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Kuwait National & Liberation Days

No: 15404

The last day of receiving entries for Photography Competition is on April 2, 2012

150 Fils

French commandos round up ‘jihadists’ 19 Islamists arrested; Kalashnikovs, handguns found

Max 28º Min 17º

in the


Bin Laden fathered 4 children in Pakistan ISLAMABAD: Osama bin Laden fathered four children as he hid out in Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks, his youngest wife told interrogators, according to a police report seen by AFP yesterday. Amal Abdulfattah’s account provides rare details of the Al-Qaeda leader’s life from when he fled Afghanistan in late 2001 until his death aged 54 last May during a US Navy SEAL operation in Abbottabad, in Pakistan. Abdulfattah, from Yemen, was arrested by Pakistani authorities following the US raid on bin Laden’s compound near the Pakistani capital Islamabad, along with two of his Saudi wives, and her five children. The three detained widows face charges of illegally entering and residing in Pakistan. Abdulfattah, 30, was shot while trying to protect her husband, according to the US. The Pakistan police report, dated January 19, said Abdulfattah was born into a family of 17 children and married bin Laden because “she had a desire to marry a Mujahedeen”, using the term for “holy warrior”. The report, from the office of the inspector general of police in Islamabad, recommended Abdulfattah and her children be immediately deported.

Much sitting linked to shortened lives SYDNEY: People who spent a lot of time sitting at a desk or in front of a television were more likely to die than those who were only sedentary a few hours a day, according to an Australian study that looked at death rates during a threeyear period. Researchers, whose results appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that the link between too much time sitting and shortened lives stuck even when they accounted for how much moderate or vigorous exercise people got, as well as their weight and other measures of health. That suggests that shifting some time from sitting to light physical activity, such as slow walking or active chores, might have important long-term benefits, they added. “When we give people messages about how much physical activity they should be doing, we also need to talk to them about reducing the amount of hours they spend sitting each day,” said Hidde van der Ploeg, the new study’s lead author from the University of Sydney. Of more than 200,000 adults age 45 and older, van der Ploeg and her colleagues found that people who reported sitting for at least 11 hours a day were 40 percent more likely to die during the study than those who sat less than four hours daily. That doesn’t, however, prove that sitting itself cuts people’s lives short, she noted, adding that there could be other unmeasured differences between people who spend a lot or a little time sitting each day. The team surveyed about 220,000 people from New South Wales, Australia, between 2006 and 2008, including questions about participants’ general health and any medical conditions they had, whether they smoked and how much time they spent both exercising and sitting each day.

BOUGUENAIS: French members of the French National Police Intervention Group (GIPN) arrest Forsane Alizza Islamic radical group’s leader Mohamed Achamlane after searching his house in Bouguenais yesterday as part of down raids in several French cities. — AFP PARIS: Police commandos arrested 19 suspected Islamic militants in raids yesterday in several French cities including Toulouse, where seven people were killed by an AlQaeda-inspired gunman this month. President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose firm handling of the shooting spree has boosted his chances of re-election, said more raids would follow to get rid of “people who have no business in the country”. Interior Minister Claude Gueant said those arrested had paramilitary-type training although he did not say if they were planning an actual attack. “These are people who...claimed they were acting for an extremely violent, jihadist and combat ideology,” Gueant told reporters after meeting Muslim associations in Paris. Television channels showed images of the early morning raids, with agents from the RAID police commando unit and anti-terrorist specialists bashing down doors, smashing windows, and taking suspects away handcuffed and with their faces covered. Five rifles, three Kalashnikovs, four handguns and a bullet-proof vest were seized in the operation, Gueant said. A police source said about 20 people had been arrested in Toulouse in the south-

west, Nantes in western France and also in the Paris region and the southeast. Sarkozy put the number of arrests at 19. The operation was not directly related to Mohamed Merah’s killing spree in Toulouse, the police source said, although Sarkozy ordered a crackdown on radical Islamists following that. Merah was killed by police snipers last week after shooting dead three Jewish school children, a rabbi and three soldiers in attacks around Toulouse, turning internal security into a bigger campaign issue ahead of the presidential election. Polls showed that more than 70 percent of voters approved of Sarkozy’s handling of the incident, reducing his chief rival, Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande, to the role of bystander before the two-round election on April 22 and May 6. Gueant dismissed talk that the raids had been carried out in response to suggestions that the intelligence services had failed to monitor and track down Merah quickly enough. The police source said several of those arrested were believed to be close to the banned radical Islamist group Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride). Gueant said the group’s leader,

Mohammed Achamlane, had been arrested in Nantes. Founded in 2010, Forsane Alizza came to prominence after calling that year for a boycott of McDonald’s in the central city of Limoges, accusing the US fast food chain of serving Israel. Achamlane told the daily Liberation in January the group could not exclude launching an armed struggle “if Islamophobia continues to intensify day by day”. Before the Toulouse attacks, the group was known for provocative demonstrations, such as protests against a French ban on worshippers praying in the streets and a ban on full-face veils. Gueant banned the group in February, accusing it of preparing its supporters for armed struggle. Gilles Kepel, political scientist and specialist in Islam, said the group operated more on the internet - preaching extreme views and intimidating but never actually turning to violence. “It’s a big show, but obviously spreading ideas that can cause problems,” he said. France’s 5 million strong Muslim minority is the largest in Europe but only a portion - about 10 percent, or the same proportion as among Catholics - are practicing, according to Muslim associations.— Reuters


Opportunity to discuss Arab democratic transformations Kuwait delegation in Kampala KUWAIT: A Kuwaiti parliamentary delegation, led by Speaker of the National Assembly Ahmad AlSaadoun, left here for Kampala, the capital of Uganda, yesterday to take part in 126th session of the InterParliamentary Union’s (IPU) Assembly. The session, due to take

the last two years, Al-Saadoun told reporters on Thursday. Al-Saadoun voiced hope that the transformations being undergone by several Arab countries will open horizons for a better future on the political, economic and social scales, and turn over a new leaf in the histo-

KUWAIT: Kuwaiti parliamentary delegation led by Speaker Ahmad AlSaadoun leaves for Kampala yesterday. place between March 31 and April 5, will discuss democratic transformations in the Arab world in the light of the radical changes in the region in

ry of the region. “The IPU Assembly session will provide an opportunity for debating democratic transformations in the Arab world and listening

to the true voice of its nations,” he said. Al-Saadoun, who doubles as President of the Arab Inter-parliamentary Union AIPU, noted that the crisis in Syria will feature prominently in the AIPU debates as an emergency item on the agenda. He expressed hope that the meeting will be able to lobby support for “the brotherly people of Syria” who face “merciless genocide at the hands of the tyrant regime.” “The abuses being perpetrated by the Syrian regime on a daily basis run counter to all religious, traditional and humanitarian values. The entire world has to join forces to save the Syrian people from the barbaric atrocities,” he appealed. Al-Saadoun said the Palestinian people are suffering from similar human rights violations at the hands of the Israeli occupation authorities, urging the representatives of Arab parliaments at the meeting to back up the inter-Palestinian reconciliation efforts. The Kuwaiti delegation includes Ammar Al-Ajmi, Adel AlDamkhi, Hamad Al-Matar, Shayae AlShayae, Fallah Al-Sawwagh, Mohammad Al-Khalifa, Marzouq AlGhanem, Allam Al-Kandari, and Tawfiq Al-Wahib. — KUNA

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Old civil ID cards void after May 31 KUWAIT: Kuwaiti state institutions will stop accepting old civil ID cards as of May 31, the director-general of the Public Authority for Civil Information said on Thursday. Musaed Al-Assousi said the deadline is for those who have not been issued with the new-look IDs, which include a smart card. The authority has notified all state bodies to stop accepting old cards for official use. Travel amongst Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will also be rejected in the event an old card is used after the deadline. Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, Sheikh Sabah Khalid AlHamad Al-Sabah, issued an administrative order to stop the use of old civil IDs by June 1, 2012. —KUNA

Kuwaiti Ambassador Abdulrahman Al-Otaibi

Japan thankful for Amir’s generous donation TOKYO: Officials from the tsunami-hit Fukushima Prefecture aquarium in northeastern Japan yesterday expressed gratitude to His Highness the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, for his grant to restore the facilities. Kuwaiti Ambassador to Japan, Abdulrahman Al-Otaibi, was thanked by the officials about a week after the Amir announced the decision to give $3 million to rebuild the heavily-damaged marine life museum, ‘Aquamarine Fukushima’. “We thank His Highness and the Kuwaiti people for this generous donation,” said Aquamarine Fukushima Director Yoshitaka Abe. Koji Takano, Deputy Director of Department of Culture and Sports at Fukushima prefectural government, said “We will organize a handover ceremony of the Kuwaiti grant next month and build a monument to mark the Kuwaiti contribution, which will become a symbol of hope for reconstruction.” The aquarium was heavily damaged by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11th last year that left more than 19,000 people dead or missing in the northeastern region. During his successful visit to Tokyo from March 20 to 23, HH the Amir also offered US$ 2 million to help reconstruction efforts in Fukushima, home to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Ambassador Al-Otaibi said HH the Amir, the government and people of Kuwait are ready to support Japan and its people at this difficult stage, and to assist Japan’s reconstruction process. He said the aquarium has had a special and direct relationship with Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research over the years. Recalling Fukushima’s breathtaking beauty when he planted a cherry tree before the disaster, Al-Otaibi expressed hope that the region will recover and return better than before. The meeting was also attended by Mohammed Al-Mutairi, First Secretary at the Embassy, Yoshitaka Nakamura, Managing Director of Japan Cooperation Center for the Middle East (JCCME) and other officials. —KUNA

Kuwait, Britain tackle cybercrime KUWAIT: Lord Jonathan Marland, British Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Chairman of the UK Trade and Investment’s Business Ambassadors’ Group discussed cooperation in fighting cybercrime with Kuwaiti officials on Thursday. Lord Marland said British electronic and web companies and experts are ready to cooperate with Kuwait in the field. His accompanying delegation included representatives of several leading British cyberspace companies. The British official said a team of specialists in the field will visit Kuwait soon to hold talks with Minister of Communications, Salem Al-Othaina, over prospects and mechanisms for cooperation in this domain. Lord Marland also held talks with Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) Chairman Bader Al-Saad. KIA is a major investor in the United Kingdom and has several long-term investments there, he mentioned. —KUNA

Local SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2012

American in custody for beating policeman Caught with Ethiopian woman KUWAIT: An American expatriate was detained at Rumaithiya police station after he beat a policeman, injured his nose and broke his arm. During a security checking at Salmiya area police suspected a man with a woman next to him. He asked the driver to stop, but the man in the car took off and refused to stop. He was chased by police and forced to stop. The American expatriate got out of his car and started hitting the policeman in the face, which resulted in bleeding and breaking his arm. More patrol cars came to his assistance. They restrained the American and took him to Rumaithiya police station. His companion was his Ethiopian girlfriend, who has no residency papers. The policeman was taken to hospital. A case was registered. Syrians caught red-handed Three Syrian expatriates were caught red handed near a commercial centers in Ahmadi governorate. Security sources said that detectives kept the three men under their eyes, after leaving one of the commercial centers in Fahaheel area. After stopping them, Fahaheel detectives discovered their car was loaded with stolen electrical equipment. The three men, all Syrian, specialize in stealing from commercial shops. They confessed to stealing from 27 shops specialized in accessories and perfumes. They sell what they steal in Friday market. Kuwaiti dies, five injured A five car accident on the Fourth Ring Road resulted in the death of a Kuwaiti man, while five other persons suffering from various injuries were rushed to Jahra Hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit. Five cars were reported involved in the accident on the Fourth Ring Road. Security

men and firemen rushed to the site and the casualties were taken to Jahra Hospital. The body of the citizen, in his 40s, was transported to the medical examiner for further investigation. Widow kidnapped, raped A widow in her 40s accused an Egyptian taxi driver of kidnapping her to the desert. She said he held a piece of cloth over her nose and she lost consciousness, then he raped her. The taxi driver denied the charges and said the woman is in love with him and wants to marry him by any way. The 46-year-old widow told investigators at Taima police station that she has used the same taxi driver for the past seven months. The last time he took her from her house at Andalus to the house of her sister in Oyoun. Instead of going where she was supposed to go, he took her to the desert, keeping a piece of cloth on her nose. She lost consciousness and then he raped her. Police called the driver to the police station, telling him that they needed his services as a taxi driver. As he reached the police station, they started to interrogate him. He denied the charges and claimed that she is in love with him and wants to marry him. Both the woman and the driver were sent to public prosecution department for further investigation. Salmiya thief A businessman, who parked his car in Salmiya and went for a business dinner, found the side window broken when he returned. His valuable KD 7,000 watch and KD 300 glasses had disappeared from the car. He immediately reported the matter to police and accused unknown persons of the theft. Police and detectives are investigating the theft.

Syrian temptress caught By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: A Syrian woman and her brother were recently arrested by Hawalli detectives for fraud and swindling citizens, security sources said. Case papers indicate that the suspect, who is remarkably beautiful, used her charm to convince citizens to finance special business for her. Once they did, she sold the assets with the help of her brother, before they vanished. The suspects were arrested in Salmiya. Money stolen A citizen who owns a salon for ladies in Ahmadi reported that her Asian partner sold the salon without her knowledge and took KD 6,000 and vanished. A real estate store owner in Farwaniya reported that a rent collector collected KD 5,000 and left to his home country. Arrested for insult An Arab expatriate was arrested for allegedly insulting a high-ranking statesman, security sources said, noting that the suspect was arrested upon a complaint filed by a citizen.

Cleaning campaign at Kout Beach By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: Fahad Dughaim Al-Otaibi, Ahmadi Municipality manager, stressed that taking care of people with special needs is a top priority for the Municipality. Al-Otaibi was speaking as the Maarefa Ideal School for Special Needs helped during a beach cleaning campaign at Kout Beach. Al-Otaibi said beach cleaning operations do not only include removing rubbish. He said preventing people from barbequing on grass and green areas also involves cleaning barbeque and ash waste thrown on the beach or in the sea. He said these actions damage both marine life and the greenery. Al-Otaibi said the Municipality construction department was contacted to allocate special sites for barbequing along the sea front, and to provide special dumpsters nearby for the disposal of ash and other waste.

Child hurt A 10-year-old child broke his right arm after falling at a game arcade along the seafront in Salmiya, security sources said, noting that he was taken to Mubarak Hospital for treatment. Road accidents A 24-year-old citizen broke his pelvis and sustained bruises all over in an accident in Salwa. A 13-year-old citizen sustained a serious wound to his right leg when he was run over by a speeding vehicle in Fahaheel. A 24-year-old citizen sustained head and left leg injuries when he lost control over his bike. It slid at a Jahra intersection. He was taken to Jahra Hospital for treatment. A 25-year-old Egyptian sustained a head injury when he was run over by a vehicle in Abdullah Al-Mubarak Street, security sources said.

Abdul Mohsend Al-Rushaid

NBK turns off lights to mark Earth Hour KUWAIT: National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) will turn off its lights today (March 31) to mark Earth Hour. Earth Hour is a global event designed to raise consciousness on the importance of environmental protection and energy efficiency and the need to take action on global warming. NBK will support the awareness campaign by switching off all non-essential lighting at its head office and branches around Kuwait for a period of one hour between 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. “NBK was the first bank in Kuwait to promote an environment awareness program that included conservation and protection of our environment. We are glad to participate as a way to raise awareness about the importance of conservation and the damage caused by global warming,” said Abdul Mohsend Al-Rushaid, NBK public relations manager. NBK supports a variety of activities and initiatives to encourage greater awareness of energy conservation and environmental protection in Kuwait including beach clean ups, water and electricity conservation awareness campaigns, under the ‘Think Twice’ program and paper recycling at NBK head office and branches.

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KUWAIT: Under the patronage of Dr Ahmad Al-Samdan, secretary general for the national committee for protection from drugs, a training course on psychological disturbances and its relation to taking drugs was held. The course started on March 25 and lasted for five days. Dr Othman Al-Asfoor from the Arab United Institute lectured.

Off to Baghdad in two weeks for unsolved issues: FM Kuwait helps Iraq out of UN Chapter VII By A Saleh KUWAIT: Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled, said he will visit Iraq in two weeks to follow up unfinished issues between both countries. He said a joint committee will discuss these issues on its next meeting. Al-Khaled said holding the recent Arab Summit in Baghdad was the right decision, since Iraq was a founding member of the Arab League and Kuwait fully supports Iraq and its people, particularly after the recent developments in both countries bilateral relations. Kuwait cooperation Ali Al-Momen, Kuwaiti Ambassador to Iraq, announced immediately after the Arab Summit concluded that Kuwait will start working to get Iraq out of the UN Chapter VII restrictions. He said the Kuwaiti government will cooperate with Iraq and support it to

get the sanctions imposed on the Iraqi people lifted. Al-Momen said the Arab states attending the Summit agreed to form a united security body, similar to the NATO pacts, to help protect Arab countries, fight terrorism, improve economics through a strategy similar to the EU market, and expand cultural and social cooperation and integration among Arab countries. Kuwaiti-Iraqi talks Ahmed Al-Chalabi, Chairman of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), said Kuwaiti-Iraqi meetings held on the sidelines of the Arab Summit in Baghdad were economically fruitful in terms of both countries’ marine activities and activating Basra ports. Al-Chalabi said the talks resulted in new agreements to retain both countries’ commercial relations. ‘Both countries’ joint committees will start working in the coming few days on opening some ports and activating cruises, commercial exchange and

export operations between both countries.” He said Kuwaiti leaders instructions clearly emphasized the need to develop more positive steps between both countries. He said great progress had been made to get Iraq out of the UN Chapter VII sanctions and solve border demarcation issues. Al-Shamali grilling MP Musallam Al-Barrak said his grilling motion against Finance Minister, Mustafa Al-Shamali, will be filed in April. He said he is urging the minister not to try to avoid facing or responding to it. Al-Barrak said the Finance Minister no longer cares about calls to reform financial establishments under his jurisdiction. “Unfortunately, he is starting to defend corrupt violations,” he said, noting that Al-Shamali is unprecedentedly starting to reject certain questions and enquiries at meetings with parliamentary investigation committees.

Kuwaiti cultural festival in Japan KUWAIT: The Kuwaiti cultural festival in Japan, which coincided with a visit by His Highness the Amir of Kuwait to the country, ended yesterday according to a statement by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information. The festival enabled the people of Japan to sample some of Kuwait’s culture, including its music, artifacts, calligraphy, poetry and publications, the statement said. Japanese Princess Takamado graced the opening of the festival on March 19, held in a building complex in the center of the capital city of Tokyo. A bevy of Japanese and Kuwaiti officials, and a swelling crowd of Japanese citizens were invited to the event. Among the festival activities were four traditional folkloric music concerts presented by Kuwait’s State Television band, an art gallery show displaying paintings and sculptures by Kuwaiti artists, an Arabic calligraphy workshop, a fashion show featuring traditional Kuwaiti attire and a workshop demonstrating how old Kuwaiti dhows were built. An expert Kuwaiti craftsman displayed an array of woven Sadu carpets, handmade by Kuwaiti traditional weavers, which are usually Bedouin women. There was also a photography exhibition which documented Japanese-Kuwaiti historical relations. The festival was held about a year after the devastating quake and tsunami that struck Japan, prompting Kuwait to express its solidarity with the country and wishing it a total recovery from the unforeseen disaster. —KUNA

KUWAIT: Khaled Al-Duwaisan, Kuwaiti ambassador to Britain, was recently awarded an honorary Ph.D in Civil Law from East Anglia University.

Sulfur pollution KUWAIT: Ali Haider, General Director of Environment Public Authority (EPA), announced approval for constructing an environmentally friendly fourth refinery. Two new units will supply the electricity power station with clean fuel, reducing the pollution problem. Haider said the problem of sulfur pollution caused by electricity power stations will be solved by constructing a fourth refinery. He said the problem will continue until power stations are supplied with clean fuel. —Al-Rai

Amiri visit to Iraq ‘historic’ BAGHDAD: Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari hailed on Thursday the visit to Baghdad of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to take part in the Arab Summit as a “historic move”. “HH the Amir’s visit has sent positive and friendly messages to the Iraqi government and people and it was historic in the full sense of the word,” Zebari said in a joint press conference with Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al-Arabi at the conclusion of the Arab Summit. He said Iraq and Kuwait have good and steadily progressing relations. “HH the Amir’s attendance is an important event that will have positive impacts on the future of relations between the two Arab neighbors.” He expected that the visit will help to resolve the outstanding problems between the two countries. “Bilateral relations will see more success in the near future, especially as the Joint Ministerial Committee in mid-April will discuss all the outstanding issues,” the Iraqi top diplomat said. Zebari described the Arab Summit in Baghdad as totally successful, noting that the level of attendance was very good, taking into account the situation in many countries. He said the summit has ended Iraq’s regional isolation and brought it back to the Arab fold. Zebari said the Syrian crisis topped discussions at the Arab Summit. Arab League Chief Al-Arabi lauded HH the participation of the Amir of Kuwait in the summit. “HH the Amir’s initiative reflects Kuwait’s eagerness to open a new page in relations with Iraq.” Al-Arabi said Iraq has restored its influential role in the Arab region. He renewed calls for the Syrian government to fully implement the initiative of the UNArab Envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, to halt the bloodshed in the Arab nation. The 23rd Arab Summit concluded here on Thursday evening with Arab leaders and their representatives adopting the Baghdad declaration. The document underlines commitment to solidarity and constructive dialogue to solve inter-Arab differences and support the aspirations of the Syrian people for freedom and democracy. It commends recent political changes in several Arab countries and the great strides towards democratization that promote the status of Arab nations. Regarding combat against terrorism, the declaration denounces all forms of terrorism and urges Arab security services to work together to dry up its financial and ideological sources. The document welcomed the launching by Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of an international center to combat terrorism under the UN umbrella. It extols the Palestinian people for valiantly resisting Israeli aggressions and remaining steadfast in the frontline of the struggle against Jewish abuses of Muslim sanctities in occupied Palestinian territories. The document urges Palestinian factions to speed up reconciliation efforts and put their national interests above narrow factional interests, deeming reconciliation a prerequisite to reach a fair, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. — KUNA


Israeli forces clash with Palestinians on Land Day


Labour loses seat in UK by-election


US drone strike kills 4 militants in Pakistan


DAEL: A handout picture released by the General Committee of the Syrian Revolution yesterday shows Syrian anti-regime protesters waving pre-Baath Syrian flags during a demonstration in Dael in the southern Syrian province of Daraa. International envoy Kofi Annan urged Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to immediately implement a ceasefire, as fighting raged even after the embattled leader said he had accepted the peace plan. — AFP

Syria deadline is now: Annan Clinton meets Saudi king amid tensions BEIRUT: Syrian artillery hit parts of Homs city and at least 10 people were killed in clashes around the country yesterday, opposition activists said, as peace envoy Kofi Annan told President Bashar al-Assad his forces must be first to cease fire and withdraw. “The deadline is now,” Annan’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said in Geneva. “We expect him to implement this plan immediately.” An army pullback to bases would permit a safe return to mass, peaceful protest, said anti-government activists. But there was no sign of any risk-free demonstrations yesterday. Five people were killed as rebels battled the army after troops broke up a protest in Deir alZor near the border with Iraq, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, and protests drew gunfire in several neighbourhoods of Damascus. “Clashes erupted between armed defector groups and the regime forces in the Jobar neighbourhood of Damascus after security forces tried to break up a protest,” the Observatory said. It also reported government snipers killing two people in the cities of Idlib

and Homs. Two were shot dead in southern Deraa, where rebels attacking a checkpoint killed a soldier. In Homs, Syria’s third city, residents said shells and mortar rounds exploded as troops raided anti-Assad areas. Farther north, many were wounded in fighting in Idlib province. Assad has said he will spare no effort to implement Annan’s peace proposals, but warned they would not work unless there is an end to foreign funding and arming of rebel groups. The United Nations says Assad’s forces have killed at least 9,000 people in the year-long uprising. The government says around 3,000 soldiers and police have been killed. Removing any ambiguity about the ceasefire terms of the peace plan Assad has said he accepts, Annan’s spokesman said it was up to the Syrian military to move first and show good faith by withdrawing tanks, big guns and troops from cities. The Annan plan “specifically asks the government to withdraw its troops, to cease using heavy weapons in populated centres”, Fawzi said. “The very clear implication here is that the government must stop first and then discuss a

cessation of hostilities with the other side and with the mediator.” The plan requires the lightly-armed rebels to stop shooting. But the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has not said whether it accepts Annan’s proposals and political opposition groups have not explicitly endorsed his call for a dialogue with Assad. Annan is acting on behalf of the United Nations and Arab League. Diplomats say he may ask for a UN monitoring mission to oversee implementation of the peace plan. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First we want to see that the bloodbath ends,” said an activist calling himself Abu Mohammed. If the UN plan is adopted and peace monitors are deployed, the opposition could protest peacefully and openly as Egyptians did during their revolt against Hosni Mubarak, he said. “But it’s not going to happen.” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah in Riyadh yesterday to discuss the conflict ahead of a “Friends of Syria” conference with opposition leaders and Arab and Western foreign ministers at the weekend in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia, with Qatar, has led

Arab efforts to press Assad to end his crackdown on the uprising and step aside. “The policy options are very limited. The United States is in no position to assist in arming the rebels or to provide any kind of military support for them. So my guess is there will be efforts from the Saudis to coordinate proposals and at least buy time for the rebels,” said former US envoy Robert Jordan. Syrian dissidents said a military withdrawal if it happens would let them return to peaceful mass demonstrations. “There is nothing happening that can lift people’s spirits, but we’ve reached a stage of no going back, so it doesn’t really matter,” said anti-Assad activist Waleed Fares. “The real question is if Assad will actually implement Annan’s initiative ... That wouldn’t even satisfy the minimum of our demands except that he would have to allow us to protest peacefully without shooting us and shelling our homes.” Assad’s strongest regional ally, Iran, said 12 Iranian citizens abducted “by Syrian opposition forces” had been released, including five engineers working for Syria’s power plant in Homs who were kidnapped in late December. —Reuters


Fighting rages near key Sudan border village KHARTOUM: Sudanese troops fought deadly battles with rebel fighters in the strategic village of Talodi, close to the border with the newly independent south, sources on both sides said yesterday. The clashes came as negotiators were finalising the details of a joint UN, Arab League and African Union plan for aid to the area, where food shortages have sparked global concern. Hollywood actor George Clooney, who recently visited the war zone, highlighted the issue earlier this month when he and several members of the US Congress were arrested outside the US embassy in Khartoum. They were calling for an end to a Sudanese offensive they fear will cause thousands to starve. Sudan’s military said it repulsed the assualt on Talodi by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), ethnic minority rebels formerly allied with the SPLM which is now the ruling party in the south. The army spokesman, Sawarmi Khaled Saad, said he did not have immediate casualty figures. The SPLM-N said it killed more than 20 government troops.

“We lost four, and seven wounded” on the rebel side, said SPLM-N spokesman Arnu Ngutulu Lodi. The figures were impossible to verify. Lodi said that in fighting which began on Thursday and was continuing yesterday insurgents seized two Sudanese army outposts, Mafloa and Um Dual, which are several kilometres (miles) from Talodi. “They are on the main logistics road from Talodi,” which is near a key junction between South Kordofan state capital Kadugli and the south. Mafloa has changed hands before during the fighting which began in South Kordofan last June, Lodi added. Army spokesman Saad said his forces do not maintain a troop presence in either place. “We only have patrols,” he said. Sudan has cited security concerns in placing tight restrictions on the operations of foreign relief agencies in South Kordofan and nearby Blue Nile state, where a similar conflict began late last year. More than 360,000 people have been driven from their homes or suffered other severe effects from the

fighting, according to the United Nations. United States officials have warned that about 250,000 people could soon go hungry in the region. Ethnic minority insurgents of the SPLM-N fought alongside the former rebels now ruling South Sudan, which became independent in July last year after an overwhelming vote for secession following Africa’s longest war. Sudan has accused the south of supporting the SPLM-N, a charge denied by the government in Juba. Talodi is about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the nearest point of the disputed border with South Sudan. Northern and southern troops clashed last Monday and Tuesday in the Heglig oil-producing region, more than 100 kilometres (65 miles) southwest of Talodi, in the most serious violence between the two sides since the south’s independence. The African Union is expected to lead crisis talks between senior envoys of the two nations in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, after the Heglig fighting sparked concern around the world and fears of a wider war. — AFP

Israeli forces clash with Palestinians on Land Day Violence around Jerusalem, injuries in Gaza JERUSALEM: Israeli security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to break up small groups of Palestinian stone-throwers yesterday as annual Land Day rallies turned violent around Jerusalem. Medics in the Gaza Strip said the Israeli army also used live fire to prevent protesters from approaching frontier barriers in the small coastal territory, wounding nine people, including one seriously. Palestinian activists called for a “Global March to Jerusalem” to mark the day when Israeli Arabs protest against land confiscation, and although there were many rallies, Israeli police said crowd numbers were relatively small. “We are dealing with a number of disturbances, but in general the situation around the country has been relatively quiet,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. Israeli forces were put on high alert on the frontiers with Lebanon and Syria, but there were no reports of anyone nearing the border fences, unlike last

year when several demonstrators were killed in separate protests. However, violence flared at checkpoints in the occupied West Bank to the north and south of Jerusalem. Witnesses also reported disturbances at gates leading into the Old City, with police limiting access to the Muslims’ revered alAqsa Mosque. Jerusalem is a focal point of conflict, as Palestinians want the city’s eastern sector, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, as capital of a future state. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem as part of its capital and insists the city remain united. “We are determined to march together toward Jerusalem, and hopefully we will break through and reach it,” said a masked youth, calling himself Rimawi, as he faced off against soldiers in the West Bank city Ramallah, a short distance from Jerusalem. Flag-waving crowds neared the Qalandiya crossing out of Ramallah, some of them hurling stones at the

GILO: Palestinian security forces stand guard as Palestinian women listen to the Friday prayers sermon near the controversial Israeli separation barrier in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Gilo which lies south of Jerusalem and just north of the West Bank Biblical town of Bethlehem prior to a demonstration to mark the “Land day” yesterday. — AFP

security forces, but were forced back when border police fired tear gas and sprayed them with foul smelling liquid from a water cannon. There were also confrontations in Bethlehem, where Palestinians threw petrol bombs at an Israeli watchtower. One man was critically wounded when he was hit in the head by a tear gas canister, activists said. Land Day commemorates the killing of six Arabs in 1976 during protests against the confiscation of their land in Israel’s Galilee region. Arabs make up around 20 percent of Israel’s total population and often complain of discrimination. Previous remembrances have mostly passed quietly, but Israel decided to reinforce its defences this year following deadly clashes along the Lebanese and Syrian borders in May and June that appeared to catch the military off guard. Palestinian organisers called for peaceful rallies on Friday against “the policies and practices of the racist Zionist state” and said solidarity protests were planned in some 80 nations. “When crowds from 80 countries move towards Jerusalem, they send a strong message to the Israeli occupation that no one can accept what they are doing in Jerusalem,” said Ismail Haniyeh, the Gaza leader of the Islamic group Hamas. Israel is wary of growing unrest in the Palestinian Territories, with peace talks stalled for months and Palestinian leaders refusing to return to the negotiating table until Israel halts all Jewish settlement building in the West Bank. Leading Palestinian activist Marwan Barghouti, serving multiple life sentences in an Israeli jail for allegedly orchestrating suicide attacks, called on Monday for a new wave of civil resistance in the decades-long quest for statehood. — Reuters

CAIRO: Supporters of Egyptian Islamist candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail hold his posters as they drive through Ramses Street during a rally in Cairo yesterday. Abu Ismail has taken a confrontational stance towards the ruling military. If elected on May 23, he wants to see an end to US aid to Egypt and plans to apply a strict interpretation of Islamic law. — AFP

Islamist draws crowds in Egypt election campaign CAIRO: A sheikh who blends hardline Islamism with revolutionary zeal is emerging as a frontrunner in the race for the Egyptian presidency, buoyed by a popular touch which even his critics say is striking a chord with many voters. Hazem Salah Abu Ismail’s message has moved from the mosque to the masses in the year since Hosni Mubarak was swept from power, helped by a campaign which to date appears one of the best funded. His posters are everywhere, put up by dedicated supporters to whom he is both a celebrity and visionary. “This man knows how to speak to people in their own language,” said Aladin Nounou, a factory owner who says most of his 600 workers count themselves as Abu Ismail admirers. A lawyer by profession, Abu Ismail got a warm reception from thousands of adoring students at a Cairo University rally on Tuesday. A day later, there was another big turnout in Mansoura, a Nile Delta city north of the capital. To liberals, leftists and others worried by the rise of Islamist influence in the post-Mubarak Egypt, the prominence of a man committed to a tighter application of Islamic law is yet another cause for concern about the direction of the country of 80 million. Islamist parties already dominate the parliament. Analysts who discounted him a few months ago believe that Abu Ismail could make it to the second round of the elec-

tion, foreseeing a run-off that might pit him against former Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, a liberal nationalist, or another of the candidates. With the long beard of a Salafi Muslim, softly-spoken Abu Ismail is finding supporters among Egyptians who voted for both the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultraconservative Nour Party in the legislative elections. Together, they won two thirds of the parliament. To date, neither has decided to field their own candidate for the presidency, though the Brotherhood is reviewing a previous decision not to run. Trying to project a moderate image, the group has distanced itself from the Salafis. Abu Ismail is the most hardline of a group of independent Islamists running in the May election. He is campaigning under the slogan “We will live in dignity” - a statement splashed in conservative blue across Tshirts worn by his supporters. While he has said there should be no quick application of strict Islamic codes, his programme says a Muslim ruler should work towards applying widely-accepted elements of the sharia, for example, by prohibiting alcohol - a step that could have a deep impact on an economy heavily dependent on tourism. Abu Ismail’s critics have gone online in an effort to undermine his credibility. He has been the focus of hundreds of irreverent jokes on the web.—Reuters


