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US envoy speaks on diplomacy, journalism


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Geneva atom smasher sets collision record

Saudi central bank governor to head Gulf monetary council

Last-minute Bayern goal stun United in reverse of ’99





Zain, Bharti seal deal Kuwait telecoms giant to pay dividend Abu Dhabi fund chief found dead R A B AT / A B U DHABI: The body of an Emirati sheikh and ruling family member who headed one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds has been found after a glider crash in Morocco, state media said y e s t e r d a y. Rescuers had combed the area Sheikh Ahmed bin for four days after the aircraft with Zayed Al-Nahayan Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed Al-Nahayan on board crashed into a reservoir near the Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah Dam, south of the Moroccan capital, Rabat. State television in the United Arab Emirates interrupted its broadcasts to air readings from the Holy Quran. “Sheikh Ahmed ... is in the care of God,” read a banner on Abu Dhabi Television. Sheikh Ahmed, 41, was the younger brother of the ruler of Abu Dhabi, who is also president of the United Arab Emirates. Continued on Page 14

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Nasser Al-Kharafi, Chairman of AlKharafi Group, inks the Zain Africa deal, with Bharti Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal — Kuwait News

DELHI: KUWAIT/NEW Indian mobile operator Bharti Airtel said yesterday it had sealed a $10.7-billion deal to buy Zain’s African assets, vaulting it into the world’s top five cellular players. With the acquisition, the second-largest foreign takeover in Indian corporate history, Bharti Airtel will acquire Kuwait-based Zain’s African mobile services, which operate in 15 countries. Zain confirmed the deal, saying it would pay dividends from the proceeds. “Zain

intends to distribute a large proportion of the upfront net proceeds to shareholders in the form of dividends,” the company said in a statement. Kuwaiti businessman Nasser Al-Kharafi, Chairman of Al-Kharafi Group, told CNBC Arabic after the deal was signed in Amsterdam that it would contribute to backing the Kuwaiti economy. “This agreement is a landmark for the global telecom industry and a game changer for Continued on Page 14

Woman to hang for Jahra fire KUWAIT: A Kuwaiti woman yesterday was sentenced to death for intentionally starting a fire which killed 57 women and children at the wedding party of her husband who took another wife. Judge Adel Al-Sager read out the verdict against Nasra Yussef Mohammed Al-Enezi, 23, at the court of first instance. Death sentences in Kuwait are carried out by hanging, but it would first have to be upheld by the appeals court. The woman who was not present in the court

was found guilty of “premeditated murder and starting a fire with the intent to kill”. Press reports at the time of the blaze said Enezi had wanted to avenge her husband’s “bad treatment” of her, but in court she denied any involvement in the incident. Defence lawyer Zaid AlKhabbaz vowed he would prove Enezi’s innocence in the higher courts and said the verdict had been influenced by public opinion. “The ruling was very harsh against

a woman who is innocent,” Khabbaz told AFP. “It is a political judgement rather than a criminal ruling because the court came under the influence of public opinion.” He said the public prosecution failed to “unequivocally prove that Enezi was the perpetrator. The case contained many legal loopholes”. Khabbaz said the defence team was considering contacting international human rights Continued on Page 14



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Top priority to joint action

Cabinet hails Amiri address at Arab summit in Libya KUWAIT: At an extraordinary session on Monday, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah on Monday briefed the Cabinet members on the results of the just-concluded 22nd Arab Summit. The ministers praised HH the Amir’s address at the top-level meeting in which he reaffirmed his dedication to realizing the aspirations of the Arab peoples. The extraordinary

KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah receiving His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah at the Bayan Palace yesterday. —KUNA

MP threatens grilling over disabled abuse allegations By Khaled Abdullah KUWAIT: MP Hussein Al-Qallaf yesterday threatened to grill the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Mohammad Al-Afasi, saying that he holds Al-Afasi politically responsible over controversial claims that sexual and physical abuse were perpetrated against disabled residents of the ministry’s care homes. “I intend to file an interpellation request against the minister if the allegations made by the society chairman are true,” the lawmaker said, adding that such a

grilling of the minister will also be appropriate if he fails to refer the society’s chairman to the prosecution over a previous defamation case. Ayed Al-Shemmari, the head of the Kuwait Society for People with Special Needs, earlier threatened to throw what he called a ‘high-intensity bomb by making video recordings of sexual and physical abuse against some citizens with special needs at the ministry’s facilities available to the public. Al-Shemmari informed a number of MPs that a number of disabled girls and women had been

sexually abused by male masseurs hired by the ministry. Also yesterday, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Dr Mohammad Al-Afasi rejected the accusations, daring Al-Shemmari to furnish proof of them. “Nevertheless, a special committee has been formed to investigate the matter,” the minister told journalists. Al-Afasi further revealed that he has instructed the ministry’s Legal Affairs Department to file a complaint with the Public Prosecutor against Al-Shemmari over the allegations.

MEW staff stage strike KUWAIT: The staff members from the payment section of the Administrative Affairs Department of the Ministry of Electricity and Water, recently held a strike in protest over the six-month delay in paying overtime dues. The ministry has claimed that the late reception of files related to these dues had caused delay. The minister had made a prompt order to pay allowances, at a time when a number of ministry officials warned against a potential escalation of the water crisis, which could start soon.

In other news, the consumption rates of water have exceeded normal rates in the past few days, officials confirmed. He added that this has caused strategic water supply to drop. Also, water consumption rates have been noticed to be higher than previous years, reported Al-Qabas. The ministry is currently carrying out maintenance operations at water desalination plants periodically, and operations are expected to end by May. Strategic water supply is expected to return to normal rates after all plants are restored.

Following the meeting, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Roudhan Al-Roudhan stated that HH the Amir informed the ministers about the results of the Arab Summit, held in the Libyan city of Sirt from March 26 to 29, noting that the Arab leaders and heads of the participating delegations discussed regional issues and plans for bolstering Arab solidarity. In his briefing at Monday’s session, HH the Amir emphasized the Arab leaders’ agreement on upgrading joint Arab action, with consideration of proposals by some Arab states, and the creation of a five-member committee to be tasked with this mission, whose activities will be reviewed at the next summit. HH the Amir also informed the ministers about the talks he had held with the Arab leaders on the summit’s sidelines, which dealt with means of promoting their countries’ brotherly ties with the State of Kuwait. The ministers hailed HH the Amir’s statement at the summit, in which he reaffirmed his dedication to realizing the aspirations of the Arab nations emphasizing the necessity to exert greater efforts to eliminate any strains that could adversely affect the ties between Arab nations, and to strengthen collective effort to improve the Arab peoples’ standards of living. In his speech at the summit, he also affirmed Kuwait’s solidarity with Saudi Arabia in its defense of its territories, security and citizens and expressed robust determina-

session, held at Bayan Palace, was chaired by HH the Amir and attended by HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, Acting Speaker of the National Assembly (Parliament) Abdullah Al-Roumi and Deputy Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah.

KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah presides over the extraordinary Cabinet session yesterday. —KUNA tion to maintain security, stability and territorial sanctity of Yemen. In his statements during the Sirt summit, HH the Amir called on influential international powers, namely the Middle East Quartet, to shoulder the responsibility for halting hostile Israeli practices against the unarmed Palestinian people, as well as urging an end to Israel’s settlement-building activities and insisting that it be banned from desecrating the sacred city of Jerusalem. He stressed the need to preserve the sacred shrines there and called on the Palestinian factions to

reunite to pave the way for the establishment of a national unity government. On the subject of Iran, in his summit speech HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad affirmed Tehran’s right and that of other regional nations to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, calling on the Islamic Republic of Iran to respond to international bids to reach a political settlement for the sake of regional security and settlement and urging all countries in the region, namely Israel, to respond to these efforts. He also asserted his determination to promote Arab citizens’ skills in all

fields, expressing hope that the Arab states would finance medium and small private enterprises in the Arab world, in line with the initiative proposed by Kuwait at the Arab Summit for and Social Economic Development, hosted by the Gulf nation last year. He further praised Libyan Leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi and his government for their distinguished preparations for the summit. HH the Crown Prince, HH the Prime Minister and the Acting Speaker of the Parliament, along with the ministers present at the extraordinary session,

expressed their deep appreciation of the efforts, exerted by HH the Amir and the other Arab leaders for working for the prosperity of the Arab nation and for cementing Kuwait’s ties with brotherly states for service of common interests. The cabinet also expressed satisfaction at the fruitful results of the summit, which was intended to realize further solidarity among the Arab states for the sake of serving their people’s interests, as well as praising the contents of HH the Amir’s address for tackling Arab issues and supporting joint Arab action. —KUNA

in the news World’s Orphans Day KUWAIT: The Entertainment City, one of the facilities of the Touristic Enterprises Company (TEC), will hold a special ceremony on April 2 to celebrate World Orphans Day. This event is being held as part of the TEC’s commitment to commemorate social events. The event will feature programs specially prepared for orphan children, according to the Anwar Al-Nisf city’s Head of the Operations and Activities Department, Anwar Al-Nisf. He further explained that special programs featuring cartoon characters, as well as competitions for various prizes have been allocated. The Entertainment City will operate as usual during that day from 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The ceremony will take place at 5:00 pm. Al-Nisf also revealed that a special offer for the month of May will be announced soon.

Negative effects of drugs KUWAIT: Delegates at the three-day 24th meeting of the heads of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) anti-drug organizations yesterday called for studying the negative effects of narcotics on young people in the Gulf region. The meeting, which began on Monday, also focused on measures to prevent the spread of this menace via strengthening cooperation amongst GCC states’ security bodies. A Kuwaiti working paper submitted at the meeting focused on 21,113 drug abuse cases amongst prisoners, juve-

niles, and other individuals. The delegates lauded the Kuwait study, saying that it was a step towards countering drug trafficking.

Camping season ends KUWAIT: The Kuwait Municipality and the committee tasked with eliminating encroachments on state property will start removing pitched camps and tents from camping areas. In accordance with the regulations passed by the Municipality, the camping season ends today. Officials have pointed out that some citizens have already complied with the schedule and have voluntarily removed their own camps, reported Al-Rai. ‘Unfortunately, they have left piles of garbage and left-over items behind,” they said.

Dual citizenship rescinded KUWAIT: The Interior Ministry is currently reviewing citizenship applications in order to minimize the occurrence of errors. The Interior Minister, Sheikh Jaber Al-Khaled Al-Sabah had passed a relevant decree on the matter. In a recent incident, the ministry decided to rescind the citizenship of a newly nationalized couple for submitting false information to receive citizenship, reported Al-Rai. Speaking during the passing out ceremony of a new batch of police officers, Al-Khaled stressed that individuals whose mothers are Kuwaiti will be nationalized soon. He also denied that 300 military personnel were naturalized. The minister also urged journalists and reporters to verify any news obtained prior to publishing.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

US ambassador speaks about diplomacy, journalism

Journalists urged to find alternative govt sources By Rawan Khalid KUWAIT: Journalists should find alternative government sources while pursuing stories, opined American Ambassador to Kuwait Deborah K Jones while delivering a lecture on the relationship shared between journalism and diplomacy. She was speaking at an event organized by the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), in coordination with AlQabas newspaper. The lecture was held at Kuwait Journalists Association (KJA) yesterday. The American Ambassador shared her experience with the audience, “When I first joined the Foreign Services in 1982, we shared a very different relationship with the Press. I think that was the legacy of the Vietnam War where relative openness of the war had an impact on US policy. We, as diplomats, are trying to work with other governments and entities to find space within the same world of agreement.”

KUWAIT: American Ambassador Deborah K. Jones seen during her lecture at KJA. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

“I feel very lucky to be working as an ambassador in a country that has a space for freedom. Sometimes we attend an interview with different agenda. Sometimes reporters do not come to find the truth but to pursue an angle through which they have decided to find the truth,” Ambassador Deborah added. She related her experience while working as a Public Affairs Advisor to the Secretary of State. “One thing that distracts me is that it (American press) is good at observing things that are happening. What is missing from the question, is the reason why it happens. “Now I will tell you something educational. What you should be aware of is that we will say things sometimes that guide to different directions we won’t be laying to you, but we won’t tell necessarily all the facts because the diplomatic stew is still

cooking. Perhaps, we have a conversation in the interim phase and it is important.” She recommended journalists to find alternative government sources. A clever government will allow enough room for the situation. Editor-in-Chief of AlQabas Waleed Al-Nasef said, “We had a long relationship between the diplomatic community and journalism in Kuwait.” He went on to say, “Some embassies that don’t enjoy freedom of speech in their countries place some pressure and interference in our affairs as newspapers, for publishing articles that don’t meet their policies. However, US is the most criticized country and yet I have never received a call from the American embassy intervening in our newspaper’s affairs because they appreciate the freedom of press,” he concluded.

Private sector ‘nationalization’ necessary KUWAIT: The Minister of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL), Mohammad Al-Afasi plans to work toward reducing excessive dependence on expatriate manpower. He plans to work toward implementing regulations that will help curb rising national manpower rates in the private sector by working toward creating more job opportunities to meet the increasing number of in the Civil Service applicants Commission’s (CSC) records.

The Minister Dr Mohammad Al-Afasi was speaking following the inauguration of the Kuwaiti Humanitarian and Charity Work Forum. He asserted on the importance of the contributions made by charitable trusts in society. He reiterated their part as a main component in Kuwaiti society, demonstrated by several personalities that have made profound contributions throughout the years. Al-Afasi further asserted on the effi-

ciency and transparency with which charitable organizations function in the country. In addition, Al-Afasi made mention of the new proposed law for cooperative societies that will help reduce the numbers of surplus expatriate manpower, while eliminating the occurrence of financial violations like payment of unlawful allowances, and protect shareholder’s money. The law is currently being discussed by the Parliament.




Wednesday, March 31, 2010

e-technology conference begins

Key role for institutes in building e-based society By Ahmad Saeid KUWAIT: The International Arab Conference on e-Technology began yesterday in the JW Marriot hotel in Kuwait city. The conference, organized by the Arab Open University (AOU), is being attended by delegations from Arab countries, as well as lecturers from Arab and western countries. In his inaugural speech, AOU-Kuwait’s Rector Ismail Taqi said that the conference is being held to encourage academic competition among researchers, especially in the Arab world. “We all know that the academic and scientific community in the Arab world has still to catch up with the enormous technological development that the world is now witnessing,” he said. Taqi added that the conference comes at an important moment in Kuwait’s history, just after the launch of the government’s ambitious development plan. “The implementation of this development plan requires specialists and experts who can actively engage in realizing this vision,” he said, adding that the AOU is

already playing an important role in the Kuwaiti labor market, by providing it with qualified specialists in many fields. Another speaker at yesterday’s event, Ali Al-Sherida, the head of the Central Agency for Information Technology (CAIT), said that CAIT recognizes the importance of educational institutes as a major partner in building an e-based society. “We hope that we can complete each other in the development of e-government,” he said, further voicing hope that cyberspace could also be utilized to better serve

the educational system. “Cyberspace extends beyond the common limits of time and space, which could help to create virtual universities, with virtual teachers, or a real teacher who could teach a student in another part of the world, or a different time zone,” he explained. The conference, which concludes this evening, features a number of lectures and workshops. The event is being held under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad, the Deputy PM for Economic Affairs and Minister of Housing and Development.

in the news KUWAIT: A joint operation by General Department of Drug Control (GDDC) officers and Coastguard officials netted 48 kg of hashish and 4kg of opium, along with the Kuwaiti smuggler who attempted to smuggle them into the country by boat. Brig Sheikh Ahmad Al-Khalifa, the Director General of the GDDC, displayed the confiscated narcotics at the conference of the heads of GCC anti-drugs organizations which concluded yesterday in Kuwait.

37 Filipinos repatriated from Kuwait, Saudi MANILA: Thirty-seven mostly female overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia arrived in Manila yesterday, officials said. In a statement posted on the Web site of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), two groups of workers have been repatriated after their foreign employers issued them with clearance to leave. The first batch of 19 workers from Kuwait arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on board Flight KU411 at about 4:30 p.m. A second batch, this time composed of 18 OFWS from Jeddah, arrrived at 5:30 p.m. on board Flight MH 802.

The repatriated workers either faced deportation due to expired visas, or were runaway workers reported to local authorities by their foreign employers for breaching their employment contracts, said OWWA administrator Carmelita Dimzon. With their status changed to that of overstaying illegals, runaway workers can only fly home after their employers issue exit clearances, the OWWA statement said. It added that workers can be stranded for many weeks or months while negotiations for clearances from their employers is ongoing. According to Dimzon, OWWA books workers on the earliest available flights

home to prevent another round of hearings as overstaying aliens. The Philippine embassies, Philippine Overseas Labor Offices, and OWWA welfare officers assisted the workers in negotiations and accommodated them at workers’ resource centers. Upon their arrival, workers may stay at OWWA’s Halfway House at the OWWA Center in Pasay City while waiting for domestic transportation back to their provinces. The workers will also be provided with medical services and counseling as part of the repatriation service, OWWA explained. Meanwhile, 25 more OFWs from Jeddah will be arriving on April 1. —Agencies

kuwait digest

The guise of national unity


hose who insisted on interpellating the Minister of Information Sheikh Ahmad AlAbdullah Al-Sabah under the pretext of protecting national unity, should be held accountable for using it as an opportunity to exact revenge or personal gain,’ wrote Abdullatif Al-Duaij in Al-Qabas. MPs who voted for the no-confidence motion against the minister are expected to use their ‘commitment to national unity’ to good use in future parliamentary elections. Since enforcing patriotism and

national unity is their main cause, he reasoned. ‘I urge all MPs to allocate electoral seats for members of other tribes during by-elections, instead of monopolizing all the seats for themselves,’ Al-Duaij wrote. This could be the true realization of their national and patriotic demands. In other words, he feels that there is a need to adopt clear stances in the form of public announcement for the condemnation of intolerance and fundamentalism, not only in the form of by-election, but also from MPs who supported them during the

no-confidence motion vote. Those who held Al-Abdullah accountable for failing to protect national unity, should do the same against by-election MPs, he wrote. He urged them to denounce tribal fundamentalism. ‘Furthermore, those who refused to place their confidence in the minister for failing to commit to the law, should not join hands with those MPs who broke the only law that protected national unity from being damaged; which is the law that criminalizes by-elections,’ he concluded.

Health insurance KUWAIT: As part of its move to improve services provision, the government is reportedly considering establishing a health committee to set up public companies to provide health insurance services for Kuwaiti citizens and expatriates. The annual cost of health insurance for each citizen will start at KD 220, increasing gradually according to the nature of the medical services required, said a parliamentary insider. The official explained that the costs for providing health insurance to expatriates remains undecided to date pending the completion of a study into expatriates’ average income in order to tailor the services to this, reported Al-Anba. The proposal has been put forward to avoid putting extra pressure on the Ministry of Health, especially given the spate of complaints about the health services provided by the state. Medical City KUWAIT: A feasibility study was currently being conducted by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to construct an integrated Medical City at Al-Sabah health zone. The Undersecretary of the Health Ministry, Dr Ibrahim Abdul Hadi announced, reported Annahar. Abdul Hadi also said that the ministry had already contacted the Investment Authority to conduct a study that will be supervised by Sabah Health Zone Director, Dr Abdullatif Al-Sahli. No sheep disease KUWAIT: A senior Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR) official has denied media reports of the presence in Kuwait of an infectious disease spread by sheep and goats. PAAAFR Deputy Director Nabila Al-Ali insisted that the reports were simply unfounded rumors, reported Annahar. The official also asserted that the PAAAFR is the only body authorized to issue official statements of any such outbreak. Detectives proposals KUWAIT: Interior minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Khaled Al-Sabah has reportedly rejected the Supreme Judicial Committee’s recommendations on improving the status and working conditions of Central Investigation Department detectives. A senior official told local daily Al-Rai that the recommendations rejected by the minister included relocating the detectives’ offices to new buildings, granting them judicial immunity and allocating a secretary for each detective.

KUWAIT: The fire drill in progress. — Photos by Hanan Al-Saadoun

KFSD holds fire drill By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: The Kuwait Fire Services Directorate (KFSD) yesterday carried out a fire drill on the passenger ferry that sails between mainland Kuwait and Failaka Island. The drill was part of the department’s plan to increase firefighters’ and other emergency workers’ readiness to tackle fires on board vessels at sea. According to the drill scenario, a fire broke out on the ferry after a fuel leak on board, with a number of passengers ‘injured’ and material losses

recorded. Another objective of the drill was to ensure that passenger safety is protected and to assess the coordination between government bodies during accidents at sea, in addition to discovering any limitations in dealing with such incidents so that they can be addressed. Among those participating in the exercise were the director of the Salmiya Sea Fire Center Lieutenant Colonel Abdulmohsen Al-Haider and the director of the Shuwaikh Sea Center Office Captain Hussein Al-Shamali.

KUWAIT: Members of a Harvard University delegation visiting the Kuwait University to discuss matters of mutual interest yesterday. — KUNA


Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Barrak proves govt bargain with names

Lawmakers warn govt on arms deals, widespread corruption By B Izzak KUWAIT: MPs yesterday strongly criticized the government policies in various fields and warned they would grill the defense minister or the prime minister if the government signs what they described as

KUWAIT: Prime Minister of Djibouti, Dileita Mohamed Dileita and an accompanying delegation visiting the show-room at Kuwait Oil Company in Ahmadi governorate yesterday. The Djibouti official was received at the KOC headquarters by Ahmadi governor Dr Ibrahim Al-Duaij Al-Sabah. The Prime Minister was briefed about the history of the company. — Photos by KUNA

Dileita meets premier KUWAIT: His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah on Monday held official talks with the visiting Djiboutian Prime Minister Dileita Mohamed Dileita at the Bayan Palace Diwan. During their meeting, the two nations’ premiers discussed bilateral relations and ways to bolster them at various levels. The talks were attended by Kuwait’s Finance Minister Mustafa Al-Shimali, Commerce and Industry Minister Ahmad Al-Haroun, Minister of Communications and Minister of State for

Iranian website bashes Kuwait over Gulf title KUWAIT: An Iranian news website has continued its attack on Kuwait, with a recent article accusing Kuwait of “forging the name of the Persian Gulf.” An op-ed on the ‘Iran Era’ site criticizes Kuwaiti MPs, claiming that they are aware of the cooperation between the Kuwaiti authorities and the United States government. The article further accuses Kuwait of allowing Saddam Hussein’s army to use the Boubyan Island as a ground base to launch attacks against Iran during the first Gulf War, while providing his regime with a portion of Kuwait’s oil revenue to purchase weapons for the war that were eventually used against Iranian civilians. The attack came in retaliation to columns written by MP Walid Al-Tabtabae in which he condemned the Iranian regime’s practices, reported Al-Watan. The website accused Al-Tabtabae of being uninformed about history, stating, “Iran wasn’t the nation which brought foreign forces into [Kuwait]...Kuwait has also supported Iraq during the eight-year war against Iran.” The author went as far as accusing Kuwait of being an accomplice in the murder of Iranian civilians during that war, and allowing foreign forces that pose a threat to Iran to enter its territory. The news site insisted that calling the Gulf the Persian Gulf doesn’t deny any of the Gulf states their affiliation to it. On this issue, the author issued an invitation to Al-Tabtabae to a debate to discuss the correct title for the waterway using historical documents in order to reach a resolution on the proper name. The author said that they would be willing to recognize the waterway as the Arabian Gulf should they lose the debate, while urging Al-Tabtabae and all others who support its being known as the Arabian Gulf to accept it being called the Persian Gulf if their argument loses the debate.

National Assembly Affairs Mohammad AlBusairi, along with other senior government and diplomatic figures and officials from the Kuwaiti premier’s diwan, the Kuwait Investment Authority and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, with a delegation of senior Djiboutian officials also attending the event. Following the discussions, a trade cooperation agreement was signed by Al-Haroun and Djibouti’s Minister of Trade and Industry Rifki Abdulqader Bamehzmh.

Awadhi later denied the claim. The fiery session came as the Assembly began debating a report by a special committee formed to prepare a response to the Amiri Address delivered at the inauguration of the current term of the national assembly in late October. Many MPs criticized what they called the government failure in various fields, wide-spread corruption, favoritism and ‘suspicious’ arms deals, warning they would grill the prime minister if such deals were signed. Veteran opposition MP Ahmad Al-Saadoun claimed that two senior army officers have resigned in protest over the planned purchase of the Frenchmade Rafale warplanes. He said the information which was revealed by the Reform and Development Bloc is so serious that it can lead to the collapse of the whole government and not

only the defense ministry. Saadoun revealed that a non-Kuwaiti man named only as Bashar has been mediating the Rafale deal and he held talks with the French defense minister. “This deal will not be allowed to proceed. We will oppose it with all our force and use political questioning against the prime minister or the defense minister,” Saadoun said. MP Jamaan Al-Harbash said that the suspicious arms deals issue, including the Rafale jets, was raised about one-and-a-half years ago. The Assembly has assigned the Audit Bureau to investigate three deals: The US transport planes, the ammunition factory and the Rafale planes. Harbash said the Audit Bureau report was sent to the National Assembly and all it says is that it has not got any documents on the deal although “I have many documents and reports on

‘suspicious’ arms deals. On his part, outspoken opposition MP Mussallam Al-Barrak claimed that the government tried to “bribe some MPs in a bid to save the information minister last week,” adding the government offered some services to at least MPs Hassan Jowhar and Aseel Al-Awadhi.

the deals.” The lawmaker claimed that a number of officers who wrote reports against the deals are being prosecuted by the ministry, while the minister has ignored to answer our questions on the deals. He said the ministry is “ignoring us and is headed towards signing the multibillion-dollar Rafale deal and these weapons will be stored and will never be used.” Harbash said the ministry is hiding the information from MPs and the Audit Bureau and is trying to pressure the military establishment to sign “suspicious deals.” MP Faisal Al-Muslim warned that if the Rafale deal is signed today, the grilling will be filed the next day. During the debate, several MPs criticized MP Barrak for accusing a number of MPs and the government of cutting secretive deals in

order to save the information minister against a noconfidence vote. But Barrak immediately held a press conference and claimed that the prime minister has offered MP Jowhar not to renew the terms of the directors of Kuwait University and Applied Education Authority if he voted for the minister. Barrak also said that the government offered MP Awadhi that it would refer the sex segregation law to the Constitutional Court if she sided with the minister. Jowhar voted against the minister while Awadhi abstained. Later, Awadhi denied Barrak’s claims, saying that she was not approached by the government. But Barrak again reiterated his claims, saying he had taken Awadhi’s permission to make the announcement, adding that he suspects Awadhi was under pressure to retract. MP Shuwaib Al-Muwaizri

criticized the government for failing to curb wide-spread corruption. “The only place that is not marred with corruption in Kuwait is the grave,” stressed Muwaizri, who cited the airport expansion contract and several road contracts as examples for corruption. MP Adel Al-Saraawi launched a scathing attack against Sheikh Talal Fahad Al-Sabah for using harsh terminology in criticizing the head of the sports authority. Saraawi said Sheikh Talal is a senior member of the ruling family and that leading figures of the family must stop him. Islamist MP Khaled AlSultan said there can be no development with corruption, adding that of the KD 37 billion of the development plan, only KD 20 billion will be set aside for development while the rest will go to the pockets of certain people. The Assembly will complete the debate today.

Many interpellations malicious: Al-Anjari KUWAIT: MP Ali Al-Rashid has announced a proposal to regularly assess cabinet members on their performance by conducting individual performance reviews every two years, suggesting that this would be a means of holding ministers accountable for their actions. While acknowledging the cabinet’s positive achievement in presenting its development plan, MP Ali AlRashid stressed the importance of monitoring ministers’ performance in implementing the plan and the cabi-

net’s work program, reported AlQabas. Speaking during a seminar on supervision and control held at the Gulf University of Science and Technology (GUST), the MP also condemned the large number of interpellations presented in recent times by fellow parliamentarians against ministers, with six grilling motions submitted in the past few months alone. This damages democracy, he said, being particularly critical of deciding interpellations by majority

vote, “similar to what happened with the information minister’s grillings.” Another MP, Abdurrahman AlAnjari, said in his address during the seminar that a number of recent interpellations had been filed purely for malicious reasons, asserting that most of the grilling motions filed lately had hidden agendas, although they did address problems which need to be dealt with. He also noted, however, that the recent wave of interpellations motions had resulted in the introduction of several positive arti-

cles of legislation, such as the private sector labor law, the currency market legislation and the disability rights law. Al-Anjari also expressed disappointment at the increase of political conflicts in the country, warning that Kuwait had reached “a point of internal erosion” as a result of these and claiming that they had led to various problems, including a failure to provide job opportunities for Kuwaitis or other sources of income other than the oil sector.



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

19,000 tablets confiscated

Man held at border for smuggling narcotics KUWAIT: Customs officers at Abdali border crossing recently thwarted an attempt to smuggle 19,000 narcotic tablets into the country, after discovering them hidden in a lorry driven by a Syrian man. The vehicle was searched after officers became suspicious of the driver’s demeanor, with the officials also recovering $7,000 in cash, which is believed to be forged, reported AlWatan. The drugs and money were confiscated and the driver taken into custody. Street attack A Kuwaiti man in his 50s was recently discovered by passersby lying unconscious in the street near a co-op in the Jahra area bleeding heavily from a neck wound. He was rushed to hospital in a critical condition and police are waiting for his condition to stabilize before questioning him, reported Al-Anba. Crime scene investigators have already removed evidence from the location where he was found.

Call to ensure Arab water security AMMAN: Water experts called here yesterday for more concerted Arab efforts to ensure water security by means of finding permanent solutions and devising a single water strategy. Speaking at a scientific gathering entitled: “Arab Water Security”, organized by Jordanian engineers, the experts stressed the importance of creating Arab integration that could ensure water security and boost the ability of negotiations with those countries controlling water resources. They also called for establishing a joint Arab database for surface and subterranean water and delineating Arab water borders,

especially Jordan’s water frontiers. Moussa Al-Jamaani, a Jordanian water specialist, said the Arab world is required to tackle the topic of water in an earnest and correct way that could safeguard its right to water sources. He noted that there are 13 Arab countries listed as amongst the poorest in the world in view of water resources. Arab countries ought to tap successful and fruitful experiments in the management of water resources, he said, adding that the Arab world, which makes up 15 percent of the world’s total geographical area and five percent of the world’s population, has water

resources of just 0.6 percent of which it uses only 76 percent. For his part, Mohammed Abu Taha, another Jordanian water expert, said that all Arab countries are expected to be below the water poverty line by 2025, given that the Arab world is now suffering water shortage. Around 50 million Arabs suffer from water pollution and lack of sanitation, and annual average per capita water use in Arab countries went down from 3,300 cubic meters in 1990 to 650 cubic meters at present, which is just roughly 800 cubic meters lower than the water poverty line, he added. — KUNA

Woman injured in gas blast A 25-year-old Asian maid sustained second degree burns in a fire at her sponsor’s home in Jabriya when a cooking gas cylinder exploded, reported AlWatan. She was rushed to Mubarak Hospital and firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze before it could spread. Mahboulah suicide A 25-year-old Ethiopian man who worked as a representative for a local firm commit-

ted suicide by hanging himself in the bathroom of his apartment in Mahboulah, reported Al-Watan. His body was removed for autopsy, and an investigation has been opened to determine his motives.

his illegal status, reported AlWatan. He was taken into custody.

Sword attack A Kuwaiti man with a history of mental illness recently attempted to attack his father with a sword while under the influence of alcohol. Police were quickly at the scene, disarming and restraining the attacker before arresting him, reported Al-Watan. After being taken to the police station, he was transferred to the psychiatric hospital.

Phone theft A Kuwaiti man recently went to Ferdous police station with his Indian maid, accusing her of stealing three valuable cell phones from his bedroom while he was outside the house. On being questioned about the incident, the maid admitted to taking the phones, but insisted that she believed her sponsor did not want them and was going to dispose of them, reported Al-Watan. She was taken into in custody pending further charges.

Illegal immigrant caught Jahra police recently arrested an Iranian man after discovering that he had entered Kuwait illegally two years ago from a neighboring country. The man was arrested after police stopped him in a street in the area and asked to see his ID, at which point he admitted

Forgers in custody Ahmadi police have arrested three Asian workers at Salmi border crossing who were caught collecting used government stamps to resell them. The men were arrested redhanded in a police sting operation, with 500 of the used stamps found in their posses-

sion, reported Al-Rai. They confessed to removing the stamps from archived documents and reselling them at low prices after cleaning them. All three are in custody awaiting trial. Bootleggers busted Three Asian men were arrested in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh in possession of 32 bottles of homemade liquor. The men were in a car stopped at a checkpoint in the area, reported Al-Seyasa, with the bottles discovered during a search of the vehicle. All were referred to the relevant authorities. Building site fall An Asian construction worker in his 30s sustained multiple injuries when he fell from a high floor of a building under construction in AlMergab, reported Al-Seyasa. The man was rushed to Mubarak Hospital, with workmates telling police that the accident took place when the man lost his balance.

Kuwait to chair GCC Girl scouts

KUWAIT: Members of the Kuwait Girl Scouts Association pose for a group photograph. — KUNA

KUWAIT: GCC countries have recently elected Kuwait for chairmanship of the GCC Girl Scouts Association in recognition of its paramount role of backing the female guides’ activities at the regional level. Hind Al-Houli, Chairwoman of the Kuwait Girl Guides Association, said in a statement yesterday that Kuwait won elections for the senior post at the 15th meeting of the GCC association, held in Bahrain. Kuwait was actually elected uncontested in the voting session, she explained. Al-Houli, who became the chairperson of the association, expressed gratitude to its members for demonstrating confidence in Kuwait. She named Leila Al-Jimaz, of Kuwait, as treasurer of the association and Loulwa Al-Shatii, also a fellow national, as the head of the training and programs committee. It was the third time that Kuwait was elected to chair the GCC association. — KUNA

Minister orders housing study KUWAIT: Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister of Housing and Development Affairs, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad has ordered that the Authority for Housing Welfare conduct a study into the best way of implementing the recent recommendations regarding housing applications submitted by families’ youngest sons. The study is intended to help address the problems that youngest sons face in finding accommodation after marriage, with the current legislation not including any clause to provide them with housing, reported Al-Qabas. The PAHW has emphasized its commitment to finding a solution to this problem in order to achieve equality among all family members and create a more equitable situation.

Kuwait thanks Bahrain for nationals’ care MANAMA: The Kuwaiti Ambassador to Bahrain expressed gratitude to the local authorities for devoting much care to Kuwaiti nationals residing or visiting the kingdom. Sheikh Azzam Mubarak AlSabah, in a press release issued yesterday, praised the continuous contacts and coordination with the Kuwaiti diplomatic mission by the Bahraini Interior Ministry, namely the Minister, Sheikh Rashed Bin Abdullah Bin Khalifa. The ambassador thanked the minister for the full facilities given to the Kuwaiti students, businessmen and tourists. — KUNA

Abdul Ilah Mohammad Rafi Morafie, a prominent Kuwaiti businessman, is pictured receiving the award of Tamgha-I-Imtiaz from the President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari on March 23, the National Day of Pakistan. This award was presented to him for rendering invaluable services to Pakistan. The Kuwait Times yesterday erroneously published another picture of the award ceremony in which Abdul Fateh Morafie, another prominent Kuwaiti businessman, was pictured receiving the Tamgha-I-Imtiaz award and wrongly identified as Abdul Ilah Mohammad Rafi Morafie. We regret this error.

Maldives seeks more Kuwaiti support NEW DELHI: Maldivian President Mohammad Nasheed said yesterday that his country was looking forward to Kuwaiti contributions in Maldives’ health, housing and education domains. Maldives’ relations with Kuwait which is a pioneer in supporting Nasheed’s country are deeply-rooted, the president said during a meeting with Kuwaiti Ambassador Yakoub Al-Atiqi

who was representing Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Dr Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem AlSabah at “Maldives Donor Conference 2010.” Kuwaiti contributions of 40 years were crowned by the execution of Male’s airport, Al-Atiqi qouted Nasheed as saying. Meanwhile, Al-Atiqi said that keen-

ness of the president in inviting Kuwaiti ambassador to the conference reflected bilateral relations which were characterized by mutual respect. Al-Atiqi who conveyed the greetings of the Kuwaiti leadership expressed to Nasheed the readiness of Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) to execute projects set by the Maldivian government. — KUNA

Al-Azhar keen on cooperation with Kuwait CAIRO: Al-Azhar Chief Cleric Dr Ahmed Al-Tayeb asserted here yesterday that Al-Azhar is keen, with all its various institutions, on furthering cooperation with the State of Kuwait in various fields, especially the scientific, cultural and religious ones. Al-Tayeb made this remark in a statement following a meeting he held at Al-Azhar headquarters here with Kuwait’s ambassador to Cairo Dr. Rashid Al-Hamad who presented his congratulation on Al-Tayeb’s taking over AlAzhar’s presidency in succession of late Dr Muhammed Sayed Tantawi. During the meeting, AlTayeb spoke highly of the visit paid by Al-Hamad, noting that it is a continuation of several visits among officials from the two brotherly countries for strengthening ties between the State of Kuwait and Egypt, particularly with Al-Azhar. He also stressed the significance of such meetings in enriching the historic rela-

CAIRO: Al-Azhar Chief Cleric Dr Ahmed Al-Tayeb and Kuwait’s ambassador to Cairo Dr. Rashid Al-Hamad. — KUNA tions between the two countries at all levels, expressing his hope for activating the ties between the State of Kuwait and the presidency of Al-

Azhar. On his part, Al-Hamad congratulated Al-Tayeb on the new post and asserted the same meaning on the bilateral

cooperation, hailing the role played by Al-Azhar university as one of major scientific institutions that is subsidiary of AlAzhar.— KUNA


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kidnapped diplomat freed Iran blames West for instability in the region TEHRAN: Iran said yesterday that its intelligence agents had rescued an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Pakistan in 2008 and returned him to the Islamic Republic. Unidentified gunmen kidnapped Heshmatollah Attarzadeh Niyaki, the commercial attache at Iran’s consulate in Peshawar, on Nov 13, 2008 on his way to the consulate from his home, shooting dead a policeman guarding him. “Iran’s intelligence agents freed our kidnapped diplomat in a sophisticated operation,” Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi told state television. “He has safely returned to Iran.” Moslehi gave no further information on the operation, and Abbas Ali Abdullahi, head of the Iranian consulate in Peshawar, told Reuters he had “no information about where he was recovered”. Suspicion for the kidnapping fell on the Taleban and affiliated Sunni Muslim militant groups such as Al-Qaeda, who hate Shi’ite Muslims and predominantly Shi’ite Iran almost as much as they hate the West. But criminal gangs, which at times use religion as a cover, are also active in the area. Iran condemned the kidnapping at the time as a “terrorist act”. Peshawar, 130 km northwest of Islamabad, became a den of spies and jihadis in the 1980s when the United States and Saudi Arabia covertly funded an Islamist guerrilla war to expel

Soviet forces from Afghanistan. A senior Afghan diplomat was kidnapped in the city weeks before Niyaki was abducted. He is still missing. US diplomats have also been attacked in the city. Pakistan and Iran have been trying to improve relations recently as neighbours and regional players, preparing for the US-led alliance to start withdrawing its troops in 2011. Iran’s arrest of the leader of the Sunni rebel group Jundollah, with possible help from Pakistan, was the latest sign of their new cooperation. Abdolmalek Rigi was arrested in February in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan. Iran has linked Jundollah (God’s soldiers) to the Sunni Islamist Al-Qaeda network, accusing Pakistan, Britain and the United States of backing the rebel group to destabilise the country, a charge all three deny. Moslehi said the presence of Western powers had destabilised the region. “The presence of American, Israeli and European intelligence services in the area ... had no result but insecurity in the region,” Moslehi said. Jundollah, which accuses the Iranian government of discrimination against Sunnis, said it was behind an Oct 18 attack, the deadliest in Iran since the 1980s, that killed more than 40 Iranians, including 15 elite Revolutionary Guards. — Reuters

Somalis protest against Al-Qaeda linked militia A rare demonstration against Al-Shabab MOGADISHU: Hundreds of women and children marched through Somalia’s capital to protest the destruction of tombs of Somali clerics, some a century old, by Al-Qaedalinked militants wielding sledgehammers and pickaxes. It was a rare demonstration against Al-Shabab in a city mainly controlled by the extremist group. Protesters on Monday chanted “Down with Al-Shabab,” as dozens of armed government troops kept watch and occasionally fired shots into the air. The hardline al-Shabab militants, who control much of central and southern Somalia, have been targeting tombs of moderate Sufis, destroying dozens of burial places and attacking historic monuments and churches in the past couple of years. AlShabab has prohibited the decoration of tombs and does not want them to be idolized. “They have been worshipping the remains of the dead bodies in tombs and that is why we want to eradicate them, because there is nothing to worship or to ask help from but Allah,” said Ali Mohamed Husein, the head of Al-Shabab in Mogadishu. Al-Shabab recently began targeting tombs in the capital, sparking the ire of Mogadishu residents who were shocked when graves of venerated

clerics were dug up during the last week. “Al-Shabab’s wicked actions are not acceptable. We call for a holy war against them,” said Sheik Somow of the moderate Islamist group Ahlu Sunna Waljama, which recently signed a power-sharing deal with the Somali government. “We never worship tombs but only consecrate the dead body of our religious fathers and teachers. They are those who spread the religion peacefully but this radical group has another agenda from terrorism-based ideologies.” Al-Shabab espouses a strict interpretation of Islam, and has carried out public executions and amputations. Many Somalis chafe at Al-Shabab’s actions and orders because most observe a relatively moderate form of Islam that allows the veneration of respected saints. Al-Shabab’s targeting of tombs echoes attacks carried out by Taleban militants on religious symbols in Afghanistan that were unrelated to Islam. Militants in spring 2001 destroyed two large Buddha statues carved into the cliffs of Bamiyan, raising an outcry around the world. The Somali militants are using hoes, shovels and pickaxes to destroy the tombs. For bigger structures - ones that look

like small buildings with verses of the Quran written on their walls - the rebels tie a chain around the tomb and drag it with a pickup truck. The demonstrators on Monday also protested the influx of foreign fighters to Somalia, said Mohyadin Hassan Afrah, who heads Mogadishu’s civil society umbrella group that helped organize the march. Foreign fighters, coming primarily from Pakistan, Yemen and North Africa, have flocked to Somalia to back the country’s myriad Islamic groups since 2006. Monday’s protest was not the first against AlShabab. Late last year, about 100 students rallied after a suicide bomber attacked a graduation ceremony in the capital that killed more than 20 people, including four government ministers, doctors, teachers and students. Somalia has been mired in anarchy since 1991, when warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other to plunge the country into nearly two decades of seemingly endless chaos. Officials of Somalia’s weak government have been saying for months that government troops will soon carry out an offensive against al-Shabab in an effort to expand the government’s area of control. — AP


Palestinian PM ploughs ahead with future state QARAWAT BANI HASSAN: Prime Minister Salam Fayyad got behind a horse-drawn plough in the West Bank yesterday and drilled a furrow in protest against Israeli control of Palestinian land. Wearing a T-shirt and a hat, the former World Bank economist put his foot to the rusty plough as Jewish settlers watched from a hilltop outpost nearby. Fayyad was marking Land Day, the annual commemoration of protests in 1976 against Israel’s appropriation of Arab-owned land in the Galilee. It is marked in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and in Arab towns inside Israel. The field he ploughed lies in a zone which falls under full Israeli control, classified as “Area C” according to the Palestinian-Israeli interim peace agreement. As part of his plan to build the institutions of a Palestinian state by 2011, Fayyad has said that such territory, which makes up 60 percent of the West Bank-would be the “theatre of our operations”. “This is a symbol of our complete rejection of settlers’ plans and of our people’s determination to hold onto and care for their land,” he said. “Our people are deeply rooted here.” Fayyad is a frequent visitor to “Area C”, where Jewish settlements are planted among the towns and villages of the West Bank’s 2.5 million Palestinians. PAVING DIRT ROADS Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refuses to relaunch peace talks that have been suspended for 15 months until Israel orders a total freeze on settlement building. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a partial freeze in November for a 10-month period.

Palestinians, Arabs mark ‘Land Day’

GAZA: Palestinian youths participate in a Land Day protest near the Nahal Oz crossing east of Gaza City yesterday. —AP The village of Qarawat Bani Hassan is flanked by Jewish settlements, considered illegal in international law. Israel disputes this. Settlers from one outpost recently starting marking out land in what villagers said was a clear prelude to its seizure. Fayyad came overland in a four-wheel-drive vehicle on a dirt road. He promised villagers it would be paved, a promise he has kept in a number of the more remote West Bank villages. Israel says Fayyad’s two-year plan to build up the institutions

and infrastructure of a viable state may be a precursor to an attempt to declare independence unilaterally. Fayyad said he wanted to create “our version of facts on the ground, positive facts on the ground, consistent with our people’s right to self determination on their own land”. “We are more determined than ever to get this done within the time that we have identified,” he added referring to his target date of mid-2011. Western-backed Abbas recently backed away from a proposal to resume indirect peace talks with

Israel, with American mediation, after the Jewish state announced plans to extend settlements in East Jerusalem, which it annexed in 1967. The annexation has never won international recognition. Palestinians want to establish their state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. But Gaza has been ruled since 2007 by the Islamist group Hamas, which rejects any treaty recognising Israel and opposes Abbas and Fayyad. Gazans marked Land Day with protests close to the Israeli border.

Israeli troops fired to disperse them and Palestinian medics reported one gunshot wound. Fayyad noted that nearly 20 years of interim peace agreement had brought a two-state solution no closer. “We have to ask ourselves, each one of us: What is it I am going to do today to move this project (state building) forward, an inch, a step,” he said. One day, he said, “we will be able to enjoy that which is an absolute right for all peoples around the world: to live in freedom and dignity in a country of our own.” — Reuters



Blair weighs into election campaign Ex-PM makes a comeback to help Labour face poll SEDGEFIELD: Tony Blair entered Britain’s close-fought election campaign yesterday, seeking to work his charm on voters tempted to desert the ruling Labour Party after 13 years. The former prime minister led Labour to three electoral victories over the Conservatives from 1997. But after a decade as prime minister, he resigned in mid-term in 2007 to make way for

Gordon Brown. Brown is seeking to win an unprecedented fourth successive Labour term in office in an election expected on May 6. Drafting in Blair’s help is a risky strategy for Labour. The ex-prime minister is a charismatic campaigner, but many voters are still angry with him for leading Britain into war in Iraq.

LONDON: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair addresses Labour party members at the Trimdon Labour Club in Sedgefield yesterday. — AP

Chechen separatism turns into ‘holy war’ NAZRAN: Dozens of armed guards in battle fatigues stand on the airport tarmac, providing a stern welcome to travellers arriving in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Ingushetia. The presence of the guards is only the most obvious sign that the Islamic insurgency-once confined to neighbouring war-scarred Chechnya-has now spilled across the North Caucasus. Monday’s suicide bombings in Moscow that killed 39 at underground metro stations raised alarm that the rebellion in the overwhelmingly Muslim North Caucasus has now reached into Russia’s heartland. The Chechen insurgency started in the 1990s after the break-up of the Soviet Union, with the rebels seeking independence for the mountainous region fighting two wars against Moscow. But the insurgency in Chechnya has now broadened to the other regions of the Caucasus and has turned from a separatist fight to one of radical Islam, whose goals, propaganda and methods have begun to resemble those of the global jihad movement. “I don’t like this word Chechen. They’re not anymore. It’s Caucasian or Islamic,” said Alexei Malashenko, an expert with the Moscow-based Carnegie Centre. Experts say this radicalization was masterminded by Russia’s most-wanted rebel-bearded, Chechen-born fighter Doku Umarov, who became head of the guerrilla

movement in June 2006. The attacks in Moscow follows escalating violence across the North Caucasus in recent months and Umarov’s chilling vow on Islamist websites in February to strike at the Russia heartland: “The war is coming to their cities.” In October 2007, the reclusive fighter styled himself as head of the “Caucasus Emirate”, which unites ragtag rebel groups in a drive to establish Islamic Sharia rule over the region. “It is a very clear transformation from an ethnic separatist group to a religious one,” Akhmed Yarlykapov, a Dagestani sociologist in the Russian Academy of Sciences said. “Today, there are only religious fighters in the North Caucasus. They are responsible for all these terror acts. If before they acted under the banner of a ‘Free Chechnya’, today they are religious radicals.” While local Muslim leaders clash with the rebel groups, both welcome a certain Islamic revival brought on by government patronage for new mosques and the Muslim Haj after years of Soviet suppression. In Nazran, the main city of Ingushetia, residents acknowledge more students are going to the mosques while young women increasingly choose long skirts and headscarves. “It’s hard to say why the Islamization has gained momentum, but for the rebels it

was a way to extend their fight to other territories,” said Timur Akiyev, the local director for rights group Memorial. “The nationalist idea of independent Chechnya could not do that. They needed a binding ideology, which could only be Islam.” But the corruption, clan rivalry and joblessness that helped fuel a religious revival has also pushed young men, angry at the authorities, to turn to unofficial sharia courts like those headed by charismatic rebel Anzor Astemirov, who was killed last week by federal forces. Such courts levy a religious tax, or zakat, on rich Muslim businessmen nationwide, which is the insurgency’s principal funding, Yarlykapov said. Those who join the rebels “believe that for them the only way to achieve justice, economic and social success, and escape state pressure is in the creation of an independent Islamic state,” Akiyev said. A number of websites used as outlets by the Caucasus Emirate show videos of future suicide bombers, unheard of in the region five years ago. They feature war footage spliced with Arabic chants and local men, framed by flags of the Caucasus regions, praying ahead of suicide missions. “Among the young these slogans are very popular. Their swift spread in the North Caucasus is dangerous,” Yarlykapov said. — AFP

Labour is trailing the Conservatives in the opinion polls although the gap has narrowed since January. Most polls suggest the result could be a “hung parliament” in which no party has an overall majority. This could allow Brown to stay in power. Returning to the constituency of Sedgefield in northeastern England which he represented in parliament for 24 years, Blair praised Brown’s handling of the economic crisis, hailing his “experience, judgment and boldness”. “It required leadership and Gordon Brown supplied it,” Blair told enthusiastic party activists at the local Labour Club. Blair and Brown had a uniquely close but fraught partnership at the top of British politics for a decade. Brown was a powerful finance minister during Blair’s 10 years at the helm, and it was an open secret that Blair had promised Brown he would hand over the reins at some point. This caused unending tension at the heart of government. ‘ELECTORAL MAGIC’? Brown, who has had a bumpy ride as prime minister, is now playing up his record on economic management, arguing that he took bold decisions during the 2008 credit crunch that averted a total collapse of the financial sector and the economy. The Conservatives blame Brown for Britain’s huge deficit and for leading it into recession. Credited with broadening Labour’s appeal beyond its traditional left-wing working class supporters, Blair is widely seen as a more accomplished public performer than Brown. But Blair was deeply unpopular by the time he left office because of his decision to join the United States in invading Iraq based on the supposed threat from Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, which turned out not to exist. As his car pulled up outside the Labour Club in Sedgefield, Blair was met by a small crowd of protesters brandishing placards that read “Bliar, War Criminal”. Despite bitter memories of Iraq, Andrew Hawkins of pollsters ComRes said deploying Blair was a risk worth taking for Labour. “Tony Blair had a little bit of electoral magic that Brown could do with trying to conjure up again,” he said. — Reuters

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Regional vote boosts Berlusconi and allies ROME: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi overcame record absention in regional elections to emerge victorious, though his Northern League allies were the real winners, with the anti-immigrant party taking two regions. The ruling conservative coalition won six of the 13 regions up for grabs in the March 28-29 ballot, wresting four from the opposition including Lazio where the capital Rome lies. The centre left held onto seven of the 11 regions it controlled. Following are some questions and answers about the vote, in which 41 million people were eligible to cast their ballot: HOW IS IT A VICTORY? His People of Freedom (PDL) doubled its tally to four regions while his Northern League coalition allies took two regions, having previously held none. The PDL managed to snatch Lazio from the main opposition Democratic Party in a close race, despite bungling by Berlusconi’s side which failed to register in time its candidate list for Rome, one of the provinces that make up the region. But by other measures it was not a strong showing for the prime minister, whose campaign was undermined by a corruption scandal involving a senior official and by the mess-up which excluded his party’s list from running in Rome. In pure percentage terms the PDL took 26.7 percent of votes cast, just ahead of the Democratic Party’s 25.9 percent. That compares very poorly to the ruling party’s 37.4 percent in the national elections in 2008, when the PD took 33.2 percent. WILL NORTHERN LEAGUE GET MORE POWER IN THE RULING COALITION?

