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MOHARRAM 17, 1432 AH

‘World’s first’ glasses-free 3D TV hits stores in Japan

Muslim woman attacked outside US mosque PAGE 14


Dubai’s DP World sells 75% Australia stake PAGE 21

NO: 14947

150 FILS

Inter set to fire Benitez, Leonardo in wings PAGE 19

Zain can open books to Etisalat

NEW YORK: Saudi King Abdullah leaves hospital late on Tuesday. — AP

Saudi king leaves US hospital RIYADH: Saudi King Abdullah has left a New York hospital to convalesce, the royal court announced yesterday. King Abdullah left the hospital on Tuesday evening “for his New York residence for a period of convalescence and physiotherapy”, the court said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency. Saudi television showed Abdullah, about 86 years old, together with Health Minister Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, walking and smiling at hospital staff. There was no mention of when the king would return to Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah flew to New York on Nov 22 and was operated on two days later at New York Presbyterian Hospital for a debilitating herniated disc complicated by a haematoma that put pressure on his spine. That operation was declared a success. On Dec 4 he underwent surgery a second time to repair several vertebrae, a procedure that the court said had been planned by his doctors. The second operation too was declared a success but until yesterday no official news of his condition had been released. US Vice President Joe Biden paid a visit to the hospital and met with Abdullah’s family on Dec 15, the White House said, but apparently did not meet the king himself. Abdullah is credited with advancing much-needed reforms in the ultra-conservative Islamic state since he became king in 2005, and maintaining the country as a staunch ally of the United States. — Agencies

Dubai cuts sentences in slaying case DUBAI: A Dubai court yesterday slashed the prison terms for two men convicted in the 2009 slaying of a former Chechen warlord from life to just three years in a surprise ruling that highlighted the international intrigue surrounding the case. The Dubai Appeals Court judge gave no immediate reason for the decision, but the family of the slain Chechen strongman, Sulim Yamadayev, had submitted a letter disavowing any desire for further punishments in connection with the killing. Four other suspects remain at large, including Russian parliament member Adam Delimkhanov, and it’s unclear whether the family’s letter also could sway Dubai police to drop their demands for the suspects’ arrest. Delimkhanov has denied any link to the slaying. The justice system in the United Arab Emirates mixes Western codes with Islamic tenets, including giving weight to family appeals such as accepting “blood money” in exchange for leniency in murder cases. Continued on Page 14

Khateeb warns future of Kuwait is at stake Opposition MPs whip up sentiments by holding more rallies By B Izzak and A Sharaa

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki (right) meets Kuwait’s Ambassador to Iraq Ali AlMomen late on Tuesday. — AFP

Jordanians playing active role in Qaeda AMMAN: A prominent Jordanian-Palestinian militant recently killed in Afghanistan was a medical school dropout who joined Al-Qaeda after his heart was broken in a failed love affair, his friends and a Mideast counterterrorism official said yesterday. Haitham Mohammed AlKhayat, 26, better known in extremist circles as Abu Kandahar Al-Zarqawi, was an administrator of the online jihadi forum, Al-Hesbah, according to Islamist militant websites. The sites announced that he was killed by US forces Friday. He was among eight Jordanians killed or arrested in the militant hotbeds of Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen over recent

weeks. The killings and arrests highlight the active role Jordanian militants play in the Al-Qaeda terror network, undermining efforts by Jordan’s pro-American leader, King Abdullah II, to support the US war on terrorism. The websites and the official said Al-Khayat was an associate of the Jordanian-born doctor who blew himself up in a CIA outpost in eastern Afghanistan a year ago, killing seven CIA employees and a Jordanian intelligence officer. Humam Khalil Abu Mulal Al-Balawi, also known as Abu Dujana AlKhurasani, was a triple agent, recruited by Jordanian intelligence to provide Continued on Page 14

KUWAIT: Veteran politician and one of the founders of the 1962 constitution Ahmad AlKhateeb yesterday warned that the future of Kuwait and its democratic system were at stake and called on MPs to unite. “The National Assembly session on Dec 28, 2010 will be the most dangerous session to be witnessed by Kuwait,” Khateeb wrote in the weekly Al-Taleea newspaper, the mouthpiece of liberals in Kuwait. This is because “the future of Kuwait, democracy and the constitution will be determined”, said Khateeb, a highly respected politician who was elected to the Assembly several times, starting with the first Assembly. Khateeb called on MPs to unite and foil the conspiracy against the constitution, otherwise a coup will be carried out against the constitution. Three opposition lawmakers last week filed to grill the prime minister and the debate of the grilling is scheduled to be held on Dec 28 amid reports that at least 20 MPs will file a motion of non-cooperation with the prime minister. The grilling request was filed a few days after special forces used batons to beat up dozens of people at a public gathering, hurting four MPs and a dozen citizens. Opposition MPs have accused the government of plotting against the 1962 constitution with the aim to suppress public freedoms. Khateeb’s warning came as the Kuwaiti opposition continued to fiercely campaign Continued on Page 14

JEDDAH: A Saudi woman applies makeup on a model during a beauty and style competition on the sidelines of the 2010 Cosmetic Expo, a four-day exhibition held for the first time in Saudi Arabia, at a hotel in this coastal city late on Tuesday. — AFP

KUWAIT: A speaker adjusts his egal at a gathering at the residence of Khalid Al-Mutairi in Hadiya late yesterday. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

In poverty-struck Yemen, Al-Qaeda is a low priority SANAA: A doctor would have recognized the signs of chronic malnutrition immediately in the 7-month-old girl - the swollen stomach, the constant cough. Her mother, though, had only traditional healers to turn to in her Yemeni mountain village, and they told her to stop breastfeeding. Her milk had spoiled, they said. Their solution: stuff the baby’s nose with ghee. When that didn’t work, the young mother, Sayeda AlWadei, made the arduous 60mile journey through the mountains to the closest hospital with facilities to treat her daughter, in the capital Sanaa. More than 50 percent of Yemen’s children are malnourished, rivaling war zones like Sudan’s Darfur and parts of sub-Saharan Africa. That’s just one of many worrying statistics in Yemen. Nearly half the population lives below the poverty line of $2 a day and doesn’t have access to proper sanitation. Continued on Page 14

SANAA: A Yemeni boy suffering from chronic malnutrition is dressed by his mother and a nurse in a hospital in this Nov 10, 2010 photo. — AP

KUWAIT: A Kuwaiti court ruled yesterday that Kuwait-based Zain telecom can open its books for due diligence to the Emirati firm Etisalat which has offered to buy a majority stake in Zain. AlFawares Holding, a leading private investor in Zain, had filed a lawsuit against opening the books, on the grounds that it had not seen an official purchase offer from Etisalat. Al-Fawares, believed to own about five percent in Zain, also demanded that the Kuwaiti company should not be allowed to sell off its Saudi unit, a precondition for the Etisalat deal. “The case was dismissed,” said a court clerk, reading from the verdict, although the verdict can still be challenged before Kuwait’s appeals and supreme courts. In September, Etisalat said it had submitted an offer to the Kharafi Group, the largest private investor in Zain, to buy a majority stake for about $12 billion. Kharafi Group has a direct stake of 12.7 percent in Zain and an estimated indirect stake of at least seven percent. Etisalat, the Gulf’s biggest telecoms provider by market value, said last month it had signed a preliminary accord with Kharafi to buy 51 percent of Zain shares traded on the Kuwait Stock Exchange at KD 1.7 ($6.1) per share. Conditions it listed include the completion of satisfactory due diligence, obtaining all applicable regulatory approvals and no material adverse change in Zain’s business or financial and regulatory affairs. Due diligence and the other work required to reach definitive agreements would take a number of weeks, while the transaction is unlikely to close before the end of the first quarter of 2011, Etisalat said. Etisalat has already started the due diligence process about a month ago and Kuwaiti media reported yesterday that the United Arab Emirates company was close to completing the process. In a statement on Nov 3, Etisalat said its purchase proposal would terminate unless the parties have entered into “definitive transaction documents” by Jan 15. If concluded, the deal will be the region’s largest telecom transaction. Rashed Al-Radaan, Al Fawares’ lawyer, told Reuters the shareholder would appeal within the next few days. — Agencies

Dar appoints new panel of creditors DUBAI: Kuwaiti Islamic firm Investment Dar, which owns half of luxury carmaker Aston Martin, said yesterday it appointed a new panel of creditors to negotiate its debt restructuring after a previous committee quit over a disagreement. Dar has been trying to restructure about KD 1 billion ($3.55 billion) in debt since last year after the investment firm was hard hit by the global financial crisis. Four banks from the previous group remain on the coordinating committee and will be joined by two new lenders after a dispute over the terms of the restructuring led to a breakdown in negotiations in November. “...We are hoping that a restructuring can be achieved in the near future in the best interests of all TID’s stakeholders,” said Dar’s chairman Adnan AlMusallam in a statement. Jordan International Bank, ABC Islamic Bank, UK lender Lloyds TSB and Saudi’s Al Rajhi Bank retain their role on the committee, the statement said, while Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and Bahrain-based BBK complete the reinstated panel. Dar defaulted on a $100 million Islamic debt issue last year - the first on a major public Islamic instrument in the region - and has said it may sell some assets to meet its obligations. Dar last month accused the previous committee of trying to derail restructuring talks and rejected what it felt was an unfair debt to equity swap. — Agencies



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ahmadi residents panel to meet deputy premier KUWAIT: The committee formed to represent Ahmadi citizens affected by the ongoing gas leak crisis there is expected to meet shortly with the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, State Minister of Development and State Minister of Housing Affairs, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, in order to update him on the suffering of the area's residents, as well as the steps being taken to tackle the problem. Committee chairman Aydan AlKhaldi announced the upcoming meeting in a

press release issued on Tuesday, indicating that the bodies assigned to find a solution to the problem have so far failed to make any progress that corresponds with the promises and statements they have made through the media. In particular, he cited the still-unnamed American expert invited to visit the area to assess the situation, and the introduction of high-tech air purifying equipment to clear the leaked gas in the local atmosphere, reported

Al-Qabas. "All these promises were made, but the suffering of the area's residents is still increasing", he said. Al-Khaldi also asked about the reasons behind the delay in paying the affected residents the financial allowances introduced by the government for evacuated families. He further noted that the explosion which took place recently at a house in Block Four of the area indicates that the leaks have spread beyond Block One where they originated.

LONDON: Passengers queue outside Terminal 3 at London's Heathrow Airport yesterday to have their boarding passes checked, as disruption continues due to bad weather leading to the cancellation of many flights. — AP

Tickets shifted to other airlines

KAC 'doing utmost' to aid stranded Kuwaitis LONDON: Kuwait Airways Corporation has shifted Kuwaiti passengers to other airlines over the past two days as a result of closure of Heathrow Airport due to severe weather conditions prevailing across Europe. Walid Al-Muhanna, the chief regional director of the KAC in Europe and the director of the airways' office in London, said in a statement that the tickets of the Kuwaiti passengers were shifted to other airlines due to the closure of Heathrow Airport on Saturday and Sunday. The extraordinary shut-down of the air facility resulted in cancellation of booking particularly for passengers of the Monday flight, the KAC regional director said. He also explained that the KAC could not secure seats for a number of passengers on the plane that took off after improvement of the weather conditions. Elaborating, Al-Muhanna said the passengers of the Saturday flight boarded the plane at the airport, however the aviation authorities gave no permission for the pilots to take off, thus the plane remained on the runway till 6 pm in the hope they would allow it to fly once the has been improved. However, the British authorities remained adamant and ordered that the passengers descend from the aircraft. The 165 passengers were settled at a nearby hotel but their luggage remained onboard, in line with standard international aviation regulations, Al-Muhanna added. Explaining further, he said the KAC covered expenses of most of these passengers for the two-day stay at the hotel, and that they were allowed to fly early on Monday when the weather conditions improved. As to the Monday flight passengers, the KAC executive said that they received SMS

on their personal mobile telephone sets on Sunday, notifying them that the flight was cancelled as a result of the hard climatic conditions, adding that the airways had no information that the air facility would be partially open on Monday. The KAC, along with the other Arab as well as foreign aviation companies, had no information about the expected reopening of the airport. He said the KAC transported the passengers, along with a number of travelers who could not fly on Sunday, to the plane directly. He added that most of the passengers of the Monday flights departed on the Tuesday trip, and that a large number of them had been shifted to flights of other aviation companies. The KAC has asked the Heathrow Airport authorities to allocate an additional flight in the coming two days for the transportation of the remaining Kuwaitis. However, they have

refused due to logjam of many aircraft waiting permission for take-off. Explaining further, he said the Heathrow Airport is currently working partially with a single runway, expressing hope it will resume regular operations during the coming 48 hours. Trying to cope with the hard situation, namely presence of many passengers who have been stranded at the airport due to the frigid weather, the airport authorities have barred any passengers that have no confirmed flight booking from entering the facility. The KAC is sparing no effort in helping the passengers, particularly Kuwaiti patients, who have to stay in London for last two days due to the unavoidable situation, Al-Muhanna added. He indicated that 40 Kuwaitis remained at the hotel near the airport, adding that 777 giant planes was to fly from Kuwait to London as of Wednesday to transport the stranded passengers. — KUNA

'Investigate pork shipment' By A Saleh KUWAIT: MP Mohammad Hayef has demanded the formation of a parliamentary committee to investigate a "shipment of pork that entered Kuwait through customs," accusing finance minister Mustafa Al-Shamali of failing to "do anything about it." Nobody is above the law, Hayef insisted, demanding to know how an influential person could import a shipment of pork and carry it beyond the custom building's gates. The MP

asked why customs officials did not report the alleged shipment, accusing them of covering up the matter. Hayef said if laws are only to be selectively applied this is unacceptable. "We have known about this matter since Monday and we've waited for the finance minister to make a move, but nothing has been done." The MP also demanded answers to why officials apparently wrote of the shipment that "there are two bags of pork only."

Anwar Al-Nisf

Boy Scouts Open Day at Fun City KUWAIT: Boy Scouts from the Capital and Ahmadi educational zones are invited to take part in an Open Day at Entertainment City tomorrow, Friday December 24. The park will also remain open for regular visitors as well. In a statement made recently to the press, head of the activities and operations department of the Touristic Enterprises Company (TEC), Anwar Al-Nisf said that the special program was being held as part of TEC's commitment to providing quality services to its customers. He noted that visitors will be able to enter the park during normal working hours; from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.

KD85m misused in two years KUWAIT: Misuse of funds at the Supreme Council for the Disabled cost a total of KD 85 million in the two years between 2007 and 2009, according to a new State Audit Bureau report. Loans intended for aid, housing and educational loans for the disabled were amongst the misappropriated funds, said the head of the Kuwait Society for the Disabled on Tuesday. Speaking at a seminar held jointly between the society and the 11/11 Movement, Eyad AlShemmari urged the First Deputy Minister and the State Minister of Defense to take the appropriate action over this misuse of funds and refer those responsible to the Public Prosecution Service. The head of the disabled society also called on MPs, particularly the members of the parliamentary negative phenomena committee, to "commit themselves to their duties towards disabled citizens," insisting that if they did not do so they should resign from their posts.


Thursday, December 23, 2010


Scores subjected to horrific abuse

Indonesia demands guarantees to lift maid ban KUWAIT: Indonesia has no intention of allowing its female citizens to come to Kuwait to work as domestic helpers until more legislation is enforced in the Gulf state to safeguard their rights and protect them from abuse, according to officials who attended a recent meeting on the issue. According to a Kuwaiti insider who attended the meeting between senior Kuwaiti and Indonesian officials, including representatives of Kuwait's foreign, interior and labor ministries and officials from the

Indonesian Embassy, amongst them the ambassador, to discuss the current ban on Indonesian women coming to Kuwait to work as maids, the Indonesian administration is resolute about not doing so until further safeguards are in place. The ban has been in place since March of this year following a series of cases in which Indonesian maids were subjected to horrific abuse and forced to live in horrendous conditions. During the meeting, the Indonesian officials reportedly demanded that the Kuwaiti govern-

ment bodies issue official pledges guaranteeing the safety and protection of maids and assurances that there would be no recurrence of the previous incidents of abuse and illtreatment. The Kuwaiti government bodies' representatives refused these demands, however, insisting that since Kuwait is a state of law and that making official pledges to other countries conflicts with national legislation. The insider said that the Indonesian officials at the meeting

described Kuwait's record on workers' rights and combating human trafficking as "bad," and suggested that the suffering of domestic workers in the country is increasing as a result of the lack of legislation protecting their rights, citing a number of cases in which maids were either deported or chose to return home due to abuse. The insider stressed that the Kuwaiti government is already a signatory to several labor exchange treaties with Indonesia, which opened the door to hiring more

Indonesian domestic workers, adding that the percentage of Indonesians amongst the maids fleeing abusive employers who are currently staying at the Khairan Shelter for Protecting Workers from Human Trafficking is the lowest number among all the nationalities represented. The Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior (MoI) previously suspended the recruitment of Indonesian domestic workers following protest from the Indonesian government over their abuse. The suspension was subse-

quently lifted after the two governments signed a series of treaties regulating the recruitment process. This made it more difficult than previously to recruit Indonesian domestic workers, leading to recruitment costs rising. The insider noted that Kuwait has already introduced legislation providing more protection for expatriate workers, which came as part of a series of similar moves by the Kuwaiti government intended to clamp down on human trafficking, which were acknowledged by inter-

national organizations. The insider also suggested that the Indonesian officials' stance on this issue may be based on the US State Department's human rights report, which was highly critical of Kuwait. He stressed that Kuwait has so far come up with several measures to counter some of the human rights-related problems referred to in the report, as well as revealing that more meetings are planned in the future between officials from the two nations in order to resolve this outstanding problem.

local spotlight

Expatriates’ crimes! By Muna Al-Fuzai


lthough it is common to see pictures of expatriates being arrested for various crimes in Kuwait the subject of increased crimes amongst the expat community should not be taken lightly. Authorities and NGOs in Kuwait ought to consider carrying out a series of annual surveys to examine the communities that contribute the most to crime and examine the nature of those crimes. It is not only the authorities' responsibility to curb crime in this country but everyone's, especially citizens. Is it unfair of us to accuse expats of being behind so many crimes? Of course not. I want to see more interest from organized groups on why expats turn toward crime, especially Asian communities. Authorities recently arrested two Asian expats for selling drugs on behalf of a drug dealer currently doing time behind bars. It is strange that sending people to prison for years isn't enough to keep them from getting involved in illegal and harmful activities. Perhaps sending drug dealers to prison for 20 years isn't enough. I believe that those who are sentenced to be deported should be sent out of the country immediately following their prison sentences. They should not be kept in our country any longer than they need to be and should not ever be allowed to enter the country again. I also think it would be helpful for the embassy of a person who is arrested to work with the Ministry of Interior to find out the criminal's motive.

Cairo hosts Arab League ESC special session

KUWAIT: The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bhutan, Dasho Sherub Tenzin hosted a reception at Crowne Plaza hotel on Monday to commemorate the 103rd National Day of his country. Senior officials, diplomats and media personalities attended the event. — Photos by Joseph Shagra

Grazing sites allotment KUWAIT: The Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR) committee reviewing applications for 300 1,250-squaremeter livestock grazing sites in Jahra, Wafra and Kabad has recommended that those farmers who send their livestock to other countries for grazing should be ineligible to receive them. Many livestock farmers prefer to rear their animals in Saudi Arabia where fodder is cheaper than in Kuwait, reported Al-Qabas. One PAAAFR insider said that the decision

was taken in an effort to encourage local livestock farmers to have their animals regularly inspected and inoculated. The insider explained that the PAAAFR would not accept, recognize or accredit any certificates of inspection and inoculation from Saudi Arabia, even if the farmer had been given official permission to rear the animals there. The committee has already prepared lists of potential beneficiaries to be given the grazing sites in Kuwait, the insider added.