Monti seeks to defuse row over party remarks ROME: Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti sought yesterday to put out a growing political storm over comments reported from his trip in Asia in which he appeared to criticise the political parties which back his unelected government in parliament. Monti triggered widespread media and political criticism in Italy after remarks which seemed aimed at politicians who have been slow to back his planned reforms of Italy’s labour market. “The government enjoys high support in opinion polls, the parties do not,” he told a conference in Tokyo. In an open letter to the Corriere della

Sera newspaper published yesterday, Monti, a former European Commissioner appointed in November to the helm of a “technocrat” government, said that his comments had been misinterpreted. “I very much regret this, and all the more so as these reflections, expressed during a long speech in English, had the opposite intention from that which was attributed to them out of context,” he said. “They were intended to underline the fact that even in a difficult political period, Italian political forces are showing themselves strong and capable of looking to the interests of the

Poverty, frustration keep Macedonia tensions alive SLUPCANE: The bullet holes in the walls of Qemail Ismaili’s home are a reminder of how close Macedonia came to fullblown civil war in 2001, when he joined a guerrilla insurgency on behalf of the country’s ethnic Albanian minority. The rebels eventually disarmed in return for the immediate promise of greater rights and representation, and the more distant prospect of prosperity and opportunity within the European Union. But just over a decade on, 56-year-old Ismaili is unemployed and unable to afford the fees to keep his son in university. Macedonia’s candidacy for membership of the EU, meanwhile, has gone nowhere since 2005, frozen by a dispute with neighbouring Greece that has defied two decades of United Nations mediation. “I thought this country would be completely different,” Ismaili said in the northern village of Slupcane. “I was aching for a better life, but since 2001 things have only got worse, there’s even more poverty.” Ismaili’s complaints are common. So when an off-duty police officer shot dead two ethnic Albanians in the western town of Gostivar in a row over a parking space in late February, alarm bells began ringing. More than a dozen people were wounded and more arrested in the two weeks of mob violence that ensued as gangs from the Macedonian Slavic-speaking majority and Albanian minority traded attacks with baseball bats and knives, often targeting public transport in the capital, Skopje. The national football league briefly postponed games for fear of stoking more unrest. The violence appears to have subsided, but it underscored how far Macedonia still has to go to unite the communities that share this small, landlocked and impoverished piece of the former Yugoslavia. Poverty and nationalism could yet form an explosive mix, diplomats and analysts say. “It’s a recipe for disaster,” said a senior Western diplomat, who declined to be named. “When people have no money, they try to find somebody to blame. In Macedonia’s case, ethnic groups blame each other for their misfortunes.” Macedonia’s was the final conflict stemming from the bloody collapse of Yugoslavia, the last domino to fall after the 1998-99 war in neighbouring majority-Albanian Kosovo, when Serb forces under then strongman Slobodan Milosevic waged a brutal counter-insurgency war. NATO and EU diplomacy halted the fighting in Macedonia before it escalated into all-out war. The guerrillas entered politics in exchange for a more equitable distribution of power between the Slavic-speaking majority and the Albanians. Albanians make up at least 25 percent of Macedonia’s 2 million people. There could be more of them, but the country scrapped a population census last year in another row over who should be counted. Implicit in the peace deal was the promise that, if the sides could get along, the country would have a better chance of joining the rest of the western Balkans on the path to membership of NATO and the EU-an ambition shared by both communities. But the process of accession has become hostage to a totally unrelated row with EU- and NATO-member Greece, which objects to what it says is its northern neighbour’s appropriation of the name ‘Macedonia’ and its claim to the legacy of Alexander the Great, an issue which means nothing to ethnic Albanians. — Reuters

country.” Monti’s comments highlight the growing political tensions surrounding economic reforms which have aroused strong opposition from the unions and the centre-left and lowered his approval ratings among ordinary Italians. After a four-month political honeymoon following his appointment to succeed the scandal-plagued Silvio Berlusconi and calm financial markets that were threatening to engulf Italy in a Greek-style crisis, Monti has run into serious headwinds. Italy’s biggest union, the CGIL, is planning to go on strike against reform

proposals that would make it easier for companies to sack employees. The centre-left Democratic Party, which normally supports Monti, has vowed to force the premier to back down on the plans. That has set up a confrontation with the centre-right PDL, the other main party backing the government, which wants the changes implemented as they stand. Monti said he was convinced that political parties and Italian citizens would act responsibly to restore growth and investment and find jobs for young people. He said he expected this would continue after his term ended in 2013. — Reuters

Hungary president Schmitt cancels Friday schedule Opposition LMP stages protest BUDAPEST: Hungarian President Pal Schmitt cancelled appointments on his schedule yesterday, a day after being stripped of his doctorate following a months-long plagiarism row which opposition parties say made him unworthy of the job. The controversy comes at a sensitive time for Hungary as it tries to resolve a lengthy dispute with the European Union on contested new laws to unlock stalled talks on financial support. A statement from the president’s office gave no explanation for the cancellations. Schmitt had been due to meet Slovenia’s visiting foreign minister and attend an innovation awards ceremony in parliament. Shortly after the announcement, about 20 activists and a lawmaker from the small opposition LMP party staged a protest outside the presidential palace demanding Schmitt’s resignation. Before the ruling, Schmitt was quoted as saying by national MTI news agency he would not resign. Under Hungarian laws, he can be removed by a two-thirds majority vote in parliament. Schmitt has played an instrumental role in pushing the agenda of his ally, conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban, signing disputed reforms, such as retroactive taxes, into law. The decision by Budapest’s Semmelweis University to withdraw Schmitt’s doctorate is an embarrass-

BUDAPEST: An honour guard marches behind a banner, ‘New resistance’ (C) and ‘The country’s shame’ (L) as sympathizers of the Hungarian green-liberal opposition party LMP protest against Hungarian President Pal Schmitt at the presidental palace yesterday. — AFP ment for Orban, who called Schmitt the most suitable candidate for president before his appointment by parliament for a five-year term in 2010. During his regular Friday morning interview on public radio, Orban deflected questions on whether he thought Schmitt, a former vice president of Orban’s ruling Fidesz party and a two-

time Olympic gold medal-winning fencer, should resign. “I reiterate, this decision is for him to make on his own,” Orban said. Schmitt, 69, has denied wrongdoing since business news portal broke allegations in January that he had copied large parts of his 1992 thesis from other authors without proper quotes or referencing. — Reuters

Labour loses seat in UK by-election

BRADFORD: British politician George Galloway (C) of the Respect party speaks to the media in Bradford, northern England, yesterday after winning the Bradford West by-election. — AFP

LONDON: Britain’s main opposition Labour party lost one of its safest parliamentary seats after a one-off vote in northern England, in the strongest sign yet that new leader Ed Miliband is failing to cash in on disenchantment with the Conservative government. George Galloway, an anti-war campaigner in the small, left-wing Respect party, beat Labour’s Imran Hussain in a result announced yesterday with more than 18,341 votes from a by-election on Thursday for the seat of Bradford West. Galloway, who unsuccessfully ran for office in the 2010 general election and the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections, had a plurality of more than 10,000

votes. He described the win, which toppled Labour from a seat it had held since 1974, as “the most sensational result in British by-election history”. “Labour has been hit by a tidal wave in a seat it held for many decades in a city it dominated for 100 years,” Galloway said. Labour candidate Hussain came second with 8,201 votes, while Conservative candidate Jackie Whiteley was third, with 2,746. Turnout was 50.8 percent. Galloway, a divisive figure on the left, was expelled from Tony Blair’s Labour party in 2003 for his vociferous opposition to the Iraq war - having accused Blair and George Bush of attacking Iraq “like wolves”. — Reuters


Protesters denied permit for NATO summit march CHICAGO: A US judge rejected a request from anti-war protesters to demonstrate during the NATO summit of world leaders in May, but organizers said they still plan a protest they hope will draw 10,000 people opposed to the war in Afghanistan. “I can say definitively we are marching on May 20. We will hold a peaceful protest,” said leader Andy Thayer. He said organizers would get together to decide whether to appeal to a higher court. Anti-war protesters want to march on May 20 and frustrated by the city’s refusal to allow a march that day. Activists have warned there could be a confrontation

such as those that occurred during the anti-Vietnam War protests at the Democratic convention in 1968, which has marred Chicago’s image ever since. The judge’s ruling on Thursday agreed with the city of Chicago, which had earlier denied the permit after a hearing at which city officials said the march would clog traffic and over-tax police resources. The city had granted protesters a permit to hold a virtually identical rally and march on the day before, May 19, which coincided with a scheduled G8 summit prior to the NATO meeting. But the G8 summit was shifted to

Camp David, near Washington, and Chicago protesters asked to move their demonstration a day later. “Common sense tells you the city said it had enough resources to approve our application for May 19, when it had two summits. Now they say they don’t have enough personnel. It totally defies logic,” Thayer said. A city spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. City officials have said the summit of the NATO military alliance, which will include a host of world leaders, would bring more officials than the G8 summit, and more traf-

fic. They offered to allow march organizers to move the planned demonstration from downtown Chicago to Grant Park, a lakefront expanse where President Barack Obama held his victory rally in 2008. Protest organizers rejected the alternative, saying it would reduce their visibility to residents and the NATO leaders. Part of the security costs for the summit will be defrayed by private donors. The city’s host committee for the NATO summit announced it had raised $55 million, including $36 million from corporations and other private donors and $19 million in US government grants. — Reuters

Romney tightens grip on Republican race Rubio backing could help conservatives

WASHINGTON: People line up to buy tickets for the Mega Million US lottery with a record jackpot of $540 million in a shop in downtown Washington, DC yesterday. The chance to get suddenly very, very rich — even if it’s a one in 176 million chance — sent Americans into a frenzy yesterday as the hours counted down to the $540 million draw in the Mega Millions lottery. — AFP

Obama’s N Korean leap of faith turns to ashes WASHINGTON: When US diplomats filed into North Korea’s grim embassy in Beijing last month they found an unlikely surprise: Starbucks. Their hosts, led by North Korean’s chief nuclear negotiator Kim Kye-gwan, had ordered US-style coffee for talks both sides hoped would lead to new negotiations on Pyongyang’s nuclear program and to resumed US food shipments to one of the most feared and secretive countries in the world. There were more surprises to come. Five days later, the United States and North Korea simultaneously unveiled a unique and potentially far-reaching agreement, dubbed the “Leap Day” deal because it was announced on Feb. 29 - that chronological oddity that occurs only every fourth year. North Korea promised a moratorium on nuclear and longrange missile tests, and to open itself to new international inspections. Negotiators had also crafted a new standard for North Korean food aid - one that would give US aid workers unprecedented access to the closed-off country and set new monitoring benchmarks to ensure that help reaches North Koreans suffering from malnutrition, and is not diverted into military hands. While caution reigned in Washington, some saw the agreement as a hopeful portent just weeks into the tenure of North Korea’s young new leader, Kim Jong-un. Then on March 16, North Korea surprised yet again. It announced plans for a new satellite launch in April using ballistic missile technology the United States says is banned by United Nations sanctions. The United States warned the launch could scrap both the nuclear and food agreements. And now, officials in Washington are struggling to assess whether the Leap Day dance marked real progress or just another tantalizing tango with a rogue regime determined not to drop out of the nuclear club. “In the North Korean experience, confrontation and collision and aggression and friction with the United States always brings us back” to the negotiating table, said Michael Green, a North Asia expert at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies and former senior White House official. — Reuters

HOUSTON: Step by step, Mitt Romney is tightening his grip on the Republican presidential nomination race despite a continued penchant for gaffes on the campaign trail. Romney was in Houston on Thursday to accept the endorsement of former President George H.W. Bush, the latest in a line of establishment figures to choose the former Massachusetts governor as the Republicans’ best chance of defeating Democratic President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 election. The endorsement came a day after Romney gained the seal of approval from US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a hero of Tea Party conservatives who could help Romney improve his shaky ties with the most conservative members of the right wing of the party. It also followed Romney’s latest campaign stumble - in which he told Wisconsin voters on a conference call what Romney thought was a funny story about his father, former Michigan governor and auto executive George Romney, closing a factory in Michigan and moving the jobs to Wisconsin. Democrats leaped on the incident as another sign that Romney, a former private equity executive with a personal fortune of $190 million to $250 million, is detached from the concerns of most Americans. Romney has committed several similar gaffes recently, including telling voters in economically struggling Michigan that his wife, Ann, drives two luxury Cadillacs. But Romney has weathered each gaffe and survived challenges from top rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich to take a commanding lead in the race for the 1,144 party delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination. Romney is about halfway to that total; his delegate count is nearly double that of Santorum’s, his closest challenger. Romney seems poised for a good showing in the next round of contests on Tuesday in the state-by-state battle to pick a nominee. Polls show he leads in all three - Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C. A sweep would put more pressure on Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, to give up his fight for the nomination. Santorum has vowed to stay in the race

despite his increasingly slim chances of catching Romney in the race for delegates. A defeat in Wisconsin, a Midwestern state that will be a key battleground in the general election and where Santorum led in polls a few weeks ago, would be particularly damaging to Santorum. As in other states, Romney is heavily

Jewish Journal. “Mathematically he can’t get anywhere near the (needed delegate) numbers, and it is unlikely to be a brokered convention.” Winning Our Future, the Super PAC that has boosted Gingrich’s campaign, has raised just over $18 million; more than $16 million of that has come from Adelson’s

HOUSTON: Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, meets with former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush to receive their endorsements Thursday, in Houston. — AP outspending Santorum in Wisconsin. Romney’s campaign had spent more than $700,000 there as of Thursday, and the “Super PAC” supporting him has spent about $2.3 million on ads in Wisconsin, while Santorum’s campaign and the Super PAC that backs him had spent a total of about $400,000. Gingrich, a former US House of Representatives speaker, also has promised to stay in the race until Romney has secured his 1,144th delegate. However, Gingrich’s campaign is low on cash, and this week he trimmed his staff and cut back his schedule. Now, the Las Vegas casino magnate whose huge donations essentially have helped to keep Gingrich in the race is portraying Gingrich’s campaign as over. “It appears that he’s at the end of his line,” Sheldon Adelson said of Gingrich in a video posted online Wednesday by the

family. A Republican source said Gingrich met with Romney on Friday, but it is unclear what they discussed. At Bush’s office in Houston on Thursday afternoon, the former president urged Republicans to back Romney. Joined by his wife, Barbara, and Romney, Bush borrowed a line from a song about poker by country singer Kenny Rogers. “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,” Bush said. “It’s time for people to get behind this good man. ... He’ll make a great president.” Romney also has been endorsed by Jeb Bush, a son of the former president and a former Florida governor. Former President George W. Bush, another Bush son, has said he will not make an endorsement. The long list of Republican leaders endorsing Romney has not been enough to persuade some conservatives to support him. — Reuters

international SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2012

Mexico’s Pena Nieto vows to restore peace Ruling party struggles to retain power

SAN PEDRO SULA: Police officers stand guard outside the front of the San Pedro Sula prison in northern Honduras, hours after a fight between two rival groups originated a fire and caused the death of at least 13 people on Thursday. The incident happened less than two months after a deadly prison blaze killed more than 350. — AFP

Thirteen dead in new Honduras prison fire TEGUCIGALPA: At least 13 people died Thursday in a Honduras prison fire, officials said, less than two months after a deadly prison blaze killed more than 350. “There are 13 bodies. We have not yet been able to identify the circumstances of the incident” at the San Pedro Sula prison in the north of the country, said Marleny Vanegas, of the city prosecutor’s office. “We will have to await the results of the investigation.” According to initial reports by the authorities, the detainees themselves put out the fire with buckets of water. Earlier, police spokesman Walter Amaya had put the death toll at one. Officials said the fire was rapidly brought under control. “We have regained control of the prison,” Amaya said. Amaya said rival groups of detainees seemed to have cause the fire, but cautioned he was awaiting the results of the investigation for further details. Local media reports spoke of as many as 20 killed, and said the fire broke out after inmates attacked and beheaded a prisoner who had been appointed by wardens to impose discipline. Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla said the fire at the facilitywhich was built for 800 inmates but currently holds 2,250 — had “once again highlighted the critical situation” in the country’s overcrowded prisons. A horrific fire erupted on February 14 at a prison in Comayagua, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) north of the capital Tegucigalpa. The incident, in which 361 people were killed, was one of the world’s deadliest prison blazes ever, and underscored the problem of overcrowding in Latin American jails. Agents from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) concluded that the Comayagua fire was accidental, but US ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske also said official “negligence” and “legal violations” were to blame, due to overcrowding at the facility. In May 2004, another fire at the San Pedro Sula prison left 107 people dead. The country’s prison system is considered a looming disaster by observers, with some 13,000 people held in facilities designed for just 8,000. Honduras’s second city, San Pedro Sula is considered one of the most violent in the world by the United Nations. It is frequently the site of armed clashes between rival drug traffickers and their armed units, the ultraviolent “maras” gangs of youths who often bear numerous tattoos.— AFP

GUADALAJARA: Mexican presidential front-runner Enrique Pena Nieto vowed to quell the growing violence engulfing his country as the campaign for the July 1 election took off yesterday with the ruling conservatives struggling to retain power. Pena Nieto, of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is hot favorite to succeed President Felipe Calderon, whose term in office has been dominated by the government’s struggle to bring brutal drug cartels to heel. Addressing a crowd of around 30,000 supporters in the western city of Guadalajara after midnight, Pena Nieto promised to restore peace in Mexico and end the criminal violence that has claimed over 50,000 lives in the last five years. “We’re starting a campaign to win the presidency of the republic, but more importantly, we’re starting a movement to wake up minds to change Mexico,” he said in a square in the old colonial part of Mexico’s second city. “Mexico has been wounded by the lawlessness and violence,” he said. “Many people’s lives are afflicted by worry, and what’s worse, they’re living in fear.” Calderon’s conservative National Action Party, or PAN, has been battered by the bloody clashes between drug cartels and security forces, as well as its failure to reduce the number of poor and create enough jobs for Mexico’s growing population. Roughly half of the country lives in poverty, which is blamed for fuelling the spiraling violence that has rattled tourists and investors under Calderon’s watch. Calderon, who is barred by law from seeking a second term, staked his reputation on defeating the drug-trafficking gangs, but his army-led offensive has only led to more murders, kidnappings and robberies in Mexico. Drug-related murders leapt from 2,826 in 2007 - Calderon’s first full year in office - to 15,273 in 2010, and by another 11 percent in the first nine months of 2011, government data shows. For more than two years, the race to succeed Calderon has been led by the 45year-old Pena Nieto, who was governor of the State of Mexico next to the capital

between 2005 and 2011. Pena Nieto said he would lift 15 million people out of poverty, improve education and triple economic growth to create jobs. “We need someone who really knows how to govern, and he is someone who can,” said social worker Graciela Gonzalez. His cause has been aided by voter fatigue with the PAN, which has

“For me there’s no option. Negotiating or making deals with criminals is criminal itself. I’m not going to make deals with criminals,” she said, playing upon PAN claims that the PRI has in the past forged accords with gangsters to keep the peace. And there would be no return to the past, she added. “We won’t be subject to

GUADALAJARA: Mexican presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto (R) from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), speaks with his wife Angelica Rivera during the start of his presidential campaign, at Guadalajara square esplanade in Guadalajara, state of Jalisco, early yesterday. Mexico will hold presidential elections next July 1, 2012. — AFP failed to live up to the high hopes Mexicans had when the party ended 71 years of often corrupt PRI rule in 2000. Poll after poll has given Pena Nieto a double digit lead over PAN rival Josefina Vazquez Mota, despite a string of gaffes and the revelation in January that he had cheated on his first wife and fathered two children out of wedlock. Vazquez Mota, the first woman to be nominated for the presidency by one of Mexico’s three main political parties, also kicked off her campaign at midnight, in Mexico City. Addressing a much smaller rally at PAN campaign headquarters, the petite Vazquez Mota pledged to continue the party’s firm line on crime.

authoritarianism again. We won’t accept a Mexico of corruption and impunity again,” she said. Yet the PAN, a party once renowned for its disciplined, united front in presidential campaigns has been rocked by infighting and scandal, damaging her bid. Pena Nieto’s other main adversary, the 2006 runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is campaigning hard again for the top job after claiming he was robbed by Calderon six years ago. But the fiery leftist alienated many former supporters with massive street protests he launched in the capital after that close result, and he trails in third place.—Reuters

US lawyers tested in court over anti-terrorism act NEW YORK: Lawyers for the Obama administration were put to the test by a US judge on Thursday to explain why civilian activists and journalists should not fear being detained under a new anti-terrorism law. Activists and journalists are suing the government to try to stop implementation of the law’s provisions of indefinite detention for those deemed to have “substantially supported” al Qaeda and the Taleban and “associated forces.” Government lawyers argued in federal court in New York that the plaintiffs did not have standing to challenge the

National Defense Authorization Act’s “Homeland Battlefield” provisions signed into law by President Barack Obama in December. During day-long oral arguments, US District Judge Katherine Forrest heard lawyers for former New York Times war correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges and others argue that the law would have a “chilling effect” on their work. While the judge said she was skeptical that the plaintiffs would win a constitutional challenge to the act, she also said she wanted to “understand the meaning to the ordinary citizen.” “I can’t

take the statute and strike it down for what it says, but can Hedges and others be detained for contacting al Qaeda or the Taleban as reporters?” she said. Hedges told the court that “I don’t think we know what ‘associated forces’ are. That’s why I’m here.” The lawsuit, filed in January, cited Obama’s statement of his “serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists” when he signed the act. Forrest asked Assistant US Attorney Benjamin Torrance if “associated forces” could be interpreted in different ways.

Torrance said the plaintiffs were “taking phrases out of context” and that the law specifically applied to those found to have ties to al Qaeda and the Taleban. “What does substantially supported mean? How much is enough? When are someone’s activities substantial or insubstantial?” the judge asked. Torrance told her he did not have a specific example and said “it is not proper for plaintiffs to come in and say they are chilled and what not.” He emphasized that the activity would “have to take place in the context of armed conflict.” The judge did not immediately rule on the motion.— Reuters

international SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2012

San Suu Kyi complains of irregularities in election Accuse rivals of vandalising posters

HYDERABAD: Indian Muslims shout slogans during an anti-Israel demonstration in Hyderabad yesterday. People across Israel and Palestinian territories are holding a series of rallies on March 30 to mark “Land Day,” which recalls an incident in 1976 when Israeli troops shot and killed six people during protests against land confiscations. — AFP

China Party scandal triggered by British businessman’s death BEIJING: The scandal shaking China’s ruling Communist Party just as it readies for leadership change was triggered by claims that the wife of one ambitious candidate was involved in the death of a British businessman, said a source with close ties to key individuals involved. The comments, corroborated by two other sources who also spoke on condition of anonymity, are the first direct account of events which eventually led to this month’s downfall of Chongqing mega-city chief Bo Xilai who had very publicly bid for a place in the Party’s inner circle later this year. The source, citing accounts coming from an unfinished central investigation, said it was unclear how much truth there was to the claim by Bo’s former police chief, Wang Lijun, but he told Reuters he had “no doubt” that Wang had raised it with Bo. Wang told Bo in late January that he believed Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was involved in the death of British businessman Neil Heywood in the southwest Chinese city in mid-November, the source said. The account helps explain the apparent rupture between the city chief and Wang, who led Bo’s widely applauded crackdown on crime in China’s most populous metropolis. In early February, Wang briefly sought refuge in the US consulate in Chengdu, several hours’ drive from Chongqing, which suddenly made the growing scandal public. Bo, 62, and his wife have disappeared from public view since his abrupt removal on March 15 as party chief of Chongqing, and they cannot respond publicly to the rumours and reports. N or can Wang, who is under investigation. The Chongqing government has not answered repeated phone calls and faxed questions from Reuters about the circumstances of Bo’s downfall and Heywood’s death. The central government has said the results of its investigation into Wang’s flight to the consulate will be released, but to date it has not offered a detailed account. The Foreign Ministry has also not answered questions about Heywood, with a spokesman saying that he had no information. In a news conference days before his dismissal, Bo scorned as nonsense unspecified accusations of misdeeds by his wife and said some people were pouring “filth on my family”. Gu was formerly a high-powered lawyer. “Wang Lijun has told central investigators that Gu Kailai turned on the British man because of economic interests and that she wanted to destroy him (Heywood),” said the source, who is generally sympathetic to Bo. Beijing- and London-based relatives of Heywood told Reuters in separate interviews that they did not suspect foul play in his death. They both spoke on condition of anonymity. “It’s preposterous. The more description (in the media), the darker it becomes,” the family member said, occasionally breaking into tears in an interview in the lobby lounge of a hotel on the outskirts of Beijing late on Thursday. The family denied reports that Heywood was a spy and that he was cremated against their wishes. “We requested the cremation. We were not forced to do so. We have no doubts about the police report,” said one family member. — Reuters

YANGON: Attempts to disrupt campaigning for Myanmar’s historic byelections tomorrow are “beyond acceptable”, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said yesterday, her first public appearance since falling sick last weekend. “What has been happening in this country is really beyond what is acceptable for a democratic election. Still, we are determined to go forward because we think that is what our people want,” a frail but defiant Suu Kyi told reporters outside her lakeside house in Yangon. She accused her rivals of vandalising election posters, padding electoral registers and “many, many cases of intimidation”, including two attempts to injure candidates with catapulted projectiles. The United States and European Union have hinted economic sanctions - imposed years ago in response to human rights abuses could be lifted if the election is free and fair, which could unleash a wave of investment in the impoverished but resource-rich country bordering India and China. To be regarded as credible, the vote needs the blessing of 66-year-old Suu Kyi. She is contesting one seat in her first election since being freed from house arrest in late 2010. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), competing for 44 of the 45 byelection seats, has previously complained of irregularities that could undermine the vote. As big as France and Britain combined, Myanmar’s size, energy resources and ports on the Indian Ocean and Andaman Sea have made it a vital energy security asset for Beijing’s landlocked western provinces, and a priority for Washington as President Barack Obama strengthens engagement with Asia.

“There have been cases of vandalism of NLD signboards and posters and many, many cases of intimidation,” said Suu Kyi, who fell ill on March 25 due to seasickness and exhaustion while campaigning by boat. She said she remained “a little delicate”.

widely seen as rigged to favour the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the biggest in parliament. Most diplomats say they believe Myanmar’s rulers are sincere, and that Suu Kyi and her NLD party would increase parliament’s legitimacy, but

YANGON: An elderly woman joins her hands as Buddhist novices walk by in Yangon yesterday. Suu Kyi said yesterday that the upcoming April 1 by-elections would not be completely democratic because of irregularities during preparations. — AFP Much is at stake in tomorrow’s vote. Some US restrictions such as visa bans and asset freezes could be lifted quickly if the election is credible, diplomats say, while the EU may end its ban on investment in timber and the mining of gemstones and metals. There are bound to be complaints on election day. After 49 years of isolation and often brutal army rule, Myanmar has limited experience in holding ballots. The 2010 election was

the NLD appears to be leaving itself room to contest the results. As well as alleging irregularities, it claims that the president, who is supposed to be impartial, has tried to influence the vote. The government has invited in a small number of election observers, including five from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but they have been given hardly any time to prepare inside Myanmar. - Reuters

Philippine politician vows ‘no surrender’ MANILA: A fugitive Philippine politician charged with murdering an environmental activist has rejected calls for his surrender, insisting he is an innocent man. Joel Reyes, exgovernor of the province of Palawan, released an audio message to followers after a lower court ordered his arrest this week for the January 2011 killing of Gerry Ortega. “I am hiding... not to avoid justice but to stop the accusations, charges and persecution that have no basis,” Reyes said in the taped message, a copy of which was obtained by AFP. “We will fight against this,” he

said in a local dialect. Reyes, 59, who still has wide political influence in Palawan, was among eight people ordered arrested for the murder of Ortega, a veterinarian and radio commentator who had accused the former governor of corruption. Police arrested the ex-governor’s aide in Palawan on Tuesday but the other seven suspects, including Reyes’ younger brother who is also a politician remain at large. Police said the handgun used in the Ortega killing was registered in the name of Reyes’ detained aide. The ex-governor is accused of

being the ring-leader. The government has been pressured to act on Ortega’s killing in the wake of frequent criticism by media organisations and rights groups that the Philippines is one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists. Human rights workers blame the killings on a prevailing “culture of impunity”, where powerful figures believe they can carry out violent attacks against their critics without being punished. Reyes, whose wife is the current Palawan vice-governor, alleges he was not given due process. — AFP

international SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2012

Malaysia in religious row over ‘threat of Christianity’ KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian state religious and education officials have changed the title of a seminar on “the threat of Christianity” following outrage from non-Muslims in the multiethnic country. Southern Johor state education officials faced criticism over the school teachers’ seminar to be held today that was titled: “Strengthening the faith, the dangers of liberalism and pluralism and the threat of Christianity towards Muslims.” The furore over the title follows allegations of Christian proselytisation in the Muslim-majority country after religious police raided a Methodist church event last August fearing

Muslims were being converted. State lawmaker Maulizan Bujang told the Bernama news agency the reference to Christianity would be removed from the title, saying: “The seminar aims to strengthen the faith of Muslims and it does not need to be politicised by any party that claims it (the seminar) is a threat to other religions.” But co-organisers from the state religious department said the seminar’s content would remain the same. “The seminar is part of the right of Muslims to defend the faith of its practitioners from any action which may lead to apostasy. It is our responsibility,” an official told Bernama.