The anti-immigrant, pro-autonomy League has gone from strength to strength. It took 9.5 percent in the 2008 general election, 11.3 percent in the 2009 European elections and 12.7 percent of the vote in this regional ballot. It took the Veneto region from its PDL coalition ally and Piedmont from the left. League leader Umberto Bossi now has ambitions to take the mayorship of Milan, the business capital, away from Berlusconi’s party as well when it comes up for election in 2011, so the League starts looking more like a rival than an ally. The League will now push its ambitions for fiscal federalism meaning the rich north spends less tax income bankrolling the poor south-much more aggressively, according to Bossi. WHO SUFFERED MOST FROM THE HIGH ABSTENTION RATE? Pollsters had predicted that low turnout would punish the incumbent centre-right government more than the opposition. Berlusconi campaigned energetically to avoid a repeat of the French regional vote this month, when high abstention punished President Nicolas Sarkozy. In the event abstention was much higher than expected, with turnout of just 64.2 percent versus about 72 percent in the last regional vote five years ago. But analysts said it appeared to have hurt all parties equally, rather than just

Berlusconi. While this bears out the theory that Italians were put off voting by the campaign’s focus on political bickering rather than serious problems like unemployment and the recession, they did not punish the sitting government the way the French did. WILL BERLUSCONI MAKE ANY CABINET CHANGES AFTER VOTE? Berlusconi, who is almost two years into a third term due to end in 2013, had said before the vote that he had no plans for big changes in general no matter what the outcome. Crucially his Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti enjoys strong backing from the Northern League, so should be secure despite his arguments with cabinet colleagues who wanted more cash available for economic stimulus measures. The prime minister will likely have to replace Agriculture Minister Luca Zaia, from the Northern League, who won the governorship of Veneto region. WILL THERE BE CHANGES IN ECONOMIC POLICY? Tremonti looks stronger as economy minister, meaning his strict controls on government spending, credited with saving the country from the kind of sharp deterioration in fiscal position of other European countries in the recession, will continue. Some analysts see the regional election result as rewarding the Berlusconi government for resisting calls to spend Italy’s way out of recession, though its high public debt and deficit really constituted a fiscal straitjacket for Italy anyway. WHAT’S NEXT ON POLITICAL LANDSCAPE FOR ITALY? Three years without elections, which Tremonti has called an unprecedented opportunity for Italy to put its house in order. The question of who will succeed Berlusconi as leader of the centre-right could dominate debate and his most likely heir, the conservative speaker of the lower house Gianfranco Fini, got a boost when his candidate for governor of Lazio just beat a much better-known opponent to take the region from the left. However the strong showing by the League bodes ill for Fini, whose power base is in southern Italy. WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE THE OPPOSITION? Dogged by infighting and the lack of a clear strategy to take on Berlusconi, the centre-left failed to capitalise on the prime minister’s personal and legal woes. The Democratic Party, testing its fourth leader in two years, managed to stave off total defeat by holding on to seven regions, but the Northern League made big gains even in its traditional, “red” heartland in the centre. The PD is also challenged on the left by the fiercely anti-Berlusconi Italy of Values party, led by former anti-graft magistrate Antonio Di Pietro, which polled 7 percent. — Reuters

Online Muslim sex shop launched in Netherlands THE HAGUE: Candid but demure, an online sex shop for Muslims has been launched in the Netherlands to tap into a demand for erotica that does not offend Sharia law. “We had about 70,000 hits in the first four days,” founder Abdelaziz Aouragh said of his site that went online last week and claims to be the world’s first erotic webshop for Muslims. The 29-year-old Dutch national said it targets

married Muslim couples as an alternative to sites “that focus on pornography and the extravagant side of erotica”things forbidden in Islam. The home page of El Asira, which means “Society” in Arabic, is a sober black and grey street with a line down the center, inviting women to enter on the left and men on the right. Once inside, clients can browse in Dutch, Arabic or English through more than a dozen products, mainly massage oils, lubricants and tablets that claim to act as aphrodisiacs. All ingredients are halal, or “permissible under Islam”, said Aouragh, and conspicuously absent are dildos, vibrators and any type of pornography. “Most of the other products out there have pictures of naked people or foul languageit was very difficult to find ones that I could use in my business,” he said. Instead, the website shows only photos of boxes, tablets, tubes and bottles-mainly in pink or blue with the brand’s logo, a black flame. “We have chosen a respectful approach,” it says, proclaiming itself “a novelty in the Islamic world”. In one sense, it is also a very Dutch product-like Aouragh himself. Of Moroccan parentage, he was born and raised in Amsterdam and remains a practicing Muslim while embracing typically Dutch tolerance and search for consensus. He says he, like many, used to think Islam looked upon sexuality as taboo until his friend-turned business partner Stefan Delsink prompted him to look further. “There is a very stereotypical idea both inside and outside the community on Muslim sexuality,” he said. So Aouragh, who is married, set about consulting Islamic religious leaders and scholars to see what his business venture could sell and to whom. “I have learnt a lot about what Islam says about sexuality, about how important it is to

have a healthy sex life,” he said. Muslim clerics like Dutch Imam Abdul Jabbar see no harm in Aouragh’s site. “As long as he doesn’t sell sex toys or those sorts of things there is no problem,” he said, adding: the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) gave lots of advice about sex in marriage and “there need not be any shame.” Aouragh, who also works for a firm that provides assistance to disabled people in public places like airports, contends his website has another goal, amidst tension over Muslims and Muslim immigrants in Europe. In the Netherlands-where Muslims account for five percent of the 16.5 million population-strains have continued since filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered in 2004 by an Islamic extremist upset over a documentary he made on Muslim women. Today, support is growing for the far-right, anti-Islamic Party for Freedom (PVV), which some polls suggest is the country’s most popular formation. Its leader Geert Wilders wants to ban the Koran, which he likens to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, and wants a tax on wearing head scarves. “Everybody is talking about Islam in a negative way,” said Aouragh. “I am trying to get something positive out of the dark.” “Muslims also have to deal with stereotypical prejudices by some non-Muslims on the topic of sexuality within the Islam,” he said. “We want to share with other Muslims in a positive way our contribution to a broader view of sexuality and eroticism within the Muslim community,” the website says, “for Muslims themselves, as for others.” Not all want to enter the debate. Leyla Cakir, chairwoman of the Dutch Muslim women’s organisation Al Nisa said: “This is not a topic with which we choose to involve ourselves”. — AFP


Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Home deliveries grow with attacks in wealthy Mexico city MONTERREY: In Mexico’s wealthy northern city of Monterrey, fears of being caught in a shootout or at a road block set up by drug gangs have given a boost to home deliveries of food and medicine. “Now it’s better not to go out when it’s dark because that’s when the shooting starts,” said 53year-old Dario Guzman, who works at a home appliances factory. In Monterrey, the capital of the northern state of Nuevo Leon and an economic hub, suspected drug gang members have set up road blocks on more than 30 roads this month alone. Meanwhile, clashes between suspected drug gang hitmen and soldiers

have spread in and around the city, and two students from the prestigious Tecnologico de Monterrey university were killed when a shootout spilled over onto their campus. In another clash, soldiers last Thursday shot dead six suspected drug hitmen in a rural community some 100 kilometers outside Monterrey. Guzman said his family had now stopped regular outings to traditional Mexican taco and tortilla restaurants. “It’s better to order in,” said Guzman, who is one of a growing number of the northeastern city’s roughly four million inhabitants who have started to order food, household products and medicines online.

The increase in home deliveries has surprised even local business owners. “The first statistics were a surprise. We’re talking about up to 40 percent more from Friday to Monday (March 22) compared with other weekends,” said Ernesto Luna, president of the Chamber of Commerce for small businesses. Most of the requests were received by drug stores and restaurants, according to Luna, whose association includes some 10,000 businesses. “Now we’re only using the time (in the street) for essential things: working or making payments. But shopping, including for food, can all be done from home.” Nuevo Leon state security officials

blame the rising violence on fighting between formerly allied drug gangs-the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel. Recent events have only served to increase the level of intimidation felt by local residents. On March 19, as soldiers detained suspects around the state, armed groups took to the streets of Monterrey and hijacked vehicles, including ambulances, and used them to block roads. Nuevo Leon is one of six Mexican northern border states that have bourne the brunt of a wave of suspected drug violence which has left more than 15,000 dead in the past three years. Further west, attacks on

US consulate-linked employees in Mexico’s most violent city, Ciudad Juarez, galvanized US attention on the issue before a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and top US envoys to Mexico last week. During the one-day visit, Clinton once again acknowledged the need for the United States to join Mexico in efforts to battle drug trafficking and associated violence and recognized the role played by US drug appetites and the flow of weapons from north to south. But amid continuing violence and delays in the release of US funds to help Mexico’s drive against its drug gangs, inhabitants of the region around

Monterrey are hunkering down for now, with vehicle traffic dropping noticeably when night falls. The increase in home deliveries has been particularly marked in southern areas of the city, near the campus of the Tecnologico de Monterrey, said Hernan Pazos, the head of a home delivery website which saw sales jump by one third last weekend. The university surroundings appeared unusually quiet. “There’s a cafe and some restaurants, but these days they’ve been empty,” said 19-year-old international relations student Nayhelli Garcia. — AFP

US man pleads guilty in plot to kill Obama

VENTURA: Mexican tar heroin seized in different raid operations is seen during a news conference by the County of Ventura District Attorney’s officials at the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Jail Annex Building, in Ventura, Calif. Ventura County officials say the arrest of a man dubbed Mexico’s ‘King of Heroin’ has removed a half-million doses of the drug from California streets. — AP

Hitmen kill 10 youths in Mexico’s drug-hit north Man arrested for deaths of American consulate workers MEXICO CITY: Suspected drug hitmen killed a carload of children and teenagers in northern Mexico in the latest of a rash of attacks on minors that have angered the public as drug gang violence spins out of control. Ten youngsters aged from eight to 21 died on Sunday when gunmen opened fire and lobbed explosives at their pick-up truck after it sped through an improvised roadblock on an isolated highway in Durango state, in Mexico’s “Golden Triangle” drug-producing region, the attorney general’s office in Durango said. Mexico’s drug cartels are growing ever more brazen, and a spate of brutal attacks in recent weeks, including the murder of two Americans, are worrying Mexicans along with tourists, foreign investors and the United States, which sent a high-level delegation to Mexico City last week. Mexican soldiers on Monday captured a suspect linked to the fatal shooting this

month of an American employee of the US consulate in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, her US husband and the Mexican husband of a fellow consulate worker. Interior Minister Fernando Gomez Mont said on Monday the rampant violence only showed the importance of keeping up the pressure with the government’s army-led assault on drug traffickers. He waved off the idea of backing down. “If some people think that events like those of the weekend where criminals slay youngsters in this cowardly way, if faced with these events Mexico is going to back off, they are mistaken,” Gomez Mont told a news conference. Nearly 19,000 people have been killed since President Felipe Calderon took office in late 2006 and deployed tens of thousands of troops to drug hot spots across the country, sparking new turf wars between rival cartels. But the conservative president’s anti-

drugs strategy has been criticized following several brutal attacks on youths in the violent region along the US-Mexico border. In January, suspected drug cartel gunmen burst into a high school birthday party in the border city of Ciudad Juarez and killed 15 people, mostly minors, sparking angry protests from relatives and other city residents sick of daily violence. Several of Sunday’s victims were related. Gomez Mont said drug violence in Durango state was being driven by a violent turf war between the local Sinaloa alliance and the Zetas, the former armed wing of the rival Gulf cartel that is now trying to run its own smuggling operation. Criminal gangs are known to sometimes set up militarystyle roadblocks to snag targets, and the northern business city of Monterrey was hit this month by a series of road barricades erected by armed men believed to be linked to drug gangs. — Reuters

NYC activates security plan US govt sends after Moscow terror attacks blunt message

NEW YORK: New York police doubled patrols of the subway system and sent a battery of police cars to transit hubs as a precaution on Monday following the Moscow subway bombings. In Washington, police sent bomb-sniffing dogs to random Metro stations and rail yards as part of heightened security associated with the Moscow attacks, in which two female suicide bombers killed at least 38 people on packed metro trains during rush hour on Monday. Though the Moscow bombings appear related to the conflict in the North Caucasus and New York’s greatest threat is seen as coming from AlQaeda, police enacted the same security detail that they roll out after any attack elsewhere in the world. This time it closely follows one man’s admission he was plotting a suicide bombing of New York subways with Al-Qaeda training. “We don’t have any information suggesting that it’s related (to Al-Qaeda) but as a precaution we are increasing coverage,” police spokesman and Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said. In Washington, President Barack Obama said US security officials regularly focus on issues of security on mass transit with the goal of identifying individuals who want to cause harm before they managed to carry out any attacks. “It is obviously a significant concern,” Obama said in an interview with NBC News. “It’s not restricted to subways. The same thing can happen in a bus terminal and if you’ve got somebody who is determined to kill themselves and kill other people with them. That is always a challenge for any government.” The city’s fleet of “critical response vehicles” that guard sensitive

locations were sent to mass transit hubs such as Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station, Browne said. Officers patrolling the subways overnight were kept on duty as the morning shift reported, practically doubling the number of officers. The city may also send a detective to Moscow, as it often does following similar attacks around the world, Browne said. The New York Police Department has detectives in 11 foreign cities working to prevent foreign extremists from hitting New York, which has been attacked twice-on Sept 11, 2001, and in a 1993 truck bombing of the World Trade Center. The New York subway system security came under intense scrutiny after the transit attacks on Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005. On Feb 22, Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty to plotting a suicide bomb attack on New York City subways with AlQaeda training for what would have been the worst attack on the United States since 2001. “Whether they are related or not our standard operating procedure is to take precautions until more is known,” Browne said. Coincidentally on Monday, Washington’s Metro was holding a planned drill simulating a bus explosion in the parking lot of a sports stadium. That coincided with the sweeps of train stations, the locations of which were not being announced in advance. “When we opened the Metro system this morning, we did so with heightened security,” Metro Transit Police Acting Chief Jeri Lee said in a statement. “We remain an open system and we do what we can to be as secure as possible.” — Reuters

to insurers WASHINGTON: The Obama administration had a blunt message for health insurers - the new healthcare law requires that they not drop coverage for children with certain pre-existing conditions. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius conveyed the message in a letter to Karen Ignagni, chair of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a group that promotes the health insurance industry in Washington. Her letter came after the New York Times reported that insurance companies are arguing that at least for now they do not have to provide one of the benefits of the new healthcare law, insurance coverage for certain sick children. “Unfortunately, recent media accounts indicate that some insurance companies may be seeking to avoid or ignore a provision in the new law that prohibits insurance companies from excluding children with pre-existing conditions from coverage,” Sibelius wrote. The Times reported that insurers agreed that if they provide insurance for a child, they must cover pre-existing conditions, but that the law does not require them to write insurance for the child and it does not guarantee the “availability of coverage” for all until 2014. The measure requiring insurers to provide coverage to children with pre-existing conditions is one of the new law’s main features and President Barack Obama used it as a key selling point in his final drive to gain congressional passage of the legislation. The Obama administration and fellow Democrats are rigorously defending the legislation in the face of skepticism from Americans about the cost of the program and whether it will end up costing them more money. Sibelius said she plans in coming weeks to issue regulations that will erase any ambiguity about the law and make certain that by September of this year, “children with preexisting conditions may not be denied access to their parents’ health insurance plan.” — Agencies

WASHINGTON: A US man pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of conspiring to carry out a killing spree targeting African Americans, including then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, the Justice Department said. Daniel Cowart, 21, of Bells, Tennessee, said he had plotted with Paul Schlesselman of West Helena, Arkansas to carry out a racially motivated plot to murder dozens of people. He said he had planned to culminate the attacks by assassinating Obama, then a US senator and presidential candidate. “Despite great civil rights progress, this unthinkable conspiracy serves as a reminder that hate-fueled violence remains all too common in our country,” said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the department’s Civil Rights division. Under terms of a plea agreement, Cowart faces between 10 and 75 years in prison. Schlesselman pleaded guilty in January to three counts and faces 10 years in prison under a plea agreement. Obama girls’ adjustment President Barack Obama had a big pat on the back for his young daughters yesterday, say-

This undated photo obtained from a MySpace webpage shows Daniel Cowart, 20 of Bells, Tenn holding a weapon. The Tennessee white supremacist pleaded guilty Monday, March 29, 2010 to charges that he plotted to kill Barack Obama and dozens of other black people. — AP ing they have taken swimmingly to life in the White House. After over a year at the US presidential mansion, Sasha Obama, 11, and Malia Obama, 8, have made their Dad proud with their bal-

ancing private life and life in the public eye, he told NBC television. “The happiest thing about the past year and a half has been the girls’ adjustment. They have just been terrific.

They’re doing well in school,” Obama said. “They’re not as constrained. They can wander around. Their Secret Service protection is a lot more low key,” he explained. “So they’ve got soccer, they’ve got basketball, they go sleep over at their friend’s houses. “Sometimes I’ve got 12 little girls screaming on the third floor of the White House. And they made a great adjustment.” The US president also admitted he was concerned about how his daughters would cope with his public life as they get a bit older. “Now I get a little worried about them when they’re teenagers because I think that’s the time when you’re already embarrassed about your parents, and then imagine if your dad’s in the newspaper every day and people are calling him an idiot. I feel a little worried about that.” But “on the other hand, Malia and Sasha have just turned out to be unbelievably well adjusted kids,” Obama said. “The thing that’s most important to me is that they are so respectful of everybody and haven’t gotten on any airs. I attribute that directly to Michelle because she wouldn’t put up with any of that stuff.” — Agencies



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bodies of 21 babies found in China river BEIJING: The bodies of 21 babies, believed dumped by hospitals, have washed ashore on a riverbank in eastern China, state media reported yesterday. Video footage showed that the bodies stashed in yellow plastic bags, at least one of which was marked “medical waste” - included some infants several months old. Some wore identification tags with their mothers’ names, birth dates, measurements and weights. The official Xinhua News Agency said there were also fetuses among the bodies.

Residents discovered the remains under a bridge in the city of Jining, Shandong province, over the weekend. Tags on the feet of eight of the babies traced them back to a hospital in Jining, according to the People’s Daily Web site. Three of them had been admitted earlier to the hospital in critical condition, the report said. It did not say when. The other 13 bodies were unidentified. The number of girls or boys was not reported. More girls than boys are aborted in China because of the traditional

preference for male offspring, especially in rural areas. Although gender-selection abortions are illegal in China, the practice remains widespread and has led to a skewed sex ratio at birth in China with 119 males born for every 100 females. In industrialized countries, the ratio is 107 to 100. An official from the general office from the Affiliated Hospital of Jining Medical College confirmed it was involved. “Several of the bodies of babies with (identification) tags were from our hospi-

tal, but not all of them. The officials from the health bureau are still in the hospital doing an investigation,” said the official, who like most Chinese officials would not give his name. Xinhua said medical staff were suspended after the discovery. “The hospital medical staff involved have been suspended from their work during the investigation,” Zhong Haitao, a spokesman at the Jining Health Bureau, was quoted as saying. Local residents and firefighters recovered the bodies Monday after they were

discovered under a bridge spanning the Guangfu River in the outskirts of Jining, Zhong said. Interviews with residents who discovered the bodies floating near the shore over the weekend were broadcast on the Web site of the Shandong Broadcasting Company, The footage shows bodies lying on parts of the bank of the river. Some are uncovered, and others are in bags. They are all small and covered in dirt. A leg sticks out from under one bag. At least one of the bags has “medical waste” written on it.

The report said the babies ranged from newborns to several months old. One of the bluish-green identification tags visible in the video indicates the baby was born in April 2009. People’s Daily said all the bodies were babies, while Xinhua said several were fetuses. An official from the information office of China’s Health Ministry said she was not aware of the case, while telephone calls to the Jining Health Bureau and the Shandong Health Bureau rang unanswered yesterday. — AP

Lanka’s parliamentary polls

BEIJING: A rescue worker rests on the ground during a break at Wangjialing coal mine, Xiangning township, Shanxi province yesterday. Workers reported underground water leaks days before a flood coursed through a coal mine in northern China, where 153 people remained trapped in potentially one of the country’s worst mining disasters. — AP

Beijing welcomes smoother Washington ties, nudges Iran Warmer comments come after period of strains BEIJING: China yesterday sought smoother ties with the United States and welcomed President Barack Obama’s call for a positive relationship in a meeting with Beijing’s new ambassador to Washington. The conciliatory words from the two powers, which have been through a bout of strains, came after Chinese envoy, Zhang Yesui, met Obama and US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg on Monday. “The president also stressed the need for the United States and China to work together and with the international community on critical global issues including nonproliferation and pursuing sustained and balanced global growth,” said a statement by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs after Obama’s meeting with Zhang. Since the start of the year, China and Washington have traded criticisms over Beijing’s controls on the Internet, US weapons sales to Taiwan and Obama’s

meeting with Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. China regards the self-ruled island of Taiwan as an illegitimate breakaway from its territory, and deems the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled Buddhist leader, a “separatist”. Most recently, US complaints that China is keeping its yuan currency, and its goods, too cheap have drawn angry rejoinders from China, raising market worries that the world’s biggest and third-biggest economies are entering turbulent trade waters. While those tensions have not evaporated, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang indicated that his government wanted to lower the temperature of contention. “China appreciates President Obama’s and Deputy Secretary of State Steinberg’s positive stance on promoting China-US relations,” Qin told a regular news conference in Beijing. Qin did not give any details of Zhang’s discussions with

Obama and Steinberg. But Qin said his government “took seriously the US side’s reiteration of its principled commitments on the Taiwan and Tibet issues.” China says the United States must accept that Taiwan and Tibet are part of “one China”. Washington has urged Beijing to address those disputes through peaceful dialogue. “Recently, there have been uncalled for disturbances in China-US relations, and this does not suit our common bilateral interests,” added Qin. “Healthy China-US relations suit the fundamental interests of both countries and their peoples, and is beneficial to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the world,” he said. FIRMER WORDS ON IRAN The Chinese spokesman Qin said his government opposed Iran acquiring nuclear acquiring nuclear weapons, but stopped short of backing the new sanc-

Malaysian governement to overhaul racial preferences Govt unveils plans for bold economic reforms KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia yesterday unveiled plans for bold economic reforms including an overhaul of racial preferences for majority Malays, in a roadmap to achieve developed-nation status by 2020. Prime Minister Najib Razak, who came to office last year, said the “New Economic Model” was designed to boost growth, create a high-quality workforce, and attract badly needed foreign investment. He acknowledged he faced obstacles in targeting a decades-old affirmative action policy for Muslim Malays and indigenous groups-collectively known as “bumiputra”-which has been criticised as uncompetitive. “We need a new way of doing things. While the recovery has begun, we must act now to position Malaysia for the future,” Najib said in a speech. “And this is the choice we now face: To rise out of the ‘middle-income’ trap that will be a precarious position for any nation in the new global economy, or to stick to what we know, and what is comfortable.” Analysts said Najib had outlined some ambitious plans, but that there was no detail on how the goals were to be realised by a government that has already backed away from unpopular initiatives like a valueadded tax. “There will be huge scepticism amongst potential investors whether the reforms will actually be implemented and enforced effectively,” said Robert Prior-Wandesforde, a senior economist with HSBC in Singapore. Malaysia’s economy shrank 1.7 per-

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks at an investment conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. — AFP cent last year as its crucial export markets dried up during the global downturn. The central bank has forecast 5.5 percent expansion this year but as the region powers back to health, competition for investment has become fierce, with Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam eroding Malaysia’s attractiveness. “We want to see a Malaysia that makes a quantum leap from the current 7,000 dollar per capita annual income to 15,000 dollars in 10 years,” Najib said. That would meet a developed-nation yardstick of income of 1520,000 dollars. “Bold reform measures will unlock investment, drive labour productivity and boost efficien-

cy, lifting real growth rate to an average of 6.5 percent per annum over the 2011-2020 period,” he said. The model also aims to stem Malaysia’s “brain drain” with measures to retain skilled professionals, and make markets more competitive by phasing out price controls and subsidies. James Chin, an analyst from Monash University’s campus in Kuala Lumpur said that Najib would have trouble winding back the affirmativeaction policy which hands bumiputras privileges in housing, education and business. “How do you take away free lunches and free dinners that you have been providing for the past 35 years?” he said. — AFP

tions on Tehran that Washington has urged. Beijing faces rising calls from Western nations to approve proposed new UN sanctions on Iran, which maintains that its nuclear programme is for peaceful ends. China has said repeatedly that it does not believe sanctions are the “fundamental way” to solve the dispute. But Qin suggested that China also wants Iran to make concessions. “China opposes Iran possessing nuclear weapons, but at the same time we believe that, as a sovereign state, Iran has the right to peacefully develop nuclear energy,” said Qin. “At present, we hope that all sides will make substantive efforts and demonstrate flexibility over the Iran nuclear issue,” he added. China has urged Tehran to accept a proposal from the International Atomic Energy Agency that would involve swapping Iran’s lowenriched uranium for higher-grade nuclear fuel for a Tehran reactor producing medical isotopes. — Reuters

Taiwan researching high-tech missiles TAIPEI: Taiwan is researching development of high-tech missiles on a road to “peace through strength” with China, military officials on the selfruled island said yesterday. The notion of producing its own missiles is being advanced as Taiwan’s main arms supplier, the United States, exercises caution on arms sales to the island, sure to enrage China as Washington and Beijing try to ease political and trade tensions. “We have the capacity to develop high-tech missiles,” Deputy Defence Minister Andrew Yang told Reuters. “Research is an ongoing process. We need to consolidate our indigenous defence abilities and missiles are part of it.” Developing cruise and surface-to-surface missiles was “a step in the right direction”, local media quoted Yang as telling a legislative committee. Taiwan has tested a domestically-produced Brave Wind 2-E cruise missile and production was due to begin last year, a defence analyst in Taipei said. It has also done research on a medium-range ballistic missile with a range of 300 km. The US weekly Defence News says the missile would be capable of hitting targets in China, but Taiwan officials have said little about its development. China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s forces won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled to the island. Taiwan is seeking to shore up a balance of power against China, which has threatened to attack if the island tries to declare independence and outpaces it in military buildup. Taiwan’s military sought “peace through strength”, Defence Ministry spokesman Martin Yu said. China-friendly Taiwan President Ma Yingjeou’s promotion of closer economic ties with Beijing has reduced the risk of military conflict. Better relaions have generated gains in Taiwan’s markets, but those could be reversed if ties sour. Plans in Washington to sell Taiwan a $6.4 billion arms package have outraged Beijing, but US officials have taken no decision on Taiwan’s longstanding requests for F-16 fighter jets or a feasibility study for new submarines. The United States is obliged under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to help in the island’s defence, but is also keen to ease its own tensions with economic powerhouse China. — Reuters

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan voters elect a parliament on April 8 for the first time since the government defeated Tamil Tiger separatists’ three-decade insurgency last year and ended one of Asia’s longest-running civil wars. President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ruling alliance has its eyes on winning a two-thirds majority in the 225-seat legislature, giving it the votes to amend the constitution to his liking. Here are some questions and answers about what’s at stake: WHO IS TAKING PART? A whopping 7,620 candidates representing 36 parties and 301 independent groups are vying for seats. Of that group, 196 will be elected directly to parliament, with the remaining seats filled by parties based on their total vote percentages. Parliament can be an effective check on the presidency but Rajapaksa’s United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) is expected to retain its majority. Election monitors from the Commonwealth are expected. The European Union has not yet said if it will send monitors. WHAT ARE PARTIES OFFERING VOTERS? As at every election, all parties offer jobs, increases in government handouts and rural and agricultural development plans. They differ little in substance. WILL RAJAPAKSA GET HIS TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY? It’s hard to say. There is no reliable polling data. Only once has any political party got more than 50 percent of the parliamentary vote since Sri Lanka adopted a proportional system of representation in 1978. Rajapaksa got 57.8 percent of the votes against challenger General Sarath Fonseka’s 40.2 percent at the Jan 26 presidential election. While that’s no guarantee the UPFA will do the same at this poll, it is worth noting that his alliance is still strong. HOW STRONG IS THE OPPOSITION? A diverse group of parties had backed Fonseka to try to capture the anti-Rajapaksa vote, and their cohesion has evaporated since the general was arrested Feb. 8 on charges of politicking while in uniform. The two big parties behind him, the main opposition United National Party (UNP) and the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), share only one thing now: a pledge to free Fonseka if they win a parliamentary majority. That is seen as

unlikely against Rajapaksa’s dominance. WHAT, IF ANY, IS THE TAMIL INFLUENCE? The main Tamil coalition, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), also backed Fonseka but it struggled to get its voters out. The Tamil Tigers used to dictate who was elected in areas they controlled, so the TNA this time around is going to face competition from other Tamil parties and will likely lose some of its 22 seats. Overall, analysts expect Tamil parties to get around 20 seats, roughly proportional to the size of their minority population. HOW ARE INVESTORS LOOKING AT THE VOTE? The Colombo Stock Exchange has a habit of cooling off a bit before polls as local investors wait to see what happens and then buy in afterwards. But the market has generally shrugged off political noise given that even at its loudest, it is a huge improvement on the uncertainty and volatility the war brought. The market is up 5.1 percent since the Jan. 26 polls- part of a surge that has seen it gain 154 percent since the end of 2008, when it turned from a multi-year low on optimism the government would defeat the Tamil Tigers. After the victory in May, foreign investors began buying stocks and were net buyers in 2009, but this year, they have sold a net of 13.2 billion rupees ($115.7 million) worth of shares, suggesting they have cashed in on the surge. Market players say Sri Lankan treasury securities, particularly those of 18 months’ maturity or shorter, remain in demand from foreign investors. The benchmark 91-day t-bill at auction on Tuesday had a yield of 8.52 percent. With the elections out of the way, traders say they expect demand to rise. WHAT IS THE SCOPE FOR VIOLENCE? Most of the violence has been intra-party as rivals vie for better position. One notable exception was a rock-throwing protest at the offices of the nation’s largest private broadcaster, ostensibly over sponsorship of a concert by R&B singer Akon, who appeared in a video which offended Buddhists. However, local media have reported the involvement of a number of ruling party politicians, suggesting some payback against the broadcaster, seen as pro-opposition. — Reuters

S Korea diver dies in warship rescue BAENGNYEONG ISLAND: A South Korean diver died yesterday while trying to rescue dozens of sailors believed trapped inside a warship that sank near the North Korean border after a mysterious explosion. President Lee Myung-Bak ordered the military to stay alert against North Korea after the sinking Friday night of the 1,200 ton corvette in the Yellow Sea. Defence Minister Kim TaeYoung has said a drifting North Korean mine dating back to the 1950-53 war might have caused the blast which left 46 missing, or the North might have intentionally sent a mine floating towards the Cheonan. Navy chief Kim Sung-Chan, in a report to the president, said the ship’s munitions storage room did not appear to have exploded and “the ship was broken in two because of powerful outside pressure or an (exterior) explosion”. Hopes of finding survivors faded Monday when divers heard no response after banging on the two sections of the sunken hull off Baengnyeong island. But angry and tearful relatives have been demanding swifter rescue action. Dozens of divers have braved the Yellow Sea’s strong currents and frigid and murky waters, trying in vain to get inside the hull. One of them, father of two Han Joo-ho, fell unconscious yesterday and later died, the military said. Navy Lieutenant Colonel Song Moo-Jin said the divers were working “in a very vicious environment” and could stay underwater for only about 20 minutes at a depth of 40 metres. Lee has cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the cause of the blast but ordered the military yesterday to remain alert. The disputed Yellow Sea border was the scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999 and 2002 and of a firefight last November. “Since the incident happened at

Military on red alert

BAENGNYEONG ISLAND: South Korean Navy’s ship salvage unit members on a rubber boat search for missing members of sunken South Korean navy ship Cheonan. — AP the frontline, the government should be thoroughly prepared to cope with any movement on the part of North Korea,” Lee told a cabinet meeting in Seoul. “The armed forces are urged to maintain full alert without the slightest breach,” he said, before flying by helicopter to Baengnyeong Island near the border with an escort of jet fighters. US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said in Washington he had heard nothing to implicate any other country in the tragedy. Lee was the country’s first president to visit Baengnyeong Island, 16 kilometres from North Korea’s coast, where guided missile and artillery batteries are deployed. “Fighter jets were on patrol during his trip to the island because it is very close to major North Korean military camps,” said his spokesman Park Sun-Kyoo. The president’s helicopter landed on an amphibious landing ship supervising the rescue. He travelled by small boat to

another ship for a briefing and visited a Marine Corp base on the island to meet families of the missing. A total of 58 crewmen were saved soon after the ship went down. But no one has been rescued since then despite a major air and sea search, which yesterday involved 19 South Korean or US vessels, eight helicopters and 170 rescue personnel. The incident came amid heightened tension between the two Koreas in recent weeks over a major South Korean-US military exercise in the South. The Korea Herald said a naval attack which could spark a war would make little political sense for the North’s regime, but noted the country’s military had occasionally taken independent action. “A regional commander could have sent a mini-sub or floated mines aiming at South Korean craft, with or without the backing of the high command in Pyongyang,” it said in an editorial. — AFP

Wednesday, March 31, 2010



Curfew in Indian IT city after religious riots HYDERABAD: Indian police yesterday imposed a curfew across a third of the southern city of Hyderabad, home to global IT giants Google and Microsoft, after days of inter-religious clashes. At least one man had died in street battles between Hindu and Muslim mobs during violence triggered by arguments over putting up decorations for a religious festival, Hyderabad Police Superintendent AK Khan said. He said the victim, a Hindu youth, was stabbed to death on Monday and scores of people had been injured. “We have imposed a curfew on parts of the city because we did not want the situation to escalate,” Khan said. Violence spread over the weekend through the Muslim-dominated “old city” of Hyderabad with crowds pelting stones at each other near the tourist landmark of the Charminar mosque. Five smaller mosques and one Hindu

temple were slightly damaged, police said, as shops, buses and cars were set on fire. Hyderabad, a city of eight million people, has attracted major investment from global information technology and pharmaceuticals firms, and is a symbol of India’s emerging economy. But it has also suffered from historically deep communal tension and growing unrest over the proposed division of Andhra Pradesh state into two entities-an issue that has also led police to impose curfews in recent months. Frequent strikes and road and rail blockades in the city, which is the state capital of Andhra Pradesh, have caused widespread disruption to business over the last year. Analysts say the turmoil has created a sense of uncertainty among investors, though social networking group Facebook chose Hyderabad earlier this month for its first

office in India. Police were on alert yesterday as Hindus marked a festival celebrating the birth of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman. Many shops and offices were closed and the streets were quiet as people stayed indoors. Police patrolled in large numbers through the troubled areas, which remained calm during the day. “The curfew will remain in force till the situation is brought to normalcy,” said Sabita Indra Reddy, home minister of Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad’s star rose during the 1990s as India established itself as an IT outsourcing destination offering low-cost services to multinational companies for a fraction of the cost in their domestic markets. The proposed new state, called Telangana, would be carved out of Andhra Pradesh’s poor tribal belt, a drought-prone region which supporters say has been neglected by the state government. — AFP

Pakistani apex court ups pressure on govt HYDERABAD: An Indian policeman chases a youth during stone pelting by a mob at the police in the old city area of Hyderabad. — AP

in the news Pirates seize Indian sailors AHMEDABAD: Somali pirates have seized up to 100 Indian sailors after capturing seven to eight vessels, the president of an Indian shipping association said yesterday. “On Saturday afternoon we got the information that seven or eight vessels registered with us have been hijacked by Somali pirates,” said Kasam Ali, president of the merchant cargo boat group Kutch Vahanvati Association in the western state of Gujarat. “Eighty to 100 people who were on these vessels are missing.” Ali, who said he did not know where the hijackings took place, added that one of the boats under attack had alerted its owners. “There is no more contact with the crew members,” he said. India’s shipping ministry alerted the Indian navy late yesterday to the loss of eight vessels, asking it to verify the number of crew members missing, ministry and navy officials said. India ‘holy man’ resigns BANGALORE: A Hindu holy man with thousands of followers across India resigned as head of a religious organisation yesterday after police began investigating his role in a sex scandal, officials said. Video footage allegedly showing Nithyananda Swami, head of Dhyanapeetam, or “knowledge centre”, frolicking with two women angered hundreds of devotees who tried to ransack his centre outside the southern city of Bangalore this month. The 32-year-old has denied any links to the women and said the tapes were doctored, but the police are investigating and have asked people to come forward with evidence. This month has been particularly bad for India’s self-styled holy men with Indian police arresting one for running a brothel involving air stewardesses and college students, while charging another with kidnapping a minor. Nithyananda Swami, who has big politicians and movie stars as devotees, announced his resignation in a statement. “I have decided to live a life of spiritual seclusion, for some indefinite time...,” he said on his website. 30 militants killed PARACHINAR: Pakistani fighter jets bombed several militant hide-outs near the Afghan border yesterday, killing at least 30 suspected insurgents, an official said. The assault took place in Orakzai, a tribal region where many Pakistani Taleban fighters are believed to have fled to escape an army offensive further south. The military launched another operation in Orakzai last week, and nearly 150 alleged militants and five soldiers have died in gunbattles and airstrikes so far. Local government official Sami Ullah said yesterday that the troops were not facing much resistance. “The security forces are using jets and ground forces to target militant positions,” Ullah said, detailing the latest casualties. The remote, dangerous nature of the region makes it nearly impossible to verify the military and government accounts, and it is unclear how the authorities are distinguishing civilians from insurgents in the death tolls. Taleban commanders in the region could not immediately be reached for comment. Afghans plagued by poverty, corruption GENEVA: The majority of Afghans live in dire poverty, despite an estimated $35 billion in aid being poured into the country between 2002 to 2009, the United Nations said yesterday. A report by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights claims that over a third of Afghans live in “absolute poverty” and about the same number are only slightly above the poverty line. It blamed corruption in Afghanistan, and the international community for ignoring the basic needs of people. “The government is often unable to deliver basic services, such as security, food, or shelter,” the report said. “Widespread corruption further limits access to services for a large proportion of the population,” it found, accusing Afghan officials of advancing their own interests at the expense of the general population. The 26-page report also criticized the international community for placing too much emphasis on security and too little on long-term development.

Mullen in Marjah as US gears up for Kandahar KABUL: The top US military commander yesterday visited Marjah, the frontline of USled operations against the Taleban in southern Afghanistan where a battle for Kandahar is already ramping up. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in the battle zone a day after President Barack Obama left Afghanistan after a surprise visit, pledging to defeat the Taleban and “to get the job done”. Operations in the farming community of Marjah, set in poppy fields and desert in Helmand province, are the first test of Obama’s counter-insurgency campaign aimed at ending an increasingly deadly war now into its ninth year. “Admiral Mullen is in Marjah,” said Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale, a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Further details of his visit were not immediately released. The United States and allies have boosted their troop numbers to 126,000, with the number set to peak at 150,000 by August as the fight expands into neighbouring Kandahar province, the heartland of the insurgency. Obama has said he wants to start drawing down American troops from the middle of next year, putting pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to take over responsibility for security by then. The US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, told Obama by video conference earlier this month that he would take on Taleban militants in Kandahar when enough reinforcements were in place. Military and political efforts against the Taleban around Kandahar, Afghanistan’s third biggest city and the Islamist militia’s spiritual capital, have “been long under way,” a senior NATO officer in Kabul confirmed. “There’s roughly today on the ground about 8,000 coalition troops and 12,000 Afghans in the

Kandahar fight,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “In the last two months we’ve had a tremendous impact on the major approaches into Kandahar to try to squeeze the Taleban’s access,” he said, claiming that up to “70 significant mid- to high-level Taleban have been taken off the streets of Kandahar in the last several months”. A US Army brigade would boost the coalition force in Kandahar to 11,000 by June, he said. In the city of one million, he said, Afghan police would shoulder the main burden to evict the Taleban and keep them at bay. “We have never had the force density in Kandahar to really own all the extreme approaches. With forces that have gone in there we have been able to really slice down on a lot of the traditional avenues into Kandahar itself,” he said. The arrival of additional forces would see current operations accelerate, with the aim of clearing the city and its surrounds of Taleban operatives by the religious fasting month of Ramadan, beginning in mid-August. The campaign follows the launch of Operation Mushtarak in Marjah on February 13, where six weeks later troops are still coming under fire and being targeted by bomb attacks despite efforts to restore Afghan government control. Upon his return to Washington from Afghanistan, Obama stressed the immediate need for progress in the country, torn by three decades of conflict and nearly a decade of USled intervention. “I think he is listening,” Obama said of Karzai, who won a new fiveyear term in fraud-tainted elections in August. “But I think that the progress is too slow, and what we’ve been trying to emphasize is the fierce urgency of now,” Obama said in an interview with NBC television. He pressed Karzai to step up the fight against corruption and the drugs trade, and invited the Afghan leader to visit Washington on May 12. —AFP

What is ‘peace jirga’? KABUL: President Hamid Karzai wants to promote reconciliation with insurgents in a “peace jirga”-a large assembly-which is scheduled to take place next month. Karzai has made it one of the priorities of his second term to try to forge stability in Afghanistan as tens of thousands of US troops deploy in the south of the country to fight a worsening insurgency. The following are some questions and answers about the peace jirga and its prospects for success. WHAT IS THE PEACE JIRGA? A “jirga” is a Pashto word and means “large assembly” or “council”. It is a traditional method of resolving disputes between tribes or discussing problems which affect communities. The Afghan government uses jirgas to reach consensus with parliamentarians and civil society groups on controversial or problematic policy issues. Although jirgas are a Pashtun system of political decision-making, since the Taleban were overthrown in 2001 they have been inclusive of all Afghan ethnic groups. When he was inaugurated as president in November 2009, Karzai said one of his main priorities would be to achieve security across Afghanistan within five years and as part of this a peace jirga would be organised as a means of bringing different and competing parts of Afghan society together. WHO WILL BE INVOLVED? The Afghan government is behind the plans but 13 different groups will take part including about 155 members from Afghanistan’s Ulemma council-a group of religious Afghan scholars and leaders who debate religious matters-civil society representatives, district and provincial officials, tribal leaders, groups representing Afghan refugee communities in Iran and Pakistan, women’s rights activists, businessmen and the upper house of parliament. WILL INSURGENTS BE INVITED? The three main insurgent groups fighting foreign forces in Afghanistan-the Taleban, Hezb-i-Islami and the Haqqani network-have not been specifically invited. “The jirga is not for the advice of the insurgents or the extremists as they cannot guide us on peace and stability,” said Masoom Stanekzai, the top official involved in planning the jirga, who is also leading separate efforts to reintegrate low-level insurgents. Nevertheless, it is likely that there could be insurgent sympathisers among some of the notables formally involved. Officials say the jirga is open to all factions. “This is an inter-Afghan jirga ... It doesn’t matter who they are, they can participate,” Stanekzai said. Najib Amin, deputy director of policy for the jirga secretariat, said: “If the citizens of Afghanistan take the decision and the people support peace, even the extremists are always welcome.” WILL IT BE SUCCESSFUL? Reconciliation with insurgents in order to bring peace is an extremely delicate task. Karzai faces a challenging balancing act-reaching out to insurgents while keeping his US and Western backers satisfied that he is not appeasing the militants. Washington says it supports any Afghan-led initiative to reach out to groups, provided they recognise the Afghan constitution, renounce all violence and repudiate Al-Qaeda, the militants blamed for the Sept 11 attacks on the United States. The recent arrival of a delegation from one of the factions, Hezb-i-Islami, to Kabul for talks with the Afghan government was unprecedented and a sign Karzai’s overtures could bear fruit. But the biggest catch are the Taleban, whose southern Afghan heartlands will be flooded by 30,000 extra US troops this year. The Taleban say they will hold no talks as long as foreign troops are in Afghanistan. Washington says it does not expect the Taleban to participate in serious talks until Western troops achieve progress on the battlefield. Pakistan’s actions regarding Taleban on its side of the border are also crucial to the success of the jirga. The recent arrest of a the Afghan Taleban’s number two leader, Mullah Baradar, in Pakistan could stall efforts. Kabul wants Baradar repatriated and the UN’s former top envoy to Afghanistan said Baradar’s arrest had led to the breakdown of behind-the-scenes meetings between the United Nations and high-ranking Taleban. — Reuters

MARJAH: Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen (right) shakes hands with a local Afghan elder in Marjah, Helmand province yesterday. — AFP

Top government official detained ISLAMABAD: A top Pakistan government official was detained yesterday on the orders of the Supreme Court, the first official to face legal action over revived corruption charges after a controversial amnesty was thrown out. The detention of Ahmed Riaz Sheikh, director general of the country’s top police investigation agency, could herald action against numerous officials, including President Asif Ali Zardari, and could intensify a destabilising face-off between the judiciary and the government. “The court sent him into police custody after he withdrew his challenge to his conviction,” Sheikh’s lawyer, Rashid A Rizvi said. The Supreme Court in December threw out a 2007 amnesty deal that protected Sheikh and several thousands of others- including Zardari-from old corruption charges. Sheikh had been convicted of corruption and jailed for five years. The amnesty was widely seen as the basis for a powersharing deal between former military president Pervez Musharraf and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December 2007 after returning from selfimposed exile. The Supreme Court has been demanding the revival of corruption cases since it threw the amnesty out. The government says Bhutto’s widower, Zardari, who faces corruption cases filed in the 1990s which he says were politically motivated, is protected by presidential immunity. But Nawid Ahsan, chairman of the National Accountability Bureau, the state anti-corruption agency, told the court action would be taken according to the court’s orders. Sheikh’s detention appears to signal that the judiciary, which has rarely enjoyed good relations with the executive

ISLAMABAD: Ahmad Riaz Sheikh (center) a top official of Federal Investigation Agency, waves to the media as he is escorted by police after the Supreme Court orders to detain him yesterday. — AP branch, is determined to press ahead with the cases. The United States, which wants Pakistan to focus on battling militants as US forces struggle to bring stability to neighbouring Afghanistan, would be dismayed to see a crisis between the judicial and the government consuming attention. Pakistan has a history of disputes between the executive and the judiciary sparking instability and, in at least one case, bringing down a government in the 1990s. ‘SAD DAY’ Though Zardari is protected by presidential immunity, he is vulnerable to legal challenges to his 2008 election as president on the grounds that the old corruption charges against him made him ineligible to stand for office. Zardari spent 11 years in jail on various charges but was never convicted. The court order comes as a

set of constitutional reforms is expected to be tabled in parliament, which will see Zardari cede some of his powers to the prime minister. Many analysts believe the constitutional reforms, which will see Zardari becoming a figurehead, would take the wind out of his critics’ sails and forestall judicial action against him. But talks on the reforms were stalled when opposition leader Nawaz Sharif last week raised objections over the structure of a commission governing the appointment of judges as well as the renaming of North West Frontier Province. Farahnaz Isphani, Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party international media coordinator, said it was a “sad day” for the party considering that Sheikh had completed an earlier sentence of five years in jail and paid a 20 million rupees ($240,000) fine. “He’s already done his time and paid his fine. However, we

respect the Supreme Court of Pakistan and its decision,” she said. The Karachi Stock Exchange barely moved on the news although dealers said political uncertainty, and the prospect of another judicial crisis, could sideline foreign investors in days ahead. The benchmark 100-share index ended 0.17 percent, or 17.30 points, higher at 10,073.76. Daily hardships of inflation and energy shortages dominate the concerns of most Pakistanis, who likewise don’t want to see politicians at each others’ throats instead of tackling problems. More than half (51 percent) of people surveyed in late 2009 listed inflation, financial problems and poverty as their main problems, according to a Gallup poll published yesterday. “The government doesn’t care what’s happening to us and they never will,” said dentist Raheel Ahmed. “They are just too busy fighting each other.” — Reuters

Power cuts and politics a potent mix in Pakistan ISLAMABAD: Pakistani leaders preoccupied with a Taleban insurgency and political infighting also face an explosive issue that could damage the credibility of governments for years to come: nationwide power outages. Attention refocused on the energy crisis after high-profile talks in Washington last week, in which long-time allies the United States and Pakistan outlined steps to refurbish power stations here, part of a $125 million US pledge. Many Pakistanis, who face hours of crippling power cuts each day, doubt their government will take the matter seriously, despite a US warning that the crisis threatens their nuclear-armed country’s economic and political stability. People like dentist Raheel Ahmed. Booking patients is a guessing game because it’s hard to predict when power cuts will hit. At times, he has to use a flashlight to inspect a patient’s mouth during tooth extractions. “The government doesn’t care what’s happening to us and they never will,” he said. “They are just too busy fighting each other.” Pakistan, which has production capacity of about 16,500 megawatts per day, faces daily shortfalls of about 4,500 MW. Outages can last 6-8 hours a day on average in cities, while the figure can be much higher in rural areas. The problem is that past governments failed to anticipate demand growth and delayed

clearing power project proposals and big dam projects. A lack of investment in existing plants, outdated grids and rampant electricity theft mean that some grid companies experience line losses of up to 30-40 percent, leading to power cuts that have triggered riots. ‘HELPING THEMSELVES’ When President Asif Ali Zardari came to power in 2008, hopes were raised that a civilian government could accomplish more than Pervez Musharraf did in nearly 10 years of military rule, even though Zardari had earned the nickname “Mr 10 Percent” for allegedly demanding kickbacks. He denies any wrongdoing. But history is repeating itself. Disappointment with the civilian government is growing. Facing a sluggish economy starved of foreign investment, Zardari has little to work with. Once again, Pakistanis feel politicians are lining their pockets. “Pakistani leaders are just helping themselves. They are making money and ignoring us,” said Ashfaq Ahmad Cheema, who sells generators. Power cuts have also hit his shop. Pakistan was struck by one of its worst power crises in 2008, when rioters destroyed electrical facilities following the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The resultant power cuts were one factor that caused the defeat of Musharaff’s party in general elections two

months later. Zardari’s government is trying to address energy troubles through building new dams and setting up new permanent power plants. In the meantime, it is renting small power plants- essentially giant versions of the portable generators welloff Pakistanis install in their

homes and businesses. Simbal Khan, Acting Director/Eurasian Studies at the Institute of Strategic Studies, says the cuts have become a “snowballing” issue that will hurt future governments if it isn’t addressed quickly. That means huge financial investment. — Reuters



Wednesday, March 31, 2010


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Averting the Iran nuclear flashpoint By David Miliband


ran’s nuclear program, and the world’s reaction to it, raise the most profound questions about the strength of international law, the purpose of the United Nations and the rights of states that feel threatened by others. More prosaically, Iran’s nuclear ambitions are a potential flashpoint for war in the Middle East. I am concerned that in too many countries, the dangers are seen as theoretical, the time frame leisurely. We have not yet reached the crunch, but all members of the United Nations Security Council need to recognise the stakes and the options if we are to avoid it. Dealing with Iran, we are prisoners of our history. Over the decades, there have been missteps by the West, including but not only by the UK, and mistakes by Iran, that have created something worse than a climate of mistrust - a standoff in which both sides talk past each other. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says it is unIslamic to have nuclear weapons, but Iranian actions don’t give credence to this claim. President Obama reaches out to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his offer is dismissed either as a PR stunt or part of a crafty plot - and certainly not seen for what it was, a ground-breaking offer to change US-Iran relations. In the last six months, engagement with Iran has become far more complex. Because the country is itself undergoing a searching examination of what it stands for led by its own people on the streets. Because getting Iran’s leaders to abandon duplicity and opacity in respect of their nuclear intentions, and to engage in a broader rapprochement with the world, is hard to choreograph when they are divided among themselves. And because there are many Irans. One Iran is seen in a highly educated, entrepreneurial people, with a celebrated culture and civilisation. That Iran exists in diasporas around the world, but is also clearly present among those in Iran demanding a right to have a say in the future of their country. Then there is an Iran whose economy is a mess. Despite sitting on the world’s second largest gas reserves, it imports gas. Corruption is rife - Transparency International ranks Iran 168 out of 180 countries. According to the IMF it has the highest brain drain in the world. This Iran destabilises its neighbourhood by supporting terrorism; isolates itself from international cooperation on Afghanistan; rants about the destruction of Israel and suggests that US support for a devastated Haiti is a ploy to invade it. This Iran restricts access by its educated citizenry to international media for fear of what they might learn. The resolution of the nuclear issue, and an active process to achieve its resolution, matters because the two

alternatives - Iran with the bomb or Iran bombed to deny it getting one - are, as President Nicolas Sarkozy said, horrific. The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that it is unable to verify that Iran’s nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes. Iran offers no credible explanation for producing fissile material with a clear military application, while refusing to address IAEA questions about past contacts with the nuclear black market. Meanwhile, after months of stalling, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran was ready for a deal with the IAEA to provide fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Because of the politics in Tehran, other leaders immediately opposed it. And just days later Ahmadinejad announced Iran would enrich uranium up to 20 per cent - a significant step closer to weapons-grade material, and with no civilian end use because Iran, despite grandiose claims, cannot turn this uranium into usable fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor or for nuclear power stations that have not been built. The nuclear issue cuts to the future of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and the future of the Middle East. Gulf countries would likely join the nuclear bandwagon if Iran goes nuclear. Israel has made it clear that it sees a nuclear Iran as an existential threat and would act if necessary in its self-defense. The consequences of both would ?be devastating. To avoid this we need action that shows unity and resolve. That is one reason I went to China last week. The UN Security Council needs to take seriously its responsibilities, not just countries such as Britain and China but non-permanent members such as Brazil and Turkey. The EU has stated that it will take action and countries in the region need to join with us to increase the pressure. The international community is actually united in its opposition to a nuclear-armed Iran. There also has been unity on the clear offer presented to Iran that if it comes clean on its nuclear program it will get support for a civilian nuclearpower program; and that if it fails to do so it will face increasing pressure. Now is the time for unity on the need for pressure to supplement the engagement. Sceptics say sanctions can be blunt; that Iran would never accept humiliation; and that Iran is still some way from a nuclear capability. All are true - but not the point. Sanctions can be blunt, but they can also be targeted, on the financial system, on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and on nuclear technology. The offer on the table, proposed in June 2008 and still waiting for a reply, allows Iran to claim the rights enjoyed by other states. NOTE: David Miliband is Britain’s Foreign Secretary

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Saudi sweep shows Qaeda threat hasn’t disappeared By Souhail Karam


audi Arabia’s arrests of 113 AlQaeda-linked militants, including two suicide bomb teams, shows that the jihadi threat to the world’s top oil exporter has not disappeared. It has just migrated to neighbouring Yemen. But the arrests last week of mainly Saudi and Yemeni nationals also highlight that more work needs to be done to combat homegrown militancy from disenchanted Saudi youth who may find comfort in radical Islam. “These arrests highlight the trans-national nature of the terrorist threat in the kingdom and underpin the perception that Yemen’s problems represent a growing challenge to Saudi Arabia,” said Ginny Hill, Yemen expert at Chatham House. Saudi Arabia, which seized weapons and explosive belts in the sweeps, has said the militants had been planning attacks on energy and security facilities in the kingdom’s oilproducing Eastern province. Riyadh said the militants were backed by AlQaeda in Yemen, which jumped to the forefront of Western security concerns after a Yemen-based regional wing claimed responsibility for a failed attack on a US-bound jet in December. “This shows that Al-Qaeda is not having trouble recruiting Saudis and is having success recruiting Yemenis. If you can double your force then why don’t you?” said Geoff Porter, Middle East and Africa Director at Eurasia Group. Yemen, already struggling to stabilise a fractious country, has come under international pressure to end domestic unrest and focus on fighting Al-Qaeda, which may prefer attacks on higher profile targets than those in Yemen itself. Saudi concerns about Yemen were amplified after its top anti-terrorism official, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, was slightly hurt in a suicide attack in his house in September by a Saudi posing as a repentant militant returning from Yemen. “Al-Qaeda aims at sensational targets: An attack in Sanaa does not have the same impact as an attack in Saudi Arabia,” Eurasia’s

Porter said. Militants waged massive attacks against Western targets, government symbols and oil facilities between 2003 and 2006. The attacks included suicide bombs at Western housing compounds, the interior ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh and oil and petrochemical companies, plus an attempt to storm the world’s biggest oil processing plant at Abqaiq in 2006. The sweep adds to the credit of the Saudi security services in staying ahead of plots to destabilise the absolute monarchy. “The link between the Yemeni army campaign against AlQaeda and these arrests is clear. It shows there was some coordination (between Saudis and Yemeni authorities),” said Ismail Al-Saydi, head of political science at Iman University in Yemen. Riyadh did not say when the arrests occured. They were announced ahead of an anti-terror conference sponsored by Interior Minister Prince Nayef, who has had mixed success in persuading clerics to discourage radical ideology. The arrests are widely thought to have followed months of work after the October arrest of a militant following a clash at a checkpoint in the southern Jazan province in which two other militants and a Saudi policeman were killed. The ministry said 11 Saudis and a Yemeni had formed two six-man cells and were in early stages of planning suicide attacks. The remainder raised funds and had sheltered other militants brought into the kingdom. “They (remaining 101) aimed to create a Saudi base for Al-Qaeda to attack security officers,” General Mansour Al-Turki, security affairs spokesman, said. A retired Saudi security officer said access to sensitive targets such as oil installations or prominent personalities was easier for Saudis than it is for Yemenis or other foreigners. “You mainly find Saudis, Westerners and Filipinos working at oil plants.” Foreigners among those arrested had entered the kingdom either for work, pilgrimage or had sneaked in illegally, the ministry said. Non-Saudis com-

prise about 30 percent of Saudi’s population. Many Saudis feel squeezed out of jobs and blame authorities for not making them more competitive than imported workers, while deeming many jobs held by foreigners as too

lowly. The kingdom’s Grand Mufti complained some foreigners were using their presence in Saudi to hurt the kingdom. But General Turki said the kingdom’s security services had no

intentions to zero in on expatriates in the country. “The fact that these arrests included so many foreigners does not mean that we are underestimating threats that may come from Saudi nationals,” he said. — Reuters

Return of the audio cassette

By Dorian Lynskey


uring its heyday, the audio cassette was easy to take for granted. It was cheap, portable and simple to duplicate but, unlike a vinyl album, never a thing of beauty. It always seemed so disposable, and was prone to unspooling in a spew of magnetic spaghetti, thus requiring laborious restoration with the aid of a pencil. But just as it is facing extinction, the clunky old cassette has been reborn. Last year, feted indie bands Deerhunter and the Dirty Projectors both took the unusual step of putting out albums on cassette, and Universal made the celebrity poetry album Words for You Britain’s first majorlabel cassette release in six years. The 6 Music DJ Lauren Laverne celebrates old compilations on her regular Memory Tapes feature. In the US, there are hundreds of underground labels that specialise in the format and package it with a degree of artistry never witnessed in the old Woolworths bargain bin. In the era of iPods and bitrates, the cassette has become the fragile repository of a generation’s affection for the analogue age. You can buy iPod cases, T-shirts, computer hardware and even jewellery that pays tribute to its iconic shape. British record labels began releasing cassettes in October 1967, shortly after the electronics giant Philips perfected the design, and it took off as a mass-market medium after the introduction of the Sony Walkman in 1979. Between 1985, when it overtook vinyl, and 1992, when it was eclipsed by CDs, it was the most popular audio format in the country. But sales collapsed towards the end of the 90s and major labels abandoned the cassette in 2003. Universal’s decision to press 4,000 cassettes of Words for You was prompted by requests from older listeners who didn’t use CDs, let alone MP3s. But specialist cassette labels, which have boomed over the last two years, are born out of choice rather than necessity, quixotically running off limited-edition tapes on stacks of secondhand decks. The low cost is just one factor. Once derided by audiophiles, cassettes are now cherished for their imperfections. The way the sound subtly warps and mutates over time does no favours to Lady Gaga, but it breathes extra vibrancy into lofi, experimental music.