CAIRO: The Economic and Social Council (ESC) of the Arab League held an exceptional session at the ministerial level here yesterday with a stress put on coordinating Arab financial and economic policies to avert direct and indirect repercussions of global financial crisis. Delegation of the State of Kuwait to the session was led by Minister of Finance Mustafa Jassem Al-Shimali and included director of the economic department at the foreign ministry Sheikh Ali AlKhalid and Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance for Economic Affairs Sami Al-Saqabi and Kuwait's representative to the Arab League ambassador Jamal Al-Ghoneim. Omani Minister of Economy and president of the current session Ahmad bin Abdulnabi Al-Makki lauded the resolutions made by the economic summit that was held in Kuwait in January 2009 and led to positive results that will serve the Arab joint economic and social action. Al-Makki said in an opening address before the session that the global economy started to recover from the worst wave of recession since the World War II, "though it sees key transformations with emerging economies like China, India making progress at the expense of the conventional economic powers." Further, he made clear that some industrial powers feel the brunt of an unprecedented hike in the number of jobless, while there are some industrial countries suffering from recession, warning that the global economy is still experi-

encing the after-effects of the global crisis including the debt crisis in Greece and Ireland and talk about a currency war with fears that it may expand to include the Arab countries.—KUNA

KUWAIT: The Ahmadi Fire Department organized a blood donation drive in the fire fighting and prevention departments in cooperation with the Blood Bank on Tuesday. The campaign's goal was to urge people to donate blood in an attempt to replenish the Blood Bank's supply.

GUST student wins journalism award at Kuwait Youth Forum KUWAIT: A student at Kuwait's Gulf University for Science and Technology won the Best Journalistic Coverage Award at the recent First Annual Kuwait Youth Information Forum, beating stiff competition from numerous other candidates for the title. Despite currently studying for a Computer Science degree at GUST, the student, Ali Al-Fadhli, who writes for the GUST Times campus newspaper, explained that his passion for news and current affairs drove him to submit his work to the competition. As well as simply offering recognition of his talent, the award will give him an opportunity to meet major figures in the local media industry. The event also gave him and other students a chance to discover career opportunities with the media bodies represented at the exhibition that took place outside the conference hall. The two-day forum, which took place under the patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, was organized by Kuwait University's media faculty, and offered students from across Kuwait the chance to find out more

about media careers and participate in competitions in media-related fields, including journalism, photography, TV, radio and Public Relations, including further prizes in sub-categories of these fields. Dr. Massoud Assad, the director of GUST's Public Relations department, was one of the main speakers at the event, chairing one of the panel discussions on how best to attain success in the highly competitive media industry. The inaugural address at the forum was delivered by Mathi Al-Khamees, the General Secretary of the committee which organized the event. In it, he welcomed the distinguished guests, who included information minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah, education minister Dr. Moudhi Al-Humoud, and a large number of media figures and dignitaries from Kuwait and other countries across the Middle East. These included Al-Rai TV presenter Abdullah Boftain, Al-Watan TV presenter Eman Najim, MBC Lebanon presenter Nishan and former Moroccan foreign minister Mohammad Bin Essa.



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Malaysian measures to rejuvenate economy Investment seminar in Kuwait By Ben Garcia KUWAIT: An investment seminar entitled ‘Investment and Trade Opportunities in Malaysia’ was conducted at Sheraton Hotel in Kuwait City yesterday. Dato Ashaary Sani, Ambassador of Malaysia to Kuwait, hosted the event with Mohammad Ismail Abu Bakar, the Director and Consul Investment Development Authority (Mida) and Dato Dzulkifli Mahmud, the Senior Trade Commissioner of the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade). The event was part of their extensive economic program aimed at strengthening and encouraging foreign investors to invest in Malaysia, especially following the global financial crisis.

KUWAIT: (From left to right) Special Olympics athletes Ibrahim Al-Bazzaz, Lulwa Al-Sharah and Fahad Al-Hassawi are seen in the Special Olympics Kuwait section at the Kuwait Sports Club for the disabled yesterday. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

SOK supports disabled Kuwaiti athletes By Nawara Fattahova KUWAIT: There are about 1,000 Kuwaitis with mental disabilities and some of them are athletes who have won awards and been recognized in international championships. These individuals are members of the Special Olympics Kuwait (SOK), an organization established in Kuwait in 1993 under the umbrella of the Special Olympics International. The SOK is located in the Kuwait Sports Club for the Disabled in Hawalli. According to Dr Raouf El-Kady, SOK’s National Director, their office is too small to contain the number of people they attract. “We have to have them come in groups because we can’t take them all at one time,” he said. “In Kuwait there is only this one club, we need to have another. These individuals only have their hobbies so we should provide them with more opportunities,” he told the Kuwait Times. The government plays a role in helping the disabled because they have more needs. “Many of these individuals are talented and have made great achievements,” El-Kady continued. “Encouraging them to practice their hobbies and participate internationally in championships requires financial support from the government. We are hosting a campaign to

encourage companies to support this group of disabled people.” The campaign will be run under the slogan ‘Step up for their dreams’ and one dirham of every Procter and Gamble’s purchase will be donated to Special Olympics MENA. There are 23 Arab member countries in MENA. Special Olympics MENA supports members of the Kuwait chapter by paying for the expenses of disabled athletes when they participate in world championships. This includes their accommodations, food, and other expenses apart from tickets, El-Kady explained. “With this campaign we focus on talented athletes in order to help them improve their abilities and integrate them into society with able bodied individuals,” he said. “We need the financial support of companies because we provide all the services for the mentally disabled. It’s both charity and humanitarian work. Their participation in sports and activities gives them more selfconfidence,” he concluded. The Kuwait Times met with three of the disabled athletes at the club yesterday. Speaker for the SOK, Ibrahim Al-Bazzaz said that he has benefited a lot from being a member of SOK and participating in different championships. “I got into better shape by participating in

sports,” Al-Bazzaz said. I play basketball, hockey and running. I have participated in games and competitions at the local, regional and international levels since 2001. This year was my last competition and I hope to become an assistant coach for the Special Olympics and to be a world spokesman.” Ibrahim, 28, has earned a gold medal in basketball in China. He has participated in several different championships since 2001 in Ireland, Syria, the USA, Dubai and China. He follows different sports events on TV and cheered for the Kuwait national football team during the recent Gulf Cooperative Council Cup. Fahad Al-Hassawi, a 20year-old disabled athlete is a champion swimmer. He has been a member of SOK since 2005. Besides swimming he also enjoys playing football and basketball. “I achieved an Olympic gold medal in Syria this year and my dream is to become a famous football star. My idol is disabled Kuwaiti swimmer Mishal AlRsheid,” he said. Lulwa Al-Sharah came into the club with her parents. She is a 13-year-old student at the Dasman Bilingual School and because of her age she has only been allowed to participate in local championships. She has excelled in many sports and has achieved medals as well. “I par-

ticipate in bowling and swimming,” she said. “I like to travel, and I went with my family to London, China, and Bahrain.” Lulwa loves drawing and has been recognized in many festivals and competitions, such as the Burgan Bank Annual Drawing Competition. She was the only Kuwaiti child selected to attend as a child champion in the Olympics held in China. SOK Mission: Is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competitions in a variety of Olympic-type sports for individuals with mental disabilities by giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. Their targets include; increasing the number of SOK athletes in Kuwait, increasing the number of internal sports games, involving more families in the programs, increasing the number of volunteers, focusing on the Unified Sports Program, implementing the Healthy Athlete Program, Expanding the Athletes Leadership Program, publishing an SOK magazine at the end of the year, and increasing public awareness through TV advertisements.

in the news

KUWAIT: Officers from the General Department of Drugs Control (GDDC) arrested a Pakistani drug dealer in the Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh area, confiscating heroin and narcotic tablets from his possession. On being questioned, the man admitted that he had arranged with his customers to hide the drugs near trash dumpsters for them to pick up, with the ‘clients’ leaving the money to pay for the drugs in empty cigarette packets. — Photo by Hanan Al-Saadoun

Price increase KUWAIT: Rises of up to 10 percent in the prices of staple foodstuffs are imminent, according to a senior official with the Kuwait Union of Consumer Cooperative Societies (KUCCS), who said that the increases were forced by the demands of food importers who have complained that they are having to cover the costs of higher food prices in the foodstuffs’ countries of origin. Mohammad AlJabri, the head of the KUCCS’ price supervision committee, revealed the upcoming price rises in a press release issued on Tuesday, indicating that the suppliers are demanding increases in the prices of dietary staples, including rice, wheat, cooking oil and chicken. Al-Jabri stressed that price rises could not be approved until the KUCCS receives official documentation proving the price increases in the countries of origin, reported Al-Rai. The senior Co-op official also noted that Co-op regulations ensure that price increases cannot exceed 10 percent, adding that the KUCCS members would resort to collective wholesale buying to prevent any increases from rising above that percentage. KAC retirees’ funds KUWAIT: The chairman of Kuwait Airways’ (KAC) founding committee is reportedly set to brief the cabinet on the options for the distribution of KD 120 million allocated to settling the claims of 948 retired former KAC staff. Commenting on the news, a senior official with the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) predicted that the committee chairman, Mutlaq Al-Sane’, would discuss various possible means of distributing the monies during a meeting on Sunday.

Malaysia offers many relaxed investment opportunities, especially in the manufacturing and services sectors, Sani pointed out. He added that Malaysia guarantees 100 percent foreign equity ownership regardless of the level of exports and that there are no restrictions imposed on foreign companies investing in Malaysia. “In 2009, a $21 billion stimulus fund was injected into our economy, creating jobs and other opportunities for Malaysians and investors,” the ambassador explained. “We have a resilient economy, even in troubled times we have been able to fully manage our economy.” Sani added that the Malaysian government introduced several programs and measures to rejuvenate their economy and further enhance their economic competitiveness. He also thanked Kuwait for their unwavering interest, not just economically with investment and business but also for the recorded 20,000 Kuwaiti tourists who visited the country in 2009. “Malaysia was truly grateful to Kuwaitis, especially those who chose our country as their place for leisure and entertainment. Malaysian tourism is a driving force that keeps our economy vibrant,” he admitted. Rashid Al-Tabtabaei, Kuwait’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry praised Kuwait’s relationship with Malaysia, especially in trade and economic exchange. “For a long time now we have engaged in several economic activities,” he said. “The commercial exchange between our two countries started in 1975 and since then trade and commercial activities

KUWAIT: Dato Ashaary Sani and Rashid Al-Tabtabae at the seminar yesterday. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Some of the attendees listening to a presentation have flourished,” Tabtabae continued. “In 2008, based on our records, commercial exchange reached its peak. Malaysian exports to Kuwait reached approximately $280 million while Kuwaiti exports to Malaysia reached $33 million. It

decreased a little bit in 2009 because of the effect of the global financial crisis, but again in 2010 the trend is getting stronger.” According to Tabtabaei, Malaysia is known amongst foreign investors for having the

best facilities and trade packages to offer. “Our goal is to enhance our investment chances. We are a capital market, we have cash and we need those with Malaysia’s caliber to protect our investments,” he said.

Govt doing well in higher education KUWAIT: Despite recent concerns over the numbers of available university places, the Kuwaiti government has been largely successful in meeting demands from Kuwaiti school-leavers for further education in the country. According to recently-released figures, in 2008-09 the Ministry of Education (MoE) was able to provide 21,553 places at Kuwait University and the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET) for local students,

along with places at local private universities, although the number of high school graduates for this period came to only 20,652. Although KU has been criticized for operating at near-capacity level, the university administration is currently working hard to resolve this problem, offering several solutions, including increasing faculty members’ working hours to provide flexibility for students and an increased number of lectures.

The PAAET, meanwhile, is undertaking an extensive program of work to improve quality and performance levels there, with preparations underway to open four new facilities for its basic education and commercial studies faculties. These new buildings in Ardiya, covering a total area of 950,000 square meters, will have sufficient capacity for 25,000 students of both genders and will replace the faculties’ current buildings in Adailiya and Shamia.

KOC signs contract for new hospital KUWAIT: KOC has signed a contract with the Sayed Hamid Behbehani Contracting Company to construct the new Ahmadi Hospital for oil sector employees and their families at a cost of KD 86 million. The new contract was announced yesterday by Sheikh Talal Al-Khalid AlSabah, the official oil sector spokesman, who revealed that

the new 80,000 square-meter facility will take approximately 40 months to complete and will be furnished with the latest medical equipment. Sheikh Talal added that the new project would be a great help to the services provided by the hospital to oil sector personnel and their families. Speaking after the signing ceremony, KOC chairman and

Managing Director Sami AlRushaid said that the new, 300-bed hospital will not only serve KOC employees but the whole oil sector. The new facility represents the company’s strategic vision in developing medical services to benefit all oil sector employees and their families, especially since it will feature many different sections covering all

major medical specialties, he added. Al-Rushaid voiced hope that KOC and the Sayed Hamid Behbehani Contracting Company would work in unison as one body to complete the project to the highest quality within the allocated timeframe, and stressed the importance of health and safety and the environment.



Thursday, December 23, 2010

kuwait digest

Steps in the right path By Walid Al-Rujaib uring his meeting with prominent Kuwaiti intellectuals and artists this Monday, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah asserted that the Cabinet is keen to support the ambitions of members of both these groups through the development plan as part of its commitment to investing in the country’s human resources. A couple of days earlier, newspapers reported that Kuwait Municipality had approved a request to allocate a site in the Capital area to be used to build an Opera House, in addition to other locations at each governorate for building theaters and cultural centers. Those two events are steps along the right path of achieving development, which should focus on culture and education to the same degree it does on construction, if not more so. All construction projects will fail to achieve the desired goals if parallel steps aren’t taken to develop public thinking; Kuwait needs to produce intelligent and well-informed individuals capable of running the advanced buildings and operations being undertaken. The development of nations is measured by achievements made by the people, not by the structures built for them. Unfortunately, the current state and level of education and culture in Kuwait - which used to be a pioneer in these two fields - have regressed significantly in recent years, resulting in young people graduating from schools and universities with weak educational levels. Therefore, HH the Prime Minister’s promise to intellectuals and artists to green light the establishment of cultural centers, will help to achieve the ambitions we’ve always aspired to and would see Kuwait’s former reputation for artistic and intellectual excellence restored. — Al-Rai


KUWAIT: Najeeb Al-Mejren, one of the owners of Waffle & Steak makes a fresh cut on the tree to assist with water uptake. — Photos by Wendy Clayton

Shipment from Nova Scotia, Canada KUWAIT: Nicole Collins and her daughter Sophia lift out the first Christmas tree.

300 real Christmas trees available for pick-up By Wendy Clayton KUWAIT: A lengthy customs process to release more than 300 Christmas trees from Shuw aikh port finally came to an end last night. The trees arrived in Kuw ait more than a w eek ago but the long paperw ork process meant the trees did not leave the port until last night. An excited Nicole Collins, w ho

KUWAIT: Nicole and daughter Sophia excitedly hug a Christmas tree.

Customers had been notified on Dec 15 that the trees had been cleared and were scheduled to be available for pick-up beginning Dec 16. However, a distraught Collins had to notify everyone that there had been another glitch in customs and would take a few more days. The Balsam Fir Christmas trees have come all the way from Nova Scotia, Canada in a humidity controlled 40 foot container. The trees range in size from six feet to 10 feet in height. Collins was not worried about the condition of the trees upon arrival but more about their availability before Christmas Day. People began to gather at the pick-up point at the Waffle and Steak car park in

arranged the import of the trees, said she w as relieved that the venture w as finally going to be realized. “It’s been a very frustrating process but people have been so supportive,” said Collins. “It hasn’t deterred me though. I w ill do it again next year but advertise a little earlier. Now I know the process required by customs, hopefully next time it w ill be smoother.”

Mangaf last night to await the arrival of the truck carrying the precious cargo. “The owners of Waffle and Steak have been fantastic,” said Collins. “They have allowed us to use their premises for the pickup of the trees and to display them in the front of the store.” Cheers went up as the truck pulled into the car park. Once the container was offloaded the doors were opened, greeting everyone with the glorious aroma of fresh pine. “Now it feels like Christmas,” said Sophia Collins, daughter of Nicole Collins. “I just want to dive in on the trees.” Arriving in Kuwait last night after being away working, Austrian Ralph Kindl said, “For me Christmas without a real tree isn’t Christmas. When my wife picked me up from

the airport and said we had to go straight to Mangaf to pick-up the tree I was excited.” He added that although it wasn’t an Austrian Christmas tree he was happy to have a Canadian one. “We have lots of trees left,” said Collins. “It would be a shame if they didn’t all get decorated. I’m encouraging everyone to come down to Mangaf and pick out one of our beautiful, fresh smelling Nova Scotia Christmas trees.” Collins said that those who have trees already, real or artificial, should come take a look at the quality of the trees she has. Christmas trees can be picked up from the Waffle and Steak car park on Gulf Road in Mangaf between 5pm - 10pm or call Nicole Collins at 9009-1103.



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Police officers assaulted in Nugra

Egyptian outlaw in Salmiya police net KUW AIT: Sa lmiya investiga tors a rrested a n Egyptia n w oma n for being involved in severa l crimes throughout the country. An investiga tion w a s la unched by the Genera l Depa rtment for Crimina l Investiga tions a fter they received informa tion rega rding her illega l a ctivity. The w oma n w a s a rrested a fter she unknow ingly sold

Scam artist In two separate incidents a scam artist fooled two women into signing ownership of their vehicles over to him, reported AlWatan. In both cases the women informed police at the Salmiya police station and explained that they were approached by a person at a coffee shop in the Free Trade Zone. They said that he convinced them to sign documents that would allow them to get service on their vehicles free of charge and didn’t realize that they were actually signing over their vehicle to him. Police are searching for the suspect.

Absconding w ife

kuwait digest

We are all responsible By MP Ali Al-Rashid hat we need today, as our country goes through this decisive phase in its history, is the voice of wisdom to light our way and lead us on the path where a bright future awaits. At this time we need opinions to be expressed calmly and for all differences to be put aside in order to achieve cooperation and open a new door of hope for the public. What we need today is to give our attention to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah who has been working restlessly for the welfare and development of Kuwait ever since he assumed his duty as the ruler of the state. A quick review of HH the Amir’s tenure shows great accomplishments, such as the separation of the Crown Prince and Prime Minister positions, allowing MPs to send questions to the head of the Cabinet, expanding freedoms, enforcing the political rights of women, the democratic shift of power, the five-constituencies law of elections that addressed the flaws of the previous 25-constitunecies system, the enforcement of the press law and allowing citizens the freedom to launch


newspapers and TV stations as well as the much anticipated development plan. HH the Amir has always been keen on protecting MPs’ right to practice their legislative and monitory role without restriction. This was the message he always conveyed. Despite all the political turmoil or crises we have been through, HH the Amir never lost hope. He always stressed the importance of putting Kuwait ahead of all other interests to the Cabinet, the parliament and the public. But there are individuals who always elevate their personal conflicts above the public good. Those individuals have faced opposition, which has contributed toward political turmoil. Unable to secure support for their causes their attempts to obstruct the work of the parliament and Cabinet have failed. Part of our duty as parliamentarians is to support the country’s development plan, which the public is eager to see finally get achieved. A group of us decided to stand side by side with the government in order to achieve this goal and support ministers’ attempts to reform the country and defend them from slander. This stance has come at a price unfortunately. We have been

accused of betrayal, among other things, and have decided to overlook these accusations in order to focus on our goals of achieving development and political stability. Those who believe that raising tension is the best way to secure political gains and popularity among voters are still causing turmoil on the political scene. Despite the fact that their right to express themselves in parliament, in the media or in public seminars was never taken away from them they did the few things they were told to specifically avoid. They enticed the public and called on people to confront the authorities in total disregard of the state’s responsibility to maintain order and enforce the law. Therefore, I believe that the stance of those who contradict our opinion nowadays is a challenge to the authority of the law and the state. I urge them to refrain from their current actions, which is unprecedented in the history of Kuwait and contributes toward a trend in society that will affect everyone in the future. We are all responsible for preventing that from happening. — Al-Qabas

Arab interior, justice ministers ink five deals

KUWAIT: The Public Authority for Youth and Sport signed a KD793,930 contract recently with a local general trading and real estate company to establish a gymnasium and diving pool at the Kuwait Sports Club. The contract signing was attended by the PAY’s chairman of the board of directors Dr. Fuad Al-Falah, in addition to other PAY officials including deputy CEO Mohammad Al-Mas’oud, board members Husain Al-Blushi and Osama AlThuwaikh, deputy managing director assistant for youths affairs Jassem Yaqoub, deputy managing director assistant for constructions and maintenance Essam Jaafar, as well as secretary of the Kuwait club Waleed AlRashid.