Opposition leaders say the ruling coalition, which is expected to announce national polls this year, is trying to woo back Malay support by using fear of other religions, after a swing vote saw the government lose control of a third of parliamentary seats and four states in 2008 polls. Reverend Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia, said the government had to take a stand against the seminar. “Of course we are disappointed, it derails the whole idea of harmony and mutual respect and understanding each other,” he told AFP. Malaysia has largely avoided overt religious conflict in recent decades

but tensions have simmered since a court ruling in late 2009 lifted a government ban on the use of “Allah” as a translation for “God” in Malay-language bibles. The ban had been in place for years but enforcement only began in 2008 out of fear the word could encourage Muslims to convert. The 2009 ruling triggered a series of attacks on Christian places of worship using Molotov cocktails, rocks and paint. Muslims make up 60 percent of the country’s 28 million people, while Christians account for about nine percent, most of whom come from indigenous groups in the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak.— AFP

Tibetans detained outside Chinese president’s hotel Funeral ceremony for dead protestor

This DigitalGlobe satellite image obtained yesterday, shows North Korea’s recent announcement of its intentions to conduct a satellite launch during the middle of April which has focused the world’s attention upon their Tongch’ang-ni Launch Facility on the nation’s northwest coast. — AFP

N Korea test fires short-range missiles SEOUL: North Korea fired two short-range missiles off its west coast believed to be part of a test to upgrade capabilities, said news reports published yesterday, quoting South Korean military officials. North Korea has raised tensions in recent weeks by announcing it would launch a rocket to put a satellite into orbit, but regional powers are urging Pyongyang to drop the plan, saying it would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions. North Korea launched two short-range missiles believed to be surface-to-ship missiles from its west coast Thursday morning, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper quoted government officials as saying. “The launch is believed to be to upgrade missile capabilities and not related directly to the North’s long-range missile launch,” the newspaper quoted a military official as saying. Another mainstream newspaper JoongAng Ilbo published a similar report. South Korea’s office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declined to confirm the reports, citing its policy of not speaking publicly on matters involving intelligence activities. Reclusive North Korea has said it is merely sending a weather satellite into space, but South Korea and the United States say it is a disguised ballistic missile test. The secretive North has twice tested a nuclear device, but experts doubt whether it yet has the ability to miniaturise an atomic bomb to fit inside a warhead. The North has said the launch would take place between April 12 and 16. The planned launch, which has even drawn criticism from ally China, will mark the 100th birth anniversary of state founder Kim Il-sung. — Reuters

NEW DELHI: New Delhi police detained another five Tibetan demonstrators yesterday outside the hotel of Chinese President Hu Jintao amid a raging debate over a crackdown on the exile population this week. Hundreds of Tibetans have been rounded up by security forces in the Indian capital and placed in preventative detention in a heavy-handed police operation criticised by community leaders for its severity. Tibetan areas have been flooded with police, with many locals confined to their homes or hostels, while demonstrations have been prohibited in areas near the Chinese president. People of Nepalese origin and from India’s far north-east have also complained they have been harassed by police because of their “Tibetan features” in apparent racial profiling. “We are refugees but we enjoy every right to protest. The Delhi police is stopping every Tibetan who wants to stand up against the Chinese injustice,” said Tenzing Norbu at the IndiaTibet coordination centre in New Delhi. “India has bilateral ties with China and we respect their diplomatic relations but India cannot impose unjust laws on Tibetans.” In the demonstration yesterday, five protestors with messages such as “Tibet Will be Free” daubed on their chests were bundled into nearby police vehicles at the luxury hotel where Hu had been staying since Wednesday. Sujit Datta, a professor at the Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi who specialises in India-China relations, said the government should have engaged with Tibetan leaders rather than resorting to repression. “Indian government has mismanaged the Tibetan protest through ham-handed and inconsistent measures. They have showed no sensitivity towards the protestors,” he said. “The Tibetans are frustrated and the Indian

government should recognise this,” he added. Earlier in the week, a 27-year-old Tibetan exile set himself on fire in a demonstration against alleged Chinese abuses and the lack of religious freedom in Tibet. He later died

media access is tightly restricted. Thousands of exiled Tibetans in Dharamshala attended the funeral ceremony and mourned the loss of protestor Jamphel Yeshi who set himself on fire in New Delhi on Monday. “Please give a noble rebirth to

NEW DELHI: The coffin of Jamphel Yeshi, who died after self-immolation on March 28 in New Delhi, is carried for cremation after a ceremony at Tsuglakhang Temple in McLeod Ganj yesterday. — AFP after suffering more than 90 percent burns. Hu left New Delhi early yesterday after attending the fourth summit of the BRICS bloc of emerging nations which brings together China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa. The presence of tens of thousands of Tibetans in India, as well as exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, is an irritant in the often prickly bilateral relations between India and China. Activists and the Tibetan government in exile in the Indian hill station of Dharamshala help highlight alleged human rights abuses in Tibet where

Jamphel Yeshi,” they chanted during the last rites. Another young Buddhist monk self-immolated in southwest China on Wednesday, becoming the 30th demonstrator to take his own life in Tibetan-inhabited areas of the country since March last year, according to rights group and exiles. Chinese officials on Thursday blamed spiritual leader the Dalai Lama for the death of the Tibetan protester in New Delhi and said they “appreciated” the Indian government’s actions to prevent disruption to the summit. — AFP

international SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2012

In Afghan war, US struggles with insider threat WASHINGTON: NATO commanders are struggling to contain the damage from a spike in “fratricidal” attacks by Afghan forces, seeking to protect their troops without rupturing a frayed partnership with Kabul. With Afghan soldiers opening fire on their NATO comrades with alarming frequency, US defense officials on Thursday confirmed that NATO troops had been ordered to adopt strict new security precautions to counter the insidious threat. The stepped up security underlines the dilemma facing the American-led force that has portrayed its alliance with Afghan troops as a cornerstone of the war effort.

“The danger with these things is the degree to which they undermine trust between the two countries,” said Carter Malkasian, who worked as a civilian adviser alongside American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. “It kind of creates a spiral. Some of our members are killed, some of our advisers are killed. And in turn we take efforts to protect ourselves and distance ourselves. “But by distancing ourselves, the Afghans start to distrust us more because they can sense that we don’t trust them,” he said. With 17 coalition troops killed in insider attacks so far this year, US officers acknowledge the so-called green-on-blue attacks require weighing security concerns with

US drone strike kills 4 militants in Pakistan MIRANSHAH: A US drone launched a missile attack on a militant compound in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border early yesterday, killing four insurgents, security officials said. The missiles targeted a house in a market area of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, known as a stronghold of Taleban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants, they said. “Two missiles hit a house and four militants were killed,” a security official told AFP. “The attack took place at about 3:00 am.” Witnesses said the attack triggered a fire which destroyed the building. The compound was located in the money changers market in the commercial district. An intelligence official also put the toll at four dead and said two people were wounded. He said local people, including Pakistani Taleban, were engaged in rescue work. Officials said the identity of the dead militants was not immediately known. An AFP reporter said armed men, covering their faces with scarves, were seen collecting belongings including blood stained clothes and documents from the rubble. Militants ringed the area and barred entry to the house. The blast destroyed five shops including a bakery, three grocery shops and a telephone kiosk. “I was sleeping in my home when a deafening sound woke me up,” resident Yousuf Khan told AFP. “Fearing that my house has been attacked, I peeped out of my window and saw flames raging from the building facing my house. Two men holding Kalashnikov rifles warned me to go inside. I shut the window and went to sleep.” Waziristan is the most notorious militant stronghold in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous northwestern tribal belt. Washington considers it the premier hub for Taleban and AlQaeda to plot attacks on the West and in Afghanistan. Pakistan wants drone strikes to stop, arguing that they are counter-productive because they kill civilians, exacerbate anti-US sentiment and violate sovereignty. The frequency of such attacks has diminished in recent months, but US officials are believed to consider them too useful to discontinue the strikes altogether. Pakistan called Thursday for open dialogue with the US, even before parliament wraps up a protracted debate on repairing an anti-terror alliance that nearly ruptured over a series of crises. US President Barack Obama and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met Tuesday at a nuclear summit in Seoul for talks that an Obama aide said “made important progress” in both sides hearing from one another. And on Wednesday, the top US generals overseeing the Afghan war, John Allen and James Mattis, met Pakistan’s army chief Ashfaq Kayani for the first time since US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November. Those strikes prompted a furious Islamabad to shut NATO supply lines into Afghanistan and evict US personnel from an airbase reportedly used as a hub in America’s drone war against militants. Despite this week’s talks, no date has been announced for Pakistan to re-open the Afghan crossings to NATO supplies and officials admit privately that the process may take longer than initially thought. President Obama in January confirmed for the first time that US drones target militants on Pakistani soil, but American officials do not discuss details of the covert programme.— AFP

the need to cultivate ties with Afghan security forces. “It’s a delicate balance that has to be constantly tweaked. You can’t throttle forward or back too much,” military spokesman Captain John Kirby told AFP. “We have to be out and about with Afghans.” Reflecting a growing threat, the commander of NATO and US troops, General John Allen, issued orders in recent weeks calling for some advisers to carry weapons and for NATO units to designate one team member as a “guardian angel,” who remains armed and on alert for possible fratricidal attacks, officials said.

For coalition troops working at Afghan government or military buildings, the orders require them to move desks to make sure their backs are not turned to the door. After two US advisers were gunned down last month inside the Afghan interior ministry, NATO officers were withdrawn from government ministries. Most of the advisers have yet to return to the ministry buildings and now carry out their work by email and phone. But Kirby and other officers insist the NATO partnership with Afghans is not in jeopardy and that commanders are determined for coalition troops to stay engaged with their counterparts. — AFP

Afghan policeman shoots dead nine colleagues Two NATO soldiers killed KABUL: An Afghan policeman poisoned and then shot dead nine of his colleagues while they were sleeping early yesterday in the eastern province of Paktika, police and provincial government officials said. It was the latest in a series of shootings by Afghan security personnel of their local and foreign colleagues, deaths that have ramped up tensions between the allies even as NATO-led forces prepare to pull out by the end of 2014. Paktika provincial police chief Dawlat Khan said the shooting happened before dawn in Yahyakhil district. “A local policeman named Asadullah was persuaded by Taleban insurgents to carry out the firing inside the security check post,” he told AFP. “First he poisoned his colleagues and then later he woke up for night duty at 3:00 am. Then he used his assault rifle to kill his nine colleagues. They were sleeping inside the post.” Asadullah fled the scene after the shooting and is on the run, he added, and there were no survivors. Mokhlis Afghan, spokesman for the Paktika governor, confirmed the attack and that one policeman had fled, adding that two others had been arrested. Earlier in March, another nine Afghan police were killed, in the southern province of Uruzgan, in an insurgent attack that authorities said was believed to have been facilitated by a fellow officer and suspected Taleban infiltrator. The gunman in yesterday’s attack and his victims belong to the so-called local Afghan police, militias that form part of the government’s security forces but do not come under the national police set-up. Paktika is a hotbed of the Haqqani network, essentially a faction of the Taleban allied to Al-Qaeda, and neighbours Pakistan’s tribal belt, which Washington considers to be a global hub of Al-Qaeda and Taleban militants. The Taleban, who have been fighting an insurgency against Hamid Karzai’s government in Kabul and its Western allies for more than a decade, claimed responsibility for the attack. Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a text message to AFP: “Last night, a mujahid fighter attacked a security check post. As a result, he killed nine puppet local policemen. “The mujahid fighter has managed to escape

and joined the Taleban ranks.” Members of both Afghan units and NATO’s US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have been targeted by Afghan security personnel in a series of attacks this year. So far this year 17 foreign troops, including at least seven Americans and five French trainers, have been killed in

counter the threat. ISAF commander US General John Allen ordered some advisers to carry weapons and for NATO units to designate one team member as a “guardian angel” to stay armed and on alert for possible fratricidal attacks, officials said. Coalition troops working at Afghan government or military buildings are required to move desks to make sure

NAHR-I SUFI: Afghan locals watch German soldiers as they sweep for improvised explosive devices during a patrol in Nahr-i Sufi near the DHQ (Char Dara District Police Headquarter) in the province of Kunduz yesterday. Germany is the third biggest supplier of troops to the 130,000-strong NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) after the United States and Britain. — AFP such shootings, more than one in six of the 93 ISAF fatalities since January 1. The attacks threaten to undermine efforts to train Afghan troops to take over security for the entire country ahead of ISAF pulling out by the end of 2014, the cornerstone of the West’s strategy in Afghanistan. Relations between the allies have also been strained by a video of troops urinating on Taleban corpses, the burning of Qurans at a US military base and a massacre of civilians by a US soldier who has been charged with 17 murders. NATO troops have been ordered to adopt strict new security precautions to

their backs do not face the door. Officials say that despite Taleban claims to the contrary, most of the attacks are not by Taleban infiltrators but by “self-radicalised” individuals, with cultural differences sometimes playing a part. Underlining that it is not only foreign troops who are targeted, five policemen were poisoned and shot in the city of Kandahar in February, with their cook fleeing and their guns missing. Elsewhere in Afghanistan, NATO’s US-led force announced the deaths of two soldiers in the south on Thursday, one in a bomb blast and a second in an insurgent attack. — AFP

Turkey set to cut Iran oil imports


Saudi summer oil burn to decline this year?



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COPENHAGEN: Denmark’s Economy Minister Margrethe Vestager (centre) talks to reporters at the start of the European Union Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) meeting yesterday. — AFP

Euro-zone clinches trillion-dollar deal Firewall deal boosted to 800bn euros COPENHAGEN: Euro-zone finance ministers struck a landmark deal yesterday to raise their debt firewall to more than one trillion dollars, as a budget crisis in Spain underlined the need for firm defences. “All together, the euro area is mobilising an overall firewall of approximately 800 billion euros, more than $1 trillion,” a joint statement from the 17 finance ministers said. “Robust firewalls have been established ... and led to a significant improvement of market conditions,” the statement added. The headline figure, however, includes some 300 billion euros in loans already pledged. The 800 billion euros is made up of 500 billion euros in the bloc’s permanent ESM bailout pot that comes into effect in July, plus 200 billion already pledged for crisis-hit countries, plus another 100 billion in bilateral and EU loans. The euro-zone’s two bailout funds, the ESM and a temporary pot called the EFSF, will run in parallel until mid-2013, the statement added. The paying-in of the ESM’s cash element, some 80 billion euros, will be accelerated, according to the statement, with two slices paid in this year, two next year and a final

tranche in 2014. But the deal was accompanied by a row between Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter and the head of the euro-zone, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker after the former leaked news of the deal to reporters. This resulted in Juncker cancelling a planned press conference. “Juncker is furious” at Fekter, said a diplomatic source. The final headline figure matched a pledge made on Thursday by the finance minister of Germany, Europe’s top economy and paymaster, Wolfgang Schaeuble. “It’s convincing, it’s sufficient,” said Schaeuble at the time. Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan told reporters on the way into the meeting: “The market reaction to these is to the dollar amounts.” “So anything that gets you to a trillion dollars looks like a serious firewall and if you’re talking 800 (billion euros), it’s over a trillion dollars and that is a very serious firewall.” Eurozone ministers are under huge international pressure to build a convincing firewall. The European Union’s partners from Washington to Tokyo, including the International Monetary Fund, want to see the euro-zone ring-fenced

for good to prevent a new crisis that could harm the world economy. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) pressed this week for a one-trillioneuro pot, which OECD head Angel Gurria calls “the mother of all firewalls.” And leading and emerging nations of the Group of 20 (G20) have said they will only consider lending more to the IMF to combat the euro-zone crisis if the bloc first stumps up enough cash to tackle their own problems. Highlighting the main reason to bolster the firewall-fears that the sovereign debt crisis that started in Greece could spread to larger economies such as Italy and Spain-were fresh concerns about Spanish fiscal strains. Hours after a general strike, which burst into violence in places, Spain’s right-leaning government was poised to unveil huge cuts yesterday to meet European rules. Unions said nearly a million people took part in Madrid alone to denounce labour reforms, spending cuts and soaring unemployment in a country mired in recession. The interior ministry put turnout in Madrid at just 85,000. “Spain is in a very difficult situation,”

said EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, adding that Madrid had the strength to fix its fiscal position. Spanish borrowing costs have risen in recent weeks after Madrid admitted it had missed its 2011 deficit target of 6.0 percent of gross domestic product, reporting 8.5 percent instead. “We had a very severe budgetary slippage in 2012 but Spain will cease to be a problem,” said Finance Minister Luis de Guindos in Copenhagen. The final firewall figure agreed on was however short of what some-including the European Commission and France-had demanded. Many called for combining the zone’s two rescue funds to create a total firewall of 940 billion euros. But Germany, facing domestic public opposition to paying in more to what some Germans see as a “bottomless pit” in the eurozone, rejected this solution. Ministers will now tackle other thorny issues, including appointing a new member of the sixmember Executive Board of the European Central Bank. The head of Luxembourg’s central bank, Yves Mersch, is favourite to get the nod, but the decision may yet be delayed until the French election on May 6. — AFP


Turkey set to cut Iran oil imports Ankara hopes to obtain waiver from US sanctions

WATERLOO: A Research In Motion employee leaves the company headquarters in this file photo.— AP

RIM posts major loss MONTREAL: BlackBerry maker Research In Motion on Thursday posted a quarterly loss-disappointing first results for the firm’s new chief executive, who moved to shake up the struggling company’s top ranks. The Waterloo, Ontario-based firm reported a net loss of $125 million for its fiscal fourth quarter to March 3, compared with a profit of $418 million a year earlier. That dragged down the full fiscal 2012 profit to $1.16 billion, down sharply from $3.4 billion a year earlier as RIM battled against Apple’s iPhones and iPads and an onslaught of Android-powered devices. RIM also said Jim Balsillie, a co-founder and co-chief executive until his resignation in January, would step down from the board, completing his retirement from the company. In addition to the Balsillie departure, RIM said David Yach will be retiring from his role as chief technology officer and Jim Rowan, chief operating officer for global operations, “has decided to pursue other interests.” The results provided a rocky start for chief operating officer Thorsten Heins, who was named president and CEO after the resignation of Balsillie and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis following months of investor pressure for a change. “I have assessed many aspects of RIM’s business during my first 10 weeks as CEO,” Heins said in a statement. “I have confirmed that the company has substantial strengths that can be further leveraged to improve our financial performance, including RIM’s global network infrastructure, a strong enterprise offering and a large and growing base of more than 77 million subscribers.” Later, in a conference call with analysts, Heins did not rule out a sale of the company, saying he would be open to hearing purchase offers, and said the group would undertake a “comprehensive review of strategic opportunities.” Share prices have fallen 80 percent since little more than a year ago, putting market capitalization at about $7 billion-meaning the company is particularly vulnerable. Shares were down in after-hours trading. During the past quarter, RIM shipped some 11.1 million BlackBerry smartphones-down 21 percent from the previous quarter-and over 500,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets. Analysts had expected shipments of 11.4 million BlackBerry devices. Revenues for the period of $4.2 billion were down 25 percent from a year ago and below market expectations. Heins, who joined RIM from German industrial giant Siemens in 2007 and served as senior vice president for hardware engineering and later as chief operating officer, said he was “excited about the prospects for the BlackBerry 10 platform, which is on track for the latter part of calendar 2012.” The company has suffered from the costly delay in launching BlackBerry 10, which will use the new QNX operating system, and the commercial failure of the PlayBook. In a sign of the company’s tough times, it did not publish a financial forecast for upcoming quarters, as it has in the past. Heins acknowledged that “the business challenges we face over the next several quarters are significant and I am taking the necessary steps to address them.” — AFP

ISTANBUL: Turkey said on yesterday it will cut imports of oil from Iran by a tenth, ceding to US pressure a week after Washington warned Tehran’s customers they could incur US sanctions unless they significantly reduce purchases. Pressure from Washington and Brussels, which will slap a EU-wide embargo on Iranian oil from July as part of a campaign against Tehran’s nuclear program, has led to a rally in oil prices this year as markets fear supply shortages. The West’s energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency, has warned that Iran might have to halve its exports by around 1 million barrels per day later this year because of the EU embargo and as its four biggest customers-China, India, Japan and South Korea-are also cutting imports. Turkey, the fifth largest buyer of Iranian oil, had previously refrained from committing to lower imports, saying it had long-established relations with its neighbour Iran and was too dependent on its oil. Its statement yesterday effectively leaves China as the only country that has yet to commit officially to cutting imports in a move that would potentially further squeeze Tehran’s stretched finances, which rely heavily on oil revenues.

Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said yesterday the country would reduce purchases by around 10 percent and Turkey’s sole refiner Tupras, a unit of Koc Holding , said it would cut imports by 20 percent. “We plan to increase the number and the route of countries we buy oil from,” Yildiz said, adding Turkey will partly replace the oil with 1 million tonnes it expects to buy from Libya. The country is also in talks with Saudi Arabia on spot oil purchases and longer term contacts, he added. Turkey imports around 200,000 barrels per day of oil from Iran, representing 30 percent of its total imports and more than 7 percent of Iran’s oil exports. Exemptions Having been omitted from a list of countries granted exemptions by Washington, Turkey remained hopeful of obtaining a waiver to avoid US financial sanctions. The United States exempted Japan and 10 EU nations from sanctions because they have significantly cut purchases of Iranian crude oil, but left Iran’s top customers China and India exposed to the possibility of such steps. Tupras, the main Turkish customer, cur-

rently buys some 30 percent of its crude oil from Iran, and it has an 9 million tonnes annual purchase contract. Koc Energy Group Chairman Erol Memioglu told reporters last month that the existing Tupras oil contract with Iran ends in August. He said that he expected more clarity on the details of the sanctions in May, before Washington’s measures on oil-related transactions take effect on June 28. Both the United States and the European Union have imposed unilateral sanctions against Iran’s financial and energy sectors over its nuclear programme, whereas Turkey has said it is only compelled to observe UN sanctions. Trade between Turkey and Iran has risen sharply over the past decade, leading to Turkey being regarded as a possible weak link in the international sanctions against Iran. Iran says its nuclear programme is solely for civilian purposes, and denies that it is building weapons. A meeting between Iranian nuclear negotiators and representatives of six major powers is expected on April 13, with Istanbul a possible venue for the talks. Tupras shares were little moved after the announcement, up 1.6 percent at 45.2 lira by 1400 GMT. —Reuters

Saudi summer oil burn to decline this year? DUBAI/KHOBAR: Saudi Arabia is likely to burn less crude in its power plants this summer thanks to rising output from dedicated gas fields and gas that would be associated with any increase in oil output to make up for lower Iranian production. Last summer the world’s leading oil exporter burned an average of 730,000 barrels a day (bpd) of crude for electricity to keep the population cool in the hottest months from July to the end of September, official figures indicate. Hundreds of thousands of barrels of the kingdom’s biggest export will again go up in smoke at power plants each day this summer, but the volume of oil used for power is likely to fall. More supply from the Karan gas field and a likely rise in crude output, which would bring a bonus benefit of more gas as well, should save at least 100,000 bpd in crude use. “We have spent a lot of money on gas ... and we have many tricks in our pocket in the summer. When we peak in summer, we will surge our gas,” Saudi Oil Minister Ali AlNaimi said last week. Naimi said some 500 million cubic feet a day (mcfd) more gas, or around 90,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boed), would be made available for three or four months. “So don’t think we are just saying, ‘OK, the crude demand is going to go up’,” he told reporters in Doha. “We are far more concerned about crude burn. Not because we want to export it, but because it is a shame to burn it.” Most countries outside the Middle East cut back oil-fired power generation long ago in favour of gas, nuclear and renewable energy sources. But in a country sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves, the consumption of oil for power rose by an implied 260 percent from 2004 to 2010, official figures available through the Joint Oil Data

Initiative (JODI) indicated. While crude output from Saudi oilfields is constrained by OPEC production limits, state-run Saudi Aramco aims to find gas that can be pumped independently to supply rapidly rising demand for electricity. Saudi Aramco now manages known gas reserves of 279 trillion cubic feet, the fourth largest in the world, and hopes to increase its gross gas production from 10.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in 2010 to over 15 bcfd by 2015. While it has raised output significantly over the past few years, the com-

SUINING: In this file photo, a customer prepares to pay for gas at a PetroChina gas station in China. — AP

pany has not been able to keep up with a 6 percent per year increase in demand, driven by population growth and a boom in petrochemicals and other industries. “Whenever there is gas, we are utilizing it. We are always trying to use gas rather than other types of fuel. Gas is cleaner, cheaper and more efficient,” Ali Bin Saleh Al-Barrak, the chief executive of Saudi Electricity (SEC), told Reuters. “We are expecting more gas to come this year and in the future.” About half of Saudi power demand is now met with gas, but in a sign SEC does not expect to obtain enough gas to replace oil soon, SEC announced plans this month to build another big fuel oil plant. Low fixed gas prices paid by industry of just 0.75 US cents per million British thermal units are the major impediment to the unlocking of gas reserves. Oil burn After rising from an average of 145,000 bpd in 2004 to 526,000 bpd in 2010, implied Saudi oil burning was little changed at 522,000 bpd in total last year, according to an analysis of JODI data by HSBC. Implied crude burning - or crude that cannot be accounted for after exports, refinery intake and changes in stocks - doubled from 2008 to 2009 as a 1 million bpd fall in crude production at the height of the global financial crisis cut the availability of associated gas. A 1.15 million bpd rise in average daily crude production from 2010 to 2011 - as Riyadh filled a Libyan oil supply drop would have added roughly 70,000 boed of gas, HSBC’s Saudi energy sector analyst John Tottie estimated. “Crude burning was unchanged in 2011, but there was some more diesel and gasoil in the power sector mix,” Tottie said.— Reuters


Spain swings budget axe to save 27 billion euros Spain faces toughest budget of post-Franco era

JAKARTA: Indonesian labourers shout slogans during a rally against the government’s plan to hike prices of fuel yesterday. — AFP

Indonesia lawmakers deal blow to fuel price increase JAKARTA: Leading Indonesian political parties on yesterday rejected a government plan to raise fuel prices unless crude oil prices climb further, dealing a blow to the ruling party’s efforts to control a swelling budget deficit. Indonesia has the lowest fuel prices in Asia. The government wants a 33 percent rise from April 1 to reduce subsidy costs that threaten to undermine the budget discipline that led rating agencies to lift Southeast Asia’s largest economy to investment grade status. In the early evening, police fired tear gas grenades and used water cannon against thousands of demonstrators who rallied outside parliament to oppose a price rise, a Reuters witness said. There was no immediate word on casualties. Earlier, other protesters blocked access to the toll road connecting Jakarta and its main airport. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party wants to change the law to allow a price increase if the Indonesia Crude Price (ICP), a basket of crude oil prices, rises to average more than five percent above a budget forecast for $105 a barrel. The price is currently 10 percent above that, at $116 a barrel. But the Golkar Party, part of the ruling coalition and with the second largest number of seats in parliament, said yesterday it rejected a fuel price hike and would only support it if the ICP rose 15 percent above the budget forecast. Golkar previously supported the fuel price hike but changed its mind after a week of protests across the country. “At the beginning of this debate, Golkar was leaning to understanding the government’s stance. But when the people demanded, shouted and reminded us that Golkar is a party of the people, we of course reassessed our position,” said Ahmadi Noor Supit, a Golkar lawmaker. Protests over a fuel price hike helped spell the end for autocratic leader Suharto in 1998 and lifting prices would hurt the bulk of the country’s 240 million people, many of whom live on a few dollars a day despite years of strong economic growth. “The latest maneuver by Golkar is a smart calculation ... this rejection of the fuel price hike could boost support for Golkar,” said Syamsuddin Haris, a political analyst from Indonesia’s Institute of Sciences. Other parties also told parliament they rejected the hike or required a rise in the ICP price of up to 20 percent. Lawmakers are set to continue to thrash out possible options for a deal, though an April price increase now looks unlikely. Failure to pass the proposal in parliament would keep inflation low but disappoint rating agencies that want the government to use the $18 billion it spent on fuel subsidies last year for muchneeded infrastructure instead. Lawmakers postponed the vote until the last minute as they feared supporting the move would hurt their popularity in the run-up to national elections in 2014. Subsidies keep pump prices at just half the market rate, spurring fuel demand in Asia’s largest gasoline and diesel importer and helping boost car sales to record highs. Lifting prices by a third would only take them to a level reached in 2008 after Yudhoyono hiked prices following a oil price spike.—Reuters

MADRID: Spain will make budget cuts worth more than 27 billion euros ($36 billion) in 2012, including a freeze on public workers’ salaries, to rein in its public deficit, the government said yesterday. Government ministries will have an average reduction in their budgets of “around 17 percent” this year, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said after a weekly cabinet meeting that approved the 2012 budget. “We are in an extreme situation. Our top priority is to clean up public accounts,” she said. “This is a moment that demands serious efforts to reduce spending but also structural reforms to cause the economy to grow and create jobs.” Spain is racing to reduce to reduce its public deficit to reassure markets that it will not follow Greece, Ireland and Portugal in requesting an international bailout. The government unveiled its austerity budget for 2012 a day after a general strike against spending cuts and labour market reforms that make it easier to cut jobs, when violence flared at protests in some cities. Hundreds of thousands of protesters swamped Spain’s streets on Thursday to back the strike, marred by clashes in Barcelona where youths set fire to bins and a Starbucks coffee shop. Unions said nearly a million people took part in Madrid alone to denounce labour reforms, spending cuts and soaring unemployment in a country mired in recession. The interior ministry put turnout in Madrid at just 85,000. As the government unveiled its budget, finance ministers from the euro-zone were meeting in Copenhagen to decide on the size of a financial firewall for the euro-zone. This firewall is intended to ensure adequate funds would be available to support weak euro-zone countries suffering new debt strains, and thereby calm tension on financial markets. Spain, having overshot its public deficit target last year, is once again a focus of concern among economists and investors. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said he is determined to keep his promises to eurozone partners to slash the deficit, even at a time of soaring unemployment and recession. The Popular Party government must bring down the public deficit to the equivalent of 5.3 percent of economic output this year from 8.51 percent last year. That would mean at least 20-30 billion of euros ($26-40 billion) in austerity measures, on top of 8.9 billion euros in spending cuts and 6.3 billion euros in tax increases already announced this year. The task is complicated by the recession, with the government predicting a 1.7-percent slump in economic output this year. Jose Carlos Diez, analyst at Intermoney brokerage, said other countries had shown that reducing the deficit in a recession is difficult because it cuts government receipts and raises expenses for unemployment benefits. “Suddenly you are rowing against the current, with a capacity to row but in the end you tire out,” he warned. “Spain needs more time but Brussels does not seem disposed to give it.” While the Spanish government plans to freeze public sector workers’ salaries-which were cut by the previous Socialist government-it ruled out raising sales tax and said pensions would still be raised. “We have decided to contin-

ue to raise pensions, freeze the salaries of civil servants but not cut them and maintain unemployment benefits and spending on internships,” said Saenz de Santamaria. Financial group Citi’s chief economist Willem Buiter said Spain would likely need emergency help from international lenders this year to shore up its banks and public finances. “Spain looks likely to enter

some form of a troika programme this year” to ensure access to favourable credit, he wrote in a report, referring to the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. He forecast a 2.7-percent contraction this year in the Spanish economy and warned that debt may be higher than previously thought. — AFP

BARCELONA: Mirian Burrueco, 30, reacts behind the broken glass of her shop stormed by demonstrators during clashes with the police at the general strike, Thursday, March 29, 2012. — AP

Germany, Swiss try to salvage tax deal BERLIN: Germany and Switzerland scrambled yesterday to salvage a landmark deal on taxing secret offshore accounts after the main German opposition party raised 11th hour objections to a compromise plan it branded full of “loopholes”. Germany and its tiny Alpine neighbour want to conclude by this weekend a pact that would protect Switzerland’s tradition of banking secrecy-cornerstone of its $2 trillion financial services industry-by taxing wealthy Germans’ Swiss accounts and levying a high interest rate on undeclared money. But Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition needs the backing of states controlled by the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) to ensure the tax deal wins approval in Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat. SPD state premiers, who blocked an original deal last year as too lenient to tax dodgers, discussed concessions proposed by the Swiss on Thursday but decided they did not go far enough. “We still have big problems with this agreement,” Hannelore Kraft, SPD premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, told the Bundesrat. “Switzerland has moved. But there are still far too many loopholes,” she said, commenting on the proposed amendments. “Here lies the money of people who have evaded taxes and the

question of how we deal with this is a fundamental one of justice.” The Swiss finance ministry said it had updated its proposals for a deal and asked for further clarity from Germany on the issue by the end of March to allow a new treaty to come into force from April 2013. The German finance ministry said it too was working hard to finalise a compromise by a weekend deadline. “Not to get a deal is the worst possible outcome for us, so in that sense we will do everything, we will not rule out any talks, in order to get a good result,” a German finance ministry spokeswoman told a news briefing. The spokeswoman said a March 31 deadline on the Swiss side was “unchanged”. Asked if a deal by April 1 was still possible, she said: “We’re working on it” SPD sources said the party, which wants to unseat Merkel in a federal election next year, believes the tax rate proposed by the Swiss could be raised further and is also unhappy with the length of the transition period to the new regime. The Swiss daily TagesAnzeiger reported on Thursday that Switzerland had agreed to levy higher rates of punitive taxes on an estimated 160 billion Swiss francs ($176 billion) of German assets in secret accounts, potentially yielding billions of extra revenue for Germany. —Reuters


Kenya’s decade-long realty boom troubled NAIROBI: Pamela Onyambu went into the real estate business seven years ago to capitalise on a housing boom fuelled by Kenya’s middle classes. Now she fears interest rates that have doubled in six months will wipe out any profit on her latest venture. Standing at the entrance to a half-built apartment block on the outskirts of Nairobi, Omyambu worries that her newest project will also turn out to be her most costly. A leap in commercial interest rates to as high as 30 percent from a low of 14 percent, triggered by an aggressive tightening of monetary policy, has left both developers and buyers struggling to meet high funding costs. Housing has been one of Kenya’s fastest growing sectors over the last decade, with returns from real estate outpacing equities and government securities. But in the last quarter of 2011, the construction sector, and much of the country’s economy hit trouble after the central bank jacked up its benchmark interest rate by 11 percentage points to 18 percent to beat back inflation and stabilise the Kenyan shilling. The high interest rates have put the brakes on the growth of private sector credit, which in turn could slow down the whole of East Africa’s biggest economy. Onyambu’s more immediate concern is that the real estate bubble may have burst. “Our initial cost for this project was 334 million shillings. By the end of this project we would have spent over 450 million shillings. We’ll have to charge more per unit just to recover our costs,” the 44-year-old said. The property craze saw coffee plantations in the capital’s suburbs uprooted to pave way for gated housing estates and shopping centres. One million Kenyans found work in construction. A study by the World Bank and Central Bank of Kenya, showed the housing sector grew at rates of 10 to 20 percent annually between 2006-10. The slowdown in the property sector is being mirrored in other parts of the economy. Joseph Kimeu, a manager at car dealer Marshalls East Africa , says sales have fallen. “We bought these cars when the shilling was 107 per dollar, but they are still stuck in the show room,” Kimeu said, pointing at a wide range of luxury cars in a showroom empty of buyers. Kiosks selling groceries have not been spared either. — Reuters

UK unions rule out Easter fuel strike Govt accused of causing panic buying

LONDON: British unions ruled out an Easter strike by fuel delivery drivers yesterday after the government was accused of triggering panic-buying and long queues at garages with its “incompetent” handling of the dispute. The Unite union lifted the threat of action over one of the busiest weekends on the roads, saying it wanted to focus on talks next week with haulage contractors. It follows days of uncertainty that prompted fierce criticism of government ministers who had been seen as exacerbating the situation by advising motorists to top up their cars and fill fuel cans. Opposition leader Ed Miliband accused the government of “playing politics”, seeking to divert attention from days of negative headlines about the Conservative Party’s donors, an unpopular new tax on hot snacks and a growing sense that the leadership is out of touch with hard-pressed families. “This is not a political dispute, it is an industrial dispute,” said Unite’s deputy head Diana Holland. “The government’s recent rhetoric will not help us achieve a negotiated settlement. They must set aside their political objectives and work with us.” Motoring groups said ministers’ advice had generated “self-inflicted” shortages and queues at garages. Demand for petrol was 172 percent higher than normal on Thursday, a petrol retailers’ trade body said. Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude told motorists on Wednesday to fill (20-litre) jerry cans with petrol and store them at home. A day later, Transport Minister Mike Penning said that was a mistake. Fire brigades said it was dangerous and illegal to store so much fuel in one container. Severe burns The dangers were highlighted by an accident at a house in York, northern England, which left a woman in her 40s with severe burns. The woman set herself alight and suf-

fered severe burns when a cooker ignited petrol fumes in her kitchen as she transferred fuel between containers. “Her daughter had asked if she had any petrol and the mother had said yes. So they were decanting petrol from one container to another,” a spokesman for the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said. “Unfortunately, they were inside a building where there was an ignition source.”