“I grew up listening to tapes,” says Canadian Al Bjornaa, who set up his label Scotch Tapes in 2008. “It was kind of cool how each tape sounded different depending on what cassette deck you used.” Bjornaa even reuses old cassettes as well as fresh blanks. “You can sometimes still hear the original music playing behind the new tracks. It adds a certain something that makes each cassette unique.” And unlike MP3s, which encourage the listener to dismantle albums into their constituent tracks, the cassette “helps preserve the notion of ‘the album’ as a complete work of art.” Bjornaa admits that nostalgia plays a part. People old enough to remember the importance of cassette labels in the post-punk years (one indie genre, C86, even took its name from a tape sold via the NME) are aligning themselves with a long DIY tradition. They are also the home-taping generation. An iTunes playlist, easily burned on to multiple CDs, can never be a labour of love in the same way as a mix tape brought to life through hours hunched over the pause button, perfecting clunk-free segues. Children of the 80s, too, are affectionately revisiting the format on which they first discovered music. “What you grew up with just sounds right,” says 22-year-old Brad Barry, a student at the University of Texas who hosts a weekly cassette-only radio show called C60 Radio. Meanwhile, people who sport cassette-themed Urban Outfitters’ T-shirts or iPhone cases are just using it as a retro prop in the never-ending 80s revival. Clearly, nostalgia alone won’t reverse the cassette’s commercial nosedive, but that’s rather the point. While an MP3 can travel around the globe within hours of release, tapes inhabit the cloistered world of the true underground although, ironically, most are sold online. “It keeps it from becoming mainstream,” says Barry. Faced with the bloodless convenience of digital music, it is human nature for some people to hanker after the cumbersome, the labourintensive and the fallible - to pause and rewind. The record industry, too, might have reason to look fondly on those plastic rectangles, now that the alarmist slogan “Home Taping Is Killing Music” is just a retro T-shirt design and digital piracy is wreaking financial devastation. If only they’d known. – Guardian

Suu Kyi party risks future by boycotting polls By Claire Truscott


ung San Suu Kyi’s party has heaped discredit on upcoming elections in military-run Myanmar by refusing to take part in them, but also faces political irrelevance as a result, analysts say. The junta handed a nasty dilemma to the National League for Democracy in forcing the party to choose between contesting the elections without Suu Kyi in its ranks, or ceasing to exist legally after a May 6 registration deadline. Through its announcement on Monday that it would boycott the polls, in line with leader Suu Kyi’s wishes, the NLD opted to court legal oblivion by staying out of an electoral process that foreign campaigners say is a sham. “They are saying: the elections are not worth our participation and we won’t dignify them,” said Benjamin Zawacki of

London-based rights group Amnesty International. “Some will say they are relegating themselves to irrelevance, but this decision suggests ... it’s simply not a game worth playing.” He added: “There’s another option. If they don’t participate at all it’s an attempt to delegitimise the polls before they take place. They’re simply trying to create another game.” The United States and Australia blamed the ruling junta, which cancelled the NLD’s victory in Myanmar’s last elections held in 1990, for boxing the party into a corner and undermining hope for change after decades of military rule. “We think this is an

opportunity lost in terms of Burma’s ability to demonstrate that it is willing to contemplate a different course of action, a different relationship with its own people,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said, using Myanmar’s former name. Crowley indicated that the United States would continue dialogue with the junta, but Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith was downcast about prospects for reform in the pariah state. “I don’t believe that any election without the National League for Democracy can be a full, free and fair election,” he told ABC Radio. “Unless something funda-

mental or substantial changes, regrettably I think it does put paid to what slim prospects we had ... that we might make some progress on the democracy front in Burma,” Smith added. Election laws announced by the junta earlier this month banned political parties from having prisoners, like the detained Suu Kyi, within their numbers and formally annulled the results of the 1990 polls. Registering in line with the laws would have also forced Suu Kyi’s party to accept a constitution agreed in a controversial referendum held after a devastating cyclone in 2008, which was simply unpalatable for the NLD. General Than Shwe’s junta had already skewed the polls by reserving a quarter of parliamentary seats for military selection. But by refusing to register, the NLD has given the government’s generals a clear run at the polls, expected by early November, and will have to con-

tinue its struggle from the sidelines. “Than Shwe doesn’t want the NLD in contention. By saying ‘no’, the NLD walks into the trap that Than Shwe has set for them,” said exiled Myanmar analyst Aung Naing Oo. “The grouping will not disappear overnight, but if they’re not going to register they will have to operate outside the legal constitutional framework and then there’s only one way confrontation,” he said. The risk of irrelevance could force opposing factions within the NLD to split, analysts agreed, as younger members have long been at odds with the party’s old guard, and had favoured a more pragmatic approach to the junta. “Some members might have a plan B, another political framework to set up a new party,” said Myanmar academic and democracy activist Win Min. “We’ll have to see what happens after the registration deadline,” he said.— AFP


Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Blasts bring bloodshed to Putin doorstep By Steve Gutterman


he armed militancy Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed to crush on his rise to power a decade ago sent the Kremlin a defiant message on Monday, carrying out Moscow’s worst attack in six years and highlighting the failures of Russia’s policy in it most turbulent region. The response to two blasts that killed at least 38 people on the Moscow metro will be a important indicator of how Russia’s ruling tandem will approach violent unrest in the Muslim North heavily Caucasus, a crucial hurdle to the country’s security and success. The attack could also play into political intrigue ahead of the presidential election in 2012, when Putin - still seen as Russia’s top leader after steering Dmitry Medvedev into the Kremlin in 2008 - could seek a return to the Kremlin. In a previous stint as prime minister, Putin led Russia into its second post-Soviet war against rebels in the North Caucasus province of Chechnya after a series of deadly apartment building bombings in Moscow and other cities.

toward the North Caucasus.

Putin at one point vowed that would be rebels tracked down and killed even “in the outhouse” - typical of the tough talk that bolstered his popularity during his 2000-2008 presidency. “This is a direct affront to Vladimir P u t i n , whose entire rise to power was built on his pledge to crush the enemies of Russia,” Jonathan Eyal of Britain’s Royal United Services Institute said of the bombings on Monday. The Kremlin’s response could be tougher tactics against the North Caucasus militant groups that have tested the Kremlin’s counter-terrorism policies for a generation. There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but officials steered suspicion

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said the attacks were carried out by female suicide bombers - a method that has been used by Chechen rebels - and the Federal Security Service (FSB) chief said they were likely from the North Caucasus. Rights groups say crackdowns in the turbulent region only fuel the anger that feeds the insurgency nearly a decade after the war Putin ousted Chechnya’s separatist government. President Dmitry Medvedev has lately underscored a need to tackle underlying causes such as corruption, poverty and abuse of authority. But Matthew Clements, Eurasia analyst at IHS Jane’s Information Group, said the attacks on Monday could strengthen the hand of the hardliners in Russia’s ruling elite. That could lead to tougher tactics that “could involve a stepping away from the dual approach of pursuing social and economic development alongside security action”. Analysts also say more robust action could deter Muslim communities on the receiving end from providing

the vital intelligence such a counter-insurgency campaign would need. The Kremlin’s record in the North Caucasus had been “quite counter-productive”, said Galina Yemelianova of the Centre for Russian and East European Studies at Birmingham University. She told Reuters it “has pushed the insurgency out of Chechnya. It is increasingly multi-ethnic and is spreading to other parts of the region through underground jihadist networks which have become more and more active.” Putin, who cut short a Siberia trip on Monday to return to Moscow, vowed that “terrorists will be destroyed”. Medvedev said Russia would act “without compromise” to root out terrorists “to the end,” but urged authorities to respect human rights. But analysts say such concerns may be cast aside as the Kremlin tries to avert further attacks. Kremlin critics also fear the attack could spark a broader crackdown that could strengthen governent opponents already pushed to the political fringes. “We know that under cover of the fight against terrorism, repression and pressure on the opposition will be

strengthened,” Solidarity, a group linking prominent liberal opponents of the Kremlin, said in a statement. After a series of deadly attacks in 2004, Putin pushed through electoral reforms that tightened Kremlin control over politics and drew accusations of backtracking on democracy. Since then, violence attributed to separatist rebels had been limited mostly to the North Caucasus, a string of provinces on Russia’s southern border. The attacks on Monday were the deadliest in Moscow since February 2004. Intended or not, the location of the first bombing on Monday sent a message to Russia’s security apparatus: Lubyanka metro station shares its name with the headquarters of the FSB, the main domestic successor to the Soviet KGB, which is metres away. “It is astounding that the FSB was incapable of thwarting such an operation. Of course one cannot prevent everything. But the infiltration by the police of Chechen groups in Moscow has been extremely poor,” Eyal said. — Reuters (Reporting by William

Russia’s ‘silent war’ spills into Moscow By Guy Faulconbridge


he bloodiest attack on Moscow in at least six years has confounded Russia’s attempt to cauterize an Islamist insurgency spreading across the North Caucasus region. Striking at rush hour in the heart of the Russian capital, the suicide bombers could open a new front in the Kremlin’s “silent war” with insurgents who dream of creating a pan-Caucasus, sharia-based state along Russia’s southern flank. Russia says the bombings, which killed 39 people, were carried out by a group with links to the North Caucasus, giving credibility to statements by Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov that he would attack Russian cities and energy pipelines. “The silent war of the North Caucasus has come to the streets of Moscow,” said Grigory Shvedov, editor-in-chief of the ‘Caucasian Knot’ Internet news agency. “I fear that unfortunately there will be more of these terrorist attacks both against Moscow and against Russian cities as the insurgents take their war outside the borders of the North Caucasus to the Russian heartland.” Many analysts and rights activists say a war in the republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan has been largely ignored by domestic voters and the wider world. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but if the bombings are the work of militants from the North Caucasus then they could propel the insurgency to the heart of the political agenda ahead of the 2012 president election. “The authorities over past years had lulled Russians into thinking that terrorism was localised in the North Caucasus and that it did not threaten run-of-the-mill citizens,” Russia’s respected business daily Vedomosti said in an editorial. “Revenge for the Caucasus,” read its front page headline. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who many Russians say is the country’s paramount leader despite stepping

In this image made from television, blast victims lie on the platform alongside a subway train hit by an explosion at Moscow’s Park Kultury (Park of Culture) station Monday, shortly after the blast. – AP down as Kremlin chief in May 2008, cemented his power in 1999 by launching a war to crush Chechen separatism. Putin backs Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, whom rights groups accuse of driving recruits into the hands of the rebels with heavy-handed tactics by law enforcement agencies. Those tactics, analysts say, have failed to deal with the radicalisation of the insurgency which has mutated into a campaign for holy war against Russia from its beginning as a grassroots separatist movement. Chechen rebel leader Umarov,

who calls himself the “Emir of the Caucasus Emirate”, said in an interview last month on the unofficial Islamist website that he would bring war from the Caucasus to Russian cities. He has also vowed to attack economic infrastructure such as the pipelines which feed the $1.3 trillion economy of the world’s biggest energy producer. Umarov’s group has claimed responsibility for a train bombing between Moscow and St Petersburg that killed 26 people last November,

plus a suicide bomb attack in June which left the leader of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, fighting for his life, and an August Siberian dam disaster that killed 75. Local leaders say the radicalisation is being fuelled by a potent mixture of clan feuds, poverty, Islamism and abductions by the law enforcement agencies. President Dmitry Medvedev, who warned last November that the growing strife in the region was the biggest single domestic problem, has repeatedly called for easing the region’s crip-

pling poverty but unemployment remains as high as 40 percent of the economically active population in regions such as Ingushetia. Kremlin officials say privately that the North Caucasus is a cross that Russia’s elite has to bear, though they admit endemic corruption among officials has bred poverty and driven youths into the hands of Islamist rebels. Attacks have soared in the past year in the North Caucasus, with hundreds of casualties reported on the Caucasian Knot Web site which tracks violence in the region. It said 280 people were killed in Chechnya by bombings in 2009, 319 in Ingushetia and 263 in Dagestan. A total of 167 bombings were recorded in the three republics last year. Russia has so far focused on killing rebel leaders, such as Alexander Tikhomirov, an accomplished cleric who renamed himself Said Buryatsky after his native East Siberian Buryatia region, who was killed in March. But analysts said the militant groups have created special structures to cope with the dangers of losing a leader, mirroring militant groups in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Larvov said he did not exclude foreign involvement in Monday’s metro attacks. Some point to the “Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs”, a highly disciplined group specialising in suicide attacks that was listed by the US State Department as a terrorist group in 2003. The group was involved in the Dubrovka Theatre siege in 2002 and in the 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis, when at least 334 people died, half of them children. The Battalion of Martyrs was once under the command of Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, but survived his death in 2006, and is still active. Its command structure is cloudy, but some say it reports to Umarov. “If the organizers of these bombs were from the North Caucasus, then I would suspect Riyadus Salikhin was behind this,” said Shvedov from Caucasian Knot. — Reuters

Pope undeterred by abuse scandal, reform calls By Tom Heneghan


he sex abuse scandals lashing the Vatican have led to calls for an end to priestly celibacy, a cleanout of the Catholic Church hierarchy and the resignation of Pope Benedict, but the pope seems unlikely to alter his approach. The demands, widely aired in the media, are so far removed from the way Benedict works that abuse victims and other critics who raise them seem bound to be disappointed. The sex abuse saga, while shameful enough to make Benedict issue several apologies to victims, has many aspects that apparently convince him he can continue to tackle the problem quietly but firmly, without undue fanfare. “He will plod along undeterred,” said Rev. Vincent Twomey, an Irish theologian who has known the pope for 37 years. “He takes note of things, but he’s not a magician. He works steadily ... I think he’ll weather the storm.” The pope signalled a determination to set his own course on Sunday in a sermon saying faith helps lead “towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of domi-

nant opinion”. The key to deciphering Benedict’s approach, Vatican experts say, is his earlier role in confronting what he calls the “filth in the Church”. His tendency to ignore short-term setbacks for longterm gains also plays a part. “He has a strong sense of the office of the pope,” said University of Virginia historian Rev G e r a l d Fogarty. “In a situation like that, you don’t show weakness.” Until the mid-1990s, the then Cardinal J o s e p h Ratzinger seemed to share a widespread view in the hierarchy that sexual misconduct by

priests - even

paedophilia - could be cured by proper doses of Christian forgiveness and modern therapy. “The Church looked on it as a sin and psychologists looked on it as a curable disease,” Fogarty said. Scientific views changed in the 1980s, but the Church failed to keep up. Documents published by the New York Times last week show the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the powerful Vatican department Ratzinger headed before his election as pope, did not react swiftly or strongly when asked in 1996 to approve a Church trial against a flagrantly abusive priest. But around that time, Vienna C a r d i n a l Christoph Schoenborn revealed on Sunday, Ratzinger also sought a full inquiry into the

previous Vienna archbishop removed on sexual abuse charges. But other prelates in the Curia persuaded then Pope John Paul that a probe would only cause more embarrassment in the media. When the CDF was made responsible for handling sex abuse cases in 2001, Ratzinger sent bishops a letter now criticised outside the hierarchy because it called for the usual secrecy in such cases. Within the Church, though, it was seen as an alarm bell announcing that Rome finally took abuse seriously. “This changed the tendency in canon law to assume the innocence of the priest,” Twomey explained. “The bar for sacking a priest used to be pretty high. Now some say it’s too low.” Since his election in 2005, Benedict has further lowered the Vatican wall of denial by apologising for sexual abuse by priests and meeting victims in the United States and Australia. He retired the head of an influential order of priests because of allegations - long rumoured but overlooked under John Paul that he had sexually abused seminarians. While Benedict’s record in

the abuse saga has not been blameless, his supporters see him in the Vatican vanguard in tackling the problem and say he has reason to feel that continuing on this slow but steady path is the best option. This is obviously not a widespread view in the media and public opinion in countries like Ireland, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands where abuse scandals are now raging. It’s not undisputed in the Church either, where Benedict’s critics see the crisis damaging his role as a moral voice in the world and raising wider issues of authority in the Church. Rev John Pawlikowski, professor of ethics at the Chicago Theological Union, said the Catholic hierarchy traditionally expects to be treated as a moral authority while modern societies respect those who show real moral leadership. “The Vatican has to understand that the new challenge is to move from moral authority to moral leadership,” he said. “Moral leadership doesn’t come just because someone gives you a purple cap, a red one or a white one,” he said, citing the colours of the skullcaps worn by bishops, archbishops and popes. —Reuters


North Korea hints at speeding enrichment By Lim Chang-Won


orth Korea is raising the stakes in its nuclear standoff with the United States by vowing to build a light water reactor using indigenous fuel, analysts said yesterday. Even though it lacks the technology to build such a plant, they said, the communist state is indicating it will speed up uranium enrichment for nuclear weapons unless Washington softens its attitude. The North “will witness the appearance of a light water reactor power plant relying on its own nuclear fuel in the near future in the 2010s”, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a commentary late Monday. Light water reactors are more resistant to proliferation than gas-graphite types such as the North’s Yongbyon, but use low-enriched uranium as fuel. The commentary “strongly suggests Pyongyang will speed up a nuclear weapons programme based on highly enriched uranium as it said last year,” said Kim Tae-Woo of the Korea Institute for Defence Analyses (KIDA). The announcement bolsters Pyongyang’s assertion last September that it was in the final stages of experimental uranium enrichment, he said. “Light-water reactors use (low) enriched uranium but it’s quite easy for North Korea to turn it any time into a nuclear weapons program based on highly enriched uranium,” Kim told AFP. US envoy Stephen Bosworth said in December after visiting Pyongyang that the North had agreed to discuss its enriched uranium program whenever the stalled six-party nuclear disarmament talks restart. “The North is airing its technology related to uranium enrichment for nuclear weapons before going back to the sixparty forum,” said Baek SeungJoo, another KIDA analyst. “Light water reactors and uranium enrichment may become a hot topic if North Korea return

to the dialogue table.” The North quit the talks last April and vowed to restart its longstanding program to produce weapons-grade plutonium at Yongbyon. In September it acknowledged for the first time that it also has an enriched uranium program - a second way to make atomic weapons. A fullscale enriched uranium program is seen as a long-term prospect, but potentially troubling because it could easily be hidden from spy satellites. The communist state has two preconditions for returning to the forum grouping the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the United States. It wants a US commitment to discuss a permanent peace pact, and the lifting of United Nations sanctions. Washington says it must first return to nuclear dialogue and show seriousness about honouring past disarmament pledges. The KCNA commentary described the Obama administration as reluctant to take the initiative in negotiations for fear of being seen as weak before the mid-term elections. It said the United States justified its doctrine of “strategic patience” towards the North by suggesting that the Pyongyang government may not last. But the North “has a firm foundation of the independent national economy, which remains solid despite any storm from outside”, KCNA said. Several analysts said the impoverished North does not have the technology to build a light water reactor power plant. “The commentary is rather seen as a warning that Pyongyang is ready to take further steps unless Washington changes its policy,” Dongguk University professor Kim Yong-Hyun told AFP. Pyongyang is increasingly impatient with Washington’s lukewarm response to its demands, he said. “It is telling the outside world that fuel for light water reactors can be enriched to make nuclear weapons.” — AFP

Northern League in driver’s seat By Gina Doggett


urprise gains by Silvio Berlusconi in regional elections was a bittersweet victory for the prime minister because the “real winner” was his coalition partner, the anti-immigration Northern League, analysts said yesterday. Defying the lowest turnout in 15 years, Berlusconi’s flagging popularity and pollsters’ predictions, the uneasy coalition wrested control of four regions from the left including Rome’s Lazio region in the SundayMonday polls. The League more than doubled its score in 2005 regionals, taking 12.7 percent of the vote. “Victory will have a bitter taste for Berlusconi,” said political scientist Marc Lazar. “He will feel strengthened, but the League will make him pay a heavy price.” Analyst Roberto D’Alimonte agreed, saying: “Berlusconi can be happy as leader of the coalition, but as the leader of his party I wouldn’t be very happy.” Northern League leader Umberto Bossi is the undisputed winner, D’Alimonte told AFP. Notably, Northern League candidates delivered the wealthy northern Veneto region as well as Turin’s Piedmont region, home of the Fiat auto giant. The populist party that advocates small government notably fiscal federalism - and was the driving force behind a crackdown on illegal immigration is now in a position to press its agenda. While Bossi could demand to stand in the next mayoral elections in Berlusconi’s native Milan and the League may demand a larger role in the central government, “what they really want and will fight hard for is fiscal devolution,” D’Alimonte said. “Their historical goal is administrative and fiscal autonomy for the north. They are more careful when they

say this but they are deeply convinced that a lot of waste is going to the south,” he added. “It’s a great success that creates a new dynamic,” said Stefano Folli, editorialist for the financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore. “The league now dominates wealthy, populous regions, which gives it the possibility of setting conditions for the government, to push for reforms,” he said. “But it also faces risks. The party has always been locally based, and now the challenge is to rise to a national-level responsibility,” Folli said. The Northern League was an essential ally in Berlusconi’s return to power in 2008, campaigning on pledges of cracking down on illegal immigration and crime, often linking the two. Observers say the resurgent Northern League is also likely to further alienate a key Berlusconi ally, parliament speaker Gianfranco Fini, who is often tipped as a successor to the three-time prime minister. The left held on to seven other regions including its Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna strongholds. Turnout was the lowest in 15 years at 64.2 percent, eight percentage points down on the last regional vote five years ago. Pollsters said low turnout indicated the electorate was registering dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the country’s worst recession since World War II as well as a series of sex, corruption and electoral scandals. Leftwing voters were also thought to have snubbed the vote out of frustration over disarray in the opposition Democratic Party still smarting from Berlusconi’s decisive win in 2008. Berlusconi has seen his approval rating slip to 44 from a high of 62 percent in October 2008, with his government scoring only 38 percent in a recent survey. — AFP



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

ElBaradei takes reform campaign to the street

SAFWAN, Iraq: Iraqi soldiers carry coffins containing the remains of Iraqi soldiers who were killed during the 1991 Gulf War at the border crossing of Safwan yesterday. The remains of nine Iraqis were returned from Kuwait during a ceremony at this border checkpoint near the southern Iraqi city of Basra. — AP

Apps to curb texting while driving have a tough task NEW YORK: Cars use lights, bells and buzzers to remind drivers to fasten their seat belts as they start their engines. It would seem natural, then, to offer motorists friendly, yet stern warnings about another bad habit: holding a cell phone while driving, whether for texting or talking. Several software and gadget companies - many of them at the country’s biggest trade show for the wireless industry last week in Las Vegas - have sprung up to address that challenge. But creating an effective, widespread solution looks a lot harder than putting in reminders for seat belts. Furthermore, we’re only just beginning to figure out what constitutes a dangerous distraction, and how best to curb it. Are handsfree conversations dangerous? What about dictating text messages to your phone? Does everyone need help staying away from the phone while driving, or just teens and employees? Many states ban drivers from using cell phones without handsfree devices, but a recent insurance industry study found that such laws haven’t reduced crashes. It’s not clear why, but one reason might be that drivers flout the laws. At least a dozen startups have produced phone applications designed to curb the temptation to use the phone while driving. But these applications work only on some phones and have a hard time figuring out if the user is actually driving. Potentially important players - wireless carriers, cell phone makers, auto manufacturers and the federal government - have yet to step in, leaving the field to smaller companies that lack the clout to put services in widespread use. And some of the tools might not even improve safety. “Technology without a clear vision for how it’s going to actually help drivers could end up doing more harm than good,” said John Lee, professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. For instance, Drive Safely Corp proposes to put sof tware on phones to

detect, using a built-in GPS chip, when a device is moving faster than 25 kph. To figure out whether the phone is being used by a driver or a passenger, who can safely text in the car, Drive Safely intends to have the phone flash a series of numbers and letters that the user has to match on the keypad. The assumption is that drivers won’t be able to match the sequence while watching the road, so they won’t be able to unlock it for texting. Lee suspects that won’t deter teens, and perhaps other motorists, from trying. “They will try to do that task while they drive,” Lee said. “And by making that task really difficult, you make it more dangerous for them.” A half-dozen other services are either available or in the works to use the phone’s GPS chip to figure out if the device is moving. With names such as ZoomSafer, TxtBlocker, CellSafety and Textecution, these software tools can respond in a number of ways, such as holding incoming text messages in quarantine until after the trip or by blocking the writing of new ones. They’re expensive compared with regular downloadable applications, possibly because the startups figure that parents of teens will pay for a feeling of security. Some cost $40 to buy, then charge recurring fees of $4 or so per month. None of them can tell, however, whether the owner is in a bus or a train rather than an automobile, or if someone in a car is just a passenger and not the driver. So most of these tools have an override option - which a determined motorist can take advantage of even while driving. Power consumption from constant GPS use is also a concern, possibly draining the battery twice as fast on some phones and applications. Another approach is to dispense with using the GPS chip and rely on the car to tell the phone that it’s in a moving car. Services such as Cellcontrol and Key2SafeDriving come with a small gadget that plugs in to a port generally found under the car’s steering column. It’s intended to help mechanics diagnose

problems with the car, but it can also tell the gadget how fast the car is moving. If it‘s above a certain speed, a wireless signal is sent to the phone’s Bluetooth receiver. The application then goes into “drive mode”, locking out some features. This method avoids the battery drain of GPS. But it adds the element of hardware installation, and the cost of the Bluetooth transmitter. If the phone isn’t set up to use a particular transmitter, the software doesn’t work. That assures that you can pair your phone with a particular vehicle, but it means you’ll have to remember to turn off the phone when you’re borrowing a car. A problem common to both GPS and Bluetooth approaches is that the applications will only run on certain phones. The phones most commonly supported by the distracted-driving apps are BlackBerrys, high-end Nokia phones and devices running Microsoft Corp’s Windows Mobile or Google Inc’s Android software. Phones that lack “smart” operating systems are out of luck, as is Apple Inc.’s iPhone. Apple doesn’t allow third-party software to run “in the background”, so it can’t figure out if the iPhone is in a moving car. “It’s going to be expensive for companies like our own to continually try to catch up with the multitude of phones,” said Joe Brennan at TrinityNoble, which has a GPS-based app called Guardian Angel MP. Brennan believes the only viable longterm solution is to install a radio jammer that blocks all communication between the driver’s phone and the outside world. The company has been developing such a jammer for years, but it’s illegal in the United States. Brennan says its effect is so specific that passengers can still use their phones. Lee believes that eventually, some sort of solution will be built into cars and take advantage of their electronics, displays and controls to reduce phone distractions. Ford Motor Co.’s optional Sync system already links cell phones to the car’s controls, reads out text messages and understands spoken commands. — AP

CAIRO: Egypt’s most high-profile dissident, former UN nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei, has taken his reformist campaign to the street with a whirlwind of encounters with Muslim worshippers, Christian activists and film stars. ElBaradei also used his Internet page on the social networking group Facebook to urge Egyptians to join his newly formed National Association for Change, which seeks constitutional amendments and free elections. “What I am asking of you is to join the association, if you agree with its principles, as soon as possible,” said the 67year-old. In a jam-packed schedule, the former diplomat attended Friday prayers in a historic Cairo mosque and met with Coptic activists and celebrities in events that were highly publicised. “We are building a consensus for change,” said George Ishak, a spokesman for the association. “We will talk to whoever it takes, lawyers, doctors, students, farmers, old, young, anyone.” The former nuclear watchdog chief’s critics have accused him of being out of touch after decades spent outside his native Egypt, while others tout him as a man who could awaken the country from a political slumber. Last month, ElBaradei, who has said he would be willing to run for president in 2011, returned from Vienna, where he headed the International Atomic Energy Agency until the end of 2009, to a rapturous welcome from supporters. He spent several days meeting activists at his home, before leaving Egypt again. Some had feared the ElBaradei effect would be fleeting, but the street campaign has carried on. “What he is doing is very intelligent. He is trying to lobby and put political pressure on the regime through public support,” said Amr Choubaki, a political analyst with Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic

CAIRO: Egyptian Nobel Peace laureate and former UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei leaves the Al-Hussein mosque after performing Friday prayers on March 26, 2010. — AFP Studies. He said ElBaradei’s strength lies in having avoided overtly political slogans or radical statements - something which would alienate those not politically active. “In Egypt, we have been used to political activity meaning 100 people standing on a pavement chanting insults at the president,” Choubaki said. ElBaradei’s Facebook group has tens of thousands of members, and the challenge now is to get those people on the ground. “That is what he is doing. He is creating a solid base. This is very important” said Ahmed Zahran, a political activist. But ElBaradei faces very real obstacles if he wants to run for president next year, including stiff curbs on presidential candidacies from outside President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP).

Mubarak, in power since 1981, has not said if he plans to run for a fifth six-year term in the next presidential election. The 81-year-old leader has just returned from Germany where he underwent surgery to have his gall bladder and a growth on the small intestine removed, prompting frenzied speculation as to what shape the postMubarak era will take. “If (ElBaradei) decides to run according to the constitution, he is more than welcome. The only thing he has to do is to join a political party,” Ali ElDean Hillal, NDP stalwart and a former youth minister, told AFP. ElBaradei has vehemently rejected the option, citing the lack of neutrality of the national committee that oversees political parties. It is currently headed by NDP secretary general Safwat Al-Sherif. “It is entirely

up to Mr ElBaradei to decide the modality of his participation in Egyptian political life,” Hillal said. “Until now he didn’t say if he will run, he did not issue a platform,” he said, conceding however that an ElBaradei candidacy would “definitely make the presidential competition more lively and more competitive.” As an independent candidate, ElBaradei would need the backing of at least 250 elected officials including from the upper and lower houses of parliament and municipal councils - all bodies dominated by Mubarak’s NDP. “He is certainly facing practical challenges, but he is emerging from all this as a moral force,” Choubaki said. Zahran agrees: “He has laid the groundwork for change. The question is will people capitalise on that investment?” — AFP

Woman to hang for Jahra fire Continued from Page 1 organisations in a bid to save Enezi’s life. He also said the defence team would have a better opportunity to prove her innocence in the appeals and supreme courts. The Aug 15 inferno engulfed the women-and-children-only tent in minutes and triggered a stampede. The final death toll was 57, including several Saudis and stateless Arabs. At her first hearing in October, the suspect denied the charges. At another hearing, an Asian domestic helper testified in court that she saw Enezi pour petrol and start the fire at the wedding tent in Jahra, about 40 km west

of Kuwait City. An investigation showed the tent could seat 200 people but had only one exit, causing a stampede that compounded the death toll. Kuwait banned wedding tents after the incident. Her defence lawyers had alleged at the time of Enezi’s arrest on Aug 16, she was two months pregnant but that the embryo was “deliberately aborted” by a prison guard with the help of an Asian nurse. The incident shocked the state and HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad AlSabah ordered that relatives of each victim be paid $35,000 in compensation. Enezi was initially believed to be the groom’s ex-wife but defence lawyers said she was still his wife. Enezi and the man

have two children, both of whom are mentally handicapped. If Enezi’s sentence is upheld by higher courts, she would be the first Kuwaiti woman to be executed in the history of the state. Another Kuwaiti woman was sentenced to death over three years ago after being convicted of drug trafficking, but her sentence was commuted to 15 years in prison. Women from other nationalities have, however, been hanged in the past. Kuwait has executed a total of 72 people, three of them women, since it introduced the death penalty some four decades ago. Most of the condemned have been convicted murderers or drug traffickers. — AFP

Abu Dhabi fund chief found dead Continued from Page 1 Sheikh Ahmed was ranked No. 27 on Forbes list of the world’s most powerful people last year. His fund, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), is believed to have assets of between $500 billion and $700 billion, ranging from Citigroup bonds to a stake in Britain’s Gatwick Airport. HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yesterday sent condolences to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahayan on the demise of Sheikh Ahmad. Similar cables were sent by HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser AlSabah. Experts expect the leadership role at ADIA to remain within the ruling family. “ADIA is essentially a custodian of Abu Dhabi’s wealth, which belongs to the ruling family,” said Khuram Maqsood, managing director at Emirates Capital. “ADIA is an extremely well institutionalised and professional organisation. It’s the largest sovereign fund, or certainly among the top three globally. It is unlikely that there will be any change out of the ordinary as a result.”

Residents of the area near Rabat said the sheikh was a regular visitor and the Abu Dhabi ruling family had a palace overlooking the reservoir, which was swollen after heavy rain and estimated to be about 60 m deep. The sheikh’s body was pulled from water estimated up to 42 m deep late yesterday morning after a search involving some 225 people including 100 divers, according to Moroccan state media. ADIA funnels funds from the emirate’s oil exports into overseas stocks and bonds from its headquarters in a gleaming skyscraper on the island city’s shoreline. Sheikh Ahmed, like the organisation he led, shunned the media spotlight and was said to dislike being referred to as “Your Highness” as customary. “He was extremely well respected as part of the work he did for ADIA and it was expected that he would play a vital role in the future development of the emirate as a leading member of the ruling family,” a source familiar with the matter said. He led the shift within ADIA from active to passive fund management after discovering that index-tracking funds, which seek to mimic the ups and downs of regular stocks indices, often outper-

formed those operated by expensive money managers. He is the son of the founder of the seven member UAE federation, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahayan, and worked as an equities analyst at ADIA for six years before becoming its boss. The fund has rarely given details of its investment strategy or investments. In its first detailed report published in March, ADIA said it aimed to be more transparent. It also said it returned 6.5 percent on an annualised basis over a 20-year period as of Dec 31, 2009 and 8 percent over a 30 year period. The chairman of ADIA is Sheikh Khalifa, ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the UAE. In June 2008, a brother of Sheikh Ahmed’s, Sheikh Nasser Bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, was killed when the helicopter carrying him and his colleagues crashed into the Gulf. The state news agency WAM announced three days of mourning starting today. “He is important but his death will not have a huge impact on the power str ucture within the family,” said Mustafa Alani, Dubai-based analyst at the Gulf Research Center. “Certainly on the question of financial and economic issues, I think he will be missed. Definitely.” — Agencies

MTN. “We are excited at the growth opportunities in Africa,” he said. Bharti said in the statement it had “entered into a legally binding definitive agreement with Zain Group to acquire Zain Africa BV.” Under the agreement, Bharti will acquire Zain’s African mobile services operations in the 15 countries, with a total customer base of over 42 million, out of which Zain is a market leader in 10 and second in four others. With the acquisition, Bharti said it would be the world’s fifth-largest wireless company. “We are delighted that the African telecom asset that we so assiduously built

is becoming part of such a committed and reputable telecom powerhouse,” Asaad Al-Banwan, chairman of Zain Group, said in the statement. Mittal is looking to expand foreign revenues amid a savage price war at home but analysts have warned that Mittal faces a tough road in integrating Zain’s str uggling operations which have been losing money. With this purchase, Bharti’s total global customer base will increase to around 179 million. Bharti launched mobile services in India in 1995, Sri Lanka in 2009 and acquired Warid in Bangladesh in Jan 2010. — Agencies

Zain, Bharti seal deal Continued from Page 1

SYDNEY: Robosaurus, a five storey, 27 tonne, fire breathing, car-eating robot, sets fire to a car and then drops it to the ground during a Sydney Royal Easter Show media preview yesterday. More than 30 hightech companies took two years to create this state-of-the-art hydraulic electrical and mechanical monster, which will be one of the highlights of the Easter Show being held in Sydney from April 1-14. — AFP

Bharti,” Bharti chairman and founder Sunil Bharti Mittal said in an emailed statement, calling Africa “the continent of hope and opportunity”. Bharti Airtel “will be transformed into a truly global telecom company with operations across 18 countries fulfilling our vision of building a world-class multinational,” the 52-yearold billionaire tycoon added. The acquisition caps a quest by Mittal to gain a foothold in Africa, one of the world’s least developed telephone markets, after two failed attempts to acquire South African mobile giant

Wednesday, March 31, 2010



NHL results/standings NHL results and standings on Monday. Buffalo 3, Boston 2; Carolina 4, Atlanta 1; Nashville 3, Florida 2 (OT); Minnesota 3, Los Angeles 2; Anaheim 3, Dallas 1. (OT denotes overtime win). Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L OTL GF GA PTS Pittsburgh 44 25 7 237 217 95 New Jersey 44 26 5 203 183 93 Philadelphia 38 32 6 221 210 82 NY Rangers 33 32 10 197 203 76 NY Islanders 31 34 10 196 232 72 Buffalo Ottawa Montreal Boston Toronto

Northeast Division 42 23 10 215 41 30 5 205 37 31 8 204 34 29 12 190 28 35 13 202

189 216 208 189 250

94 87 82 80 69

Washington Atlanta Carolina Florida Tampa Bay

Southeast Division 49 15 11 292 33 31 12 224 32 35 9 210 30 33 12 195 30 33 12 197

214 240 236 220 237

109 78 73 72 72

Western Conference Central Division Chicago 46 21 7 241 Nashville 44 27 6 214 39 23 13 207 Detroit St. Louis 36 30 9 203 Columbus 31 32 13 205

191 212 197 205 244

99 94 91 81 75

Northwest Division 45 26 4 244 41 27 7 225 38 29 9 194 37 33 6 208 24 44 7 190

195 207 193 226 255

94 89 85 80 55

Pacific Division 47 19 10 247 47 23 6 210 42 27 6 218 36 31 8 211 33 29 14 216

198 187 202 227 238

104 100 90 80 80

Vancouver Colorado Calgary Minnesota Edmonton San Jose Phoenix Los Angeles Anaheim Dallas

SUNRISE: Goaltender Dan Ellis No. 39 of the Nashville Predators makes a diving save as Steven Reinprecht No. 27 of the Florida Panthers attempts to reach the rebound. —AFP

Sabres hold off Bruins charge BOSTON: Tyler Myers scored a goal and set one up for Paul Gaustad to lift the surging Buffalo Sabres to their sixth win in seven games with a 3-2 victory the Boston Bruins on Monday night. Ryan Miller made 40 saves, including Marco Sturm’s penalty shot in the first period, in a matchup of last month’s USA Olympic goaltenders. Boston goalie Tim Thomas, Miller’s backup at the Vancouver Olympics, was pulled following the Sabres’ third goal and left the ice to jeers. He was making his second straight start after shutting out Calgary on

Saturday. Tim Kennedy also scored for Buffalo, which moved one point behind Pittsburgh for second overall in the Eastern Conference. David Krejci and Dennis Seidenberg scored Boston’s goals. The Bruins, who remained in eighth place in the East after Carolina defeated Atlanta 4-1, lost for the third time seven games. Hurricanes 4, Thrashers 1 At Atlanta, Carolina goalie Cam Ward made a brilliant return after being out nearly two months and Erik Cole scored a decisive goal with 4:11 left as the Hurricanes beat the

Thrashers, dealing a blow to Atlanta’s playoff hopes. Jussi Jokinen scored twice for Carolina, including an empty-net goal after the desperate Thrashers pulled Johan Hedberg for an extra skater with more than 2 minutes left. Atlanta missed a chance to pull even with Boston for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Jokinen’s first goal broke a 1-1 tie in the second period, and Cole finished off the Thrashers by ripping a shot past Hedberg after Ward had turned away Atlanta’s repeated chances. Ward made 26 saves in his first contest since Feb. 3, having missed 19 games with a back injury.

Predators 3, Panthers 2 At Sunrise, Florida, Francis Bouillon scored a minute into overtime to lift Nashville over the home team. David Legwand and Patric Hornqvist also scored for Nashville. Keith Ballard and Stephen Weiss had third-period goals for Florida, which lost its third straight game. Scott Clemmensen stopped 22 shots for the Panthers and Dan Ellis made 27 saves for the Predators. Clemmensen got the start in favor of Tomas Vokoun, Nashville’s former goalie, who has won just one of his past seven games.

Lehtonen stopped 43 shots for the Stars, who lost two of three in California to end a fourgame road trip. Wild 3, Kings 2 At St. Paul, Martin Havlat scored a power-play goal in the third period to earn Minnesota’s win. Owen Nolan and Brent Burns also scored for Minnesota, which kept its remote playoff chances alive. Scott Parse scored twice for the Kings, who haven’t played in the postseason since 2002 but are seventh in the tight Western Conference. — AP

Argentina a step closer to joining ‘Four Nations’

Hamilton needs a father figure, says Coulthard LONDON: Lewis Hamilton needs someone around him to offer sound advice and should appoint a new manager as soon as possible to replace his father, former McLaren driver David Coulthard said yesterday. Hamilton announced last month his father Anthony was stepping down as his manager to focus on his own business interests but Coulthard said that decision appeared to be backfiring. “Where is the reassuring arm around his shoulder? Where is the sound advice coming from? Where is his father?” the Scot asked in a column for the Daily Telegraph newspaper after Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix. “Lewis’s decision to dispense with Anthony’s services as his manager last month was hailed as a coming-of-age move on his part. But the folly of not appointing a replacement showed over the weekend. “Having no manager is like a top tennis player having no coach. It’s fine when you are playing well but as soon as you are struggling people will point to it as a weakness,” he added. Hamilton made the headlines in Melbourne after he was stopped by police late on Friday for driving in what he called an “over-exuberant” manner on the city streets. The 25-year-old Briton also castigated his McLaren team during the race for calling him in for a second pitstop while chasing for second place. He ended up sixth with world champion team mate Jenson Button winning. “I don’t know if they have had a bust-up but it does strike me as odd that apparently they did not speak to one another in the aftermath of Friday’s incident,” said Coulthard, who retired as a Red Bull driver in 2008. “Either way, Lewis needs to appoint a replacement soon so he can concentrate on his day job.” Coulthard also expressed concern for Red Bull after Germany’s Sebastian Vettel saw his hopes of victory dashed again after his second successive pole position. “I am not lying when I say they have the quickest car out there. They should be winning these races. That they are not is a worry for everyone at Milton Keynes,” said Coulthard, who is a consultant for Red Bull Racing. “Sebastian Vettel is so far remaining calm, at least publicly, as he knows he has been the quickest car and driver combination in the opening two races and it is easier to make a quick car reliable than a reliable car quick. “But Red Bull need to sort it out before it’s too late.” —Reuters

Ducks 3, Stars 1 At Anaheim, Nick Bonino scored his first NHL goal with an assist from 600-goal scorer Teemu Selanne, and Curtis McElhinney made 30 saves in the Ducks’ victory over Dallas. Corey Perry and Kyle Chipchura scored 49 seconds apart in the second period as the Ducks won for the sixth time in eight games to move level with Dallas and Minnesota in 11th place in the Western Conference standings. All three clubs trail Colorado by nine points for the final playoff spot. Loui Eriksson scored his 28th goal and Kari

MELBOURNE: McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain waves to the crowd during the drivers parade prior to the start of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in this file photo. —AP

AUCKLAND: Argentina moved closer to joining an expanded southern hemipshere rugby competition after the game’s governing body (IRB) approved $10 million in funding, but New Zealand rugby chief Steve Tew said player elegibility remains an issue. Last week, the IRB approved $10 million in funding for the TriNations governing body SANZAR (South Africa New Zealand Australia Rugby) to cover any shortfall from the Pumas joining the competition. New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) Chief Executive Tew told Reuters on Tuesday that while funding had been one of the sticking points for SANZAR, player eligbility was a bigger concern. A ‘Four Nations’ tournament, following an expanded Super 15 club rugby competition, would not start until late August and run through September. Many Argentine players are contracted to clubs in Europe, where the seasons begin around the same time. “The funding from the IRB is an important part of the conditions that we set,” Tew said at the launch of ticket sales for next year’s rugby World Cup. “But the most important is the guarantee that we can get the Argentine players from their clubs to play during this window. “We understand the IRB executive committee have made a recommendation to go to council in May to have the regulation, called regulation nine, extended to cover a Four Nations window. “If that happens then SANZAR will be a lot more confident that Argentina will be able to play a part in the tournament and we will be in a better position to make a decision.” IRB Chief Executive Mike Miller, who was also attending the glitzy ticket launch, said he did not expect the Pumas’ eligibility during a Four Nations window to create a club versus country row. “Everyone said that we must get Argentina into one of the top level competitions,” Miller told Reuters. “Nothing has changed. “The IRB Council needs to make

the rule change and if they do, I would hope they (European clubs) back it.” Miller said another possibility could be Argentine players being contracted to Super 15 franchises. “The more that happens the less problems there will be.” Miller said the IRB would pay SANZAR $2.5 million a year from 2012 to 2015 to cover any shortfall in sponsorship and ticket rev-

enues from an expanded competition. “We said it was important for Argentina to be in the Tri-Nations so we thought it was unfair for SANZAR to take a loss during the transition phase. “We are all confident after the first four years people will see the quality of the Argentine team, enjoy the matches and it won’t be a problem.” —Reuters

Woolley: US challenge for Dubai World Cup ‘over’ LONDON: Kentucky Derbywinning trainer Bennie ‘Chip’ Woolley believes that the American challenge for the Dubai World Cup is over for the ‘foreseeable future’ and that his countrymen will not risk their best horses there. His comments to Reuters come after Saturday’s first running of the world’s richest horse race worth $10 million on Tapeta, a synthetic surface that saw the unlikely victory of Gloria de Campeao at the new Meydan racecourse. Trained by Pascal Bary in France, Gloria de Campeao, a 16-1 shot, became the first winner in the 15-year history of the race to have not been trained in America or by the global stable of Godolphin. The victory signalled the changing nature of international horse racing. “I was disappointed at the number of ours that went over there and how they performed,” Woolley told Reuters. “I think it is detrimental to the world programme that Dubai have gone with synthetic. It rules out dirt horses from the mix, and I really do think that it will stem the tide of American horses for the foreseeable future.” The seven-year-old Gloria de Campeao had been blitzed by 14 lengths when finishing second on dirt to the American horse Well Armed 12 months ago, but due to the change in surface, the American challenge at the meeting was much reduced this year. A whole host of top US dirt

performers avoided a tilt at the $10m purse, including the unbeaten filly Zenyatta, who even won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic on Pro-Ride, another synthetic surface. The Americans were successful with Kinsale King, their sole representative in the Golden Shaheen, the Group 1 sprint that they have won six times since the race was upgraded to a Group 1 event in 2002. Their best finishing position in the World Cup, however, a race they have won eight times, was Gio Ponti’s fourth, while the Bob Baffert-trained Richard’s Kid finished seventh. Furthest Land, trained by Michael J Maker finished last. “I’m not a fan of synthetic at all,” continued Woolley. “The grass horses seem to do better on it. It’s to do with their action. Grass horses tend to have more of an action, whereas dirt horses move more smoothly. “Horses were born to run on grass and dirt. From my experience, especially with Mine That Bird, the synthetic surface that he trained on at Santa Anita compressed and compacted and then tended to snap back at him. “It makes their backs sore. It’s not a bone problem, more of a soft tissue problem.” Woolley is convinced that now the surface has been changed the risk of running a horse on an alien surface so far from his base in New Mexico is simply is not worth it, despite the enormous purse on offer. —Reuters



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wimbledon winner’s hidden talent emerges LONDON: Elizabeth WarnefordThomson had known for a long time that her late aunt Ethel was Wimbledon tennis champion back in 1912. The one time she visited her aunt at her home in south-west England she and her accountant husband were shown a vast array of sporting trophies. That was in 1963, two years before Ethel’s death at the age of 86 and 51 years after her triumph in the Wimbledon women’s singles final.

What her aunt failed to mention, and what Elizabeth found out only last year, was that before turning to tennis Ethel Warneford-Thomson had won 11 All England badminton titles between 1900 and 1906 — five singles and six doubles. Some record books have her winning five more singles titles, making 16 in all, though that figure has lately been revised after checks in the archives. It remains a remarkable achievement and was one of the reasons why

Badminton England chairman Mike Sertin, marking the 100th staging this year of the All England championships, tracked Elizabeth down to her Taunton home. It was only then that she learnt that her aunt, who also won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title in 1914, had a sporting pedigree that extended into badminton. Such was Ethel’s prowess that last year she was inducted into the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Hall of Fame.