Al-Awadhi backs ‘uprising’ KUWAIT: MP Dr. Aseel Al-Awadhi has expressed her support for the parliamentary antigovernment ‘Anything But the Constitution’ coalition, saying, “We hope that the constitutional uprising by our fellow MPs will continue and result in freedoms, and that they will support amendments to the [existing] laws so that they agree with the constitution.” Dr. Al-Awadhi was referring specifically to the bill which she intends to submit to parliament to introduce amendments to the current publishing and audio-visual media legislation and the penal-

ties imposed for violating them, particularly to the abolition of jail terms as a penalty in cases related to freedom of opinion. The MP explained that, if passed, her proposed amendments would see the removal of some of the existing restrictions on print and audiovisual media. They would also limit the degree of litigation to which defendants could be subjected and minimize interference from the Ministry of Information to prevent it from having a supervisory role over the country’s media or being a party to media-related disputes.

CAIRO: Arab interior and justice ministers concluded their joint meeting here yesterday by signing five agreements targeting closer cooperation in the security and judicial domains. The conventions mainly aim to further reinforce and develop inter-Arab cooperation in the field of fighting money laundering, terrorism, corruption, transnational organized crime and information technology crimes. Under the deals, the Arab countries will have to adopt allout systems to control and supervise banks and financial institutions, and to share intelligence by means of establishing financial investigation units to collect and analyze information bearing on money laundering operations and financing terrorism. The agreements emphasize that the civil society should play a role in combating corruption and mass media should shy away from doing anything that could contribute to impunity, and boost public awareness about fighting corruption. Eyewitnesses, experts and victims should be protected, and national authorities and private sectors ought to work together to fight corruption. Earlier in the day, Saudi Second Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Naif bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud said in a keynote speech that the Arab anti-terrorism convention was an unprecedented move by Arab countries to fight terror. The Saudi minister, who is also the honorary chairman of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, stressed the significance of the agreement in reinforcing Arab security and ensuring public safety. Development, building and prosperity can be created through an atmosphere that is free of terrorism, crime and corruption, he requested. National stability is based on the provision of security and justice, the Saudi official said, calling for unmercifully combating such crimes. —KUNA

After returning home from a trip abroad, a citizen discovered that his Asian wife fled the country with their five-year-old daughter. After returning home and discovering that his wife and child were no longer there he filed a case with authorities.

Officers assaulted Police arrested a person for physically assaulting and insulting police officers in Nugra, reported Al-Watan. The incident occurred when a driver, upset about being issued a traffic ticket for refusing to move from a no parking zone, got out of his vehicle, called a friend and assaulted the police

illega l drugs to a n undercover police informa nt. An investiga tion revea led tha t the w oma n w a s in possession of a box of imported liquor a s w ell a s severa l illega l Ca pta gon pills a nd w a s involved in providing her customers w ith prostitutes. She w a s referred to the proper a uthorities.

officer and his partner. One of the officers was struck in the head with a brick and slightly injured. Police responded to the scene of the incident and arrested the rowdy driver but were unable to apprehend his accomplice.

Fatal fall A construction worker was killed after he fell off a building under construction in Ashbiliya, reported Al-Qabas. The 37-yearold Arab man lost his balance and fell to the ground while working from a high location. Paramedics responded to the scene of the incident and pronounced the man dead as a result of a severe trauma to the head.

Attempted rape Police arrested a construction worker in Mubarak Al-Kabeer who attempted to sexually assault a maid outside of her sponsor’s house, reported Al-Rai. The laborer assaulted the woman while doing construction work in front her sponsor’s home but was chased away by the sponsor who intervened. The assailant was arrested later by police and now faces charges of attempted rape.

Scam artist Hawally investigators arrested a young

man for disappearing with KD 70,000 given to him by a woman who thought she was going to marry him. An investigation was launched by authorities in search of the scam artist after the woman filed a case against him. She informed police that she gave him the money because he said he would use it to build their future home. She said that she filed the case with authorities when she found she could not get in touch with him and realized that she had been scammed. After being questioned by authorities the man admitted to buying a brand new KD 35,000 car and traveling abroad.

Stray bullet An Indian man was admitted to Jahra Hospital after being struck by a stray bullet in the shoulder. The victim was brought to the hospital by a citizen who found him lying on the ground and calling for help. An investigation was launched by authorities in search of the shooter.

Conman held A Jordanian was recently arrested by authorities at a police checkpoint, reported Al-Anba. He was wanted for not paying his phone bill and renting cars with stolen civil IDs. He was referred to the proper authorities.

GCC states set to reap great benefits from monetary merger KUWAIT: The Gulf Cooperation Council states will reap substantial benefits as a result of realizing monetary merger such as promoting inter-Gulf trade and limiting risks, said an eminent Kuwaiti academician yesterday. Dr Mohammad Al-Saqqa, professor of economics at Kuwait University, said in a session, held yesterday, of the “Conference on Political and Economic Transformations and their Impacts in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula,” that joining the monetary union results in much benefits for the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, namely cutting costs of transactions, limiting risks that exist dealing with diverse currencies, increasing inter-Gulf trade and encouraging investments among these countries. Common features of the GCC states, namely language, religion, geographical location, history and culture should be helpful for speeding up the establishment of the joint GCC federation ahead of issuing the single GCC currency, Dr Saqqa added. The issuance of a single GCC currency was first raised with the establishment of the council in 1981. The GCC leaders during their summit, held in Bahrain in 2000, decided to peg the currencies of the GCC states to the US dollar. Finance ministries and governors of the GCC countries were tasked with drafting a schedule for the establishment of the monetary federation and issuing the common currency. GCC states, Prof Saqqa affirms, face various economic challenges notably the excessive dependence on oil for national income, defects in the spending systems and the public sector control of economic activities. The conference, organized by the Center for Strategic and Future Studies at the Kuwait University kicked off on Monday. The conference, held under auspices of Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr Moudhi AlHumoud, was due to conclude later yesterday. Dr Fuad Al-Afiri, professor of administrative auditing and deputy rector of the College of Business Administration faculty of the Yemeni Ibb University, presented the conferees with a study shedding light on pros and cons of joining the common currency system in the Gulf. In the study, the Yemeni academician shed light on deep complications facing such a move, in the shadow of effects of the global

KUWAIT: The Minister of Education and Minister of Higher Education Dr Moudhi Al-Humoud officially inaugurated yesterday the Jabriya Public Library, in an event that was attended by several Education Ministry officials including Undersecretary Tamadher Al-Sadairawi, in addition to MPs Dr Aseel Al-Awadhi and Dr Rola Dashti and other dignitaries. — Photos by Fouad Al-Shaikh

KPC commences second phase of solar power project KUWAIT: Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) said here yesterday it has agreed with the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) for launching the second phase of solar power generation in the Kuwaiti oil sector. The project aims to carry out solar energy applications in the oil sector as experimental projects to assess its actual performance technically and economically, the KPC said in a release.

Such experimental applications would allow the KPC to develop its resources in the field of solar energy uses, and to ensure that it is performing properly, it said. They would also lead to the development of technical specifications that meet Kuwaiti environmental requirements so as to ensure the optimal exploitation of available resources, it added. The second phase of the project involves two key applications; the first aims to use

solar cells for power generation, while the second targets the use of solar thermal energy for supplying oil collection centers with thermal energy, it noted. The fresh experiment is anticipated to provide 20-30 percent of the current energy consumption rate, it said, expecting it to cut pollution caused by the use of gas in heating. The second phase of the project will start in the first quarter of 2011, the KPC pointed out. — KUNA

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Iranian, Afghan leaders in Turkey for summit ANKARA: Iranian, Iraqi and Afghan presidents have arrived in Turkey to attend a regional summit on economic cooperation as well as bilateral talks about border tensions. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iraq's President Jalal Talabani are scheduled to meet Turkish leaders yesterday ahead of today's Economic Cooperation Organization meeting in Istanbul. The summit aims to build closer trade ties between the countries in the Middle East and Asia. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zerdari are expected to meet separately Friday in another round of Turkish-sponsored talks aimed at reducing tensions over militant attacks along the countries' border. Turkey is eager to play a role to find a solution to the ongoing conflicts in the region. —AP



Al-Qaeda insurgents threatened more attacks

Iraqi churches cancel Christmas festivities KIRKUK: Iraqi Christians yesterday called off Christmas festivities across the country as Al-Qaeda insurgents threatened more attacks on a beleaguered community still terrified from a bloody siege at a Baghdad church two months earlier. Church officials in the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul,

ISTANBUL: A picture taken on June 7, 2010 shows Turkish President Abdullah Gul (R) shaking hands with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmedinejad before their meeting at Ciragan Palace in Istanbul. Ahmadinejad heads to Turkey today for a regional summit. —AFP

Israel moves to counter Gaza militants' new weapon JERUSALEM: Israel will deploy tanks equipped with a new defense system along the Gaza border after Palestinian militants for the first time used a sophisticated, tank-piercing missile believed to be the most advanced weapon in their arsenal. Israeli defense officials said the laser-guided Kornet came from Iran, the top backer of Gaza's Hamas rulers. Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah guerrillas, also backed by Iran, used the Russian-made Kornets in their 2006 war against Israel, destroying or damaging several dozen Israeli tanks. The Palestinian use of Kornet missiles, confirmed by Israel's military chief on Tuesday, marks a new milestone for Gaza militants, who have steadily built up their arsenal from a collection of crude, homemade rockets to include more menacing imported weapons. Israel's answer is called Trophy, a first-of-its-kind Israeli-made system carried by tanks that is designed to shoot down missiles like the Kornet. The system, mounted on the side of a tank, detects an incoming missile and fires a projectile at it, destroying it, according to video of a test provided by the developer. Violence has been escalating along the Gaza border in recent weeks. In his parliamentary testimony Tuesday, Israel's military chief, Lt. Gen. Gabi

Ashkenazi, confirmed militants fired a Kornet missile for the first time earlier this month, and it penetrated an Israeli tank. He called the missile "one of the most dangerous in the battlefield." Ashkenazi said. He said the missile did not explode inside the tank, and no one was hurt. The Israeli defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss such matters publicly, provided no proof to support their claim that the laser-guided missile came from Iran. Also, it was not clear how it was delivered. Hamas controls a network of smuggling tunnels along Gaza's southern border with Egypt, though Egypt has pledged to crack down on smuggling. Hamas has not confirmed or denied possessing the missiles. In the wake of the recent attack, the military decided to move to the Gaza border dozens of tanks equipped with the Israeldeveloped Trophy system, which detects incoming projectiles and shoots them down before they reach armored vehicles. Production of the Trophy was stepped after the 2006 war against Hezbollah. The Trophy has not yet been tried on the battlefield, though the Defense Ministry says it has been tested successfully against a variety of weapons, including Kornets. —AP

"Nobody can ignore the threats of Al-Qaedaa gainst Iraqi Christians," said Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako in Kirkuk. "We cannot find a single source of joy that makes us celebrate. The situation of the Christians is bleak." Christians across Iraq have been living in fear since a Baghdad church attack in October that left 68 people dead. Days later insurgents targeted Christian homes and neighborhoods across the capital with a series of bombs. An Al-Qaeda front group that claimed responsibility for the church siege vowed at the time to carry out a reign of terror against Christians. The Islamic State of Iraq renewed its threats in a message posted late Tuesday on a website frequented by Islamic extremists. The group said it wants the release of two women it claims are being held captive by Egypt's Coptic Church. Muslim extremists in Egypt say the church has detained the women for allegedly converting to Islam. The church denies the allegations but extremists in Iraq have latched onto the issue. The message Tuesday was addressed to Iraq's Christian community and said it was designed to "pressure" Egypt. Sunni Muslim extremists that make up groups like Al-Qaeda perceive Christians to be nonbelievers aligned with Western countries such as the US Few reliable statistics exist on the number of Christians in this nation of 29 million. A recent State Department report says Christian leaders estimate 400,000 to 600,000 remain, down

the southern city of Basra and in the capital confirmed they will not put up Christmas decorations or hold evening Mass and have urged worshippers to refrain from decorating their homes. Even an appearance by Santa Claus was called off.

BAGHDAD: People walk past a street vendor selling Christmas decorations in downtown Baghdad, Iraq yesterday. Church officials in Iraq say they have canceled some Christmas festivities in two northern cities over fears of insurgent attacks. —AP from a prewar level as high as 1.4 million by some estimates. Since the deadly church siege, the UN estimates some 1,000 Christian families have fled to the Kurdish region in northern Iraq which is generally much safer. For those who remain, this Christmas will be a somber affair. In the northern city of Kirkuk, 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Sako said church officials will not put up Christmas decorations outside the church and urged worshippers to refrain from decorating their homes. A traditional Santa Claus appearance outside one of the city's churches has also been

called off, he said. Money usually used on celebrations or gifts will instead go to help Christian refugees, he said. Ashour Binyamin, a 55-yearold Christian from Kirkuk said he and his family would not go to church on Christmas but instead would celebrate at home. At Baghdad's Our Lady of Salvation church where more than 120 parishioners were held hostage by gunmen on Oct. 31, there will be no Christmas tree and Mass on both Christmas Eve and Christmas day has been canceled. Only a modest manger display representing the birth of Jesus Christ will

mark the occasion. "We have canceled all celebrations in the church," said Father Mukhlis. "We are still in deep sorrow over the innocent victims who fell during the evil attack." In the Karradah neighborhood, where many of the city's remaining Christians live, a number of churches were guarded by security forces yesterday and surrounded by razor wire. Shop owners in the neighborhood said few people were buying the Christmas trees and Santa Claus toys on sale. One Christian woman vowed to go to church on Christmas Day, despite what she described

as the failure of the government to protect her small minority. But she would not be visiting any friends during the holiday season because all of them have already fled the city. "We did not put any decorations inside or outside our house this year," said Ikhlas Bahnam. "We see no reason to celebrate." In Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Syrian Orthodox priest Faiz Wadee said there will be no public Christmas celebrations either. Christians in Iraq's second-largest city of Basra, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad decided to cancel all celebrations as well. Saad Matti, a Christian legislator on the Basra provincial council, said the decision was made out of respect for the victims of the church siege and because of the AlQaeda threats. "There will be only a small Mass in one church in Basra without any signs of joy or decoration and under the protection of Iraqi security forces," he said. "We are fully aware of AlQaeda threats." Matti said Christians would also tone down their celebrations out of respect for a Shiite holiday going on at the same time. The majority of Iraqis are Shiite Muslims, especially in the south. Even among Iraqi Christians who've managed to escape the violence here, the mood was subdued. Maher Murqous, an Iraqi Christian from Mosul who fled to neighboring Syria after being threatened by militants, said his relatives are still at risk in Iraq. Since they cannot celebrate, neither will he. "We will pray for the sake of Iraq. That's all we can do," he said.—AP



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hungarian opposition seeks probe of new media law BUDAPEST: Hungary’s main opposition yesterday urged the president not to sign in a new media law, citing constitutional concerns and widespread international criticism. The Hungarian Socialist Party asked President Pal Schmitt in a letter to instead defer the law to the Constitutional Court. Hungary’s parliament approved the contentious new law Tuesday that will greatly expand the state’s power to monitor and

penalize private media, drawing protests from opposition parties and civil society. Publications deemed to be unbalanced or offensive in their coverage may face large fines. The Socialists said the law, pushed through by center-right party Fidesz, raises “grave constitutional problems.” The Socialists also pointed to criticism of the law by officials from Germany and Luxembourg. German govern-

ment spokesman Christoph Steegmans said in Berlin yesterday that the country is paying close attention to any any changes and their implementation. Germany’s human rights commissioner, Markus Loening, also urged Hungary to stand up for media freedom. “We Europeans fight for free media in the entire world. This necessitates that all member states clearly stand up for freedom of the press and actively protect it. Hungary bears a special

responsibility here as the incoming EU presidency,” Loening said in a statement. Hungary will assume the six-month rotating presidency of the EU on Jan 1. In an interview with Reuters, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said the new law “clearly violates the spirit and the letter of EU treaties,” and said the European Commission must take swift action against it. A spokesman for the Hungarian Prime

Minister, Viktor Orban, however, told state newswire MTI that Orban had spoken to Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who stressed that his foreign minister’s comments are not the official view of the government. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) also raised objection. New media regulations in Hungary “endanger editorial independence and media pluralism,” said Dunja Mijatovic,

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. International media outlets also joined the protests. Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza featured a message of support to Hungarian media, alongside a caricature of Orban holding a pair of scissors in each hand. The Hungarianlanguage headline said “we express our solidarity with Hungarian media, which Orban intends to silence.”— AP

Belarus: 7 presidential candidates face 15 years KGB files charges against 20 top opposition figures MINSK: A Belarusian human rights organization said yesterday that seven candidates who ran against the country’s authoritarian leader in the recent election could face up to 15 years in prison in the wake of postelection violence and massive arrests. Some were beaten in the course of being arrested and a lawyer for one of the candidates said his client is unable to walk due to his injuries.