Britain’s economy contracted in the last three months of the year and households are struggling under the weight of government austerity measures, weak wage growth and high unemployment. A survey yesterday showed British consumer confidence unexpectedly fell to a three-month low in March as people worried about the outlook. Conservative Party cochairman Sayeeda Warsi said it had been a

LONDON: Out of use signs cover petrol pumps at a closed petrol station yesterday. — AP With pressure mounting on the government to take control of the issue, Energy Secretary Ed Davey was meeting fuel delivery companies to discuss contingency plans in the event of a strike. The dispute covers a broad range of issues, including pay, pensions, working conditions and health and safety matters. Finance minister George Osborne said on Thursday that a fuel strike was “the last thing the economy needs”.

difficult week for the government, but she defended its warnings to motorists. “We may have queues outside petrol forecourts but we’re not running out of fuel ultimately because that fuel is being topped up,” she told BBC radio. “I would much rather have a government that is preparing and planning than have a government that was sitting on its hands and waiting for the trouble to come to us.” — Reuters

US consumer spending up 0.8 pct%

OREGON: In this photo, job seekers stand in line during the Career Expo job fair in Portland. — AP

WASHINGTON: US consumers boosted their spending in February by the most in seven months. But Americans’ income barely grew and the saving rate fell to its lowest point in more than two years. The Commerce Department said yesterday that consumer spending rose 0.8 percent last month. However, income grew only 0.2 percent, matching January’s weak increase. And when taking inflation into account, income after taxes fell for a second straight month. Consumers are spending more after the best three-month hiring stretch in two years. But few who already had jobs saw big pay raises. Some of the increase in spending reflected the jump in gas prices. But even after excluding inflation, consumer spending still rose a solid 0.5 percent. And the numbers show that most of the inflation was tied to gas prices. Still, the weak income growth meant Americans dipped into savings to finance their spending. The saving

rate dropped to 3.7 percent of aftertax income in February. That was the lowest level since August 2009. The saving rate had been 4.3 percent in January and it had averaged 4.7 percent for all of last year. The economy has added an average of 245,000 jobs per month from December through February. That’s lowered the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent, the lowest in three years. Most economists expect a similar number of net jobs added in March. Still, more robust hiring has yet to lift growth. Economists predict growth slowed in the January-March quarter to an annual rate of 2 percent or less, down from 3 percent in the OctoberDecember quarter. Consumer spending drives 70 percent of economic activity. Most economists expect growth to rebound later this year as further hiring lifts the economy. And there are indications that a pickup in spending may already be under way. Americans stepped up spending on

retail goods in February, the government said earlier in the month. Consumers bought more autos, clothes and appliances. They also paid higher prices for gas. On Thursday, the national average price for a gallon of gas was $3.92, according to AAA. In 11 states, the price is more than $4 per gallon ($1.05 a liter). Higher gas prices could eventually slow growth by causing some people to cut spending on other goods, from appliances and furniture to electronics and vacations. Gasoline purchases provide less benefit for the US economy because about half of the revenue flows to oil-exporting nations, though US oil companies and gasoline retailers also benefit. Despite paying more to fill their tanks, consumers remain optimistic about the economy. The Conference Board, a New York-based private research group, said its gauge of consumer confidence held nearly steady in March after reaching its highest level in a year in February. —AP


China to cut import duties on some energy, materials BEIJING: China, the world’s secondbiggest importer, will cut import duties on some energy and raw materials products as well as consumer goods, to boost purchases, the Chinese cabinet said in a statement yesterday. The decision underlines Beijing’s intent to buy more from its trade partners to boost domestic consumption and comes after China posted its largest monthly trade deficit in at least a decade in February. It is the first time China’s cabinet has devoted a regular meeting to the issue of boosting imports, which is usually under the purview of China’s Ministry of Commerce. “As we maintain stable growth in

exports, we should focus more on imports and appropriately expand the size of imports,” the State Council said in a meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao. China, the world’s largest exporter, will have to rely less on exports to drive its economy in coming years, when growth in major US and European markets slows. Importing more will lift living standards and soothe China’s disputes with its trade partners. Vice Premier Li Keqiang said earlier this month China will import $10 trillion worth of goods and services in the five years ending 2015. To boost imports, China’s cabinet said it will cut import duties for “some energy prod-

ucts, raw materials, consumer goods closely related to people’s daily lives, and key items that China does not produce”. China’s import duties for energy products are generally low. For instance, China charges an import duty of 1 percent for mainstream gasoline products and has a zero import tax policy for diesel. Beijing will also encourage importers to buy more from countries that have free trade deals with China, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Pakistan and New Zealand. Chinese policy banks are also told to provide more credit to domestic importers of hi-tech products and

resources. China’s large but shrinking trade surplus with the United States and Europe have drawn criticism in past years, including accusations that it deliberately holds down the yuan to boost exports. Beijing has always denied these allegations. To restructure China’s economy into one driven more by consumers, Beijing is adopting a “buy more but not sell less” tactic, which helped narrow its trade surplus by 14.5 percent in 2011 to $155 billion. In February, China posted a $31.5 billion trade deficit as it sucked in commodity imports that pushed total purchases up 39.6 percent compared to a year ago, more than double the pace of export growth. — Reuters

Debt-hit Japan closer to doubling sales tax Japan factory output falls, dents recovery hopes TOKYO: Japan’s cabinet yesterday approved a bill to double the nation’s sales tax to 10 percent, overcoming an earlier scare after the head of a coalition partner said it may leave the government over the issue. The agreement is a step closer to a deal the government says will help rein in Japan’s gigantic public debt, but it is still likely to face a rocky road with opposition to the unpopular tax hike both inside and outside the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is playing a balancing act between keeping his fragile coalition together and seeing through the bill’s passage. Noda has warned that the future of the world’s third-largest economy rests on tackling its public debt while financing an increasingly expensive social welfare system. “We must create a society in which people can be assured that tomorrow will be better than today,” he told a press briefing yesterday. “We must weigh the sustainability of social security. Everybody has fears about their post-retirement years. We must remove these fears and that is the most important point of this reform. “Now it is time for the whole parliament to make a decision without any postponement, strictly for the benefit of people.” The bill was yesterday sent to the lower house of parliament, which will ultimately pass the legislation or shut it down-a process expected to take several months. A group of DPJ lawmakers is threatening to vote against it, due mainly to worries that a tax increase would derail Japan’s uncertain economic recovery. The DPJ’s former head and major political power broker Ichiro Ozawa, who leads the party’s anti-tax group, told local media on Thursday that he “can’t support a simple tax hike”. “If Mr Noda pushes for a publicly unpopular tax hike, his party support base will disappear,” Ozawa was quoted as saying. The opposition, which controls Japan’s upper house of parliament, is also unhappy with the bill and could scupper its passage. The law would see a sales tax rise from five percent to 10 per-

cent by 2015. On Thursday, Shizuka Kamei, the head of the People’s New Party, said his faction was divided on the issue and could leave Noda’s coalition. However, his deputy Shozaburo Jimi, who is minister of postal reform and financial affairs, eventually agreed to

TOKYO: Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda listens to a reporter’s question during a press conference at his official residence yesterday. — AP approve the bill yesterday. The expected rise in government revenue is earmarked to cover Japan’s snowballing social welfare costs, including public pensions and a universal health insurance system in a country that boasts one of the world’s highest life expectancy rates. Only about 40.0 percent of what the government currently spends comes from taxes. The rest is financed by borrowing, leaving Japan’s debt at more than double gross domestic product, dwarfing troubled Greece, with analysts warning that only higher tax revenue or spending cuts can bridge the gap. Meanwhile, in another development, Japan’s factory output fell unexpectedly in February, data showed yesterday, suggesting the recovery in the world’s number three economy remained anaemic. The fall confounded expectations for a third straight increase, although officials pointed out that manufacturers

expect the slowdown to be temporary. The 1.2 percent on-month decline in industrial production was triggered largely by slower automobile and semiconductor output, surprising observers who had tipped a 1.3 percent gain. “The outcome was unexpected, as industries such as the electronic machinery industry that were supposed to show a gain in output turned out to be negative,” said Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance. “The data confirm that the pace of recovery in production is slow, even though the upward momentum remains intact,” he added. The latest figure come despite Japanese firms revving up production in recent months as they recover from last year’s quake-tsunami disaster and record flooding in Thailand, which disrupted production for manufacturers with plants there. Japan’s factories posted a revised 1.9 percent output increase in January and 3.8 percent in December. And yesterday, the economy, trade and industry ministry said a survey of producers pointed to an expected 2.6 percent factory output rise in March and another increase of 0.7 percent in April. “In general, output is recovering. You can say it’s taking a breather after strong January figures,” a ministry official said. Officials have seized recent data indicating the economy was on the way to recovery, including a 32.9 billion yen trade surplus in February-the first in five months-and revised figures showing GDP contracted less than first thought in the last quarter of 2011. Japan has announced a fresh plans to kickstart the economy as it struggles to fight its way out of decades of sluggish growth, including a near $25 billion to boost a loan programme from the Bank of Japan earlier this month. That followed last month’s decision by the bank to pump 10 trillion yen ($122 billion) more into markets that was aimed at combating inflation amid domestic and global uncertainty. Japan said yesterday that core inflation, which excludes volatile food prices, edged up 0.1 percent in February from the same month a year earlier, the first rise in five months. —Agencies

ABERDEEN: Andrew Hogg, Vice President Communication Exploration & Production for French energy giant Total, points to a picture showing gas leaking from Total’s Elgin Platform, during a press conference yesterday. — AFP

Total plans relief wells to stop N Sea gas leak LONDON: Total is preparing to sink two relief wells to stop a gas leak at a North Sea platform in parallel with a plugging operation, a senior company executive said yesterday. Philippe Guys, managing director of Total’s British exploration arm, also revealed that concerns with the well off the east coast of Scotland that is leaking a cloud of gas first emerged at the end of February. In a news conference in Aberdeen five days after the Elgin platform was evacuated, Guys said Total had suspended operations on two of its other floating drilling rigs so they can be used to drill relief wells if required. The French energy giant has seen eight billion euros ($10 billion) wiped off its stock value since the 238 crew on the rig were evacuated on Sunday. Its share price has dropped around eight percent since the start of the leak, which the company says is the most serious problem it has faced in the North Sea. “With respect to stopping the leak we have launched two main actions which are progressing in parallel,” Guys said. “The first is to carry out the well kill operation using a floating support. “The second is to drill two relief wells. To that end we have suspended operations on two of our drilling rigs to make them available for work on the relief wells.” ‘Killing’ the well would involve pumping mud into it at high pressure. A decision on which option to take has not yet been taken. Guys said that when Elgin was evacuated all the other wells on the platform “were left in a safe condition”. He said that irregular pressure on the problem well was first observed on February 25 and an attempt to deal with it was made in the following weeks by pumping it full of mud. “During that process on March 25 we observed a sudden pressure increase followed by escape of mud and then gas,” Guys said. He confirmed that the gas was emerging from the deck of the platform, not below the sea. Officials also revealed that aerial surveillance had revealed that a flare left burning on the platform when it was evacuated is diminishing. The presence of the flare, which was left alight to burn off gas in the system, has raised fears of an explosion. Ahead of the news conference, Total said it was considering dropping water from a helicopter or spraying nitrogen to extinguish the flare. — AFP


US House passes Republican budget proposal WASHINGTON: Framing an electionyear battle, the House of Representatives approved on Thursday a contentious Republican budget proposal that would slash trillions of dollars in US spending, revamp Medicare and reduce taxes for the wealthy. The spending plan, unveiled last week by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, is unlikely to become policy, but it frames the Republican Party’s position on spending and debt reduction and puts pressure on Democrats over tax and spending issues. “We are offering the nation a bet-

ter way forward,” Ryan said shortly before the House approved the resolution by 228 votes to 191, with all Democrats and 10 Republicans opposed. The budget, Ryan said afterward, shows “how we plan to save this country from a future of debt, doubt and decline.” The White House swiftly slammed the blueprint as one that would “shower millionaires and billionaires with a massive tax cut,” while Mitt Romney, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in November, hailed it as a “bold budget” in line with his fiscal vision. The

plan, for fiscal year 2013 which begins October 1, aims to tackle the nation’s spiralling expenditures. It calls for $5 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years, and would slash the US deficit to $797 billion next year, about $180 billion less than under Obama’s budget as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office. It also collapses the six existing US tax brackets down to a 10 percent bracket and 25 percent bracket for individuals, and a 25 percent bracket for corporations, according to Ryan. Democrats say it guts vital social and educational programs, drastically

Canada unveils austerity budget Canada ups retirement age to balance budget OTTAWA: Canada’s Conservative government called for the retirement age to be raised and for major public service cuts Thursday, in an austerity budget that aims to balance the books by 2016. Tackling unpopular measures that many industrialized countries are being forced to consider as their populations age, the Ottawa said its budget would help the country move a step ahead. “Other Western countries face the risk of long-term economic decline. We have a rare opportunity to position our country for sustainable, long-term growth,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in the House of Commons. “Looking ahead, Canadians have every reason to be confident,” he said presenting what was dubbed a budget for “the next generation.” Under the plan, Canada will cut its deficit this year through “moderate” spending cuts, as the economy grows by 2.1 percent, Flaherty said. But much deeper cuts, including layoffs of 19,200 government staff, or 4.8 percent of the federal workforce, are planned for the coming years. Flaherty said old age security and guaranteed income supplement benefits worth up to a total of Can$15,000 annually and now paid out at age 65 would be offered only at age 67, starting in 2023. He also announced the withdrawal of the Canadian penny from circulation later this year, saying it costs more to produce than its face value. The move will save the government Can$11 million per year. The deficit was projected in the budget to fall to Can$21.1 billion ($21.1 billion) or 1.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) for the year ending March 31, 2013, down from a revised Can$24.9 billion last fiscal year. Flaherty said, “The savings we have identified are moderate,” amounting to only Can$1.5 billion across all government ministries this year. The plan was panned by the opposition social democrats, whose leader Thomas

Mulcair said: “In the long term, the conditions of these Conservative policies will leave the greatest economic, ecological and social debt in our history in the backpacks of future generations.” Seniors, Inuit, environmental and aid groups, as well as several unions also decried the proposed budget.

than 610,000 jobs since mid-2009, but employment was flat in the first two months of this year. Going forward, the Canadian economy is forecast to grow by a modest 2.4 percent annually, from 2013 to 2015. Looking to the longer term, the minister outlined immigration reforms to attract more foreigners with skills

cuts scientific research and clean energy programs, and slashes transportation spending by 46 percent, while lowering taxes for the wealthy. “There is no balance in this proposal. Seniors, middle class, vulnerable, working Americans are asked to pay the price of this agreement,” House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer said. Representative Chris Van Hollen, ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said that while his rival’s budget was “going nowhere fast,” it would serve as a focal point during the 2012 campaign. — AFP

IFC to invest $3.5bn in Africa this year NAIROBI: The World Bank’s private-sector lending arm said it plans to invest up to $3.5 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa this year, mainly in the infrastructure sector. Many nations in the region are racing to invest in their roads, rail and energy systems to raise their competitiveness, following decades of under investment in the sectors. Jean-Philippe Prosper, East and Southern Africa Director at International Finance Corporation (IFC) said they raised investment in the region this year from $2.2 billion in 2011, with projection it may hit about $4 billion next year. “This year, we will invest probably $3.2-3.5 billion. It will be disbursed progressively. We will do projects in about 30 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Prosper said. The corporation would for the first time ever invest more than $1 billion in infrastructure on the continent in one year. In east Africa’s biggest economy, Kenya, Prosper said IFC planned to invest up to $600 million, with four projects, including the Kenya-Uganda railway as well as three energy projects. Another $100 million would be disbursed to Kenya’s Equity bank in the form of a loan to expand lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). SMEs face greater business obstacles than large enterprises in securing loans, Prosper said. — Reuters

Chavez threatens to nationalize banks

OTTAWA: Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty shows a green shoe as he shops on March 28, 2012 for a new pair of shoes as part of the tradition of budget day. — AFP And several people interrupted Flaherty’s speech in parliament, shouting their opposition to the cuts from the gallery. While Canada’s economy weathered the worst of the global economic crisis well, it has not been immune to the tumult that has circled the globe, particularly when it comes to public finances. Ottawa’s debt-to-GDP ratio remains the lowest in the Group of Seven industrialized nations. Canada is one of only two G7 nations to have recouped all the jobs lost during the global recession, Flaherty noted. According to Statistics Canada, the Canadian economy has created more

and money to “strengthen Canada’s economy,” and a streamlining of the review process for major resource projects. He said Ottawa would post more government documents online to reduce its printing costs and ask bureaucrats to hold more videoconferences to cut expenses for travel across the world’s largest country by land mass. About Can$5.2 billion was earmarked to renew Canada’s aging coast guard fleet, and a small business hiring tax credit was extended to spur private sector job creation. Flaherty also said the government would step up efforts to diversify Canada’s export markets. — AFP

CARACAS: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has threatened to nationalize banks and private companies that support the opposition ahead of October elections. Chavez, 57 spoke at a rally Thursday after returning from Cuba, where he had received follow-up cancer treatment after a surgery there last month to remove a malignant tumour. His recent health woes have cast a shadow over his bid for a third presidential term, in which he will face off against unified opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, 39, in the October 7 vote. At the rally broadcast on state TV, Chavez said he is drawing up a “list of actions” to take “if there is an attack against the constitution, the people, and institutions, or if the certain victory of the people is ignored.” For example, he said, “I have reports of some banks that support these movements.... or some major national and international corporations that earn enough money and support the plans of the opposition,” he said. “There is nothing wrong with nationalizing major companies for violating the constitution and the national plan.” During his 13 years in power Chavez, a leftwing firebrand, has nationalized several major industries and threatened to take control of private firms. Chavez went on to accuse the opposition of “starting to set the stage for violence,” adding: “We must alert the world and ourselves.” Chavez underwent surgery in Havana on February 26 to remove a cancerous tumour around his pelvis, the same area where Cuban surgeons extracted a malignant, baseball-sized tumour in June. — AFP


5 fabulous fairy tale movies Page 25

Museum plays April Fools’ joke on prolific forger Page 29

A butterfly sits on a flower in a garden in central Baghdad yesterday. — AFP


Robbie Williams

to be a father


he ‘Angels’ singer has announced his wife Ayda Field is pregnant and says he can’t wait for the baby to arrive. Writing on his website, the Take That star said: “Hey friendlies, I’ve been keeping a secret from you all. Me and Ayda are going to be a Mummy and Daddy this year!!!!!!!! “We’ve seen scans and cried... looked at babies in commercials and teared up... the nursery is already planned. Basically I’m in love with a little person growing in mummy’s belly... and can’t wait

to be a daddy. Crying now.” He added, “Much love, much joy. Roberto, Mum and Little Bump. xxx (sic)” Robbie, 38, and Ayda, 32, married in August 2010 and they have made no secret of their desire to have a family. Speaking last year, he said: “She wants a football team. I want two. A boy and a girl. “[We’re going to call them] Woody and Sonny! Cool, eh? She wants to get on it now, but, I just got back off tour. There’s a stretch from now until Christmas and then, we’ll do some practicing.”

Ne-Yo chose

name for son based on ‘respectability’ T

he ‘Beautiful Monster’ singer and his fiancee Monyetta Shaw welcomed Mason Evan Smith into the world last October and he was determined for him to have a strong moniker which will serve him well in life. Speaking at New York’s Liberty Theater, where he launched Malibu Red with a private concert, he said: “We needed him to have a name that felt like a gentleman, like somebody you have to respect. Mason Evan Smith, you have to respect that name.” Ne-Yo and Monyetta also have a 16-month-old daughter Madilyn Grace together and although he

has a career in show business, the musician will not pressure either of his kids to follow in his footsteps. The 32-year-old star - real name Shaffer Chimere Smith - told People magazine: “I’m not going to be that dude that predestines my children’s future.” NeYo admits his hectic career means he has missed some key moments in his children’s lives but he always gets to hear about their antics from boutique owner Monyetta. He said: “I missed Madilyn’s first words ... Some people say, ‘One day at a time.’ I say, ‘One minute at a time.’ “

Madonna’s perfume commercial is too racy for TV


he ‘Girls Gone Wild’ singer’s new 30-second black-andwhite ad for her Truth or Dare scent have been deemed inappropriate for Disney-owned channel ABC with bosses ordering that the ad be edited. A source the New York Post’s Page Six: “ABC viewed the ad [and] came back with a list of changes. They say they want more of her to be covered and her clothes also changed. ABC also wants to cut another suggestive scene out.” However, even once the changes have been made, channel bosses have ruled the ad can only run after the 9pm watershed, with the exception of daytime show ‘The View’. A second source confirmed: “ABC has requested some changes be made to the content of the Truth or Dare perfume commercial.” Madonna has previously said of the perfume: “I have always been obsessed by fragrance and for years wanted to create something personal that was an expression of me, but that other people could relate to as well. Something classical and timeless and yet modern.”

Liam Neeson and Ralph shared ‘bromance’ on movie set


iam and Ralph played Zeus and Hades in the mythical blockbuster and the pair became good friends on set and had a hard time being serious in their scenes. Liam said: “All these fake beards and long hair and costumes and stuff - you have to have a giggle.” The two actors also spent their time on set imaging who would win in a fight between two of their most famous characters - Ralph’s Lord Voldemort from the ‘Harry Potter’ films and Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn, who Liam played in ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace’ Ralph said: “He (Lord Voldemort) wouldn’t stand a chance. The thing is, if Voldemort has wand power you’re finished. But once I get in a reach of these huge arms, then I’m done for.”


Kate Winslet

regrets missing original ‘Titanic’ premiere T

Julia Roberts

talks ‘torturous’ scene in new movie


he actress - famous for starring in ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘Notting Hill’ - plays the evil Queen Clementianna in the movie, which is based on the ‘Snow White’ story and part of the beauty regime for the part involved bird fasces being applied to her skin. Although Julia hated it, director Tarsem Singh reveled in her pain. The 44-year-old star told the Metro newspaper: “All that ‘beauty’ stuff was so disgusting. Tarsem loved every minute of it and I was tortured. I think he took great delight in it.” Once out of make-up, Julia found it particularly “fun” playing the villainous character because she usually portrays good guys but ‘Mirror, Mirror’ gave her the freedom to “go off the rails in any direction”. She said: “It was fun to play this villain, because no real rules of syntax or reality applied to her. I could go off the rails in any direction, at any time and it would make sense.” ‘Mirror, Mirror’ also stars Lily Collins as Snow White, Armie Hammer as Prince Andrew Alcott and Sean Bean as The King.

he British actress contracted a bug while filming in Morocco 15 years ago and had to be hospitalized in London rather than attending the red carpet screening of the movie and Kate admitted she was more worried about the parties she missed out on rather than the film. She said: “I missed all the press activity, I was filming something in Morocco and they had built in the schedule, three days when I could come over to England and go to the premier and do all the press and I had contracted some terrible stomach bug when I was in Marrakesh. As soon as I landed in London I was just wiped out and literally had to be rushed to hospital and was on a drip for two days and missed everything!” She added, “So I had various family members and Jim Cameron and Leo [Leonardo DiCaprio] all coming in dribs and drabs throughout the night, after the screening of the film to see how I was doing and to tell me about all the wonderful things I was missing out on, Caviar bar, a great DJ! I missed it all!” Kate, 36, also revealed she is grateful for the success of the film - which is being re-released in 3D for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ocean liner - because it has allowed her more freedom in choosing her roles. In an interview with Neil Fox on Magic 105.4’s Breakfast Show, she said: “I’m fortunate enough to get to choose the roles I play these days, largely due to the success of ‘Titanic’ actually, and so I do like choosing things that are risky and a little bit unexpected. It was really ‘Titanic’ that provided that creative freedom for me and actually then years later becoming a mother, it has been so brilliant the success of that film, because it has meant I haven’t had to work as well and I can completely be a mum ... and that’s not the case for a lot of actresses who are starting out and have to take what they can.”

Dolly Parton says friends, God protected her


he country musician believes Whitney Houston - who died of accidental drowning due to the effects of heart disease and drug use last month failed to “make sure she was surrounded by the right people, and the right things”, and the country star is grateful to her “close friends” for not ending up in a similar situation. She said: “I’ve always had good and close friends, and a spiritual faith. God will take the wrong people and things out, and teach me to have the right people and the right things.” She added, “Some people don’t have that, and that’s where it can go wrong.” Whitney covered the 66-year-old music legend’s original 1974 composition ‘I Will Always Love You’ for the soundtrack of the her 1992 movie ‘The Bodyguard’, and the country singer is grateful for the singer for making the song “popular worldwide”. She explained: “I thank God

every day for that song - and Whitney made it popular worldwide. It’s a very simple song, really, as simple as anything I’ve ever written.” Dolly enjoyed writing the score for her forthcoming musical ‘9 to 5’ - which is based on the 1980 film ‘Nine To Five’, which she starred in - for both male and female singers as she feels able to relate to both genders because she has always been able to “think like a man”. She added to the Daily Mail newspaper: “I often said I look like a woman, but I can think like a man, meaning I never felt I had to take a back seat to anybody and I always knew how to hold my own. That’s why I enjoyed writing the score from the male and female perspectives.”

Jerry Lee Lewis has married for the seventh time T

he hitmaker wed his caregiver Judith Brown in a ceremony in Mississippi on March 9. The wedding was reportedly so secret even the singer’s daughter, Pheobe Lewis, was unaware he was getting married - even though she lives with him, according to People magazine. Judith, 62, was previously wed to Jerry’s cousin, Rusty Brown, and - making the union even more closely entwined - Rusty is the brother of Jerry’s third wife Myra Gale Brown.

Jerry’s 1957 marriage to Myra caused huge controversy at the time, as she was just 13 years old and also his cousin once removed. They ended their union 13 years later. The pianist - who has seven children - was last married to Kerrie McCarver, but the union ended in 2004 after 20 years together after they both accused each other of infidelity. Kerrie was awarded a $250,000 settlement and $30,000 a year for five years, plus child support for their son. Speaking about his attitude to life and

marriage in 2009, Jerry said: “I’ve learned to be one of the ‘hardheadedest’ cats in the world. I’ve learned that.” He added, “My daddy told my mama - I wanted to go get married the first time, and boy, she was crying and carrying on, and my daddy said, ‘Leave him alone, Mammy. You know how hardheaded he is. Hardheaded as a rock.’ I was sixteen. That was in Louisiana.”