Elizabeth, 77, told Reuters: “I just didn’t know and when Mike rang my son Malcolm he thought at first he was talking about tennis.” When Elizabeth and her husband visited the champion’s home in Budleigh Salterton all those years ago they were accompanied by Malcolm, then a boy of four. Now 51 and a financial adviser in Richmond, Virginia, he recalls Ethel as very austere. Elizabeth remembers a proud, aristocratic lady, though possibly with good reason;

her family can be traced back to King Edward I. “We didn’t know anything about her badminton and she didn’t mention it although she was quite chatty,” Elizabeth told Reuters. At the recent All England badminton championships in Birmingham, the Town Hall hosted a banquet celebrating the event’s centenary and honouring figures in the sport past and present. They included Ethel whose certificate from the BWF welcomed her

to the Hall of Fame for “enhancement of badminton through exceptional circumstances”. In the audience were greatnephew Malcolm and his 17-year-old daughter Agnes. Both flew over from the United States especially and Agnes went up to collect the certificate on behalf of her great, great aunt. Elizabeth said: “Agnes was very excited. It meant a lot.” The occasion was all the more poignant as Sertin, who had told the family about Ethel’s achievements,

had died suddenly three days earlier. The Badminton Gazette of November 1912, chronicling Ethel’s era, describes a remarkable woman. It relates that: “Mrs Larcombe (her married name) golfs, when there is time, is a brilliant pianist, a notably good bridge player with interests in needlework, music, reading, writing and a devotion to animals, especially cats and dogs.” Not to mention Wimbledon and those All England badminton titles. —Reuters

The champions pose with their trophy.

Els hangs on to win at Bay Hill The Gulf Bank captain receives the championship’s trophy.

Gulf Bank crowned KBC League champion KUWAIT: The Gulf Bank was recently crowned as the champion of the Kuwait Banks Club Football League, after overcoming the International Bank in the final match 4-0. Following a goalless half Gulf Bank were able to score the first goal nine minutes following the break by Mohammad Jloud. Three minutes later, Salem ALHaza’a scored the second goal for his team, which was followed by a third in the 19th minute of the second half by Ali Subhi. The final goal was scored at the 32nd mark by Ahmad Al-Bazri. The match was attended by the head of

the KBC, Hamad Al-Marzouq, the KBC’s secretary general, Nabeel Al-Saqaabi, KBC CEO Hisham Al-Bu’aijan, Gulf Bank CEO, Ali Al-Badr, International Bank Managing Director, Hameed Al-Rasheed, General Manager for the International Bank, Diya’a Al-Asfour, Gulf Bank’s board affairs director, Fawzi Al-Thunaiyan, Head of the human resources department at the Gulf Bank, Sorour Al-Samara’ei, head of the sports committee of the KBC, Mohammad Al-Meel, KBC assistant secretary general Jassim Al-Haidar, and a number of banking sector officials. Following the final whistle, the Gulf

Bank team were awarded with their trophy, while the International Bank was awarded with their runner-up award. The third place was awarded to the Ahli Bank. The Gulf Bank also won the fair team award, while several other awards were handed during the closing ceremony. Al-Bu’aijan awarded the head of the KBC, Hamad Al-Marzouq, with an honorary shield , while similar shields were awarded for Al-Arabi Sports Club for hosting the final match, and to Kuwait TV 3 (KTV3) for broadcasting the event. A lottery draw was also held for the spectators.

ORLANDO: Ernie Els had next week’s US Masters deeply etched in his mind as he put the finishing touches on a two-shot victory at the rain-hit Arnold Palmer Invitational on Monday. The South African will tee off at Augusta National in Georgia next week as one of the favourites for the opening major of the year, with confidence running sky-high after winning his last two PGA Tour events. “You try and downplay it, but you do think about it. Today I thought about it on the 72nd hole. I was like: ‘Okay, you’re standing at Augusta and you’ve got to hit this hard fade,’” Els told reporters of the Masters after carding a one-under-par 71 at Bay Hill. “Even though there are different circumstances, you think of shots that you’re going to be playing over there. “You try and have your short game very sharp, and that’s what I’ve been doing,” Els said of the special demands made by the heavily contoured, slick greens at Augusta National. “I hadn’t won for such a long time. Now, to be able to feel like I can tee it up and play with these boys, it feels good.” Els, a three-times major champion, ended a two-year title drought on the U.S. circuit with a four-stroke victory at the elite WGC-CA Championship earlier this month at Doral. On Monday, he sealed his 18th PGA Tour win with an 11under total of 277 at Bay Hill,

ORLANDO: Ernie Els of South Africa is presented with the trophy by host Arnold Palmer of the USA after the completion of the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. —AFP surviving a few anxious moments over the last four holes with an impeccable short game. Above all, though, Els signalled to his peers and fans he is close to the form that lifted him to number one in the world rankings in 1998 and made him a perennial contender at majors. “I want to make this a special year,” said the South African, whose form had dipped in recent seasons, mainly due to his putting. “But I still have a lot of

work left and there are a lot of majors left, and that’s going to be fun now.” A double US Open champion who also won the British Open in 2002, Els has posted six top-10s at the Masters, including runnerup spots behind Fijian Vijay Singh in 2000 and American lefthander Phil Mickelson in 2004. Asked whether he felt he was owed a victory at Augusta National, Els replied: “No, I can’t say that. In 2004, Phil just played

great. He beat me. I didn’t beat myself. “In 2000, I felt I left some shots out there when I finished second to Vijay. Vijay birdied 18 to win by three but it was a lot closer than that. “I’ve had a lot of top 10s there and stuff like that but I don’t want to say that (I am owed victory). I think I’ll jinx myself saying that,” Els added with a broad grin. The Masters runs from April 8-11. —Reuters

The Industrial Bank team pose with their runners-up trophy.

Evans gamble pays off as BMC given Tour berth

Al-Saqaabi receives the honorary shield from Al-Bu’aijan, on behalf of Al-Marzouq.

PARIS: Cadel Evans’s gamble to sign with BMC paid off yesterday when the world champion’s team were picked by organisers to take part in this year’s Tour de France. BMC are one of 22 teams that will start the race on July 3 in Rotterdam, along with seven-times champion Lance Armstrong’s RadioShack and Briton Bradley Wiggins’s Team Sky. Sixteen teams, including defending champion Alberto Contador’s Astana, were assured of a place in the Tour under a 2008-2010 agreement. “From 2011, according to an agreement between grand Tours organisers and the International

Cycling Union, the first 17 teams in the world rankings at the end of 2010 ... will be automatically selected,” Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) said in a statement. BMC are not part of the ProTour, the elite of world cycling, and therefore were not guaranteed a place in the Tour. However, they made it almost impossible for organisers to leave them out by signing Australian Evans, former world champion Alessandro Ballan and the experienced George Hincapie. Last year, Evans was part of the Silence-Lotto team (now Omega Pharma-Lotto), one of the 16 outfits

with a guaranteed place in the Tour. Organisers left out Dutch outfit Vacansoleil, the team of France’s Brice Feillu, who won a mountain stage in Arcalis in last year’s edition. France’s Saur Sojasun were also left out. Teams: AG2R La Mondiale, Astana, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Caisse d’Epargne, Cofidis, HTC-Columbia, Euskaltel, Francaise des Jeux, Footon-Servetto, Lampre, Liquigas-Doimo, Milram, Quick Step, Rabobank, Saxo Bank, Omega Pharma-Lotto, GarminTransitions, Katusha, Cervelo Test Team, RadioShack, Team Sky, BMC. —Reuters



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

ST PETERSBURG: Ryan Briscoe of Australia, driver of the No.6 Team Penske Dallara Honda drives during IndyCar Series Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. — AFP

Power trying to keep focus after hot IRL start ST. PETERSBURG: It’s not hard to already envision Will Power wrapping his hands around the Indy Racing League championship trophy at Homestead-Miami Speedway this autumn. After all, he’s made it through the first month of the IRL undefeated. Two races so far, two wins already for Power, who prevailed on Monday at the rain-delayed Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to move 44 points clear of defending champion Dario Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Justin Wilson in the standings. If so inclined — and naturally, he’s not — Power could skip the April 11 race in

Alabama and still likely keep his perch atop the points race. Championship talk in March? Perish the thought, Power said. Still, to put this in some perspective, his 103 points so far after winning rain-affected events in Sao Paulo and St. Petersburg are 22 more than Scott Dixon and Danica Patrick combined. “I’m just, you know, aware that it’s only race two of 17,” Power said. “To win a championship, it doesn’t matter if you win two races and then have a heap of bad ones. You just have to keep at it every weekend. You go into every weekend thinking, ‘OK, I have a chance to win’ and if you can’t, you have to make the most of it.”

History seems to be on the Australian’s side. Sam Hornish Jr. was the last driver to open an IndyCar season with two wins, back in 2001. He took the series title that year by 105 points. “Obviously, with 100-plus points, he’s got a good lead,” said Ryan Briscoe, Power’s teammate at Penske Racing and the thirdplace finisher at St. Pete. “But it’s early days. There’s a lot of racing to go, lots of different tracks to come. But you know, at Penske, he’s got a car that’s going to be strong at all the races this year and it’s going to take a lot to catch him.” Power is thankful just to have a car. Barely seven months ago, that wasn’t a sure thing. Really, nothing

was. A crash in practice at Sonoma, California left Power with four broken bones in his back, an airlift to a nearby hospital and a most uncertain future. He got his foot into the door of the Penske garage conly when Helio Castroneves — fourth on Monday — missed the race at St. Pete in 2009 because of a US tax-evasion trial. Castroneves won the trial and returned to his car. Team owner Roger Penske told Power he’d try to find sponsorship to get him as many starts as possible in 2009, and made the same vow to him at the hospital after the Sonoma wreck. Maybe even more than the doctor’s word that he wouldn’t need

surgery, Penske’s pledge put Power at complete ease. He rehabbed, got stronger and came back with a full-time ride for 2010. Power hasn’t lost since. “For Will, it’s unbelievable for a guy who wasn’t sure he was going to have a full-time ride for a good part of last year,” Briscoe said. “He had faith in Penske and, likewise, the other way around. Penske stuck behind him after he broke his back. Obviously Will did an awesome job last year in all the races he ran.” So what, if anything, does Power need to improve on? “Maybe toughen up his hand a little bit,” Briscoe said. He wasn’t kidding. Not really, anyway.

Nets get 10th win, avoid worst mark EAST RUTHERFORD: The New Jersey Nets notched their 10th victory of the season Monday night, avoiding any chance of equaling the worst record in NBA history by beating the short-handed San Antonio Spurs 90-84. Brook Lopez had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Nets, who grabbed control with a 15-4 run late in the fourth quarter to improve to 10-64. The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who went 9-73, will remain in the record books as the league’s worst team. Public address announcer Gary Sussman shouted “We got 10! The Nets win!” after New Jersey snapped a 14-game losing streak in the series, committing a club record-low four turnovers in beating San Antonio for the first time since the 2003 NBA finals. George Hill scored 19 points and former Net Richard Jefferson added 16 for the Spurs. Mavericks 109, Nuggets 93 At Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki had 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his second career triple-double as Dallas maintained the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Shawn Marion added 21 points and Jason Terry contributed 15 for Dallas, which increased its conference lead over Denver to 1 1-2 games. J.R. Smith scored 27 points and Nene had 14 for the Nuggets, who lost their fifth in six games. Carmelo Anthony went 3 for 16 from the floor and had 10 points, 18.9 below his average. Hornets 108, Lakers 100 At New Orleans, Chris Paul had 15 points and

PAYS activities conclude KUWAIT: The sports activities festival held by the Public Authority for Youth and Sports for the season 2009/2010 was recently concluded in a ceremony that was attended and sponsored by the deputy head of the PAYS, Jassem Yaqoub. The final day of competitions featured heated competitions in various athletic, cultural, religious and ideological activities that conveyed the real talent of participants in addition to the great interest that the PAYS gives to utilize and develop these talents. Among the events that was carried out during the last day was a running race for senior citizens, in addition to soccer competition held between teams of youth centers, in which Al-

13 assists, his first double-double since returning from a knee injury, and David West scored 20 points for New Orleans. Marcus Thornton added 18 points, including three 3-pointers, and fellow rookie Darren Collison had 17 points for the Hornets. Kobe Bryant had 31 points and Pau Gasol added 26 points and 22 rebounds for the Lakers, who fell behind by as much as 17 points in the fourth. Jazz 103, Knicks 98 At Salt Lake City, Carlos Boozer had 26 points and 14 rebounds, and Deron Williams added 23 points and 14 assists as Utah took over first place in the Northwest Division. Paul Millsap also had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz, who are now one game ahead of Denver in the division and within a half-game of Dallas for the No. 2 spot in the West. Al Harrington led New York with 26 points and 17 rebounds.

NBA results and standings on Monday: Toronto 103, Charlotte 101; New Jersey 90, San Antonio 84; New Orleans 108, La Lakers 100; Dallas 109, Denver 93; Utah 103, NY Knicks 98. Western Conference Northw est Division Utah 49 26 .653 Denver 48 27 .640 1 Oklahoma City 44 28 .611 3.5 Portland 45 29 .608 3.5 Minnesota 14 60 .189 34.5 Pacific Division LA Lakers 54 20 .730 Phoenix 47 26 .644 6.5 LA Clippers 27 46 .370 26.5 Sacramento 24 50 .324 30 Golden State 21 52 .288 32.5 Southwest Division Dallas 49 25 .662 San Antonio 44 29 .603 4.5 Memphis 38 35 .521 10.5 Houston 36 36 .500 12 New Orleans 35 40 .467 14.5

Ardiya Youths Center emerged victorious after defeating Al-Subaihya Youths Center in the final. In addition, several cultural and religious competitions including Holy Quran memorization and reciting competitions were held as part of a comprehensive plan that aims to elevate the ideological and mental status of youngsters in addition to their physical status. Furthermore, Yaqoub also commemorated a number of ideal employees at the PAYS, in a step that aims to encourage staff members for hard work. He also delivered a speech in which he asserted on the importance of elevating the status of youths action, and increasing patriotism among members.

Tour de France team lineup announced

Raptors 103, Bobcats 101 At Charlotte, Chris Bosh had 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Hedo Turkoglu hit the go-ahead 3pointer a day after getting benched as Toronto got a key win in the playoff chase. The Raptors (36-37) entered having lost three straight and 13 of 17, but snapped Charlotte’s three-game winning streak to stay in eighth place in the East, a game ahead of Chicago. Raymond Felton and Stephen Jackson each scored 18 points, and Gerald Wallace added 17 for the Bobcats. — AP

NBA results/standings

Ea stern Conference Atlantic Division W L PCT GB Boston 47 26 .644 Toronto 36 37 .493 11 NY Knicks 26 47 .356 21 Philadelphia 26 47 .356 21 New Jersey 10 64 .135 37.5 Centra l Division Cleveland 58 16 .784 Milwaukee 40 32 .556 17 Chicago 35 38 .479 22.5 Indiana 27 47 .365 31 Detroit 23 50 .315 34.5 Southea st Division Orlando 52 22 .703 Atlanta 47 26 .644 4.5 Miami 40 34 .541 12 Charlotte 38 35 .521 13.5 Washington 21 51 .292 30

Power had a blister pop up on his right hand around the time of the race in Brazil. After the race on Monday, he wrapped a bandage around that hand, prompting some concern that the injury was more serious than first thought. It wasn’t. The reason Power had the bandage? Too many people were stopping to shake his hand. For a guy concerned about walking and working a few months ago, that’s not necessarily a bad problem to have. “We just have to stop the guy, man,” Castroneves said moments after congratulating his teammate on Monday. “What’s going on with Will Power?” That’s the question everyone in IRL is trying to answer. — AP

EAST RUTHERFORD: New Jersey Nets’ Brook Lopez (right) puts up a shot over San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game. — AP

PARIS: The 2010 Tour de France from July 3-25 will have 22 teams competing for the top prize in cycling, race organisers announced yesterday. Among them will be the US Radioshack team of seven-time former tour winner Lance Armstrong and the recentlyformed Sky team of Britain who have built on Britain’s track success at Beijing 2008 to create a talented roster headed by triple Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins, who was fourth in last year’s race. All 16 teams which form the ProTour circuit are included in the lineup along with six specially invited teams which include Radioshack and Sky. Last year’s tour winner Alberto Contador of Spain will once again compete for the Astana team of Kazakhstan. Asked whether the fact there were four US teams and one British team on the list this year indicated that increased efforts were being made to attract interest from english-speaking countries, tour chief Christian Prudhomme replied that “The Tour will always stay the Tour de France.” “It’s the greatest cycle race in the world and there will be no

turning our backs on the past. “The race is becoming more international and that is only logical. In football, the best French players more often than not play for the top foreign clubs.” Dave Brailsford, team principal for Team Sky, said: “A place in the Tour has been a dream for so many of us for so long - now it’s a reality. “We will do everything we can to help create an exciting race with a group of highly talented and motivated riders who race to win. “We are a rider-centred team and the riders must take the credit for getting us selected for this year’s Tour de France through their fantastic early season performances. “They are a fantastic bunch of guys and I know they will arrive in Rotterdam ready to give it their very best.” Wiggins, who was fourth in the 2009 Tour before signing for Team Sky in December, added: “As a team we are thrilled that we’re going to compete in the biggest bike race in the world. “I’m hugely proud to be in a British-based team taking on the Tour de France and I’m convinced we’ll leave our mark.”— AFP



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Semenya announces return to competitive running STELLENBOSCH: Caster Semenya says she will return to competitive racing this season, releasing a statement on the same day that she was denied a chance to run at a meet in South Africa because the results from her gender verification tests have not yet been released. The 19-year-old Semenya, who has not raced or spoken publicly since she won the women’s 800-meter race at the world championships in Berlin in August, said yesterday that she has not done anything wrong and should be allowed to race. “I hereby publicly announce my return to athletics competitions,” Semenya said.

The IAAF is still reviewing the test results to determine the South African runner’s eligibility. The organization has refused to confirm or deny Australian media reports that the tests indicate Semenya has both male and female sex organs. Although there is no ban or suspension preventing Semenya from competing, it is thought that she had agreed not to race until the IAAF releases its findings. “I am of the firm view that there is no impediment to me competing in athletics competitions,” Semenya said. “I will however continue to assist the IAAF with whatsoever they may require for

their own processes and in this regard I have instructed my legal and medical team to work closely with, and continue negotiation with them for these purposes.” Earlier yesterday, Semenya was denied a spot to race at a meet in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, despite pleas from her coach and lawyer to let her compete. Although she was in Stellenbosch, she refused to talk about her situation. “Why would I want to talk to media,” Semenya told The Associated Press. “I don’t want to talk to you.” In the statement, Semenya said that her legal advisers had tried to contact the International

Associations of Athletics Federations three times but didn’t get any response about when she can return to competition. “The result is that my athletic capabilities and earning potential are being severely compromised,” Semenya said. It was unclear when Semenya would make her return. “My coach, agent and I will work closely together to identify and prepare for a limited number of athletics meetings over the course of the coming athletics season,” Semenya said. Jos Hermens, the meeting director for the Shanghai Grand Prix, said he could not say what his position on Semenya would be

if she tried to enter that competition. “For me it’s not of any urgency and I don’t want to make any decision on that,” Hermans said. “I can only look at the human side that it’s terrible that this is happening to her. “Whatever the outcome, the only victim is her.” Richard Stander, the chief executive of the local Boland Athletics association and meet organizer, told the AP that Semenya had not been invited to Tuesday’s meet. “The IAAF have got her under advisement from her medical team and until such a time as the IAAF tells us otherwise ... we cannot invite her,” Stander told the AP. “Her coach spoke to me. And a

member of her legal team. They are requesting for their athlete to participate and I said to them exactly what I am saying to you. There are rules that we need to apply.” Semenya, who stayed at the meet in Stellenbosch to watch others compete, said in the statement that she has done nothing wrong. “I have been subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being,” Semenya said. “I had committed no wrongdoing, I begrudgingly committed to assist the IAAF in concluding its processes which I did not agree with.”—AP

Federer, Venus advance

KEY BISCAYNE: Roger Federer of Switzerland returns a shot against Florent Serra of France on day seven of the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open. — AFP

KEY BISCAYNE: Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland returns a shot during the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open. — AFP

Brits take bets on Tiger’s first drive LONDON: Forget about only winning the Masters, British bookmakers are taking bets on whether Tiger Woods will hit a tree on his first drive or if he’ll kiss an anonymous blonde before teeing off. Woods, who will make his return to golf next week at Augusta National after months of seclusion following revelations that he cheated on his wife, is shaping up to be a big market for bettors in Britain. “We’ll absolutely certainly take a couple of million (pounds) on it ourselves,” William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said Tuesday. “So far, people are sensibly reluctant to part with their cash until two or three days beforehand ... because once you place your bet you can’t cancel it.” Both William Hill and Ladbrokes have Woods listed as the 4-1 favorite to win, even though he has not competed since driving into a tree outside his home in late November. The

34-year-old Woods has won the Masters title four times and has 14 majors overall. This year’s tournament starts on April 8. Phil Mickelson is the second favorite behind Woods at 9-1, and Ernie Els is third at 10-1, according to William Hill. But besides the usual bets about making the cut or finishing outside the top 10, markets are open on whether he will hit the fairway on his opening drive, miss the fairway, or even hit a tree. “We’ve got a whole host (of markets), the funnies around to the serious,” Ladbrokes spokesman Nick Weinberg said. “Obviously, (we’ve) priced him up to win the major, to miss the cut, to have a fight with a fan on the first tee, to kiss an anonymous blonde — which doesn’t include (John) Daly, we point out.” Despite any off-the-course problems, both Adams and Weinberg said that bettors will stand behind Woods

with their money. “He could have 10 years off the sport and there’d be punters backing him,” Weinberg said. “Even a 50 percent-75 percent Tiger Woods should have more than enough to see off the field.” William Hill is already offering 26 markets on Woods, and Hill said they expect to open 10 more over the weekend. “Things like: Will he have an argument? Will he throw a club? Will he break a club in anger? Will there be a streaker on the final green? Will Elin (Nordegren) be seen in the crowd?” Adams said. But while Adams is expecting more money to pour in as the Masters gets closer, he’s hoping some of it goes against Woods winning his fifth green jacket. “We don’t want to attract too much money on him,” Adams said, “because the first rule of golf bookmaking is never take on Tiger.”—AP

MIAMI: Roger Federer had to dig deep to win a pair of tiebreaks but Svetlana Kuznetsova was not so lucky as the women’s top seed was sent crashing out of the ATP and WTA Sony Ericsson Open on Monday. Reigning Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon champ Federer swept past France’s Florent Serra 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/3) in a third round match. Serra made top seed Federer work for the win as the Swiss star had his service broken three times and he made two costly double-faults. Federer also committed 35 unforced errors to 32 for Serra. But Federer closed out the win with a service winner as he played well in both tiebreakers on the hardcourts at Crandon Park. “All in all, I’m thrilled to be through,” Federer said. “At the end of the day, that’s what counts.” Watching from the stands on Monday was Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who could meet Federer in Sunday’s final. “It has always been a lot of fun playing against him,” Federer said. “I hope that day is going to come soon again.” Federer won the Key Biscayne title in 2005 and 2006. His 36 career victories in the event is third behind Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. In the women’s side of the draw, top seed Kuznetsova crashed out of the tournament after suffering a 6-3, 6-0 fourth round loss to former Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli of France. Kuznetsova, who won here four years ago, received on-court treatment for a nagging shoulder injury three times in Monday’s match. “I almost had stars in my eyes, it was so painful,” said Kuznetsova, who won just eight points in the second set. “I cannot return. Then I cannot serve.” In the evening match, Justine Henin of Belgium breezed past Russian Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-4. Bartoli claimed her first win in three meetings with the Russian and advanced to the Miami quarter-finals for the second time in her career. She has now won seven of her past 11 matches against top five players. “I’m just trying to stay positive each day and go on the court and practice as well as I could and just get on the court and play my tennis and see how it goes,” said 13th seeded Bartoli. “Obviously this week is working pretty well.” American Mardy Fish advanced to the fourth round with his second straight win over a seeded opponent, beating No. 29 Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-3. Fish upset defending champion Andy Murray in the second round. Federer needed 92 minutes and six aces to dispatch Serra in their first career meeting. He won eight straight service points in the tiebreakers. Federer advances to face No. 16 Tomas Berdych, who beat Horacio Zeballos 64, 7-5. Federer’s 7-6, 7-6 win was his first since 2008. He played just four tiebreakers in his 14 previous matches this year, winning two. “It’s nice having won two breakers,” he said. “That doesn’t happen every match you play.” Third seeded Venus Williams won the final seven points as the American rallied to beat Daniela Hantuchova 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals. “I was a little bit off and struggling to find the court,” said Williams, the only American to reach the round of 16. “Of course I’d like to win more straightforward, but when it counts and times get tough, I always feel confident that I’m going to find a way to win.” Williams smashed service winners on the opening two points of the final game. “I’d like to play every game like that,” she said. “It was a perfect game.” Williams is looking for her fourth Miami title and her first in nine years. She advances to face Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat Yaroslava Shvedova 6-1, 6-4. Like Kuznetsova, defending champion Victoria Azarenka also lost on Monday as former world number one Kim Clijsters easily beat Azarenka 6-4, 6-0. Clijsters, seeded 14th, next plays Australian Samantha Stosur, who surprised seventh seed Jelena Jankovic 61, 7-6 (11/9). Beating Hantuchova is old hat for Williams, who has won all 10 of their contests. But she was not in top form committing 45 unforced errors, including 11 as she lost the first four games. “Days like this, you just have to figure out a way to win the point, even if it’s not pretty,” Williams said. “I enjoy that battle.” —AFP

Usain Bolt celebrates in this file photo

Diamond League showdown drawing top talents: Official SALVO: Olympic and world champion Usain Bolt’s 100 metres race with Jamaican compatriot Asafa Powell is proof the Diamond League will bring athletics to centre stage, an official of the new circuit said on Monday. According to Patrick Magyar, vice chairman of the Diamond League board and organiser of the Zurich meeting, the series will be for athletics what Formula One is to motor racing and the grand slam is to tennis. “If you want to see the best, you are going to watch the Diamond League and the big championships,” Magyar told Reuters by telephone from Switzerland. Bolt and Powell, the current and former 100 metres world record holders, will go head-to-head July 16 in Paris, organisers said on Monday in the first announced key match-up for the Diamond

League. “There will be more,” said Magyar, who was instrumental in forming the 14-meeting global circuit which launches May 14 in Doha. Bolt, American record holder Tyson Gay and Powellthe three fastest men ever over 100 metres-are under contract to make seven Diamond League appearances with one guaranteed to compete in each of the 14 meetings. Several competitions will feature two of the three sprinters and a select few will headline all three. “I will be racing Bolt at least three times or more,” Gay has said. New York, London and Brussels will be the sites, athletics sources have told Reuters. Of the three, only Bolt’s New York appearance has been announced. Ethiopian distance runner Kenenisa Bekele, Russian

pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, U.S. women’s 400 metres sprinter Sanya Richards and Croatian high jumper Blanka Vlasic also will be part of the circuit. Competitions in Shanghai, Oslo, Rome, New York, Eugene (Oregon), Lausanne, Gateshead, Paris, Monaco, Stockholm, London, Zurich and Brussels will follow Doha. The series replaces the sixmeeting, Europe-only Golden League circuit with the goal of expanding athletics globally and bringing more head-tohead competition to the sport. “The Diamond League is the most auspicious change to one-day invitational meetings since I have been a meet director,” said 27-year Prefontaine Classic organiser Tom Jordan of Eugene, Oregon. “It gives a coherence to what otherwise was a series of individual events.” —Reuters

Smith prepares to conquer the world LONDON: Bradley Smith has world domination in mind, and a pain in the neck, as he prepares for a season that could crown him Britain’s first grand prix motorcycling champion in 33 years. The fresh-faced 19-year-old, more of a Tintin on two wheels than hairy biker, turned out for interviews yesterday with a raw scorch mark on his neck and ointment smeared inside his collar. “In the last test I high-sided at about 120 miles an hour,” the 125cc rider, runner-up in last year’s championship, told Reuters when asked about his novel ‘tattoo’. “I then slid along the track and the bike caught me up and gave me a love bite with the rear tyre,” he added in his Oxfordshire burr. “I’m struggling a little bit with neck movement but it’ll be fine. It’s one of those things like burns, just a pain but nothing’s broken so it’s not stopping me riding.” Smith won two races last year and led the championship briefly before losing out to Bancaja Aspar team mate Julian Simon of Spain. While Simon has graduated to the new Moto2 category that Smith had hoped to move up to, the Briton has stayed behind as one of the favourites to win the championship that starts in Qatar on April 11. Britain has boasted recent champions in world superbikes but the days when the nation thrilled to the grand prix exploits of greats like Geoff Duke, John Surtees or Mike ‘The Bike’ Hailwood have long gone. The last to take a world title in the any class was the late

Barry Sheene when he won the 500cc crown for Suzuki in 1977. Smith has been carefully nurtured by the powers that be, eager to have a Briton back at the top, but he knows he has to deliver this season if he is to move on towards his ultimate goal of MotoGP. “This year I have really got to put myself right there, make sure that I’m standing above the rest of the guys but I think I’m ready to do so,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough season, but physically I am ready

Bradley Smith and mentally I am more than ready. So it’s just bring on round one and let’s just start.” Smith took his first win at Jerez last May, in his 50th race, and added another victory at Mugello in Italy the same month. Until 2008, when 15-yearold Scott Redding won his home race at Donington Park, Britain had not provided a winner in the 125cc category since Chas Mortimer in 1973. Smith will be starting his fifth, and he hopes final, season in the most junior category of

the MotoGP circus and is already an old head on young shoulders. He now feels he has the experience and the confidence to deliver. If he feels a little like a schoolboy being asked to stay down a year, he also looks increasingly like he has outgrown the category. “I think I haven’t stopped growing for the last four years, it’s just manic,” he grinned. “I had a big growth spurt and I thought that was pretty much it but I seem to still be growing and filling out. It’s going to be a little bit difficult this year just with the extra size, getting on the bike. “I have to work more on flexibility, just to get tucked in,” he added. “When you are down on power the last thing you want is to be less aerodynamic. We’ve been working on moving the foot pegs back and just tried to create more space so we are more streamlined but its not easy.” Smith was well off the pace in the last test in Jerez, clocking the eighth best time behind Spanish pacesetters Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro, but he said that was no concern. “I quite like the fact that there isn’t too much pressure on me at the moment just because I’m not riding that fast in pre-season,” he said. “The emphasis is on the new young guys coming up...the Spanish are doing the business at the moment so I kind of go into Qatar as the underdog. “I am quite looking forward to that rather than being the guy setting the pace and everyone trying to chase me. I am the one playing catch up but I quite like that idea.” —Reuters


Wednesday, March 31, 2010


‘The beautiful game’ changing young Indian lives MUMBAI: The rutted, dusty pitch at the Bombay Port Trust sports ground is a world away from the English Premier League and its plush, allseater stadiums, manicured turf and big-money stars. But for hundreds of young boys and girls from Mumbai’s slums and streets, playing football on the hard ground in the shadow of crumbling factories and warehouses is like an appearance at Old Trafford, Anfield or Stamford Bridge. An excited crowd shelters from the sweltering sun under a makeshift stand, cheering on their friends, brothers, sisters, sons or daughters. For the length of an eight-a-side game, nothing else matters.

“These children are forced to become adults much sooner than anyone else,” said Sohan Shah, from the British charity Magic Bus, which organises the tournament. “They’re working or taking care of siblings. This is about giving them a childhood. It’s as simple as that,” he told AFP. Magic Bus has been working with thousands of children for more than a decade, using sport-especially the world game of football — to build confidence, discipline and self-worth in the city’s most deprived youngsters. It currently works with nearly 50 groups of about 40 children in places like the Bombay Port Trust area,

where residents live in cramped, filthy conditions with little access to even the most basic of facilities. Football is part of the children’s weekly, two-hour social and personal development classes and are played throughout the year, culminating in the much-anticipated finals in early March. With its simple philosophy of sport as the best school for life, the organisation has captured the imagination of politicians, big business and sports stars around the world. The Premier League-watched in 211 countries around the world and by more than 77 million fans outside Britain every week-is a main strategic partner and one of a number of

international corporate sponsors. Some of the youngsters will even go to this year’s World Cup finals in South Africa, as part of the Football for Hope festival involving children from more than 30 programmes that also use “the beautiful game” for social change. “Kids have a right to play,” said Shah, as a gust of wind blows up white dust from the touchline. “It’s not human not to be given that right. Once they play they will grow and get empowered. “We’ve found that sport helps increase school attendance and reduce substance abuse and crime. It also helps community cohesion.” He added: “The Premier League sup-

porting something here is brilliant.” Getting girls into sport-and encouraging boys to play with and respect them-has been a major achievement, said Shah. “The Bombay Port Trust area is mainly a Muslim community. Even for these girls to be here and play in shorts is a big change. It makes them and even their mothers feel empowered,” he added. “They feel they can be anything they want to be.” Ten years ago, Parvati Pujari was the same age as the players on the pitch. Now the 19-year-old is a charity volunteer, coaching a team of pigtailed girls drawn from a city orphanage and slum area. “Both my parents

were construction workers and I never got to play games,” she said. “I have six sisters and I had to look after the younger ones, so games were never considered important. It was only important to study and do housework. “But when we joined Magic Bus I learnt a lot of new games and I managed to use these games in my daily life. I started feeling that they are not just games. I can really use them even when I go home.” Parvati is one of the charity’s success stories. For the last year, she has been playing fly-half for the fledgling Indian women’s rugby union team and is determined to be a role model for younger girls.

With so many children now involved, young talent has inevitably emerged. One girl is now playing for the state under-15 team while the boys’ team is climbing the local leagues, said Shah. Magic Bus is part of an international initiative to develop grassroots sport in India with help from the United Nations children’s fund UNICEF, UK Sport and the Indian government. Shah is convinced that one day a professional player will emerge from Mumbai’s slums. “It will happen because if you give so many people a chance to play there’s going to be stars that will emerge,” he said. —AFP

Mourinho stokes fire ahead of CSKA clash

IRAN: Qatar’s Al-Sadd player Mesaad Al-Hamad (left) battles with Iran’s Mes Kerman club player Mostafa Sayfi (No.17) during their AFC Champions League Group D football match. Mes Kerman won 3-1. —AFP

Kashima first into AFC knockouts SINGAPORE: Japanese heavyweights Kashima Antlers powered into the last 16 of the AFC Champions League yesterday for the third year in a row and were joined by Korea’s Jeonbuk Motors. The J-League leaders trampled Indonesian minnows Persipura Jayapura 3-1 in Jakarta to leave them unbeaten after four games and on top of Group F. Jeonbuk Motors also went through from the group after grinding out a 1-0 home win over China’s Changchun Yatai. A fine 54th minute strike by former Middlesbrough man Lee Dong-Gook was enough to secure a win for the Koreans. It leaves them on nine points, six ahead of Changchun in third with two games remaining but with a superior head-to-head record. Kashima’s in-form mid-

fielder Yasushi Endo put his side in front after just two minutes at a virtually empty Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, volleying home a left wing cross from Brazilian defender Gilton. Surprisingly for a team that has conceded 21 goals and scored just one in their Champions League debut, Persipura snatched a shock equaliser through striker Tinus Pae on 19 minutes. Shinzo Koroki restored Kashima’s lead seven minutes later when he nicely controlled a Takuya Nozawa pass and whipped the ball past the goalkeeper. Atsuto Uchida smashed the third to kill the game off 10 minutes before the break. In Group H, Adelaide United could have sealed a knockout-stage spot with a win over Japanese strugglers Sanfrecce Hiroshima, but they

failed to take their chance, forced onto the back foot for much of the game in a 1-0 defeat. Hiroshima skipper Hisato Sato broke the deadlock shortly before half-time with a neat header after a pinpoint cross from Koji Nakajima. It leaves Adelaide on nine points, level with defending champions Pohang Steelers of South Korea who needed an 84th minute goal from Kim Tae-Su to secure a 2-1 victory China’s Shandong over Luneng. Kim Jae-Sung opened the scoring on 51 minutes before Li Jinyu pulled one back for the home team with 16 minutes left, setting up an exciting finale. The defeat leaves Shandong on three points and needing to win their last two games to keep alive their slim hopes. Elsewhere, former Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe

Scolari’s Bunyodkor slumped to defeat against Group B leaders Zobahan, with Brazilian veteran Rivaldo sent off. The Uzbek champions were beaten 3-0 by Zobahan last week and crashed 1-0 yesterday with Mohamad Reza Khalatbari getting the winner on the half hour mark. Two-time champions Al Ittihad, meanwhile, aim to repeat their win over UAE’s Al Wahda when they host their rivals in Jeddah and keep the pressure on the leading pair. Al Sadd of Qatar remained in second despite going down 3-1 to Mes Kerman, who also have six points in third on points difference. Eder Luciano, Ali Samareh and Paulo Zaltron were on the scoreboard for the Iranian side after Al Sadd had taken an early lead through Khalfan AlKhalfan. —AFP

Hotels, shopping malls come to South Africa’s changing Soweto SOWETO: Giant black-and-white photos of a young Nelson Mandela smile across the broad halls of a four-star star hotel, looking over the dusty street market where he once hid from apartheid police. This is the new Soweto, a mix of uppercrust comforts and urban grit, where shopping malls and landscaped parks have sprung up among some of South Africa’s most important landmarks of the struggle against white-minority rule. It’s a side of Johannesburg that residents hope World Cup visitors will venture out to see, where one third of the city’s 3.8 million people live. “In the past, you would be ashamed of saying you come from Soweto-first of all because it was associated with crime... shantytowns and poverty. But now it has improved,” said Frans Malotle, a 48-yearold businessman. “People want to stay in the townships. Our B-and-B’s are fully booked for the tournament,” he said. Soweto burst into headlines in 1976, when police fired on 10,000 students marching against apartheid, leaving 566 dead in the uprising that followed, becoming a symbol of the regime’s brutality and a spark for international sanctions. The image of burning tyres, violent protests and police brutality still colour perceptions of Soweto and South Africa’s other townships. The apartheid government, which ended in 1994 with the first all-race elections, created the townships as black-only residential neighbourhoods to provide labour for nearby industry or as domestic

workers in white homes. Soweto began in the 1930s as the South West Townships, separated from downtown Johannesburg by mine dumps and strips of empty land, an area now home to Soccer City, venue for the World Cup’s opening and final matches. Under apartheid, residents had scarce water supplies, few paved roads, inferior schools and were generally barred from opening businesses. Blacks couldn’t buy land, but received 99-year leases. When Mandela became the first black president in 1994, Soweto-like much of South Africa-was hit by a dramatic surge in violent crime. New government investment has paved roads and expanded access to electricity and water. Private investors have created the Maponya Mall and the four-star Soweto Hotel on Freedom Square. “Soweto has evolved as a township and now has become a city, because there is a mall, streets are tarred, crime level has come down. There is more respect among people,” said Garth Klein, an urban planning expert from the University of the

Matches on TV (local timings) UEFA Champions League Inter v CSKA Al Jazeera Sport +5


Arsenal v Barcelona Al Jazeera Sport +3


Witwatersrand. “Before you had to take two taxis to get to the closest mall, but as these malls mushroom, we can do shopping conveniently,” said Tsakane Maringa, 29, as he strolled through the air-conditioned halls of Maponya Mall. Now nine out of 10 Sowetans buy their goods locally, rather than travelling into the city for shopping, according to University of South Africa research. Shacks and grinding poverty remain. But the growing black middle class has upgraded their original matchbox houses to sturdier brick homes, and even mansions like Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former president’s ex-wife. Government has built new public spaces like Thokoza Park, where a stream runs under willow trees and children swing on new playgrounds. The Hector Peterson Museum memorialises the 1976 uprising, named for the 12year-old boy who was the first to die. While Johannesburg is definitely a city for driving, cars are still a luxury in Soweto, so neighbourhood streets are filled with pedestrians greeting neighbours over their fences. It’s that community spirit that Sowetans say is their real lure for visitors. “People are so friendly, no one has braais (barbeque) and parties like people in Soweto,” said 19-year-old Simphiwe Ngwena, who attends a private school downtown but chooses to keep living where she grew up. “You don’t need an invitation, you just rock up and say ‘what’s up’. We look out for each other.” —AFP

MILAN: Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho yesterday questioned CSKA Moscow’s right to still be in the Champions League ahead of their quarter-final, first leg clash at the San Siro today. CSKA defenders Aleksei Berezutski and Sergei Ignashevich were both provisionally suspended after they tested positive for a banned substance following their group match away to Manchester United in November. They were later found to have taken a cold medicine that had not been reported by the club’s doctors and they were retroactively given one-game bans (which they had already served). They were let off harsher punishment as UEFA accepted that club doctors had made a technical mistake. But Mourinho questioned the legitimacy of the club’s continued participation in the competition. “There’s something grey about CSKA’s progress in the Champions League. If two players go to an anti-doping control and a substance is found that’s not allowed in the Champions League, there’s something grey,” he said. The controversial former Chelsea boss was speaking to the press for the first time since the last round of this comeptition. He has boycotted the Italian media for the last six league matches since he was banned for three games after making a handcuffs gesture to TV cameras against Sampdoria in February. It was the fourth time he had received a touchline ban since arriving in Italy but Mourinho explained his silence was merely to allow him to do his job. “My press silence is doing me good because it allows me to sit on the bench and that’s important for me,” he explained. “I’ve always said that a coach does not win a match from the bench but it allows him to stay close to his players and that’s where I want to be. “Not speaking about Italy or the Italian league allows me to sit on the bench, and no I don’t want to risk that,” he said in answer to a question about whether or not he would end his boycott. And Mourinho added fuel to the fire of speculation that this will be his last season in Italy by admitting he retains an affinity for English football. “I miss English football and English football misses me, there’s no doubt about that, but right now I’m thinking only about Inter,” he added. “At Inter I’m very busy with the league, the Italian Cup and the Champions League. These occupy all my thoughts, preparing games and analysing them.” Looking ahead to today’s game, Mourinho said he expected the Russians to keep things tight and lamented the fact that the second leg will be played in the Russian capital on an artificial pitch. “If people think CSKA are not a team at the same level as a Barcelona or a Chelsea, they are nonetheless a very difficult team,” he said. “I expect a closed game, very defensive, which will need the highest level of concentration. “I would have much prefered to play the first game in Moscow. The synthetic pitch will also be difficult for us in the second leg.” Inter also have some selection difficulties with Thiago Motta and Lucio suspended but even so there will be no return to the team for teenage forward Mario Balotelli, frozen out for the last six games due to discipline issues. —AFP

ITALY: Inter Milan’s Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho ponders a question during a press conference at “la Pinetina” in Appiano Gentile yesterday. —AFP

Game Breakers hold Rangers KUWAIT: The first match of the sixth week of EFFK league at the Shuwaikh fire station ground was held on March 26. Game Breakers drew with favorites of the tournament Ranger’s FC. In the 11th minute of the first half Ricky of Game Breakers scored and in the 18th minute striker of Ranger’s FC Hemant equalized. The match resulted in a 1-1 scoreline. Luciano of Ranger’s FC and Sam of Game Breakers were shown yellow cards. Nepal VS Goa Boys Second match was a well contested game resulting in Goa Boys winning with score line of

4-2. Scorers of Goa Boys were Miguel, Roland, Melvin and Dominic and for Nepal were Kali and Udaya. Red card was shown to Peter of Goa Boys and yellow cards were shown to Udaya and Raj Kumar of Nepal. Kuwait Bangladesh Challengers VS Thai Third match was a high scoring match which resulted in Thai defeating Kuwait Bangladesh Challengers by a margin of 8-2. Scorers for Thai were Pongpat 4, Sophon 2, Surasur 1 and Ansor 1 where as for KBC scorers were Mohd Shepon and Mohd Anwar. Morshed of KBC was sent off with two yellow cards.

Malik to marry Mirza in cross-border match ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik will marry Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, a union of two of South Asia’s best known sports personalities. “The news of me marrying to Sania is true,” Malik posted on Twitter yesterday. “Inshallah (God willing) we’ll get married in April.” Malik, who was in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates to play in the Bangladesh cricket league, told private television channels in Pakistan that he was happy to be marrying Mirza. “Our families are very happy and we both are also happy,” Malik told Geo News. “Parents will decide the dates (of the wedding), it’s happening somewhere next month.” The 23-year-old Mirza issued a statement yesterday confirming she and 28-year-old Malik planned to marry, but asking for privacy. “My wedding Inshallah is going to be the biggest day of my life,”

she said. “I have been in the media glare for too long and would appreciate a little privacy at this very personal moment in my life.” Her father, Imran Mirza, said Sania and Malik will be based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and continue to represent their countries in their respective sports. “This is a unique case where husband and wife will represent their respective countries in sport,” he said in a statement issued in Hyderabad, India, where the family lives. Geo Television reported that Mirza, her parents and sister, received visas at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi yesterday and were expected to travel to Pakistan next month. The Daily Dawn newspaper quoted family sources of Malik as saying that a reception has been planned at Lahore in mid-April. Malik, who has been banned from representing Pakistan for a year for infighting during a disas-

Shoaib Malik trous tour of Australia this year, said he supported Mirza playing on the WTA Tour. “I fully understand what it takes to be an international sportsperson and I will support Sania in her career as long as she

wishes to play,” he was quoted as saying. Mirza, a two-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion, became the first Indian woman to crack the world top 40 rankings, reaching a career high of No. 27 in August 2007. At one time, the Muslim player was assailed by conservative elements of the Indian community for competing in short skirts and sleeveless shirts. She has not advanced beyond the first round in her last four tournaments and withdrew from tournaments in Malaysia and the United States in recent weeks due to a wrist injury. She is currently No. 92 in the rankings. Malik has played 29 tests and scored 1,517 runs at an average of 36.11. In 190 one-day internationals he has 5,141 runs at an average of 34.50 and also taken 132 wickets with his off-spin bowling. Malik lost the captaincy of Pakistan after losing a limitedovers series to Sri Lanka at home

Sania Mirza last year. He was at the center of a marriage controversy five years ago when he reportedly broke an engagement with Ayesha Siddiqui, who was from Mirza’s hometown in India. The two had reportedly developed a friendship on the

internet and Siddiqui’s father had even threatened to take Malik to court. Malik has denied any serious relationship with Siddique. The dashing cricketer was also linked with Indian actress Siali Bhagat, and there were reports of the two meeting confidentially in 2008. Mirza ended a previous engagement to childhood friend Sohrab Mirza in January, citing incompatibility. Newspapers reported that Malik first met Mirza at Hobart, Australia in January, when Pakistan was on tour and Mirza was in the city for a tennis tournament. “It was after this meeting that Mirza’s engagement with her childhood friend broke,” Daily Jang newspaper reported. It’s not the first time that a Pakistani cricketer will marry a high-profile Indian woman. Former test batsman Mohsin Khan, now the national chief selector, married Indian actress Reena Roy in the 1980s. The marriage

later broke down. This latest marriage will also attract a lot of attention because neighboring Pakistan and India are longtime rivals, and have fought three wars since 1947. Diplomatic relations between Pakistan and India grew more tense after a terrorist attack in the Indian film and financial hub of Mumbai in November 2008. As a result, the India cricket team postponed its scheduled test tour to Pakistan due to security concerns. The Pakistan government refused permission for its players to join the second edition of the Indian Premier League last year before the lucrative Indian domestic league was moved to South Africa. Sporting relations deteriorated further when no Pakistani cricketers were picked up by Indian clubs in this year’s auction for the IPL. Malik played for Delhi Daredevils in the inaugural 2008 IPL. —AP

MUNICH: Manchester United’s English forward Wayne Rooney lies injured during the UEFA Champions League first leg quarter-final match against Bayern Munich. —AFP

Late Bayern goal shock United in reverse of ’99 MUNICH: Bayern Munich scored a goal in added time by Ivica Olic to stun Manchester United 2-1 in their Champions League quarter-final first leg y e s t e rd a y, i n a m a t c h w i t h shades of their famous clash in 1999. The match was eagerly anticipated as a re-run of the

for his 34th goal of the season with only 66 seconds played. B u t a f t e r t h i s d i s a s t ro u s start, the home side began to s t ro ke t h e b a l l a ro u n d w i t h confidence, with French intern a t i o n a l p l a y m a ke r Fr a n c k Riber y r unning the show in midfield and Bayern generally dominating possession.

dozen as both teams concentrated on attacking football. U n it e d ma n a g e r Sir Ale x Ferguson called on his side to step up their effort in the second half but it was the home side who started the brighter with several shots on goal in the first few minutes of the second period.