LONDON: Iryna Bogdanova, the sister of Belarus jailed presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, cries as she holds a poster with a picture of her brother and his wife Iryna Khalip, who is also jailed, during a protest, across the street from the Belarusian embassy in London on Tuesday. —AP

Opposition in Ivory Coast wants Gbagbo gone by force ABIDJAN: A top opposition figure called yesterday for the international community to use force to oust Laurent Gbagbo from the presidency after the disputed election, as France urged its citizens to get out amid growing fears of civil war. The United Nations and other world leaders recognize Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the Nov. 28 runoff vote. His prime minister, Guillaume Soro, urged the UN, European Union, African Union and others to consider intervening to push Gbagbo out. “It is obvious that there is one solution left, that of force,” Guillaume Soro told France’s i-tele television channel. He added that “200 people have been killed by the bullets of Liberian and Angolan mercenaries” in Ivory Coast but he did not elaborate and the numbers could not immediately be confirmed. The UN said Sunday that at least 50 people have been killed in Ivory Coast in recent days, and the UN chief also has expressed concern about the

recruitment of fighters from neighboring Liberia. Still, there appears to be little international interest in a military intervention in Ivory Coast. The United States and the EU are imposing sanctions targeting Gbagbo, his wife and political allies. Hundreds of UN peacekeepers have been protecting the hotel where Ouattara is based. Over the weekend, Gbagbo ordered all UN peacekeepers out of the country immediately in an escalation of tensions. The UN considers Ouattara president and is staying put, raising fears that UN personnel and other foreigners could be targeted in violence as tensions mount. The US State Department has already ordered most of its personnel to leave because of what officials called a deteriorating security situation and growing anti-Western sentiment. Germany’s Foreign Ministry also has recommended that its nationals leave. French government spokesman Francois Baroin said

yesterday that French citizens who can leave Ivory Coast should do so temporarily. At least 13,000 French people are currently believed to be in Ivory Coast, which maintains close ties to France and was once the crown jewel of its former West African colonial empire. After a meeting in Paris with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, World Bank chief Robert Zoellick also confirmed Wednesday that loans have been halted to Ivory Coast. The World Bank’s aid commitment to Ivory Coast was $841.9 million as of January 2010, according to the bank’s website. “The World Bank has currently stopped lending and disbursing funds to the Ivory Coast and the World Bank’s office (in Abidjan) has been closed,” a statement from the agency said. “The World Bank and the African Development Bank have supported (regional bloc) ECOWAS and the African Union, in sending the message to President Gbagbo that he has lost the election and needs to

step down,” it said. Ouattara has also sought to use financial pressure to force Gbagbo out, appealing to the West African central bank (BCEAO) to cut off his access to state coffers, making it impossible to pay civil servants and soldiers. Such a move could set the stage for mass defections and turn the tide against Gbagbo. The latest international pressure yesterday to force Gbagbo out comes amid rising concerns about violence in Ivory Coast. UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon said Tuesday that Ivory Coast faces “a real risk” of return to civil war. Over the weekend, masked gunmen opened fire on the UN base in Ivory Coast, though no one from the global body was harmed in the attack. Two military observers were wounded in another attack. The UN also says armed men have been intimidating UN staff at their private homes. A Gbagbo adviser said he didn’t believe soldiers or people close to Gbagbo would carry out such acts. — AP

UK ministers hint at divisions in coalition govt LONDON: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg yesterday insisted his party was committed to Britain’s coalition government , despite secretly recorded tapes in which ministers from his group criticize policy and vow to block Rupert Murdoch’s plans to expand his media empire. Business Secretary Vince Cable, a key Clegg ally and member of the Liberal Democrat party, was stripped of responsibility for media competition issues on Tuesday after he was recorded boasting to undercover reporters that he had declared war on Murdoch. Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper yesterday published details of other conversations between leading Liberal Democrats and its undercover staff in which three ministers condemned a decision to scrap child benefit payments for better off families. Opponents said the remarks had exposed divisions within Britain’s first governing coalition since World War II. Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative

Party and the smaller Liberal Democrats sealed an unlikely pact in the aftermath of an inconclusive national election in May, in which no one party secured a majority. “I don’t think we should be surprised about the reports of what other ministers have said, that there are differences of opinion in a coalition, as there are indeed in all governments,” Clegg said. “The most important thing is that we get on and work together in the coalition government to fix the mess that we have inherited.” Cable was quoted on Tuesday as telling the Daily Telegraph that he would attempt to bring down the coalition if he is forced to dilute or abandon cherished policy ideas. He has previously been strongly critical of many economic policies his government now endorses, and is vocal in his calls for banks to restrict the size of bonuses handed to staff. “If they push me too far then I can walk out of the government and bring the government down,” Cable was quoted as telling the reporters. However, Cable’s comments on Murdoch and his then-loom-

ing decision on News Corp.’s 7.5 billion euro (US$11.5 billion) offer to acquire full control of satellite broadcaster BSkyB were not initially published by the Telegraph. Cable had been responsible for deciding if the deal should be referred to the Competition Commission, and ultimately if the takeover can go ahead. Cameron said that decision and all other work on media ownership issues will instead pass to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. “I have declared war on Mr. Murdoch and I think we are going to win,” Cable was quoted as telling the reporters. His comments were first reported by the BBC on Tuesday afternoon, after it said it had received a leak of the Telegraph’s tape. Critics claimed that the Telegraph, which is opposed to its rival News Corp., owner of the Times of London, gaining further dominance in the British media sector, had declined to use the comments as it wanted Cable, seen as more likely to oppose the deal, to continue to adjudicate. — AP

The former Soviet state’s security service, which is still called the KGB, has filed charges against 20 top opposition figures, including the seven candidates, for organizing mass disturbances, said Ales Belyatsky of the human rights center Vesna. KGB spokesman Alexander Antonovich declined comment. Overall, some 700 people were arrested after Sunday’s election that gave Alexander Lukashenko a fourth term in office. Two of the arrested candidates were later released, but both of them, Grigory Kostusyev and Dmitry Uss Were , were summoned to KGB offices for further questioning yesterday. Many of the arrests came on Sunday night, when thousands protested the results. International monitors called the election fraudulent. In a brief telephone interview with the Associated Press, Kostusyev said “the regime has shown its true essence.” “We’ve been thrown 10 years into the past,” he added. Kostusyev said Uss was sitting next to him in the KGB offices as he spoke. Others charged include Andrei Sannikov, whom the Central Elections Commission’s widely disputed count says received the most votes among the opposition candidates, 2.4 percent compared with Lukashenko’s 79.6 percent. Sannikov’s wife Irina Khalip and the editor of an opposition website affiliated with Sannikov, Nataliya Radina, also face the same charges, according to Vesna. Sannikov’s lawyer Pavel Sapelko said his client was beaten severely during arrest, received blows to his head and is now unable to walk due to a suspected broken leg. He has asked for the injury to be Xrayed, but has been refused. “He feels very bad and looks very bad,” Sapelko told the Associated Press. Lawyer Tamara Sidorenko said her client Vladimir Neklyayev, another prominent challenger, was beaten as he tried to lead a column of supporters to the protest in central Minsk on Sunday night. He was hospitalized, but later forcefully taken from the hospital and placed in KGB custody. Sidorenko said she has not been allowed to visit him. The other arrested candidates are Nikolai Statkevich, Vitaly Rymashevsky and Ales Mikhalevich. Also yesterday, the Belarusian parliament ratified an agreement to create a “unified economic space” with Russia and Kazakhstan in what some observers regard as Moscow’s attempt to shore up influence among neighboring countries. Preliminary agreement on the zone was reached 10 days before the election. As part of that agreement, Russia said it would drop tariffs on oil exported to Belarus, a concession that significantly strengthened Lukashenko’s hand. Belarus’ quasi-Soviet statedominated economy depends on below-market Russian oil and gas. In recent years, Lukashenko had quarreled with Moscow over its raising hydrocarbon prices and in the presidential campaign period he frequently criticized Russia. However, after the dropping of the oil tariffs, an agreement estimated to be worth some $4 billion a year, his tone changed markedly. — AP

JUBA: A southern Sudanese man stores referendum material, in Juba, southern Sudan yesterday. More than 7.3 million ballots have arrived in Southern Sudan for an independence referendum that is likely to create the world’s newest country. —AP

South Sudan party to stay in north after vote KHARTOUM: The northern branch of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement will become an independent party in the north if a January referendum leads to the secession of the south, its leaders said yesterday. “The SPLM is there to stay in the north and it is going to be a political force that is to be reckoned with ... We have sizeable, strong support in the north,” Yassir Arman, head of the SPLM parliamentary bloc, told a news conference. The movement was founded in 1983 by southern rebel leader John Garang, who died months after signing the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement which ended more than two decades of war between the north and south. Its southern branch said for the first time on December 11 that it will support secession in the January 9 referendum on the possible breakup of Africa’s

largest nation. Arman, a secular Muslim from northern Sudan, said the SPLM’s northern wing would be a party that advocates a “new Sudan” and adheres to democratic, federal and secular ideals, while opposing Islam in politics, as espoused by Sudanese President Omar alBashir. “The route that has been mentioned by President Bashir ... is not the route that will lead to permanent peace,” he said. The SPLM leader was referring to a speech last week in which the Sudanese president said the north would reinforce sharia, or Islamic law, after the referendum which is expected to grant the south independence. In April elections, the SPLM garnered tens of thousands of votes in the northern states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, which are located on the border of southern Sudan.

Arman said the new party also planned to forge close links with the western Sudanese region of Darfur which has since 2003 been gripped by a civil war which the UN says has killed 300,000 people and displaced another 2.7 million. “We do share with the Darfurians the aspiration of a new Sudan, of changing the centre (of government) in Khartoum, because without changing the policies in Khartoum, Sudan will not exit in a permanent peace.” Malik Agar, a senior northern SPLM official, said the former southern rebels could have a lot in common with their Darfuri counterparts if the latter chose peace. “Darfurians are different from us because since up to now they are still holdings arms,” he said. “If they denounced the armed struggle and (supported) political means and political mechanisms, this is what we are doing.” —AFP

113 Haitian children join adoptive French families PARIS: More than 100 children from Haiti arrived in France yesterday to start new lives with their adoptive families, an event some parents described as an early Christmas present. Many children were bundled up in bright new winter coats, and some were wrapped in silvery reflective blankets to keep out the unaccustomed cold, as they arrived at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport from their Caribbean homeland. The French government had chartered a plane to bring adoptive families to Haiti to pick up 113 children from the country, which is still reeling from a January earthquake and now a deadly cholera epidemic. Adoptive mother Isabelle Frapat, holding 15month-old Mael in her arms, told reporters the

experience was “pure happiness, and all that at Christmastime.” Adoptive father Barque Partube called the arrival “a very, very nice Christmas gift.” The flight to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport yesterday brought the first group of the more than 300 children who are expected to start a new life in France. Another flight is expected Friday. The French government had been under pressure from adoptive families to speed up the complex proceedings. International adoption is a sensitive subject in Haiti. After the earthquake, a group of US missionaries tried to take 33 children out of the country without proper documents, claiming they were orphans. They all had at least one living parent. —AP

PARIS: French adoptive parents carry orphans from Haiti arriving in France for adoption by French families, at the Roissy airport, outside of Paris yesterday. —AP


Thursday, December 23, 2010


US Congress passes defense bill Democrats agree to strip several provisions WASHINGTON: Congress gave final approval yesterday to legislation that authorizes the US Defense Department to spend nearly $160 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this budget year without major restrictions on the conduct of operations. The bill passed the House and Senate on voice votes after Democrats agreed to strip several provisions, including one that would have allowed gays to serve openly in the military.

MEXICO: Former Mexican presidential candidate for the National Action Party (PAN) and former president of the Mexican Senate, Diego Fernandez de Cevallos talks during the second press conference outside the home of his girlfriend at Lomas Villereyes neighbordhood in Mexico City, on December 20, 2010. Fernandez de Cevallos was kidnapped on May 15, 2010 in Queretaro state, Mexico, and since then, authorities and relatives have kept silent, while a local newspaper had reported that the family had paid more than 20 million US dollars to free him. —AFP

Freed Mexican politician says kidnappers had political motive MEXICO CITY: The abduction of a former presidential candidate freed after seven months may mark the resurgence of leftist rebels long thought to be increasingly irrelevant in Mexico. Wealthy power broker Diego Fernandez de Cevallos says his kidnappers were ideologically motivated and viewed him as “an enemy of their causes.” That language matches a statement issued last week by a previously unknown group, Network for Global Transformation, claiming responsibility for the politician’s May abduction. The group may be a splinter of the People’s Revolutionary Army, or EPR, which launched a socialist “prolonged people’s war” against the government in the 1990s, a former national security adviser said Tuesday. “I think the kidnapping had two meanings,” Fernandez de Cevallos told a local radio station shortly after he was released Monday. “Of course, on one hand, getting a certain amount (of money), but it also had a very strong political connotation, supposedly for ideological motives.” He never named the group that kidnapped him, but said, “They considered me an enemy of their causes. This was part of what caused” the abduction. The statement by the Network for Global Transformation posted on a blog Friday described Fernandez de Cevallos as a “corrupt, arro-

gant” influence-broker and said his kidnapping was “a blow against the plutocracy” and “an act of reparation.” It accused him of being a main culprit in many of Mexico’s social problems: corruption, drug trafficking, market-oriented reforms and the abyss between Mexico’s wealthy elite and the poor. It noted that he, as a lawyer, had often represented private interests in disputes with the government, and had participated in shady land and business dealings. Fernandez de Cevallos denies those accusations, saying, “I have always fought for my ideals ... for Mexico.” But he acknowledged his captors treated him well. “They never disrespected me,” he said. While common criminals frequently torture kidnap victims to get quicker ransom payments, “political kidnappings target important people, they treat them well, and they don’t care how long it takes,” said Raul Benitez, a professor of strategy studies at Mexico’s National Autonomous University and a former government national-security consultant. The group would probably use any ransom money it got for Fernandez de Cevallos to support small bands of armed rebels in the mountains, he added. “I think this is a group specialized in kidnapping, and it must be a cell of the EPR,” said Benitez, who analyzed such groups for the government in the early part of the decade.

Family’s triple tragedy highlights Mexico impunity CIUDAD JUAREZ: A daughter is found dismembered. Her mother is shot dead trying to bring the killer to justice. Two days later, a brother-in-law’s body is dumped on the street after his lumber business is torched. No one is under arrest for any of the crimes, and there is little hope the cases will be solved. The tragedies befalling an extended family in Ciudad Juarez lay bare the lawlessness that plagues not only Mexico’s most violent city, but the entire country. The case of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, slain last week as she demanded justice for her dead daughter outside the Chihuahua state governor’s office, has gripped the country. President Felipe Calderon, kidnap victim Diego Fernandez de Cevallos and even the Sinaloa drug cartel have all weighed in; Fernandez de Cevallos spoke about Escobedo just hours after he was released by his captors Monday from his own sevenmonth ordeal. “On the one hand, I’m very happy to be reunited with my loved ones, my family,” the wealthy power broker said in a radio interview. “At the same time, I feel enormous pain to hear of the disgraces being done in this country, like the poor woman who was assassinated in Chihuahua.” The Sinaloa cartel, waging a deadly battle with the rival Juarez cartel for control of the city, hung two banners early Tuesday claiming solidarity with Escobedo’s family and offering to find her killer. Escobedo’s daughter, Rubi Frayre Escobedo, was killed in 2008 allegedly by her live-in boyfriend, Sergio Barraza, who

was arrested then later released for lack of evidence. Escobedo’s death last week was captured on a surveillance video that showed a masked man shooting her point-blank in the head as she tried to flee _ even though state security officials had been assigned to protect her. Two days later, the body of Manuel Monge Amparan, 36, was found asphyxiated and wrapped in a blanket after his family business, “Lumber and Materials Monge,” was apparently deliberately set on fire, prosecutors said. Monge was the brother of Escobedo’s partner, Jose Monge. The killings don’t seem to be directly related. The daughter may have been killed out of jealousy, the mother out of revenge, and neighboring business owners have speculated that Monge was a victim of extortion, a crime that has devastated Juarez’s small-business sector, causing 40 percent of businesses to close in some commercial districts. Drug traffickers and other gangs charge businesses a “protection fee” to operate, often kidnapping owners or torching property if they don’t pay. What they have in common is that none of the killers has yet been brought to justice. Escobedo’s attorney, Lucha Castro, says remaining members of the family have fled the country in fear of their lives. “Marisela’s family is not an isolated case. ... It’s the situation we’re living in Juarez,” Castro said. “Families have had to leave Juarez, just like Marisela’s family, because of the threats, extortion, killings ... and disappearances that have made the state of Chihuahua a total failure.” — AP

Largely centered in the southern states of Oaxaca and Guerrero, the EPR was once thought to operate in 17 of Mexico’s 31 states. It killed 26 soldiers and police in attacks in 1996. In 2007, the group reappeared to claim responsibility for blasts at more than a halfdozen oil and natural-gas pipelines to demand the release of two of its members allegedly being held by the government. The group was considered to be far smaller than the Zapatistas, who staged a brief armed uprising for greater indigenous rights in southern Chiapas state in 1994. The Zapatistas have also largely faded from public attention in recent years. The EPR supposedly got about $25 million in ransom for the 1994 kidnapping of banking tycoon Alfredo Harp Helu. Benitez said the EPR has probably used that money to support small bands of armed rebels in the mountains of southern Mexico, and a network of urban supporters. The EPR has suffered numerous splits, but in previous kidnappings the group had not released such political statements. “This is new, this type of statements,” Benitez noted. “It may be that some split-off, some intellectual, saw that the EPR strategy of being isolated in the mountains of Guerrero and Oaxaca is not working at all.” The Network for Global Transformation did not respond to a request left on its blog site asking for comment. — AP

“The controversial aspects of this legislation have been removed,” said Sen John McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee. The provision that would have overturned the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was approved as a standalone bill and President Barack Obama signed it into law yesterday. Other provisions in the bill include: * Up to $75 million to train and equip Yemeni counterterrorism forces; * $205 million for a program with Israel to develop its “Iron Dome” defense system; * $11.6 billion for the development of the Afghan security forces, and $1.5 billion for Iraqi security forces. The House, which approved the bill last Friday, had to consider it again as the Senate cut out a provision on payments of World War II claims to residents and survivors in the Pacific island of Guam. The Democratic delegate from Guam, Madeleine Bordallo, said the Senate eliminated the payments because some senators objected to the cost. She said elimination of the money could adversely affect US plans for a military buildup on the island. Congress considers the defense authorization bill to be its primary chance to sway Pentagon policy. While it does not transfer money into Defense Department coffers, it does serve as a blueprint for the defense appropriations bill by authorizing spending levels. This year’s bill agreed to $725 billion in defense programs, including $158.7 billion for overseas combat. The bill also would continue restrictions on the Defense Department’s ability to close Guantanamo Bay, including prohibiting the transfer of detainees to the US This year’s bill is mostly noteworthy for its broad bipartisan support during wartime. Today, a White House review of war progress in Afghanistan suggested that tough combat would continue for years and that troop withdrawals in 2011 would probably be small. Unlike during the height of the Iraq War when anti-war Democrats tried to use the legislation to force troops home, the House passed the defense bill Friday with almost no debate on Afghanistan. — AP

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama (2nd-L) smiles while flanked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (L), Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) (2nd-R) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) during a bill signing ceremony yesterday in Washington, DC. President Obama signed into law a bill repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law against gays serving openly in the military. —AFP

US ‘vigilant’ for holiday terror attack WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama sent out his top White House anti-terror advisor yesterday to assure Americans that everything possible was being done to keep them safe from attack over Christmas. “We remain vigilant to attempts by Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations to carry out cowardly attacks against innocent men, women and children,” said White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan “As we enter the peak of another holiday season, the homeland security, law enforcement and intelligence communities are collectively focused on doing everything they can do to prevent terrorists from disrupting the safety and security of Americans,” Brennan said. The Christmas and New Year holiday season, with its high vol-

ume of air travel and festive gatherings, is often seen as a moment of high vulnerability to attacks, and fears have been raised this year by terror warnings in Europe. Last Christmas Day, a disaster was narrowly averted as a Nigerian man apparently acting on behalf of a Yemen-based Al-Qaeda affiliate, tried to down a US airliner headed for Detroit with explosives in his underwear. Brennan said that Obama called top US security officials to meet at the White House on Tuesday to review the latest threat reports, and to coordinate holiday season counterterrorism plans. “It is the goal of the counterterrorism community to stay several steps ahead of our terrorist adversaries so that we can stop terrorists dead in their tracks before ... either small-

scale or potentially devastating attacks,” Brennan said. However, he cautioned that his appearance before the cameras was meant to reassure Americans that everything that could be done, was being donenot to alarm them as they embarked on holiday travel. The White House meanwhile released a list of counterterrorism measures put in place by the administration to meet the latest generation of threats. Notably, the US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had taken steps to close gaps in analysis and data collection that may have facilitated the thwarted attack on a Northwest Airlines plane last December 25. The criteria used to create terrorist watchlists and “NoFly” lists had also been revised while 500 advanced passenger

screening devices had now been installed at 75 US airports, a face sheet showed. Changes had also been made in screening cargo following a thwarted plot to put explosives hidden in printer toner cartridges on board cargo planes heading for the United States in October, the White House said. In Washington, spot checks started on Tuesday on the Washington underground Metro system, a week after the government disclosed the arrest of an Afghan man for allegedly threatening to bomb the network. On Tuesday, CNN, quoting US intelligence officials said that Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was considering poisoning food served at US hotels and restaurants with deadly ricin and cyanide. — AFP