Country stars

hit Las Vegas for awards show


In this image released by Lionsgate, Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen, left, and Liam Hemsworth portrays Gale Hawthorne in a scene from “The Hunger Games.” — AP

Box Office Preview:

‘Hunger’ goes back for seconds L

ionsgate’s “Hunger Games” will devour the debuting “Wrath of the Titans” this weekend as it continues to gorge on box-office megabucks with an expected domestic take of at least $60 million and a potential 10-day total approaching $250 million by tomorrow night. The 3-D sequel to the 2010 hit “Clash of the Titans,” Warners’ PG-13rated “Wrath of the Titans,” starring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Sam Worthington,

should open at around $40 million. Relativity Media will have a PG-rated advantage this weekend with its debut of “Mirror Mirror,” starring Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer and Lily Collins. Offering a solid alternative for families, visionary director Tarsem Singh’s take on “Snow White” should open in the $25 million to $30 million range. Sony’s action-comedy “21 Jump Street” has maintained its distinction as the No. 1 R-rated com-

edy choice for moviegoers. A likely third-weekend gross of around $12 million will bring its 17-day North American total to around $90 million by tomorrow night. Rounding out the top five, Universal’s “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” continues to cultivate the greenery with an expected fifth weekend gross of around $7 million. The family and eco-friendly film is closing in on the $200 million mark. — AP

Julia Roberts reflects on evil in ‘Mirror Mirror’ J

ulia Roberts has taken time off from Hollywood of late to focus on her three young children-but admits she enjoys being back on the big screen, as a fairytale villain in her latest movie. Playing the evil Queen in “Mirror Mirror,” a new version of Snow White, marks a departure for the US actress, whose career has included everything from campaigning lawyer to high-class call girl and celebrity love interest. Directed by Indian filmmaker Tarsem Singh-who made last year’s “Immortals”-the movie based on the

In this image released by Relativity Media, Julia Roberts portrays the evil queen, left, and Lily Collins portrays Snow White in a scene from Relativity Media’s “Mirror Mirror.” — AP

famous Brothers Grimm children’s tale opens in the United States on Friday. Roberts, who at 44 remains one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, made her name in films including 1990’s “Pretty Woman” and “Erin Brockovich” in 2000, and said she never thought she would appear in a fairy tale. “Just the one sentence pitched over the phone: ‘Hey, they’re doing this Snow White adaptation,’ that didn’t grab my attention. I didn’t have any interest in this one, really, until Tarsem lured me in his lurid way.” she told reporters. “And I looked at the script and realized that there was really something here.” The film tells the story popularized around the world by Disney, but gives it a different, sometimes comic or even absurd twist, creating a visual universe sometimes closer to “Alice in Wonderland” than the Brothers Grimm. For Roberts, the film is less about making it different from Disney, but more “changing the tone of it, just giving a different relationship” between the Queen and Snow White, played by young British actress Lily Collins. “I think people like variations on things,” Roberts said. The “Notting Hill” and, more recently, “Eat Pray Love” star said she liked playing the Queen, Snow White’s cruel stepmother. “It was fun to play this villain, because there aren’t any real rules of syntax or reality that apply to her. So I could kind of do anything and just go off the rails in any direction at any time, and it would make sense to me. “In that regard, it was a lot of fun. You don’t have to worry too much about ‘Would a person really do this?’” But she added: “I’m happy to announce (that the Evil Queen) is not inside me... Without naming names, I drew from a couple of people I know better than I wish I did, and found it very fun and helpful.” —AFP

as Vegas turns into Nashville West tomorrow when the Academy of Country Music brings its awards show to the resort city along with stars such as Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton. Among top honors on one of country’s biggest nights, the album of the year category features Lambert and her “Four the Record” in a tight race with Eric Church and “Chief,” Chesney for “Hemingway’s Whiskey,” Jason Aldean with “My Kinda Party” and popular Lady Antebellum for “Own the Night.” Lady Antebellum took the award last year for its smash hit “Need You Now,” while Taylor Swift was given entertainer of the year, which is voted on by fans, and Lambert came away the big winner with four trophies overall including top female vocalist. Lambert, a previous two-time album of the year winner, said receiving this year’s nod with “Four the Record” remained a special moment as it comes from the industry group that showcases the best music and performances in country. “I spend so much time and energy and put so much of my heart into an album, so when it’s nominated ... it’s one of those moments, like you are proud of your child,” she told Reuters. Church, who scored his first No. 1 country album with “Chief,” echoed Lambert’s comment, saying his nomination was a special acknowledgement that he holds in high regard. “(Albums) are what I hope I’m most known for. There are a lot of records I put up on a pedestal, and I think it’s still important to make records that people put up on a pedestal.” A who’s who of the industry is expected to turn out for tomorrow’s show, including Reba McEntire, Jason Aldean, Martina McBride, and even Lionel Richie, who is promoting his new album of duets with country singers. In what is expected to be one of the more unusual moments of the event, a pair of New Jersey widowers will get married during the live broadcast and be serenaded by McBride and Train singer Pat Monahan with the song, “Marry Me.” While all eyes will be on performances, awards remain the focus of the night. Chesney comes into the night with a leading nine nominations, followed by Aldean with six and Lady Antebellum with five. Chesney could take home his fifth entertainer of the year award, but he faces the likes of Swift, who at age 22 has already won that award twice, and is coming off a recent Grammy victory for best country song with “Mean.” But both Chesney and Swift face some stiff competition from popular Jason Aldean and Blake Shelton, who has seen his star rise this past year as a judge on highly-rated TV show “The Voice.” Rounding out the category is veteran Brad Paisley. Paisley is a contender to take home his sixth male vocalist award, a trophy he’s held in his hands since 2006. Also nominated in that category are Chesney, Aldean, Shelton and former “Nashville Star” TV singing contest winner Chris Young. Lambert, Swift and McBride all will vie for best female vocalist, squaring off against Sara Evans and Carrie Underwood. Lady Antebellum feature prominently in the race for top vocal group against The Band Perry, Eli Young Band, Rascal Flatts and Zac Brown Band. Finally, what may be the most unlikely - and most talked about - country hit of the year, Toby Keith’s party song “Red Solo Cup,” earned him three nominations, including video and single of the Year. The 47th annual Academy of Country Music Awards airs live on the CBS network tomorrow. — Reuters


In this 2007 photo originally released by Disney, Amy Adams portrays Giselle in a scene from “Enchanted.”


fabulous fairy tale movies


veryone wants the happily-ever-after that’s why fairy tale movies are so popular. This week, we have “Mirror Mirror,” a cheeky take on “Snow White” from the perspective of the evil Queen, played by Julia Roberts. So here’s a look at five fabulous films that just might have you believing in magic: “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006): A total original very much in keeping with Guillermo del Toro’s wondrously dark, strange aesthetic, and yet an unforgettable entity all its own. A little girl escapes the horrors of 1944 Fascist Spain by spending time in the ruins of an ancient labyrinth; there, the satyr Pan befriends her and assigns her a series of tasks to prove herself and return to her once-happy life. Del Toro moves seamlessly between fantasy and reality - each with its own vivid, nightmarish imagery and has crafted a film that was very much deserving of its Academy Awards for cinematography, art direction and makeup. It’s at once gorgeous and terrifying; it’ll make you

marvel at its imagination and cringe in fear. “The Princess Bride” (1987): Yes, it was only a month ago that we discussed this in pondering Billy Crystal’s best performances prior to the Oscars. Still, any opportunity to write about this film will do, and here’s an excellent one. Rob Reiner found such a difficult balance in satirizing bedtime stories in general and fairy tales specifically: He came up with a film that was self-referential without being smug and sweet without being saccharine. It has such a great cast (Crystal, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant and, of course, Robin Wright and Cary Elwes as the destined young lovers), so many memorable moments and so many classic lines that I still quote to this day. Because I’m a dork, and mentally I’m still in high school. “Sleeping Beauty” (1959): We had to have an actual, traditional fairy tale on this list, right? I also included this recently among my movies-

as-comfort-food selections. It was my favorite animated Disney film growing up, one that’s uncharacteristically chickish of me, I realize in retrospect. But when you’re a little girl, it does indeed seem magical. And Aurora’s just so pretty, so graceful and tall, and she can sing in the forest with the furry, little woodland creatures and still effortlessly manage to charm a prince without missing a beat. Of course, the hand-inked animation is beautifully detailed, too, and the whole experience is enhanced by the sweeping score adapted from Tchaikovsky’s ballet. “The Red Shoes” (1948): Just a lush, passionate, overwhelmingly romantic experience, but - like any classic fairy tale - one that’s filled with villainy and danger and the possibility of death. Adapted from the Hans Christian Andersen fable, this Technicolor extravaganza follows the doomed fate of an ambitious, up-and-coming ballerina (Moira Shearer) who makes the fatal mistake of falling in love with the compos-

In this undated file photo originally released by Picturehouse, Ivana Baquero, left, and Doug Jones are shown in a scene from the film, “Pan’s Labyrinth.” — AP photos

er of the ballet that made her a star. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s musical masterpiece had an obvious influence on many subsequent dance pictures, including “The Turning Point” and “Black Swan.” It’s about love and jealousy but, even more deeply, the driving need to create art. “Enchanted” (2005): A lot of movies have knowingly, winkingly made fun of familiar fairy-tale conventions. (You will notice that nowhere on this list is the word “Shrek” included.) Disney was smart enough to goof on itself here - with obvious affection, impeccable craftsmanship and zero snark. Amy Adams is impossibly irresistible as the wide-eyed, wouldbe princess Giselle, who’s banished by the wicked Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) from her idyllic cartoon playland to the harsh reality of Times Square before she can marry her one true love, Prince Edward (James Marsden). But she still maintains a sunny disposition and a song in her heart, which is infectious. — AP

Studio tour opens up rich world of Harry Potter


K Rowling has put down her pen, the films and video games have made a fortune and the actors have moved on, but Harry Potter refuses to go quietly-or at least Warner Bros won’t let him. “The Making of Harry Potter”, which opens today, is the latest spin-off from the best-selling books about the boy wizard, promising a chance to re-live his adventures with a trip through the set of the blockbuster movies. Located in 14,000 square metres of hangar space adjoining Leavesden studios outside London, the walking tour takes visitors through Hogwarts and Diagon Alley, and offers a glimpse of how the magic made it onto the big screen. Warner Bros hopes to entice 5,000 people through the door each day, with tickets costing £83 for a family of four, presenting it as a unique, behind-the-scenes look at one of the world’s most popular characters. The team who worked on the films “really wanted everybody to be able to see these sets, all these treasures, which had so much British craftsmanship going into them,” said Sarah Roots, vice president of Warner Bros Studio Tour London. For the first time, the tour

allows Muggles-non-wizards-the chance to walk down Diagon Alley, the bustling street where Harry and his fellow students go to buy their first magic wands, owls and other school equipment. About 3,000 wands were made for the eight films, many of them broken by Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who played Harry, who used them as drumsticks during down-time on set. Further along the tour, fans can experience the imposing dining hall at Hogwarts school, the scene of much of the action. From the soot-blackened chimney, the stone animals on the walls and the benches polished with use, everything is as it was on screen. A closer look also reveals graffiti drawn on the tables by the films’ young actors, with the blessing of producers who wanted to make it as authentic as possible. Sadly there is no trace of the hundreds of floating candles which light up the hall-an attempt to suspend candlesticks above the tables ended in near-disaster when they fell down, and they were replaced by animated versions. In the boys’ dormitory, the beds designed for Harry and his friends when they arrived at Hogwarts aged 11 remain. By the later films, some deft camera work was

required to make them look large enough for the now lanky cast. In the classroom where potions are taught, hundreds of bottles and flasks crammed onto dusty shelves line the walls, filled with mysterious substancesin reality, baked animal bones from a local butchers, and dried herbs. While the scale model of Hogwarts used for outside shots may be disappointing to those expecting a life-sized castle, the level of detail is impressive. The walls were sculpted by hand, and more than 300 fibre optic lights were used to simulate the torches and lanterns. The tour also gives an insight into the special effects which make Harry’s wand such a powerful tool, allow the students to fly their broomsticks, and make the giant Hagrid tower over his friends. The British press have given the new attraction a mixed reaction, noting the steep cost of the tickets and the souvenirs, which include nearly £500 for a copy of Professor Dumbledore’s robe. But fans have responded enthusiastically, with tickets for every weekend day for the next three months already sold out. “We feel this is a unique experience with the sets and props and costumes there entirely authentic from the Harry Potter films,” Roots insists. —AFP


Models present creations on the last day of a fashion show in Karachi. — AFP


pop on final day of Karachi show

China Fashion Week rolls out new designs

Models parade creations at China Fashion Week in Beijing Thursday. The nine-day fashion extravaganza will highlight works of hundreds of designers from both domestic and international fashion houses.— AFP


Ivanka Trump showcases her designs

Ivanka Trump, left, is joined by husband Jared Kushner, center, and mother Ivana during the presentation of her Ready-ToWear Collection at the Lord and Taylor flagship store in New York on Wednesday.— AP


vanka Trump staged her first fashion show to display the latest addition to her merchandise empire: an array of brightly colored scarf dresses, slim pants and tailored suits that hit stores a few weeks ago. “This is such a validation of what I’ve been working on,” the daughter of billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump told a packed audience before the Wednesday night show at Lord & Taylor’s flagship store in Manhattan. She wore cream-colored jodhpurs from the collection. The line, which ranges from a $50 top to $245 dresses, has been a hit. Lord & Taylor’s presi-

dent, Bonnie Brooks, said 40 percent of the pieces delivered to the store have sold already, and it’s the designer brand customers are searching for most often on Lord &Taylor’s website. Brooks, also president of Lord & Taylor’s parent company, Hudson’s Bay Co., said a new collection typically has a 5 percent sellthrough rate. She said Trump’s clothes have appealed to a broad group of consumers, from women in their 20s to those in their 60s. And it goes beyond the Trump name, she said. Ivanka Trump is a mother and a business woman, and consumers relate to that, Brooks said. Trump, executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization, first forayed into retailing in September 2007 when she opened a luxury jewelry store on Madison Avenue. The store expanded and relocated to Manhattan’s SoHo district last fall. Trump’s jewelry is sold nationwide at various boutiques for $3,500 apiece on average, including $5,000 diamond necklaces and $600 onyx and diamond earrings. Her second jewelry boutique opens in Beijing this summer, and four more are planned in China by 2015. In spring 2011, Trump started selling handbags and shoes, but at prices more in line with her clothing: Pumps cost about $125, handbags about $150. “You can’t fake diamonds,” Trump told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday. That is, there’s flexibility to offer highquality and stylish clothing even if you can’t use crocodile, she said. Trump said she aims to fill a void she sees in department stores between “dowdy” and overly trendy. Macy’s

Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. stores also sell her clothing and accessories. The business, excluding jewelry, is expected to generate $230 million in sales this year, and Trump’s goal is to build a $1 billion business, with expansion into children’s wear and other areas. “It’s all about execution and staying on message,” she added. Trump says she’s involved in the design of the products - but don’t expect her to do the sketches: “I can’t draw.” Instead, she said, she sends her design team pictures from magazines to help articulate what she wants. — AP



painting of a faceless man by Tim Storrier yesterday won Australia’s most prestigious portraiture prize, the Archibald, along with a cheque for Aus$75,000. The work, entitled “The Histrionic Wayfarer (After Bosch)”, features a pith-helmeted figure carrying a backpack with his dog Smudge perched on top. The figure has glasses but no face. Storrier, who beat 40 other finalists, said it was a self-portrait. “It is based on a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, called the Wayfarer, painted in 1510 where the figure is believed to be choosing a path or possibly the prodigal son returning,” he said. “It is a journey through the landscape of the artist’s mind, accompanied by Smudge, the critic and guide of the whole enterprise.” Smudge was present at the awards ceremony in Sydney. The Archibald Prize was first awarded in 1921. It is administered by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. — AFP

Australian artist Tim Storrier stands beside his painting ‘The Histrionic Wayfarer (after Bosch)’ after winning the 91st Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney yesterday. — AFP photos


here are lots of musicals that inspire and stimulate. Only one makes you want to rush outside to buy a newspaper, join a union and hug someone from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Such is the effect after the relentlessly cheery “Newsies,” a musical based on a film of the same name, which opened Thursday at the Nederlander Theatre with heart, soul and a lot of vests, caps and too-thick Noo Yawk accents. The musical is based on the 1899 true story of child newspaper sellers, or newsies, in turn-of-the-century New York who go on strike when the price of “papes” sorry, newspapers - goes up unfairly. They must battle scabs, crooked officials, business types like Joseph Pulitzer and fearsome strike breakers carrying metal pipes. It’s like the film “Gangs of New York” but with dancing. The 1992 film “Newsies,” starring Christian Bale, Bill Pullman, Robert Duvall and Ann-Margret, did poorly at the box office, but it has become something of a cult hit. Disney Theatrical Productions has offered it a second life. Alan Menken and lyricist Jack Feldman, who were responsible for the film’s score, teamed up again to transform “Newsies” into a musical for the stage, reworking the songs and collaborating with a new story writer, Harvey Fierstein, known for his work in “Hairspray” and “La Cage aux Folles.” Director Jeff Calhoun allows no moment to tire, keeping a fast pace and winningly using every inch of the stage. The new musical retains the memorable songs “Santa Fe,” ‘’The World Will Know,” ‘’Carrying the Banner,” ‘’Seize the Day” and “King of New York” but adds a young female reporter to the story. The old songs are still the best and make many reprises, but the journalist Katherine (a spunky Kara Lindsay) is a welcome addition. Fierstein has nicely built into the plucky David-versusGoliath story a romance - something the film didn’t really have - between Jack (the charismatic Jeremy Jordan), the leader of the strikers, and Katherine, a reporter with a hidden past who is desperate to leave fluffy features and cover hard news. The overall story, like newsprint, is black and white. The scruffy newsies, most orphans and destitute (though some look in their late 20s), are all good. The businessmen and politicians, with the exception of a very good Teddy Roosevelt, are pure evil. The little guys work in terrible, unsafe conditions that cry out

for unionization. Credit the massive conglomerate Disney for cheering the victims of capitalism. Clear Fierstein touches are welcome, but scant and slightly predictable - glimmers of his more feisty side come out in his jokes - and the way Jack woos Katherine by drawing her seems lifted from “Titanic.” “All we ask is a square deal,” says Jack at one rousing newsies’ meeting. “For the sake of all the kids in every sweatshop, factory and slaughterhouse in this town, I beg you, throw down your papers and join the strike.” Besides Jordan and Lindsay, other standouts include Andrew KeenanBolger as the endearing disabled kid Crutchie - newsies apparently tend to be quite literal when it comes to nicknames - and Matthew Schechter, who’s alternating the role of Les with Lewis Grosso and as the youngest up there has better comic timing and style than actors twice his age. The cast also apparently has spent a lot of time mimicking Fierstein’s accent, making it as thick as a pastrami sandwich from Katz’s Delicatessen. “First” becomes “foist,” ‘’brother” is “bruddar,” ‘’birds” are “boids,” etc. Someone should have hired Professor Higgins from “My Fair Lady” for some dialect advice. More than two dozen newsies, many veterans of the TV dance competition “So You Think You Can Dance,” are put through their paces by choreographer Christopher Gattelli, who thrillingly combines ballet with bold athletic moves. In one sequence, the performers dance on newspapers, a neat trick that takes advantage of paper’s inherent slick qualities. Try that with an iPad. Calhoun, whose last job was directing “Bonnie & Clyde,” has smartly brought along from that short-lived musical his Clyde (Jordan, whose looks and voice and intensity will melt many a heart) as well as Tobin Ost, the set designer. Here, Ost has created three massive rolling steel towers that get a workout as they twist and turn to resemble various cityscapes, often nicely paired with Sven Ortel’s projections. “Newsies” will likely now go from Broadway to high school auditoriums across the country. Part history lesson, part fable and part love story, it’s practically got its bags packed. Hopefully, by making newsies heroic, it’ll also revive the business of “papes” - sorry, newspapers. — AP In this theater image released by Disney Theatricals, the cast of The Paper Mill Playhouse Production of “Newsies,” starring Jeremy Jordan, background center, is shown in New York. — AP


A forged version of a work by Pablo Picasso and painted by art forger Mark A Landis is seen on exhibit at the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati. — AP


ool me once, the saying goes. But 50 times? That’s what a convincing art forger did for nearly three decades when he donated his copies of Picassos and other works of art to unsuspecting museums in 20 states. Mark A Landis, who has dressed as a Jesuit priest or posed as a wealthy donor driving up in a red Cadillac, apparently never took money for his forgeries and has never been arrested. Now his “works” have been collected into their own tongue-in-cheek exhibit, called Faux Real and opening on April Fools’ Day at the University of Cincinnati.

This is a recent undated photo of art forger Mark A Landis, of Laurel, Miss. — AP Educating people about forgery and letting people know about Landis “is the only way to stop him,” said Mark Tullos, director of the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum in Lafayette, Louisiana, which was duped in 2010 with a donation of a painting sup-

A black light shows the deception behind a forgery by art forger Mark A Landis, of Laurel, Miss. of an original work by 19thcentury French painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau, at the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati on Tuesday. — AP

posedly by American Charles Courtney Curran. Landis creates works in oil, watercolor, pastels, chalk, ink and pencil, making most of his copies from museum or auction catalogs that provide dimensions and information on the originals. He sometimes bestows gifts under different names, such as the Father Arthur Scott alias used at Hilliard. In that case, he told officials that his dead mother had left works including Curran’s oil-on-wood painting “Three Women” and that he was donating it in her memory. Tullos said museum employees became suspicious when Landis kept changing the subject under questioning. After he drove off, the museum quickly concluded it was a forgery. To convince museums he is a philanthropist, he also concocts elaborate stories about health concerns, said Cincinnati exhibit co-curator Matthew Leininger. “He has been having heart surgery for almost 30 years,” Leininger said with a frustrated laugh. “This is the strangest case the museum realm has known in years.” Landis, 57, acknowledges what he’s up to. He told The Associated Press in a phone interview from his home in Laurel, Miss., that he made his first forgery donation to a California museum in 1985. “They were so nice. I just got used to that, and one thing led to another,” he said. “It never occurred to me that anyone would think it was wrong.” The Cincinnati exhibit of about 40 works given to 15 museums grew to around 100 when Landis donated 60 pieces he possesses, along with his priest’s outfit. The Faux Real show will run through May 20 at the Dorothy W and C Lawson Reed Jr Gallery. It depicts famous art forgers, details of how Landis made some donations and ways of detecting fakes. Visitors can view some works under ultraviolet light that causes sections to glow if they contain contemporary ingredients. Art experts say not accepting payment for his forgeries has helped keep Landis from being charged with a crime. Museum officials say forgeries can hurt their reputation and cost time and money researching suspected fraud. Landis typically targets smaller museums without

Forged from an original work by 19th-century French painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau, a painting by art forger Mark A Landis, of Laurel, Miss, is seen on exhibit at the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio on Tuesday. The work of the convincing art forger who has spent nearly three decades copying artists like Picasso and donating his fake art to unsuspecting museums goes on display April Fool’s Day. The University of Cincinnati exhibit will explore the problem of art forgery through a look at the unusual story of Landis. — AP

resources to thoroughly check donations. While museums don’t pay Landis, some treat him to meals, receptions and gifts like catalogs and souvenirs before realizing they were duped, Leininger said. The exhibit doesn’t judge Landis but is using his story to show how forgeries occur and demonstrate that institutions and the public “shouldn’t take things at face value,” exhibit

co-curator Aaron Cowan. The exhibit won’t increase the value of Landis’ works - considered worthless except as educational tools on forgery - and the curators have heard no objections to spotlighting his works. Landis won’t profit from the show but says it is “nice of them to do this.” And though Leininger says he doesn’t think Landis can stop, the forger acknowledges that it’s harder to fool people now “than the ‘80s and ‘90s, when you could just walk in and donate. Now they want all types of documentation.” — AP

Director of DAAP Galleries at the University of Cincinnati, Aaron Cowan hangs a piece of art by art forger Mark A Landis. — AP


Mission to land on a comet PARIS: Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft is en route to intercept a comet — and to make history. In 2014, Rosetta will enter orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and land a probe on it, two firsts. Rosetta’s goal is to learn the primordial story a comet tells as it gloriously falls to pieces. Comets are primitive leftovers from our solar system’s ‘construction’ about 4.5 billion years ago. Because they spend much of their time in the deep freeze of the outer solar system, comets are well preserved-a gold mine for astronomers who want to know what conditions were like back “in the beginning.” As their elongated orbits swing them closer to the sun, comets transform into the most breathtaking bodies

in the night sky. A European Space Agency mission launched in 2004 with US instruments on board, Rosetta will have a front-row seat for the metamorphosis. What we know of comets so far comes from a handful of flyby missions. “In some ways, a flyby is just a tantalizing glimpse of a comet at one stage in its evolution,” says Claudia Alexander, project scientist for the US Rosetta Project at JPL. “Rosetta is different. It will orbit 67P for 17 months. We’ll see this comet evolve right before our eyes as we accompany it toward the sun and back out again.” Fierce solar heat will have a profound effect on Rosetta’s target. “We’ll watch the comet start as just a little nugget in space and then become something poetic

and beautiful, trailing a vast tail.” At the moment, Rosetta is “resting up” for the challenges ahead. It’s hibernating, engaged in its high-speed chase while fast asleep. Reveille is on or around New Year’s Day 2014, when the spacecraft begins a months-long program of self-checkups. If all goes well, in August of the same year, Rosetta will enter orbit around 67P’s nucleus and begin scanning its surface for a landing site. Once a site is chosen, the spacecraft will descend as low as 1 km to deploy the lander. The lander’s name is “Philae” after an island in the Nile, the site of an obelisk that helped decipher-you guessed it-the Rosetta Stone. Touchdown is scheduled for November 2014, when Philae will make the first ever controlled landing on a comet’s nucleus.

Global, wired and 3D: all change in TV world CANNES, France: Beamed onto iPads and smartphones, with new channels going live daily and 3D TV hoping for an Olympic boost, television is morphing into a radically new beast, experts said ahead of a top industry show. “We’re in a time of massive transformation for the entire industry,” Laurine Garaude, head of the TV division at Reed MIDEM, which is organising the four-day Spring MIPTV industry show on the French Riviera from Sunday, said. As TV shifts from the home set onto computers and mobile devices, there has been an upsurge in the number of channels worldwide. In Europe alone, 375 new television channels launched last year, with 8,900 now available across the region according to the latest European Union data. The trend is a global one, with online, on-demand channels launching in Europe, the United States or Australia, but also in Latin America, India or China, Content Digital executive Jonathan Ford told MIPTV News. And with a large Chinese delegation due to attend this show, participants will be watching closely to see which companies and sectors it selects as partners. “International is becoming intrinsically woven into the industry, the people, the business, the content and the audience,” said Garaude. As booming channel numbers set the scene for a battle to capture the biggest audiences, MIPTV is expecting brisk business from newcomers wanting programming to fill up virgin schedules. The race to win viewers shifted up a gear at the end of 2011 when the world’s largest video-sharing platform, YouTube, unveiled plans to launch 100 online channels of original programming this year. Google-owned YouTube will launch the new channels in partnership with leading TV production companies and film studios including Lionsgate and FremantleMedia. Industrywide, the TV format business that has spawned such global hits as “X Factor”, “Dancing With the Stars” and “Big Brother”, remains the backbone of most broadcasters’ daily schedule. “2011 was a fantastic year for all of us and the beginning of 2012 seems to be very strong as well,” Rob Clark, director of global entertainment development at FremantleMedia, said. Drama also continues to score well with TV buyers and viewers alike. A two-day program at MIPTV aims to enable commissioners, producers and finance specialists to set-up the international co-productions that are needed to fund lavish high-end drama works. A drama highlight will be the gala screening of the starstudded TV miniseries “Titanic” by Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes, presented by Britain’s ITV Studios to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the legendary ship. Budding 3DTV technology will also be in the spotlight as households gradually invest in the technology, and more and more 3D channels become available. According to data released Thursday by the EU’s European Audiovisual Observatory, there are some 20 3D channels broadcasting or testing in Europe.—AFP

MAGDEBURG: Robots of the category ‘Standard Platform League’ are made ready to compete in the Robo-Cup German open 2012 in Magdeburg, eastern Germany yesterday. Around 200 teams are taking part in the competition for artificial intelligence. — AFP

Science under fire from ‘doubters’ PARIS: Scientists are facing an uphill battle to warn the public about pressing issues due to dissenters in their ranks who intentionally sow uncertainty, says a US historian. These naysayers - some of whom are paid by interest groups - have helped undermine action on vital problems despite evidence of the need to respond, said Naomi Oreskes, a professor of history and science studies at the University of California at San Diego. They sap convictions by endlessly questioning data, dismissing experimental innovation, stressing uncertainties and clamouring for more research, she said. Over the last half-century, they have helped weaken legislative action or brake political momentum on tobacco, acid rain, protection of the ozone layer and climate change. “This strategy is so clever and effective,” Oreskes said in an interview this week in Paris to promote a French translation of Merchants of Doubt, a book she coauthored with California Institute of Technology historian Erik Conway. “It takes something which is an essential part of science - healthy scepticism, curiosi-

ty - and turns it against itself and makes it corrosive.” Oreskes’s book traces the starting point of professional science sceptics to when big tobacco companies were facing the first clear evidence that smoking caused cancer. An internal memo, written by a Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp executive in 1969, spelt out the goal of weakening this link with expert help. “Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy,” according to the document, now placed in a US public archive. Oreskes said a blatant example today was the sowing of doubt about global warming. A “denial campaign” started to take root in the US just before the Earth Summit of 1992 and amplified in the run-up to negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, she said. “They don’t have to prove that they’re right. They don’t have to prove that there’s no global warming,” she said. “They simply have to raise doubts and questions, because if they can raise doubts

and questions, then they can say, ‘Well, since the science is not settled,’ they allege, ‘therefore it would be premature to act on it.’ And so they delay action and avoid the kind of actions they would like to avoid.” The tactic has been so successful that climate denialism is now firmly anchored in the higher reaches of US politics, said Oreskes. “Major Republican [Party] leaders say in public that they believe it’s a hoax. This is a very shocking state of affairs, and particularly from a party that once upon a time was considered to be more scientific and more environmental than the Democrats.” Oreskes was scathing about some US media which believed that story “balance” meant giving equal weight to opposing scientific views - even if one opinion was backed only by a small minority in the face of massive evidence to the contrary. According to Oreskes, scientists who push climate uncertainty are not necessarily hired guns, although “some of them get money, either directly through the fossilfuel industry or indirectly through intermediaries”.


Privacy is a sci-fi fantasy NEW YORK: The assault on personal privacy has ramped up significantly in the past few years. From warrantless GPS tracking to ISP packet inspection, it seems that everyone wants to get in on the booming business of clandestine snooping-even blatant prying, if you consider reports of employers demanding Facebook passwords prior to making hiring decisions. What happened? Did the rules change? What is it about digital information that’s convinced some people this is OK? Maybe the right to privacy we were told so much about has simply become old-fashioned, a barrier to progress. In search of an answer, we tried a little thought experiment. Follow me, if you will, on a journey to a place in the space-time continuum I call the Land Before the Internet... One bright sunny morning in the Land Before the Internet, you go on a job interview. You’re smart, skilled, motivated, and clearly destined to be an asset to any company that hires you. During the interview process, however, just as the HR manager begins to discuss the benefits package and salary, basically communicating that you have the job, he pauses. “Oh, and we have a few procedural things to take care of,” he says. “We’ll need to assign a goon to follow you around with a parabolic microphone to listen to all of your conversations with friends, and we’ll have a few more follow your friends and family around to see what they’re saying.” He continues: “Also, we’ll need full access to your diary, your personal records, and your photo albums. In fact, we’ll need the keys to your house, so we can rifle through your stuff to see what you have tucked away in the attic and whatnot. We will also need to do the same to all your friends. I assume that won’t be a problem?” Just across town in the Land Before the Internet, a few officers in the local police station are bored, so they assign a few cruisers to shadow people at random, for an indefinite period of time. They pick names out of the phone book-selecting citizens who’ve otherwise raised no cause for suspicion-and follow them, simply because they can. The cops meticulously document the citizens’ comings and goings, creating a very detailed report on their daily lives, complete with where they go, how long they stay, and when they return to their homes. They note when they go to the doctor, where they pick up their kids, everything. They maintain the tail for months or longer, then keep these reports forever. It turns out that the police in the Land Before the Internet aren’t half as busy as the employees at the post office, who’ve been opening and reading every single letter you’ve sent and received-or the people at the phone company, who are assigned to listen to every phone call you make and transcribe the contents for easy search and recall at a later date. You could avoid their prying ears by speaking in code, but this would be documented as an attempt to evade eavesdropping, which is clearly an indicator that you’re engaging in some sort of nefarious activity. For instance, you might infringe on a copyright down the line, perhaps by singing a few bars of “In the Year 2525” to a friend over the phone. Of course, these upside-down horrors are unimaginable in real life. The idea that the post office or phone company would snoop is just crazy-except it’s pretty much what the major ISPs are now volunteering to do. Police stalking innocent citizens could never happen in the United States, at least not without a judge’s approval-unless it means sticking GPS devices on their cars. And under no circumstances would we allow the prospect of gainful employment to be contingent on the abrogation of someone’s personal privacy-but we might need to examine your Facebook page. These invasions of personal privacy are occurring now because they’re suddenly very easy to accomplish. The rapid advancements in processing power and storage have opened the door to the wholesale collection and storage of vast amounts of data that can be indexed and tied (however loosely) to individuals. There’s no way that any of these entities would have the means or personnel to do this Big Brother nonsense physically, but once those communications occur over the network, they think they’re fair game. There are many instances where digital surveillance is a good idea and essentially required because of the medium: people working on highly secure defense projects, those working with sensitive information for corporations that could be a target of corporate espionage, and obviously those in positions that require interaction with information on private individuals that should not be disseminated. —- InfoWorld

KATHMANDU: Thrill-seekers white-water raft on the Bhote Koshi river in Sindhupalchowk district, some 70 km east of Kathmandu. Many sections of Nepal’s famed rivers could soon be silent and virtually empty as the energy-starved country plans a huge expansion in hydro-electricity in the face of power cuts lasting up to 16 hours a day. — AFP

China’s mobile phone subscriptions top a billion BEIJING: China said yesterday it had broken the barrier of one billion mobile phone accounts at the end of February, as more people in the world’s most populous country ditch fixed phones. The number of cell phone subscriptions grew 20.7 million in January and February to reach just over one billion, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said, up from 900.4 million in April last year. In contrast, the number of fixed line subscriptions fell by 828,000 during that period to reach 284.3 million, the figures showed. Mobile phone use has exploded in China in recent years as handset prices and user charges have dropped, while the continual arrival of new technologies on the market has spurred sales. Of the more than one billion accounts, a total of 144 million used 3G technologynearly double the figure for April 2011. However, the figures do not indicate how many mobile phone users there are in China, as companies and individuals may have two or more subscriptions each. China also has the world’s largest web population with more than half a billion Internet users, according to official figures. Meanwhile, apparel makers, toy companies and other manufacturers wrestling with rising wages in China now face new pressures after Apple Inc and main production partner Foxconn agreed to improve worker conditions at plants making its iPhones and other gadgets. In a major development for the way Western companies do business in China, Apple said on Thursday it agreed to work with Foxconn-an affiliate of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry — to curtail hours, substantially improve wages, and hire tens of thousands to compensate for the reduced hours. With enviable profit margins and the ability to call the shots with suppliers, Apple’s move to better labor conditions is not expected to force it to raise prices. But Apple’s move may indirectly force more labor-intensive manufacturers in the

world’s second largest economy-like clothing makers-to spend more on wages and accept lower profits. “As a result of electronics companies raising wages, that’s going to impact the entire manufacturing sector,” said Paul Martyn, vice president of Supply Strategy at BravoSolution. The Apple-Foxconn agreement could affect costs for other manufacturers who contract with the Taiwanese company, including Dell Inc, Hewlett-Packard, Inc, Motorola Mobility Holdings, Nokia and Sony Corp. But with labor accounting for only a fraction of those companies’ costs, they are expected to face limited pressure to raise their own prices or sacrifice profit margins. After decades of aggressive expansion in China, cheap labor no longer looks limitless and steadily rising wages have become a major concern of US-based companies heavily dependent on Chinese labor. Better wages paid in China’s electronics industry have already been rippling out to less complex manufacturing sectors, like clothing, shoes and toys, where labor is a bigger proportion of overall costs. Best Buy Co CEO Brian Dunn said he is keeping an eye on rising wages in China, but argued that whatever margin pressures the electronics retail chain faces would be felt by all. “Whatever plays out there will be unilaterally applied across whoever sells these goods,” he told Reuters in an interview on Thursday. Apple’s new plan to hire tens of thousands of workers, clamp down on illegal overtime, improve safety protocols and upgrade worker housing is expected to eventually fuel even more pressure to improve wages across the manufacturing industry. “Apple and Foxconn are obviously the two biggest players in this sector and since they’re teaming up to drive this change, I really do think they set the bar for the rest of the sector,” Auret van Heerden, head of the Fair Labor Association, said. Compared

to the costs of microchips, sensors, highend displays and other components that go into a laptop or smartphone, labor is only a tiny part, believed by some analysts to be no more than 5 percent of the cost in the case of Apple’s iPhone. Dell told Reuters in an email the company was pleased Foxconn is improving its labor practices but, “We won’t speculate how the reduced overtime and higher wages will affect Foxconn’s costs.” In consumer electronics, changes in component prices and the launch of more profitable products tend to mask or offset rising wages for products sold by companies like Hewlett Packard, Dell and Motorola Mobility, analysts say. “Wages in China have been increasing significantly for years and that hasn’t had any effect on retail prices,” said Brad Gastwirth, co-founder of ABR Investment Strategy, an independent research firm. “And there are other trends happening-the shift to Ultrabooks and other better-margin products that are helping offset higher labor costs.” Apple’s decision comes after the Fair Labor Association said it had unearthed multiple violations of labor law, including extreme hours and unpaid overtime, disclosing its findings from a survey of three Foxconn plants and over 35,000 workers. Apple had agreed to the probe by the independent FLA in response to a crescendo of criticism that its products were built on the backs of mistreated Chinese workers. Shenzhen, a major manufacturing hub in southern China, increased its minimum wage by 13.6 percent in February despite warnings from factory owners and exporters already reeling from slow U.S. and European demand. China’s largest contract manufacturer, Foxconn is in a strong position compared to its smaller rivals but it would still be difficult for the company to get customers like Apple, HP and Amazon, which makes the Kindle Fire tablet in China, to bear the brunt of higher labor costs.— Agencies