MUNICH: Bayern Munich’s French midfielder Franck Ribery celebrates scoring during the UEFA Champions League first leg quarter-final match against Manchester United. —AFP fa mous t hrilling Cha mpions League final in 1999 when two dramatic goals right at the end of the game took the trophy to Old Trafford in a devastating blow to the Germans. This time, United str uck right at the beginning of the match, with England striker Wayne Rooney latching on to a deflected free-kick and smashing home a close-range volley

Bayern were lef t to rue a golden oppor tunity half way through the first period as Olic somehow missed from about a yard out completely unmarked in front of goal. Rooney missed a gilt-edged chance of his own in front of goal before the end of an open and entertaining first half which produced only one goal b u t c o u l d h a v e s e e n a h a l f-

Dutchman Edwin van der Sar was by far the busiest of the two goalkeepers as Bayern pressed hard for an equaliser. However, Rooney continued to terrorise the German defence with his pace as United looked to hit them on the break. With just over a quarter of a n h o u r re m a i n i n g a n d t h e German side still enjoying the l i o n ’ s s h a re o f p o s s e s s i o n ,

Bayern coach Louis van Gaal threw on German international striker Mario Gomez in a bid to snatch a late goal. And the ploy worked almost immediately. After a deliberate handball by veteran defender Gary Neville, a long-range free-kick from Ribery deflected off Rooney past a helpless van der Sar to give the Germans something to take back to Old Trafford. During a frantic last 10 minutes, United defender Nemanja Vi d i c c l a t t e re d t h e b a r a n d Gomez forced van der Sar into a last-ditch save during injury time. But the Dutchman was helpless as Olic weaved his w a y t h ro u g h t h e U n i t e d defence and slotted home in the second minute of injur y time. As a further blow to Ferguson and England, Rooney hobbled off the pitch at full time after a clash with Gomez. The English side came into the clash in stunning form, having won their last seven games, including a 4-0 thumping of Italian giants AC Milan and a satisfying 2-1 defeat of fierce rivals Liverpool at home. Coming in to the quarterf i n a l c l a s h , t h e Re d s w e re undefeated in their last 17 European encounters, a point made forcefully by coach Sir A l e x Fe rg u s o n b e f o re t h e game. In contrast, Bayern’s recent form has been poor, with rare back-to-back league defeats knocking them off the top of the Bundesliga. T h e f o u r - t i m e E u ro p e a n champions have also been less t h a n c o n v i n c i n g i n E u ro p e , needing a hefty dose of luck to squeeze past Italian outfit Fiorentina. —AFP

FRANCE: Lyon’s French midfielder Jeremy Toulalan (left) vies with Bordeaux’s Brazilian forward Ferreira Vieira Jussie. —AFP

Advantage Lyon in battle of France

LYON: Lyon took control of their all-French Champions League quarter-final with Bordeaux after securing a 3-1 win in an entertaining first leg here yesterday. The visitors turned in an improved second-half showing after going in 2-1 down at the break but a Lisandro Lopez penalty in the 77th minute gave Claude Puel’s side a twogoal cushion ahead of the return leg on April 7. Lisandro - who will miss the return leg after being booked - had put Lyon ahead in the 10th minute but Bordeaux, who lost 3-1 to Marseille in the League Cup final on Saturday, levelled shortly afterwards via a trademark header from Marouane Chamakh. Michel Bastos restored Lyon’s lead and Lisandro’s spotkick means Laurent Blanc’s French champions must win by two clear goals at the Stade Chaban-Delmas next week if they are to turn the tie around. Lyon took the lead in innocuous circum-

stances, when a high ball forward was poorly cleared by Bordeaux centre-back Michael Ciani, allowing Mathieu Bodmer to fire across goal for Lisandro to tap home. Bordeaux’s response was immediate and they drew level barely four minutes later, after Yoann Gourcuff cut inside his man on the right and bent in a fine left-footed cross that Chamakh converted with Cris floundering. Any expectations of a cagey opening were subsequently blown away as both teams poured forward in search of a goal. Cesar Delgado fired straight at Cedric Carrasso in the Bordeaux goal after haring onto a long pass from Bastos, and when the visitors broke, Yoan Gouffran drew a sharp save from Hugo Lloris with a smart backheel flick. Chamakh then headed narrowly wide after Lloris failed to claim a cross from the left but Bordeaux’s usually rock-solid defence looked

atypically nervous in the absence of suspended holding midfielder Alou Diarra and injured centre-back Marc Planus, and Lyon readily looked to exploit their hesitancy. The home side re-took the lead in the 32nd minute. An enterprising run from Miralem Pjanic took the Bosnian into space on the left and when his cross was misjudged by Bordeaux left-back Benoit Tremoulinas, Bastos cut inside before drilling the ball across Carrasso and in. A frenetic first half gave way to a more cautious second period and as Lyon’s level dropped, so Bordeaux began to assert themselves. Lloris reacted magnificently to palm the ball away after Chamakh threw himself at a right-wing cross just beyond the hour-mark and the Moroccan then drew a more comfortable save from the French number one with a 12-yard header. —AFP

Champions League stage set for clash of the titans

Lionel Messi

LONDON: Arsenal will fight fire with fire today when Barcelona arrive at the Emirates for the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final that has had football fans salivating since the draw was made. Manager Arsene Wenger is sweating on the fitness of captain Cesc Fabregas for the visit of the European champions, the former Barcelona youth team player troubled with a bruised knee, but whichever side he sends out will be one selected to maximise their own weapons rather than muzzle Barca. World Player of the Year Lionel Messi is in outrageous form, scoring 11 goals in his last seven matches for Barca and the

Argentine wizard will be relishing the prospect of the wide-open spaces of the lush Emirates pitch which has witnessed some breathtaking Arsenal displays this season. With Thierry Henry, scorer of a club record 226 goals for Arsenal, back “home” for the first time since leaving for Barcelona in 2007, and Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in form, the Gunners face a huge task but one their vibrant form in Europe suggests is not beyond them. Losing Fabregas, who has scored 18 goals this season in all competitions, would be a major blow, but he was miss-

ing in the last round when they beat Porto 5-0 thanks to a Nicklas Bendtner hat-trick and superb performances by Samir Nasri and Andrei Arshavin. While mindful of the fact that Messi, who missed the 2006 Champions League final triumph against Arsenal in Paris because of injury, could single-handedly destroy his side’s ambitions, Wenger said no special measures will be taken for a player who has been almost unstoppable of late. “Once you start to man-mark one, it can work but in exceptional teams you have two or three you have to man-mark and then you have to go to a system

where you could create your own problems just by following somebody everywhere,” Wenger told Arsenal’s website. Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes took a jolt on Saturday when they conceded a last-gasp equaliser at Birmingham City that left them four points behind Manchester United while Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona stayed neck and neck with Real Madrid with a 1-0 win in Mallorca. Henry’s return promises to be an emotional one after Arsenal fans recently voted him the most important player in the English club’s history. “I am very emotional but also keeping calm. It will be a strange game for me,”

the France striker told Barca TV. “Before the draw I said I did not want to meet Arsenal. That was my wish. But now it is what we have been given and we will have to be at our best.” Henry may have been the unquestioned leader at Arsenal but he has only played a marginal role at Barca this season, left firmly in the shade by Messi’s exploits. “What Leo does is difficult to find in any other player,” Henry said. “The other day (after Messi scored a stunning goal) I held my head in my hands because I didn’t know how he did such things. —Reuters

Thierry Henry

NBK welcomes Etihad to its rewards program

flydubai’s inaugural flight lands in Kuwait



Commerce chief, CB advisers at odds on yuan


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Saudi CB chief to head Gulf monetary union One step closer toward unified GCC currency

TOKYO: Visitors inspect a Toyota Passo at the company’s showroom next to the headquarters in Toyota city, Aichi prefecture, yesterday. Japanese carmaker Toyota said it will reshape its global operations as part of efforts to “regain consumer confidence” after its mass safety recall crisis. —AFP

New board for Dubai World stocks up on US economic outlook World unit Nakheel CAIRO: The board of Dubai World property unit Nakheel, including its chairman, was replaced yesterday the emirate pushed for ward with restructuring its debt-saddled chief conglomerate in an attempt to salvage Dubai’s reputation as a regional investment haven. Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, who steered Nakheel through its most ambitious growth efforts, was replaced by Ali Rashid Ahmed Lootah, head of one of the city-state’s prominent merchant families, according to an announcement by the Dubai ruler’s office. The announcement came just days after the government said it would pump $9.5 billion into Dubai World to help steer its chief engine for growth through a minefield of debt that has sullied the one-time Arab boomtown’s global reputation. Nakheel, the company behind Dubai’s iconic manmade islands — many of which sit empty due to the property bust linked to the global meltdown — received the bulk of the new funds. Bin Sulayem, who retains his post as chairman of Dubai World, welcomed the news, saying in a brief statement that the new board would have the conglomerate’s “full support.” An earlier statement from the Dubai ruler’s media office said the new board “will work on implementing the main remaining projects, which will be specified in accordance with the company’s priorities over the coming period in a manner guaranteeing its various responsibilities to the different parties.” The broader restr ucturing plan offers creditors full repayment on the principal of their outstanding loans over a five- to eight-year period through the issuance of new debt. The plan calls for restructur-

ing of $23.5 billion of the debts, which include $14.2 billion to creditors other than the government. Nakheel’s woes, like those of its parent company and Dubai as a whole were linked in large part to the global financial crisis. The emirate — one of seven semiautonomous citystates making up the United Arab Emirates — relied on years of cheap credit to fuel its stratospheric growth. But the financial crisis dried up the easy money and pummeled proper ty prices in Dubai by as much as 50 percent. Nakheel took a hammering partly because it contributed to the property glut that stemmed from the building boom. When the bills came due, Dubai World announced in November it wanted a six-month delay in repaying the money and creditors discovered that the loans, which they assumed were backed by the citystate’s government, had no such guarantees. Of the total money to be injected into the ailing conglomerate under the restructuring plan, $8 billion in new funds was set aside for Nakheel, a company viewed as a linchpin in Dubai’s transformation from a small, desolate trading port in the Arabian Gulf to a glimmering oasis with towering skyscrapers and aspirations to become the Mideast’s version of Singapore, Wall Street and Las Vegas, rolled into one. Key in Nakheel’s portion of the restr ucturing plan was that the company’s outstanding Islamic bonds would be paid on maturity this year and next year. The developer, in what was seen a s a litmus tes t of Dub a i World’s overall situation, paid roughly $4 billion on a maturing Islamic bond in December. —AP

LONDON: World stocks mostly rose yesterday as the outlook for economic recovery brightened after upbeat housing and consumer spending figures in the US. The euro’s recovery, however, stalled as Greece continued to face high borrowing costs. Germany’s DAX stock index was 0.1 percent higher at 6,163.51 while Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.1 percent at 5,703.91. France’s CAC-40 was 0.1 percent higher at 4,004.37. Asian stocks rose and Wall Street gained on the open. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.1 percent to 10,908.32 while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 0.1 percent at 1,174.18. Sentiment was boosted overnight by news that US consumer spending, which accounts for three quarters of the world’s largest economy and a fifth of global activity, rose for a fifth consecutive month in February. Backing that up, the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index, which measures home values in 20 major metropolitan markets, showed its smallest annual decline in nearly three years in January. A separate report due out later in the day was expected to show consumer confidence grew in March. Meanwhile, in the UK, official data showed the country emerged from recession at a faster pace than previously estimated. Fourth quarter economic output was

revised up for a second time, to 0.4 percent on the quarter from 0.3 percent previously and 0.1 percent in the initial estimate. “The economic climate seems to be stabilizing,” said analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in a research note. They noted that recovery may be patchy because bank lending has not yet recovered and consumer spending and construction investment remain weak. Lack of clarity over the direction of important reforms, such as financial regulation, is also keeping a lid on market hopes, they said. Concerns about the debt crisis in Greece lingered even after the country managed to raise §5 billion ($6.74 billion) on Monday and sold more of a 20-year bond yesterday. While Monday’s issue was oversubscribed, yesterday’s raised only 390 million euros out of 1 billion euros on offer. Furthermore, Greece’s borrowing rates remain excessively high. The interest rate gap, or spread, between Greek 10-year bonds and equivalent German issues — a key indicator of market trust — rose back to 3.35 percentage points yesterday, about the same as before the rescue plan’s announcement and up from the 3.06 percentage points on Monday. A wider spread means weaker confidence in a country’s debt and that investors are demanding a higher risk premium to hold it.

Greece hopes the spread, which currently translates to borrowing costs roughly twice Germany’s, will ease in coming days and weeks so it can raise money more cheaply. If it doesn’t, the savings from Greece’s painful austerity measures will be offset by having to pay higher interest and the debt load may require a bailout to be reduced. “Against this backrop, there remains a strong chance that Greece will be forced to call on support from Europe and the International Monetary Fund,” said Ben May, economist at Capital Economics in London. “With the crisis far from over we expect the euro to continue to weaken,” he added. The euro’s recovery lost pace on the news. It traded at $1.3468 yesterday, about the same level as late Monday but still well above the 10-month low below $1.33 before a eurozone rescue program was unveiled last week. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average rose 1 percent to 11,097.14, and South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.5 percent at 1,700.19. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.7 percent to 21,374.79. Elsewhere, markets in Australia, Shanghai and Taiwan rose. India’s benchmark was down slightly. The dollar was trading at 92.72 yen from 92.51 yen on Monday. The benchmark oil contract was up 12 cents at $82.29 a barrel. —AP

CAIRO: The head of Saudi Arabia’s central bank yesterday was named the first chairman of a council that will serve as the precursor to a regional central bank in the latest step toward a unified Gulf currency and greater economic integration. Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency head Mohammed AlJasser’s appointment came during the first meeting of the newly-created Gulf Monetary Council — a body that groups together the OPEC kingpin, as well as Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. Two other Gulf Arab states, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, have opted out of the plan. The meeting in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, appeared to underscore a directed push to move ahead with a broader unification and single currency process that has been thwarted for years by political bickering, economic challenges and infighting, analysts said. “From Saudi Arabia’s position, it shows a clear commitment to bring all the countries closer together and move toward the currency union,” said John Sfakianakis, chief economist at the Riyadh-based Banque Saudi Fransi-Credit Agricole Group. “It offers the Monetary Council, and the rest of the states, the ability to tap into the technical resources of Saudi Arabia and that of the (regional) central bank.” “The rest of the countries are seeking the needed leadership, and Saudi Arabia is demonstrating a clear commitment,” he said. The new council is charged with drawing up the framework of the single currency, including an exchange rate system and setting up the regional central bank with an eye on developing a Mideast equivalent of the European Union. But the process has hit repeated roadblocks, the most recent being when the UAE — the Arab world’s second largest economy — pulled out of the plan after Saudi Arabia, home to the world’s largest proven reserves of crude oil, was selected to house the proposed central bank. The UAE’s withdrawal was widely viewed as a reaction to being snubbed as headquarters for the new council and central bank. Oman had earlier said it would not participate because it did not feel it was ready to fully integrate its economy into a broader regional body.

The governor of the Saudi central bank Mohammed Al-Jasser has been chosen to head the monetary council of the Gulf Cooperation Council tasked with creating a united central bank and common currency, a report said. Still to be determined about the single currency is whether it would be pegged to a basket of currencies, the US dollar or some other currency. All six Gulf Cooperation Council nations peg their currencies to the dollar except for Kuwait which relies on a basket. The new council’s deputy chairman will be Bahrain’s central bank head, Rasheed Al-Maraj. Both he and Al-Jasser will hold the jobs for one year before the slots rotate to Kuwait and Qatar. Officials had said they wanted to set up the unified currency by this year, but that deadline appeared unrealistic from the outset. Analysts said the new target is around 2015, but even meeting that tentative timeframe and moving on with greater integration requires overcoming hurdles that are obstructing efforts to set up a Gulf customs union, and agreements on transfer of labor, services and capital. “In order for them to move toward giving a timeline for the currency union, they need to make important progress in the technical aspects,” said Sfakianakis. He said the meeting in Riyadh, and the ongoing discussions, reflects “an important political statement and commitment from the four countries that they’re moving on despite, the exit of Oman and the UAE.” —AP

Energy world descends on Cancun for key forum CANCUN: The world’s biggest energy sector forum opened here yesterday urging oil producers and consumers to help prevent a repeat of the excessive price volatility witnessed during the economic crisis. The biennial International Energy Forum (IEF) kicked off two days of talks concluding with the publication of a ministerial declaration today, set to call for joint action in tackling risks to price spikes and tumbles. In the second half of 2008, supply concerns sent crude oil prices surging to record highs of above 147 dollars a barrel before the severe global economic downturn sent them crashing to just 32 dollars. —AFP

US consumer confidence rebounds to 52.5 in March NEW YORK: Americans’ confidence in the economy rebounded in March after a February plunge, but shoppers remain cautious, according to a private research group’s monthly survey released yesterday. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose to 52.5 in March, recovering about half of the nearly 11 points it lost in February. Analysts expected a reading of 50 for March. February’s 46.4 marked the lowest level since April 2009 and erased three consecutive months of improvement. One of the index’s barometers, which measures how shoppers feel now about their economic situation now, rose to 26.0 from 21.7 in February. The other measurement, which gauges how shoppers feel about the economy over the next six months, ticked up to 70.2 from 62.9. Economists watch the figures closely because consumer spending, including health care and other major items,

accounts for about 70 percent of US economic activity. March’s confidence report appeared to confirm that February’s sharp decline may have been an aberration. Many factors had dampened last month’s confidence, including severe weather that had shut businesses and thwarted job searches, and a stock market hurting because of international worry about Greece’s national debt. Still, March’s reading is still a long way from the 90 that is considered healthy. Confidence has been recovering fitfully since hitting a historic low of 25.3 in February 2009. But many economists believe it will remain well below healthy levels for at least another year or two. “Despite the month’s increase, consumers continue to express concern about current business and labor conditions,” Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement. “And their outlook for the next six

months is still rather pessimistic.” She added that overall confidence has not changed significantly since last spring, when the reading hit 40.8 in April 2009 and rose to 54.8 in May. The confidence report came out the same day as a key home price index reported that home prices showed the smallest annual decline in almost three years in January and showed surprising pockets of strength. The Standard & Poor’s/CaseShiller 20-city home price index fell just 0.7 percent from last year on a seasonally adjusted basis. The index reading of 146.32 was almost in line with analysts expectations, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. Prices rose 0.3 percent from December to January, the eighth consecutive monthly gain. Among the 20 cities in the index, 12 rose. The home price index is up nearly 4 percent from its bottom in May 2009, but still almost 30 percent below its May 2006 peak. And there

are signs that last year’s housing rebound won’t be sustained. Home sales sank during the winter, and government incentives that have propped up the market are ending. While housing woes has helped to stifle a robust economic recovery, many economists say Americans won’t spend dramatically more until they see clear evidence of job growth. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect the Labor Department to report Friday that in March unemployment was steady at 9.7 percent and employers added 190,000 jobs, after shedding 36,000 in February. Most of the bump up is expected to come from temporary hiring for the Census, and economists say they need to see broadbased job creation to jolt consumers into spending. Retailers have seen small signs since 2010 began that shoppers are spending more — trading back up to meat from pasta at the grocery store,

for instance. But they still have kept many of their frugal habits that they adopted during the Great Recession. The Conference Board survey — based on a random survey of consumers sent to 5,000 households with a cutoff date of March 23 — did show some easing of worry about the job market, but Americans are still far from optimistic. Those saying jobs are “hard to get” declined to 45.8 percent from 47.3, while those saying jobs are “plentiful” increased to 4.4 percent from 4.0 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of consumers expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead decreased to 21.6 percent from 24.7 percent. Those anticipating more jobs will become available over the next six months increased to 14.6 percent from 13.2 percent. The report showed that the share expecting their income to increase improved to 10.5 percent from 10.1 percent. —AP



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Discussions at early stages: CEO

OBG report

Kuwait banks still reluctant to lend

Shuaa considers JV for I asset management unit DUBAI: Financial services group Shuaa Capital, whose assets under management (AUM) have plunged to $242 million from $1.8 billion in July 2008, is considering a joint venture for its asset management business. The move comes as the company aims to achieve greater scale after its AUM were hit by the global financial crisis and foreign investors withdrawing money from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Chief Executive

Sameer Al-Ansari said at a press conference. “We are exploring JV’s and all sorts of structures that will help us,” Ansari said, adding Shuaa would consider working with both regional and international players. Ansari said discussions with interested candidates were still at an early stage. Shuaa is one of the largest regional investment banks. After years of expanding regionally and abroad, the group was hit hard by the global downturn as impairments

related to troubled assets erased profits. Last year the company was also embroiled in an acrimonious legal dispute with Dubai Banking Group, part of Dubai Holding, which led to the latter obtaining a 48.4 percent stake in Shuaa. On March 7 Shuaa named Nadi Bargouti to lead its asset management business and to expand the business in Saudi Arabia and regionally. Saudi Arabia “is the elephant in the room,” Ansari said, adding the king-

dom’s contribution to Shuaa’s bottom line will likely become as important as the UAE’s in the future. Shuaa, also active in brokerage, private equity and investment banking, has mandates to arrange three initial public offerings, including one in Abu Dhabi, which could be announced in the coming weeks, Ansari said. As well, Shuaa has investments in Kuwait’s Al Kout Industrial Projects, UAE desalination firm Septech and

Qatar’s Amwal, and it plans to exit all three in the next 12 to 18 months, the chief executive said. Ansari took the helm of the company in August 2009 and said his first mission was “to stop the bleeding”. Since then the bank has halved its investment portfolio to 1.2 billion UAE dirhams ($326.7 million), deleveraged its balance sheet and will consider further divestments but not at distressed asset prices, Ansari said. — Reuters

Burgan Bank holds ISACA networking session KUWAIT: Burgan Bank, amongst the leading and the most dynamic regional commercial banks in the state of Kuwait, sponsored on Sunday an ISACA networking event for IT professionals in the banking and as well as other industries. The event, which was an initiative hosted and managed by Burgan’s Internal Audit Department, aimed to bring together banks from the local arena in order to share knowledge and raise awareness among its members and management regarding IT governance and security. The networking session was attended by Antony Strover a Board Audit Committee member and Raed Al-Haqhaq the Acting Chief General Manager at Burgan Bank.

Strover noted in his opening speech that, “The primary purpose of these meetings is to promote the knowledge of the individuals for the improvement and development of their capabilities and the adequate communication to keep members abreast of current events in regards to the Information Systems audit and control fields. Burgan has always taken the lead in supporting such technical forums.” Attending was a representative from the international auditing firm Deloitte, whom gave a presentation on “IT Governance: A practical approach toward adopting IT Governance Practices” - in which the guests were informed about the rewards and effective IT governance

yields, such as ensuring supporting business goals, optimizing business investment, and appropriately managing IT related risks and opportunities. ISACA has more than 185 chapters established in over 75 countries worldwide, and those chapters provide members education, resource sharing, advocacy, professional networking and a host of other benefits on a local level. Effective Corporate Governance is an essential part of Burgan Bank’s identity. The bank is committed to upholding the highest international standards of Corporate Governance, balancing innovation, control and transparency through all its dealings, and maintaining value for all of its stakeholders.

A further A330/300 joins Oman Air fleet Luxurious new three-class service launched to Paris One more of the new A330 / 300 aircrafts, scheduled for delivery this year, joined Oman Air fleet last week. The brand new aircraft flew on its delivery flight from its home in Toulouse to Muscat and marked another feather in the cap of Oman Air. A very happy Peter Hill, CEO, Oman Air said: “Oman Air’s A330 fleet is growing, with five delivered aircrafts so far, one more to come in May and another in the Spring of 2011. The network is expanding fast and our reputation as the most preferred airline is spreading. With this addition, we did commence our much awaited 3class service to Paris on 28th March.” Launching the new service,

Hill said: “Oman Air’s new three-class service between Paris and Muscat delivers everything the discerning traveller could want. Our non-stop direct flights to Paris offer a smooth and hassle-free journey; furthermore our stunning new aircraft offer more space, comfort and luxury than ever before.” With lie-flat seats,

direct aisle access and a la carte dining for every passenger in First Class, Oman Air offers an unmatched level of luxury for its premium class passengers. With just six seats within the first class cabin, together with a luxurious lounge area, the passenger experience is akin to flying in an exclusive private jet. In addition, marking a pioneering

milestone in the history of aviation, Oman Air became the first airline in the world to offer both mobile telephony and broadband wi-fi internet access on board its flights. The seats in each class of the new service have been designed to the highest specifications by EADS Sogerma. The First Class Mini Suite offers the longest lieflat seat available on any commercial airliner and is set within a massive 87-inch pitch. Furthermore, with a 25.5-inch wide seat, and eight point massage system built in, stowage for hand luggage, dedicated space to hang a coat and a huge 23-inch video monitor, Oman Air’s First Class Mini Suite is in a class of its own.

NBK welcomes Etihad Airways to its rewards program KUWAIT: National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), the leading bank in Kuwait and highest rated bank in the Middle East has signed a new partnership agreement with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates to join the NBK Rewards program, which has been exclusively designed since 1998 to reward the bank’s credit cardholders (Visa, MasterCard and Diners Club). Etihad Airways will award NBK customers with 10% of their Coral Economy Class tickets value that are purchased at the airline’s office in Kuwait City in the form of NBK Rewards Points. The new agreement will cover 24 destinations across Africa, Australia, Far East, Europe, and the United States such as Bangkok, Casablanca, Geneva, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, London, Munich, New York, Paris, Sydney, and Tokyo and many more. Terms and conditions apply. NBK customers will also have the opportunity to redeem their NBK Rewards Points for NBK vouchers that can be used as payment for Etihad tickets in any of the airline’s cabins across its international network of routes when visiting the Etihad Airways ticketing office. Abdulla Al-Najran, AGM Consumer Banking stated: “At NBK we thrive to provide our customers with world class benefits offering our cardholders’ base a number of unique benefits including our top of the line NBK Rewards Program which is recognized by Cardholders as the best and only Credit Cards Rewards program in Kuwait since inception in 1998 and awarded by The Banker with the best Loyalty Program in the Middle East for 2009”. Etihad Airways, Kuwait Country Manager, Magdi Labib said: “Etihad has invested heavily to raise the bar when it comes to luxury air travel. We are pleased to offer NBK customers the opportunity to experience the latest in in-flight entertainment systems, the finest dining, and the impeccable service that is on offer when flying Etihad.” NBK credit cardholders benefit from exclusive and guaranteed rewards upon using their credit cards at a collection of more than 500 outlets in Kuwait encompassing world-renowned fashion brands, jewellery, watches, furniture, hotels, restaurants, medical services, travel, health, beauty, fitness and more. The program mechanics are simple and guarantees savings in points at world-class quality outlets. When using any of their NBK credit cards (Visa, MasterCard or Diners Club) at participating outlets, customers are rewarded with up to 50% of their transaction amount in points which they can later exchange for NBK Rewards vouchers and use in the participating outlets to buy goods and services. To receive their NBK Rewards Vouchers, NBK customers can call Hala Watani on 1801801 or log to Watani Online on and request for their NBK Rewards Points to be exchanged with Rewards Vouchers and collect them from their NBK branch after 3 working days. They can also visit any NBK branch and request their Vouchers which will be issued instantly.

n the aftermath of the global financial crisis, Kuwait’s banking sector appears to have weathered the worst of the storm, with most of the country’s leading lenders showing healthy financials. However, despite abundant liquidity and incentivising measures introduced by the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK), banks are still reluctant to lend, citing a lack of perceived growth prospects. As has been experienced elsewhere in the Gulf region, the ratio of non-performing loans (NPLs) in Kuwait has nearly doubled since the crisis began. Nevertheless, despite decreased profits due to provisions required to cover the costs of poorly performing loans, seven of the country’s nine domestic banks recorded positive earnings in 2009, a significant rebound from 2008 when only one bank generated positive returns. Much of the credit for this resurgence has to go to the government, which possesses both the capital reserves and the willingness to intervene if required. When in 2008 Gulf Bank, the country’s second-largest lender, reported a $1bn loss in derivatives trading, the CBK quickly stepped in by guaranteeing all deposits in the banking system. Meanwhile, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Kuwait Investment Authority, provided a capital injection through purchasing ownership in the bank via a rights issue. Although the Gulf Bank incident was considered an anomaly, a wider issue was the domestic banks’ exposure to struggling investment firms, many of which are facing solvency issues as a result of their real estate and equity assets losing value. By year-end 2009 outstanding debt to local investment firms was estimated at $18bn, including $7.6bn owed to foreign financial institutions. While at the beginning of 2008, it was estimated that bank loans to customers related to real estate and securities investments accounted for 55% of the total. These factors led the government to approve a $5.2bn rescue package. Titled the “Financial Stability Law” (FSL), the package guarantees 50% of fresh loans to local firms throughout 200910. It is, however, provided on the basis that loans must go towards “productive”

sectors and will therefore not cover the acquisition of real estate or securities. The scheme’s intention is to boost confidence in the financial sector by offering local companies access to fresh credit in order to repay debt commitments to local and foreign banks. The scheme is not intended as a blanket bailout, with firms required to first prove that they are eligible for support, as well as implementing certain financial and administrative changes to qualify. The law has so far not been tested, with overleveraged companies preferring to negotiate loan reschedules directly with creditors rather than entering into a government-led restructuring package. But it appears that the FSL might soon be called on, with Islamic investment firm Investment Dar indicating in early March that it will apply for government protection to resolve its outstanding debts of $3bn. The company has stated that the move is not being sought as a method of financial support, but to obtain the legal cover afforded under the FSL framework. Despite numerous measures to introduce fresh credit to the market, with the discount rate having been cut six times between October 2008 and February 2010, banks in Kuwait are feeling hampered by what they perceive as a lack of worthy lending prospects. As the Kuwaiti government is cash-rich and does not need to borrow, there remain few viable lending options for banks wishing to extend credit growth and improve their asset quality. Many believe that lending incentives and guarantees aside, the most effective and direct solution on the part of the government to encourage viable borrowing opportunities is direct spending, as banks are usually more willing to lend to companies involved in governmentbacked projects. And in this regard, the banking sector received good news in February as parliament approved a KD30bn ($103.9bn), fouryear spending plan. While the details are not yet finalised, even a small proportion of the planned projects would immediately lead to borrowing from construction companies, creating a ripple effect to other sectors. —Oxford Business Group

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

.2840000 .4300000 .386000 .2690000 .2800000 .2620000 .0045000 .0020000 .0782350 .7622180 .4020000 .0750000 .7472220 .0045000 .0500000

US Dollar/KD GB Pound/KD Euro Swiss francs Canadian dollars Danish Kroner Swedish Kroner Australian dlr Hong Kong dlr Singapore dlr Japanese yen Indian Rs/KD Sri Lanka rupee Pakistan rupee Bangladesh taka UAE dirhams Bahraini dinars Jordanian dinar Saudi Riyal/KD Omani riyals Philippine Peso

CUSTOMER TRANSFER RATES .2878500 .4319550 .3882930 .2710660 .2819530 .0521700 .0397240 .2644890 .0370720 .2060330 .0031190 .0064320 .0025300 .0034570 .0042170 .0784090 .7639110 .4070970 .0767990 .7480340 .0063960

US Dollar Sterling pounds Swiss Francs Saudi Riyals

TRANSFER CHEQUES RATES .2899500 .4350050 .2729850 .0772880

.2940000 .4390000 .3930000 .2760000 .2880000 .2690000 .0075000 .0035000 .0790210 .7698780 .4180000 .0790000 .7547320 .0072000 .0580000

285.020 189.330 273.820 265.500 287.000 ASIAN COUNTRIES

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

3.145 6.431 3.455 2.529 4.035 207.500 37.262 4.173 6.396 8.940 0.301 0.292 GCC COUNTRIES

.2899500 .4350050 .3910350 .2729850 .2839500 .0525400 .0400050 .2663570 .0373350 .2074920 .0031410 .0064770 .0025480 .0034820 .0042470 .0789090 .7687820 .4099800 .0772880 .7528030 .0064410

Saudi Riyal Qatari Riyal Omani Riyal Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham

77.150 79.480 751.530 768.300 78.783 ARAB COUNTRIES

Egyptian Pound - Cash Egyptian Pound Yemen Riyal Tunisian Dinar Jordanian Dinar Lebanese Lira Syrian Lier Morocco Dirham

55.555 52.563 1.318 207.900 408.500 194.100 6.345 35.440 GOLD

20 Gram 10 Gram 5 Gram

216.000 111.000 57.500

Bahrain Exchange Company

Al-Muzaini Exchange Co. EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer Euro Sterling Pound

Canadian dollar Turkish lire Swiss Franc Australian dollar US Dollar Buying

289.150 382.230 436.330

COUNTRY Australian dollar Bahraini dinar Bangladeshi taka Canadian dollar Cyprus pound Czek koruna Danish krone Deutsche Mark Egyptian pound Euro Cash

SELL CASH SELL DRAFT 269.000 257.500 768.780 768.780 4.390 4.175 286.700 285.200 567.700 15.800 53.100 167.800 207.600 55.140 52.603 394.000 392.500

Hongkong dollar Indian rupees Indonesia Iranian tuman Iraqi dinar Japanese yen Jordanian dinar Lebanese pound Malaysian ringgit Morocco dirham Nepalese Rupees New Zealand dollar Nigeria Norwegian krone Omani Riyal Pakistani rupees Philippine peso Qatari riyal Saudi riyal Singapore dollar South Africa Sri Lankan rupees Sterling pound Swedish krona Swiss franc Syrian pound Thai bhat Tunisian dollar UAE dirham U.S. dollars Yemeni Riyal

37.950 6.630 0.035 0.298 0.260 3.230 410.370 0.195 90.780 47.500 4.260 208.900 2.183 49.100 750.950 3.510 6.550 79.950 77.190 207.610 41.550 2.739 438.000 40.900 275.700 6.400 9.290 217.900 78.880 289.500 1.380

37.800 6.430

408.630 0.194 90.780 3.040 207.400

274.200 9.110 76.860 286.100


Sterling Pound US Dollar

Kuwait Bahrain Intl Exchange Co. Rate per 1000 (Tran)

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

TRAVELLER’S CHEQUE 436.000 289.100

289.150 3.455 6.445 2.540 4.180 6.430 78.790 77.280 768.300 52.555 439.100 0.00003195 3.980 1.550 410.500 5.750 395.000 290.000

Al Mulla Exchange Currency

Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd US Dollar Canadian Dollar Sterling Pound Euro Swiss Frank Cyprus Pound Bahrain Dinar UAE Dirhams Qatari Riyals Saudi Riyals Jordanian Dinar Egyptian Pound Indian Rupees Pakistani Rupees

2.525 4.180 6.344 3.195 8.917 6.301 3.969

Currency 750.770 3.460 6.390 79.520 77.190 207.610 41.550 2.530 436.000

GOLD 10 Tola

Sri Lankan Rupees Bangladesh Taka Philippines Pesso Japanese Yen Thai Bhat Syrian Pound Nepalese Rupees

288.900 285.300 435.900 392.645 272.235 707.865 764.420 78.610 79.305 76.980 407.535 52.629 6.356 3.428

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

*Rates are subject to change

Transfer rate 288.900 392.300 435.900 285.100 3.195 6.432 52.540 2.530 4.174 6.382 3.450 768.600 78.675 77.050


Wednesday, March 31, 2010


KUWAIT: After the landing of flydubai’s inaugural flight to Kuwait yesterday, the CEO of flydubai Ghaith AlGhaith is being welcomed by Kuwait authorities.

flydubai’s inaugural flight lands in Kuwait By Velina Nacheva KUWAIT: flydubai, Dubai’s first lowcost air carrier, yesterday landed its inaugural flight to Kuwait extending the fledgling airline’s network to 13 destinations in the Levant and the Gulf region and aiming to further strengthen the trade and links between Dubai and Kuwait. Addressing the media at a press conference held on the occasion of the inaugural flight to Kuwait in Marina Hotel yesterday, Ghaith Al-Ghaith, CEO of flydubai said, “Our twice daily

flights to Kuwait will open up a new low cost option to the increasing number of people wanting to travel between the two cities, making travel more affordable and accessible.” Affordability indeed seems to be the pinnacle of flydubai’s business strategy. In Al-Ghaith’s words, the low fares that flydubai offers are tied to a wide range of options that the airline offers. “We look at all ways to reduce our operation cost,” he said. Al-Ghaith further thanked the Kuwaiti authorities for their help “in making this new route possible and

Dubai’s budget airline to boost trade, bilateral links for the wonderful welcome we have received today in Kuwait City.” AlGhaith asserted that flydubai has plans to further increase traffic between Kuwait and Dubai. On the occasion of flydubai’s first flight to Kuwait, Adel Al-Awadi, Deputy Director General for Kuwait International Airport was quoted in a press release as saying that, “Increasing numbers of low cost flights between Kuwait and the

Emirates strengthens the ties between our two nations and increases the opportunities for business, trade and tourism for both.” He was further quoted as saying, “I expect traffic in both directions will be extremely healthy, particularly as flydubai represents a high quality low cost alternative.” Jamal Al-Hai, SVP Strategy and Development at Dubai Airports and Member of the Federal National

Council of the UAE was quoted in a press release saying, “This new flight from flydubai is an important part of our efforts to boost trade and links between our two countries. It is another example of how the GCC countries work together for the benefit of all sides.” Al-Hai was further quoted as saying, “Kuwait has fared well through the economic downtown - billions of dollars are being invested in Kuwait’s

infrastructure and the economy continues to grow with new investment, trade and industry.” The twice daily flight to Kuwait costs KD 13 one-way, including taxes and one piece of luggage of 10kg. The flight leaves Dubai at 7.05 am in the mornings and 7.15 pm, arriving in Kuwait City at 7.55 am and 8.05 pm respectively. The return flights leave at 8.40 am and 8.50 am and arrive at 11.20 am and 11.30 am local time. Such schedule, experts argue is suitable for day trippers, business and leisure travelers alike. With fly-

dubai’s latest route addition Kuwait, today the airline flies to Lebanon, Amman, Damascus and Aleppo, Alexandria, Djibouti, Doha, Khartoum, Baku, Bahrain, Kathmandu and Muscat. The Director General and Acting President of Civil Aviation, Bader Bou Taiban, welcomed the flight at Kuwait International Airport yesterday. The delegation on board included Jamal Al-Hai, member of the National Federal Council of the UAE and SVP for Strategy and Development at Dubai Airports.

NBK economic report

Kuwait’s real estate sales fell in February Qatar Airways Boeing 777 aircraft to serve South America

Qatar Airways announces launch date for South American flights Airline prepares for services to Brazil, Argentina DOHA: Qatar Airways announced that it will begin daily flights to Brazil and Argentina from June 24, marking the airline’s first online operations to South America. With the airline’s acquisition of two brand new Boeing 777200 Long Range aircraft in the last three months, these will be deployed on the two South American routes - to the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo and Argentine capital Buenos Aires this summer. The date announcement comes just weeks after the airline revealed plans to serve South America, and spread its wings to yet another Continent. The flights will offer convenient connections from key markets across Asia and the Gulf to South America. Flight QR921 will depart Doha International Airport daily at 0740 hrs, arriving in Sao Paulo at 1600 hrs. The flight continues onto Buenos Aires, arriving at 2005 hrs. Return flight QR922 departs daily from Buenos Aires at 2305 hrs to Sao Paulo before continuing its journey at 0310 hrs the next day,

arriving in Doha at 2310 hrs. Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said that adding destinations in South America to the network was a great achievement for the young airline. “We have experienced incredible expansion over the years and by soon adding Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires to our growing network, we can proudly say Qatar Airways is a truly international airline,” said Al Baker. Flights to Sao Paulo will be operated daily non-stop from the airline’s hub in Doha, capital of the State of Qatar. The aircraft will then continue onto Buenos Aires. Qatar Airways will be the only Five Star ranked airline operating daily to South America with the launch of the new flights. The airline’s state-of-the-art Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft featuring Business Class seats that convert into 180 degree fully flat horizontal beds, will be deployed on the South American flights. The aircraft features a total of 259 seats - 42 seats in

Business Class in a 2-2-2 configuration and 217 seats in Economy in a 3-3-3 layout offering maximum space and comfort. The aircraft is designed to operate on ultra-long routes of up to 17 hours non-stop. It already serves Houston and Melbourne, non-stop from Doha. Added Al Baker: “We have seven new routes lined up during the first six months of 2010, and the airline plans to open up even more routes within the next 12 months as our growth strategy continues to evolve. “The airline is receiving on average one new aircraft a month, allowing us to concentrate on enhancing our existing services, as well as opening up new routes. It’s a very exciting time for Qatar Airways.” Qatar Airways recently launched daily flights to the southern Indian city of Bengaluru (Bangalore). Copenhagen joined the network yesterday. Flights to Ankara begin on April 5; Tokyo starts on April 26; and Barcelona from June 7.

KUWAIT: In its latest economic brief on the monthly statistics of registered real estate contracts issued by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), excluding sales conducted through agents, National Bank of Kuwait reports that, the total number of registered real estate sales (residential, commercial and retail) fell 1% between January and February, to 383. After showing signs of a strong recovery late last year, activity in the real estate sector has slipped back over the last two months, with sales now back to the average levels seen in a depressed 2009. Timing may have been a factor: February is a short month made even shorter by public holidays. But past evidence suggests that the seasonal effect on sales is not large. Moreover, sales are up just 7% on their depressed levels of a year ago, a comparison which should strip out such distortions. A more reasonable interpretation is that the unusual flurry of land sales in late 2009 exaggerated the pace of the recovery in activity, which has now settled back down. We are staying, for now, with our assumption that a gradual improvement in real estate activity is under way. But it will be slow, with a combination of caution and commercial oversupply weighing on the market. NBK noted that transactions also declined in KD value terms between January and February, by 15% to KD 99 million. In year-on-year terms, sales turned negative for the first time since

Ferrari’s new 458 unveiled in Kuwait KUWAIT: Ferrari’s new 458 Italia was unveiled to clients and media in Kuwait during a special event held at the Ferrari dealership in presence of the officials from Ferrari Middle East and Africa and Al Zayani, the official importer of Ferrari in Kuwait. The new V8-engined berlinetta is a synthesis of style, creative flair, passion and cutting-edge technology, characteristics for which Italy as a nation is well-known. For this reason Ferrari chose to add the name of its homeland to the traditional figure representing

the displacement and number of cylinders. Designed to fulfill the expectations and ambitions of our most passionate clients, the 458 Italia continues the Ferrari tradition of putting the thrill into driving as a result of track-derived technological innovations. The Ferrari 458 Italia is a completely new car from every point of view: engine, design, aerodynamics, handling, instrumentation and ergonomics, just to name a few. With the Ferrari 458 Italia, Maranello has brought a highly distinc-

tive new car to its 8-cylinder range. The company now offers two models that share a common, race-derived DNA, both exceptionally sporty and fun to drive in true Ferrari tradition, but aimed at two very different kinds of client. While the Ferrari California was created for owners requiring a more versatile sports car with a practical edge, the 458 Italia is designed for owners for whom the priority is uncompromising on-road performance with occasional track day capability, but who still demand a car that is useable in day-to-

September last year. But there is scope for this to improve over the next couple of months as a result of a base effect from a sharp drop in sales a year ago. i) Sales - residential (mostly villas and land) A sharp fall in residential sales - for the second month in a row - was the reason for the drop in sales overall. Residential sales fell by 11% from January to 255. At this level, they are more or less back to the levels seen in 1H09, before an apparent recovery seemed to get going. In general, the average value of transactions has recovered from its mid-2009 lows of around KD180,000 and stood at KD208,000 in February. This need not entirely indicate rising property prices, however.

day driving like all Ferrari’s recent models. The Ferrari Product range Ferrari produces a range of sports and GT cars powered by V8 and V12 engines. As well as the V8-engined cars described above, clients can also choose from two V12 models. The first, the 599 GTB Fiorano, is a mid-front engined V12 sports car - the most powerful 12-cylinder berlinetta ever produced by the company. With 620hp and an enviable power-to-weight ratio the 599 GTB Fiorano represents the maximum expression of performance and driving involvement. Complementing this extreme sports car is Ferrari’s flagship GT model is the 612 Scaglietti, which epitomises Ferrari’s ability to create a car that boasts the comfort and practicality of a true 2+2 tourer, yet also offers levels of performance and handling normally only associated with the finest sports cars.

Rather, a greater number of transactions of higher value properties may now be taking place. ii) Sales - investment (mostly apartments) NBK noticed that investment sales posted a decent 20% month-on-month gain in February to stand at 124, catapulting the year-on-year growth rate from -6% to +45% (thanks to weak sales a year ago). This confounds the idea that residential activity levels were weaker because of seasonal effects. Sales are now more or less in line with the (strong) averages seen through 2007 and 2008. Activity may be supported by two factors; a substantial fall in prices through 2008 which has made properties more afford-

able, and the earlier government ban (since partially overturned) on residential mortgage financing by banks, which may have diverted more property sector funds towards this alternative segment. iii) Sales - commercial There were four sales of commercial property during February, up from none in January (they averaged six per month in 2009). Despite the monthly increase, sales remain at weak levels. Commercial sales numbers can be volatile from month to month, but have trended down since mid-2008. While there are a number of large scale commercial building projects currently underway, secondary market transactions volumes continue to be held

back by weak demand and financing constraints. However, by boosting the demand for office space, the execution of the government’s recently approved four year development plan could provide a timely stimulus to this segment. Savings and Credit Bank loans NBK also noticed the number of loans approved by the Savings and Credit Bank (SCB) fell 15% between January and February to 274. Excluding Ramadan-affected September 2009, this was the lowest number of approvals since January 2006. All categories of loans those for construction, purchases of existing homes and maintenance & additions - saw declines. But it is new construction loan approvals that remain weakest in relation to their longrun trends; these fell to 50, compared to an average of 183 per month between 2003 and 2009. This probably reflects ongoing sluggishness of new land plot distributions under the government’s housing scheme. Yet there continue to be hopes that this will pick up over the next few months. By contrast, despite this month’s fall, loans for maintenance & improvement purposes, at 156 in February, remain substantially above their long-term trend. As we have noted before, this may be related to affordability issues, with rising home prices encouraging more people to upgrade their existing properties rather than ‘trade-up’.



Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Oil, Q1 outlook KSE stocks continue rally lift Saudi index

KUWAIT: The Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE), Global General Index (GGI) and major indicators ended yesterday’s trading session in the green, marking two consecutive days of gains, aided by gains witnessed in most of the market’s sectors. It is worth to mention that tomorrow is the last day for companies to announce their FY2009 results or they will face a suspension from trading. GGI added 0.43 points (+0.20 percent) during the session to reach 212.62 points. In addition, the KSE Price Index increased by 16.40 points (+0.22 percent) yesterday and closed at 7,540.20 points. Market capitalization was up KD69.98mn yesterday to reach KD34.88bn.

Market breadth During the session, 153 companies were traded. Market breadth was skewed towards decliners as 68 equities retreated versus 51 that advanced. A total of 91 stocks remained unchanged during yesterday’s trading session. Trading activities ended on a mixed note yesterday as volume of shares traded on the exchange decreased by 7.47 percent to reach 421.04mn shares. However, value of shares traded gained by 1.87 percent to stand at KD80.15mn.The Investment Sector was the volume leader, accounting for 30.13 percent of total traded volume. While the Services Sector was the value leader, with 37.10 percent of total market value. Ekttitab Holding Company saw 32.56mn shares changing hands, making it the volume leader. Zain was the value leader, with a total traded value of KD10.29mn. In terms of top gainers, Advanced Technology Company was the top gainer for the day,


adding 9.62 percent and closed at KD0.570. On the other hand, Investors Holding Group Company shed 8.06 percent to close at KD0.029, making it the biggest decliner in the market. Regarding Global’s sectoral indices, they mainly ended the day on a positive note with Global Non-Kuwaiti Index being the top gainer. The index ended the day with a gain of 1.21 percent backed by Ahli United Bank, the top gainer in the sector, ending the day with a 5.32 percent increase in value to close at KD0.198. In addition, Egypt Kuwait Holding Company posted a 1.56 percent gain, making it the second biggest gainer in the market and thus a con-

tributing factor in the index’ gain. Global Insurance Index posted a 0.86 percent increase yesterday making it the second biggest gainer in the market. First Takaful Insurance Company was the top gainer in the sector by posting a 9.09 percent gain to close at KD0.300. Also aiding the index was Warba Insurance Company which ended the day with a gain of 2.22 percent and closed at KD0.184. On the other hand, Global Industrial Index was the top decliner, down 0.55 percent backed by National Industries Group (Holding) and Heavy Engineering Industries and Shipbuilding Company which

ended the day down 3.66 percent and 1.96 percent, respectively. Regarding Global’s special indices, Global High Yield Index was the top gainer. The index ended the day up 1.62 percent backed by First Takaful Insurance Company. Global Islamic Index posted a 0.15 percent decline, making it the only decliner among the special indices. Kuwait International Bank was a contributing factor in the index’s decline by posting a 0.84 percent drop to close at KD0.236. Oil news The price of OPEC basket of twelve crudes stood at $77.77 a barrel on Monday, compared

with $76.80 the previous Friday, according to OPEC Secretariat calculations. OPEC’s Secretary General Abdullah Al-Badri said that the oil prices at $70 enabled member countries in the oil cartel to “revisit” the projects that were halted. The Ministerial Committee of Heads of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Monetary Markets Authorities Boards is holding its first meeting in Riyadh on Wednesday, with Kuwaiti participation. GCC Secretary General Abdelrahman Al-Attiyah said the committee is to discuss integration among the GCC markets and efforts to unify policies and mechanisms.

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s index rose to a 17-month high yesterday as rising oil prices, increased US consumer spending and expectations of improved domestic first-quarter earnings bolstered sentiment. Most other Middle East markets also advanced, with Qatar edging up to a 24-week closing high and Dubai gaining for a third session in four since the emirate unveiled a restructuring plan for indebted conglomerate Dubai World. The Saudi index rose 0.7 percent to its highest close since mid-October 2008, while world stocks neared a similar milestone. Almarai rose 1.9 percent as it formed a joint venture with US food producer Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and Samba Financial Group added 1 and 1.7 percent respectively. “Oil is above $82, world stocks are doing well and there is expectation for Saudi firstquarter earnings to beat last year,” said Saleh Al-Onazi, vice-president at Swicorp in Riyadh. “The market should continue to head towards 7,000 points.” World stocks rose as a weak dollar-inspired rally in commodities and evidence of a recovery in US consumption spurred buying in riskier assets. Increased US spending bodes well for oil demand, Onazi said, boosting sentiment in top oil exporter Saudi Arabia. “Saudi Arabia’s Q1 results

will come out from the first week in April, so any profittaking will be short-lived,” said Haissam Arabi, chief executive at Gulfmena Alternative Investments. “The Saudi market has broken resistance levels and it should outperform on the back of Q1 earnings.” Dubai’s index rose 1 percent to 1,850 points, clawing back some of the previous day’s losses. “Yesterday we saw some profit taking, which was only natural after major rallies, but this is creating opportunities for investors to reposition ahead of Q1 results,” added Arabi. Arabtec surged 6.7 percent to a 12-week high, extending gains after the builder won contracts worth $370 million in Abu Dhabi and Qatar. “There’s a growing belief among investors that markets are regaining their attractiveness as a source of revenue,” said Mohammed Yasin, Shuaa Securities chief executive. Egypt’s index fell as Orascom Telecom and Telecom Egypt lost 1.4 and 0.8 percent respectively. “We see telecoms as the weakest bunch ... (and) the most to suffer on lower days,” said CIBC Brokerage’s Omar Darwish. Construction Orascom Industries (OCI) dipped 0.5 percent and Commercial International Bank (CIB) dropped 1.5 percent as both firms went ex-dividend. Qatar’s index rose 0.3 percent to its highest close since

Oct. 11, rebounding from the previous day’s profit-taking. Masraf al Rayan gained 0.8 percent. “Islamic banks are playing catch up with their conventional counterparts,” said Keith Edwards, head of asset management at Doha-based investment company The First Investor. “The economy is underpinned by Qatar’s gas production, it’s a safe haven.” Qatar stocks still trade at a discount compared to other markets, Edwards added. HIGHLIGHTS SAUDI ARABIA The index rose 0.7 percent to 6,815 points. DUBAI The index rose 1 percent to 1,850 points. ABU DHABI The benchmark slipped 0.2 percent to 2,925 points. KUWAIT The measure rose 0.2 percent to 7,540 points. QATAR The index climbed 0.3 percent to 7,465 points. EGYPT The index fell 0.5 percent to 6,821 points. OMAN The benchmark fell 1.3 percent to 6,709 points. BAHRAIN The index rose 1.9 percent to 1,554 points. — Reuters


Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Commerce chief, CB advisers at odds on yuan SHANGHAI: China displayed new divisions yesterday over how to respond to mounting US pressure to let its exchange rate rise. Two new advisers to the central bank called for the yuan to resume its gradual appreciation, but they were slapped down by Commerce Minister Chen Deming, who said a stronger currency would not wipe out China’s trade surplus with the United States. “It has been proved both in theory and practice that the appreciation of a nation’s currency provides little help for improving the balance of payments,” Chen said in a detailed defence of China’s trade policy. The clock is ticking down towards an April 15 ruling by the US Treasury on whether China is deliberately

manipulating its currency to keep its exports competitive and gain an unfair advantage in global markets. Separately, US lawmakers have said they will introduce legislation to impose tariffs on Chinese goods unless Beijing allows the yuan to climb. “It does not help if one side, driven by its political agenda at home, puts pressure on the other with unwarranted threats of trade sanctions,” Chen said. To better get its point across, the ministry issued Chen’s statement in English as well as Chinese. ACT BEFORE SEPTEMBER Beijing allowed the yuan to rise 21 percent against the dollar between July 2005 and July 2008 before effectively repegging the currency, also

known as the renminbi, near 6.83 to the dollar to help exporters ride out the credit crunch. The Ministry of Commerce is a staunch defender of Chinese export industries and has repeatedly warned that many would be ruined if they had to cope with a stronger exchange rate. The central bank, by contrast, would benefit from having an extra tool in its policy kit if the exchange rate were able to rise and fall to help absorb economic shocks. “(China) should resume the pre-crisis managed floating exchange rate as quickly as possible,” Xia Bin, a researcher with the Development Research Centre, a think-tank under the cabinet said. Xia was one of the three economists named on Monday as members of the

People’s Bank of China’s monetary policy committee, a key advisor in framing monetary policy. Big decisions on exchange and interest rates, however, are taken by political leaders, not the central bank. Li Daokui, another new member of the advisory body, said China should scrap its peg to the dollar before September. “One way of relieving pressures on the renminbi exchange rate is to make an adjustment on China’s own initiative,” Li, an economist at Tsinghua University, was quoted by Caijing magazine as saying. Li singled out September as a deadline so that political debate over the yuan does not boil over in the run-up to US mid-term elections in November. In a cover story, Caijing cited unidentified

sources as saying that Beijing was studying the option of dropping the yuan’s peg as soon as next month. WASHINGTON AND TOKYO If the administration of President Barack Obama does name China as a currency manipulator, it would be required to open intensive talks with Beijing on the issue. Obama told China’s new ambassador to Washington that he wanted to “further develop” a positive relationship with China. Asian governments have been far more reluctant than those in the West to pressure China to let the yuan strengthen for fear of economic or political repercussions. China’s strong rebound from the crisis has helped the entire continent recover much faster

than Europe or the United States. China’s exchange rate could also be on the agenda when Japanese Finance Minister Naoto Kan visits Beijing this weekend. Asked whether the yuan would come up at his talks with Chinese officials, Kan said: “I have not yet decided what to do at this point, but we may discuss this topic depending on the course of dialogue.” Many economists warn that criticism from the West could make Beijing shy away from loosening its grip on the currency, though policymakers are widely expected to allow some yuan appreciation this year if the economy continues to recover. Offshore forward markets on Tuesday were pricing in an expected rise of 2.6 percent in the yuan over the next 12

months. A Reuters poll last week pointed to 3 percent appreciation in the coming year. Huang Haizhou, a managing director of China International Capital Corp, the country’s leading investment bank, joined in the chorus of calls for a stronger yuan. “An appropriate appreciation of the renminbi would be to China’s own benefit,” Huang wrote in the March issue of the International Economic Review, a Chinese-language policy journal. “This could increase the flexibility of monetary policy, develop financial markets, expand domestic consumption and promote structural adjustment of the economy, helping to keep a balance between inflation and exchange rates.” —Reuters

Germany wants ‘European economic government’

Europe must act to avoid second league: IMF head BUCHAREST: Europe must take action to prevent their economies from falling behind the United States and Asia and being relegated to the “second league”, IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said yesterday. “The risk for European economies is to be in the second league and not in the first, with the United

HEFEI: A bank employee counts 100-yuan banknotes at a branch of Bank of China in Hefei, central China’s Anhui province yesterday. —AP

Geithner: Commercial real estate loans problematic WASHINGTON: Mounting losses from commercial real estate loans will continue to be a problem for the US and especially smaller banks, but it can be manTreasury Secretary aged, Timothy Geithner said Monday. “Commercial real estate’s still going to be a problem for the country,” Geithner said in an interview with CNBC. “But we can manage through this process.” Geithner also said the Treasury Department’s announcement that it will begin selling the stake it owns in Citigroup Inc., which could net about $7.5 billion to the government, shows “how far we’ve come” in exiting from the financial bailout program. The government received 7.7 billion shares of Citigroup in exchange for $25 billion of the total $45 billion it gave the financial behemoth during the 2008 credit crisis. The Treasury Department said Monday it will sell the shares over the course of this year, depending on market conditions.