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rights groups concerned over Thailand asylum arrests BANGKOK: An elderly Chinese dissident and more than 30 children are among a host of refugees and asylum seekers arrested and detained by Thai immigration authorities, rights groups said yesterday. Journalist and activist Sun Shucai, 87, “is not getting enough food” in the Bangkok detention centre where he is being held, according to media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders. “We are very concerned about Sun’s health as the conditions in the detention centre are poor. We fear that a man

his age may not be able to endure this ordeal,” the group said in a statement. Sun, who served 14 years of hard labor in eastern China for writing critical articles, was arrested on December 8 despite holding papers from the UN saying his application for refugee status was under consideration, it added. Reporters Without Borders said a judge fined the dissident 3,000 Baht (100 dollars) the day after his arrest and ordered the authorities to examine the

possibility of deporting him. Concerns about him came as rights organizations raised fears over the detention of 86 people of Pakistani origin who were arrested on December 14. A statement from 26 rights groups sent by the Asian Human Rights Commission said they were “deeply concerned and shocked” by the detention of the group, which they said included more than 30 children. The groups believe that almost all the detainees are either recognized as refugees or are

awaiting confirmation of their status. According to the statement all those arrested are Ahmadiyya Muslims, a group subject to “systematic persecution” in Pakistan. “This targeted detention by Thai officials of a particular community from their homes is particularly concerning and disturbing,” the rights groups said. Thai immigration authorities and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Bangkok were both unavailable for comment. Reporters Without Borders said Sun

had a long history of political activism and was sentenced to 14 years in 1956 for criticizing China’s Maoist revolution. Once freed he was assigned to work in metallurgical plant, but he resumed his dissident activity in 1998, writing articles critical of the ruling Communist Party. “Sun’s only crime is to have sought refuge in a safe place because his defense of human rights was exposing him to reprisals in China,” the group said. — AFP

South mobilized hundreds of troops, tanks and helicopters

South Korea holds massive new drills after North attack SEOUL: South Korea vow ed yesterda y to “completely punish” North Korea if it a tta cks a ga in, a nd mobilized hundreds of troops, ta nks a nd helicopters for a ma ssive milita ry exercise prompted by high tensions on the peninsula . The firing drills pla nned for toda y nea r the Korea s’ hea vily a rmed la nd border signa led tha t South Korea is w illing to risk

further esca la ting tensions w ith North Korea , w hich shelled a southern isla nd off the w estern coa st on Nov 23 a nd stirred up a w a r-like a tmosphere. The a tta ck, w hich killed four people, w a s portra yed by Pyongya ng a s a reta lia tion for southern m ilita ry exercises on Yeonpyeong isla nd tha t da y.

YEONPYEONG ISLAND: South Korean sailors work on their ships next to South Korean Navy’s floating base near Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea yesterday. — AP

China says Vatican’s criticism is ‘dangerous’ BEIJING: China fired back at the Vatican yesterday after the Holy See’s recent criticism of Beijing’s religious appointments, calling such a move “dangerous” and harmful to the Catholic church’s development in China. The Vatican last week condemned China as violating religious freedom and human rights after the election of senior members of China’s official Catholic church. A prelate unrecognized by the Vatican was put in charge of its bishop’s council. The Vatican called it “unacceptable and hostile acts.” A statement posted yesterday on the website of China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs responded by saying the Vatican is trying to use religion to implement political philosophy, calling that “very dangerous” and warning of repercussions on the church’s development in China. Communist China forced its Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in

1951, and relations have long been tense. Only state-backed churches are recognized, although millions of Chinese belong to unofficial congregations loyal to Rome. Last week’s Vatican statement “was a rude trampling of and contempt for the democratic will of the Chinese Catholic Church, and it was extremely arrogant and disrespect,” China’s statement said. “Does a Chinese religious organization have to get a ‘majestic authorization’ or ‘gracious approval’ from a foreign group to elect its leadership?” the Chinese statement said. Bishop Ma Yinglin, whose ordination in 2006 was not recognized by the Vatican, was chosen as head of the bishops’ conference of the government-backed church. He reportedly was seen in Rome as too close to the Chinese church’s leadership. Despite the lack of formal diplomatic relations, the sides have in recent years agreed on the nomination of bishops acceptable to both Beijing and Rome. But

tensions rose over the Nov. 20 ordination of the Rev. Joseph Guo Jincai as a bishop without papal approval. The Vatican says only it has the right to name bishops anywhere in the world, a stance the Chinese have long held as a major obstacle to a formal restoration of relations. Until recently, there have been talks over bishop nominations, and the Vatican has suggested it is prepared to move its diplomatic representation to Beijing once an agreement had been reached. The Vatican statement last week also expressed anger that many bishops and priests were allegedly forced to take part in this month’s leadership assembly. “The persistent desire to control the most intimate area of citizens’ lives, namely their conscience, and to interfere in the internal life of the Catholic church does no credit to China,” the Vatican said. “On the contrary, it seems to be a sign of fear and weakness rather than of strength,” the Vatican said. — AP

Child abuse suspect arrested in Thailand BANGKOK: A British man wanted in the UK for molesting children as young as 18 months and selling images of the abuse online has been arrested in Thailand after over a decade on the run, police said yesterday. David Charles Taylor, 66, fled to Thailand in 1998 after British authorities found tens of thousands of pornographic pictures of children on his computer. Thai police, who made the arrest early Monday in Nakhon Ratchasima, 260 kilometres (160 miles) northeast of Bangkok, suspect he continued to abuse boys when he arrived in the kingdom. “He sent back footage to the UK and his conspirators there created DVDs and sold them over the Internet,” immigration police officer Colonel Wiwat Khamchamnan said. Taylor is wanted in Britain on suspicion of molesting boys and girls aged between 18 months and 12 years old, then selling pictures and video of the attacks online, Thai police said. He was originally arrested in Leicestershire county, in central England and charged with 35 counts of child molestation and dissemination of child pornography, police said, but escaped to Thailand during the investigation. The British embassy in Bangkok confirmed it had contacted immigration police about the case and the Thai criminal court issued an arrest warrant on December 3. British authorities will apply for extradition, a spokeswoman said. — AFP

BANGKOK: A handout undated photo released by Thai immigration police yesterday shows British David Charles Taylor, 66, arrested by police in Nakhon Ratchasima, 260 kilometers (160 miles) northeast of Bangkok. — AFP

South Korea has conducted 47 similar military drills this year, and it scheduled one more exercise for today in response to the North Korean attack, an army officer said on condition of anonymity citing department rules. Today’s drill will be the biggestever wintertime joint firing exercise that South Korea’s army and air force have staged, an army statement said. “We will completely punish the enemy if it provokes us again like the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island,” Brig. Gen. Ju Eun-sik, chief of the army’s 1st armored brigade, said separately. South Korean forces are on high alert even though the North backed down from its threat to again retaliate over a separate firing drill the South held Monday on Yeonpyeong in disputed western waters. The two Koreas remain technically at war since their 1950s conflict ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty. The past month’s military tension, however, has been the worst in several years. The North has made conciliatory remarks in recent days , telling a visiting US governor it might allow international inspections of its nuclear programs , but Seoul is mindful of past surprise attacks and still is bracing for possible aggression. South Korea’s navy also began annual four-day firing and anti-submarine exercises yesterday off the country’s eastern coast. That area has been less tense recently but in the past, the North has used eastern waters as a submarine route for communist agents to infiltrate South Korea. The Koreas’ recent military skirmishes, including last month’s artillery bombardment, have been in the tense western waters, where Pyongyang does not recognize the U.N.-drawn border. Today’s air force and army drills will involve 800 troops, F-15K and KF16 jet fighters, K-1 tanks, AH-1S attack helicopters and K-9 self-propelled guns. They will take place in Pocheon, about 30 miles (45 kilometers) north of Seoul and about 21 miles (33 kilometers) south of the North Korean border. Seoul has relocated more artillery on Yeonpyeong island following last month’s shelling and plans to deploy Israeli-made Spike missiles there soon, Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unidentified military official. The Joint Chiefs of Staff declined to confirm the report. North Korea, meanwhile, indicated to visiting New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson that it was prepared to consider ways to work with the South on restoring security along the border. Richardson praised Pyongyang for refraining from retaliation and said his visit to the North provided an opening for a resumption of negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program. North Korea pulled out of six-nation talks to provide Pyongyang with aid in exchange for disarmament in April 2009, but since has said it is willing to resume them. The White House, however, rejected the idea, saying Pyongyang needed to change its “belligerent” behavior first and was not “even remotely ready” for negotiations. In Seoul, a senior South Korean government official said the military would remain prepared for the possibility of a “surprise” attack in coming days. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Separately, about 200 South Koreans attended a candlelight vigil yesterday evening for the four South Koreans killed by North Korea’s attack on the Yeonpyeong. They observed a moment of silence and placed flowers on a makeshift mourning site in central Seoul. “We, the survivors, should remember their sacrifice and make efforts to ensure that their sacrifice will not be in vain,” said Choi Hong-jae, a 42-year-old executive.—AP

QUEZON CITY: A police officer shows the way to Malaysian national Lai Wong Chun, center, and Chen Yui Chung as they step out of an ambulance at the police hospital yesterday. — AP

Filipino gunmen free Malaysians MANILA: Filipino gunmen with ties to AlQaeda-linked militants, under pressure from pursuing police commandos, have freed two Malaysian laborers from 10 months of jungle captivity, police said yesterday. The hostages were seized Feb 8 from a seaweed farm in Malaysia’s Sabah state and whisked away in a speedboat to nearby Philippine waters in a pattern similar to past kidnappings-for-ransom blamed on the notorious terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. Police commandos, who have been searching for the captives, recovered the two men near Bongao town in the southernmost island province of Tawi-Tawi late Tuesday, national police chief Raul Bacalzo told reporters. He said the gunmen abandoned the hostages after they were encircled by government forces. The kidnappers escaped and the Malaysians, Chen Yui Chung, 48, and Lai Wong Chun, 46, were flown to Manila. They will be turned over to the Malaysian Embassy after being debriefed by Philippine authorities and checked up in a hospital at police headquarters in the capital. Wearing baseball caps, the two appeared to have lost weight as they walked into a hospital emergency room from an ambulance. One wore combat boots. Policemen kept journalists and photographers from coming near. Interior Secretary Jessie Robredo said the two told him they were not harmed by their captors and were fed well. “Thank you very much,” Robredo quoted the Malaysians as repeatedly telling officials. “We’re all so happy. This is the best Christmas gift to their families,” Robredo told The Associated Press. The kidnappers had demanded ransom but Robredo said he was unaware of any payment, as was the case with past abductions. Malaysian and Philippine authorities were

initially unsure if the hostages were still in Malaysia or the southern Philippines, where the Abu Sayyaf and other Muslim rebel groups have carried out kidnappings for ransom. Officials in Tawi-Tawi, about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) southwest of Manila, had ordered a search in the far-flung province in June after police monitored a cell phone call made by one of the captives to his family in Malaysia, according to a Philippine security official. The official, who helped oversee the search, declined to be named because he was not authorized to talk to the media. “They were brought from Tawi-Tawi to Jolo and back and we did not know where to look for them,” Tawi-Tawi Gov. Sadikul Sahali said. Chen Yui Chung’s brother-in-law, Chong Man Tung, told The Associated Press in June that his relative had called him weeks after the abduction saying the two were being held by gunmen on an unspecified Philippine island. The kidnappers apparently had moved the captives from Tawi-Tawi to nearby Jolo Island and back to evade the Philippine military and police manhunt, the security official said. The Abu Sayyaf has gained notoriety for high-profile kidnappings, beheadings and bomb attacks. Battle setbacks, arrests and surrenders have reduced the group’s strength to more than 300 from more than 1,000 guerrillas during its heyday in 2000, the military says. That year the militants abducted 21 Asian workers and Western tourists from Malaysia’s Sipadan diving resort and brought them to Jolo. They were freed in batches in exchange for huge ransoms. Hundreds of US troops have been providing weapons, training and intelligence to Philippine forces in the south for years to help eradicate the Abu Sayyaf, which is on Washington’s list of terrorist organizations. — AP

Earthquake hits southern Japan TOKYO: A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.4 struck in the Pacific Ocean in the early hours of yesterday, triggering a brief tsunami warning off the southern coast of Japan. Japan’s Meteorological Agency said the quake occurred about 80 miles (130 kilometers) off the southern coast of Chichi Island in the Pacific Ocean. The offshore quake struck at around 2:20 am at a depth of 6 miles (10 kilometers). The US Geological Survey also put the quake’s magnitude at 7.4. The Japanese agency issued a tsunami alert of up to 6 feet (2 meters) for nearby islands and warnings of milder tsunami for the southern coasts on the main Japanese island. A minor swelling of waves of about 1 foot (30 centimeters) was observed on the island’s shorelines about 40 minutes after the quake, the agency said. The island is about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) south of Tokyo. The agency later downgraded the tsunami alert on the island to a warning. All tsunami warnings were lifted yesterday morning. But the agency’s seismology official Hirofumi Yokoyama said island residents

should use caution for “several more hours” given the size of the quake’s magnitude. The temblors were also felt in Tokyo, but there were no immediate reports of any damage or injuries. “It shook quite violently. I’m sure everyone was scared,” said Kenji Komura, principal at a high school on the island. He rushed to school, where about 20 students gathered to take refuge. Despite the shaking, nothing fell on the floor or got damaged at school, Komura said. About 170 people evacuated to several community centers and school buildings on Chichi and nearby Haha islands, public broadcaster NHK said. Tomoo Yamawaki, a fisheries cooperative official on Chichi island, said he had observed no significant swelling of the waves. “We’ve taken all fishing boats on the island off coast to protect them from the tsunami,” Yamawaki, who is in charge of community tsunami broadcast, told NHK. “We haven’t observed any significant change in the waves, but we urge all residents to immediately evacuate to a safer place.” Japan is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries. In 1995, a magnitude-7.2 quake in the western port city of Kobe killed 6,400 people. — AP

Thursday, December 23, 2010



Afghanistan official blasts NATO for civilian deaths International forces are not being careful enough: Afghan officials KABUL: A provincia l governor in Afghanistan said yesterday that a battle betw een NATO and the Ta leban the previous day killed three w omen a nd tw o children, a nd he called on the coalition to “pa y attention” to civilian casualties. Afgha n officials have often spoken out about civilian dea ths, arguing tha t the international forces are not being careful enough to avoid such casualties

QUETTA: Pakistani paramilitary soldiers display seized weapons and ammunition to media representatives in Quetta yesterday. Pakistani security officials said Baluch nationalist leader Shahzain Bugti, the grandson of slain Baluch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, and his 17 bodyguards were arrested. — AFP

Pakistan, Iran jockey for influence after bombings ISLAMABAD: As tension grows between Pakistan and Iran after a mosque bombing in Iran, Pakistan could find itself increasingly isolated as its western neighbor looks to increase its influence in the region, analysts say. Jundollah, a Sunni Muslim militant group Iran says is based in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan, claimed responsibility for a Dec 15 double suicide bombing in the Iranian town of Chabahar that killed 39 people and wounded more than 100. Iran has demanded Pakistan take action with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling this week on his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, to arrest “identified terrorists” and hand them over to Iran. Iran says Jundollah fighters find shelter in Pakistan. Pakistan denies providing shelter for the group. But in an echo of US demands regarding Taleban sanctuaries in northwest Pakistan, a member of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee suggested that if Pakistan didn’t act, Iran would. Analysts say the strong words from Iranian officials add to growing international pressure on Pakistan to take stern action against militants operating out of its territory. In a review of Afghanistan strategy unveiled last week, the White House hailed Pakistan’s steps against militant groups, but said war-torn Afghanistan could not be stabilised unless Pakistan acted decisively against militants sheltering there. Analysts say Iran may also may be seeking to exploit Pakistan’s vulnerability in the face of pressure over its inability or unwillingness to fight militants operating from its soil, to increase its influence as a regional power. “Iran is ... a major regional stakeholder in Afghanistan and a competitor of Pakistan there. It is therefore likely that Iran is now flexing its muscles on its eastern flank to showcase its regional rise,” the intelligence firm STRATFOR said. Pakistan and Iran have long jockeyed for influ-

ence in Afghanistan, with Pakistan supporting the ethnic Pashtun and Sunni Muslim Taleban and pre-dominantly Shi’ite Iran backing the Taleban’s enemies in the old Northern Alliance of nonPashtuns and some Shi’ite groups. Stratfor said Pakistan would try to address Iranian concerns as it already had had tense relations with its two neighbours-India and Afghanistan-over militant violence. Both accuse Pakistan of supporting or tolerating militants targeting them. Indeed, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said his government had assured Iran it would help track down perpetrators of the mosque bombing. “We have assured them that we will arrest and hand over any Iranian terrorist found in Pakistan and we have asked them to give us specific information,” Malik told Reuters. A Pakistani official said in February Pakistan had helped Iran arrest of Jundollah leader Abdolmalek Rigi, amid contradictory reports about how he was detained. But any trust built by the arrest was dashed by subsequent bombings. Relations between Pakistan and Iran have been marked by wariness since the 1979 Iranian Revolution brought a radical Shi’ite strain to power in Tehran. But both sides have generally publicly refrained from accusing each other of fomenting trouble. That’s changed, though, with the recent attacks in Iran claimed by Jundollah. Iran, locked in a showdown with the United States over its nuclear program, links Jundollah to the Sunni Islamist Al Qaeda network and says it enjoys US backing. The United States denies that. Security analyst and author Ahmed Rashid said Jundollah had evolved through shifting alliances with various parties, including the Americans, the Taleban and Pakistan’s intelligence services, who all see the group as a tool against Iran. Iran is skeptical of Pakistan’s denial it is helping the group. “There is mistrust for Pakistan all over. It’s from neighbors, from allies, from everywhere,” Rashid said. “It’s a very dangerous situation.” — Reuters

NEW DELHI: India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) senior leader L K Advani, addresses a rally in New Delhi, India, yesterday. —AP

Indian opposition rally on graft pressures government NEW DELHI: Opposition-driven protests over corruption and high food prices choked parts of India’s capital yesterday, heaping more pressure on a beleaguered government struggling to protect its credibility. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s coalition faces multiple political crises, including multi-billion dollar graft scandals and surging food prices that have sapped its ability to push policies to keep pace with growth of nearly 9 percent. About 20,000 supporters of an opposition alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) thronged parts of central New Delhi, bringing to the streets a protest that has seen an assertive opposition stalling the last parliament session. Protesters raised slogans criticizing what they said was the government’s failure to curb corruption. Many people, including women and children, wore garlands of onion to protest against a sharp rise in the price of the staple. “This is the exhibition of public anger, the beginning of a large nation-wide protest against corruption and inflation,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javdekar told reporters. The opposition has threatened to shut down a February session of parliament if the government does not agree to a joint parliamentary inquiry, which has wide power to summon officials, into a