TV listings SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2012

00:45 Untamed & Uncut 01:40 After The Attack 02:35 Sharkman 03:30 Human Prey 04:25 Wild France 05:20 Gorilla School 05:45 Xtremely Wild 06:10 Wild Africa Rescue 06:35 Wild Africa Rescue 07:00 Monkey Life 07:25 Michaela’s Animal Road Trip 08:15 Crocodile Hunter 09:10 Chris Humfrey’s Wildlife 09:35 Chris Humfrey’s Wildlife 10:05 The Really Wild Show 10:30 The Really Wild Show 11:00 Safari Sisters 11:25 Cats Of Claw Hill 11:55 The Jeff Corwin Experience 12:50 Wildlife SOS 13:15 Wildlife SOS 13:45 Animal Planet’s Most Outrageous 14:40 Wild Animal Orphans 15:05 Wild Animal Orphans 15:35 Venom Hunter With Donald Schultz 16:30 Big Five Challenge 17:25 Untamed China With Nigel Marven 18:20 Wild France 19:15 Wild France 20:10 Weird Creatures With Nick Baker 21:05 Austin Stevens Adventures 22:00 Deep Into The Wild With Nick Baker 22:25 Deep Into The Wild With Nick Baker 22:55 Animal Planet’s Most Outrageous 23:50 Animal Cops Philadelphia

00:25 The Weakest Link 01:10 Doctors 01:40 Jekyll 02:30 Doctor Who 03:15 The Weakest Link 04:00 Fimbles 04:20 Tellytales 04:35 Teletubbies 05:00 Buzz & Tell 05:05 Balamory 05:25 Bobinogs 05:35 The Large Family 05:45 Spot’s Musical Adventures 05:50 Fimbles 06:10 Tellytales 06:20 Teletubbies 06:45 Buzz & Tell 06:50 Balamory 07:10 Bobinogs 07:20 The Large Family 07:30 Spot’s Musical Adventures 07:35 Last Of The Summer Wine 08:05 Keeping Up Appearances 08:35 The Weakest Link 09:20 Doctor Who 10:05 Doctor Who Confidential 10:20 Eastenders 10:50 Eastenders 11:20 Eastenders 11:50 Eastenders 12:20 The Weakest Link 13:05 Last Of The Summer Wine 13:35 North And South 14:25 Doctor Who 15:10 Keeping Up Appearances 15:40 The Weakest Link 16:25 Holby City 17:15 Holby City 18:15 Doctor Who 19:00 Sport Relief: Walliams vs the Thames 20:00 Sport Relief: Little Britain’s Bog Swim 21:00 Sport Relief: John Bishop’s Week of Hell 22:00 Doctor Who 22:45 Doctor Who Confidential 23:00 The Weakest Link 23:45 Sport Relief: Walliams vs the Thames

00:00 01:35 02:00 02:50 03:35 05:15

French Food At Home French Food At Home 10 Years Younger Fantasy Homes By The Sea French Food At Home French Food At Home

00:00 The Best Of Backstory 00:30 World Sport 01:00 The Situation Room 02:00 World Report 03:00 Anderson Cooper 360 04:00 Piers Morgan Tonight 05:00 Quest Means Business 05:45 CNN Marketplace Africa 06:00 Erin Burnett Outfront 07:00 World Sport 07:30 The Gateway 07:45 Future Cities 08:00 World Report 08:15 CNN Marketplace Africa 08:30 The Best Of Backstory 09:00 World Report 09:15 CNN Marketplace Middle East 09:30 The CNN Freedom Project 10:00 World Sport 10:30 Open Court 11:00 The Best Of The Situation Room 12:00 World Report 12:30 The Best Of Backstory 13:00 The Brief 13:30 Inside Africa 14:00 World Report 14:30 Road To Durban: A Green City Journey 15:00 Talk Asia 15:30 I Report For CNN 16:00 News Special 16:30 The Best Of Backstory 17:00 International Desk 17:30 African Voices 18:00 CNN Marketplace Europe 18:15 CNN Marketplace Africa 18:30 World Report This Week 19:00 World Sport 19:30 Aiming For Gold 20:00 International Desk 20:30 Inside Africa 21:00 International Desk 21:30 The Gateway 21:45 Future Cities 22:00 The Best Of The Situation Room 23:00 World Report 23:30 News Special

SPIDERMAN ON OSN ACTION HD 05:40 Antiques Roadshow 06:30 Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets 07:00 MasterChef Australia 13:15 MasterChef Australia 13:40 Cash In The Attic USA 15:10 Cash In The Attic USA 15:30 Bargain Hunt 17:45 Bargain Hunt 18:30 Antiques Roadshow 21:05 Antiques Roadshow 21:55 10 Years Younger 22:45 Gok’s Fashion Fix 23:30 Gok’s Fashion Fix

00:00 00:30 00:40 01:00 01:30 02:00 02:30 03:00 03:10 03:30 04:00 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 10:30

BBC World News Sport Today Weekend World BBC World News America Our World BBC World News Newsnight BBC World News Weekend World The Bottom Line BBC World News Working Lives BBC World News One Square Mile BBC World News Fast Track BBC World News Africa Business Report BBC World News Middle East Business Report BBC World News Click BBC World News Weekend World The Bottom Line

11:00 11:10 11:30 12:00 12:10 13:00 13:10 13:30 14:00 14:30 15:00 15:10 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 21:15 21:30 22:00 22:30 23:00 23:10 23:30

BBC World News World Football Focus One Square Mile BBC World News The Doha Debates BBC World News World Features Newsnight BBC World News Our World BBC World News Weekend World Talking Movies BBC World News Sport Today Fast Track BBC World News Dateline London BBC World News World Features Working Lives BBC World News Final Score BBC World News Africa Business Report BBC World News Sport Today Fast Track BBC World News Talking Movies BBC World News World Features Dateline London

00:10 00:35 01:00 01:25 01:50 02:15 02:40 03:00

Duck Dodgers The Perils Of Penelope Pitstop Tom & Jerry Kids A Pup Named Scooby-Doo The Jetsons Puppy In My Pocket Popeye Tom & Jerry

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

Looney Tunes Scooby Doo Where Are You! Droopy: Master Detective Wacky Races The Flintstones A Pup Named Scooby-Doo Popeye Classics Wacky Races Pink Panther And Pals Pink Panther And Pals Gerald McBoing Boing Bananas In Pyjamas Baby Looney Tunes Jelly Jamm The Garfield Show The Looney Tunes Show Scooby Doo Where Are You! Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries Tom & Jerry Wacky Races The Perils Of Penelope Pitstop Help! It’s The Hair Bear Bunch The Garfield Show The Flintstones Pink Panther And Pals Looney Tunes Scooby-Doo And Scrappy-Doo A Pup Named Scooby-Doo Puppy In My Pocket Pink Panther And Pals Tom & Jerry Kids The Garfield Show The Looney Tunes Show Scooby Cinema Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries The Garfield Show Duck Dodgers The Flintstones Help! It’s The Hair Bear Bunch Popeye Scooby-Doo And Scrappy-Doo Wacky Races Dastardly And Muttley New Yogi Bear Show

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

Destroyed In Seconds When Disaster Strikes Dirty Jobs Overhaulin’ Ultimate Survival Mythbusters How Do They Do It? How It’s Made Dirty Jobs How Do They Do It? Really Big Things Building The Biggest Extreme Engineering X-Machines Man, Woman, Wild Dual Survival Ultimate Survival Ultimate Survival Oil, Sweat And Rigs Swamp Loggers Walking The Amazon Gold Rush Storm Chasers 2010 River Monsters Baboons With Bill Bailey Baboons With Bill Bailey Extreme Fishing Freddie Flintoff vs The World Scrappers Carfellas An Idiot Abroad

00:35 01:25 01:50 02:15 02:40 03:35 04:00 04:25 05:20 06:10 07:00 07:55 07:58 08:25 08:55 09:20 09:45 10:35 14:20 14:45

Cosmic Collisions The Tech Show Tech Toys 360 Tech Toys 360 Ways To Save The Planet How Does That Work? How Stuff’s Made The Future Of... Da Vinci’s Machines Cosmic Collisions Future Weapons Head Rush Sci-Fi Science Weird Connections Tech Toys 360 Tech Toys 360 Ways To Save The Planet The Gadget Show The Gadget Show Head Rush

14:48 15:15 15:45 16:10 17:00 17:50 18:15 18:40 19:30 20:20 21:10 21:35 22:00 22:50 23:40

Sci-Fi Science Weird Connections The Tech Show Future Weapons Meteorite Men Tech Toys 360 Tech Toys 360 Smash Lab Catch It Keep It Weird Or What? Bang Goes The Theory Bang Goes The Theory Smash Lab Catch It Keep It Meteorite Men

00:15 00:40 01:05 01:30 01:55 02:20 02:45 03:10 03:35 04:00 04:25 04:50 05:15 05:35 06:00 06:25 06:40 Cody 07:05 07:30 07:41 07:55 08:20 08:45 09:10 09:35 10:00 10:25 11:53 12:05 12:16 12:25 12:30 12:55 13:20 13:45 14:10 14:35 15:00 15:25 15:50 16:12 16:40 17:05 17:30 19:10 19:35 20:00 20:25 20:50 21:15 22:43 22:55 23:06 23:20 Cody 23:45

Fairly Odd Parents Fairly Odd Parents Brandy & Mr Whiskers Brandy & Mr Whiskers Replacements Replacements Emperor’s New School Emperor’s New School Brandy & Mr Whiskers Brandy & Mr Whiskers Replacements Replacements Fairly Odd Parents Fairly Odd Parents Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Jake & The Neverland Pirates The Suite Life Of Zack And

00:15 00:40 00:55 01:10 01:30 01:45 02:00 02:25 02:50 03:05 03:20 03:40 03:55 04:10 04:35 05:00 05:15 05:30 05:50 06:15 06:30 06:45 07:00 07:15 07:40 07:55 08:20 08:30 08:45 09:00

Little Einsteins Jungle Junction Jungle Junction Little Einsteins Special Agent Oso Special Agent Oso Lazytown Little Einsteins Jungle Junction Jungle Junction Little Einsteins Special Agent Oso Special Agent Oso Lazytown Little Einsteins Jungle Junction Jungle Junction Little Einsteins Lazytown Jungle Junction Jungle Junction Handy Manny Special Agent Oso Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Jungle Junction Little Einsteins The Hive Jake & The Neverland Pirates Jake & The Neverland Pirates Jungle Junction

So Random Fish Hooks S2 Splits Fish Hooks S2 Splits Timon And Pumbaa Good Luck Charlie Wizards Of Waverly Place Jessie Shake It Up A.N.T. Farm Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure Phineas And Ferb Fish Hooks S2 Splits Fish Hooks S2 Splits Have A Laugh Shake It Up Good Luck Charlie A.N.T. Farm Recess Timon And Pumbaa Wizards Of Waverly Place So Random Phineas And Ferb Shake It Up Good Luck Charlie Jessie A.N.T. Farm Geek Charming Phineas And Ferb Wizards Of Waverly Place Jessie Good Luck Charlie Shake It Up Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure Phineas And Ferb Fish Hooks S2 Splits Fish Hooks S2 Splits The Suite Life Of Zack And Sonny With A Chance

TV listings SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2012 09:10 09:25 09:45 Pooh 09:50 10:15 10:30 10:45 11:10 11:30 11:40 12:05 12:15 12:30 12:45 13:00 13:15 13:25 13:35 13:50 14:05 14:15 14:40 15:05 15:20 15:35 15:50 16:05 16:20 16:45 17:10 17:35 18:00 18:15 18:30 18:45 19:00 Pooh 19:05 19:25 19:50 20:05 20:20 20:30 Pooh 20:35 20:40 20:45 21:00 21:25 21:40 21:55 22:20 22:30 22:45 22:55 23:20 23:35 23:50

Handy Manny Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Mini Adventures Of Winnie The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Mouk Mouk Art Attack Imagination Movers The Hive Lazytown The Hive Mouk Mouk Jake & The Neverland Pirates Jake & The Neverland Pirates The Hive Timmy Time Special Agent Oso Handy Manny The Hive Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Mouk Mouk Jake & The Neverland Pirates Jungle Junction Handy Manny Lazytown Art Attack Imagination Movers Little Einsteins Jake & The Neverland Pirates Handy Manny Handy Manny Handy Manny Mini Adventures Of Winnie The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 101 Dalmatians Jake & The Neverland Pirates Jake & The Neverland Pirates The Hive Mini Adventures Of Winnie The A Poem Is... Animated Stories Mouk Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Jake & The Neverland Pirates Special Agent Oso Little Einsteins Timmy Time Jungle Junction Handy Manny Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Special Agent Oso Special Agent Oso Lazytown

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

Disappeared Murder Shift Mystery Diagnosis Real Emergency Calls Mall Cops – Mall Of America True Crime With Aphrodite Disappeared FBI Case Files Forensic Detectives Murder Shift Real Emergency Calls Mystery Diagnosis Mall Cops – Mall Of America True Crime With Aphrodite Disappeared The Haunted Ghost Lab A Haunting

00:00 Ultimate Traveller 01:00 Geo Sessions 01:30 Making Tracks 02:00 Travel Madness 02:30 Travel Madness 03:00 Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled 04:00 Word of Mouth 04:30 Word of Mouth 05:00 City Chase Marrakech 06:00 Ultimate Traveller 07:00 Geo Sessions 07:30 Making Tracks 08:00 Travel Madness 08:30 Travel Madness 09:00 Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled 10:00 Word of Mouth 10:30 Word of Mouth 11:00 City Chase Marrakech 12:00 Ultimate Traveller 13:00 The Ride: Alaska To Patagonia

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

Madventures Departures Nomads Don’t Tell My Mother Don’t Tell My Mother Departures The Ride: Alaska To Patagonia Madventures Departures Nomads Don’t Tell My Mother Don’t Tell My Mother

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

Kill List-PG15 The Killer Inside Me-18 Kalifornia-18 Rocky v-PG15 Winning Time-PG15 True Justice: Lethal Justice-18 Warriors Of Heaven And Earth-

01:00 03:00 05:15 07:15 09:00 11:00 13:00 15:15 17:00 18:45 21:00 23:00

Drag Me To Hell-18 The Way Back-PG15 Ice Dreams-PG15 My Dog Tulip-PG15 16 To Life-PG15 District 9-PG15 Bright Star-PG15 16 To Life-PG15 The Art Of Getting By-PG15 The Green Hornet-PG15 Dinner For Schmucks-PG15 Agora-18

Winning Time-PG15 The Haunting Of Molly HartleyWarriors Of Heaven And EarthSpider-Man-PG Men In Black II-PG

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

American Idol Drop Dead Diva Survivor: One World Glee

Live Good Morning America C.S.I. Law & Order: Los Angeles The Ellen DeGeneres Show Downsize Me The View American Idol Glee Drop Dead Diva Live Good Morning America C.S.I. The Ellen DeGeneres Show Coronation Street Warehouse 13 Criminal Minds Sons Of Anarchy Top Gear (UK)

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

Bones Survivor: One World Drop Dead Diva Drop Dead Diva Bones Law & Order: Los Angeles Terriers Drop Dead Diva Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show Terriers Bones Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show Terriers Warehouse 13 Criminal Minds Sons Of Anarchy Top Gear (UK) In Treatment In Treatment

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

The Craigslist Killer-PG15 The Warrior’s Way-PG15 Kill List-PG15 Largo Winch 2-PG15 Top Gun-PG15 Stonehenge Apocalypse-PG15 Triassic Attack-PG15 Top Gun-PG15 Dick Tracy-PG15 Spider-Man-PG Men In Black II-PG The Burningmoore Incident-

00:00 How To Train Your Dragon-PG 02:00 Love And Mary-PG15 04:00 You Again-PG15 06:00 Knucklehead-PG15 08:00 How To Go Out On A Date In Queens-PG15 10:00 The Addams Family-PG 12:00 Addams Family Values-PG 14:00 Nothing Like The HolidaysPG15 16:00 How To Train Your Dragon-PG 18:00 The Out Of Towners-PG15 20:00 Mystery Men-PG15 22:00 Unmade Beds-18

00:25 Kendra 00:55 Style Star 01:25 20 Hottest Women Of The Web 03:15 25 Most Stylish 04:10 Sexiest 05:05 Extreme Hollywood 06:00 THS 07:50 Behind The Scenes 08:20 E! News 09:15 Bridalplasty 10:15 Bridalplasty 11:10 THS 12:05 E! News 13:05 E!es 14:05 THS 15:00 E!es 15:55 THS 17:55 E! News 18:55 E!es 19:55 Khloe And Lamar 20:25 E!es 21:25 Fashion Police 22:25 E! News 23:25 Chelsea Lately 23:55 Keeping Up With The Kardashians

00:30 01:15 02:05 02:30 02:50 03:40 04:25 05:15 06:10 07:00 07:50 08:40 09:25 10:10 10:35 10:55 Jones

00:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 01:00 The Colbert Report 01:30 Neighbors From Hell 02:30 Family Guy 03:00 New Girl 03:30 Happy Endings 04:30 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 05:30 The Simpsons 06:30 Yes Dear 07:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 08:30 New Girl 09:00 The Simpsons 09:30 30 Rock 10:00 Perfect Couples 10:30 Yes Dear 11:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 14:00 Happy Endings 14:30 Perfect Couples 15:00 30 Rock 15:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 16:00 The Colbert Report 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 Parks And Recreation 18:30 2 Broke Girls 19:00 The Office 19:30 Man Up! 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 23:30 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

06:00 07:00 08:00 09:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 18:30 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00

Ghost Lab Psychic Witness I Was Murdered I Was Murdered Ripped From The Headlines Extreme Forensics Ghost Lab Psychic Witness Mystery ER FBI Case Files Forensic Detectives Murder Shift Mystery Diagnosis Real Emergency Calls Mall Cops – Mall Of America True Crime With Aphrodite


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

Timeline-PG15 Sideways-18 The Deep End Of The Ocean-

01:00 03:00 05:00 06:45 09:00 11:00 13:00 15:00 17:00 19:00 21:00 23:00

Defendor-PG15 Ramona And Beezus-PG Marmaduke-PG Glorious 39-PG15 A Family Thanksgiving-PG15 Love The Beast-PG Bound By A Secret-PG15 Ways To Live Forever-PG15 A Family Thanksgiving-PG15 Pina-PG15 Soul Surfer-PG15 Inception-PG15

Dance With Me-PG The Remains Of The Day-PG15 Teen Knight-PG15 The Sting-PG The Associate-PG15 The Eclipse-PG15 Don’t Look Back-PG15 The Time Traveler’s Wife-PG15 Taking Woodstock-18

00:00 Little Bee 2-FAM 01:30 Winner & The Golden Child: Part I-FAM 03:45 A Venetian Rascal Goes To America-FAM 06:00 Little Bee 2-FAM 07:45 Winner & The Golden Child: Part II-FAM 10:00 Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown-PG 11:30 Supertramps-FAM 13:30 A Venetian Rascal Goes To America-FAM 15:45 Yogi Bear-FAM 18:00 Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown-PG 19:45 Flubber-PG 22:00 Supertramps-FAM

00:00 01:00 04:30 05:00 06:00 07:00 07:30 15:30 16:00 21:00 22:00 23:00

WWE Bottom Line European PGA Tour Futbol Mundial UFC Unleashed UFC The Ultimate Fighter Cricket ODI Highlights Live Super Rugby Futbol Mundial Live Dubai World up WWE Bottom Line UFC The Ultimate Fighter Dubai World Cup

00:00 00:30 01:30 03:30 07:00 10:00 10:30 11:30 13:30 14:00 18:00 19:00 19:45 22:00

Futbol Mundial Golfing World Pro 12 Celtic League Premier League Darts Live AFL Premiership ICC Cricket World Trans World Sport Live NRL Premiership European Tour Weekly Live European PGA Tour Trans World Sport Futbol Mundial Live Super League Scottish Premier League

00:00 00:30 01:30 03:30 05:00 05:30 06:00 06:30 07:00 08:00 09:00 09:30 13:30 14:00 16:00 18:00 20:00 22:00 22:30

ICC Cricket World Trans World Sport Super League Top 14 Top 14 ICC Cricket World European Tour Weekly Total Rugby Trans World Sport Live V8 Supercars NRL Full Time Live NRL Premiership SPL Highlights Live Scottish Premier League Super Rugby Live Super Rugby Live Super Rugby Total Rugby Live Pro 12 Celtic League

00:00 01:00 03:00 04:00 07:00 08:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 16:00 17:00 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 23:00

UFC Unleashed WWE SmackDown Speedway UFC Unleashed WWE Vintage Collection Live Asian Tour Golf V8 Supercars Highlights WWE Bottom Line WWE Smackdown V8 Supercars Highlights Live Top 14 UFC The Ultimate Fighter UFC Unleashed V8 Supercars UFC Unleashed UFC The Ultimate Fighter

01:20 04:00 05:50 07:00 08:30 10:25 12:00 14:00 15:40 17:35 19:55 22:00

Lolita Mrs. Soffel-PG Pick A Star-FAM A Night At The Opera-FAM The Twenty-Fifth Hour-PG What’s Up, Doc?-FAM Lust For Life-FAM The Trouble With Girls-FAM Innerspace-PG Kelly’s Heroes-PG Hotel-PG The Towering Inferno


Pakistan Academy School observes Pakistan Day


akistan Academy School Ahmadi observes Pakistan Day on March 23. “Work, work and work” is a call to wake us from slumber and work hard to achieve national goals. It is the earnest desire of every Pakistani to see Pakistan attaining the stature visualized by our great leader Quaid-e-Azam. Each one of us should try and act upon the golden principle Quaid gave to the nation and follow him in his foot-steps and thus obtain a respectable and dignified place in the comity of nations, emphasized Prof Syed Zakirali the Principal both on the teachers and the students in his speech delivered on 71th Pakistan Day ceremony held at school premises. He quoted to the students and advised to develop a sound sense of discipline, character, initiative and solid academic back-

ground. “You must devote yourself wholeheartedly to studies for that is your first obligation to yourself, your parents and to the state was the ambition of M. A Jinnah” he said. The students after the verses of Holy Quran, sang milinaghma made speeches, Tablousand highlighted the different aspects of the day. The students focused on the personality of Jinnah whose firm determination and solid resolution made able to carve out Pakistan on the map of the world. Nothing could hold back the Quaide-Azam to transform the thought of IQBAL into reality, for everybody knew that the Quald always meant what he said, expressed one of the students. The students were asked questions about Pakistan movement.

ESF ski trip to French Alps


n February 25, students and staff from The English School Fahaheel touched ground in France en route to Alpe D’Heuz for the school’s annual skiing trip. The group stayed in the fantastic Club Hotel Belle Aurore which was located only 40 metres from the ski lift for each day’s skiing. Everyday commenced with a vigorous six hours skiing tuition from the expert instructors Yves and Jean-Pierre from the world-renowned Ecole Du Ski Francais ski school. During the week all of the group significantly improved their skiing and gradually progressed onto harder slopes. Each skier was awarded a certificate and badge at the end of the week acknowledging their level of skiing achieved in the lessons. Even though every day was action-packed with hours of

skiing, each evening the students and staff had energy to engage in several activities. These included bum-boarding down very steep slopes, ice-laser (laser tag in the snow!) and of course many snow fights! On Liberation Day ESF hosted a big party in the hotel for all the other students across the world. ESF students entertained the other children and educated them about Kuwait and Liberation Day. At the end of the evening the whole group proudly sang the Kuwait National Anthem to a very appreciative International crowd. On another evening the group celebrated another special event which was Saud’s birthday. However, this was no ordinary birthday as Saud was born on February 29 (leap year) and only gets to celebrate his birthday on the actual day every four

years! So technically this was Saud’s 4th birthday. To celebrate his birthday the group threw Saud a surprise party in a restaurant with his favourite food - pizza! The ESF ski trip was a huge success. All students dramatically improved their skiing, had a lot of fun, learned about French culture and made some life-long International friends, especially from Avla Academy and in Scotland. Although the students were keen to get back to Kuwait (and some warmer weather!), there were many long faces upon departure and all agreed that this was a trip of a lifetime. Unsurprisingly, all students have indicated they would like to go again, so planning is under way to take a larger group back to the French Alps next year.


Gulfwide Nandamuri Fans celebrate TDP anniversary


ulfwide Nandamuri Fans and Paritala Yuvasena, Kuwait celebrated Telugu Desam Party’s 30th anniversary last Thursday. The party was founded on March 29, 1982 by Dr N T Rama Rao in Andhra Pradesh, India. The party was founded to represent the voice of Telugu atma gowravam. The TDP is the only opposition party to the Congress in the Andhra Pradesh since 1984. TDP had ruled the state for 18 years since the party was founded. Meanwhile Telugu Desam Party followers and Gulfwide Nandamuri Fans and Paritala Yuvasena, Kuwait organised meeting in Hawally last Thursday. Gulfwide Nandamuri Fans president Polineni Santharam Naidu, Secretary Vegi Venkatesh, Vice President Oleti Divakar, Parita Yuvasena Nallapane Narasimhu, Maratu Nagendra, Manohar call the Telugu people unity for bring to TDP power. Pravasandra Telugu Desam, Kuwait officials Mulakala Subbarayudu, Venkat Koduri, BP Naidu, Pidikiti Srinivas Chowdary, Peraram Ramana, Uday Prakash paticipated as guests and they praise the TDP welfare activities. At the same time Gulfwide Nandamuri Fans also celebrated Telugu Youth Star NTR new movie “Dammu” audio release event. They released audio CDs and cut the cake and wished the movie will be a block buster in Tollywood. Paritala Yuvasena- Kuwait committee members Reddaiah Naidu Chundu, Kaperla Pattabi Naidu, Nagendra Naidu Marathuu, Chandra Babu Naidu, Enduri Rajendra Naidu, Manohar Naidu Paidi, Yegi Ravindra Chowdary also participated in the event.

BHCK awarded Accreditation


ox Hill College Kuwait (BHCK), the sole private tertiary institution in Kuwait with an exclusive focus on Women’s higher education has recently been awarded Institutional Accreditation from the Private Universities Council (PUC) in the State of Kuwait. Accordingly, BHCK has joined the elite group of accredited higher education institutions in Kuwait. This award reflects the adherence of BHCK to the PUC quality standards. This accreditation testifies clearly to the quality of BHCK academic programs and to its commitment to further developing its programs to be in line with international standards. On this occasion, Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Shayji,

BHCK, the Chairman of the Board of trustees, congratulated all BHCK staff members on this significant achievement. Likewise, Prof. Ali Arifa, the President of BHCK expressed his happiness at this accomplishment, emphasizing the need to move forward towards further achievements, in particular in relation to obtaining discipline based accreditation from reputed international accreditation agencies. He also stressed that the college is currently in the process of implementing a strategic plan aimed at promoting a culture of continuous improvement through raising the quality of academic performance in both teaching and research.

AUK Environmental Club takes part in ‘Environmental Month’


n collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Kuwait Environment Public Authority (KEPA), the Environmental Club (Al- Akhdar) at AUK will be hosting a talk entitled “Every Breath You Take: Understanding Air Quality”. The event comes as part of the Environmental Month running from March 20 to April 22 under the patronage of HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, Prime Minister of Kuwait, and organized by Edara Group & Vision Company. The lecture will be conducted by Brian Freeman, Team Leader of Air Regulatory Management Systems for the Kuwait Integrated Environmental Management project funded by the UNDP. During his lecture, Freeman will be talking about air pollutants in Kuwait, how they are generated, and their impact on human

health and the environment. The lecture will also discuss the newly approved amendments to Kuwait’s environmental regulations dealing with air quality and their impact on Kuwait. Freeman holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts and a Master’s of Science in Environmental Management from the Air Force Institute of Technology in Ohio. His twenty years of experience include service with the United States Department of Defense and international environmental regulatory authorities. Freeman lived in the region for over seven years including Kuwait, Iraq and Jordan. The lecture, which will be conducted in English, will take place on April 4 - 6pm at the AUK Auditorium, Salmiya Campus. The event is open for public attendance.

Bishop Mor Aphrem arrives


ishop Mathews Mor Aphrem arrived in Kuwait to lead this year’s Holy Week Services at Kuwait St George Universal Syrian Orthodox Reesh Church. His Grace was received at the Kuwait International Airport by the Parish Vicar Rev Fr Sajan T John and Rev Fr Biju Kavat Vicar of St. Mary’s Jacobite Syrian Church and number of faithful. Holy Week Program - 2012 Saturday, 31-03-2012 (Hosanna Service) (Saturday night) 10:45 pm - 1 am Hosanna Service at NECK

Wednesday, 4-04-2012 (Pesaho Service) 6:30 pm - 8:45 pm Pesaho Service at St. Peter’s Marthoma Hall Abbassiya & 9:45 pm - 12 mid night Pesaho Service at NECK Friday, 06-04-2012 (Good Friday) 9 am - 2:30 pm Good Friday Service at Integrated Indian School, Abbassiya Saturday, 07-04-2012 (Easter Service) 9:15 pm - 12 midnight Easter Service at NECK For more information contact Parsonage: 24341407.