Like any investor, the government will likely hold on to its shares if prices fall steeply. However, Citi shares have steadily been rising with the broader market in recent months, which means the government is likely to pocket a hefty profit as it sells its shares over several months. The government has been trying to unravel the investments it made in banks under the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that came in at the height of the financial crisis. Geithner said in the interview the government doesn’t want to keep an ownership stake in the financial companies “a day longer than necessary.” The government will use a “careful process” to balance two objectives, he said: ensuring maximum return on the taxpayers’ investment while also getting the US out of the business of owning private companies. While losses on mortgage loans socked banks at the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis, it is commercial and development loans that have brought dramatic

losses for banks in recent months. Losses have mounted on loans for commercial projects like stores and office complexes, as buildings sit vacant and builders default. Many midsize and regional banks hold large concentrations of those loans. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair has said losses on commercial real estate loans are expected to be the primary cause behind bank failures this year, which are likely to exceed the 140 collapses in 2009. One way to help manage the commercial loan distress, Geithner said, is through the $30 billion fund proposed by President Barack Obama to provide money to midsize and community banks if they boost lending to small businesses. The program, which must be approved by Congress, would use money repaid by banks to the TARP program. Many lawmakers, however, want the $30 billion sent directly to the federal Small Business Administration. It would then decide which businesses should get loans.—AP

Strauss-Kahn, on a brief visit to Romania coming from Poland, once again pleaded for better coordination in the eurozone, under stress since the outbreak of Greece’s financial woes. “The crisis shows that we cannot have a single currency without having a more coordinated economic policy,” he said. Strauss-Kahn also said the Romanian governement should be “confident” since the local economy is set to return to growth, after the 7.1-percent contraction recorded last year. But he warned unemployment, already standing at 8.3 percent, will continue to rise in coming months. Severely hit by the economic crisis, Romania last March signed a deal on a 20-billion-euro rescue package from the IMF and the European Union, with disbursements so far totalling 9.2 billion. In exchange, Bucharest pledged to slash its public deficit, by reforming the pension and civil servants’ pay systems as well as by axing jobs in the public sector. Europe needs closer coordination as a result of the fiscal crisis in Greece, Germany’s finance minister said yesterday, calling for an “economic government” and a “federal Europe.” “We need better instruments to implement the Stability Pact,” Wolfgang Schaeuble told the Die Zeit weekly, referring to the European Union’s fiscal rules. “And we need more coordination in the form of an economic government-even if we do not really like the term. All this will lead to more Europe, not less,” he added, according to the prereleased interview. The phrase “economic government” has been a sore point in recent European politics with some countries-notably Britain, Ireland and the Netherlandsseeing the term as too federalist. After a summit of European leaders in Brussels earlier this month, a deft bit of linguistic diplomacy transformed the phrase in the English version of a eurozone agreement over Greece to read “economic governance.” —Agencies

G8 Afghan-Pakistan economic initiative GATINEAU: G8 foreign ministers have agreed on an economic “initiative” for the AfghanistanPakistan border regions, Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said. “Stability in the region is critical for global security,” Cannon told reporters at the start of two days of G8 talks. Cannon said the objective of the Pakistan-Afghanistan economic plan was to bolster commercial activity in the economicallydepressed border area, with infrastructure investments. The plan, he said, was developed in consultation with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. —AFP

ATHENS: A Greek woman walks past the occupied Ministry of Employment and Social Insurance building by communist party affiliated PAME union workers in Athens yesterday. Members of PAME and unemployed workers hung a banner asking for measures to fight raging unemployment and demonstrated in front of the building. —AFP

States and Asia,” Strauss-Kahn said in an address to economics students in Bucharest. “There is a probability that, if Europeans do not act swiftly, in 10 or 20 years’ time the fight will be between the US and Asia, while Europe will be left aside,” said the French head of the International Monetary Fund.

BUCHAREST: IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn delivers a speech at the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest yesterday. Europe must take action to prevent their economies from falling behind the United States and Asia and being relegated to the ‘second league’, Dominique Strauss-Kahn said. Strauss-Kahn, on a brief visit to Romania coming from Poland, once again pleaded for better coordination in the euro-zone, under stress since the outbreak of Greece’s financial woes. —AFP

Crisis-hit Latvia hopes bank split will drive growth RIGA: Latvia hopes to give its floundering economy a kickstart by restructuring Parex Bank, a former top lender whose 2008 state rescue forced the Baltic nation to seek an international bailout. “It will allow the return of as much money as possible that the government invested in saving the bank and this step will improve conditions in Latvia’s economy,” Juris Jakobson, a privatisation agency official, told reporters. Latvia’s government poured 874 million lats (1.24 billion euros, 1.7 billion dollars) into Parex to keep it afloat during a savage downturn which saw the economy shrink an estimated 18.4 percent in 2009, the worst in the EU. Parex head Nils Melngailis announced last week that a commercial bank would be created via the transfer of around 66 percent of Parex’s active capital, along with more than 50 percent of its credit portfolio. The planned new bank could be up and running within months if European Union regulators give the green light. A new asset management company, trading as Parex, will be tasked with selling the toxic leftovers. “It is expected that both organisations will fulfil their obligations,” Melngailis said. Latvia nationalised Parexits largest domestic commercial bank-in November 2008 to stave off its collapse amid a run on deposits by investors jittery over the country’s hard landing following years of economic boom. The takeover was one reason why the government a month later turned to the International Monetary Fund and the European Union for a

7.5-billion-euro (10-billion-dollar) life-saving bailout. The government vowed to restructure and sell off Parex, whose operations were restricted after the “Faster nationalisation. progress in restructuring stateowned banks and addressing non-performing assets would strengthen the economy and lower potential costs for the government,” said Takatoshi Kato, the IMF’s deputy managing director, last month. The coalition of Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis-in office since March 2009 after the crisis fuelled the demise of its predecessor-hired financial

Nomura group services International to advise on the shake-up. “The new bank would likely suffer losses in 2010 but we expect it to return to profit in 2011,” Michael French of Nomura said. “Restoring profitability is key.” Officials said they aim to raise the new bank’s credibility in the eyes of international rating agencies, attract investments and foster lending. Before nationalisation, Parex was the second-largest bank in Latvia, with a 13.8-percent market share, behind Stockholmbased Swedbank with 22.4 percent. Latvia’s Association of

Spanish economy to shrink 0.4 percent MADRID: The Spanish economy is set to shrink by 0.4 percent this year, recovering with growth of 0.8 percent in 2011, the central bank forecast yesterday. The government, struggling to contain a rising public deficit, forecasts that gross domestic product, which contracted by 3.6 percent last year, will shrink by 0.3 percent in 2010 and expand by 1.8 percent next year. “It is expected that export markets as well as the competitiveness of the Spanish economy will improve and boost economic activity,” the central bank said in its latest economic bulletin. “However, this momentum will face other factors that hamper the strength of the recovery, such as the continuing high degree of uncertainty, the lingering effects of the housing adjustment and the high debt accumulated by the private sector,” it added. The bank’s more pessimistic growth forecast is likely to fuel concerns that the government will not be able to bring Spain’s public deficit to within a eurozone limit of 3.0 percent of GDP by 2013 from the revised estimate of 11.2 percent last year. Investors worry that Spain could follow in the shaky footsteps of Greece, whose debt crisis has shaken the euro and put a spotlight on the public finances of other so-called periphery members of the eurozone. In January Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero unveiled a plan to save 50 billion euros (67 billion dollars) over three years but many analysts have expressed doubts over the government’s deficit targets, arguing they are based on overly optimistic growth forecasts. —AFP

Commercial Banks does not provide recent data about Parex’s market share since the takeover. Parex recently signed a 100-million-euro agreement with the European Investment Bank, earmarking money for loans to small- and mediumsized businesses. That will be used by the new bank, Melngailis said. But unlocking the credit crunch is not a Vjaceslavs panacea, Dombrovskis of the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga said. Dombrovskis-no relation of Latvia’s premier-said lending and investment opportunities must go hand in hand to foster economic development. “The point is, even if banks didn’t ‘freeze’, I don’t think we’d see much investment demand anyway,” he said. Latvia, a country of 2.2 million people, joined the European Union in 2004, 13 years after breaking away from the crumbling Soviet bloc. It earned a reputation for spectacular growth before its economy, fuelled by credit, rising wages and a real-estate bubble, began going off the rails in 2007. It is locked in a biting austerity drive under the terms of the bailout, leaving state coffers empty for stimulating the economy. One in five of the population is unemployed. According to Latvia’s banking supervisor, the FKTK, provisions for bad loans rose to 9.1 percent of the total banking sector loan portfolio in February from 8.9 percent in January. That marked a 250percent increase compared with February 2009. The FKTK said repayments overdue for more than 90 days rose to 17.7 percent of the loan portfolio from 17.4 percent the previous month.—AFP



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Economic crisis a ‘wake-up call’ for Asia: ADB WASHINGTON: The global economic crisis should serve as a “wake-up call” for Asia to commit to reforms including an expansion of the social safety net, an executive at the Asian Development Bank says. The Manila-based lender says that even though the region is recovering at a faster pace than expected, some 57 million people will remain stuck in poverty who otherwise would have emerged out of it in 2010. “The impact of the crisis, purely on economic terms, I think we’ve weathered quite well and we’re coming out of it, but the social impacts have been

quite severe,” said Rajat Nag, the managing director general of the bank. “I think this is a wake-up call to make some fairly important structural reforms in Asia,” Nag told AFP on a visit to Washington on Monday. He said that Asia’s developing economies should move to draw down their heavy reliance on exports to the United States, Europe and Japan and instead look to boost domestic consumption. “In Asia, the export growth model served us very well throughout the last three decades. It’s time to revisit that,” he said. “Rebalancing growth in Asia really means that Asia has to become a consumer and

not just a producer.” Such consumption can be stimulated by stepping up regional trade or persuading Asians to be more liberal with their money. Asians on average save around 30 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP), well above other regions. Savings “will not come down just by our talking about rebalancing growth. It will come down if we can offer a credible social protection network,” Nag said. While several of the more advanced economies have set up wide-ranging health care systems, most Asians tend to save as an insurance against hardships. The Asian Development Bank is expected next month to

raise its 2010 growth projections for the second time. In December, it said that the region would grow at 6.6 percent this year. The bank’s estimates do not cover Japan, a highly developed economy and key contributor to the lending institution. But Nag counseled caution on lifting stimulus measures, which many economies took after the economic crisis erupted in 2008 with the implosion of the US housing market. “The recovery is less than robust but more than fragile,” Nag said. “We think the fiscal stimulus measures should stay in place for a while yet.” Nag said that China and India would help lead the

way with strong growth. Newly industrialized economies such as Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan-which took severe blows due to the downturn in exports-are also all expected to be in positive territory. He said that Indonesia and Vietnam were also faring well. Vietnam is one of the few Asian nations with serious worries about inflation, leading it to devalue its dong twice since late 2009. Nag did not expect any downgrade for Thailand, saying that there were no signs that foreign investors were fleeing the kingdom during its latest bout of political chaos. — AFP

Sterling rises in response but outlook still uncertain

Britain pulling out of recession faster LONDON: Britain’s economy emerged from an 18-month recession at the end of last year in better shape than previously thought, although a nalysts still a nticipate a treacherous pa th to susta ina ble grow th. But the better than forecast grow th ma y provide some cheer to the Labour government, facing possible defea t in an election expected on May 6 and “Looking ahead, the first quarter looks uncertain,” said Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec. “But we are still pencilling in a positive GDP figure. “It remains the case that the economy is fragile and still requires a large degree of policy accommodation to enable it to gain traction.” Sterling rose on the surprisingly strong data but markets still expect monetary policy to remain extremely loose for some time to come and the government warned against complacency given weakness in the euro zone, Britain’s biggest trading partner. “While it is welcome to see an upward revision, recent data in the EU and elsewhere has highlighted that there are still risks and uncertainties to this recovery,” said a Treasury spokesman. While Britain was stuck in recession for longer than some of its European neighbours, the return to growth on the continent has proved to be patchy. Separate data showed Britain’s cur-

banking on an economic recovery to help improve its popula rity after the w orst dow nturn on record. The Office for Nationa l Statistics sa id yesterday gross domestic product grew 0.4 percent in the la st three months of 2009, above foreca sts for an unrevised reading of 0.3 percent grow th and the first quarter of grow th since the sta rt of 2008.

rent account deficit narrowed sharply in the fourth quarter to 1.684 billion pounds ($2.53 billion) from 5.912 billion pounds, the lowest since the first quarter of 2008, after earnings on investment abroad hit their highest since records began in 1964. UNCERTAIN OUTLOOK Year-on-year, GDP contracted by 3.1 percent, less than the 3.3 percent previously reported and much less sharply from the 5.3 percent drop in the third quarter. The statistics office said the upward revision to the GDP data was due to a combination of higher services, construction and agriculture output. The peak to trough fall in output during the recession remained at 6.2 percent, the biggest since comparable records began. Much of the growth in the final quarter of last year came from public spending and the invento-

ry cycle, both of which are unlikely to be supportive for much longer. While Labour does not plan to start cutting government spending to reduce a record budget deficit until 2011, the opposition Conservatives-who could be in government come May-have said they would get to work this year. The opposition also want to go further than halving the deficit-currently nearly 12 percent of gross domestic product - over four years as Labour has pledged. “The risks of a double dip (recession) are fairly modest,” said Ross Walker, an economist at RBS. “But there are still some significant headwinds.” The Bank of England, which slashed interest rates to a record low of 0.5 percent and spent 200 billion pounds of newly-created money on assets to support the economy, has said the future path of monetary policy will partly depend on the nature of any fiscal tightening. — Reuters

Exports and consumption to drive Finnish recovery

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks at an investment conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Najib mapped out an ambitious strategy to attract much needed investment to boost country’s export dependent economy. — AFP

HELSINKI: Finland’s battered economy will start recovering this year and unemployment will keep rising until 2011 thanks to a spark from consumption and exports, the finance ministry said yesterday. “Driven by recovery of private consumption and exports, GDP is expected to grow by 1.1 percent from last year” in 2010, the finance ministry said in an economic survey. The heavily export-dependent Nordic country suffered in 2009 its worst economic performance in over 90 years, with GDP plunging 7.8 percent, according to preliminary statistics. “Next year private investment will also start growing, and at the same time exports and consumption will continue to rise,” the ministry said, forecasting GDP would grow just over two percent in 2011. Despite the expected growth in output, the finance ministry said Finland’s unemployment rate would continue to rise to a peak of 10.2 percent in the first half of 2010. “The situation will improve in 2011 when... the unemployment rate (will) fall back to 9.6 percent,” the ministry forecasted. It said the labour situation would improve in the medium term, but would be plagued by a mismatch between labour supply and labour demand since newly created jobs will be located in different areas than where jobs were lost during the recession. Finland, a member of the European Union and the eurozone, has been hit hard by the global economic downturn, which dampened demand for key exports such as paper and mobile phones. —AP

TOKYO: The Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group headquarters in Tokyo. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc said yesterday it has reached a final agreement with Morgan Stanley to merge brokerage operations in Japan. — AP

Interest rates edge up in bond market CHARLOTTE: Interest rates edged up in the bond market Monday, resuming their march higher after investors saw signs of an improving economy. A Commerce Department report showed investors are growing more comfortable about a global economic recovery. Investors were also more upbeat about Greece’s ability to handle its debt problems. Traders, however, appear to be waiting for the Labor Department’s monthly employment report on Friday, which is expected to show employers added jobs this month. It would be only the second month that jobs were created in the US economy since the recession began in late 2007. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note maturing in February 2020 rose to 3.87 percent in late trading Monday from 3.85 percent late Friday. Its price fell 4/32 to 98. The yield of the 10-year note is linked to interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans. The yield on the 10-year note has jumped 0.17 percentage points since the beginning of last week. Treasurys sold off sharply last week following tepid demand for $118 billion of new government debt. The rise in yields attracted investors seeking bargains.

On Monday, the government said consumer spending rose for the fifth consecutive month in February, matching economists’ expectations. The news helped boost the Dow Jones industrial average more than 45 points. Broader market barometers also rose. Meanwhile, investors gained more confidence in Greece’s ability to handle its debt problems. The debt-strapped country was able to raise $6.74 billion with a seven-year bond issue Monday. It was a crucial test for the country following a pledge last week from European leaders to help Athens cope with its fiscal crisis. Currency traders have beaten down the euro in recent months on concerns about Europe’s ability to contain the debt crisis in Greece, one of the 16 countries that use Europe’s shared currency. In other trading, the yield on the two-year note that matures in March 2012 was unchanged from 1.05 percent Friday. Its price was 99 29/32. The yield on 30-year bond that matures in February 2040 rose to 4.77 percent from 4.75 percent. Its price fell 11/32 to 97 21/32. The yield on the three-month T-bill that matures July 1 rose to 0.14 percent from 0.13 percent. Its discount rate was 0.14 percent. — AP

Japan PM backs to double deposit limit at Japan Post TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama yesterday backed a proposal to double the deposit limit at Japan Post in an attempt to ease concerns over his leadership skills ahead of an election expected in July. Divisions among cabinet ministers over the outspoken banking minister’s plan deepened last week. Some cabinet ministers had called for more debate on the proposal, as it could be a ploy to have Japan Post buy more government bonds and subsidise a jump in the country’s already huge public debt. “It should not become an institution simply to buy Japanese government bonds. Rather, it should help revitalise rural areas,” Hatoyama told reporters after meeting ministers. Shizuka Kamei, the banking minister from a tiny ruling coalition party with an agenda to reverse the pro-market postal reform, announced a plan to allow the world’s largest financial conglomerate to double the limit on deposits to 20 million yen ($216,200) per person. Some analysts say the move could trigger an inflow of deposits from private banks as it could be perceived as having an implicit government guarantee as a state con-

trolled firm. But the messy decision-making process raised questions about Hatoyama’s ability to lead and make tough policy choices and risked eroding voter support, which has more than halved

since the premier took power six months ago to below 40 percent. After a week of political wrangling within his cabinet, Hatoyama sought to avoid any delay. “The decision was left to

me, so I made a decision because I thought I must make a quick one,” he said, adding that the government could consider in the future whether to revise the deposit limit depending on how much in

funds shifts from other banks. Hatoyama’s decision may not convince voters ahead of the election for parliament’s upper house, in which Hatoyama’s Democratic Party wants to win a majority to avoid a policy

stalemate. “If Kamei and his party get their way, it will expose to voters the weak position that the Democratic Party is in and raise doubts over its policy agenda,” said Mikitaka

Masuyama, professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies. “It would also add to the criticism already out there on how Hatoyama lacks leadership.” Japan Post, which provides postal, banking and

insurance services, holds about a third of the 700 trillionyen government bond market and dealers bet that a doubling of deposits under the privatisation plan would translate into more bond buying. — Reuters

What is Japan Post, why is it important? TOKYO: Japan’s government is divided over plans to scale back the privatisation of Japan Post, adding to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s woes as his administration struggles in the polls ahead of a midyear election. His cabinet was meeting late yesterday in an effort to reach a decision. Dithering over the plan, which would have to be approved by parliament as well, could deal a blow to the Democratic Party-led government, which to avoid policy stalemate wants to win a majority in the upper house poll expected in July. The fate of Japan Post could also sway financial markets and the financial industry because the entity, which has retail banking and insurance services, is the world’s largest financial conglomerate with financial assets of about 300 trillion yen ($3.2 trillion). Following are some questions and answers about Japan Post and why it matters to markets and politics. WHAT IS JAPAN POST, WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? Postal service operator Japan Post provides retail banking and insurance services through its 24,000 post offices. With financial assets worth

more than France’s GDP, it is Japan’s largest financial institution. It is also about 1.5 times the size of the nation’s largest private banking group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. That means even small changes in its portfolio or business strategy can sway financial markets and the financial industry. It is also one of Japan’s largest companies, with 240,000 employees and annual revenue of 20 trillion yen. Currently, the group has one stockholding company and four subsidiary businesses focusing on banking, insurance, deliveries and post office services. WHY IS PRIVATISATION BEING SCALED BACK? Japan began privatising the postal system after former Junichiro Koizumi led his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to a huge election win in 2005 that was seen as a referendum on postal reform. The LDP planned to spin off the two financial arms, Japan Post Bank and Japan Post Insurance, and sell two-thirds of the holding company by 2017. But Hatoyama, whose Democrats ousted the LDP in an election last August, froze privatisation on the grounds it ignored the needs of consumers and led to clo-

sures of post offices in rural areas. Last week, outspoken banking minister Shizuka Kamei unveiled a proposal for the government to merge the entity’s deliveries and postal services into the parent company. Under the proposal, the government would retain more than one-third of the shares of the parent company, enough to allow it to veto any major changes at the firm. The parent company in turn would hold more than one-third of shares in each of the two financial subsidiaries-Japan Post Bank and Japan Post Insurance. With the profitability of its deliveries and post office services likely to suffer from increased e-mail use and Japan’s shrinking population, Japan Post’s financial services are considered the golden goose. WHY IS THE GOVERNMENT SPLIT ON KAMEI’S PLAN? Kamei has also called for Japan Post to double its limit on deposits to 20 million yen per person, a move that could trigger an inflow of deposits into its banking service from private banks. Kamei, head of the tiny People’s New Party (PNP) in Hatoyama’s coalition government, is

keen to appeal to postal office chiefs-a key support group-ahead of the upper house election. The PNP began as a group of former LDP lawmakers opposed to Koizumi’s postal reforms. But other cabinet ministers have called for more discussion on Kamei’s proposal, mindful of market concerns an increase in Japan Post’s assets could be a ploy for it to buy more government bonds and subsidise already mammoth public debt. Hatoyama will likely be careful not to upset Kamei and his small party, whose support he needs in his coalition to pass bills smoothly in parliament. But failure by cabinet ministers to iron out differences could further dent public support for Hatoyama’s six-month-old government, which has slid to around 30 percent in some polls due to voter doubts about the premier’s leadership skills. Hatoyama is already under fire for allowing his tiny coalition partners to have too much say in policymaking. WILL JAPAN POST’S INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO CHANGE? About three-quarters of the funds of Japan Post’s two financial arms is invested in Japanese

government bonds, making the group the largest single JGB holder with about 33 percent of the market. Most of the remainder goes to other bonds and loans, and it holds a very small amount of shares and foreign currency assets. But a government report has said it is unrealistic for the behemoth to make a big change to its portfolio in a short time. Japan Post could start reducing its JGB holdings in the future but it will likely move very cautiously as selling JGBs could rattle the market when the national debt is nearing 200 percent of gross domestic product. Kamei, the banking minister, has said he wants Japan Post to diversify and it could buy more US Treasuries, but he has also said its money is important for the stability of the domestic bond market. Japan Post tried to expand its lending business after the government began its 10-year privatisation process in 2007, but its efforts fell through and it continued to buy JGBs. In the short-term, the privatisation plan is unlikely to have any impact on its investment strategy. However, the longer-term outlook is unclear as much would depend on how much control the government retains. —Reuters


Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Twitter’s heady rise has Venezuela’s Chavez in spin CARACAS: A jailed judge “tweets” to her followers from prison. The director of an opposition TV station uses Twitter to denounce a conspiracy to oust him. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s opponents have jumped on the use of Twitter and other social networking sites, opening up a new flank in a decade-long campaign against the self-proclaimed socialist revolutionary who they accuse of silencing critical media and attacking free speech. The closing down of a popular private television network triggered street protests rallied by #freevenezuela messages that became the fourth most commented “trending topic” on Twitter worldwide for February. The microblogging site has seen an explosive rise in usage in Venezuela to more

than 200,000 active accounts. With growth of over 1,000 percent in 2009, Venezuela now has one of the highest rates per capita of Twitter users in Latin America. Twitter’s dizzy expansion has upset Chavez and he is hitting back. “The Internet is a battle trench because it is bringing a current of conspiracy,” Chavez said earlier this month. “The Internet cannot be free,” he said, though days later he denied claims that his government planned to censor the Internet, pointing out that Web use by Venezuelans has expanded dramatically during his 11 years in power. Still, his detractors say a plan to channel all Internet traffic through the state telecom company is a strong signal of Chavez’s intentions to silence online dissent. Frustrated by his ubiquitous presence

in traditional media, where he often applies a law that forces TV and radio stations to broadcast his lengthy speeches, opponents see networking sites as a means of outwitting the populist president. “Twitter is altering the way in which users communicate and organize themselves, giving them new powers and abilities to spread information,” said information technology expert Luis Carlos Diaz of the Center for Investigation and Social Action. When Chavez came to power in 1999, Internet access was a privilege of the rich and only 5.8 percent of Venezuelans used it. But thanks in part to the government’s own efforts-it launched thousands of free Internet centers in the country’s poorest and most remote shantytowns-access has shot up. About 8.8 million people, or 31 per-

cent of the oil-exporting nation’s population, now use the Internet and more than twothirds of them are from the poorest sections of society. “The Internet now has a political impact because it represents many people, many of them among the poor who are the government’s main constituency. And the figure keeps growing,” said Carlos Jimenez of the online polling firm Digital Tendencies. Twitter is still primarily used by the more affluent, but increasingly poorer Venezuelans are discovering and using the service too, Jimenez said. Seven of the top 10 most followed Twitter accounts in the country are strongly critical of Chavez, while his defenders do not appear until number 66 in the list. Globovision (@Globovision), the most

prominent of the remaining opposition television networks, consistently rates among the top 20 most influential Twitterers in the world, according to consulting firm Edelman (, beating out prestigious international media companies, pop stars and technology gurus. @HUGOCHAVEZ Belatedly, Chavez appears to have become aware of the Internet’s power as a communication tool. He recently called on his followers to turn themselves into “soldiers” on the Internet and engage with the enemy online. The former paratrooper turned president even suggested he might start his own blog, saying he would “bombard” his critics from his “own trench on the Internet,” but he hasn’t yet done it.

Chavez has steadily moved against opposition voices in the traditional media. Earlier this year, Caracas-based RCTV International was closed down after refusing to comply with a law that obliged the TV station to air Chavez’s speeches. Students responded by using Twitter and Facebook to coordinate a series of protest marches and analysts say Chavez is finding the fragmented nature of the Internet, with its millions of individual users, harder to control. “For the government it is relatively easy to neutralize a television or radio station,” said Billy Vaisberg, creator of the directory Venezuela (http://twitterTwitter “But Twitter has hundreds of thousands of people using a service that is not located in Venezuela.” — Reuters

Companies focus most on building efficient data centers

Coal fuels much of Internet ‘cloud,’ Greenpeace says SAN FRANCISCO: The ‘cloud’ of data that is becoming the heart of the Internet is creating an all-too-real cloud of pollution as Facebook, Apple and others build data centers powered by coal, Greenpeace said in a new report to be released yesterday. A Facebook facility being built in Oregon will rely on a utility whose main fuel is coal, while Apple Inc is building a data warehouse in a North Carolina region that relies mostly on coal, the environmental organization said in the study.

TOKYO: A model shows off the new smartphone ‘IS01’ (R) built on the Android operating system and the ‘IS02’ (L) built on the Windows operating system during a press preview by Japan’s mobile communications operator KDDI in Tokyo yesterday. KDDI will start selling the new handsets from the beginning of June on the Japanese market. — AFP

Facebook veterans in venture capital spotlight SAN FRANCISCO: As Wall Street eagerly awaits signs that Internet sensation Facebook will offer shares to the public, the venture capitalists that prowl California’s Silicon Valley are keeping close tabs on another hot commodity: the employees leaving Facebook. A handful of start-up companies founded by Facebook alumni are attracting attention and generating a good amount of buzz within venture circles, where competition is fierce to get a stake in the web’s next hit product. On Monday, Quora, a start-up founded by four exFacebook employees, including former Chief Technology Officer Adam D’Angelo, raised a Series A round of funding from Benchmark Capital that the technology blog TechCrunch said valued the company at $86 million, citing an unnamed source. Benchmark partner and former Facebook product management vice president Matt Cohler will sit on Quora’s board. Quora, which operates out of a small, college-dormlike suite in downtown Palo Alto, California, with cardboard crates of water-bottles stacked waist-high against the walls, had not planned to raise money so early, said D’Angelo, who is the CEO of Quora. “We weren’t really shopping it around, but there was a lot of interest” from VCs, he said in a phone interview with Reuters after the announcement of the funding on Monday. The company was started in April 2009, and the product which was launched in January 2010, can currently be used only by people who have received a special invitation. D’Angelo declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal, but said the funding will help Quora hire more staff and focus on a wider set of technical challenges underlying the product - an online question and answer service based on people’s social connections. The proliferation of startups with Facebook veterans, and the investor interest in them, follows a time-tested Silicon Valley pattern in which tech superstars from Google Inc to Fairchild

Semiconductor have spawned innovative start-up companies, said Nick Sturiale, a general partner at JAFCO Ventures. “Any enterpreneur spinning out of Facebook is going to get attention,” said Sturiale. “They’re at the vanguard of how the Web is emerging.” Facebook, which counts 400 million active users and is the world’s No.1 Internet social network, has yet to announce any plans for an initial public offering — the traditional payday that allows early company insiders to cash-out and move on to new projects. But the active secondary market for Facebook sharesincluding more than $100 million in officially-sanctioned stock purchases of employee shares by Facebook investor Digital Sky Technologies last yearhas allowed Facebook employees to decamp at an earlier stage, say some VCs. “We’ve seen loads of people leave Google and now we’re seeing loads of people leave Facebook. Either because they’re vested, or because they think the company’s gotten too big,” said Spark Capital’s Todd Dagres. Dagres said he’s looking at several startups founded by ex-Facebook employees, but he notes that a Facebook connection is not enough. “You definitely pay attention if somebody is leaving Google or Facebook. But then you’ve got to make sure that they really have built a track record, that they didn’t just work there,” said Dagres. A number of Facebookrelated start-ups have already passed muster. Asana, whose founders include Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, raised $9 million in December from

Benchmark Capital and Andreessen-Horowitz. Cloudera, which features former Facebook, Google, Yahoo Inc and Oracle Corp veterans on its management team, raised $11 million from Greylock Partners and Accel Partners in two separate rounds of funding last year. Meanwhile, Path, a secretive project led by former Facebook employee Dave Morin and Shawn Fanning, the creator of music sharing service Napster, has piqued a lot of interest in tech circles though it’s unclear if the company is looking to raise money. Some entrepreneurs, like former Facebook director of business international development Net Jacobsson, say there’s no overwhelming pressure to raise capital right away, thanks to the low cost with which Web startups can be created these days. Jacobsson, who advised social gaming firm Crowdstar after leaving Facebook in May 2009, recently set up his own social game start-up dubbed PlayHopper. The game development is primarily taking place in China, he said, and the goal is to generate revenue as soon as the first game is released. Several VC firms have contacted him to check-in on his new project and in some cases to inquire about investing in the company, said Jacobsson, who noted that he was still thinking over whether he needed to take money from outside investors. “When it comes to VCs, it’s like a marriage,” said Jacobsson. “A marriage you can get out of, but it’s very difficult to disconnect yourself from a bad VC marriage.” — Reuters

“The last thing we need is for more cloud infrastructure to be built in places where it increases demand for dirty coal-fired power,” said Greenpeace, which argues that Web companies should be more careful about where they build and should lobby more in Washington for clean energy. The growing mass of business data, home movies and pictures has ballooned beyond the capabilities of many corporate data centers and personal computers, spurring the creation of massive server farms that make up a “cloud,” an emerging phenomenon known

as cloud computing. The Greenpeace report comes during a global debate whether to create caps or other measures to cut use of carbonheavy fuels like coal and curb climate change. Cheap and plentiful, coal is the top fuel for US power plants, and its low cost versus alternative fuels makes it attractive, even in highly energy-efficient data centers. Apple, Facebook, Microsoft Corp, Yahoo Inc and Google Inc GOOG.O have at least some centers that rely heavily on coal power, said Greenpeace. Most of the companies

declined to give details of their data centers to Reuters. All said, however, they considered the environment in business decisions, and most said they were aggressively pursuing energy efficiency. High technology companies say they support the environment. Apple has released its carbon footprint, or how much greenhouse gases it produces, and Facebook said it chose the location for its center to use natural means to cool its machines. Microsoft said it aimed to maximize efficiency, and Google said it purchased carbon

offsets-funding for projects which suck up carbon-for emissions, including at data centers. Yahoo, which is building a center near Buffalo, New York, that Greenpeace saw as a model, will get energy from hydroelectric facilities. The company said energy-efficiency was the top goal, with a building design that promotes air circulation. Data center energy use already is huge, Greenpeace said. If considered as a country, global telecommunications and data centers behind cloud computing would have ranked fifth

in the world for energy use in 2007, behind the United States, China, Russia and Japan, it concluded. The cloud may be the fastest-growing facet of technology infrastructure between now and 2020, said Greenpeace. The group based its findings on a mix of data, including a federal review of fuels in US zip codes in 2005 and a 2008 study by the Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, which Greenpeace updated in part with US Environmental Protection Agency data. — Reuters

MELBOURNE: Researcher Mandy Li displays a prototype bionic eye designed to help patients suffering from degenerative vision loss caused by retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration at its launch at the University of Melbourne yesterday. The prototype consists of a tiny video camera attached to the middle of a pair of dark sunglasses that researchers developed to improve the sight of people suffering degenerative vision. The camera captures images, which are then wirelessly sent to an implant attached to a patient’s retina. Electrodes on the retina are then simulated, creating vision. — AFP

Australia reveals prototype ‘bionic’ eye Biggest breakthrough since Braille alphabet MELBOURNE: Australia yesterday unveiled a prototype bionic eye designed to restore sight to those with failing vision which supporters hope could be the biggest breakthrough since the Braille alphabet. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, whose government committed 42 million dollars (almost 39 million US) to the project, said the device could be “one of the most important medical advances we see in our lifetime”. “The bionic eye project will keep Australia at the forefront of bionic research and commercialisation and has the potential to restore sight to thou-

sands of people in Australia and across the world,” he said. The device, part of which is surgically implanted in the eye, is designed for patients suffering from degenerative vision loss caused by the genetic condition retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration. It consists of a miniature camera, mounted on glasses, that captures images and sends them to a processor the wearer keeps in their pocket. The processor then transmits a signal wirelessly to a unit implanted in the eye which will directly stimulate surviving neurons in the retina, signalling an

image to the brain. Those using the bionic eye will not have perfect vision restored, but it is hoped they will be able to perceive points of light in their field of vision which the brain can then reconstruct into an image. Research director of Bionic Vision Australia, the university and research institute partnership which has produced the prototype, Professor Anthony Burkitt said the device could change people’s lives. “We anticipate that this retinal implant will provide users with increased mobility and independence,

and that future versions of the implant will eventually allow recipients to recognise faces and read large print,” he said. Kevin Murfitt, chairman of the country’s biggest service for the blind and visually impaired Vision Australia, said the bionic eye “will be the next big remarkable invention”. “This is truly a revolution and will be the biggest thing in terms of blindness and low vision since Louis Braille invented the Braille alphabet over 200 years ago,” he told ABC radio. The bionic eye is undergoing tests ahead of the first human implant in 2013. — AFP

Google mobile service partially blocked in China SAN FRANCISCO: Google on Monday reported that its mobile Internet service in China was partially blocked but it was unknown whether the trouble was related to a stand-off over censorship there. A website Google set up for people to track the status of its services in China showed that the US Internet giant’s Mobile offering on Sunday

joined Groups, Picasa and Docs as listed as “partially blocked.” “We can confirm that our status page indicates that Mobile services are partially blocked from within mainland China,” a Google spokesman said in an email response to an AFP inquiry. Mobile service availability fluctuates and it was too soon to be certain

when the partial blockage was a retaliatory move by Chinese officials. Google mobile includes search, blog, map, news and other services for smartphones and other Internetenabled handsets. Google-owned video-sharing website YouTube and a Blogger service for people to voice ideas, musings or observations online were completely

blocked, according to the online “Mainland China service availability” list. A face-off with China over online censorship culminated on March 22 with Google stopping its voluntary filtering of online search results in China. Days later, China’s second largest mobile phone operator said it will

remove Google’s search function from new handsets in response to the US Internet giant’s tussle with Beijing. China Unicom said the search function would be dropped from new phones using Google’s Android mobile operating system. China currently has at least 384 million Internet users, but it has more

than 750 million mobile subscribers, many of whom access web content via their handsets. In January, shortly after saying it could leave China altogether over web censorship and cyberattacks, Google postponed the launch of Android-based mobile handsets developed with Motorola and Samsung for China Unicom. — AFP


health & science

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Peruvian Amazon trees a niche market for carbon trading SANTA ROSA: In a far-flung corner of the Peruvian Amazon, a multinational company aims to offset carbon dioxide emissions from its factories in France by planting thousands of trees which may also provide an income for local communities. Amid accusations of greenwashing levelled at big firms trying to clean up their image, Nestle Waters France has hired French environmentalist Tristan Lecomte and his carbon management company, The Pure Project, to execute its plan. Nestle wants to offset the equivalent of all the annual carbon emissions from its Vittel mineral water plants in France and Belgium — about 115,000 tonnes of carbon a year. In order to do this, it is investing 409,000 euros (550,000 dollars) to fund the planting of a total of 350,000 trees, mostly tropical hardwoods, in an existing project in the

Bolivian Amazon and a new one in the jungle of Peru with a view to renewing the same number of trees every year. For Lecomte it will be working with old friends-cocoa farmers in the remote village of Santa Ana and other communities who live in the dense, high forest alongside the deep brown Huayabamba river, near the town of Juanjui, in Peru’s heavily deforested San Martin region, about 600 kilometers (375 miles) from Lima. It’s there where Lecomte already works with small cocoa farmers making fair trade and organic chocolate for Alter Eco, France’s number one fair trade brand. “These farmers are organic, they benefit from fair trade and now they plant these trees so they also fight against global warming,” he told AFP standing at dusk in the riverside village of Santa Rosa. “They are at the forefront of the fight

against climate change, they see the change in the weather and they want to fight against it for themselves and their children.” His company, The Pure Project, will pay them one Peruvian Sol (around 30 US cents) for every tree seedling they plant on their farmland which can be any number between 85 to 1,111 per hectare. Once the trees reach the minimum legal diameter to be cut, they can be harvested by the farmer and sold. Amid the intense green and the constant thrum of living creatures, the saplings grow at an accelerated rate with dinner-plate sized leaves reaching up to the sunlit cracks in the tree canopy. Trees grow faster in the Amazon rainforest-the lungs of the planet-than anywhere else in the world, and can reach between six to 12 metres (18 to 36 feet) in just one year. “Apart from reforesting we’re doing busi-

ness”, said Ozwaldo del Castillo, a cocoa farmer with two adult sons and an 11-year old daughter who lives in Santa Ana. “We may be old when those trees are ready to be cut down but if you think of the next generation, our children and their children will benefit in the future.” But as well as combating climate change and providing a kind of retirement fund for the farmers, the agro-forestry project is a form of sustainable development which can revitalize deforested and unproductive landthe result of slash and burn agriculture. “Migrants coming from the highlands of Peru on arriving in the Amazon don’t know how to cultivate without slashing and burning the plants and trees,” Lecomte explained. “This has a very bad effect on the water resources, on soil erosion, and on biodiversity of course. People’s fields are slipping

into the river because there are no big trees and their roots to maintain them.” Moreover, the bigger trees such as teak and cedar provide ideal conditions for the smaller cocoa trees which grow best in the shade, while the roots of the bigger trees oxygenate the soil. The result is that these farmers can double their yield to up to 2,000 kilograms (4,400 pounds) of cocoa beans per hectare per year. The Peruvian project is awaiting validation by the Voluntary Carbon Standard, or VCS, in July. The Pure Project is running similar projects in 14 countries with a number of corporate clients including cosmetics firm Clarins, Hugo Boss and French retailer E. Leclerc. It’s ambitious in its vision. It plans to plant up to four million trees in the next five

years, which could capture 2.3 million tonnes of carbon over the next four decades. These could be sold on the voluntary carbon market by the company to fund further tree planting. Despite the despondency which followed December’s Copenhagen climate change summit, idealists like Lecomte are undeterred. He’s convinced projects like this are the beginning of a much bigger trend and could also be an important niche market for developing nations like Peru. “Sustainability is not an obstacle to the growth of big companies, quite the opposite it can be a strategic advantage,” he maintains. Projects like these, he says, work as a form of marketing for companies like Nestle but they also have a real impact on the farmers in the developing world. — AFP

New era for researchers

Geneva atom smasher sets collision record GENEVA: The world’s largest atom smasher conducted its first experiments at conditions nearing those after the Big Bang, breaking its own record for high-energy collisions with proton beams crashing into each other Tuesday at three times more force than ever before. In a milestone for the $10 billion

Large Hadron Collider’s ambitious bid to reveal details about theoretical particles and microforces, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, collided the beams and took measurements at a combined energy level of 7 trillion electron volts.

GENEVA: European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) scientists show on their laptop the first results of the first ultra high-energy collisions at the CMS experiment control room yesterday near Geneva. Scientists at the world’s biggest atom smasher at CERN said that they had collided protons at record power, mimicking conditions close to the Big Bang that created the universe. — AFP

Chocolate could reduce heart risk LONDON: The Easter Bunny might lower your chances of having a heart problem. According to a new study, small doses of chocolate every day could decrease your risk of having a heart attack or stroke by nearly 40 percent. German researchers followed nearly 20,000 people over eight years, sending them several questionnaires about their diet and exercise habits. They found people who had an average of six grams of chocolate per day — or about one square of a chocolate bar — had a 39 percent lower risk of either a heart attack or stroke. The study is scheduled to be published Wednesday in the European Heart Journal. Previous studies have suggested dark chocolate in small amounts could be good for you, but this is the first study to track its effects over such a long period of time. Experts think the flavonols contained in chocolate are responsible. Flavonols help

the muscles in blood vessels widen, which leads to a drop in blood pressure. “It’s a bit too early to come up with recommendations that people should eat more chocolate, but if people replace sugar or high-fat snacks with a little piece of dark chocolate, that might help,” said Brian Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal, Germany, the study’s lead author. The people tracked by Buijsse and colleagues had no history of heart problems, had similar habits for risk factors like smoking and exercise, and did not vary widely in their Body Mass Index. Since the study only observed people and did not give them chocolate directly to test what its effects were, experts said more research was needed to determine the candy’s exact impact on the body. The study was paid for by the German government and the European Union. Doctors

also warned that eating large amounts of chocolate could lead to weight gain, a major risk factor for heart problems and strokes. “Basic science has demonstrated quite convincingly that dark chocolate ... improves vascular and platelet function,” said Frank Ruschitzka in a statement, a cardiologist at the University Hospital Zurich and spokesman for the European Society of Cardiology. “However, before you rush to add dark chocolate to your diet, be aware that 100 grams of dark chocolate contains roughly 500 calories.” Buijsse said people hoping to benefit from chocolate’s heart healthy effects should cut out other snacks and sweets if they wanted to eat chocolate. “The biggest problem with this is not to gain weight,” said Buijsse. “Eating too much chocolate will have negative effects that far outweigh the positive effects of cocoa.” — AP

US health officials warn swine flu season not over WASHINGTON: While swine flu has waned across much of the United States, the southeast is reporting an increase in cases of the H1N1 virus, US health officials said yesterday. “The flu season is not over yet ... H1N1 has remained persistent in the southeast and now those states are experiencing more local and regional activity,” US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin told reporters in a conference call. US health officials said it was not clear why there were more swine flu cases in some regions and warned that many people were still vulnerable because they had not been immunized. Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia have been reporting “regional disease”-one step below “widespread disease,” Dr. Anne Schuchat of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on the call. She

said the situation in Georgia was unique. “Recently, Georgia has seen more laboratory confirmed influenza hospitalizations each week than they’ve seen at any time since October,” Schuchat said. “They’ve had more than 40 hospitalizations in this past week, and for the third week in a row, Georgia had more hospitalizations than any other state in the country from laboratoryconfirmed H1N1 influenza,” Schuchat said. Most of the people affected were adults with chronic health conditions and people who had not been immunized, Schuchat said. Georgia was among the states with the lowest rate of vaccinations, she said. Benjamin again urged people to get immunized and said that the vaccine was in plentiful supply. — Reuters

BEIJING: An activist holds papers bearing the words “law and justice” outside a court house during the trial of Zhao Lianhai in Beijing, yesterday. Zhao Lianhai, who organized a support group for parents of children sickened in one of China’s worst food safety scandals pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of inciting social disorder, his lawyer said. — AP

The collisions herald a new era for researchers working on the machine in a 17-mile (27kilometer) tunnel below the Swiss-French border at Geneva. “That’s it! They’ve had a collision,” said Oliver Buchmueller from Imperial College in London as people closely watched monitors. In a control room, scientists erupted with applause when the first successful collisions were confirmed. Their colleagues from around the world were tuning in by remote links to witness the new record, which surpasses the 2.36 TeV CERN recorded last year. Dubbed the world’s largest scientific experiment, researchers hope the machine can approach on a tiny scale what happened in the first split seconds after the Big Bang, which they theorize was the creation of the universe some 14 billion years ago. The extra energy in Geneva is expected to reveal even more about the unanswered questions of particle physics, such as the existence of antimatter and the search for the Higgs boson, a hypothetical particle that scientists theorize gives mass to other particles and thus to other objects and creatures in the universe. Yesterday’s initial attempts at collisions were unsuccessful because problems developed with the beams, said scientists working on the massive machine. That meant the protons had to be “dumped” from the collider and new beams had to be injected. The atmosphere at CERN was tense considering the collider’s launch with great fanfare on Sept. 10, 2008. Nine days later, the project was sidetracked when a badly soldered electrical splice overheated, causing extensive damage to the massive magnets and other parts of the collider some 300 feet (100 meters) below the ground. It cost $40 million to repair and improve the machine. Since its restart in November 2009, the collider has performed almost flawlessly and given scientists valuable data. It quickly eclipsed the next largest accelerator — the Tevatron at Fermilab near Chicago. Two beams of protons began 10 days ago to speed at high energy in opposite directions around the tunnel, the coldest place in the universe, at a couple of degrees above absolute zero. CERN used powerful superconducting magnets to force the two beams to cross, creating collisions and showers of particles. “Experiments are collecting their first physics data — historic moment here!” a scientist tweeted on CERN’s official Twitter account. “Nature does it all the time with cosmic rays (and with higher energy) but this is the first time this is done in Laboratory!” said another tweet. When collisions become routine, the beams will be packed with hundreds of billions of protons, but the particles are so tiny that few will collide at each crossing. — AP

Dr. Nawas (left) is sitting at the workshop, while Professor Pipe (right) is delivering his speech. — Photo by Ahmad Saeid

Survey reveals Middle East doctors’ perception of smoking ‘The most harmful activity, with less urgency to treat!’ By Ahmad Saeid BEIRUT: A survey recently carried among doctors in the Middle East showed that although they consider smoking a harmful activity on the long-term health of their patients, it ranked much lower than high blood pressure in urgency for treatment. The survey was conducted by Smoking: The Opinion of Physicians (STOP), a survey program of IMS health, an International Health Research Corporation, located in the United States of America. The results were disclosed in a workshop titled “The Middle East Smoking Cessation Meeting” held in Beirut on Saturday. The keynote speaker in the workshop, Professor Andrew Pipe from Ottawa University, Heart Institute, said that smoking killed 100 million people in the past century, and if the current trends continue, one billion people will die from tobacco-related diseases this century. “In the year 2020, the five most fatal diseases in the world will be tobacco related,” said Professor Pipe. Pipe, who serves as Chief of Prevention and Rehabilitation division in Ottawa University, said that

the general perception of smoking as a lifestyle choice or habit is not only deceptive, but also prevents doctors from taking a more active role in helping patients quit smoking. “Smoking is the worst form of addiction. It has a huge impact on human body, including on brain functionality. With prolonged exposure to nicotine and other chemicals in the cigarette, the physiology of brain alters, which could, in some cases require medical intervention to help people stop smoking,” said Professor Pipe. Pipe argued that because of this reason, willpower alone is not enough to overcome tobacco addiction. “Only 20 percent of smokers can quit smoking without medication, the remaining 80 percent will require medication to overcome their dependence,” he noted. The STOP survey looked into the ways doctors perceive smoking. It concluded that almost 88 percent of surveyed doctors thought that smoking is more harmful than consuming alcohol, obesity, stress, and medication abuse on the long-term health of their patients. “51 percent of surveyed doctors thought that it’s up

to the patient to quit smoking on his own, and 54 percent thought that high blood pressure is most important to treat, compared to 25 percent who thought that smoking is most important to treat,” said Doctor Yousef Nawas, a pulmonologist and smoking cessation expert. The survey included conducting 30-minute face to face interviews with 699 physicians from seven countries in Africa and the Middle East (AfME). The AfME research is part of a global survey that included interviewing around 2,638 physicians from 16 other countries in all regions of the globe. The survey was sponsored by Pfizer, an international pharmaceutical company. Dr Yousef Nawas, who is also a Pfizer researcher said that ‘Champix,’ the medication developed by Pfizer to help smokers quit has proven to be effective in 5060 percent of the cases. “The treatment course is 12 weeks long, and the medication is safe, with no significant side effects,” he said. Nawas also added that there is no evidence so far that the new medicine could cause an addiction.

NEW DELHI: Father Subhash Mukhia, right, feeds one of conjoined twins Geeta, (second right), as mother Nirmala Devi feeds Seeta at Batra Hospital in New Delhi, India, yesterday. Surgeons at the hospital are preparing to perform a surgery to separate the twin sisters. — AP



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Embassy information

KES junior students Saoirse Joy and Angela M playing mother and daughter in ‘One In A Million’.

Dalal Al Roumi gives her staff a hard time as the newspaper boss in ‘One In A Million’.

KES Junior students performing their environmentally themed play ‘One In A Million’.

KES goes green: Juniors educate and entertain


es Junior students performed their school play ‘One In A Million’ last week. The play written and directed by drama teacher Heather Baillie was inspired by the true story of a 9 year old girl began a youth environment group in 1989. KES student, 10 year old Saoirse Joy played the lead role with confidence and conviction. The cast of 45 students worked together as an ensemble to portray the 3 years of the story giving a slick performance which was appreciated by the packed audiences. The plays message was to encourage individuals to believe they can make a difference and to take action to against pollution. This was beautifully highlighted by the use of projections at

the end of the play - creating a powerful conclusion which challenged the audience to be ‘One in a Million’ and make changes now. A superb performance which was not only entertaining but educational for all who saw it. KES Junior students, acted, danced and sang their way into the hearts of packed audiences last week as they performed their show ‘One in a Million’. The play written and directed by Drama teacher Heather Baillie portrayed an important message by telling the true story of a nine year old girl who began an environmental action group - Kids For A Cleaner Environment (Kids FACE) in 1989. The cast of 9 to 11 year olds

presented the story of her achievements through a mix of dance, humor, dream sequences and drama all aimed at protrayingthe serious message, that one person can make a difference. Talented 10 year old Saoirse Joy played the lead role with amazing sensitivity and confidence. It was truly an ensemble piece flowing seamlessly between the humor of the kids scenes to the cut throat scenes of the media world and onto nightmare and dream sequences showing the politics of the era. As it is ‘The Year Of The Environment’ at KES this year the Junior Drama Teacher decided to put the topic centre stage and write a play by a true story. “We wanted people to think about how change can start

with one person, the child the play is based around really did set up a worldwide youth action group which has 300,000 members world wide and did get a million trees planted . I just thought how amazing is that! and it was a story my students could relate to. Some of them have even taken action and formed their own groups - so it has made both them and the audiences think and maybe change some attitudes here in Kuwait. It’s all very positive and I am very proud of their performances”. The message of the play was beautifully highlighted by the slideshow which challenged audiences to become ‘One in a Million’ and to make a difference.

Kozhikode District Association Women’s Forum health seminar


ozhikode District Association Kuwait- Women’s Forum, is organizing a Medical Seminar on 2nd April, 2010, 5:30 PM at Rhythm Auditorium, Abbassiya for general public. Dr PSN Menon (Military Hospital ) will be delivering a talk on “Diabetics” and Dr V T Sakeer (Farwaniya Hospital) will

talk on “immunization”. During the multimedia presentation audience can interact with the Doctors and clear all their doubts. There is a free check up for blood pressure and sugar for which two hours of fasting prior to the test is required. Medical check up will start at 4:00 PM.

Aware center announces

Arabic course


he AWARE Center is glad to announce that the Summer 1 Arabic course will begin on May 2 until June 16, 2010 (introductory Arabic begins on May 2 till June 3, 2010). The AWARE Center offers Arabic classes on a regular basis from Introductory Arabic to level 4. AWARE Arabic classes are designed with the expat in mind. Our Arabic language courses offer a relaxed approach to communicating in basic Arabic for those who wish to learn Arabic for travel, for better understanding the culture of the Arabs, for conducting business or for simply feeling more involved while residing in Kuwait. Whether you are a teacher, a traveler, or work in the private business sector, AWARE Arabic courses introduce Arabic language basics that will offer you a start into the skills that will better prepare you for speaking, reading and writing Arabic. AWARE Arabic courses combine language learning with cultural insights. All courses are taught in group settings which provide additional opportunities to interact with other Western expatriates studying the language. For more information, call 25335260/80 ext 105 or 104 or e-mail:

Young Bhavanites graduate from preschool


haratiya Vidya Bhavan Kuwait Kendra celebrated its graduation of their UKG Students on 10 ans 11th of March. On 10th 120students received their graduation cap in the auspicious presence of Chair person N K Ramchandran Menon, vice chair person Indubala Khandelwal and Guests of Honor Rajashree Menon and Mrs. Anita. More than 145 students received their graduation in the auspicious presence of Beena Krishnan and Dr Bessy Verky as guests of honor on 11th March. On both these days Asha Sharma , the Principal of the school extended a warm welcome, while the Vice Principal Mrs. Shaila Naik presented Annual Report and shared future plans. The graduation ceremony was accompanied by foot

tapping dances and meaningful poems, songs and skits presented by the tiny tots of LKG in most colorful costumes. The students from Pre-KG also presented an enchanting dance item on this occasion. This event was witnessed by parents who patronized the program in large numbers. The program concluded in great pomp and poise. Rati Ravindran of Jack N Jill, Rajni Menon, the coordinator of UKG and Seema Kokane, coordinator of LKG were largely responsible for all preparation for the this day. Their hard work and team spirit was found to be very effective and impressive during this event. The cultural programs presented in the function were not only entertaining but were also very educational.