$39 billion mobile phone license scandal. Telecommunications Minister Andimuthu Raja was sacked because of the scandal. Leaders from Singh’s Congress party have been linked to graft during the Commonwealth Games and in seizing prime property in the financial centre of Mumbai. The deadlock in parliament has meant policymaking has drifted in limbo, economic reforms have been delayed and leaders including Singh have been accused of neglecting governance. Discontent over food price rises is another headache for Singh’s coalition government, eroding its political capital from an impressive election victory last year to push reforms. Food price inflation has retreated over the past three months, but at 9.5 percent is a worry for the Congress party ahead of several state elections next year. For instance, retail onion prices have more than doubled in the past week to 80 rupees ($1.77) per kg. Onions are a main ingredient in almost all Indian dishes. Soaring onion prices have helped dislodge Indian state governments in the past, and rising food costs often spark street protests. Financial markets have not reacted to the political crisis but analysts say the opening of the February budget session in parliament will be a key test. — Reuters

In Helmand, a Taleban stronghold and scene of some of the heaviest fighting in the war, the provincial governor’s office said the five civilians died Tuesday as militants attacked coalition forces in the Sangin district. Seven insurgents were killed in the battle, according to the statement from the governor’s office. NATO has said it was investigating the civilian fatalities and that it exercises the utmost caution during operations to minimize such occurrences. The coalition said Tuesday that insurgents were using a civilian home to attack its forces and that the insurgents launched their attack with assault rifles and a machine gun. NATO troops returned fire and used mortars. A UN report this month said that Afghan civilian casualties increased by 20 percent in the first 10 months of 2010, compared with the same period a year earlier. It said there were at least 6,215 conflict-related civilian casualties, 2,412 deaths and 3,803 injuries. The UN report also found that civilian casualties attributed to NATO and progovernment forces dropped by 18 percent compared to the first 10 months of 2009. The governor’s office said it wants NATO “to pay attention to civilian causalities during operations and prevent” them. The Taleban yesterday rejected the UN report, saying in a statement that it was an exaggeration and “one-sided.” The statement, emailed to reporters, said the UN had over the past year issued similarly biased reports and claimed the report was prepared in consultation with the US The Taleban dismissed the report as “politics” and called it “propaganda against us.” It’s “petty for the UN to continue issuing such incorrect reports,” the statement said. In the operation in Khost province, NATO said intelligence reports led international and Afghan troops to a compound in the Terezai district where an ensuing gun battle killed the Haqqani network leader, identified as Usman, along with an unspecified number of insurgents. NATO said Usman had coordinated and conducted attacks on its forces in Khost. The Haqqani network is among militant groups with hideouts in neighboring Pakistan, from where they attack targets inside Afghanistan. US officials have urged Pakistan to launch an offensive on the North Waziristan area, where these groups are based, but Islamabad has rebuffed such requests, saying its forces are stretched too thin for such an operation without drawing down troops facing its archrival, India. The increased civilian fatalities, coupled with daily clashes in many parts of the country, underscore the difficulty in combatting the Taleban and other militants despite years of war and recent stepped-up efforts by NATO with the addition of about 30,000 new US troops. In tandem with the coalition forces, Afghan troops have also increasingly asserted their presence and efforts in the country , gains made possible by a steady increase in the size of the national army. Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi told reporters the Afghan National Army has grown to 150,000 troops. That’s about 50,000 more than last year. But as the army has grown, so too has the casualty toll it has suffered. In what has become the deadliest year for international troops in Afghanistan, with 695 NATO troops killed, Azimi said 806 Afghan soldiers have been killed since the start of 2010. So far this month, 63 Afghan soldiers have died, compared to 43 in November, he said. Britain’s Ministry of Defense yesterday said that a British soldier was one of two NATO service members killed Tuesday in Helmand. His death raised to 347 the number of British military and civilian defense workers killed in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001, the ministry said. —AP

after 10 yea rs of fighting. Insurgents also try to use civilian deaths a s a w ay of rallying support for their ca use. Also yesterday, NATO said that a leader of the Haqqa ni netw ork , militants who opera te out of w estern Pa kistan and ea stern Afgha nistan, wa s killed in a Dec 18 operation by international forces and their Afghan counterpa rts in the eastern Khost province.

KABUL: Afghan National Army (ANA) officers salute during a graduation ceremony at Ghazi Military Training Center in Kabul yesterday. — AFP

Pakistan arrests police officers in Bhutto case ISLAMABAD: Pakistani police yesterday arrested two senior police officers in court for alleged dereliction of duty over the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, a prosecutor said. Bhutto was assassinated almost exactly three years ago in a gun and suicide attack after addressing an election campaign rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad, on December 27, 2007. In April, a UN panel accused the government of failing to provide Bhutto with adequate protection and said investigations were hampered by intelligence agencies and other officials who impeded “an unfettered search for the truth”. A court in Rawalpindi this month issued warrants for the arrest of Saud Aziz, who was city police chief at the time of the killing, and Khurram Shahzad, another senior policeman for their “failure” to protect Bhutto.

“Both of the police officers have been arrested. The court rejected their application for bail and the judge said ‘this was their duty to carry out the post-mortem’,” special prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali told reporters. Ali previously accused the officers of being responsible for a controversial decision to hose down the scene of the killing, therefore destroying key evidence, and for failing to provide her with adequate security. Asked about the charges against the officers yesterday he told reporters: “Several other points need to be investigated. “Today, the honorable judge rejected their application for bail and ordered their arrest because it was the state’s obligation to carry out a post-mortem.” According to the prosecutor, the judge rejected as evidence an audio tape in which Bhutto’s husband, now President Asif Ali Zardari, apparently asked for the post-

mortem not to be carried out. The court has been adjourned until January 7. At the time, the government of then military ruler Pervez Musharraf blamed the assassination on Pakistan’s Taleban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement. Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack in August 2009, one of the most high-profile casualties of the covert American campaign targeting Al-Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt on the Afghan border. Bhutto, who served two terms as prime minister, returned from exile two months before she was assassinated, to stand for election. Zardari led her Pakistan People’s Party to election victory in February 2008 and is now the head of state, albeit with miserable approval ratings. After the UN report was published in April, Pakistan removed senior police and intelligence officials from their posts. —AFP



Thursday, December 23, 2010


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Saving banks clean-up fuels Spain bailout fears By Judy MacInnes and Sonya Dowsett


pain's ailing savings banks, struggling to attract fresh investment capital after an overhaul, could become the Achilles heel that forces the country down the same path to a financial bailout as Ireland. Under new rules the unlisted regional banks, or 'cajas', may sell up to half their equity to private investors - a key plank of a government scheme to reform a banking system that analysts say needs tens of billions of dollars of fresh capital. But a fund management community already caught out by a bursting real estate bubble in Ireland is sensitive to concerns that cajas will drain more government money due to excessive exposure to another property sector sent into freefall by the global economic crisis. "We are looking for corporates with much more exposure to global growth," said Bill Street, co-global head of active fixed income at State Street Global investors. "We are not particularly positive about (the cajas) the moment as Spain is struggling." Set up hundreds of years ago to protect farmers from poor harvests and accounting for around half the Spanish banking system, the cajas are expected to meet a government deadline of Christmas to complete a merger process that will whittle their number down to 17 from 45. Five of them failed Europe-wide stress tests in July. The state fund set up to aid the mergers and provide capital to provision for bad loans, the Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB), can borrow up to €90 billion ($120 billion) guaranteed by the government on equity of 9 billion. The fund has so far only issued one bond of 3 billion euros, bringing the total amount raised so far up to 12 billion, but markets believe the bill could climb much higher. Credit rating agency Moody's estimates a net capital shortfall of around €17 billion for the Spanish banking system, which it said had only recognised half of economic lifetime losses through writedowns and reserves. UBS estimates Spain's banking sector would need between €70 and 120 billion to strengthen capital and provisions if it wants to offset sovereign risk concerns. It said Ireland's experience had shown that waiting too long to restore confidence in the banking sector's credit quality leads to heightened pressure from the interbank markets to inject capital. A rising tide of bad property loans eventually forced Dublin to seek outside help in managing its finances, and bailing out lenders there could end up costing taxpayers up to €85 billion, or over half of annual GDP. In Spain's case, increasing coverage of banks' doubtful assets to 50 percent of the total would require €60 billion of additional provisions, equivalent to around 6 percent of economic output, UBS said. To date in 2010, the FROB has stumped up about €10.5 billion for the savings banks but the last-minute integration of some small cajas into the merger process could take the bill to up to €12 billion, one senior banker said. The Bank of Spain

said on Dec 13 that it did not expect any more funds to be issued from the FROB in 2011. "Some banks are going to raise capital independently, others through the FROB and if they need it, it is available," Bank of Spain Governor Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez said then. The central bank has told the country's banks to give detailed quarterly reports which include exposure to property developers and bad loan ratios, and to outline financing plans. "We believe market perception is much worse than reality," a Bank of Spain official said at a recent press briefing. But the market has already registered its unease. The subordinated credit default swap on Caja Madrid, which will be the biggest savings bank after the mergers, trades at around 795 basis points in an illiquid market, one analyst said. That means it costs €795,000 to buy protection against default on €10 million worth of Caja Madrid debt - a quarter more than the Irish sovereign fiveyear CDS. That reflects investor perceptions towards a sector blighted by declining profit margins, poor quality assets and potentially confusing management structure following multistranded mergers. "All of this will make it a very hard sell," said Dean Tenerelli, fund manager at T Rowe Price International. "The listed, wellmanaged banks are already trading very cheaply, so what valuation can that put on the cajas?" Rising levels of unpaid loans and a deposit price war are eating into Spanish banks' income. Spanish bank shares have fallen by around 30 percent since the beginning of the year. They have underperformed the European sector by around 23 percent during this period. The cajas booked a 28 percent slump in net profit in the first 9 months of 2010, according to the Spanish Confederation of Savings Banks. Their profitability relative to their total assets is less than half that of listed banks in the year to September, Bank of Spain data shows. Some market watchers believe high-risk private equity funds may show interest in buying equity stakes, provided they are offered a big enough discount. A stake in a merging bank that ends up being one of the dominant players could give an attractive return on equity, said one banker involved with cajas' road shows that have travelled to London, New York and Boston to drum up interest. The problem is the underlying poor credit quality of assets on the cajas' books, he said. Economists expect unpaid loans as a proportion of total loans to continue creeping up next year. A bank analyst at a leading US fund management firm said investors might by assets in a top-ranking caja at just a small 'haircut', but for a savings bank that needed cleaning up "the typical discount on any capital raised would be roughly 40 percent and perhaps a bit more." "Cajas will need to show an improving track record on bad loans and better macro indicators will be necessary before attracting investors on a large scale," said one senior banker in Madrid. "Spain is not flavour of the month at the moment." —Reuters

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Suu Kyi could be boon for Myanmar's old soldiers By Martin Petty


yanmar's military rulers are not getting softer as they maintain their longstanding grip on power, but by freeing prodemocracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, they could be getting smarter. Myanmar's democratic facelift is almost complete and with the spotlight firmly on the recently released Nobel laureate, the generals have the perfect distraction to consolidate power behind a civilian-fronted government for decades to come. A landslide win last month by an armybacked party in an election fraught with allegations of fraud will ensure political and economic power remains in the hands of the current leaders after a government is formed in the next six weeks. Analysts suggest that Suu Kyi, the arch-enemy of 77-year-old junta supremo Than Shwe and number two Maung Aye, 72, might now be more of an asset than a threat. The charismatic Suu Kyi, whose party boycotted the poll, has no political role in the new

system. But she has been given an unprecedented free rein that has revived hopes of Western engagement and eased international pressure on the regime as it adds the finishing touches to its new military-managed democracy. "They're extremely reluctant to release control. They still want to rule this country completely," said Aung Thu Nyein, a Harvard-educated academic and expert on Myanmar politics. "The generals feel very secure now because of their party's landslide win. China and their other allies have endorsed the polls. They can rule the country as civilians and Suu Kyi is no longer a threat to them." The release from house arrest of Suu Kyi, analysts say, was no act of benevolence on the part of her foes, who have yet to respond to her calls for dialogue. Most believe the military, which has ruled for almost half a century and curtailed the country's development, will continue to ignore her. But the reclusive junta's restraint in letting Suu Kyi conduct myriad media interviews and meetings with diplomats and political allies suggests

they might want her to do something they seem incapable of: initiating engagement with the West. Experts say Suu Kyi could be key to boosting the country's tainted image, and a chance to get Western sanctions lifted, attract foreign businesses and reduce Myanmar's dependence on neighbouring China, its biggest political and economic ally. "They're trying to use Suu Kyi and (show) a glimmer of reform for their own purposes, namely, to encourage greater investment and re-engage with the West as a hedge against China," said Josh Kurlantzick of the US-based Council on Foreign Relations. "I don't think they want to be this close to China. I think they have concerns about any closeness with any major power, so they need to hedge against that." Some analysts say the regime's elaborate democratic facade and Suu Kyi's release could have been designed to appease its neighbours and other Asian trade partners, rather than the West. Their willingness to play ball with a dictatorship has frus-

trated the West but they can - and probably will - now argue that the country once known as Burma is a fledgling democracy moving in the right direction. The army-dominated parliament, which has limited powers, will choose a president most likely to be one of the junta top brass, who can appoint almost anyone to serve in the government. There is no requirement for ministers to have been elected. The status quo scenario, whereby the junta and its allies continue to dominate politics and the economy and sideline their opponents, would therefore mean even closer ties with China and other Asian nations. Many of those countries are more likely to accept the regime's grip on power from behind-the-scenes. Others argue that this approach might be more beneficial to the regime: by opening its doors to the West, it could face pressure to reform, become transparent and introduce a proper regulatory framework that might be unfavourable to its business cronies, many of whom are also the targets of sanctions. Myanmar is already reaching out to

Southeast Asia, likening itself to neighbouring Thailand - one of Asia's most attractive emerging markets and touting its vast natural resources, energy reserves and tourism potential. A brochure by the newly formed Myanmar Business Council distributed at a recent Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting reads: "Unfavourable sanctions leaves Myanmar to focus on their neighbours." What experts are sure about is that unlike the old adage, Myanmar's old soldiers won't be fading away. "They've put a very positive spin on things and we would be naive to think Burma is moving forward," said Aung Zaw, editor of the Thai-based Irrawaddy magazine. "There's no sign the regime is willing to open up. They've released Suu Kyi to provide a distraction and there's no sign of dialogue or compromise with her. "We've seen this all before. The regime is very, very confident it will have full control of the country and when Suu Kyi steps out of line, they'll lock her up again." — Reuters

India is new top stop for leaders seeking deals By Krittivas Mukherjee


host of world leaders trooped into India over the last few months, including Russia's president on Tuesday, to strengthen relations with Asia's third-largest economy, attracted by its booming market and growing diplomatic heft. Like a revolving door, India has hosted every major world leader in the past six months. All United Nations Security Council permanent members or BRIC countries of emerging economies have had their leaders visit India, the world's second fastest-growing major economy after China. Britain, the United States, France and China have together secured around $50 billion in deals ranging from defence, energy to telecoms. Once Moscow's agreements with New Delhi on Tuesday are counted, this figure could well double, including nuclear reactors and supersonic fighter aircraft. When Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the 21st century belonged to Asia during his visit to India's capital last week, he did not refer to just China. "It's very simple. We're the new kid on the block," a senior Indian diplomat told Reuters. "The stars are all aligned. We're opening up at the right time in history and no one wants to miss this opportunity. The revolving door won't slow down anytime soon." Analysts say it is the ability of India to bring some substance to the table, partly because of its growing confidence on a global stage, which has put it in focus. That aspect was on display in climate talks in Mexico this month, where India sought to break the logjam

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev smiles during his visit to Taj Mahal in Agra yesterday. – AFP by suggesting all countries should agree to binding carbon emission cuts. But while such issues underscore India's growing relevance, the country's long-term goal is to find a place at the high table of global powers and be taken as seriously as China. "Everybody wants business deals and a degree of political and strategic cooperation with India, and especially for the Americans, India's possible role as a counterweight to China is very important," said Praful Bidwai, political columnist. But the country's emer-

gence as a factor in the global economy is seen as a logical outgrowth of some of the world's biggest challenges - the global financial crisis, regional stability and growing fight for natural resources, and India's ability to help resolve those problems with a $1.3 trillion dollar economy growing annually at about 9 percent. "India and China are the two fastest growing markets and we have just seen that they can be the locomotives that can pull us out of recession. And along with this economic might has come political endorsement," said Lalit

Mansingh, former Indian foreign secretary. "If you look at the new centres of global power, India is one of the five such centres. You cannot ignore that." India's new status is not all about its role as a global "soft power". Rather, it is about a country with increased confidence being a vital market for both struggling and growing economies around the world, especially crucial in times of economic slowdown in the West. With a population of 1.2 billion and a steady opening of a once-restricted economy, a

fast-growing middle class, everyone wants a piece of the pie. British Prime Minister David Cameron pointedly made his first official visit to India and US President Barack Obama spent the longest time abroad as president in India. These instances underscore the importance now placed on India, once seen as a hopeless yet vital democracy struggling with poverty, corruption and political infighting. While its raucous democracy and sometimes unpredictable regulatory climate hamper investor sentiments, the economy's potential

is staggering. For instance, India's retail sector is worth $450 billion; its nuclear power market is estimated at $150 billion over the next decade and India needs to spend $1.5 trillion on improving its infrastructure, which is holding back economic growth by 2 percent a year. India is forecast to be one of the five largest economies in the world by 2020, along with China and Japan. But just three years ago Prime Minister Manmohan Singh returned from a G8 summit in Germany complaining that India was a sideshow and attending such meetings as an invitee was a waste of time. Last month, in New Delhi US President Barack Obama said: "I don't think India is emerging. It has emerged. India is a key actor on the world stage." While the global slowdown spurred a shift towards economic inclusion, a landmark civilian nuclear deal with Washington last year also helped India's entry into the global order as it vies with China for a bigger say in international policymaking. "The world considers India's rise as something that doesn't threaten them, unlike the apprehension surrounding China's rise, and I think that's a big factor in the increased global interest in India," Siddharth Varadarajan, Strategic Affairs Editor at the Hindu newspaper told Reuters. But key issues still need to be addressed as India takes on a global role. Most prominent among these are the current corruption challenges facing Singh's government and the changing regulatory environment - all showing that doing business in India remains difficult. — Reuters


Thursday, December 23, 2010


S Korean drills hit back at 'schoolyard bully' By Simon Martin


outh Korea, strengthened by public fury over a deadly North Korean attack, is pressing ahead with military drills to send an unambiguous signal that it will stand up to intimidation, analysts say. A new livefire drill, scheduled for Thursday at Pocheon 20 km south of the tense mainland border, will involve fighter jets, tanks, self-propelled guns and 800 soldiers. South Korea's navy meanwhile began a firing drill Wednesday off the east coast far south of the border. Tensions have soared since North Korean forces shelled Yeonpyeong island near the contested western sea border last month, in response to a live-fire drill there by the South. The bombardment, the first of a civilian area in the South since the 1950-53 Korean War, killed four people including civilians and damaged dozens of homes. Analysts said the latest drills were essential, especially in light of the military's perceived feeble response to the sinking of a warship in March - for which Pyongyang denies responsibility - and the Yeonpyeong attack. "If you relax and are not prepared and you try to be nice to the North Koreans, they will never stop," said Daniel Pinkston, Northeast Asia deputy project director at the International Crisis Group. "It's like a bully in the schoolyard: if you don't do anything they will never stop. Not to conduct military exercises would be irresponsible, ill-advised and counterproductive." More than 80 percent of South Koreans believe their military should have hit back harder after the