Governors tour Neb beef plant to see ‘pink slime’ ‘Finely textured lean beef’ better name, says Gov

NEW YORK: Christopher Astacio reads with his daughter Cristina, 2, recently diagnosed with a mild form of autism, in her bedroom on Wednesday. Autism cases are on the rise again, largely due to wider screening and better diagnosis, federal health officials said Thursday. — AP

As more autism reported, doctors say check early CHICAGO: At 18 months, Cristina Astacio spoke only a few words, wouldn’t respond to her name and shunned other kids in her day care group. Last October, her worried parents found out why. She has a mild form of autism, a diagnosis being given to more US children than ever before, largely because of more awareness and better diagnosis. According to new government statistics, the rate is about 1 in 88. That means autism is nearly twice as common as the government reported just five years ago. The largest increases are in Hispanic kids like Cristina. The definition of autism has changed over the years, and Cristina might not have been considered autistic two decades ago. But experts say kids like her are lucky in a way, because her parents recognized early that something was wrong. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report issued Thursday found that 40 percent of kids weren’t diagnosed until after age 4. Evidence shows that children who are identified early and get help have the best chance for reaching their potential, said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends autism screening for all children at age 18 months and 2 years. Diagnosing the developmental disorder relies on observing behavior. Autism can’t be cured, but treatment including intensive behavior therapy can help many kids function better. The academy’s Dr. Susan Hyman said many children who aren’t making eye contact and aren’t talking “may have autism, but they may have other things.” She said it’s important for parents to be persistent about their concerns with their doctor so their kids can be evaluated. Kristy Batesole, of Atascadero, Calif., says she suspected something was wrong with her son, Keegan, even when he was a hardto-calm overly fussy baby. He learned words, but by age 2 stopped talking, would spend hours opening and closing doors and sometimes bang his head on the ground. Though he started getting special help in preschool in Nevada, he wasn’t formally diagnosed with autism until last year, at age 6, after the family moved to California, where there are more autism specialists. Cristina Astacio gets two hours of behavior therapy six days a week. Her mom, Charisse, says the little girl now responds to commands and speaks about 50 words. The most special are two words Cristina never said before. “Now she says ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy,’” Astacio said. “It’s wonderful.”—AP

SOUTH SIOUX CITY: Governors of three states got up close with “pink slime” Thursday, touching and examining treated beef at a plant and eating hamburgers made with it in a bid to persuade grossed-out consumers and grocery stores the product is safe to consume. The three governors and two lieutenant governors spent about a half hour learning about the process of creating finelytextured lean beef in a tour of the main plant that makes the product, then blasted the media for scaring consumers with a moniker coined by critics. “If you called it finely textured lean beef, would we be here?” asked Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. Several other leaders echoed his comments as they tried to smooth over consumer concerns about the product. Beef Products, the main producer of the cheap lean beef made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts, has drawn scrutiny over concerns about the ammonium hydroxide it treats meat with to change the beef’s acidity and kill bacteria. The company suspended operations at plants in Texas, Kansas and Iowa this week, affecting 650 jobs, but defends its product as safe. The politicians who toured the plant - Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Brownback, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Nebraska Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy and South Dakota Lt Gov Matt Michels- all agree with the industry view that the beef has been unfairly maligned and mislabeled and issued a joint statement earlier saying the product is safe. “Why are we here today defending a company that has a rather sterling record dealing with making a food product that is very much needed in this country in a very safe manner? Why are we here today?” Perry said. The officials spent about 20 minutes going over the production process in a separate room at the plant with Craig Letch, the company’s director of quality assurance, viewing and handling more than a dozen slabs of raw meat and the processed, finished product laid out on cutting boards on a round wooden table. The officials asked about the added ammonia, which Letch said is used as an extra safety precaution against E Coli. “What we’re doing with ammonium hydroxide is directly targeting those specific microorganisms that could affect human health. It is nothing more than something to ensure consumer safety,” Letch said as the politicians bent over the raw cuts of beef. The officials donned hard hats, hair nets and goggles for a brief walking tour through the facility. Workers manned conveyor belts of meat cuts that ran from one side of the room to the other in the chilled room; the ammonium hydroxide treatment process was not visible;

plant officials say that’s because it binds with moisture in the meat in an aerated process. Afterward, Perry, Branstad and others ate burgers made from the plant’s meat at a news conference. “It’s lean. It’s good. It’s nutritious,” Branstad said as he polished off a patty, sans bun. Larry Smith, with the Institute for Crisis Management public relations firm, said he’s not sure the makers of the product - including Cargill and BPI - will be able to overcome the public stigma against their product at this point. “I can’t think of a single solitary message that a manufacturer could use that would resonate with anybody right now,” Smith said. Russell Cross, a former administrator of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, said the product is getting a bad rap from a food safety standpoint. “I’m not saying it’s perfectly safe. Nothing is perfectly safe. All food is going to have bacteria in it. But this product has never been in question for safety,” he said. Cross said that ammonia is just one tool designed to reduce bacteria and help make the food safer. The process Cargill uses, by comparison, uses citric acid to achieve similar results. The finished product contains only a trace of ammonia, as do many other foods, and it’s meant just to be an additional “hurdle for the pathogens,” said Cross, who is now head of the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University. The ammonium hydroxide BPI uses is also used in

baked goods, puddings and other processed foods. National Meat Association spokesman Jeremy Russell said if consumers insist on eliminating the product from ground beef, prices will go up and lean beef trimmings will have to be imported to replace it. The process of creating lean, finely textured beef yields about 12 to 15 pounds of additional meat per animal. Russell said the outcry has already hurt BPI and other meat companies, and could eventually hurt the price that ranchers and feedlots receive for cattle. BPI did get some good news Wednesday when Iowa-based grocer Hy-Vee said it would offer beef with and without pink slime because some consumers demanded the option. But larger grocery store chains, such as Kroger, have stuck with their decisions to stop offering beef with pink slime. The real test may come later this year when school districts purchase meat from the US Department of Agriculture for next school year. The USDA said earlier this month that it would give school districts a choice between 95 percent lean beef that contains pink slime and lesslean beef without it. Russell said school districts will have to decide whether they’re willing to spend roughly 16 percent more for beef without pink slime. The USDA this year is contracted to buy 111.5 million pounds of ground beef for the National School Lunch Program. About 7 million pounds of that is from BPI. —AP

SOUTH SIOUX CITY: Iowa Gov Terry Branstad, center, followed by Texas Gov Rick Perry and South Dakota Lt Gov Matt Michels, walk past a conveyor carrying the cuts of beef destined to become the beef product known as pink slime or lean finely textured beef, during a tour Thursday of the Beef Products Inc.’s plant in South Sioux City, Nebraska, where the beef product is made. — AP

Roche to file T-DM1 breast cancer drug on good data ZURICH: Roche said patients with an aggressive type of breast cancer lived longer after taking its experimental “armed antibody” drug without the disease worsening than those on a mix of GlaxoSmithKline drug Tykerb and Roche’s Xeloda. The positive results from the first Phase III trial of the medicine - dubbed T-DM1 - clears the way for it to be submitted to European and US authorities for approval this year, boosting prospects for a key asset in the Swiss firm’s pipeline. WestLB analyst Oliver Kaemmerer, who sees peak sales potential for T-DM1 of around 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.1 billion), said the latest news was clearly positive but it remained to be seen what the overall magnitude of the benefit was in the study.

In a brief statement yesterday, Roche revealed only that patients on T-DM1 lived “significantly longer” without their disease progressing. Roche has been developing T-DM1 with ImmunoGen as a successor to its blockbuster Herceptin, which is expected to generate sales of around $6 billion this year. A key advantage of T-DM1 over Herceptin is the fact that it causes fewer adverse side effects like hair loss and low white blood cell counts. It combines trastuzumab, an antibody and the active ingredient in Herceptin, with the agent DM1 - a derivative of an extremely powerful type of chemotherapy called maytansine - which is carried directly into cells. — Reuters

information SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2012



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Directorate General of Civil Aviation Home Page (

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To Yester

Word Sleuth Solution

Yesterday始s Solution


6 3 3



1. Rate of revolution of a motor. 4. Lie in wait, lie in ambush, behave in a sneaky and secretive manner. 9. A island in the Netherlands Antilles that is the top of an extinct volcano. 13. A plant hormone promoting elongation of stems and roots. 14. Of or relating to the kidneys. 15. (Babylonian) God of storms and wind. 16. Someone who works (or provides workers) during a strike. 18. A sequence of 8 bits (enough to represent one character of alphanumeric data) processed as a single unit of information. 19. The basic unit of money in Western Samoa. 20. Water buffalo of the Philippines. 22. One of two flaps attached to a cap to keep the ears warm. 24. A coffee cake flavored with orange rind and raisins and almonds. 26. A fractional monetary unit in Bangladesh and India and Nepal and Pakistan. 27. (Babylonian) God of wisdom and agriculture and patron of scribes and schools. 30. (Akkadian) God of wisdom. 31. A federal agency established to coordinate programs aimed at reducing pollution and protecting the environment. 32. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. 37. A tricycle (usually propelled by pedalling). 41. A public promotion of some product or service. 42. An alliance made up of states that had been Soviet Socialist Republics in the Soviet Union prior to its dissolution in Dec 1991. 43. River in eastern Asia. 46. A sweetened beverage of diluted fruit juice. 47. Small Old and New World herons. 50. A city in east central Texas. 54. A city in western Germany near the Dutch and Belgian borders. 55. Title for a civil or military leader (especially in Turkey). 59. Engage or hire for work. 60. A bachelor's degree in theology. 61. A family of Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in southeastern Asia. 62. A raised mark on the skin (as produced by the blow of a whip). 63. A shape that sags. 64. become turned or set on end. 65. Any of several related languages of the Celts in Ireland and Scotland. DOWN 1. (computer science) A kind of computer architecture that has a relatively small set of computer instructions that it can perform. 2. Large burrowing rodent of South and Central America. 3. A flat-bottomed volcanic crater that was formed by an explosion. 4. A soft silver-white or yellowish metallic element of the alkali metal group. 5. Cubes of meat marinated and cooked on a skewer usually with vegetables. 6. Remove the yoke from, as of a draft animal. 7. A broad flat muscle on either side of the back. 8. Swiss painter influenced by Kandinsky (1879-1940). 9. A governor of a province in ancient Persia. 10. A port city in southwestern Turkey on the Gulf of Antalya. 11. A pale rose-colored variety of the ruby spinel. 12. (Babylonian) A demigod or first man. 17. Used as a Hindi courtesy title.

21. A soft silvery metallic element of the alkali earth group. 23. The highest point of something. 25. A river in north central Switzerland that runs northeast into the Rhine. 28. In bed. 29. Having undesirable or negative qualities. 33. Harsh or corrosive in tone. 34. Serving as or forming a base. 35. An official prosecutor for a judicial district. 36. A small pellet fired from an air rifle or BB gun. 38. The United Nations agency concerned with civil aviation. 39. A true bug. 40. A craftsman who makes stringed instruments (as lutes or guitars or violins). 41. A pale rose-colored variety of the ruby spinel. 44. A constellation in the southern hemisphere near Telescopium and Norma. 45. Tawny-colored African antelope inhabiting wet grassy plains. 48. (medicine) A grossly malformed and usually nonviable fetus. 49. Administer an oil or ointment to. 51. Title for a civil or military leader (especially in Turkey). 52. Open-heart surgery in which the rib cage is opened and a section of a blood vessel is grafted from the aorta to the coronary artery to bypass the blocked section of the coronary artery and improve the blood supply to the heart. 53. (of a young animal) Abandoned by its mother and raised by hand. 56. A Kwa language spoken by the Yoruba people in southwestern Nigeria. 57. (Scotland) A small loaf or roll of soft bread. 58. Of a light yellowish-brown color n 1.

Yesterday始s Solution


Pettersson shares early lead at rain-hit Houston HOUSTON: Carl Pettersson rebounded from missed cuts in his last two PGA Tour starts by charging into an early tie for the lead in Thursday’s weather-hit opening round of the Houston Open in Humble, Texas. The 34-year-old Swede, putting superbly on the slick greens at Redstone Golf Club, birdied five of his first eight holes on the way to a sevenunder-par 65 in the final tune-up event before next week’s Masters. Pettersson, a four-times champion on the US circuit, briefly got to eight under but bogeyed the par-four 17th before finishing level with long-hitting Angel Cabrera of Argentina. Americans Ricky Barnes and Jeff Maggert were a further stroke back after opening with matching 66s before play was suspended at 2:27 pm due to the threat of lightning in the area. More than an inch of rain saturated the course during the afternoon and organizers later abandoned play for the day with only 51 players having completed the opening round. Among those who will resume, or start, round one on Friday morning are defending champion Phil Mickelson, three-times major winner Ernie Els and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel. Pettersson, who reached the turn in five-under 31, was delighted with his score after missing successive cuts at the Transitions Championship and last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. “I got off to a great start ... kept it going and got it to eight under,” the Swede told reporters after mixing eight birdies with a lone bogey. “It was a little disappointing bogeying 17, but I gave myself a great chance on 18 and didn’t make it. I’m happy with seven under. I played really good ... solid from the tee, hit good irons and putted really well.” CHANGED SET-UP Asked what had made the difference following his two missed cuts, Pettersson replied: “I changed my set-up. I opened up my stance and enabled my left hip to really fire through the ball. I play my best when my club really exits left through the ball. “I felt like I was striking the ball well again, and I told myself this morning just to play aggressive, shoot at the pins and see what happens. Hopefully I can get on a roll here.” Pettersson, who won the most recent of his PGA Tour titles at the 2010 Canadian Open, made the most of relatively calm conditions at Redstone before the thunderstorm swept across the course later in the day. “It started blowing on 17 and 18 but other than that, it was perfect,” said the Swede, who used a broomstick putter on the greens. “It’s always nice to play when it’s cloudy. You can read the greens better.” British world number three Lee Westwood and fifth-ranked American Steve Stricker each carded 68s while US Ryder Cup player Hunter Mahan opened with a 69. Three-times Masters champion Mickelson, who won last year’s Houston Open by three shots after closing with a sizzling seven-under-par 65, was one under after three holes when play was suspended for the day.— Reuters

Korean Yang sets Mission Hills pace and Tseng lurks World number one Tseng opens with a 68 CALIFORNIA: South Korea’s Amy Yang wielded a red-hot putter to take control of the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, California on Thursday as world number one Yani Tseng lurked close behind. Yang took advantage of ideal scoring conditions at sun-drenched Mission Hills Country Club, firing a sixunder-par 66 in the opening round of the year’s first women’s major. Australian Lindsey Wright, who just six months ago considered quitting the game because of depression, was alone in second after carding a 67 with Taiwan’s Tseng an ominous figure a further stroke back. American world number eight Paula Creamer was among a group of seven players who opened with matching 69s on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course, permanent home for the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Yang, who at 16 became the youngest champion on the Ladies European Tour with victory at the 2006 ANZ Ladies Masters, charged to the top of the leaderboard with a run of six birdies in nine holes from the par-three fifth. “My whole game worked great,” the 22-yearold told reporters after totaling only 23 putts on the sun-baked greens. “I had a great feeling for the green speed and my rhythm felt good.” However, Yang will need to keep a close eye on tournament favorite and 2010 champion Tseng, who has triumphed three times this season in five LPGA Tour starts and won four of the last eight majors. “I feel kind of disappointed,” said five-times major champion Tseng. “I didn’t hit many good shots and I didn’t give myself many good birdie chances. “But it’s only the first day of the tournament and I finished four under. I am still on the first page of the leaderboard so I’m pretty happy about that. I’m looking forward to the next three days.” ‘SMOTHERED’ BY GOLF Wright took a four-month break from the game late last year after feeling “smothered” by golf and was delighted with her start at Mission Hills. “From tee to

green, I don’t think I missed one fairway today ... and then you set yourself up because the course is just pure,” the Australian said after covering her last nine holes in five-under 31. “It was one of those days when everything just felt good. I didn’t feel intense. It was just going smoothly. “And I putted really well. Not everything I looked at, but my speed and line matched up really well, and it showed with my last nine, shooting five under.” Wright, who

tied for fourth at the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship, said she felt re-energized after her decision to spend time away from the game. “I was being smothered by it, by the lifestyle and golf, and I wanted to do something else so I took four months off,” she added. “It was really great. I took the time off and experienced other things, and I think that’s made a massive impact for me coming into the year.”— Reuters

RANCHO MIRAGE: Amy Yang of South Korea hits her tee shot on the 12th hole during the first round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. — AFP

As London looms Phelps eyes life after swimming INDIANAPOLIS: Michael Phelps is counting the days to retirement, but the legendary swimmer, who owns 16 Olympic medals, insists he still has goals, plans and dreams. Phelps discussed life after swimming this week at a Boys and Girls of America club a few miles from downtown Indianapolis, where he is competing in this weekend’s Indy Grand Prix. The meet is part of a USA Swimming series prior to this year’s Olympics in London. “This is the last year of my career-the last four months of my competitive career,” Phelps told a throng of about 75 elementary school children. “My swimming career is coming to an end, but my goals are still so big.” Phelps told the youngsters that his rise to Olympic glory began in Indianapolis. “I made my first Olympic

team here,” he noted. That was in 2000 when, at age 15, Phelps qualified for his first Olympic team at the Indianapolis Natatorium. He was the youngest member of the US men’s swim team at the Sydney Games. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Phelps went on to win six gold and two bronze medals. Four years later in Beijing he earned an Olympic-record eight gold medals. “I still wake up in the morning and pinch myself,” he said. Although a middle school teacher once told him he would never be successful, Phelps said he achieved greatness by being objective-oriented. “I started at a very young age. I began with small goals,” he explained. “I spent a lot of time in the water. But I had to do it to accomplish my goal.” Phelps encouraged the youths to write down their own

aims. “Your goal should be something that gets you going in the morning,” he said. “I’m 26, and I still have goals. I leave them where I can see them. I still have things I want to accomplish.” Several members of the audience held up hand-drawn posters of gold medals, the linked Olympic Rings, and of the swimming great himself. When Phelps offered to field questions, a girl asked why he wanted to retire. “Growing up, I said to myself I didn’t want to swim past 30,” he answered. “Swimming’s a lot harder now. My body’s different. I don’t recover as quickly. There are days when I don’t want to get out of bed.” But after spending some time with his dogs and playing Call of Duty, Phelps said, “it’s back into the pool. When I hang up my suit, my cap and goggles, I want to say,

‘I’ve done everything I want to do.’” Phelps talked about the sacrifices he made en route to Olympic success. “I’ve been to some of the coolest cities in the world,” he said, “but all I’ve seen is the hotel and the pool.” When he’s through swimming, Phelps hopes to go back and see what he’s missed. He is also committed to charitable endeavors. The nonprofit Michael Phelps Foundation promotes swimming and healthy, active lifestyles, especially for youngsters. Phelps plans to remain active in sportsnot in the pool, but on the fairways. “I want to play golf a lot more,” he said. But Phelps admits that the inner drive that made him one of the all-time Olympic greats would probably carry over onto the links. “I’m competitive,” he said. “I like to win in everything I do.”—AFP


Virtue and Moir win battle of N America

KEY BISCAYNE: Maria Sharapova of Russia in action against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during Day 11 at Crandon Park Tennis Center at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne. — AFP

Sharapova sinks Wozniacki Radwanska beats Bartoli in straight sets KEY BISCAYNE: Maria Sharapova advanced to the Sony Ericsson Open final by beating Caroline Wozniacki 4-6 62 6-4 on Thursday in a two and a half hour battle. The Russian will play Agnieszka Radwanska in today’s final after the Pole beat France’s Marion Bartoli 6-4 6-2 to reach the biggest final of her career. Second seed Sharapova, who has lost in all three of her previous finals in Miami, will start as clear favorite after another solid showing against Wozniacki. The Russian was ahead early but lost the first set after her serve disappeared, allowing Wozniacki to win five consecutive games and take command of the match. But the Russian recovered in the second set, striking the ball with impressive power. “I could have easily, after losing a few straight games, let concentration down, I could have easily just gone down in the second set,” said Sharapova. “But I really stepped it up again. I went out there and started being aggressive. I didn’t stop after I put myself in a good position. I’m extremely pleased that I pulled it out today.” Wozniacki stuck at her task however and with Sharapova serving for the match at 5-3 she broke, forc-

ing two errors out of the Russian after winning a rally with a magnificent backhand cross-court winner. The Dane held serve and then faced Sharapova serving for the match again. There was a controversial finish when Sharapova’s serve at 40-15 was initially ruled out but the call was overruled by the chair umpire, who ordered the point to be replayed. Wozniacki, whose return had found the net, protested the decision but with no challenges remaining she was stuck with the verdict and Sharapova subsequently wrapped up the win with a smart volley. “Overall I’m pretty happy with my game,” said Wozniacki, who beat Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. “This week I have been playing some really good tennis. And obviously you love to win and I didn’t do that today.” Radwanska dominated from the outset against a determined Bartoli and took advantage of the 35 unforced errors from her French opponent. The Pole was well set at 4-2 in the second set when the lights went out on stadium court and there was a 20-minute delay before play resumed and Radwanksa booked her place in the final. Sharapova has won seven of the eight previous meetings with Radwanska. — Reuters

NICE: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir brought the magic of Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire to the ice as they became the first Canadian couple to win a second ice dancing title at the world championships on Thursday. The competition had been billed as the battle of the North American couples and the Olympic champions trumped American rivals and 2011 world gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White with a unique interpretation of the musical Funny Face. Davis and White captured the public’s imagination with their performance to Strauss’s Die Fledermaus overture but the final score showed they had been blown away by the Canadians’ total of 182.65. Davis and White compiled 178.62. France’s Nathalie Pechalat turned up in Nice with a broken nose but that did not stop her producing a stunning performance with Fabian Bourzat as they picked up their first world medal, a bronze with 173.18. The Canadians seemed rather underwhelmed with their outing and felt they had bluffed their way to gold with an Oscar-winning acting performance rather than their skating skills. “We really wanted to embody (the spirit) of Fred and Audrey... it wasn’t even our best skate today but it’s nice that we get the opportunity to get into character and have some fun expressing ourselves,” Virtue told the crowd after winning back the title they claimed for the first time in 2010. Moir, with his dark hair gelled back, added: “We had to fight for the program rather than it being the fairytale skate we had been hoping for. At the one minute mark I had a little stumble but luckily my character at that point is shocked and surprised so I just kind of played it off as part of the choreography.” DIFFICULT PERIOD The victory ended a difficult 18 months for the Canadians as their 20102011 season was limited to a handful of competitive appearances after Virtue had surgery on her shins. Davis and White won a standing ovation for their four-minute exhibition, which featured crowd-pleasing lifts and fast-paced twizzles as it built towards a rousing finale. Pechalat and Bourzat were cheered on to the ice and then brought the house down as the final strains of their Pharoh and His Mummy music got lost in the deafening roars that shook Nice’s Acropolis arena. In between the duo imaginatively weaved in moves that were beat-perfect to the music and did not seem to hold anything back despite Pechalat’s nose being out of joint. Bourzat hoisted his upside-down partner on his shoulders and also performed a cantilever lift, winning stamps of approval from the crowd. When it came to the top prize, though, White and Davis were ultimately disappointed by the judges. “We feel like we skated our hearts out,” said White. “We don’t know where the discrepancy was in the judges’ eyes. We were aiming for first so are disappointed we didn’t get that.”—Reuters

Djokovic downs feisty Ferrer, faces Monaco KEY BISCAYNE: World number one Novak Djokovic moved into the semi-finals of the Sony Ericsson Open after holding off a brave second set effort from Spain’s David Ferrer to win 6-2 7-6 on Thursday. Djokovic will face Argentine Juan Monaco for a place in the final after he celebrated his 28th birthday with a 6-1 6-3 win over American Mardy Fish on Thursday. Serbian Djokovic cruised through the first set in just 32 minutes and broke Ferrer’s first serve of the second set but any notion of a swift and easy win quickly vanished. Ferrer broke back straight away and then held his own in the set before Djokovic, making his opponent scurry around the baseline, broke to go 5-4 up. Even then, the Spaniard found the resolve to break back and force the game into a tie-break but, true to form, Djokovic raised his game a notch and wrapped it up 71 to seal the win. “David is a great competitor in every sense and I really wanted to get it done in straight sets because physically he is always there,” said Djokovic. Monaco, who beat American Andy Roddick in the previous round, headed into semi-final yesterday in confi-

dent mood. The 21st seed won 71 percent of his first serve points and proved too much for eighth seed Fish, who did not cause problems for his opponent until breaking to go 3-3 in the second set. But Monaco closed out the match in one hour and 22 minutes and was clearly delighted to have given himself a chance of reaching what would be the biggest final of his career. “I meant every shot that I played, I did. It was a perfect match for me,” said Monaco, who has won four ATP Tour events. “It was unbelievable. That was the way to celebrate my birthday, playing like this. I feel proud and very happy.” Fish agreed that Monaco had been too much for him to handle on the day. “He did a lot of things well and I think more than anything else, he shrunk the court extremely well with his movement and that’s why I think you saw a ton of errors from me,” said Fish. “I was pressing a lot just because he wasn’t giving me anything. He wasn’t giving me any errors. He made one error in the first set and served 98 percent. That’s tough to beat.” —Reuters

NICE: Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir perform in the Ice Dance Free program during the 2012 World Figure Skating Championships in Nice, southeastern France. — AFP


KSSC to organize tournament the state of Kuwait, as he was a man of peace and love. He also contributed to the advancement and development of Kuwait and ensured its prominence. Butaiban said the Late Sheikh Abdallah Al-Mubarak was an outstanding and gave Kuwait his ultimate priority and was committed to Kuwait’s security, and he worked hard to instill those values in Kuwait’s young generations. Butaiban said the shooting club is keen on immortalizing the legacy of Sheikh Abdallah Al-Mubarak legacy and take it as a guide for the youth in their life. He said that he hopes Kuwait shooters exert all efforts in this coming tournament and get the best possible results. He said shooters should take every opportunity to prepare for the upcoming events abroad leading to the London Olympics and this is s good one.

KUWAIT: Kuwait Shooting Sports Club (KSSC) will organize the late Sheikh Abdallah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah shooting tournament in the Olympic shotgun and airgun events starting Thursday April 5th, 2012 until Saturday April 7th. The Bahrain Shooting Federation which is holding a training camp at the Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Olympic Shooting Complex plans to participate in the championship which will be in the Skeet, Trap, Double Trap, 10m pistol and rifle. Men, women, juniors and shooting school students are invited to participate, as registration continues until Tuesday April 3rd at the club. KSSC Treasurer Essa Ahmad Butaiban said the Kuwait shooting officials are proud to organize the Late Sheikh Abdallah Al-Mubarak tournament in recognition of a man who gave a lot to

NHL results/standings NHL results and standings on Thursday. Washington 3, Boston 2 (So); Philadelphia 7, Toronto 1; New Jersey 6, Tampa Bay 4; NY Islanders 5, Pittsburgh 3; Minnesota 3, Florida 2 (OT); Chicago 4, St Louis 3 (So); Phoenix 2, San Jose 0; So Denotes Shootout, OT denotes overtime). Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L OTL GF NY Rangers 49 21 7 213 Pittsburgh 47 24 6 259 Philadelphia 45 24 8 248 New Jersey 44 28 6 214 NY Islanders 33 33 11 190

GA 172 205 214 205 230

PTS 105 100 98 94 77

Boston Ottawa Buffalo Toronto Montreal

Northeast Division 45 28 4 251 39 28 10 236 38 29 10 202 33 36 9 218 29 34 14 199

189 227 210 249 214

94 88 86 75 72

Florida Washington Winnipeg Tampa Bay Carolina

Southeast Division 37 24 16 191 39 31 8 209 35 34 8 207 35 35 7 220 31 31 15 205

211 221 227 266 228

90 86 78 77 77

St. Louis Detroit Nashville Chicago Columbus

Western Conference Central Division 48 20 10 202 46 26 5 239 44 25 8 219 43 26 9 235 25 45 7 181

151 191 202 225 252

106 97 96 95 57

Vancouver Colorado Calgary Minnesota Edmonton

Northwest Division 47 21 9 231 40 33 6 201 35 28 15 191 32 35 10 164 31 37 9 207

187 208 215 212 226

103 86 85 74 71

Dallas Phoenix Los Angeles San Jose Anaheim

Pacific Division 42 30 5 205 38 27 13 202 38 27 12 178 39 29 10 211 33 33 11 194

204 202 165 201 213

89 89 88 88 77

Note: Overtime losses (OTL) are worth one point in the standings and are not included in the loss column (L).

Blackhawks beat Blues Devils overwhelm Lightning CHICAGO: Chicago’s Dave Bolland scored the only goal in a four-round shootout as the Blackhawks beat the St Louis Blues 4-3 on Thursday to move closer to clinching an NHL playoff berth. The Blackhawks would have sealed a fourth straight playoff berth if its win had been combined with Phoenix losing to San Jose, but the Coyotes won so Chicago must wait. The Blues, who have a league-leading 106 points, could have clinched the Central Division title with a victory. St Louis’ Kris Russell directed a long slap shot through traffic which was tipped in with 1:32 left in regulation to tie the game 3-3 after Chicago had led 3-1. Bryan Bickell, Andrew Brunette and Patrick Sharp scored in regulation for Chicago. Alexander Steen and Jason Arnott added goals for St. Louis. CAPITALS 3, BRUINS 2, SO In Boston, Washington’s Brooks Laich scored in the fourth round of a shootout to lift the Capitals past Boston, keeping pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Washington is tied with Buffalo with 86 points in pursuit of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The Sabres remain ahead because they have a game in hand. The Bruins could have clinched a playoff berth with a win. The defending Stanley Cup champions will try again when they play the New York Islanders on Saturday. Marcus Johansson scored and set up Dennis Wideman’s goal in a 1:55 span midway through the third period to give Washington a 2-0 lead. But the Bruins tied it in the final 3:10 through goals by David Krejci and Andrew Ference. ISLANDERS 5, PENGUINS 3 In Uniondale, New York, Sidney Crosby was struck in the face with the puck as Pittsburgh lost again to New York. Crosby, nine games into his second comeback of the season after chronic concussion symptoms, was injured early in the second period but returned to the ice before the period was over. The Islanders dealt Pittsburgh another big blow as the Penguins try to catch the New York Rangers atop the East. The Islanders knocked off the Penguins by the same scoreline on Tuesday. Pittsburgh trails the Rangers by five points with five games remaining. Josh Bailey had two goals and three assists for New York, Kyle Okposo also scored twice, and Marty Reasoner added a goal. Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Pascal Dupuis scored for Pittsburgh. COYOTES 2, SHARKS 0 In Glendale, Arizona, Radim Vrbata scored twice to give Phoenix a cricital victory over San Jose. The Coyotes rose from ninth to seventh in the Western Conference, while San Jose fell from a tie for seventh to ninth behind Los Angeles. Phoenix and Pacific Division leader Dallas both have 89 points, but the Stars have played one fewer game. Vrbata, who missed the previous two games because of a bad reaction to penicillin, had a power-play goal in the second period, then scored in the third period on a pass from Ray Whitney, who moved to 999 career points. Phoenix goalie Mike Smith made 38 saves to shut out the Sharks for a third time this season. FLYERS 7, MAPLE LEAFS 1 In Toronto, Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds each scored twice as Philadelphia routed Toronto, handing the Maple Leafs their 11th straight home loss. Matt Read, Eric Wellwood and Jakub Voracek also scored for Philadelphia, while Mikhail Grabovski scored the sole goal for Toronto. Injuries have played a role in Toronto’s struggles and popped up

again when starting goalie Jonas Gustavsson took a shot to a knee in the warmup and was replaced by Jussi Rynnas, who made his first NHL start. DEVILS 6, LIGHTNING 4 In Newark, Ilya Kovalchuk and Marek Zidlicky scored in a 1:11 span to cap a four-goal second period as New Jersey put itself on the doorstep of a playoff berth with a victory over Tampa Bay. Dainius Zubrus, Jacob Josefson, Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson also scored as New Jersey matched its season high for goals and overcame a hat trick by Ryan Malone. The Devils can return to the playoffs for the 14th time in 15 seasons by earning one more point in their final four games or having Washington fail to earn a point. Sebastien Caron also scored for Tampa Bay. WILD 3, PANTHERS 2, OT In St Paul, Minnesota, Mikko Koivu split two defenders and beat former teammate Jose Theodore 15 seconds into overtime to lift Minnesota past Florida. Erik Christensen had tied it for Minnesota with 31 seconds left in regulation. Kyle Brodziak also scored for the Wild. The Panthers, inching toward their first Atlantic Division title, are four points ahead of Washington with a game in hand and five to play. Florida’s Tomas Fleischmann scored and assisted on Scottie Upshall’s goal.— AP

FIA holds training course in Kuwait

KUWAIT: The International Automobile Federation (FIA) recently held a two-day training course for automobile sport lovers and observers in Kuwait and the Middle East. The chairman of the Supreme Organizing Committee of Kuwait Rally 2012, Sheikh Athbi Al-Nayef Al-Jaber AlAhmed Al-Sabah lauded Kuwait International Automobile Club’s CEO, Essa Hamza for making the event a success. Sheikh Athbi said that the aim of founding the Motor Racing Observers club (The Marshals) is to contact and coordinate between organizing committees. He also stressed that such clubs exist in all countries where motor races are held and practiced. On his part, FIA’s rally committee member and head of the trainers team, Ronan Morgan expressed gratitude to Sheikh Athbi for attending and sponsoring the course.

sports SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2012

Border club shakes up Israeli league KIRYAT SHMONA: For several months, residents of this small town on Israel’s northern frontier with Lebanon have been working themselves up into a frenzy. And for once, it is not over the threat of rocket fire from the Lebanese Hezbollah militia. What’s gripping the 23,000 or so residents of this impoverished border town is football-and the prospect that their local side, Hapoel Kiryat Shmona, looks set to win the Israeli premier league for the first time in the club’s history. It is a welcome break for Kiryat Shmona which lies barely two kilometers from the border and which has, for decades, found itself the target of thousands of rockets fired over the border by Shiite militants. “Our success is like a ray of sunshine for this area which has seen so many rocket attacks and difficult times,” says Ran Ben Shimon, who coaches the team of mostly unknown players which now looks set to defy Israel’s finest and win the championship. They have already won the Toto Cup, the Israeli equivalent of England’s Carling Cup, filling the club coffers with winnings worth 240,000 euros ($315,000). They have qualified for the knockout stages of Israel’s State Cup, and are also holding a strong lead in the premiership. With its newly-burnished “AAA” rating, this minnow of Israeli football is hoping to perform well next year when it enters the Europa League and is likely to come up against some of the continent’s giants. “These boys feel there is an opportunity here and they are doing everything to make the most of it,” Ben Shimon said. “They are working hard and in a good atmosphere: that’s their strength.” ‘Everyone here is homegrown’-The players come almost exclusively from a local youth club. “Everyone here is home-grown,” Ben Shimon quips, between shouting instructions to the players who are racing around the pitch practicing all manner of passes, tackles, stretches and tactical maneuvers. The stadium is situated at the end of a valley which is flanked to the north

and west by the Lebanese border, while to the east lies the Syrian Golan Heights plateau which was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War. With a capacity to seat 5,500 fans, the stadium is covered with advertising slogans for Ituran, an Israeli GPS manufacturer which is listed on Wall Street and owned by Izzy Sheratzky-who also owns Hapoel Kiryat Shmona. “Now that’s a team!” brags Tomer Hai, a fan who has come to watch the club training with his young son. “It’s a pleasure to see them get involved and fight together. We call them ‘the Lions’ because they give themselves totally and demonstrate exactly what Israel expects from football,” he said. Over the past decade, Israeli players have made an increasingly visible appearance at the big European clubs, with players such as Eyal Berkovic, Yossi Benayoun, Haim Revivo and Itai Shechter becoming household names. But the national side has never come to much: in four decades, it has never managed to qualify for a single European or international championship. ‘A new era’-But this dark chapter could soon be coming to an end, possibly with the help of Kiryat Shmona which has seen five of its number singled out as potential players for the national team by coach Eli Guttman who recently replaced Luis Fernandez. As the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup approach, Guttman has promised “a new era.” And so far, he has not lined up any of the big-budget names from clubs like Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv or Hapoel Tel Aviv, which traditionally dominate the Israeli league. “Every one of us uses his talent to benefit the team, and the result is there: it is hard to beat us,” says Shimon Abuhatzira, who looks set to be recognized as Israel’s player of the year. A tireless striker, Abuhatzira has scored 12 goals since the start of the season and set up another six. “What really counts is the joy that we give to the fans, and which we ourselves experience,” he says.— AFP

Jockey Sutherland breaks record in Dubai World Cup DUBAI: Canadian jockey Chantal Sutherland breaks new ground in today’s $10 million Dubai World Cup when she becomes the first woman to ride in the race. The 36-year-old told reporters: “I do not feel pressure, I feel really honoured and grateful. I think I’ve made history and I hope I’m one of many to come for the Dubai World Cup next year.” Sutherland, a top performer in the US, partners 8-1 third favourite Game On Dude for trainer Bob Baffert, twice a winner of the big race. She was on board Game On Dude last November when second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs to Drosselmeyer, ridden by exboyfriend Mike Smith. That form puts the horse in with a clear chance. The outside draw of 14 is less encouraging but Sutherland loves her horse’s attitude. “I have ridden some fast horses, some sprinters that would just blow my mind,” she said. “But he is a horse with a big heart and I have never felt a horse try so hard in my entire life, so to me he’s the best horse I’ve ever ridden in my life for that particular characteristic.” Sutherland is a wellknown figure in Canada and her own website describes herself as “jockey, actress and model”.

