting yesterday that Ancelotti is close to being hired as his replacement. PSG declined comment on the reports, but issued a statement on Thursday saying it had “started amicable discussions” with Kombouare to resolve the situation. French daily Le Parisien said Friday that Ancelotti is expected to sign for two and a half years and will take charge by Jan. 1, with L’Equipe and Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport also saying the former AC Milan and Chelsea coach is set to take over. — AP

A combination of recent pictures shows former French football L1 Paris Saint-Germain’s coach Antoine Kombouare (right) and British Chelsea’s football team former manager, Italian Carlo Ancelotti. — AFP


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Ruthless Barcelona rout Hospitalet 9-0

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LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur’s Luka Modric (front right) tackles Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic during their English Premier League soccer match at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane stadium. (Inset) Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder Ramires (top) vies with Tottenham Hotspur’s goalkeeper Brad Friedel (left) and English defender Ledley King during an English Premier League football match on December 22, 2011. —AP

Spurs, Chelsea share London derby spoils Tottenham stay third after 1-1 draw Tottenham 1

Chelsea 1

LONDON: London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea slugged out a 1-1 draw in an exciting derby at White Hart Lane on Thursday as the home team held on to third spot in the Premier League. Both sides were left to rue missed chances that could have edged them closer to leaders Manchester City and champions Manchester United and, worryingly, both enter the festive program with injury problems. Emmanuel

Adebayor gave Tottenham the perfect start when he turned in a Gareth Bale cross after eight minutes but having dominated the opening exchanges the hosts were forced to retreat by a stirring Chelsea fightback. The visitors, in fourth spot, equalized after 23 minutes through the lively Daniel Sturridge and had the better chances. In a thrilling second half Ramires wasted a glorious opportunity for Chelsea and Adebayor was denied a dramatic late winner by a sliding John Terry clearance in stoppage time. Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas praised his side for their second-half dominance and said they could still win the title despite being 11 points behind leaders City. “In some ways I think we lost two points today but getting a point here is still excellent,” the Portuguese told reporters. “In terms of

our title challenge it keeps it alive. “Our passing game exploded today to fantastic levels, outstanding, it was remarkable. A fair result would have been a Chelsea win.” Going into the busy Christmas program Tottenham have 35 points from 16 games, with Chelsea two points behind having played a game more than the north London club. City have 44 from 17 games, two ahead of United. Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said a draw was a fair result after injuries hampered his side. Dutchman Rafael van der Vaart sustained a hamstring injury that Redknapp said could rule him out of the Christmas and New Year program of fixtures while defender Younes Kaboul suffered a similar fate in the warm-up. “It was a tight game,” Redknapp said. “The first 25 minutes we dominated but then they scored

and got stronger and the second half it was difficult because Rafael did a hamstring and we had no one who could play on the right. “They outnumbered us in midfield and it was hard work for us.” Tottenham began the game as if they were determined to underline their newfound status as London’s highest-placed club. Bale caused havoc with his pace down the left and it was no surprise he proved the architect of the opening goal. DEVILISH CROSS Sandro dispossessed Sturridge and played in the Wales winger who accelerated past three defenders to fire in a devilish cross that Adebayor touched in as keeper Petr Cech hesitated. Sturridge should have equalized with Chelsea’s first attack, lifting his shot over the bar after

Spurs keeper Brad Friedel parried Juan Mata’s fizzing low shot. Forward Sturridge, tipped for England duty at Euro 2012, leveled against the run of play when Ashley Cole charged down the left and crossed for the unmarked former City player to guide a close-range volley past Friedel. The goal changed the complexion of the contest, as Chelsea grew in stature and Tottenham lost their early spark, with Didier Drogba lashing a shot against the crossbar. Chelsea also had injury problems with defender Branislav Ivanovic and midfielder John Obi Mikel hobbling off in the first half. The 2009-10 league champions controlled the early stages of the second half with Ramires forcing a superb save from Friedel. —Reuters


24 Dec 2011