South Korean marines stand guard as they wait their fellow soldiers to return their base after patrolling along on Yeonpyeong island, South Korea, yesterday. – AP Yeonpyeong shelling, according to a poll a week afterwards. Previously, "the strongest and most effective leverage which the North had against the South was public opinion in the South", a senior Seoul government official told reporters, citing proPyongyang and leftist activists. Since the shelling, he said, opinion had shifted rapidly to the right - making the North's bombardment both a military

and a political mistake. The South staged a repeat of the Yeonpyeong drill on Monday but the North did not follow through with bloodcurdling threats to hit back, saying it "did not feel any need to retaliate against every despicable military provocation". The South deployed fighter planes and warships during the exercise, and Pinkston said "the credible use of the threat of force" was the

main reason why the North did not retaliate. Also, he pointed out that 20 US servicemen were on the island at the time. Asked if there is a danger of the South being seen internationally as the bellicose party, as the North claims, Pinkston said Seoul had won the contest for international public opinion "hands down". Peter Beck, a North Korea expert with the Washington-

based Council on Foreign Relations, noted that unlike Yeonpyeong, neither Pocheon nor the eastern waters where the naval drill was taking place are contested territory. "I don't think any reasonable person could see these exercises as provocative," he told AFP. While such exercises may not do much to deter Pyongyang, "they are a statement that the South won't back down in the face of the North's aggression", Beck said. "In light of this, it has no choice but to intensify its exercises." Asked why the North did not retaliate Monday, Beck said Beijing may have ordered its ally to exercise restraint until Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington next month. The South's military preparations may also have been a factor. "The North had lost the element of surprise and there was a recognition that this time the cost would be greater, although this by itself would not be enough to deter them." One analyst saw the upcoming drill as unnecessary. "Considering the current situation, these military exercises are not helpful for keeping peace and maintaining stability on the Korean peninsula," said Yang Moo-Jin of Seoul's University of North Korean Studies. But Lee Sang-Hyun of the South's Sejong Institute said that rather than backfiring, the drills would "send a strong message that South Korea will not tolerate North Korea's provocative acts any longer". "Many South Koreans are also angry and want their government to take a stern attitude over such provocations. South Korea also thinks the international community is on its side," Lee said. — AFP

Scepticism may greet North Korea nuclear offer By Fredrik Dahl


he significance of a reported offer by North Korea to allow UN nuclear inspectors back into the reclusive state will depend on how and when it is implemented, if at all, and what their mandate would be. Proliferation experts said any move to let staff of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) return to the country, from which they were expelled in 2009, may help address mounting international concern over the North's atomic aims. But some also expressed scepticism about Pyongyang's motivations and whether it would grant the Vienna-based UN agency the access to nuclear facilities it would need to effectively carry out its work. "The devil is going to be in the detail," said one senior Western diplomat in the Austrian capital. "I just wonder whether in fact it is bit like the Iranians ... whether it is just another way of buying time," the diplomat said, referring to Western suspicions about Tehran's nuclear intentions and perceived lack of cooperation with the IAEA. Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said the previous presence of UN inspectors in the Asian country had not provided "the world with any confidence that North Korea's nuclear activities were halted or under control." In fact, he said it was very likely that the North - which carried out two nuclear test explosions in 2006 and 2009 - had continued undeclared work "under the nose" of the IAEA while its inspectors were still there until April last year. However, Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies said the North's offer should not be "brushed aside as inconsequential". "There is obviously a large ele-

ment of gamesmanship in North Korea's reported offer. It's a way to entice the US and its allies to return to six-party talks, to discuss what the North Koreans would expect in exchange for these offers," he said. But "having IAEA inspectors back inside the country will be necessary for any long-term solution and would be very useful in the short term to know the status of the various nuclear programs," Fitzpatrick said. The IAEA had no immediate comment on a CNN report that US troubleshooter and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, during a visit to Pyongyang, won agreement from North Korea on the return of IAEA inspectors and for it to sell thousands of fuel rods. Richardson was visiting in an unofficial capacity, the traditional means of communication between the two sides, but it was unclear whether the reported agreement meant real progress, particularly given Pyongyang's poor record of honouring deals. The offers come as the North is seeking to resume the stalled six-party talks. South Korea and the United States have insisted they will only return to the negotiating table when the North makes "sincere" gestures toward denuclearisation. North Korea has been under intense international pressure after the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on it last year for conducting a second nuclear test. Andreas Persbo, executive director of the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC), said the North's inspections offer was potentially a big concession. "Every arms control journey starts with one step, so it is a good start," Persbo said. But a Vienna-based diplomatic source said it was unclear what the North wanted the IAEA to do, noting that it was outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which

is at the heart of the agency's mission to prevent the spread of atomic arms. UN inspectors were previously in the North in an ad hoc capacity as part of the six-party nuclear-disarmament-foraid process, which Pyongyang declared as dead two years ago. "There is no such international agreement at this point that is calling for the IAEA to

help, so a unilateral call by North Korea simply raises questions: what would they ask the IAEA to do?" the diplomatic source said. North Korea has spent years and scarce resources building a plutonium programme, centered at the Yongbyon complex, which has yielded enough fissile material to build up to eight atom

bombs. International alarm about its nuclear program rose further last month with the revelation of a uranium enrichment program, offering a possible second route to making such arms. "It seems that North Korea has made a decision to publicise its centrifuge enrichment programme," the source said. — Reuters

Korea war fears ease By Jung Ha-Won


orth Korea's unpredictable regime appears to be changing tack and reaching out again to the United States, analysts say, easing fears of all-out war with South Korea after a bout of sabre-rattling. The North's step back from the brink Monday - after an earlier threat to retaliate against the South's live-fire drill - helped reduce tensions on the peninsula, although the South remained on alert for possible confrontation. Recent conciliatory gestures by Kim Jong-Il's hardline regime suggest it is "prepared for both dialogue and confrontation", said Yang MooJin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. The North "wants dialogue with the United States", he added. Unless Washington and Seoul dramatically provoke the North, such as by staging more joint naval exercises, "the chances of Pyongyang carrying out any pre-emptive attacks are pretty low at this point", he said. Washington and its allies face a dilemma in responding to the latest round of brinkmanship by the North, which has a track record of swings between conciliatory and aggressive behaviour. North Korea last year bolted six-nation disarmament talks and has since pursued its nuclear programme. It allegedly torpedoed a South Korean ship in March and last month shelled a civilian area, killing four people. Reports that North Korea is willing to re-admit UN nuclear inspectors following a visit by US troubleshooter Bill Richardson may indicate it is now prioritising dialogue. South Korea and the United States, however, reacted cautiously to the latest overtures by the secretive regime. Washington accused the North of "broken promises". Seoul noted that Richardson's visit was unofficial and suggested it

was being used by Pyongyang as political "propaganda". North Korea in April 2009 pulled out of the nuclear disarmament talks with South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan and ordered atomic inspectors out of the country. It staged its second nuclear test a month later. The North says it wants a treaty to formally end the Korean War, as well as the lifting of sanctions, before pushing ahead with nuclear disarmament in return for badly needed economic aid. Richardson said in Beijing on Tuesday that the North Koreans "realise that they have moved too negatively against negotiations". "The message for the South is that Pyongyang will sidestep Seoul and only deal with Washington," said Cheong Seong-Chang, a North Korea expert at the Sejong Institute. Pyongyang has long called for talks with Washington on signing a peace pact while the United States says this can only be discussed after the North returns to stalled nuclear disarmament talks. Analysts say the North's regime has lived for decades in genuine fear of a US attack, especially since the Iraq invasion, and sees a peace treaty as some sort of safeguard. The North is unlikely to try to do anything that would hamper negotiations with Washington, Cheong said. Experts say the reclusive nation's conciliatory gestures appear to reflect its desire to avoid alienating its key ally China as well as Russia, both key players in the nuclear talks. China blocked efforts at the UN Security Council on Sunday to condemn the North for its artillery bombardment last month. Retaliating against the South Korean drill on Monday would have left China and Russia "in a very difficult situation", said Kim Yong-Hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Seoul's Dongguk University. "China and Russia can be credited for preventing the North from hitting back at the South," he said. — AFP

World vs Gbagbo is African test case By Mark John


arely have world powers and neighbours piled so much concerted pressure on an African leader to quit as Laurent Gbagbo faces after an Ivory Coast poll he is almost universally judged to have lost. But with Gbagbo determined to stay in power, the stand-off is becoming a test of how far the world is prepared to go to resolve the type of election dispute that has plagued African politics for decades. "The level of consensus is unprecedented," Rolake Akinola of political risk consultancy VoxFrontier said of the endorsement by the United Nations, African leaders, Washington and Europe of Gbagbo's rival Alassane Ouattara as winner. "It will make others elsewhere think hard about what they are going to do," she said. With 17 national elections scheduled in Africa next year, it will be the busiest year of voting for the continent since the independence era. A Nov. 28 poll intended to draw the line on Ivory Coast's 2002-2003 civil war now risks plunging the world's top cocoa grower into new conflict after a pro-Gbagbo constitutional body overturned Ouattara's win on grounds of fraud. His subsequent swearing-in triggered a diplomatic backlash intended to

Women hold a piece of meat during a demonstration against violence and killings in the Abattoir (slaughterhouse) neighborhood in Abidjan yesterday. – AP show, in the words of a senior US State Department official, that "the era of stealing elections is over." Suspensions of Ivory Coast by the ECOWAS West African bloc and the African Union suggest Gbagbo - who already had few natural allies in his neighbourhood - has been frozen out by peers more completely than even Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. Defying his demand that the

10,000-strong UN peacekeeping force leave, the UN Security Council this week extended its mandate for another six months and France is also keeping its 950-strong force in place. The IMF has said it can only work with a UN-recognised government and donors such as the African Development Bank and World Bank have put programmes under review, poten-

tially depriving Gbagbo of debt relief and lending. European Union countries have agreed travel bans on Gbagbo, his powerful wife Simone and 17 officials. The United States is looking at a move that could even mean the children of Ivorian officials are ejected from US schools. But so far Gbagbo appears unmoved, at least officially. A personal telephone call and letter

from US President Barack Obama have gone unanswered, while Gbagbo's interior minister said simply of the EU sanctions: "They make us smile." "Ouattara may have the moral high ground, but Gbagbo has all the levers of power," Stratfor analyst Mark Schroeder said. He still controls the army, state broadcaster, the bulk of cocoa output and the country's two main ports. Views differ on how the coming weeks and months could play out - assuming all-out civil war does not happen first. Starving Gbagbo's government of external funds could stir discontent in the army and civil service if wages do not get paid. Ivorian diplomats and other officials will consider the risk to their reputation of being allied to a pariah regime. Which way the Senegal-based BCEAO regional bank - the central bank of the West African franc monetary zone - swings could be vital. Ouattara has asked it to recognise only his parallel administration as a signatory to transactions. But so far, the Bank appears to be sitting on the fence. "If the pressure is kept up, sooner or later the (Gbagbo) administration will start to get squeezed," said Akinola, suggesting things could get tougher for Gbagbo as time goes on. Others are less convinced but acknowledge that a next possible

step - a sanctions regime on the cocoa industry that supplies around 40 percent of the world market - is risky. "Sanction of the cocoa sector could backfire, both on the global markets as well as a prospective Ouattara government," said African security adviser J Peter Pham, noting the risk that it could turn cocoa farmers strongly against Ouattara. But if there is little international appetite for a cocoa embargo that would deny a poor country of a major export earner - and possibly entail major humanitarian consequences - there is even less support for armed intervention. An African Union-led military intervention in the Indian Ocean islands of the Comoros in 2008 to oust the presidential claimant after an illegal election is not seen setting a viable precedent for similar action in 20-million-head Ivory Coast. If the crisis drags on, the likelihood could grow of talks on possible power-sharing deal, despite the reluctance of the AU and ECOWAS to accept a route followed by Kenya and Zimbabwe after similar disputes. With 2011 due to see elections in Nigeria, Congo, Cameroon, Zambia, Uganda and elsewhere, such a messy outcome is not the best encouragement to Africans who long for the chance to choose their leaders through the ballot box. — Reuters


A political rebound, but can it hold? By Jim Kuhnhenn


President Barack Obama is rebounding from his party's drubbing in congressional elections with the kind of victory list from Congress' final days that any White House would want: a tax deal, a landmark repeal of the ban on openly gay military service and the prospect of a major nuclear treaty with Russia. Each represents a different approach at dealmaking, but none alone offers a clear path to governing in a divided capital over the next two years. In the seven weeks since the congressional election, Obama negotiated with Republican leaders on taxes and left angry liberals on the sidelines. On the New START arms treaty, he sidelined Republican Senate leaders and negotiated with like-minded Republicans. And with the repeal of the Pentagon's don't ask, don't tell policy on gays in uniform, he delighted liberals, won Republican rank-and-file support and left conservatives fuming. Obama, whose first two years were marked by staunchly partisan votes on his signature initiatives, finds himself at a crossroads. Faced with an ascendant Republican party and a restless electorate, the White House is happily holding up the president's recent successes as a sign of new outreach. "This won't be a model for everything over the next two years, but it provides a strong foundation to build on," said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. The year-ending congressional session, however, is not an altogether clear template for the future. Democrats for now still control the House of Representatives and the Senate; next year Republicans will take over the House and gain seats in the Senate. The issues that lent themselves to compromise were easier in the short year-ending session than the hurdles the White House, Democrats and Republicans will have to clear in the months ahead. And the next two years also lead inexorably to the 2012 presidential elections, where confrontation, not cooperation, will dominate politics. What is more, Obama and Congress merely postponed crucial moments of reckoning. The tax cut agreement extended for two years all tax rates from President George W. Bush's tenure. That leaves unsolved the question of what tax rates should be made permanent and which ones should be allowed to increase. That debate may well dominate the presidential election year. Congress also was unable to pass a major spending bill to keep the government operating, settling for a short-term, stopgap measure that maintains current spending into early March. That means a new and contentious debate with a Republican-controlled House over money to implement new health care and bank oversight laws that many Republicans oppose. The Senate failed to advance an immigration bill that would have given a path to legal status to many young illegal immigrants who join the US military or attend college in the United States. The legislation will be far more difficult to pass in the new Congress. Congress and the White House also have vowed to tackle sky-high deficits and the growing national debt, challenges that Obama himself acknowledged last week will be far more difficult than the tax deal he was signing. "There will be moments, I'm certain, over the next couple of years in which the holiday spirit won't be as abundant as it is today," the president said Friday as he signed the tax legislation with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell at his side. Still, the achievements of the year-ending session are

remarkable and surprising, and they help cast Obama in a new light. During his 2008 campaign, Obama offered two visions of change. One was in policy: He would overhaul the nation's health care system and provide universal insurance. The other was tone: His was a purple nation, not a red or blue America riven by partisanship. For most of his first two years, he managed to accomplish the first at the cost of the latter. Over the past few weeks, however, Obama has shown his willingness to bend and pull votes from the other side to get results, even at some cost within his party. To many liberals, the session marked Obama as a pushover and Republicans, in the words of Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, as "better poker players." To some Republicans, Obama emerged as a selfinterested pragmatist. "When faced with the specter of committing either political harakiri or doing the right thing, he'll do the right thing," said Republican consultant John Feehery, a former senior House Republican leadership aide. "He can be politically ruthless when he has to be." And yet to others he showed himself to be an agile and graceful politician. "He's very supple and very smart," said Fred Greenstein, the presidential historian and emeritus professor at Princeton University. "People are welcome to underestimate him. I'm sure it doesn't bother him at all." To achieve the tax deal, he abandoned his demand that tax rates for the wealthy had to go up and signed off on an estate tax rate that Democrats opposed. But he managed to win billions of dollars in jobless benefits, a payroll tax cut and breaks for businesses that were far more ambitious than many thought he could obtain to stimulate the economy. The deal, cut with Senate Republican leaders, avoided a tax increase for all, but it marginalized liberals, and they were livid. On the nuclear arms treaty, the White House saw the shortened congressional session as a final opportunity to avoid a protracted debate next year. That could have doomed a treaty the administration sees as essential to establishing credibility abroad. But McConnell and his second in command, Sen. Jon Kyl, insisted on more time and decided to oppose the New START treaty. To win support, the White House found an ally in Republican Sen Richard Lugar of Indiana. Lugar was a foreign policy expert whom Obama first sought out during Obama's early days in the Senate four years ago. As senators, the two had traveled to the former Soviet Union together and sponsored legislation on nonproliferation of conventional weapons and on fuel economy. Systematically, the White House lobbied Republicans with a bipartisan array of figures from the foreign policy community. They won the backing of former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former President George H W Bush and they kept their own contacts with Republican senators private. By Tuesday, they had won the stated support of nine Republicans in the Senate, enough to win the two-thirds majority needed to ratify a treaty, expected yesterday. "The president would admit that he spent more time reaching out to Republicans recently than in previous times," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday. Winning the repeal of don't ask, don't tell was less about bipartisanship than about finding the opening in the yearending session's calendar. Still, the measure passed with the type of Republican support Congress had not seen for two years. For the White House, it also was a welcome fulfillment of a campaign promise, and it was proof to liberals that Obama was not throwing them under the bus.— AP



Thursday, December 23, 2010

In poverty-struck Yemen, Al-Qaeda is a low priority Continued from Page 1 Less than a tenth of the roads are paved. Water is running out. Tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes by conflict, flooding into cities. The government is riddled with corruption, has little control outside the capital, and its main source of income - oil - could run dry in a decade. As a result, Al-Qaeda is far down on a long list of worries for most Yemenis, even as the United States presses the government to step up its fight against the terror network’s affiliate here. Donor nations are meeting in February in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to gather millions of dollars for development in Yemen. Aid groups, economists and officials are scurrying to develop poverty reduction and economic restructuring plans for this nation of 23 million. The United States has already dedicated $150 million in development money, alongside its counterterrorism aid to fight Al-Qaeda, which is to grow to from $150 million to $250 million over the next year. Other donor countries have given millions more, acknowledging that the terror network cannot be uprooted unless Yemen is pulled out of poverty. “The neighboring countries and Europeans and US have a lot at stake, not only in Yemen, but in the Middle East. I don’t think anyone wants to see Yemen failing,” said Benson Ateng, the World Bank’s Yemen country manager. Some aid workers fear that the government, which clings to power through patronage, will direct aid to allied tribes while leaving others out in the cold, fueling resentment. A focus by donors on steering aid to areas with a known Al-Qaeda presence, not necessarily the poorest zones, may also backfire. “Donors are focusing on development as a tool to address security issues, and not as an end in itself,” said Ashley Clements, Oxfam representative in Sanaa. “There is a risk that the tendency will increase over the years. Focusing on one issue alone will be to the

detriment of the well-being of Yemen’s people.” Malnutrition typifies how overlapping problems lead to crisis. Much of Yemen’s agriculture - and 30 percent of its water has turned to cultivating qat, the mildly stimulating leaf that Yemenis addictively chew, leaving the country a net food importer with little cash to pay for it. At the same time, health infrastructure and education is lacking, the rate of breastfeeding for children under six months is only 10 percent. Moreover, the rise in malnutrition was able to pass largely unnoticed because the weak government was not keeping valid statistics and had no commitment or ability to head it off. “There is no single other country in the world where we ever have seen such high levels of malnutrition,” said Greet Cappelaera, Yemen country director of UNICEF. At the Sanaa hospital, AlWadei’s daughter Maram has recovered after treatment. But another of her four children - a 2 1/2-year-old daughter - can barely stand, another malnutrition symptom, and the family can’t afford to treat her. “I don’t want kids anymore,” mourns Al-Wadei. “I don’t even want myself.” Yemeni officials say their resources are strained by security challenges, including a northern rebellion, a southern separatist movement and Al-Qaeda. “If there is no security and stability, there will be no development, no poverty alleviation and no investment,” said Hesham Sharaf, deputy minister of planning and international cooperation. Oil revenues make up at least threequarters of the government budget, but oil production is steadily declining. Yemen could become a net importer in the next five years and its oil reserves could run out completely by 2021, according to IMF and World Bank estimates. What development there is in Yemen is a patchwork, depending on where the government has thrown its limited cash. Oil money has fueled a consumption boom among a small slice of the population. In Sanaa, new hotels and restaurants have

arisen, along with shopping complexes boasting Baskin Robbins branches and Porsche and BMW dealerships. Large video billboards advertise new housing projects. But just beyond the capital’s edge, rural Yemen immediately emerges, with little infrastructure. Donkey carts replace SUVs, and government authority largely vanishes, replaced by highly independent local tribes. In Wadi Dhaher, a village just 10 km outside Sanaa, floods have left mud houses partially demolished and deserted. Muddy roads lead to the village’s qat plantations, which consumes most of the village water. For water, Wadi Dhaher relies on a local well dug 400 m deep to search for disappearing ground water, despite a national law limiting wells to 60 m to prevent overconsumption. Its residents belong to the Hashed tribe, which is nominally pro-government but brooks little interference from authorities. “We are self-sufficient here,” said Abdullah Muhsen, a 27-year-old who operates the village bath. “Our authority is the (tribal) sheikh. Even the president needs his approval.” In a country with the seventh highest population growth in the world - 2.9 percent a year - the tens of thousands of Yemenis entering the work force each year find few opportunities. Many pour into Sanaa for jobs, straining the infrastructure. Mourad Hamoud dropped out of high school in the southern town of Taiz and moved to Sanaa, hoping for a government job. But he found such jobs go mainly to northerners, so he opened a barber shop. “I couldn’t keep up with studying and working,” he said. “If things were right, I wouldn’t have to leave studying to work.” Mohammed AbdelMalik Mutawakel, a Sanaa University political science professor, said the danger is that Yemen’s youth find “the economy is closed to them”. “So they will only think of a political struggle,” he said. “If that also is closed. they will fight then, either through Al-Qaeda, the southerners, or any other way.” — AP