But she recalled the struggle to break into the male dominated sport of horse racing. “Sometimes it is a little bit of a boys’ club,” she said. “All women can kind of probably agree with me, however, sometimes you get an offer because I’m a woman. “They want a different touch to the horse. Sometimes these opportunities come and by marketing myself I’ve got more opportunities to get on other horses and other owners want me to ride because of that.” Also joining in the cause today is British jockey Hayley Turner, a proven bigrace performer at home who rides in the major sprint today ahead of the World Cup. That will make her the first woman to ride in any race at the World Cup meeting since it started in 1996. She told reporters: “It’s been a big part of my career, making breakthroughs. “It’s nice to do it but it’s also nice to know that it’s normal now too. People accept me as a jockey now.” Sutherland will be hoping victory on Game On Dude will cheer trainer Baffert after he suffered a heart attack in Dubai earlier in the week. The irrepressible 59-year-old was released from hospital on Thursday and promptly tweeted: “Need to win World Cup just to break even on medical bills—Reuters

KIRYAT SHMONA: Players of Israeli football team Hapoel Kiryat Shmona practice during a training session in the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona. — AFP

Westbrook powers Thunder past Lakers Heat end skid with win over Mavericks LOS ANGELES: Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook scored 36 points to lead the Thunder to a 102-93 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, extending its NBA winning streak to five games. Kevin Durant added 21 for the Western Conference leaders, who shot 46 percent, ending their streak of hitting 50 percent or better in their four previous games. Andrew Bynum had 25 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers, who have lost back-to-back games at home and are 0-2 against the Thunder this season, including a 15-point road loss last month. Oklahoma City pulled away to open the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run that stretched its lead to 88-70. Westbrook and Durant scored four points each in the spurt that had Laker fans booing.

the Mavericks struggled to score.Dallas missed 14 of their first 16 shot attempts of the fourth quarter. The Heat ended the game on a 16-2 scoring run to reach a somewhat deceptively lopsided score. “They stepped up their pressure at both ends of the floor,” Nowitzki said. “In the first half, everything came a little too easy for us. You got to give them credit. They had us going both ways all night. D-Wade and LeBron were getting theirs. And everybody else was getting theirs, too. Defensively, we just weren’t sharp enough.” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle added: “We had trouble getting the ball in the basket. “That was one thing that hurt us. Second-chance points hurt us. And then they hit a flurry of transition points at an inopportune time for us. Tough loss.”

HEAT 106, MAVERICKS 85 In Miami, the Miami Heat shrugged off backto-back road defeats on Thursday to post a decisive 106-85 victory against the Dallas Mavericks, the team that beat them in last season’s NBA championship series. The Heat, with their star trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh leading a balanced attack, surged to a 13-point lead in the third quarter, adding another victory over the Mavericks to the win they posted in Dallas when the lockoutshortened season opened on Christmas Day. Not only was it a satisfying win over the team that denied them the NBA crown last season, it helped erase the taste of road defeats to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Indian Pacers. Those losses marked Miami’s first back-toback double-digit losses since James, Wade and Bosh became Heat teammates in July of 2010. Bosh and James scored 19 each and Wade added 16. “It was a collective response to how we’ve been playing,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. Dirk Nowitzki kept the Mavericks in it with 16 points in the first half on 8-of-10 shooting. The Mavericks’ German star finished with 25, his output dropping off in the second half as

PACERS 93, WIZARDS 89 In Indianapolis, Danny Granger scored 25 points to lead Indiana past Washington. David West had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers, who bounced back from a 16-point loss at New Jersey on Wednesday. Jordan Crawford scored 20 points and Nene had 16 points and 13 rebounds for Washington, which has lost five straight. The Pacers had a 7-2 run late in the fourth quarter to break clear after the game was tied with 4:52 remaining. TRAIL BLAZERS 99, HORNETS 93 In Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 12 rebounds as Portland pulled away from undermanned New Orleans. Wesley Matthews added 18 points for the Trail Blazers, who are 4-4 since the dismissal of head coach Nate McMillan. Marco Belinelli had 27 points for the Hornets, who sit in last place in the Western Conference. Aldridge’s fadeaway jumper put Portland back in front, and Raymond Felton and Nicolas Batum hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 97-90 with 58.9 seconds left. The Blazers have won four straight against the Hornets.— Agencies


Italian League Preview

Cavani hoping to be first to shoot down Juventus ROME: Napoli travel to Juventus this weekend with the southerners’ Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani vowing to help his side become the first to defeat the Old Lady of Turin this season. Juve have had a remarkable run this term, remaining unbeaten over 33 games in league and cup. They have reached the Italian Cup final and trail leaders AC Milan by four points in Serie A. Napoli have come closer than anyone to beating Juve this season as they led the northern giants 3-1 in Naples before a late collapse saw their opponents snatch a 3-3 draw. But Cavani is confident his side can see through the job this time around. “It’s always important for Neapolitans to play against Juve and therefore also for me,” said Cavani. “Juve haven’t lost but we hope to beat them.” Napoli have had their first week off in a long

time having qualified for the Italian Cup final-to play Juve-last week following their Champions League elimination to Chelsea the week before that. They have gone off the boil a little recently having thrown away a 2-0 lead at home to Catania last weekend to draw 2-2. And Cavani says they must improve on that. “We lacked the necessary experience against Catania to take the three points,” he said. “We can still improve a lot from that point of view.” Juve are buzzing following their 2-0 win over Inter but this is perhaps their toughest match remaining. Antonio Conte’s side must win to keep the pressure up on Milan but for Napoli a win is also vital. They trail Lazio by three points in the race for third and Champions League football next term. They also have tough away matches to

come against Lazio and Roma before the end of the season. Milan have no easy task today following their Champions League quarter-final draw at home to Barcelona as they travel to Sicily to tackle in-form Catania. The Sicilians have not lost in seven games and have only lost twice since the turn of the year. That run has thrust Vincenzo Montella’s side into European qualification contention and they trail Roma in the final Europa League berth by just two points. According to Montella their improved form is due to finding the right balance between attack and defense. “When a team manages to interpret the two phases in the right way it means that at any time they can exploit the spaces left open by the two forwards to get midfielders breaking into them from deep,” he said.

The other big interest of the weekend will be Andrea Stramaccioni’s debut as Inter Milan coach, at home to Genoa. Stramaccioni was the shock pick to replace the sacked Claudio Ranieri on Monday, just after their defeat to Juve. The 36-year-old has no first team coaching experience and had only been at Inter since the beginning of the season as the youth team boss. The nerazzurri have only won one of their last 10 league games, though and now sit eighth in Serie A and 10 points off the Champions League finishes. But they are still in contention for a Europa League position as they only trail sixthplaced Roma by three points. Roma host lowly Novara while Lazio are at Parma as they try to defend third place from Napoli and Udinese, who travel to Siena. — AFP

French League Preview

PSG under pressure

BUENOS AIRES: Argentina’s Arsenal midfielder Gonzalo Espinoza (right) vies for the ball with Argentina’s Boca Juniors forward Santiago Silva during their Copa Libertadores 2012 group 4 football match at La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires. — AFP

Boca close in on berth Fluminense cruise into Libertadores last-16 BUENOS AIRES: Substitute Rafael Sobis struck late to ensure Brazil’s Fluminense became the first team to qualify for the Libertadores Cup last 16 with a 1-0 win away to Zamora of Venezuela on Thursday. Ten-man Boca Juniors are close to joining Fluminense in the first knockout round after a 2-0 home win over fellow Argentine side Arsenal in the night’s other Group Four match. Fluminense, finalists in 2008, have taken all 12 points from their four matches, putting them five ahead of Boca with Arsenal on three and Zamora one and virtually eliminated. Former Brazil striker Sobis came on as a substitute at La Carolina in the 75th minute and scored from a free kick three minutes later. Six-times South American champions Boca were the more incisive side at La Bombonera despite being a man short from the 37th minute, when holding midfielder Leandro Somoza was sent off for a second booking. Boca went ahead in the 50th minute when striker Santiago Silva, still looking for his first goal in his eighth match, backheeled to Juan Roman Riquelme whose low shot was parried by goalkeeper Cristian Campestrini only for midfielder Pablo Ledesma to follow up and turn the ball into the net. Silva also set up Boca’s second goal one minute from time with a well weighted pass to substitute

Juan Sanchez Mino, who scored with a low shot. “Winning with 10 men is the same as winning with 11. We’re going to have to improve a lot to reach the final but we want to qualify first,” Boca captain Riquelme told Fox Sports. “Silva had a great match. He’s not scoring but he’s doing a great job for us,” he said of the burly, shaven-headed striker nicknamed ‘Tank’, who joined Boca from Fiorentina in January. With all teams having played four of their six matches in the eight groups, two more sides are virtually out of the running and Peruvian champions Juan Aurich have already been eliminated. Juan Aurich have zero points in Group One which is led by title holders Santos on nine points with fellow Brazilians Internacional and The Strongest of Bolivia on seven apiece. Uruguay’s Penarol, one of the great teams of South America with five titles who reached a record 10th final last year, are six points behind second-placed Universidad de Chile in Group Eight. Penarol have only one point and a minus-six goals record having lost to the Chileans 21 on Tuesday. Colombia’s Atletico Junior are in a similar position in Group Three with one point, six adrift of joint leaders Union Espanola of Chile and Bolivar of Bolivia, and five behind Chile’s Universidad Catolica. — Reuters

PARIS: After several poor performances in recent weeks, the pressure is on Ligue 1 title favorites Paris SaintGermain to get back to winning ways again when they travel to Nancy today. PSG have gone three matches without a win between league and cup, and last weekend’s draw with Bordeaux saw them surrender top spot in the table on goal difference to Montpellier, who refuse to give up the chase for a debut title despite having just a fraction of the capital side’s financial power. The move to bring in Carlo Ancelotti as coach during the winter break will only be justified if PSG end the season on top of the table, and midfielder Mohamed Sissoko knows that a significant improvement is required if they are not to slip up again this weekend on Nancy’s artificial surface. “We know that it will be very difficult. We are currently going through a spell where we are not playing at our best but everyone is aware of the situation,” said the former Valencia, Liverpool and Juventus player. “We know what needs to be done. Our objective is to hold on to top spot. “We need to prove that we have not turned into a bad side overnight. We are going through a bad patch and we need to turn things around quickly.” Sissoko - who was born and brought up in France but is experiencing his first-ever season playing at the top level here - also dismissed claims that the squad has struggled to get used to the demands made of them by the new coach. “Ancelotti brought a lot of ideas with him when he arrived, but it is up to us to adapt,” he said. “We are no longer defending and attacking as a team. But if we all pull together in the same direction we will win the title.” Nancy have gone four games unbeaten to pull away from the relegation zone and also won 1-0 at the Parc des Princes back in November. Indeed, PSG have not won any of their last five meetings with the men

from Lorraine, but if they can win at the Stade Marcel-Picot it would set them up nicely for next weekend’s meeting with bitter rivals Marseille. A win would also see Paris go three points clear again at the top with Montpellier not in action following the controversial decision by the authorities to postpone their trip to Marseille in order to give Didier Deschamps’ side optimum time to prepare for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich. Elsewhere, Lille refuse to give up the defense of their title entirely and lie seven points off the pace in third place. However, their focus is on making sure they seal Champions League qualification for next season, when they will move into a new 50,000seat stadium. A win at home to Toulouse, who lie three points behind them in fourth, could go a long way towards ensuring that they achieve that target. Lille have won their last two matches, scoring seven goals without reply, but Toulouse will not make life easy by any means. The south-western club are renowned for being one of the hardest teams to play against in Ligue 1 and have conceded just one goal in a six-match unbeaten run that has propelled them into European contention. There is new-found confidence at Lyon, too, with Remi Garde’s side having won four games in a row in all competitions since being knocked out of the Champions League by Cypriot outsiders APOEL. OL lie in fifth place as they prepare to travel to Brittany to face fellow French Cup semi-finalists Rennes, who have fallen off the pace recently. Sixth-placed Saint-Etienne entertain Nice, while Jean-Guy Wallemme is looking for a win on his home debut as coach of bottom side Auxerre against Valenciennes. In other games, Bordeaux host Dijon, Lorient take on Evian, Brest go to Sochaux and Caen entertain Ajaccio. — AFP


Aguero injury blow for City LONDON: Manchester City will be without star striker Sergio Aguero for the Premier League clash against Sunderland with a “stupid” injury, club manager Roberto Mancini confirmed yesterday. Aguero was missing from the City team that drew at Stoke today with a foot problem. Mancini has refused to say exactly what happened or for how long the Argentina forward could be sidelined, however,

it seems the problem was not of an orthodox nature. “It is a stupid injury,” said Mancini. “It was not his fault but he can’t play with this injury; for one day, 10 days or two weeks. I don’t know.” Mancini is considering handing striker Carlos Tevez his first league start for almost seven months at Eastlands today. However the Italian handler faces a possible dilemma as the Argentinean

is still not considered fit enough to start, Edin Dzeko has been inconsistent and Mario Balotelli remains an enigmatic presence in the Blues squad. Having spent most of the season at the top of the table, City trail leaders Manchester United by three points with eight games remaining, and have had a week to forget. After City’s 1-1 draw last Saturday, United piled on the pressure by defeating

City can learn from Barca lesson: Toure LONDON: Manchester City linchpin Yaya Toure has urged his team-mates to emulate Barcelona as they attempt to overhaul Manchester United in the Premier League’s gripping title climax. After leading the table for most of the season, City have slipped three points behind their bitter cross-town rivals in recent weeks with only eight games of the season remaining. On paper United have by far the less demanding run-in, with City still facing demanding fixtures which include trips to in-form Arsenal and Newcastle as well as today’s home tie with Sunderland. However Toure wants City to learn from his experience at Barcelona in 2009-2010 season, when the club pipped Real Madrid for the title after mounting a sprint to the finish which included a win over Real at the Bernabeu. “What we did at Barca was a perfect example of what we need to do now,” Toure said, while acknowledging that City’s task would be harder. “I think now will be more difficult because United are not the type of team who you can give anything. “When you look at the program they have, they have easier games than us. Maybe their only difficult game is away to us. “So it will be very hard, but to keep up the pressure we have to win all of our games. We have to fight until the finish, and if we win the Premier League this year it would be amazing for the club and the fans.” City drew 1-1 with Stoke last weekend, but will be looking to maintain their astonishing 100 percent home record against Martin O’Neill’s Black Cats. A victory today would see City return to the top of the table on goal difference, with United not playing until Monday’s trip to relegation threatened Blackburn, one of only two teams to beat the Red Devils at home this season. “Blackburn is always a difficult type of game,” warned United boss Sir Alex Ferguson. “It’s always a bit feisty and has a local derby feeling about it. “Last season we came from a goal down to win the league. We expect a difficult game-that’s the way all the games will be.” Elsewhere this weekend, Arsenal will seek to tighten their grip on third place by plunging Queens Park Rangers further into the relegation mire when the Gunners travel to Loftus Road. Arsenal head into the game looking to notch their eighth consecutive victory in the league against a side who are fighting for their livelihoods according to Rangers captain Joey Barton. “This is more than a game of football now,” Barton warned. “The next eight games govern our futures. “We’re as desperate for the points as they are-for totally different reasons obviously. But there are livelihoods on the line here. “People’s careers are on the line. I’m not sure that’s the case at Arsenal to be honest.” A win for Arsenal today would leave Tottenham needing victory against Swansea at White Hart Lane tomorrow to avoid falling further

Fulham on Monday before Mancini was pictured giving controversial striker Mario Balotelli a dressing down in training on Wednesday. City haven’t dropped points in front of their own fans for 13 months since a 1-1 draw with Fulham, with 20 consecutive victories since then however Mancini’s men slid to a 1-0 defeat at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light in January. — AFP

Arsenal poised for glory LONDON: Arsenal striker Gervinho claims the foundations are in place for the club to win trophies in coming seasons as they attempt to pile on the misery for struggling Queens Park Rangers today. Arsenal have gone on a winning streak of seven games, which has seen them overtake Tottenham and move into third spot in the Premier League. While there is no prospect of ending their sevenyear wait for a trophy this yearthey are 15 points behind leaders Manchester United with eight games to play-their hopes of a Champions League spot are firmly in their own hands. The buoyant mood at the Emirates Stadium is in stark contrast to that at QPR, who are fighting to avoid immediate relegation from the Premier League. Ahead of today’s trip across London, Gervinho pointed to the youthful nature of the Arsenal squad and tipped them to blossom in the near future. “We can still win lots of trophies and we can do great things in the future,” the Ivory Coast international said. “We have a bright future because this is a good club. “We are all still young, we have got some good players here, a good group. We have been through a lot of difficult times this season, lots of people

have wavered in their belief of us. “They have said this and they have said that, but we have returned to form and now we are going to try to finish the season well.” Gervinho pointed to the form of striker Robin van Persie for Arsenal’s resurgence after a shaky start to the Premier League campaign. Van Persie has scored 33 goals this season, including 25 in the Premier League and Gervinho added: “The standout player for me this year has been Robin. “You can see his class with his finishing, how he leads the group, and with his experience. “He is a player who has grown in to the role of captain and is the sort of player you need during the hard times.” Meanwhile at Loftus Road, things are looking bleak. QPR are a point shy of safety with an extremely difficult run-in to come. And star striker Djibril Cisse is banned for the next four games following his sending-off last Saturday at Sunderland - his second dismissal since signing for the club in January. QPR chief executive Philip Beard made an embarrassing slip of the tongue while speaking at the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester on Thursday by stating “when we go down” before hastily correcting himself to say “if”. — AFP

Gomez inks Wigan deal Yaya Toure behind their north London rivals in the race for third place. Swansea have been one of the revelations of the season so far, winning plaudits for an attractive style of football that has been achieved with a squad built for a fraction of the cost of the Premier League front-runners. “It should be a very good game of football,” Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers said. “Tottenham will want the points because they are playing for the Champions League but we are here to fight as well. “We will go there looking to perform because we will be fighting for every single point right through until the end of the season.” Fifthplaced Chelsea meanwhile travel to Aston Villa today knowing that only victory will do as they attempt to claw back a five-point deficit between themselves and fourth-placed Spurs. Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo is likely to rotate his squad once more with next week’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Benfica looming. — AFP

LONDON: Wigan midfielder Jordi Gomez has shown his commitment to the relegation-haunted English Premier League club by signing a new two-year contract. Wigan are second from bottom of the league with eight games remaining, but despite the threat of relegation Gomez, 26, will remain with the club until 2014. His contract was due to expire in the summer. The former Barcelona youth team player, who joined Latics from Espanyol in 2009, has scored four goals this season. Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is pleased to have beaten off interest from other clubs for his fellow Spaniard’s services. Martinez said: “We are delighted that Jordi is committing himself to our football club. “He is our top goalscorer this season and his vision has provided us with a real playmaking role in the side. “He has accumulated fantastic experience in the Premier League and with potential offers waiting for him in the summer, it is a fantastic gesture towards the football club that he has chosen to commit to Wigan Athletic at this crucial moment of the season.” Gomez, who has scored six times in 42 league starts for Wigan and first worked with Martinez during a loan spell at Swansea, feels settled at the club. He said: “I would like to thank everyone at the club for making me feel welcome. “I feel I can keep improving here and now I want to keep focusing on my game and do all I can to finish the season strongly and keep our Premier League status.” — AFP


French League Preview

PSG under pressure PARIS: After several poor performances in recent weeks, the pressure is on Ligue 1 title favorites Paris SaintGermain to get back to winning ways again when they travel to Nancy today. PSG have gone three matches without a win between league and cup, and last weekend’s draw with Bordeaux saw them surrender top spot in the table on goal difference to Montpellier, who refuse to give up the chase for a debut title despite having just a fraction of the capital side’s financial power. The move to bring in Carlo Ancelotti as coach during the winter break will only be justified if PSG end the season on top of the table, and midfielder Mohamed Sissoko knows that a significant improvement is required if they are not to slip up again this weekend on Nancy’s artificial surface. “We know that it will be very difficult. We are currently going through a spell where we are not playing at our best but everyone is aware of the situation,” said the former Valencia, Liverpool and Juventus player. “We know what needs to be done. Our objective is to hold on to top spot. “We need to prove that we have not turned into a bad side overnight. We are going through a bad patch and we need to turn things around quickly.” Sissoko - who was born and brought up in France but is experiencing his first-ever season playing at the top level here - also dismissed claims that the squad has struggled to get used to the demands made of them by the new coach. “Ancelotti brought a lot of ideas with him when he arrived, but it is up to us to adapt,” he said. “We are no longer defending and attacking as a team. But if we all pull together in the same direction we will win the title.” Nancy have gone four games unbeaten to pull away from the relegation zone and also won 1-0 at the Parc des Princes back in November. Indeed, PSG have not won any of their last five meetings with the men from Lorraine, but if they can win at the Stade Marcel-Picot it would set them up nicely for next weekend’s meeting with bitter rivals Marseille. A win would also see Paris go three points clear again at the top with Montpellier not in action following the controversial decision by the authorities to postpone their trip to Marseille in order to give Didier Deschamps’ side optimum time to prepare for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich.—AFP

Today’s matches on TV

English Premier League Everton v West Brom Abu Dhabi Sports HD Wigan v Stoke Abu Dhabi Sports HD Wolves v Bolton Abu Dhabi Sports HD Fulham v Norwich Abu Dhabi Sports HD QPR v Arsenal Abu Dhabi Sports HD Man City v Sunderland Abu Dhabi Sports HD Aston v Chelsea Abu Dhabi Sports HD

Spanish League

Sporting v Zaragoza Aljzeera Sport +7 Real Racing v Granada Aljzeera Sport +6 Osasuna v Real Madrid Aljzeera Sport +2 Aljzeera Sport +3 Malaga v Real Betis Aljzeera Sport +4 Aljzeera Sport +8 Barcelona v Athletic de Bilbao Aljzeera Sport +3

Italian League Catania v AC Milan Aljzeera Sport +1 Parma v Lazio

Aljzeera Sport +1

PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain’s striker Guillaume Hoarau (left) heads the ball during the French L1 football match PSG vs Bordeaux at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. — AFP

Spanish League Preview

Real Madrid continue title pursuit against Osasuna MADRID: Having steadied the ship following two consecutive draws with commanding wins in La Liga and in Europe, Real Madrid begin a crucial run of games with a tricky trip to Pamplona to face Osasuna today. After Barcelona beat Sevilla a fortnight ago, Barca coach Pep Guardiola declared that there was no way his side could beat Madrid to the league title. But then two late free-kicks from Santi Cazorla and Marcos Senna, for Malaga and Villarreal respectively, saw their sides draw against an increasingly nervy Real. A sense of trepidation at the Bernabeu was eased by a 5-1 thrashing of Real Sociedad and then, in mid-week, Karim Benzema hit his second brace in a matter of days as Jose Mourinho’s side took a big step towards qualifying for the Champions League semi-finals with a 3-0 away victory over APOEL in Cyprus. The gap at the top is six points but Real have some big games ahead of them, with the visit to sixth-placed Osasuna coming before a home clash with Valencia, the Madrid derby with Atletico and the Clasico away to Barcelona. Pamplona is traditionally a tough place to visit, and Osasuna inflicted a damaging 1-0 defeat on Madrid there last season. Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side have also been one of the surprise packages of this campaign and have lost just once in their last nine games, a run which included a 3-2 home win against Barcelona. “The pressure is on them although they are used to playing with it. They need to win and we will do all that we can do to play well and ensure that the points stay at home,” said Osasuna captain Patxi Punal. “It is always a big motivation to play against a big side and we are up against the leaders in Real Madrid. “If we do get a good result then that will be an important boost for us to finish higher up the table.” Meanwhile, Barcelona come into their home clash against Athletic Bilbao in fine form, with Lionel Messi leading the way with 12 goals from his last six games. They have won their previous seven games in the league although they were held to a 0-0 draw away to AC Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday. Athletic have had an excellent season under Marcelo Bielsa but their league form has suffered recently due to the demands of an impressive run in the Europa League which includes the defeat of Manchester United. They are going to be further hampered as the match at the Camp Nou comes only 48 hours after their Europa League quarter-final first-leg clash with Schalke 04 in Germany. Only a few weeks ago Valencia looked fairly secure in third place but the race for the final automatic Champions League qualifying spot has really opened up in the wake of back-to-back defeats for Unai Emery’s side and they are now level on 47 points with Malaga. —AFP


Italian League Preview

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Tradition-laden Italy Serie A finally turns toward youths ROME: The hiring of 36-year-old Andrea Stramaccioni by Inter Milan this week has highlighted a surprising trend of younger managers in the tradition-laden Italian league. While the likes of Fabio Capello and Marcello Lippi are out of work, nearly all of Italy’s major clubs are now guided by managers who are 50 or under. AC Milan and Juventus continue their duel for this season’s title with 44-year-old Massimiliano Allegri at the helm of Milan and 42-year-old Antonio Conte in his first year as Juventus coach. Guided by 50-year-old Walter Mazzarri, Napoli is pushing hard for third place, while 41year-old Luis Enrique is leading a complete youth revolution at Roma. At Catania, 37-yearold Vincenzo Montella has the unheralded Sicilian club one spot away from the Europa League places. Stramaccioni was hired on Monday after Inter fired Claudio Ranieri following a miserable streak of one win in its last 10 league matches. He becomes Inter’s fifth manager since Jose

Mourinho departed after leading Inter to a treble in 2010, with Rafa Benitez, Leonardo, Gian Piero Gasperini and Ranieri each failing to fully satisfy club president Massimo Moratti. “We needed someone who could really shake the club up,” Moratti said. “He’s not here just to fill in.” While Ranieri’s fate was sealed with a 2-0 loss to archrival Juventus on Sunday, Moratti was in London watching Stramaccioni lead Inter’s youth side to a win over Ajax in the inaugural NextGen Series final - a sort of Champions League for under-19 players. Stramaccioni has never managed a senior-level club, and he’s two years younger than Inter captain Javier Zanetti. “Youth is not only determined by age you’ve got to be young inside,” said Stramaccioni, who undertook a law degree after an injury cut short his football career. “Zanetti is a perfect example. He’s older than me but he’s got the desire of a youth club player.” The youth movement in Italy also includes the national team, where Cesare Prandelli is building his squad around younger players -

led by 21-year-old Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli. Balotelli was left off Lippi’s veteran-filled Italy squad that was eliminated from the 2010 World Cup in the first round, and he was a surprise guest at Stramaccioni’s presentation at Tuesday, showing up unannounced to say hello to his former teammates at Inter. Stramaccioni takes over with Inter eighth in Serie A with nine games remaining, seven points adrift of Champions League qualification. His first match in charge comes against Genoa at the San Siro tomrrow. “We’re not going to make up any timetables,” Stramaccioni said. “Moratti has asked me to win matches, starting with Inter-Genoa, and that’s where we’ve got to start from. “There’s nothing I have to teach these players. Using the verb ‘teach’ for players that have created football history would be a mistake. Better to say transmit. I want to transmit my ideas, control matches and get results. I’ve got to put these players in a position where they can truly express themselves.” —AP



Sharapova beat Wozniacki to reach Miami fina


GELSENKIRCHEN: Schalke’s US midfielder Jermaine Jones (left) and Bilbao’s forward Oscar de Marcos vie for the ball during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany. — AFP

Spanish duo snatch dramatic wins Atletico win in Spain-Germany Europa clash BERNE: Athletic Bilbao, conquerors of Manchester United in the previous round, continued their Europa League run by scoring three times in the last 20 minutes to win their quarter-final first leg tie 4-2 at Schalke 04 on Thursday. Atletico Madrid also snatched a late win in a Spain-Germany clash, beating Hanover 96 2-1 with a delightful late goal by Eduardo Salvio. Dutch league leaders AZ Alkmaar beat Valencia 2-1 and Sporting Lisbon beat Metalist Kharkiv by the same score in the other quarter-final ties. Raul and Fernando Llorente both scored twice to leave Schalke and Athletic level at 2-2 before Oscar de Marcos and Iker Muniain netted in the last 10 minutes for Marcelo Bielsa’s team. Llorente scrambled Athletic ahead in the 20th minute after a mistake by Schalke goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand, only for former Real Madrid striker Raul to prod in Atsuto Uchida’s cross two minutes later for the hosts. Raul gave Schalke, third in the Bundesliga, a deserved lead with a spectacular volley from the edge of the area just before the hour and was close to a hat-trick when he chipped the ball just wide. Instead, Llorente began Athletic’s late rally when he headed in a corner at the near post in the

73rd minute to put La Liga’s eleventh-placed team back on level terms. Schalke suffered more goalkeeping woes as Mathias Schober, who replaced the injured Hildebrand at halftime for his first appearance in three years, failed to hold Markel Susaeta’s cross, allowing De Marcos to score from close range. Teenager Muniain fired in the fourth to complete another impressive win for the side led by former Argentina and Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa, which also won both legs against Manchester United. FINGER-POINTING SIMEONE Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, scorer of a record 17 Europa League goals last season for eventual champions Porto, headed Atletico ahead early in the tie. In a niggly game with plenty of heavy challenges, Mame Diouf slid in Lars Stindl’s cross from the right to put Hanover back on level terms seven minutes before halftime and the Germans began to look comfortable. But Atletico re-took control after Brazilian midfielder Diego come on just after the hour and Argentine forward Salvio curled in the winner from the edge of the area in the 89th minute. Diego nearly added a third with an acrobatic

bicycle kick in stoppage time but was foiled by a brilliant stop by Ron-Robert Zieler. Atletico coach Diego Simeone, dressed in his characteristic allblack outfit, was a lively figure on the touchline, celebrating their winner wildly and coming on to the pitch near the end during a shoving match between the players. The former Argentina cap-

tain, whose team’s fierce tackling and off-the-ball challenges are reminiscent of his playing style, also got involved in a finger-pointing exchange with a Hanover player. Alkmaar were heavily indebted to Australian Brett Holman and Costa Rican goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado for their win over Valencia. —Reuters

Wenger gets 3-match ban NYON: Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger got a three-match touchline ban from UEFA yesterday for comments directed at the referee after his team’s Champions League elimination this month. UEFA said its disciplinary panel found Wenger guilty of “improper conduct,” and fined him €40,000 ($53,000). The French coach will serve his third UEFA ban within a year if Arsenal qualifies to play in next season’s Champions League or Europa League. He can challenge the verdict at UEFA’s appeals panel within three days of receiving the detailed verdict. Wenger criticized Slovenian referee Damir

Skomina after Arsenal was ousted by AC Milan in the last-16 round, despite a 3-0 second-leg victory. The London club had lost 4-0 in Italy. Last year, Wenger was found guilty of a similar UEFA charge after Arsenal was knocked out by Barcelona at the same stage of the Champions League. Then, he argued angrily with Swiss referee Massimo Busacca who had sent off Robin van Persie during a 3-1 defeat in Spain. Wenger served his ban during this season’s playoff round first-leg match against Udinese, but incurred a further ban for breaking rules by communicating with Arsenal’s coaches from his seat in the stand. —AP

31 Mar 2012  
31 Mar 2012  

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