ExxonMobil teams up with KES’ Physics Challenge’


Safir Hotel and Residences Kuwait turns off lights to mark Earth Hour


afir Hotel and Residences Kuwait (SHRK) recently participated in the Earth Hour, a global environmental awareness event organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to send a powerful global message on environmental awareness and caring for the planet. At 8:30pm, SHRK went dark for one full hour and several measures were taken to save electricity to lend support for Earth Hour. SHRK joins the growing list of supporting businesses that are committed to take a stand on climate change and create a cleaner, safer and more secure future. As a symbolic gesture to warn against global warming the hotel turned off lights in the lobby and public areas including Flavors Restaurant. Employees turned off non-essential electrical devices and guests were invited to participate in the initiative further underscoring the Hotel’s com-

mitment to environmental sustainability. Urs Weisskopf - General Manager of Safir Hotel & Residences said “We are delighted to have participated in the “Earth Hour” initiative and need to make sure that we use our resources wisely by not wasting energy. We must make every effort to leave as minimal a footprint as possible on the environment for future generations.” The Earth Hour is an annual international event created by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change. And even with the challenges of the global economy, leaders and people worldwide remain focused on the growing threat of climate change and place a high priority on environmentally-friendly solutions as one of the ways to overcome those challenges.

xxonMobil Exploration and Production Kuwait Limited announced yesterday its sponsorship of the Kuwait English School (KES) ‘Physics Challenge’ held on Monday 29 March at KES’s premises, as part of ExxonMobil’s ongoing commitment to support school and educational institutions in Kuwait to generate student interest and excitement in math and science. The challenge gathered 110 KES students from grades 8, 9 and 10 divided into groups to participate in the sixth annual ‘Physics Challenge’. Students were given a select number of random construction and mechanical materials and elements and one day to build a crane based on theories students learnt in physics classes and which will serve or be used for a purpose. Filled with excitement and enthusiasm, the panel of judges comprising three engineers and a KES teacher assessed students’ machines based on their design, construction, and performance quality. As students awaited impatiently the announcement of the winners, students, teachers, parents and invited professionals enjoyed the achievements of the students. The first place winners of the ‘Physics Challenge’ were ‘The Midgeteers’ from year 9, the second place winners were ‘The Nerds’ from year 10 and the third place winners were ‘The Thermacouples’. Winners received gift vouchers. ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Kuwait Limited President, Mr. John Hoholick said: “We continuously support schools in Kuwait and especially their math and science educational programs. KES invests in the education of science and encourages their students by all means to explore science disciplines. During the Kuwait Science Fair this year, KES had the largest number of participation from students and offered great support to them and the development of their projects through-

out the competition. We are glad to have had this opportunity to support the annual ‘Physics Challenge’ and we look forward to further collaborations in the future.” Kuwait English School Head of Science, Mr. Pete Dryhurst said: “We always look for new ways to stimulate students’ interest in different disciplines and especially in sciences and we are grateful for ExxonMobil’s support for our ‘Physics Challenge’, especially after seeing the great work the company and its partners did on the Kuwait Science Fair competition. We thank ExxonMobil for its continuous investments in educational programs for our youth in Kuwait.” The KES ‘Physics Challenge’ was also sponsored by Gulf Consult, Hempel Paints and Pastamania. Founded in 1979, Kuwait English School educates over 2400 students in KG/Prep, Primary and Senior High School levels. The School is an associate member of ECIS (European Council for International Schools) and a member of BSME (British Schools in the Middle East). KES has also

established the Millennium Centre in 1997 to provide older students with an independent working environment in their transition from high school to university so they can benefit from greater freedom and personal responsibility. ExxonMobil Kuwait is a founder of the annual Kuwait Science Fair competition, Kuwait’s largest math and science competition launched in 2008, and organizes yearly educational trips for students, and for the last two years, about 40 students have visited Qatar’s LNG projects with ExxonMobil. ExxonMobil also launched the “ExxonMobil BBS Science Trip Essay Competition” for Bayan Bilingual School students who were required to write about what they deem as the most significant scientific achievement that has taken place in the last decade, and defending its significance by arguing its impact on society and its effect on people’s daily lives. Finalists were rewarded a fiveday trip to London in April 2010, to visit Imperial College, one of the UK’s most prestigious universities, in addition to ExxonMobil’s UK refinery.

EmBaSSY OF UkrainE The Embassy of Ukraine in the State of Kuwait informs that it has started updating the information about Ukrainian citizens, who live and work in Kuwait. In this connection, we are asking you to refer to the Embassy and update your file in consular register in order not to be excluded from it. For additional information please call: 25318507 ext.106 or visit the embassy of Ukraine in the State of Kuwait (address: Hawalli, Jabriya, bl.10, str.6, house 5). The consular section of the Embassy open every day from 09:30 till 14:30 except Friday and Saturday. EmBaSSY OF inDia The Embassy of India has further revamped and improved its Legal Advice Clinic at the Indian Workers Welfare Center, and made the free service available to Indian nationals on all five working days, i.e. from Sunday to Thursday every week. Kuwaiti lawyers would be available at the Legal Advice Clinic daily from Monday to Thursday, while Indian lawyers would be available on Sundays. Following are the free welfare services provided at the Indian Workers Welfare Center located at the Embassy of India: [i] 24x7 Helpline for Domestic Workers: Accessible by toll free telephone no. 25674163 from anywhere in Kuwait, it provides information and advice exclusively to Indian domestic sector workers (Visa No. 20) as regards their grievances, immigration and other matters. [ii] Help Desk: It offers guidance to Indian nationals on routine immigration, employment, legal, and other issues (Embassy premises; 9 AM to 1 PM and 2 PM to 4.30 PM, Sunday to Thursday); (iii) Labour Complaints Desk: It registers labor complaints and provides grievance redressal service to Indian workers (Embassy premises; 9 AM to 1 PM and 2 PM to 4.30 PM, Sunday to Thursday); (iv) Shelters: For female and male domestic workers in distress; (v) Legal Advice Clinic: Provides free legal advice to Indian nationals (Embassy premises; Kuwaiti lawyers 3 PM to 5 PM, Monday to Thursday; Indian lawyers 2 PM to 4 PM on Sunday); and (vi) Attestation of Work Contracts: Private sector worker (Visa No. 18) contracts are accepted at the Embassy; 9 AM to 1 PM; Sunday to Thursday; Domestic sector worker (Visa No. 20) contracts are accepted at Kuwait Union of Domestic Labor Offices (KUDLO), Hawally, Al-Othman Street, Kurd Roundabout, Al-Abraj Complex, Office No 9, Mezzanine Floor; 9 AM to 9 PM, Saturday to Thursday; 5 PM to 9 PM on Friday. EmBaSSY OF PhiliPPinES The Embassy of the Philippines wishes to inform the Filipino community in the State of Kuwait, that the recent supreme court decision to extend the registration of voter’s applies only in local registration in the Philippines under Republic Act no. 8189 and does not apply to overseas voters which is governed by Republic Act no. 9189, hence it has no impact on the plans and preparations on the conduct of overseas absentee voting. The overseas absentee voting for presidential elections will start on 10 April 2010 and will continue uninterrupted until 10 May 2010 daily at the Philippine Embassy. Registered overseas absentee voters are advised to schedule their days off in advance to avoid complications in their schedules. Qualified voters are encouraged to get out and vote. EmBaSSY OF iTalY The Embassy of Italy informs the public that it will be closed for festivities on the following days of April: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th & 25th and that the Consular/Visa section will remain closed, for technical reasons, also on 1st & 6th of April 2010.

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


Wednesday, March 31, 2010


A stunning week of music at BSK


arch 22 - 24 saw the Music Festival Week take place at The British School of Kuwait. Students from the Lower and Junior Departments of the school performed on Monday evening and the audience were wowed by the quality of artists ranging from Sky Donohue on solo drum kit and the Year 4&5 Classroom Band through to the choral groups from Years 2,3,4 and 5. Tuesday it was the turn of Middle Department students and saw the debut of 3 new groups the BSK String Orchestra, BSK Wind Band and BSK Concert Orchestra.

Soloists/Ensembles performed on piano, strings and woodwind and we were treated to a range of vocalists. The Middle Department choir, Allegria, dazzled the audience with a stunning rendition of Play a Simple Melody sung in parts and harmony. The culmination of the week saw many of the Upper Department students take to the stage. The audience were enraptured by almost two hours of music, the quality of which was akin to performances at some of the top London auditoriums. Feixue Li, winner of the Gulf International Chopin Competition; La

AUK students visit the United States


Senior Professors from the University of Maryland University College. The trip will also include visits to the World Bank, the UN International Monetary Fund, the University of Maryland College Park Campus, Congress, The White House, the Library of Congress, US State Department, the Smithsonian Institute, and Wall Street in New York. The Embassy of Kuwait in Washington, DC will host a dinner reception for the Group by H.E. Ambassador Sheikh Salem Abdulla AlJabir Al-Sabah. Also the Kuwaiti Consulate in New York City will have a lunch reception for the AUK group. There are two major sponsors for the trip. MENA Holding Company who

paid for all Airfares to the United States, and provided academic supplies to the group. ZAIN who will be covering all the costs of the two-day intensive training programs in Washington DC. The US Embassy in Kuwait will offer an orientation Seminar for the participants. MRKT 389 is the 3rd study abroad trip organized by the Business and Economics Division during the Spring 2010. The first was to Mexico (FINC 389), and the Second was to Milan, Italy (FINC 389). Such Study Abroad trips will enrich the global business educational experience of AUK students, and provide them with a competitive edge in the job market.

his career but yet BSK seemed to be growing them. BSK now looks forward to the upcoming ABRSM exams where new records will be set with 35 students entered including Kuwait’s first two Diploma level students. May will also see the launch of the BSK Wider Opportunities Orchestral programme to Year 4 and Musical Futures Scheme for Keystage 3 - bringing Music at the school to the cutting edge of Music education worldwide. Full details of BSK’s music programme including scholarships are available from

Indian Orthodox Kuwait holds conference on eco-friendly world


he American University of Kuwait is announcing its first large scale academic visit by its students to the United States in April 2010. The trip will include 41 AUK students together with three academic advisors. Dr Mohsen Bagnied, Head of the Business and Economics Division, Dr Marcia Denny, Assistant Professor of Business Law, and. Loubna Saksak, Coordinator. The trip will include visits to both Washington, DC and New York City. The study abroad trip (Marketing 389) will include a two-day intensive training seminars on International Marketing and International Business. The seminars will be given by two

Camerata, winner of Best Ensemble at Bahrain Young Musicians of the Gulf for the fourth year in a row; Claudia Vernis, Shahin Khodei, Charles Fernandes, all of whom recently gained distinctions at Grade 8 of the ABRSM exams - and many more impressed the audience with their panache and flare playing pieces ranging from Chopin’s Polonaise in A Flat to Meshkatian’s Dad O Bidad on the Santour. John Talbot, Director of Music, summed up the quality of music at BSK saying that he would expect to find students of such quality maybe once or twice in

uman extinction or mankind is under great threat, because of the growing environmental issues.” Paulose Mar Milithios Metropolitan said in a press conference was held at Hidine auditorium at Abbassiya organized by Indian Orthodox Mahaedavaka Kuwait. We have been facing a great ecological challenge due to global warming, climatic change, mutation of bacteria’s which leads to new diseases and the distraction of the ecosystem etc. As a result of globalization, consumerism spreads all over the world and people think that, earth is also just like another commodity or a consumer product.

Countries like Kuwait spending great amount of money for forestation and its conservation, but at the same time, we can see that, in our home land no one takes care of the Mother Nature, I think that, people have been trying to convert our lush green land to a desert. Bible records so many ecofriendly Divine Revelations which highlights we are very closer to nature; God created man out of the dust of the ground, which emphasis our close relationship to the environment. According to Bible Gen 2:12 Gods took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden and given a great responsibility “to till it and keep it”. It also illustrates how we should approach

and treat our environment. Important aim of the worldwide observed “Earth Hour” highlights the role of the individual responsibility to the environment and its

protection. Here I would like to encourage everyone to protect our water sources, rainforest and mangroves forest to build a better eco-friendly world.

‘Kuwaiti youth: Aspirations and challenges’ at Aware


ou are cordially invited to our diwaniya about, “Kuwaiti Youth: aspirations and challenges, “ by Dari Al-Huwail. today Tuesday March 30th at 7pm. Dari AlHuweil is a youth leader & systems advisor at LOYAC. He is also a frequent traveler for humanitarian purposes to various countries where he, with his peers, met youth to discuss

issues of common concern. Did you know that the majority of Kuwait’s population is composed of youth? Being part of a global village and connected with the most remote places on this earth, like other youth, Kuwaiti youth have many aspirations and do face challenges along the way. In his 20-minute presentation, Al-Huwail will

address these aspirations and challenges from a personal perspective being one of these youth. If you are interested to learn about Kuwait’s youth, you are welcome today Tuesday, March 30th, 2010 at 7pm. We will be glad to see you. For more information, call 25335280 ext 105 or 104 e-mail:


he “Safir” Marina Hotel Kuwait celebrated the launch of its “Italian Night” which is a part of the recently launched “Marina Nights” theme at The Atlantis Restaurant. The theme night’s launch which is driven by the “Safir” International Hotel Management was attended by the local media, prominent dignitaries and guest of honor including Enrico Granara - Ambassador of Italy. The Italian Night is held every Thursday at The Atlantis Restaurant. Jan Verduyn, General Manager of the “Safir” Marina Hotel Kuwait along with the entire management team welcomed the guests upon their arrival to an evening of traditional hospitality reflected by a range of sumptuous buffet tables laden with superb delicacies and Italian cuisine. The authentic ambience was reflected in the impressive dÈcor, aromatic flavors, soothing live music, lighting and attire of the staff. Speaking on the occasion of the launch Jan Verduyn, General Manager of the “Safir” Marina Hotel Kuwait said “Our aim as a boutique hotel is to ensure that our guests are completely satisfied with our various culinary offerings and services. We always try to raise our performance standards in the variety we offer and with the

launch of the “Marina Nights” we would like to provide our guests with an opportunity to explore the various indigenous recipes specially created with ingredients that are of the highest grade and quality in a unique setting with high service standards.The theme nights also gives us a chance to bring to the local and expatriate community living in Kuwait to experience such fabulous cuisines from around the world like Asia, Italy and Mexico”. The Atlantis Restaurant features the Asian Night every Tuesday, Bar-be-que Nights

every Wednesday, Italian Night every Thursday and Mexican Night every Saturday. Guests are also encouraged to come along with their families to a delectable brunch buffet all prepared by the hotels team of professional chefs every Friday. Post a nice meal they can spend time enjoying their dessert, tea, coffee and let the children participate in the Marina Kids Club program at the hotel premises. With the re launch of its yearly Bar-be-que Nights, guests can experience a feast for the senses which include a delicious appetizing

assortment of freshly char- grilled meat, chicken and sea food from the barbeque along with a wide range of salads followed by tasty deserts. Indulge yourself amidst a warm ambience under the starlight and enjoy the extraordinary wizardry by executive Chef Maher Assad and his culinary team at the live cooking station whilst listening to the rhythm of an Oriental Band. In addition to the theme nights The “Safir” Marina Hotel invites guests to socialize relax and unwind every day from 7pm onwards at the “Marina Diwaniya” located outside the hotel, by the poolside, overlooking the Arabian Gulf. Leave the stress of work behind; take some time to catch up with friends over a cup of refreshing tea or coffee and relish on the delectable refreshments while having shisha and listening to the sounds of the waves. Enjoy the hotel’s spectacular settings and hospitality combined with the warm spring weather reflecting the elegant ambience and the serenity of the Arabian Gulf view. Commenting on all the new developments taking place within the hotel Mr. Verduyn further concluded “Its quality service, eminent location, and contemporary ambience that makes the “Safir” Marina Hotel a perfect place for families, friends and business meetings”.



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Orbit / Showtime Listings

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ER The Unusuals Life Murdoch Mysteries The Unusuals Burn Notice Demons ER Dollhouse Flash Forward Life Murdoch Mysteries Demons Burn Notice Life The Unusuals Dollhouse Flash Forward ER Demons Lie to Me Law & Order Burn Notice The Tudors

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

Animal Cops Phoenix Untamed And Uncut Cell Dogs Animal Cops Phoenix Miami Animal Police Going Ape Planet Wild E-Vets: The Interns Aussie Animal Rescue Wildlife SOS Pet Rescue Shark Therapy Corwin’s Quest Specials Beverly Hills Groomer The Planet’s Funniest Animals The Planet’s Funniest Animals Going Ape Planet Wild Miami Animal Police E-Vets: The Interns Pet Rescue Animal Cops Phoenix Wildlife SOS Aussie Animal Rescue Shark Therapy The Planet’s Funniest Animals The Planet’s Funniest Animals Beverly Hills Groomer Deep Into The Wild With Nick Journey Of Life Tigers Attack Animal Cops Phoenix Untamed And Uncut Journey Of Life Animal Cops Phoenix Tigers Attack

01:20 The Ship 02:10 The Miracles Of Jesus 03:10 The Inspector Lynley Mysteries 04:00 After Thomas 05:35 The Ship 06:30 Bargain Hunt 07:20 Balamory 07:40 Fimbles 08:00 The Roly Mo Show 08:15 Tikkabilla 08:45 Yoho Ahoy 08:50 Little Robots 09:00 Balamory 09:20 Fimbles 09:40 The Roly Mo Show 09:55 Tikkabilla 10:25 Yoho Ahoy 10:30 Little Robots 10:40 Bargain Hunt 11:25 The Ship 12:15 The Miracles Of Jesus 13:15 The Weakest Link 14:00 Eastenders 14:30 Doctors 15:00 Bargain Hunt 15:45 Cash In The Attic 16:15 Red Dwarf 16:45 Red Dwarf 17:15 The Weakest Link 18:00 Doctors 18:30 Eastenders 19:00 The Inspector Lynley Mysteries 20:00 Antiques Roadshow 21:00 The Weakest Link 21:45 Doctors 22:15 Eastenders 22:45 Love Soup 23:15 Love Soup 23:45 Casualty

00:20 Cash In The Attic Usa 00:45 Hidden Potential 01:15 Antiques Roadshow 02:00 Antiques Roadshow 03:00 10 Years Younger 03:45 Cash In The Attic Usa 04:15 Cash In The Attic Usa 04:45 Hidden Potential 05:15 Living In The Sun 06:00 10 Years Younger 07:10 Antiques Roadshow 08:00 Cash In The Attic Usa 08:25 Hidden Potential 08:45 Gary Rhodes’ Local Food Heroes 09:30 Gary Rhodes’ Local Food Heroes 10:30 Living In The Sun 11:20 Antiques Roadshow

00:15 Streets Of Hollywood 00:40 E!es 01:30 25 Most Stylish 02:20 Sexiest 03:15 Ths Investigates 05:05 Dr 90210 06:00 Ths 07:45 Style Star 08:10 Style Star 08:35 E! News 09:00 The Daily 10 09:25 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 09:50 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 10:15 Ths 12:00 E! News 12:25 The Daily 10 12:50 Leave It To Lamas 13:40 25 Most Memorable Swimsuit Moments 15:25 Behind The Scenes 16:15 Ths 17:10 Kendra 18:00 E! News 18:25 The Daily 10 18:50 Streets Of Hollywood 19:15 Battle Of The Hollywood Hotties 19:40 E!es 20:30 E!es 21:20 Bank Of Hollywood 22:10 E! News 22:35 The Daily 10 23:00 Dr 90210 23:50 Wildest Tv Show Moments

Perfect Holiday on Show Movies 12:10 10 Years Younger 13:00 Gary Rhodes’ Local Food Heroes 13:50 Gary Rhodes’ Local Food Heroes 14:40 Daily Cooks Challenge 15:05 Daily Cooks Challenge 15:30 Cash In The Attic Usa 15:50 Hidden Potential 16:10 Bargain Hunt 17:00 10 Years Younger 17:50 Antiques Roadshow 18:45 Daily Cooks Challenge 19:15 Daily Cooks Challenge 19:40 Masterchef Goes Large 20:10 Come Dine With Me 20:35 Come Dine With Me 21:00 Fantasy Homes By The Sea 21:50 The Clothes Show 22:45 Sweet Baby James 23:05 Sweet Baby James 23:30 Rhodes Across India

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

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

Two Legged Horse-PG15 Charlotte Gray-PG15 Girl With A Pearl EarringQuand J’etais Chanteur-PG15 Millions-PG15 Cocoon-PG15 Maradona: The Hand Of GodBopha!-PG15 Calendar Girls-PG15 Arlington Road-18 Sexy Beast-PG15 Casualties Of War-18

Rampage! Miami Ink Street Customs 2008 Street Customs Berlin Ultimate Biker Challenge Mythbusters How Stuff’s Made Dirty Jobs Man Made Marvels China Ultimate Biker Challenge Street Customs 2008 How Do They Do It? Mythbusters Ultimate Survival Street Customs Berlin How Do They Do It? How Stuff’s Made American Chopper Miami Ink Mythbusters Dirty Jobs Verminators Street Customs 2008 Destroyed In Seconds How Do They Do It? How Stuff’s Made Wheeler Dealers Breaking Point Mythbusters

00:30 Download: The True Story Of The Internet 01:20 Ecopolis 02:10 Green Wheels 03:00 Beyond Tomorrow 03:50 Science Of Star Wars 04:45 Cool Stuff And How It Works 05:10 Green Wheels 05:40 One Step Beyond 06:10 Download: The True Story Of The Internet 07:00 Junkyard Wars 08:00 Sci-Fi Saved My Life 09:00 Space Pioneer 09:55 Cool Stuff And How It Works 10:20 Stunt Junkies 10:50 Download: The True Story Of The Internet 11:45 Green Wheels

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

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

One Step Beyond Sci-Fi Saved My Life Space Pioneer Engineered Cool Stuff And How It Works Junkyard Wars Brainiac The Greatest Ever How It’s Made What’s That About? How It’s Made Mythbusters How It’s Made What’s That About? The Greatest Ever

My Friends Tigger And Pooh Handy Manny Special Agent Oso Imagination Movers Lazytown Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Handy Manny Special Agent Oso Brandy & Mr Whiskers Fairly Odd Parents Hannah Montana I Got A Rocket Wizards Of Waverly Place Phineas & Ferb Higglytown Heroes My Friends Tigger And Pooh Handy Manny Special Agent Oso Imagination Movers Lazytown Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Handy Manny Special Agent Oso Brandy & Mr Whiskers Fairly Odd Parents Hannah Montana I Got A Rocket Wizards Of Waverly Place Phineas & Ferb Suite Life On Deck Replacements American Dragon Kim Possible I Got A Rocket Fairly Odd Parents Phineas & Ferb Replacements I Got A Rocket Wizards Of Waverly Place Hannah Montana Sonny With A Chance Fairly Odd Parents Phineas & Ferb Suite Life On Deck Wizards Of Waverly Place Hannah Montana The Replacements Jonas Suite Life On Deck Sonny With A Chance Hannah Montana Wizards Of Waverly Place The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody The Replacements American Dragon Kim Possible I Got A Rocket Fairly Odd Parents Phineas & Ferb

01:20 Bar Girls 02:55 Grievous Bodily Harm 04:30 Laws Of Gravity 06:10 Rikky and Pete 07:50 The Hawaiians 10:00 Summer Lovers 11:40 Bikini Beach 13:20 Cherry 2000 15:00 Sticky Fingers 16:30 The Fantasticks 17:55 Lady in White 19:50 Nicholas Nickleby 22:00 Contamination .7 23:35 Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf

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

A Haunting Deadly Women Undercover Forensic Detectives Black Museum Dr G: Medical Examiner Ghosthunters Ghosthunters Forensic Detectives Fbi Files Fugitive Strike Force Diagnosis: Unknown Forensic Detectives Fbi Files Solved Real Emergency Calls Real Emergency Calls Royal Inquest Forensic Detectives Fbi Files Fugitive Strike Force Diagnosis: Unknown Forensic Detectives Fbi Files Solved Real Emergency Calls Real Emergency Calls Royal Inquest Murder Shift Serial Killers Dr G: Medical Examiner

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

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet Bondi Rescue Destination Extreme Surfer’s Journal Treks In A Wild World Madventures Chasing Time Don’t Tell My Mother... Lonely Planet Lonely Planet Bondi Rescue Destination Extreme Surfer’s Journal Treks In A Wild World Madventures Chasing Time Departures Jailed Abroad Jailed Abroad Bondi Rescue Destination Extreme Surfer’s Journal Treks In A Wild World Madventures Chasing Time Departures Jailed Abroad Jailed Abroad Bondi Rescue Destination Extreme Surfer’s Journal Treks In A Wild World Madventures Chasing Time Departures

00:00 Scrubs 00:30 The Office 01:00 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart 01:30 The Colbert Report 02:00 Late Night with Jimmy Fallon 03:00 Reno 911 03:30 State of the Union 04:00 The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson 05:00 Scrubs 05:30 Late Night with Jimmy Fallon 06:30 Tyler Perry’s House of Payne 07:00 The Nannyt 07:30 Malcolm in the Middle 08:00 Yes dear 08:30 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart 09:00 The Colbert Report 09:30 Drew Carey 10:00 Everybody Loves Raymond

10:30 Frasier 11:00 Just Shoot me 11:30 Eight Simple Rules 12:00 The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson 13:00 The Office 13:30 Tyler Perry’s House of Payne 14:00 The Nannyt 14:30 Malcolm in the Middle 15:00 Yes dear 15:30 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart 16:00 The Colbert Report 16:30 Drew Carey 17:00 Everybody Loves Raymond 17:30 Frasier 18:00 Eight Simple Rules 18:30 Just Shoot me 19:00 Community 19:30 10 Things I Hate About You 20:00 Best of Late night with Jimmy Fallon 21:00 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 Reno 911 22:30 Weeds 23:00 The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

00:00 01:00 01:30 02:00 03:00 04:00 04:30 05:00 07:00 07:30 08:00 09:00 09:30 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 16:00 16:30 17:00 Leno 18:00 18:30 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 Leno 23:00

The Martha Stewart Show 10 Years younger S3 Turn Back Your Body Clock The Ellen DeGeneres Show The Monique Show Never Trust A Skinny Cook Fresh GMA (repeat) GMA Health What’s the Buzz The Martha Stewart Show Never Trust A Skinny Cook Fresh Jimmy Kimmel Live! The View The Ellen DeGeneres Show The Martha Stewart Show GMA Live GMA Health What’s the Buzz The Tonight Show with Jay Look A Like S3 10 Years younger S3 The View The Ellen DeGeneres Show Jimmy Kimmel Live! The Tonight Show with Jay The Monique Show

00:00 Baghead-18 02:00 Motherhood-PG15 04:00 Moondance Alexander-FAM 06:00 Nights In Rodanthe-PG15 08:00 Fireproof-PG 10:00 Skin-PG 12:00 Perfect Holiday-PG 14:00 Ghost Town-PG15 16:00 Fireproof-PG 18:00 Two Weeks-PG 20:00 The Assassination Of Jesse James-PG15 23:00 Transporter 3-18

01:00 April Fool’s Day-18 03:00 Room 6-PG15 05:00 Twin Daggers-PG15 07:00 Urban Assault-18 09:00 Mercury Man-PG15 11:00 Room 6-PG15 13:00 Stargate: Continuum-PG15 15:00 Mercury Man-PG15 17:00 Death Warrant-PG15 19:00 Franck Spadone-PG15 21:00 Journal Of A Contract KillerPG15 23:00 Children Of The Corn VII: Revelation-18

00:00 Kingpin-PG15 02:00 Futurama: Bender’s Big ScorePG15 04:00 Orange County-PG15 06:00 More Of Me-PG15 08:00 The Mighty Ducks-FAM 10:00 Griffin And Phoenix-PG15 12:00 Much Ado About NothingPG15 14:00 The Hammer-PG15 16:00 Kingpin-PG15 18:00 Mama’s Boy-PG15 20:00 Separation City-PG15 22:00 I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry-PG15

00:00 Mucha Lucha! Return Of El Malefico-FAM 02:00 House Arrest-FAM 04:00 Leave It To Beaver-PG 06:00 Yogi’s Great Escape-PG 08:00 Dennis The Menace Strikes Again-PG 10:00 Leave It To Beaver-PG 12:00 Piper Penguin And His Fantastic Flying Machi-PG 14:00 House Arrest-FAM 16:00 Curious George: Follow That Monkey-PG 18:00 Zeus And Roxanne-PG 20:00 Alexander The Great-FAM 22:00 Piper Penguin And His Fantastic Flying Machi-PG

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

C.S.I: NY Sex and the City Smallville Law & Order Frasier Coach Emmerdale Coronation Street “24” Frasier Coach Smallville (TBA) Law & Order Emmerdale Coronation Street Frasier Coach C.S.I: NY “24” Smallville Emmerdale Coronation Street Grey’s Anatomy Private Practice Criminal Minds “24” Sex and the City

01:00 Premier League 03:00 Fut Brasil 03:30 Barclays Premier League Review 05:00 Premier League 07:00 Portugol 07:30 Fut Brasil 08:00 Premier League 10:00 Portuguese Liga 12:00 Goals Goals Goals 12:30 Portugol 13:00 Fut Brasil 13:30 Scottish Premier League Highlights 14:00 Premier League 16:00 Futbol Mundial 16:30 Goals Goals Goals 17:00 Premier League 21:00 Goals Goals Goals 21:30 Barclays Premier League Review 23:00 Premier League Classics

01:00 Futbol Mundial 01:30 Super League 03:30 Scottish Premier League Highlights 04:00 Super 14 06:00 World Sport 06:30 Futbol Mundial 07:00 Scottish Premier League Highlights 07:30 Scottish Premier League 09:30 Goals On Monday 11:00 Weber Cup Bowling 12:00 NRL Premiership 14:00 Super 14 16:00 European PGA Tour Highlights 17:00 Weber Cup Bowling 18:00 Barclays Premier League Highlights 19:00 World Hocky 19:30 European Tour Weekly 20:00 Mobil 1 20:30 Portugol 21:00 Premier League Classics 21:30 Premier League World 22:00 Scottish Premier League Highlights 22:30 AFL Toyota Premiership

00:30 Goals Goals Goals 01:00 ICC Cricket World 01:30 Premier League Darts 01:30 Weber Cup Bowling 06:30 Premier League Classics 07:00 World Sport 07:30 Super 14 09:30 Fut Brasil 10:00 Futbol Mundial 10:30 World Sport 11:00 ICC Cricket World 11:30 Premier League Classics 12:00 Barclays Premier League Highlights 13:00 Scottish Premier League 15:00 Futbol Mundial 15:30 Premier League Darts 19:30 Futbol Mundial 20:00 Guinness Premiership 22:00 Mobil 1 22:30 Premier League World 23:00 NRL Premiership

00:00 03:00 04:00 07:00 08:00 08:30 09:30 11:00 12:00 13:00 15:00 16:00 18:00 20:00 22:00

05:00 Broken Lines-PG15 07:00 Northern Lights-PG 09:00 High Noon-PG15 11:00 Christmas In Wonderland-PG 13:00 Custody-PG15 15:00 Bring It On 5: Fight To The Finish-PG15 17:00 High Noon-PG15 19:00 December Boys-PG15 21:00 When Soldiers Cry-PG15 23:00 Flawless-18

01:00 The Unsinkable Molly Brown 03:05 Now, Voyager 05:00 Grand Prix 08:00 The Wonderful World Of The Brothers... 10:05 Please Don’t Eat The Daisies 11:55 Elvis: That’s The Way It Is 13:35 Little Women 15:35 Off Set: Michael Douglas 16:20 Silk Stockings 18:15 Grand Prix 21:00 Never So Few 23:00 Point Blank

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

Shootout! Man Moment Machine Ice Road Truckers 2 Mega Disasters The Korean War The American Revolution Battle Of Tripoli Shootout! Man Moment Machine Ice Road Truckers 2 Mega Disasters The Korean War The American Revolution Battle Of Tripoli Shootout! Man Moment Machine Ice Road Truckers 2 Mega Disasters The Korean War The American Revolution Battle Of Tripoli Shootout! Man Moment Machine Ice Road Truckers 2 Mega Disasters Nostradamus Effect God vs. Satan: The Final Battle

00:00 01:00 01:30 02:00 03:00 04:00 05:00 05:30 06:00 07:00 07:30 08:00 09:00 09:30 10:00 11:00 12:00 12:30 13:00 14:00 14:30 15:00 16:00 17:00 17:30 18:00 18:30 19:00 20:00

Peter Perfect Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane Dallas Divas And Daughters How Do I Look? Split Ends Dr 90210 Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane Area How Do I Look? Style Star Style Her Famous My Celebrity Home Style Star Dress My Nest Peter Perfect Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? Ruby Giuliana And Bill Clean House Clean House Comes Clean Dress My Nest How Do I Look? Split Ends Dallas Divas And Daughters Style Her Famous Running In Heels Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane Split Ends Clean House

21:00 21:30 22:00 23:00

Dress My Nest Style Her Famous Ruby Clean House

01:04 01:45 02:00 02:45 05:04 06:04 08:04 09:00 09:24 13:04 13:50 16:04 16:45 18:00 18:45 19:00 20:04 20:45 21:00 22:00

French Only Playlist Urban Hit Playlist Focus Playlist Hit US Code Compilation Playlist Urban Hit Playlist Sound System Playlist Urban Hit Guest Star Playlist RNB Playlist Legend Playlist

00:00 Globe Trekker 01:00 Angry Planet 01:30 The Thirsty Traveler 02:00 Floyd On Africa 02:30 Chef Abroad 03:00 Chef Abroad 03:30 Essential 04:00 Inside Luxury Travel-varun Sharma 05:00 Globe Trekker 06:00 Great Scenic Railways - 175 Years 06:30 Travel Today 07:00 The Thirsty Traveler 07:30 Angry Planet 08:00 Globe Trekker 09:00 Essential 09:30 Dream Destinations 10:00 Distant Shores 10:30 Distant Shores 11:00 Chef Abroad 11:30 Entrada 12:00 Planet Food 13:00 Globe Trekker 14:00 Chef Abroad 14:30 The Thirsty Traveler 15:00 Sophie Grigson In The Souk 15:30 Entrada 16:00 Chef Abroad 16:30 Chef Abroad 17:00 Globe Trekker 18:00 Essential 18:30 Hollywood And Vines 19:00 Chef Abroad 19:30 The Thirsty Traveler 20:00 Globe Trekker 21:00 Inside Luxury Travel-varun Sharma 22:00 Planet Food

00:00 01:00 02:00 02:30 03:00 04:00 07:00 09:00 11:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 19:00 20:00 21:00 23:00

Music For The Masses Best Of Charts Vh1 Rocks So 80’s Greatest Hits Vh1 Music Chill Out Vh1 Hits Vh1 Music Aerobic Top 10 Placebo Music For The Masses Vh1 Pop Chart Vh1 Music Vh1 Weekly Album Chart Vh1 Music Vh1 Viewer’s Jukebox Top 10 Placebo

UFC Vera vs. Jones Bushido UFC 111 WWE Vintage Collection UAE National Race Day Tough Guy Race NCAA Basketball Bushido WWE Vintage Collection FIA GT Tough Guy Race NCAA Basketball V8 Supercars UFC - The Ultimate Fighter UFC 111

01:00 Living Proof-PG 03:00 All Roads Lead Home-PG

December Boys on Super Movies

Star Listings (UAE Timings) STAR Movies 20:35 Waitress 22:25 Bubble Boy 23:50 Four Weddings And A Funeral 01:25 Wrong Turn 2: Dead End 02:55 Waitress 04:45 Horton 06:15 Bubble Boy 07:40 Four Weddings And A Funeral 09:15 Wrong Turn 2: Dead End 10:45 Finding Amanda 12:20 Malice 14:05 Hard Ride To Hell 15:40 Gone Baby Gone 17:30 The French Connection 19:15 The X Files: I Want To Believe STAR World 20:00 American Idol 22:00 Boston Legal 22:50 Married With Children 23:00 American Idol 01:00 Boston Legal 01:50 Married With Children 02:00 Grey’s Anatomy 03:00 [V] Tunes 04:00 [V] Tunes 05:00 [V] Tunes

06:00 07:00 07:30 08:00 09:00 13:00 13:30 14:00 14:50 15:00 15:50 16:00 17:00 19:00

7th Heaven Scrubs The King Of Queens Stone Undercover American Idol The King Of Queens The Bold And The Beautiful 7th Heaven Different Strokes Grey’s Anatomy Married With Children [V] Tunes American Idol Stone Undercover

Granada TV 21:00 Flights From Hell 22:00 Emmerdale 22:30 Coronation Street 23:00 Flights From Hell 00:00 Parkinson (Series 7) 01:00 The Crunch 02:00 Romance Wednesday: I Saw You (Double Bill) 04:00 ...And Proud 05:00 Emmerdale 05:30 Coronation Street 06:00 Parkinson (Series 7)

07:00 The Crunch 08:00 Romance Wednesday: I Saw You (Double Bill) 10:00 Britain’s Youngest Brides 11:00 Emmerdale 11:30 Coronation Street 12:00 Parkinson (Series 7) 13:00 Come Dine With Me (Primetime Series 1) 14:00 Romance Wednesday: William And Mary (Series 2) (Double Bill) 16:00 Emmerdale 16:30 Coronation Street 17:00 Parkinson (Series 7) 18:00 Come Dine With Me (Primetime Series 1) 19:00 Romance Wednesday: William And Mary (Series 2) (Double Bill) Channel [V] 21:30 Deadly Dus Ep 03 21:50 Music 22:00 [V] Zabardast Hits 22:40 Fresh [V] Deo 22:50 Campus Blog Ep 46 23:00 [V] Zabardast Hits 23:50 Lola Talkies Ep 33 00:00 Latenight [V] 01:00 Latenight [V] 03:50 Fresh [V] Deo

04:00 06:00 06:50 07:00 11:00 12:00 12:50 13:00 13:30 13:50 14:00 14:40 14:50 15:00 15:50 16:00 16:50 17:00 17:40 17:50 18:00 18:50 19:00 19:30 19:50 20:00 20:40 20:50

Latenight [V] [V] Zabardast Hits Fresh [V] Deo [V] Mindblasting Mornings [V] Zabardast Hits [V] Double Shot Lola Tips from the Top Ep 33 Bollywood Nonsensex Ep 07 [V] Zabardast Hits Bollywood Busters Ep 11 [V] Zabardast Hits Fresh [V] Deo Music Campus Top 10 Ep 4 Music [V] Zabardast Hits Bollywood Busters Ep 11 [V] Nach Le Fresh [V] Deo Lola One Question Ep 33 [V] Zabardast Hits Music [V] R Family Ep 02 Deadly Dus Ep 03 Campus Blog Ep 46 [V] Zabardast Hits Fresh [V] Deo Lola Night School Ep 33

21:00 [V] Zabardast Hits Fox News 20:00 Happening Now 22:00 The Live Desk 00:00 Studio B with Shepard Smith Live 01:00 Your World with Neil Cavuto 02:00 Glenn Beck with Glenn Beck 03:00 Special Report with Bret Baier 04:00 The FOX Report with Shepard Smith 05:00 The O’Reilly Factor 06:00 Hannity 07:00 On the Record with Greta Van Susteren 08:00 The O’Reilly Factor 09:00 Hannity 10:00 On the Record with Greta Van Susteren 11:00 Glenn Beck with Glenn Beck 12:00 Fox Report 13:00 Special Report with Bret Baier 14:00 The O’Reilly Factor 15:00 FOX & Friends First Live 16:00 FOX & Friends Live 18:00 America’s Newsroom National Geographic Channel 20:00 Superhuman : Steroids 21:00 Long Way Down -Tobruk To Khartoum 4 22:00 Cruise Ship Diaries -Dirty Dancing 5

23:00 Theme Week 30m -Is It Real? : Bigfoot 3 23:30 Theme Week 30m -Is It Real? : UFOs 4 00:00 Seconds From Disaster -Mount St. Helens Eruption S2-4 01:00 ABOUT ASIA -Don’t Tell My Mother : That I Am In North Korea S1-4 02:00 Carrier -Get Home S1-9 03:00 DogTown -Second Chances 04:00 Monster Fish Of The Congo 05:00 ABOUT ASIA -Don’t Tell My Mother : That I Am In North Korea S1-4 06:00 Lockdown -Iron Grip 07:00 The Living Edens -Kamchatka: Siberia’s Forbidden Wilderness 08:00 Carrier -Get Home S1-9 09:00 Wild Detectives -Humpback Whales 09:30 Food Lovers Guide To The Planet -Food Magic 9 10:00 Theme Week 30m -Is It Real? : Spontaneous Human Combustion 5 10:30 Theme Week 30m -Is It Real? : Monsters Of The Deep 7 11:00 Seconds From Disaster -Mount St. Helens Eruption S2-4 12:00 ABOUT ASIA -Don’t Tell My Mother : That I Am In North Korea S1-4 13:00 Wild Wednesday -When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


ACCOMMODATION Sharing accommodation available for Keralite couples in a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom new flat at Abbassiya, near United Indian School. Mob: 97345539. (C 2070) Sharing accommodation available in Abbassiya for decent bachelor or working lady with Keralite family. Contact: 97534972. (C 2072) Furnished room with attached bath next to the main street Farwaniya is available with a small Pakistan family from 1st April for 2 months (possibility to continue) visiting family or working ladies can call. 66509289. (C 2068) Sharing accommodation for single family or working lady, Abbassiya nearest India house. Contact: 66670285. (C 2073) 31-3-2010 Sharing accommodation available for Indian working ladies or couples in a double bedroom flat in near Khaitan police station roundabout with all facilities. Call: 99480468. (C 2066) 30-3-2010 Sharing accommodation available for a Christian bachelor at Abbassiya near Neethi store from 1st April. Rent KD 25. Contact: 66063182. (C 2065) Sharing available for one or two Indian bachelors in a furnished big mulhaq room at Abrak Khaitan close to bus stop and Jamiya (kitchen and bathroom attached). Rent KD 95. Call: 66036893. (C 2059) Sharing accommodation in

Abbassiya for working ladies or couple. Contact: 97501647. (C 2060) Salmiya furnished accommodation available for a single executive bachelor in a window air conditioned flat to share with a small family, hailing from Kerala, next to Salmiya church, behind Woodlands restaurant (from 1 April 2010). Contact: 99754537 or 25657681. (C 2063) 29-3-2010

FOR SALE Honda Accord, 4 cylinder metallic white color, alloy wheels, automatic, used 52,000 km, in excellent condition, model 2008. Price KD 3,600. Contact: 66659560. (C 2071) Toyota Camry XLi, model 2002, 4 cylinders, done 93,000 km only, white color, excellent condition, cash price KD 1,900. Contact: 97213518. (C 2069) 31-3-2010 Pajero model 98, grey color, price KD 1250. Contact: 67613250. (C 2064) 29-3-2010 Pentium 4, Intel, 40 GB HDD, 256 MB RAM, CD ROM, 56K modem, sound card, speakers, 17� CRT

monitor, ready for internet, KD 30. P4, Intel, 3 GHz, 80GB, 512 MB, DVD combo with 17� CRT monitor, KD 45. Contact: 66244192. (C 2061)

MOH, seeking immediate placement in companies or pharmacies or hospitals. Please call 66076805, 66038171. (C 2058) 28-3-2010

Laptop Dell & IBM Centrino with basic specifications in excellent condition, for details call: 99322585. (C 2062) 28-3-2010

MBA finance, B.Com, 6+ years of experience, seeks suitable employment. Contact: 99919274, 99175928. (C 2053)

Mitsubishi L300 van, model 2009, very low mileage, very good condition, installment remaining 137 KD x 24 months, owner needs cash 500 KD. Contact: 22465365/66019580. 27-3-2010

SITUATION WANTED Sri Lankan housekeeper/ maid with very good references is currently available for work with European/ Western family either part time or live in. Please call 97413349. (C 2074) 31-3-2010 Indian female (MBA in HR), 10 years experience in HR/Administration, specializing in recruitments, PMS, MIS reports & overall Admin functions. Proficient in MS Office. Good communication skills. Please contact: 66634322. (C 2049) 29-3-2010 Indian male pharmacy graduate passed license exam

Available experienced, decent Srilankan girl (31 years) for household/ babysitting (full/part-time) with American/ European/ Indian family only (not bachelors) in Mangaf/ Fahaheel/Abu Halifa. Call: 99292581, 66870113.


Full time Filipino live-in maid required for a European family with 2 children. Must speak good English, previous experience with young children and references required. Please contact: 65887206. (C 2067) 30-3-2010

MISCELLANEOUS Required diesel generator 40 KVA, 45 KVA or 60 KVA, used or new ones US, UK, or Japan made. Please contact: 97424362, 99165971, 23719684, email: (C 2055) 28-3-2010

Flight Schedule Arrival Flights on Wednesday 31/03/2010 Flt Route Airlines 188 Bahrain Wataniya Airways 306 Cairo Wataniya Airways Turkish A/L 772 Istanbul Gulf Air 211 Bahrain DHL 370 Bahrain 853 Dubai Emirates 305 Abu Dhabi Etihad 138 Doha Qatari Kuwait 802 Cairo Cargolux 792 Luxembourg Jazeera 503 Luxor 201 Dubai Falcon Jazeera 527 Alexandria Jazeera 529 Assiut Kuwait 412 Manila/Bangkok British 157 London Jazeera 481 Sabiha Kuwait 382 Delhi Kuwait 302 Mumbai Fly Dubai 053 Dubai Kuwait 676 Dubai Kuwait 352 Cochin Kuwait 284 Dhaka Kuwait 344 Chennai Kuwait 362 Colombo Emirates 855 Dubai Arabia 121 Sharjah Qatari 132 Doha Iran Air 603 Shiraz Etihad 301 Abu Dhabi Iran Aseman 6791 Mashad Jazeera 425 Bahrain Falcon 203 Dubai Wataniya Airways 182 Bahrain Gulf Air 213 Bahrain Middle East 404 Beirut Wataniya Airways 102 Dubai Jazeera 165 Dubai Jazeera 447 Doha Jazeera 113 Abu Dhabi Airquarius 061 Baghdad/Basrah Alnaser 711 Baghdad/Najaf Jazeera 171 Dubai Egypt Air 610 Cairo Oman Air 646 Muscat Kuwait 672 Dubai Jazeera 525 Alexandria Saudi Arabian A/L 508 Riyadh Wataniya Airways 432 Damascus Royal Jordanian 800 Amman United A/L 982 Washington DC Dulles Egypt Air 621 Assiut Nas Air 745 Jeddah Wataniya Airways 422 Amman Jazeera 257 Beirut Kuwait 562 Amman

Time 00:30 00:50 01:15 01:35 02:15 02:25 02:65 03:25 04:45 04:50 05:15 05:25 06:05 06:10 06:15 06:30 06:40 07:20 07:50 07:55 08:00 08:05 08:10 08:20 08:20 08:25 08:40 09:00 09:20 09:25 09:55 10:25 10:30 10:45 10:45 10:50 11:05 11:05 11:10 11:20 12:00 12:15 12:50 12:55 13:15 13:15 13:20 13:30 13:35 13:35 13:35 13:40 14:00 14:10 14:10 14:20

Nas Air Saudi Arabian A/L Kuwait Jazeera Qatari Kuwait Kuwait Bahrain Air Jazeera Etihad Global Emirates Wataniya Airways Gulf Air Jazeera Saudi Arabian A/L Jazeera Jazeera Arabia Jazeera Sri Lankan Wataniya Airways Kuwait Yemenia Wataniya Airways Kuwait Kuwait Kuwait Wataniya Airways Kuwait Kuwait Jazeera Kuwait Kuwait Kuwait Indian Fly Dubai Middle East Global Jet A/W Wataniya Airways Jazeera DHL Gulf Air Emirates Qatari Jazeera Jazeera Jazeera Lufthansa Shaheen Air Jazecra India Express KLM Kuwait Egypt Air Pakistan Wataniya Airways Jazeera

703 600 552 893 134 546 544 344 427 303 061 857 402 215 217 510 493 239 125 497 227 304 166 824 106 542 502 786 202 618 674 177 614 773 102 575 061 402 081 572 404 459 372 217 859 136 429 449 117 636 441 185 393 0447 548 606 215 108 263

Riyadh Jeddah Damascus Shiraz Doha Alexandria Cairo Bahrain Bahrain Abu Dhabi Baghdad Dubai Beirut Bahrain Isfahan Riyadh Jeddah Amman Sharjah Riyadh Colombo/Dubai Cairo Paris/Rome Sanaa/Doha Dubai Cairo Beirut Jeddah Jeddah Doha Dubai Dubai Bahrain Riyadh New York/London Chennai/Goa Dubai Beirut Baghdad Mumbai Beirut Damascus Bahrain Bahrain Dubai Doha Bahrain Doha Abu Dhabi Frankfurt Lahore/Karachi Dubai Kozhikode/Cochin Amsterdam/Bahrain Sharm El Sheikh/Luxor Luxor Karachi Dubai Beirut

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

Departure Flights on Wednesday 31/03/2010 Flt Route Airlines 528 Assiut Jazeera India Express 390 Mangalore/Kozhikode Indian 994 Mumbai/Chennai Lufthansa 637 Frankfurt Pakistan 206 Lahore Turkish A/L 773 Istanbul DHL 371 Bahrain 854 Dubai Emirates 306 Abu Dhabi Etihad 139 Doha Qatari 101 Dubai Wataniya Airways 164 Dubai Jazeera Jazeera 524 Alexandria Jazeera 112 Abu Dhabi Jazeera 422 Bahrain Jazeera 446 Doha Gulf Air 212 Bahrain Wataniya Airways 181 Bahrain Wataniya Airways 431 Damascus British 156 London Kuwait 545 Alexandria Jazeera 256 Beirut Fly Dubai 054 Dubai Kuwait 543 Cairo Kuwait 177 Frankfurt/Geneva Jazeera 170 Dubai Wataniya Airways 421 Amman Kuwait 551 Damascus Kuwait 561 Amman Arabia 122 Sharjah Cargolux 792 Hong Kong Emirates 856 Dubai Qatari 133 Doha Kuwait 117 New York Etihad 302 Abu Dhabi Iran Air 602 Shiraz Alnaser 712 Najaf/Baghdad Iran Asemna 6792 Mashad Gulf Air 214 Bahrain Wataniya Airways 401 Beirut Falcon 204 Baghdad Middle East 405 Beirut Wataniya Airways 303 Cairo Global 062 Najaf/Baghdad Kuwait 671 Dubai Kuwait 541 Cairo Jazeera 692 Shiraz Jazeera 492 Jeddah Kuwait 103 London Jazeera 238 Amman Kuwait 501 Beirut Airquarius 060 Basrah/Baghdad Kuwait 785 Jeddah Wataniya Airways 201 Jeddah Jazeera 426 Bahrain Egypt Air 611 Cairo


Time 00:05 00:25 00:50 00:50 01:10 02:15 03:15 03:45 04:00 05:00 06:50 07:00 07:00 07:15 07:35 07:40 07:45 07:50 08:10 08:25 08:35 08:35 08:40 08:45 08:55 09:00 09:10 09:10 09:15 09:20 09:35 09:40 10:00 10:00 10:10 10:20 10:55 10:55 11:35 11:35 11:45 11:50 11:50 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:15 12:30 12:30 13:00 13:30 13:30 13:45 13:55 13:55

Jazeera Oman Air Wataniya Airways Royal Jordanian Kuwait Egypt Air Saudi Arabian A/L Nas Air Jazeera Jazeera Wataniya Airways Nas Air Kuwait Kuwait Saudi Arabian A/L Jazeera Kuwait Qatari Kuwait Global Bahrain Air Etihad Wataniya Airways Emirates Gulf Air Jazeera Arabia Saudi Arabian A/L Jazeera Jazeera Jazeera Jazeera Sri Lankan Yemenia Wataniya Airways Jazeera Kuwait Jazeera Kuwait Fly Dubai Kuwait Middle East Jet A/W Wataniya Airways Gulf Air Kuwait DHL Kuwait Emirates Falcon Qatari Kuwait Kuwait Jazeera Jazeera Jazeera United A/L Kuwait

216 646 105 801 673 622 509 746 176 496 403 704 617 547 501 458 774 135 613 082 345 304 305 858 216 262 126 511 116 448 184 428 228 824 107 434 283 512 361 062 331 403 571 187 218 801 373 675 860 102 137 203 301 526 502 636 981 415

Isfahan Muscat Dubai Amman Dubai Assiut Medinah Jeddah Dubai Riyadh Beirut Medinah Doha Sharm El Sheikh/Luxor Jeddah Damascus Riyadh Doha Bahrain Baghdad Bahrain Abu Dhabi Cairo Dubai Bahrain Beirut Sharjah Riyadh Abu Dhabi Doha Dubai Bahrain Dubai/Colombo Sanaa Dubai Mashad Dhaka Sharm El Sheikh Colombo Dubai Trivandrum Beirut Mumbai Bahrain Bahrain Cairo Bahrain Dubai Dubai Bahrain Doha Lahore Mumbai Alexandria Luxor Aleppo Washington DC Dulles Kuala Lumpur/Jakarta

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



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Calvin Aries (March 21-April 19) There is enlightenment in your career now. Today and tomorrow are two of your better days this month. These are great days for doubling your money! You may find investment opportunities in the fields of nursery care for children, restaurants, home decorating and furnishings, hotels, inns, spas, etc. You intuitively know that things are looking forward! You are entering a phase of emotional directness now—one marked by forceful and powerful feelings. Do not spread yourself too thin or you will just slow yourself down. You are independent. You will succeed. Creative and pleasure interests are high this evening. Get serious about travel plans. Include your loved one in your future plans. Spontaneity is the special word for this day. Taurus (April 20-May 20) It could be important to do

some serious thinking about your work or career, particularly if you feel it is inadequate. Find ways in which to merge your spiritual life into every other aspect of your life. This will give you encouragement and turn your intuitive eye on the most beneficial outcome. Take more time now to build stamina in your life. Your disappointments can be minimized through the avoidance of selfanalyzing and an acceptance of yourself. You may be able to enjoy and value your own life situation or feel especially kind toward a friend or loved one. Someone may compliment you on your tastes or belongings. This evening is a good time to work out a difficult situation with a friend or associate. Positive results are evident.

Pooch Cafe

ACROSS 1. An informal term for a father. 5. A unit of absorbed ionizing radiation equal to 100 ergs per gram of irradiated material. 8. Inquire about. 11. A river that rises in northeastern Turkey (near the source of the Euphrates) and flows generally eastward through Armenia to the Caspian Sea. 12. (computer science) A coding system that incorporates extra parity bits in order to detect errors. 13. Aircraft landing in bad weather in which the pilot is talked down by ground control using precision approach radar. 14. A high-crowned black cap (usually made of felt or sheepskin) worn by men in Turkey and Iran and the Caucasus. 17. The blood group whose red cells carry both the A and B antigens. 18. Having undesirable or negative qualities. 19. A metabolic acid found in yeast and liver cells. 23. King of Saudi Arabia from 1964 to 1975 (1906-1975). 25. A unit of dry measure used in Egypt. 27. Moth having nonfunctional mouthparts as adults. 29. (Akkadian) God of wisdom. 30. A public promotion of some product or service. 31. In bed. 34. A detailed description of design criteria for a piece of work. 38. Informal terms for a mother. 39. A boy or man. 43. South American wood sorrel cultivated for its edible tubers. 44. A benevolent aspect of Devi. 45. An organization of countries formed in 1961 to agree on a common policy for the sale of petroleum. 46. A crystalline rock that can be cut and polished for jewelry. 47. A decree that prohibits something. 48. God of death. 49. (Akkadian) God of wisdom. DOWN 1. Large burrowing rodent of South and Central America. 2. An Arabic speaking person who lives in Arabia or North Africa. 3. A close friend who accompanies his buddies in their activities. 4. Of southern Europe. 5. The process of remembering (especially the process of recovering information by mental effort). 6. A radioactive element of the actinide series. 7. The district occupied entirely by the city of Washington. 8. A city in northern India. 9. Someone who works (or provides workers) during a strike. 10. God of love and erotic desire. 15. On a ship, train, plane or other vehicle. 16. South American cavy. 20. The site of an archeological exploration. 21. (Old Testament) The second patriarch. 22. A soft silvery metallic element of the alkali earth group. 24. A soft white precious univalent metallic element having the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of any metal. 26. A light touch or stroke. 28. In societies practicing shamanism. 32. An independent ruler or chieftain (especially in Africa or Arabia). 33. The capital and largest city of Bangladesh. 35. The rate of moving (especially walking or running). 36. Mild yellow Dutch cheese made in balls. 37. A Tibetan or Mongolian priest of Lamaism. 40. An awkward and inexperienced youth. 41. Informal terms for a mother. 42. A health resort near a spring or at the seaside. 43. The blood group whose red cells carry both the A and B antigens.

Gemini (May 21-June 20) A strong intention to change things may be met with continued opposition. Self-confidence and determination opens many doors for you. You expect the best! Results for your hard work in the office will be coming in the color of money. You could come up with new solutions or inventions. Your attitude toward your health will make a big difference in how you feel physically. This is a good time to schedule that yearly check-up. There is a feeling of good health and confidence. You may want to shop for some new clothes at lunch or just enjoy the time with a co-worker. Your personal attraction is positive. There will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy your friends this afternoon. Activities with your friends bring plenty of smiles.

Non Sequitur

Cancer (June 21-July 22) This is a great time, when good fortune and plain old luck surrounds you. It is easy for you to make correct decisions, find the right path and move forward where career is concerned. Life’s problems seem manageable and easy to solve. The arts, music, sculpture or dance are the fun things you may be teaching to neighbor children or friends this afternoon. There could be a new dance step that you all work to perfect. Careful—word could get around and you could be teaching more than a few. With your personality and the friends that enjoy your company, you will find success in any sort of social endeavor just now. There is a powerful aphrodisiac in the air that lends itself to love; it may be difficult to separate yourself from someone special tonight. Leo (July 23-August 22) If you need it, you will have help in making a payment on an overdue bill or making a large purchase. You could talk the most stubborn person into that loan or advance now. You are at your most practical when it comes to dealing and working with others. The support you need is there when you need it. You could be most persuasive with others and eloquent in speech and communication. This tends to carry through to your friendship and family members as well as the work place. You must realize that friends and relatives rely on you as much as you depend on them. Attraction to the opposite sex is strong. If no partner is available, soak up that eagerness with some creative activity concerning the arts, music, sculpture or dance.


Virgo (August 23-September 22) These are the days that bring you opportunities to better your job or finances. You could enjoy making your own way and finding solutions to whatever problems you have. By helping someone today you will gain benefits at work. Are you continuing your exercise program? If you are, you can relieve some stress now, through this program. A coworker may want to join you at the noon break. Such a busy day may have you ignoring personal needs. Avoid problems by pacing yourself and keeping an ongoing to-do list. You are able to clear up a matter between yourself and a loved one this evening. If there is a social event, go with your loved one—your popularity will make you a welcomed guest. A loved one will enjoy the attention as well. Libra (September 23-October 22) You feel inspired in the work place today. This is an easy, calm day that should find everything running in a smooth manner. Ideas and interaction with authority figures or older people may be a pleasant experience. Working with— rather than against—the flow should be easy to do. Community, club or social interests are the topic of conversation during the lunch hour. Think before you act with regard to financial matters today; remember that there is no gain in jumping into a really good deal without checking it out first. You may be sought after for your advice regarding some very personal and emotional issues. You will be able to handle any volatile material. You are able to cut through the red tape and get at what is beneath most any problem.

Mother Goose and Grimm

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) This challenging day

may bring rewards with it. A new opportunity in your career will be available today—you will be taking leadership command as well. New people in your life can be inspiring. Communicating and getting your message across to others is positive and productive. Your timing should be perfect and those around you should find you instinctive and full of passion. You may be sought after for your advice and counsel regarding very personal and emotional issues. Your psychic abilities are high and not one person would dare try to fool you. Issues with young people can be beneficial now. You are happy to teach ethics may find yourself in challenging discussions, but you are just the one to do it— young people need your patience. Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) You are tired of being under control and you may decide to take the lead in some project that is important to you. An instinctive imperative to be in control leads in many directions. Relationship with a spouse or business partner are on solid ground—now is the time to test your own wings. Expressing affection or appreciation should come easily and can do positive things for your disposition. This is a time when your powers of creativity are great. You are feeling inner peace and smooth sailing in relationships. This is a great time to reflect and understand your own situation, just how you feel about yourself. Honest communications help to clear up any confusion you could be having with a loved one. Trust is essential.

Yesterday’s Solution

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) You will


Yesterday’s Solution


INTERNATIONAL CALLS Kuwait Qatar Abu Dhabi Dubai Raas Al Khayma Al-Shareqa Muscat Jordan Bahrain Riyadh Makkah - Jeddah Cairo Alexandria Beirut Damascus Allepo

00965 00974 009712 009714 009717 009716 00968 009626 00973 009661 009662 00202 00203 009611 0096311 0096321

Tunisia Rabat Washington New York Paris London Madrid Zurich Geneva Monaco Rome Bangkok Hong Kong Pakistan Taiwan Bonn

0021610 002127 001212 001718 00331 004471 00341 00411 004122 0033 00396 00662 00852 0092 00886 0049228

Word Sleuth Solution

inspire yourself and others to new heights of achievement and awareness. Your time has come. You are hard-working and ambitious on the professional level and this determination to achieve can leave you exhausted toward the evening. By the time you get home this evening, everyone on the home front will have good news—thank goodness. You will experience a sense of support and goodwill from those around you. They depend on your intelligent mind and strength to see them through any problems they may be having just now. This support system obviously works both ways. Your creative juices are flowing and regardless of how busy you are during the day, you can be quite productive in the evening as well. Aquarius (January 20- February 18) You will continue to communicate well at work. You have new technologies to learn and perhaps teach and you are progressing really well. You can look forward to a problem-free time for the next few months; you must be doing something right! Remember to keep your home life and business life separate. This may become one of the more important lessons for you this year as well as not being afraid to speak up for yourself. You will make the most of all that comes your way this year. A strong desire to help others will make you the center of attention at times. An influential person may take notice of your special talents. Teach yourself control and acceptance of everyone’s humanness. Can you whistle? Pisces (February 19-March 20) There could be an unstable force in the emotions department this day. Firm stands or changes are not wise for now. You may, however, have to help put an end to a dispute this morning. This is not difficult, but it seems difficult to others. You will be able to turn the slow times into productive money-making opportunities at work now. Light-hearted and easy-going mannerisms may have to be worked on. You will soon get the idea, however and can leave everyone smiling. Everyone around you is in a talkative mood and it may be fun to just listen. Young people are the most fun to listen to as they are so very creative. This can all be very tiring after a while and you may want to excuse yourself in order to find a balance. Relax by music this evening.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

35 FIRE BRIGADE Operation Room 777 Al-Madena 22418714 22545171 Al-Shohada’a Al-Shuwaikh 24810598 22545171 Al-Nuzha Sabhan 24742838 22434853 Al-Helaly Al-Fayhaa 22545051 24711433 Al-Farwaniya Al-Sulaibikhat 24316983 23927002 Al-Fahaheel Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh 24316983 23980088 Ahmadi Al-Mangaf 23711183 23262845 Al-Shuaiba Al-Jahra 25610011 25616368 Al-Salmiya

Ministry of Interior website:

For labor-related inquiries and complaints: Call MSAL hotline 128 HOSPITALS Sabah Hospital


Amiri Hospital


Maternity Hospital


Mubarak Al-Kabir Hospital


Chest Hospital


Farwaniya Hospital


Adan Hospital


Ibn Sina Hospital


Al-Razi Hospital


Physiotherapy Hospital

POLICE STATION Al-Madena Police Station Al-Murqab Police Station Al-Daiya Police Station Al-Fayha’a Police Station Al-Qadissiya Police Station Al-Nugra Police Station Al-Salmiya Police Station Al-Dasma Police Station

24874330/9 CLINICS













Abdullah Salim




Industrial Shuwaikh






Bneid Al-Ghar






Ayoun Al-Kibla










Maidan Hawally












New Jahra


West Jahra


South Jahra


North Jahra


North Jleeb














THE PUBLIC AUTHORITY FOR CIVIL INFORMATION Automated enquiry about the Civil ID card is 1889988 AIRLINES


PHARMACY Sama Safwan Abu Halaifa Danat Al-Sultan

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

PHONE 23915883 23715414 23726558


Modern Jahra Madina Munawara

Jahra-Block 3 Lot 1 Jahra-Block 92

24575518 24566622


Ahlam Khaldiya Coop

Fahad Al-Salem St Khaldiya Coop

22436184 24833967


New Shifa Ferdous Coop Modern Safwan

Farwaniya Block 40 Ferdous Coop Old Kheitan Block 11

24734000 24881201 24726638


Tariq Hana Ikhlas Hawally & Rawdha Ghadeer Kindy

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

25726265 25647075 22625999 22564549 25340559 25326554


PRIVATE CLINICS Ophthalmologists: Dr. Abidallah Al-Mansoor Dr. Samy Al-Rabeea Dr. Masoma Habeeb Dr. Mubarak Al-Ajmy Dr. Mohsen Abel Dr Adnan Hasan Alwayl Dr. Abdallah Al-Baghly

25622444 25752222 25321171 25739999 25757700 25732223 25732223

Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT): Dr. Ahmed Fouad Mouner 24555050 Ext 510 Dr. Abdallah Al-Ali 25644660 Dr. Abd Al-Hameed Al-Taweel 25646478 Dr. Sanad Al-Fathalah 25311996 Dr. Mohammad Al-Daaory 25731988 Dr. Ismail Al-Fodary 22620166 Dr. Mahmoud Al-Booz 25651426 General Practitioners: Dr. Mohamme Y Majidi 24555050 Ext 123 Dr. Yousef Al-Omar 24719312 Dr. Tarek Al-Mikhazeem 23926920 Dr. Kathem Maarafi 25730465 Dr. Abdallah Ahmad Eyadah 25655528 Dr. Nabeel Al-Ayoobi 24577781 Dr. Dina Abidallah Al-Refae 25333501 Urologists: Dr. Ali Naser Al-Serfy 22641534 Dr. Fawzi Taher Abul 22639955 Dr. Khaleel Abidallah Al-Awadi22616660 Dr. Adel Al-Hunayan FRCS (C) 25313120 Plastic Surgeons: Dr. Mohammad Al-Khalaf 22547272

22434064 22435865 22544200 22547133 22515277 22616662 25714406 22530801

Dr. Abdal-Redha Lari Dr. Abdel Quttainah

22617700 25625030/60

Family Doctor: Dr Divya Damodar 23729596/23729581

Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr.

Zahra Qabazard Sohail Qamar Snaa Maaroof Pradip Gujare Zacharias Mathew

25710444 22621099 25713514 23713100 24334282

(1) Ear, Nose and Throat Psychiatrists Dr. Esam Al-Ansari 22635047 Dr Eisa M. Al-Balhan 22613623/0 Gynaecologists & Obstetricians: Dr Adrian Harbe 23729596/23729581 Dr. Verginia s.Marin 2572-6666 ext 8321 Dr. Fozeya Ali Al-Qatan 22655539 Dr. Majeda Khalefa Aliytami 25343406 Dr. Ahmad Al-Khooly 25739272 Dr. Salem soso 22618787 General Surgeons: Dr. Abidallah Behbahani 25717111 Dr. Amer Zawaz Al-Amer 22610044 Dr. Mohammad Yousef Basher 25327148

(2) Plastic Surgeon Dr. Abdul Mohsin Jafar, FRCS (Canada)

25655535 Dentists:

Dr Anil Thomas


Dr. Shamah Al-Matar


Dr. Anesah Al-Rasheed


Dr. Abidallah Al-Amer


Dr. Faysal Al-Fozan


Dr. Abdallateef Al-Katrash


Dr. Abidallah Al-Duweisan


Dr. Bader Al-Ansari



Paediatricians: Dr. Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rashed 25340300

Rheumatologists: Dr. Adel Al-Awadi 25330060 Dr. Khaled Al-Jarallah 25722290 Internist, Chest & Heart: DR.Mohammes Akkad 24555050 Ext 210 Dr. Mohammad Zubaid MB, ChB, FRCPC, PACC Assistant Professor Of Medicine Head, Division of Cardiology Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospital Tel: 25339667 Dr. Farida Al-Habib MD, PH.D, FACC Consultant Cardiologist Tel: 2611555-2622555 Inaya German Medical Center Te: 2575077 Fax: 25723123

Dr. Sohal Najem Al-Shemeri 25633324 Dr. Jasem Mola Hassan

Internists, Chest & Heart: Dr. Adnan Ebil 22639939 Dr. Mousa Khadada 22666300 Dr. Latefa Al-Duweisan 25728004 Dr. Nadem Al-Ghabra 25355515 Dr. Mobarak Aldoub 24726446 Dr Nasser Behbehani 25654300/3

Physiotherapists & VD: Dr. Deyaa Shehab 25722291 Dr. Musaed Faraj Khamees 22666288


Gastrologists Dr. Sami Aman


Dr. Mohammad Al-Shamaly 25322030 Dr. Foad Abidallah Al-Ali


Endocrinologist: Dr. Abd Al-Naser Al-Othman 25339330 Dr. Ahmad Al-Ansari


Dr. Kamal Al-Shomr


Psychologists/Psychotherapists Soor Center Tel: 2290-1677 Fax: 2290 1688 Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, Ph.D. 2290-1677 Susannah-Joy Schuilenberg, M.A. 2290-1677 William Schuilenberg, RPC 2290-1677 Zaina Al Zabin, M.Sc. 2290-1677

Kuwait Airways Wataniya Airways Jazeera Airways Jet Airways Qatar Airways KLM Air Slovakia Olympic Airways Royal Jordanian Reservation British Airways Air France Emirates Air India Sri Lanka Airlines Egypt Air Swiss Air Saudia Middle East Airlines Lufthansa PIA Alitalia Balkan Airlines Bangladesh Airlines Czech Airlines Indian Airlines Oman Air Turkish Airlines

22433377 24379900 177 22477631 22423888 22425747 22434940 22420002/9 22418064/5/6 22433388 22425635 22430224 22425566 22438184 22424444 22421578 22421516 22426306 22423073 22422493 22421044 22414427 22416474 22452977/8 22417901/2433141 22456700 22412284/5 22453820/1

INTERNATIONAL CALLS Afghanistan Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antiga Argentina Armenia Australia Austria Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia Botswana Brazil Brunei Bulgaria Burkina Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Colombia Comoros Congo Cook Islands Costa Rica Croatia Cuba Cyprus Cyprus (Northern) Czech Republic Denmark Diego Garcia Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador England (UK)

0093 00355 00213 00376 00244 001264 001268 0054 00374 0061 0043 001242 00973 00880 001246 00375 0032 00501 00229 001441 00975 00591 00387 00267 0055 00673 00359 00226 00257 00855 00237 001 00238 001345 00236 00235 0056 0086 0057 00269 00242 00682 00506 00385 0053 00357 0090392 00420 0045 00246 00253 001767 001809 00593 0020 00503 0044

Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guam Guatemala Guinea Guyana Haiti Holland (Netherlands) Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Ibiza (Spain) Iceland India Indian Ocean Indonesia Iran Iraq Ireland Italy Ivory Coast Jamaica Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Laos Latvia Lebanon Liberia Libya Lithuania Luxembourg Macau Macedonia

00240 00291 00372 00251 00500 00298 00679 00358 0033 00594 00689 00241 00220 00995 0049 00233 00350 0030 00299 001473 00590 001671 00502 00224 00592 00509 0031 00504 00852 0036 0034 00354 0091 00873 0062 0098 00964 00353 0039 00225 001876 0081 00962 007 00254 00686 00965 00996 00856 00371 00961 00231 00218 00370 00352 00853 00389



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Love dating Thurman’s ex


ourtney Love is dating Uma Thurman’s ex-fiance. The Hole singer - widow of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain - began romancing hotelier Andre Balazs earlier this year and is completely smitten with the handsome businessman and insists the feeling is mutual. She wrote in an email to a friend: “I’m in love. It’s nice. Scary. I’m a great catch and he can be a bad boy but he loves me. He is the sweetest thing and he actually totally does respect me. His manners are impeccable but he is funny too (sic).” Courtney - who has repeatedly

claimed to have been defrauded of her wealth by various people - has been staying in a suite at the Mercer Hotel in New York, which her new beau owns, but now says she is spoilt for choice over places where she can stay. She said: “He has properties everywhere and has given me the key to his apartment, but what is better than living in his hotel?” The mother-of-one recently denied reports she was dating Andre, who split from actress Uma in 2007 after a three-year relationship. She said: “He is just an old friend and my sometime landlord.”

Teri Hatcher launches women’s website T

he ‘Desperate Housewives’ actress has teamed up with Disney to work on a new online forum to create a place solely for ladies and allow them to chat and have “intimate conversations” with her about the problems they face in their lives. She explained: “I just want to create a go-to respite for women where they can find a shoulder to lean on. I hope what you get from it is a sense of honesty, candidness and the understanding that wacky things happen to all of us. I love to get at prob-


im Kardashian was dumped by Reggie Bush because of her sex tape. The American footballer was uneasy about settling down with the socialite because the 2007 video which features raunchy footage of the brunette and her then-boyfriend Ray J - made his mother uncomfortable. A source told X17 online: “Reggie’s mom just could not get over the fact that Kim had a sex tape. Reggie and his family are very conservative, and he told Kim that a marriage is never going to happen between them because of the tape.” Kim is said to regret the video more than ever now as she believes she would still be with Reggie, 25, if it had never been made public. The source added: “She’s still crazy about him. If she didn’t have the sex tape, she could have been Mrs Bush.” While the ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ star is struggling to

cope with the split, the sportsman is throwing himself into the single life. A friend said: “Reggie is surrounded by a bunch of his single friends. He wants to be a party guy, hang with the boys and date other people.” Kim is currently in Miami, Florida, with her sisters Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian but plans to attempt to build a friendship with her former lover when she returns to Los Angeles in the coming weeks. One insider told E!: “There hasn’t been any communication as of late. But that will change once she gets back to Los Angeles. “They have a dog together and stuff at each other’s homes. It’s not like they’re enemies. They will work on their friendship, but it will happen very slowly.” News of Reggie and Kim’s separation came less than a month after the couple - who had been dating for almost three years - reportedly bought a $4.8 million love nest together in Beverly Hills.


imon Cowell is set to buy fiancee Mezhgan Hussainy a £65,000 car. The music mogul - who is expected to marry makeup artist Mezhgan Hussainy in early September - reportedly spent an hour looking at a luxury 1954 Jaguar XK convertible at a showroom in Los Angeles recently, and is thought to be buying the classic car for her 37th birthday. A source said: “Money is clearly no object but he’s considering buying her something that little bit special. He’s obviously a big fan of cars but she is too.” The ‘X Factor’ judge - who is known for being vain - has already been splashing the cash on Mezhgan, as he recently bought her a joke his-and-hers diamond encrusted mirror for

lems through humor. “I want to carry on an intimate conversation with people. There will be no audience, no publicists. This is not about promoting your next movie. It’s about having natural conversations.” The website will be called - with the subtitle A Chick’s Guide to Life and will be produced by While the 45year-old actress will be heavily involved in the project, she has promised it won’t be just about her. She added: “This will not be the Teri Hatcher reality site.”

£7,000. The source added to the Daily Mirror newspaper: “Simon also has a wicked sense of humor and decided to present her with a mirror so they could both check their reflections. It’s a running joke between them.” The TV star is said to buy her romantic gifts almost every day, and recently treated Mezhgan to a “private Swedish massage”. A source said: “Red roses, French lingerie, Prada bags, you name it. He gives her something new practically every day. One particularly sweet surprise was private his-and-hers Swedish massages in their London hotel room.” The 50year-old star is due to arrive back in the UK with Mezhgan later this month when he starts the new series of his TV talent show ‘Britain’s Got Talent’



he British funnyman got engaged to singer Katy Perry in December and while she claims to be relaxed about planning their wedding, her fiance is throwing himself into creating the perfect day for their nuptials. She said: “I’m not that obsessed with plans. But if we stop for breakfast, he has to stop and get ‘Bride’ magazine. It gets a little crazy.” The ‘I Kissed a Girl’ hitmaker also revealed she is hoping her close friend Rihanna will help organize her bachelorette party ahead of the big day after bribing her with gifts. Katy told website Hollyscoop: “Is Rihanna organizing it? I hope she does after all the crazy a*s presents I sent her.” Despite the attention her romance

with 34-year-old Russell - who she has been dating since last September - has received, Katy, 25, is hoping to keep her wedding out of the spotlight. Asked if she had a date in mind for the ceremony, she said: “It’s going to be the right perfect time when none of you are gonna know!” One of the reasons why Russell has so much time to read bridal magazines is that he has cut down on corresponding with other people since getting engaged to Katy. He revealed recently: “The best thing about getting married is that now I only have one person to write to and we live together - in the past there were a lot of people to correspond with so I had to resort to spamming.”

t s e r e t n Lohan pleads for India i L

indsay Lohan is desperate for people to watch her BBC documentary about child trafficking in India. The 23-year-old actress travelled to the impoverished country in December to shoot the documentary with the British broadcaster and has urged people to watch it when it airs in the UK tomorrow. Writing on her twitter page, Lindsay said: “My documentary for the BBC network is coming out soon... It’s about child trafficking in India... I’d like to encourage everyone to watch it! “It’s a massive world issue, and it goes on every day. I just want people to recognize the more important things in the world-rather than gossip. (sic)” However, it seems Lindsay also has other

pressing issues on her mind, as she took to the micro-blogging website to tell the world about a new pair of Versace shoes she wants. She tweeted in a separate posting: “the new VERSACE open toe-cut out boots are SINFULLY AMAZING!!!! to die 4!!! bless VERSACE’s <3(sic)” ‘Mean Girls’ actress Lindsay previously claimed to have saved lots of lives in just one day while she was making the documentary last year. She said on twitter: “Over 40 children saved so far... Within one day’s work. This is what life is about... Doing THIS is a life worth living!!! “traffiking is a big issue here, I’m doing what I can, and I will continue to do so as long as life when time permits it. (sic)” — Bang Showbiz

Sarah Jessica Parker isn’t cupid

Russell Brand obsessed with bridal magazines

arah Jessica Parker is no good at giving relationship advice. The ‘Sex and the City’ star - who has three children with her husband of 12 years, Matthew Broderick - isn’t an expert when it comes to romance, but thinks it’s important for someone to have complete faith in their partner. She said: “Oh, I am not a good advice giver but I would say the obvious - lack of communication is where things go wrong for people. I’m certainly no expert in relationships, God knows, but you need to be with someone who believes in you 100 per cent. If you don’t have that, there’s no point.” The 45year-old actress wants to be happily married for the rest of her life, and has admitted she wants to continue kissing her co-stars and husband

until she is 70 or 80. Discussing whether she expects to star in romantic comedy films for years to come, she quipped: “God, if they’ll have me! I hope so. Not just on screen. I hope that someone will kiss me at home.” With such a hectic home and work life, Sarah doesn’t get the chance to watch many movies herself and has no idea how well ‘Sex and the City’ is received. She added to new! magazine: “I honestly don’t know. I’m not a good judge of how the climate has changed. I don’t get to see a lot of movies actually. I would like to think that there are roles for women and an audience for women, and I know that our movie surprised people in terms of attendance. I believe that women will always go to the movies to see other women tell their stories.”


Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Music & Movies

Latin pop icon Ricky Martin tells he is gay


uerto Rican singer Ricky Martin, in a bombshell to legions of his fans all over the world, on Monday confirmed a longtime rumor that he is gay. “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am,” he wrote on his website. With his swiveling hips and scintillating salsa moves, Martin has been an object of adoration by millions of fans around the world, especially of the female variety. The Latin pop singer records and performs mostly in Spanish, but has a huge crossover following in English thanks in large part to his 1999 smash hit “Livin’ La Vida Loca” (“Livin’ the Crazy Life”) and his chart-topping “She Bangs” the following year. Martin, 38, told his fans that his decision to divulge his sexual orientation marks “an amazing turning point in my life” and it started a few months ago when he began the process of writing his memoirs. “From the

‘Titans’ Worthington fights his way to film stardom


ast spring, Australian actor Sam Worthington was a Hollywood newcomer and box office unknown who was busy promoting his starring role in big-budget action flick “Terminator: Salvation.” Seven months later, following his turn in James Cameron’s $2.7 billion blockbuster “Avatar,” Worthington is now forever associated with the highest grossing film of all time. Still, the actor who was born in England and raised in Australia, goes largely unnoticed outside Hollywood because in “Avatar” he appears mostly as a blue-skinned animated character. But his audience recognition may be about to change on Friday with his starring role as Perseus in another major studio movie, “Clash of the Titans.” The 33-year-old told Reuters the film, a remake of 1981’s feature of the same name, rounds out “The Sam Worthington Trilogy” from boyhood to manhood. And while that description might be stretching things, there’s no doubt the trio of roles represents his rise from no-name actor to major rising star. “It’s the end of my trilogy in the sense that ‘Terminator’ is about a young man who was born. In ‘Avatar,’ I played Jake Sully as a kid who turns into a teenager and stands up to the bullies in the schoolyard. And ‘Clash of the Titans’ is about a troubled adolescent who’s trying to figure out his place in the world and turns into a man,” Worthington explained. In an irony of modern-day stardom, Worthington’s career boost in Hollywood came not so much by acting with others, as much as working alone-in front of a green screen on which computer generated images are later placed for the effects-filled movies like “Titans” in which he has triumphed.

Battling aliens; winning fans With virtually nothing in front of him except his imagination and a few stunt men, Worthington has expertly battled giant “Terminator” robots, gone to war with a tribe of blue natives on the planet Pandora in “Avatar”, and is now riding-or flying-a winged-horse Pegasus in “Titans.” It’s enough to leave his co-stars in awe. Veteran European actor Mads Mikkelsen, who plays Draco in “Titans,” says fighting giant scorpions “would have been a lot harder if we didn’t have ‘Sam the Specialist’ on set.” “He just went berserk with the swordfighting,” said Mikkelsen. “The rest of us were like, ‘Alright, that’s what we do’ so we joined in. He became our mentor.” But Worthington remains modest at the compliment. “I like doing these films,” he said. “You leave your vanity at the door, you dive in and (in your mind) you’re 100 percent attacking a scorpion. It brings out the child in me and hopefully will bring out the child in the audience.” Besides taking on larger-than-life creatures, his three Hollywood roles appear to have a common theme. “The duality of man,” said Worthington, noting that “one is part man, part god (“Titans”); the other is part man, part alien (“Avatar”) and the first one (“Terminator”) was part man, part robot.” “Obviously it’s something I’ve been drawn to that has unconsciously come out,” he said. What also has come out is an understanding that the actor a one-time school drop-out and construction worker who before “Terminator” had mostly small film roles or appeared on TV-is not just an actor for hire anymore, but a rising Hollywood star who causes a stir simply by what he wears. When he was recently pictured in a Captain America t-shirt, the blogosphere lit up with speculation that he may be playing the title role in Hollywood’s big screen version of the comic book character. (Actor Chris Evans has since been cast.) “Everyone had a friggin’ brouhaha about it, but I’m just a fan,” he said. Now he’s taken to wearing t-shirts of his favorite bands during interviews - metal rock groups like Iron Maiden, Baroness, AC/DC, Pantera and Led Zeppelin among others. “I’m under no illusions that people look at me, so if I’m going to be a billboard for something, I might as well be a billboard for bands I love,” he said. — Reuters

moment I wrote the first phrase I was sure the book was the tool that was going to help me free myself from things I was carrying within me for a long time,” Martin wrote on his website. He said the secret over time had become “too heavy for me to keep inside” and that he joyfully embraces his gay identity as “something worth celebrating.” The pop singer added that he did not come out earlier because advisers over the years had warned that he might ruin his career were he to reveal to his fans that he is gay. He was also worried about the impact on his young twin sons, who were conceived with the assistance of a surrogate mother. “Many people told me... ‘all the years you’ve worked and everything you’ve built will collapse’,” he wrote. “Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions

and my actions.” Coming out “fills me with strength and courage,” Martin said. “Today is my day, this is my time, and this is my moment.” Like a number of pop stars of his generation, Martin was a stage and recording star from childhood. He rose to fame as a member of the Puerto Rican boy band “Menudo” in the 1980s, before striking out on a solo career. Fans were mostly supportive of the singer. His website lit up with postings from supporters writing in Spanish and English, praising him for his decision to live his life honestly and openly. One fan on Martin’s website offered “congratulations on finally freeing yourself from the ball and chain that living a closeted life is.” Another, who went by the name Libracolo, wrote that “the people who genuinely respect you as a father and an artist could care less who you are sleeping with.” “Continue to live your life with the same

In this June 26, 1998 file photo, Puerto-Rican pop star Ricky Martin performs at the Presidente Latin Music Festival held in national stadium in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. —AP

amount of dignity and pride you have done so far and let the naysayers and the haters burn in hell.” Another, whose signature was merely “proud of you,” wrote: “I am so proud of the BIG step you’ve taken today. I have seen what many of my gay friends go through when hiding their true identity and it’s a shame.... I’m sure the people that truly love you (the ones who really matter) will continue to love and are proud of this big step.” But the posts also included a smattering of negative correspondence like the one sent from “sorry for you,” who taunted “your soul will burn in hell!” The five-time Grammy award winner also has been hailed for his philanthropic efforts including his work as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and the creation of his Puerto Rico-based Ricky Martin Foundation to promote health, education and social justice for children around the world. — AFP

Pearl Jam guitarist sees business key to climate


hile many people dream of becoming a rock star, Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard says he is trying to be more of a businessman to help slow climate change. The US band, which has sold 60 million albums since 1991, said on Monday it was investing $210,000 to plant trees in Washington State to soak up an estimated 7,000 tons of carbon dioxide linked to a 32-date 2009 tour. “Pearl Jam is a band but we are also a business,” guitarist and cofounder Gossard told Reuters in a telephone interview. “We’re seeing ourselves as a Washington business, a regional business that is acknowledging its carbon footprint and hoping to inspire other

businesses.” Many leading musicians have sought to raise awareness about the risks of climate change, often by planting trees, and culminating in “Live Earth” concerts in July 2007 across seven continents. But Gossard, 43, said celebritydriven inspiration was often shortlived. “The idea of a celebrity is fantastic in terms of raising awareness for a day or a week, but it needs consistent business policy in the long term,” he said. He said there were good business arguments for investing in climate measures-even though opinion polls in the United States show dwindling belief that mankind causes global warming. Carbon-capping legislation is stalled in the US Senate.

“It’s doable. It’s not going to kill your company and if anything it will enhance your company’s ability to sell whatever it is selling by being good stewards of the land,” he said. Gossard said that Pearl Jam’s investments aimed to offset carbon from the band’s use of fossil fuels linked to ships, trucks, planes, hotels as well as estimated emissions by 480,000 fans travelling to and from concerts in 2009. Pearl Jam, one of the top-selling US bands whose awards include a Grammy for “Spin the Black Circle”, would plant thousands of trees and restore 33 acres (13.36 hectares) of urban forests in Seattle, Kent, Kirkland and Redmond. The scheme will also clear inva-

sive plants such as English ivy choking native trees. Trees soak up carbon as they grow and release it when they rot or burn. “It will store Pearl Jam’s carbon, make cities more livable and show citizens how to be good stewards,” said Gene Duvernoy, head of the Cascade Land Conservancy managing the project. Pearl Jam has previously invested $150,000 since 2003 in climate measures. It was looking into widening carbon offsets to cover its album manufacturing and distribution. Among other bands, the Rolling Stones added about 27 cents to ticket prices on a 2003 tour to help plant trees and show that “rock and roll is not a gas”. — Reuters

Pearl Jam


Streisand scheduled to appear at Book Expo America

Senegalese -American R&B singer, rapper, producer and Hip Hop legend Akon arrives at the Durban International Airport. —AFP

Maldives to host Akon’s aborted Sri Lanka concert


he Maldives stepped in yesterday to offer US rap star Akon a replacement concert after his scheduled appearance in Sri Lanka next month was scuttled by protesting Buddhist monks. “We are very happy he is planning to come and perform,” President Mohamed Nasheed’s press secretary Mohamed Zuhair told AFP by telephone from the atoll nation. Akon’s Colombo concert scheduled for April 24 was blocked after monks complained about his “Sexy Bitch” music video featuring women in bikinis dancing around a pool. A Buddha statue was visible briefly in the background. Akon’s agent, American Talent, was not immedi-

ately available for comment, but the concert in the capital Male is reportedly planned for April 23. Sri Lanka’s tourism minister Achala Jagoda said Colombo could not issue a visa to the Grammy Award-nominated star because the video “was insensitive to Sri Lanka’s (Buddhist) cultural heritage.” The cancelled show, which was reported to have sold out with tickets priced at 25,000 rupees (220 dollars), also attracted criticism from thousands of Sri Lankans on Facebook and blogs. Majority-Buddhist Sri Lanka projects itself as a secular country but is highly sensitive to the use of religious images for commercial purposes. — AFP

arbra Streisand will appear at the openingnight keynote reception for BookExpo America to promote “My Passion for Design.” The book world’s annual national convention will be held May 25-27 at the Jacob K Javits Center in New York City. Event director Steven Rosato says yesterday that Streisand’s appearance “calls attention to the strength, vitality and excitement that is so much part of the book industry.” “My Passion for Design” reveals the taste and style that have inspired the singer’s homes and collections. It will be Streisand’s first appearance on behalf of the book, to be published Nov 16 by Viking. — AP

Chinese director’s film evokes civil war’s cost


erlin film festival winner Wang Quanan says shooting his new movie, “Apart Together,” made him appreciate the personal cost of China’s civil war. The Chinese director’s film had its Asian premiere yesterday at the Hong Kong International Film Festival. It is inspired by a true story that reflects how families on opposite sides of the political divide were separated for decades after China split in 1949 when Mao Zedong’s communists forced the thenruling Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-shek, to retreat to the island of Taiwan. “Apart Together” tells how a Nationalist soldier visits the wife he left behind in the mainland who has since remarried. Reunited with the love of his life, the retired soldier wants to bring her back to Taiwan, but his plans spark a major backlash in his wife’s new family. “The strongest feeling I came away with after making this movie is that the pain actual families had to bear because of divisions within a race, a country, are much greater than we think they are,” the 45-year-old director told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the Hong Kong festival.

Berlin-winning Chinese director Wang Quanan poses in Hong Kong yesterday. —AP

“Even if people are reunited, the emotional distance between them created by time takes a long time to overcome,” he said. “Apart Together” won a Silver Bear for best script at the Berlin International Film Festival’s in February. Wang’s previous film, “Tuya’s Marriage,” won the festi-

One of Cannes’s darlings scoops six prizes at Romanian awards


Romanian filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu speaks after winning the best Romanian film prize at the Romanian Gopo awards. — AFP photos

omanian filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu, one of Cannes’s darlings, won six prizes including the one for best film at the Romanian Gopo awards on Monday. The best actress trophy went to Hilda Peter for her role in “Katalin Varga” by British director Peter Strickland. Porumboiu’s “Police, adjective”, largely praised by critics in the United States and in Europe, won the statuettes for best film, best director, best scenario, best second-role, best photography and best actor. Porumboiu won several prizes in Cannes in the last five years including the Jury’s prize in “Un Certain regard” section with “Police, adjective”. “There were many good Romanian films this year and I hope we will be able to produce many more this year”, 34 year-old Porumboiu said at the ceremony held in the former palace of late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Though Romanian filmmakers have become big in world cinema, especially since Cristian Mungiu won the Palme d’Or at Cannes film festival in 2007, they face recurrent problems to finance their movies in Romania. — AFP

val’s top Golden Bear prize in 2007. The Chinese director said his next project will be a 100 million yuan ($14.6 million) adaptation of Chen Zhongshi’s 1993 epic novel, “Bailuyuan,” which follows the disputes between rival families in a Chinese village through three generations. — AP

Bruce Lee’s wife, daughter open Hong Kong exhibit


ruce Lee’s wife and daughter yesterday unveiled an exhibition of the late kung fu star’s personal items, photos and movie posters in Hong Kong. The exhibit, which includes a boxing head guard and a pair of sunglasses used by Lee, is part of a tribute to the late actor at the 34th Hong Kong International Film Festival. The festival is also hosting a seminar on his work this Sunday and screening nine of his

Franco-Romanian film director Radu Mihaileanu poses with the Gopo Prize Trophy for best scenery and best original music for the film “The concert”.

movies in honor of what would have been his 70th birthday later this year. “I think that he would be thrilled to know that his legacy has gone on and on for as long as it has and that it will continue to go on and inspire people for many, many more years to come,” said Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee Keasler, who attended the opening ceremony with her mother, Linda Lee Cadwell. —AP

Linda Cadwell, widow of the late kung fu star Bruce Lee, left, Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee, right and Shannon’s daughter Wren Keasler attend opening ceremony for Bruce Lee’s exhibition. — AP



Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Stella McCartney inspired by childhood tella McCartney’s latest kidswear collection was inspired by her childhood. The fashion designer - daughter of Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney and his late wife Linda - recently launched

up. When I was little like this, my parents just shoved stuff onto us. I had some nice French clothes, but it wasn’t at all considered. I wasn’t a pristine kid.” The range includes a fish-print summer dress, cro-

Canada fashion week


her second range for Gap Kids and wanted the line to be colorful, complete with different fabrics and prints. She said: “For me this collection is all about mixing and matching. I guess that is how I was brought

cheted tops, skinny jeans, an embroidered pale blue cowboy shirt and glow-in-thedark pyjamas. But the mother-of-three was keen to make sure they were clothes children could

wear time and time again without parents worrying whether they would get ruined. She told the Sunday Telegraph: “There is no excuse for bad colors. And there is no reason why a fabric shouldn’t have the soft-

est touch, especially when you are doing children’s wear. Fabrics need to wear well there is no point saying to a child they can only wear this once, or that they need to behave when wearing it.”—Bang Showbiz

Models walk the runway for the Gaudet show during Fashion Week in Toronto. —AP photos

Madonna’s daughter steals clothes from her wardrobe he 51-year-old singer who recently announced plans she was working on a juniors clothing line - admits 13-yearold Lourdes is a huge fan of fashion and gets inspiration from her mother’s outfits. She said: “It’s weird because my closet doesn’t really have that much of that look so she’s somehow figured out a way to do it on her own... thrift shops and taking bits and pieces from her favorite stores... stealing stuff from my closet and she creates this look that is her own, but also influenced by the early ‘80s and the way that I used to dress, so I think it’s in the DNA.” Lourdes is helping Madonna on her Material Girl


Models walk the runway for the Jules Power.

Madonna and daughter Lourdes

clothing range - which will be launched in September and available at US store Macy’s and the ‘Celebration’ hitmaker is enjoying working with her. She told TV show ‘Access Hollywood’: “When she chooses her own wardrobe for when she’s going out or going to school or whatever, I have a lot of input, but when it comes to designing the line it’s pretty much her point of view. “The most fun is when Lourdes comes into the room and takes over and pulls out all of her favorite stuff and starts going through the racks and just takes over. I just sit on the conference table and watch and let her do the work - it’s nice, it’s refreshing.” —BangShowbiz

Kate Moss to make her stage debut ate Moss is to make her stage debut in a Shakespeare play. The supermodel has reportedly landed a small part playing a nymph in an upcoming version of ‘The Tempest’ which will be overseen by Kevin


Spacey and directed by Sam Mendes. A source told the Daily Mirror newspaper: “Kate has had several acting lessons and is keen to broaden her horizons. She and Kevin go back a long way and they met up again last week at the

W Doha bash at China White in London, where her part was confirmed. “It’s only a small part but Kate hopes it could be her big break.” Apparently Kate had been in talks about a minor role for a while and had several meet-

ings in recent weeks with Kevin - who is the artistic director of the Old Vic theatre in London. ‘The Tempest’ will take to the stage as par t of 2010’s The Bridge Year Project, which will see Hollywood film-

maker Sam mastermind the play as well as directing ‘As You Like It’. The 36-year-old beauty partied with Kevin at London hot spot China White last Monday, where they had a friendly dance-off as they enjoyed the W Doha

1st Birthday celebrations. A partygoer said: “They were chatting closely all night and just seem to really hit it off. They looked like they were having a great time.” —Bang Showbiz

Wednesday, March 31, 2010



Wills Fashion Week


Models present creations by Indian designer Ritu Beri.

Models present creations by Indian designer Ranna Gill.

Models present creations by Indian designer Monapali during a show at the Wills India Fashion Week Autumn Winter 2010 in New Delhi. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;AFP photos

Book asks who greater, Michelangelo or Leonardo? new book focuses on a 16th century competition that set out to discover who was the better artist-Michelangelo or Leonardo Da Vinci, and says the outcome profoundly influenced the Renaissance titans’ legacies. Jonathan Jones, a British art critic who has been a Turner Prize judge, said the contest was familiar to art historians but to his knowledge had not been treated as the subject for a book. “The Lost Battles: Leonardo, Michelangelo and the Artistic Duel that Defined the Renaissance”, published by Simon & Schuster”, hits stores on Thursday and describes a dramatic and defining moment in art history. The decision by Florence officials that Michelangelo was the victor helped launch the younger artist’s career and set him on a path to glory with key commissions in Rome. Leonardo, meanwhile, was sidelined despite having a more established reputation, and ended up in the French court, which would have been looked down upon by Italy’s art patrons. “You are not left in much doubt that it was a competition,” Jones said in a telephone interview. “The Florentine Renaissance was obsessed with competition.” And so, at the turn of the 16th century, the Florentine government commissioned the artists to produce rival battle frescos-Leonardo’s “Battle of Anghiari” and Michelangelo’s “Battle of Cascina”-for a hall in the civic palace. Neither painting was completed and both are lost, although they survive partially through engravings and sketches. But Jones is in little doubt Michelangelo emerged from the contest with his reputation enhanced while Leonardo suffered a setback. By presenting Michelangelo as a genius who was working on a great battle painting, the Florentine state helped him secure an even more important commission, the Sistine Chapel, Jones said. “It was a very important thing that he had trashed Leonardo in this competition and was seen as the greatest artist in history,” Jones added. “That was because he had this competition and had won it. “Yet Leonardo, who was arguably the most famous of them all, doesn’t get any of those commissions (to rebuild Rome). He was seen as not delivering in the contest.”

Italian firefighters work next to a part of the ceiling of a gallery in the complex which includes Nero’s Golden Palace collapsed yesterday. (Right) In this Wednesday, Jan 31, 2007 file photo journalists take part in a press tour inside Roman emperor Nero’s Golden Palace in Rome. —AP photos


section of ancient Roman emperor Nero’s palace collapsed yesterday, causing no injuries but leading to concern over the stability of the complex popular with tourists, officials said. Half of the Trajan Gallery at the Domus Aurea-or Golden House collapsed, said Antonello Vodret, the monument’s technical director. The collapsed section was about 60 square metres (646 feet). He called it the most sig-


nificant collapse at the monument located between the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. It was closed at the time for restoration. No one was found underneath the rubble after extensive searches, according to the fire chief. While other such incidents have occurred at the palace, Tuesday’s collapse was a “worrying signal” when it comes to the site’s safety, said Vodret. He said that

water seepage likely led to the collapse. “The ground is soaked with water,” said Vodret, adding that a maintenance worker heard the collapse. Another site official, Luciano Marchetti, told Italy’s ANSA news agency that other collapses could occur. However, Rome culture official Umberto Croppi said “the damage is not very serious. The gallery is a structure independent from the Domus Aurea.” “Apparently, there

is no risk of the Domus Aurea’s collapse,” he told ANSA. The Domus Aurea and its mosaics drew an average 1,000 visitors a day after it was partially opened to the public in 1999. But in late 2005, the Italian government closed it because flooding raised fears the underground villa could collapse. It reopened about a year later. Nero had the sumptuous villa built over an area of some

80 hectares (200 acres) in 64 AD after most of Rome was destroyed by fire while he himself, according to historians, played his fiddle. The extravagance of the villa became an embarrassment to Nero’s successors, and they had it covered over by earth to make way for later Roman landmarks-like the nearby Colosseum-but in doing so, ensured its survival for the admiration of later generations. —AFP

W Doha Hotel & Residences celebrates partnership with The Old Vic Kevin Spacey and Kate Moss Doha Hotels Worldwide, the hotel category buster and leading industry innovator, yesterday launched a special partnership between W Doha Hotel & Residences, Qatar and The Old Vic Theatre, London. The relationship was launched in style at a special dinner and drinks reception hosted by W Doha Hotel & Residences and The Old Vic Artistic Director and Academy award-winning actor Kevin Spacey. The unique event was held to celebrate the first year of W Doha, a year filled with Wow moments and insider access into the worlds of fashion and design, music and entertainment. The dinner and drinks was attended by London’s elite social set from the worlds of fashion, film and culture with guests including Kevin Spacey, Kate Moss, Jamie Hince, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Tracey Emin, Dascha Zhukova, Sir Peter & Lady Blake, Kevin Bishop, Camilla Al Fayed, Rob Brydon, Katy England, James Brown, Camilla Rutherford, Jade Jagger, Dan Williams


The Quai Branly museum

History kinder to Leonardo Jones argues that the fiercely competitive atmosphere of Renaissance art helped spur it to ever greater heights, even if it did damage some careers while helping to launch others. He also believes that had Leonardo’s battle picture been championed in the same way as that of his rival, the history of Italian art may have taken a darker, more disturbing turn. “It (the lost battle picture) probably was his masterpiece and was almost like the antithesis of the Renaissance,” he said. “If he (Leonardo) had been the model for the artist, over the next 200-300 years a lot of things might have been different.” While the two-year contest that ended in 1506 cast Leonardo as the loser, Jones believes history has been kinder to him. “I’ve changed my mind so many times in writing this book,” Jones said, asked who he thought was the greater of the two. “These were both incomparable geniuses. There is no question that Michelangelo did win, but Leonardo has won historically, just about. “Michelangelo has been consistently revered, but since Leonardo’s notebooks started to be edited and translated and popularized in the 19th century, and we get a sense of Leonardo as a scientist and not just an artist, Leonardo has probably piped Michelangelo to the post. “Leonardo, in my heart, ultimately wins.”—Reuters

Part of Nero’s ancient palace collapses in Rome

and Henry Holland. The event marked the beginning of a new partnership between W Doha Hotel & Residences and the Old Vic through which W Doha will support The Old Vic with a new event in the London social calendar called The Old Vic 192. Speaking on this new relationship, Artistic Director Kevin Spacey commented ‘It’s our 192nd birthday this year. We’re excited to be working with W Hotels and W Doha on our birthday fundraiser in June. We’re very grateful to them for this support and hope this is the first of many such collaborations.’ “The one year anniversary celebration of the iconic W Doha is a milestone in W Hotels’ expansion in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.” says Robyn Pratt, VP Brand Management W Hotels, EAME “following its opening a year ago as the first W Hotel to launch the W brand in the Middle East, it has since become an international lifestyle destination known for providing insider access to extraordinary entertainment happenings from live performances to DJ music sessions. The collaboration with The Old Vic further highlights the hotel’s passion for creating W experiences within the entertainment industry for global jetsetters and local tastemakers alike.”

Kevin Spacey and Robyn Pratt

Sculptures presented during the exhibition.

In cooperation with W Doha Hotel & Residences, The Old Vic 192 event, a major fundraiser for the Old Vic, will be held in June. The event will be a starstudded celebration featuring entertainment, an auction and an exclusive private performance. All monies raised will go to The Old Vic Theatre Trust to safeguard the 192 year old iconic building, to make great theatre available to all, to mentor the next generation of creative talent and to address poverty of aspiration among young people in our schools and community through The Old Vic’s award winning education and community programmes. The opening of W Doha Hotel & Residences in March 2009 marked the entry of W Hotels Worldwide into the Middle East. The hotel merges traditional Arabian imagery with the contemporary cool design of the W brand. Immediately upon arrival, guests are welcomed into a world of Wow. Founded in 1998 in New York City, W Hotels is transforming into a global powerhouse. W Hotels have recently opened in Barcelona, Miami South Beach, Hollywood, and Washington DC and will open this year in London, Vieques, Puerto Rico, Koh Samui and St Petersburg, among other vibrant destinations.

The Tapestries depicting Emperor Charles V campaign against Tunis By Agnes Stillfried he lecture presents the splendid set of tapestries made to celebrate Emperor Charles V campaign against Tunis, Europe’s largest maritime operation until Napoleon’s Egyptian adventure, and the significance of this campaign in the context of politics and propaganda Habsburg in the battle against Suleiman the Magnificent. In addition, the lecture looks at the making of tapestries and their function in the context of courtly display. In 16th Europe series of large tapestries, woven by hand on huge looms using carefully-dyed silk, wool, and gold- and silver-threads, were among the most highly-regarded art-forms. Such precious tapestries were expensive and fragile and thus not permanently displayed. They were reserved for special occasions such as a royal wedding or the signing of an important treaty - documenting a ruler’s wealth and connoisseurship, and the splendour of his court. Difficult and time-consuming to produce, an artist would sometimes take eight weeks to finish a mere 1 m2, meaning a whole set could take years even with several weavers collaborating on a tapestry. One essential requirement was a detailed preparatory drawing - a cartoon - of the same size as the finished tapestry preferably by a well-known painter. One of the most spectacular sets of tapestries ever made celebrates the campaign against Tunis by the Habsburg Emperor Charles V, at the time the most powerful ruler in Europe. In 1535 he assembled a great army in Barcelona and set out to defeat Hayreddin Barbarossa, the ruler of Tunis, whose well-equipped fleet was menacing European shipping and trade


Photo taken yesterday at the Quai Branly museum in Paris, shows masks presented during the exhibition ‘Others Master Of India’ devoted to Indian indigenous populations and folk communities, known as Adivasis. The show will be held till July 18. —AFP

(From left) Camilla Al Fayed,Dascha Zhukova and Shana Seligson

in the western Mediterranean and who had supplanted the rightful ruler of Tunis, Mulay Hassan. Hayreddin Barbarossa was an ally of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, Charles’ most feared enemy, whose army had advanced to the gates of Vienna only a few years before, laying siege to the imperial capital in 1529. On his campaign against Tunis the Emperor was accompanied by his celebrated court painter, the Dutchman Jan Vermeyen, who recorded countless

detail the main participants, scenes of bravery in the various skirmishes and battles, the different fighting-techniques and arms of European and Arab warriors, as well as every-day scenes of women washing clothes in a river, frightened horses being unloaded from a barge, or sailors setting sails on a warship. Unusually, the spectacular tapestries were woven in Brussels - the foremost centre of this art in Europe not once but twice: the original 16th century set commissioned by Emperor

Agnes Stillfried details in drawings that capture everything from the fighting to the scenery, exotic animals to different arms and armour, the ancient Roman ruins of Carthage to a detailed view of the mediaeval walled city of Tunis - sketches that would serve Vermeyen well when he was commissioned to execute the twelve beautifully detailed cartoons for the tapestries celebrating this victory, ten of which are now in Vienna. The lecture looks at both the magnificent cartoons and the tapestries. They depict in sumptuous but realistic

Charles V is now in Madrid, but the fabulous cartoons remained in Vienna and Emperor Charles VI used them as models for a second set he commissioned in the 1710’s, almost 150 years later. The lecture looks at and compares both sets, and discusses their importance - and the importance of the actual campaign against Tunis - for the patron who commissioned them, Emperor Charles V, in his battle against his powerful adversary, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

31 Mar  
31 Mar  

Kuwait Times