Khateeb warns future of Kuwait is at stake Continued from Page 1 against the government. L ate on Tuesday, hundreds of Kuwaiti men marched at the diwaniyas of several MPs who have not supported the grilling and are perceived to support the prime minister. The MPs included Hussein Mizyed, Mohammad Al-Huwailah, Khaled AlAdwah, Saad Znaifer and Saadoun Hammad. Other marches on other MPs are expected. Public gatherings are still going on and the opposition plans to hold around five more gatherings before the grilling debate. A huge gathering was held late yesterday in Hadiya at the residence of Khalid Al-Mutairi where several MPs and political activists participated. MPs Musallam Al-Barrak, Khalid Al-Tahous, Mubarak Al-Walaan, Saifi Al-Saifi, and Falah AlSawwagh were present before the start of the rally. The diwaniya area was surrounded by security forces and backups were sent as the crowd grew to more than 1,500. Organizers prevented the reporter and videographer of Al-Sabah news channel from covering the event and quietly asked them to leave. Former secretary general of the National Democratic Alliance Khalid AlFadhalah asked the crowd to stand in recognition of jailed law professor Dr Obaid Al-Wasmi. He then asked ministers to resign during the grilling session, “otherwise they will be considered participants in the beating of MPs and the people”. Meanwhile MP Salem Al-Namlan said he is in support of the grilling and the no-

cooperation motion. “We will not be true men if we do not support the grilling motion, the letter of no cooperation and the open session,” he said. He said this action will be a sign of support of the constitution and people’s dignity. Walaan said he is ready to submit his resignation in case a mass resignation from the parliament takes place because of what he described as “MPs of interests destroying the country”. Meanwhile, writer Ahmad Al-Dayeen responded to comments that the popular movements are “tribal” by saying : “We are proud to be led by tribes”. Meanwhile, deputy prime minister for economic affairs Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahd Al-Sabah said yesterday the grilling is a political issue and the government will deal with it through the constitution, denying that he had been assigned with the file. Sheikh Ahmad however recalled the messages issued by HH the Amir which called for national unity and reminded that Kuwait will be marking the golden anniversary of its independence in February. Sheikh Ahmad expressed confidence that the so-called divisions in the society among tribes, factions and sects will disappear once people unite. Also, liberal MP Aseel Al-Awadhi said she submitted yesterday key amendments to the press and publications law and the audiovisual law and the main amendment is to scrap jail sentences for press violations. She said that her amendments provide for more media freedom as they will separate the involvement of the tough penal code from governing press violations. “It is not acceptable to con-

front words and opinions with jail,” Awadhi said. A number of writers and lawyers, like Mohammad Abdulqader AlJassem, have been handed jail terms for writing articles deemed offensive. In a related development, secretary general of the Kuwaiti Journalists Association Faisal Al-Qanae yesterday criticized the opposition for not allowing two local TV stations from covering their press conferences. Qanae said the incident is uncivilized and represents an insult to Kuwaiti media in general, adding the action is an indication of rejecting criticism and freedom by some MPs who should be the first to defend them. He called on security forces to provide protection to journalists and photographers. Responding to Qanae’s statement, opposition MP Faisal Al-Mislem accused the association of remaining silent toward a campaign of insults and slander launched against MPs, the National Assembly and the constitution by a number of Kuwaiti newspapers and television stations. He questioned if the association’s silence was an indication of support for such media outlets. In another development, two Islamist MPs yesterday warned Finance Minister Mustafa Al-Shamali that an influential personality intruded the customs area at Kuwait Airport and took out by force a shipment which included a quantity of pork. MP Mohammad Hayef charged that authorities have tried to cover up the incident and Shamali has so far failed to take any action, and MP Khaled Al-Sultan also warned the finance minister against remaining idle.

Jordanians playing active role in Qaeda Continued from Page 1 information to the CIA on Al-Qaeda’s number 2, Ayman Al-Zawahri. But he turned on his handlers. Al-Khayat knew Al-Balawi from their hometown of Zarqa, the birthplace of slain Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab AlZarqawi, the Mideast counterterrorism official said. “He named himself after the terrorist Al-Zarqawi, which shows that he completely identified himself as a militant,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press. The official declined to provide details on Al-Khayat’s death, citing classified intelligence data. But he said the terrorist was an “Al-Qaeda operative, who knew many in the terror group’s top echelon”. “He was sought in Jordan for his militant ideology and articles he published on the Internet,” he said, adding that Al-Khayat was arrested a few times between 2000 and 2005, but never indicted on terrorism-related charges. In an interview with an Islamist militant website in April, Al-Khayat urged Mideast Arabs to “focus on the wars of assassinations, snipers and explosives.” Government records showed that AlKhayat was born to a Palestinian family from the Gaza Strip, with ties to the West Bank town of Hebron. Three of his friends, insisting on anonymity for fear of police reprisal, said he studied medicine in Ukraine, but never completed his degree. One said he had a “bad relationship” with

his father, who insisted he abandon extremism. He said Al-Khayat had a love affair with Jordanian-Palestinian woman, whose father refused his marriage proposal “because of his hardline religious views”. His troubled relationships were confirmed by another friend who posted an emotional condolence letter on the Internet. Meanwhile, military prosecutors indicted the former mentor to the late Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and three other militants on charges of recruiting militants in Jordan to join a “terrorist organization” identified as the Taleban in Afghanistan. It said the Jordanian cell sought to help Taliban in its “terror attacks” against US and other troops in Afghanistan. The indictment, made available to AP yesterday, said Jordanian-Palestinian Isam Mohammed Taher Al-Barqawi, also known as Sheikh Abu-Mohammed Al-Maqdisi, and the others were arrested on Sept 22. The four are expected to stand trial in Jordan’s military court soon, a top military prosecutor said, insisting on anonymity because he is not allowed to comment on an ongoing case. He said no trial date was set yet. The counterterrorism official insisted that Jordanians only make up a “small portion” of those fighting against US and other Western troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen, with the bulk of them coming from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Egypt and Pakistan. However, he did provide details about eight Jordanians either arrested or killed

just in the past month for involvement in terror-related activities. * Dec 15, Jordanian engineer Maath Mohammed Kamal Alia, 45, was arrested in Yemen on suspicion of throwing a bomb at a US Embassy vehicle. * Dec 14, Jordanian-Palestinian militant Mahmoud Abu Reidah, 38, was killed by US forces in Afghanistan. An Al-Qaeda operative better known as Abu Rasmi, he was granted political asylum in Britain in 1998. * Dec 7, Jordanian computer engineer Mohammed Rateb Qteishat, 33, was killed by Iraqi forces in the northern city of Mosul. He was an Al-Qaeda operative fighting American forces in Iraq. In 2006, he was sentenced to death in absentia in his native Jordan for plotting attacks on Americans in Jordan and attempting to blow up hotels in Amman. * Nov 19, four Jordanians of Palestinian origin from Zarqa were killed while fighting American troops in Iraq. The men were all in their 20s and 30s and with the exception of one, had served jail terms in Jordan for plotting anti-American terror attacks. With close ties to the US and diplomatic relations with Israel, Jordan has been the target of more than 100 terror plots blamed on Al-Qaeda in the past decade, according to Jordanian military court records. Most prominent was a triple hotel bombing in Nov 2005, which killed 60 Jordanians, mainly women and children. — AP

COLUMBUS, Ohio: Saida Said, 20, of Grove City, answers questions from the media after the Council on American-Islamic Relations held a news conference Tuesday to urge the FBI to investigate an apparently bias-motivated attack on Said outside a local mosque as a hate crime. — AP

Muslim woman attacked outside mosque in Ohio COLUMBUS, Ohio: A 20-year-old immigrant from Somalia said someone assaulted her with pepper spray outside an Ohio mosque and told her to leave the country, spurring investigations by police and likely the FBI. Saida Said said she was in her car running errands when a man in a car followed her to the mosque’s parking lot on the west side of Columbus on Monday afternoon. The woman told reporters the man harassed her, swore at her, said she

should leave the country and threatened to kill her. He then attacked her with pepper spray, she said. Mosque officials called police, who took a report and turned it over to the prosecutor’s office. The FBI said Tuesday it will likely open a civil rights investigation, the results of which would be turned over to federal prosecutors for any possible charges. A mosque security camera recorded the encounter. The video, which

was shown to reporters, shows the woman pulling into the parking lot, another vehicle pulling in and blocking hers, and then a man getting out and angrily talking to her. The alleged pepper-spraying was not visible, because the woman’s car blocked the camera’s view. Abdiaziz Abdi, a spokesman for the mosque, said the camera was installed about a year ago because several cars had been vandalized. — AP

Russia’s sexy spy takes top Kremlin youth role MOSCOW: Seductive Russian spy Anna Chapman yesterday won a key role in a pro-Kremlin youth group, telling her fellow young patriots that it was time to transform the future with a smile. Chapman, booted out of the United States along with nine other Russian spies in July, became a member of the social council of the Molodaya Gvardiya (Young Guard) youth group at its fourth congress, it said on its website. The Molodaya Gvardiya has its roots in the Soviet-era Komsomol youth group and was revived in the late 1990s to mobilise “patriotic” youth to support the authorities under Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. It is now part of Russia’s ruling party United Russia, whose overall leader is Putin. Addressing the young delegates at the conference, Chapman, 28, used language reminiscent of Soviet rallying calls to the proletariat to urge her fellow youths to have a positive attitude to life. “My hope is that we start to be positive. We spent so much energy becoming a great power. We must be joyful about each coming day, each time there is a chance to create something new and useful. We must transform the future, starting with ourselves!” Chapman, dressed in a tight redand-black outfit with a zipper front told the audience in comments broadcast on state television. She mused: “There would be less negativity in society if we woke up with a smile. If every one of us was joyful we could do something useful and new.” However when asked by journalists later exactly what her job in the group would entail, Chapman proved less talkative and asked her bodyguard to take her away, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. She then lef t. Timur Prokopenko, elected leader of the Molodaya Gvardiya at the same meeting, did not give details, telling the state news agency that Chapman was a “hero of our generation”. Her new work provides yet another role for the increasingly busy Chapman, who posed virtually nude for a Russian men’s magazine, met Putin and attended a space launch since returning home. Chapman has also been hired as a representative of a little-known asset man-

MOSCOW: Anna Chapman, who was deported from US on charges of espionage, is seen on stage with the leaders of Young Guards, a proKremlin youth movement she joined, yesterday. — AP agement firm called FondServiceBank, whose acronym is curiously the same as Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) domestic intelligence agency. Earlier this month, she even made a surprise appearance at a modernisation forum attended by President Dmitry Medvedev. Her red

hair and curvy figure ensured Chapman was by far the most prominent of the 10 spies expelled by the United States. The spies were given awards by Medvedev but former intelligence professionals have lambasted them for their apparently shoddy spycraft in the field. — AFP

Dubai cuts sentences in slaying case Continued from Page 1 The decision by the appeals court judge, Mustafa Al-Shennawi, could allow the two inmates - from Iran and Tajikistan - to go free in early 2012, counting time already served in prison. They were convicted in April of helping plan the March 2009 slaying of Yamadayev, who was living in Dubai under an alias. Prosecutors now have until late January to challenge the appeal court ruling. The daylight shooting in a parking lot stunned

Dubai authorities, who had often provided temporary haven to embattled political figures such as the late Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan and former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Dubai’s reputation as a latter-day Casablanca was further reinforced by the spy thriller-like murder of Hamas commander Mahmoud AlMabhouh in January by a hit squad suspected of using disguises and fake passports. Dubai police claim the slaying was masterminded by Israel’s Mossad secret service.

Yamadayev was a former Chechen warlord who switched sides in the conflict between Chechen rebels and the Russian government. He later fell out of favor with Chechnya’s Kremlin-allied president Ramzan Kadyrov and fled, making his way to Dubai. The two jailed men - identified by state media as Mahdi Tagi Dhurnia of Iran and Tajik national Mahsoudjan Asmanov - were convicted of aiding in the assassination plot, including passing the gun to the alleged shooter and helping other suspects flee the UAE. — AP

Thursday, December 23, 2010



NHL results/standings NHL results and standings on Tuesday. Buffalo 5, Anaheim 2; St Louis 4, Atlanta 2; Columbus 3, Calgary 1; Washington 5, New Jersey 1; Dallas 5, Montreal 2; Los Angeles 5, Colorado 0; San Jose 2, Edmonton 1. Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L OTL GF Philadelphia 22 8 5 117 Pittsburgh 22 10 2 110 NY Rangers 20 14 1 105 New Jersey 9 22 2 59 NY Islanders 6 18 6 65

GA 87 79 91 103 104

PTS 49 46 41 20 18

Montreal Boston Buffalo Ottawa Toronto

Northeast 19 13 17 11 14 16 14 17 12 17

Division 2 89 4 89 4 89 4 81 4 75

77 68 97 106 102

40 38 32 32 28

Washington Atlanta Tampa Bay Carolina Florida

Southeast 20 12 19 12 19 10 15 13 15 16

Division 4 109 5 117 4 104 4 90 0 85

100 104 109 99 78

44 43 42 34 30

Western Conference Central Division Detroit 20 8 4 105 Nashville 17 9 6 83 Chicago 18 14 3 111 Columbus 17 13 3 85 St. Louis 16 12 5 86

88 79 103 91 93

44 40 39 37 37

Division 4 101 4 121 4 79 3 92 5 85

78 110 91 103 110

42 42 34 31 29

Pacific Division 21 10 3 100 18 11 5 102 18 16 4 98 19 12 1 95 15 10 7 89

92 95 111 75 93

45 41 40 39 37

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

Northw est 19 8 19 11 15 13 14 18 12 15

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

SAN JOSE: Nikolai Khabibulin No. 35 of the Edmonton Oilers makes a save on a shot taken by Dany Heatley No. 15 of the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion. —AFP

Stars top West, beat Canadiens as Kings march on DALLAS: The surging Dallas Stars beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 on Tuesday to maintain their overall lead of the NHL Western Conference. Jamie Benn scored a short-handed goal, Brad Richards added a power-play tally, andAdam Burish, Karlis Skrastins and Loui Eriksson also scored for the Stars who are 10-0-2 in their past 12 at home. Brian Gionta scored short-handed and Mathieu Darche added an even-strength goal for the Canadiens, 1-5 in their past six. Kings 5, Avalanche 0 In Denver, Los Angeles terminated

Colorado’s six-game winning streak. Jonathan Quick stopped 23 shots for his third shutout of the season, while Dustin Brown had two goals and two assists for the Kings. Rob Scuderi had a goal and an assist, while Brad Richardson also netted. Colorado had scored in its previous 55 games, dating back to February. Blues 4, Thrashers 2 In Atlanta, Ty Conklin stopped 37 shots as St. Louis recorded an upset win over Atlanta. Alexander Steen gave St. Louis the lead with a goal late in the second period and led 3-1 before Dustin

Byfuglien scored for the Thrashers with 7:23 remaining. Atlanta got a power play with 1:58 left and pulled goalie Chris Mason for an extra skater, but an empty-net goal by Vladimir Sobotka in the final minute clinched the win for the Blues. Brad Boyes and Alex Pietrangelo also scored for St. Louis. Bryan Little scored Atlanta’s first goal in the first period. Sabres 5, Ducks 2 In Buffalo, New York, Tyler Ennis scored two goals to lift Buffalo over Anaheim. Ryan Miller, making his 11th

straight start, earned his 199th NHL win. His shutout bid was spoiled when Corey Perry scored late for the Ducks. Miller finished with 21 saves while Perry got both Anaheim goals. Craig Rivet had a goal and assist, while Drew Stafford and Nathan Gerbe also scored for the Sabres. Sharks 2, Oilers 1 In San Jose, Logan Couture and Dan Boyle scored 3:28 apart in the second period, leading San Jose past Edmonton. The Sharks posted their first run of three straight wins this season.

Dustin Penner scored for the Oilers, who had won three in a row on the road. Blue Jackets 3, Flames 1 In Columbus, the hosts snapped a fourgame losing streak by beating Calgary. Mathieu Garon made 29 saves in his debut as the Blue Jackets’ No. 1 goalie, having taken over the starting job from the struggling Steve Mason. Columbus’ goals came from Jakub Voracek, Jared Boll and Rostislav Klesla. Olli Jokinen had the lone goal for Calgary, which lost its third straight.

Capitals 5, Devils 1 In Washington, Andrew Gordon had a goal and assist for his first two NHL points as Washington downed New Jersey. John Carlson added a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who moved above Atlanta back into first place in the Southeast Division. The Devils, who have the secondworst record in the NHL, dropped their ninth straight road game and third overall. New Jersey got even at 1 when Patrik Elias scored in the second period, but the Capitals took then took over. — AP

Yankees hit with $18 million luxury tax for exceeding cap

SPAIN: In this July 30, 2010, file photo, Spain’s Marta Dominguez celebrates after winning the silver medal in the Women’s 3000m Steeplechase final during the European Athletics Championships. — AP

Dominguez denies doping charges MADRID: World steeplechase champion Marta Dominguez denied involvement in doping after testifying before a judge yesterday in the Spanish anti-doping investigation Operation Galgo. “I am innocent and I will return to competition as soon as I recover from my pregnancy,” she told reporters after spending 2 1/2 hours in a closed session at the Madrid court. The 35-year-old Dominguez was one of 14 people detained on Dec. 9 after the

Spanish Civil Guard found anabolic steroids, hormones, bags of blood and blood-doping equipment in raids across the country. Dominguez said nothing had been confiscated from her home and denied dealing doping substances. She said she was implicated through wiretaps. “A lot of damage has been done to my image, my family and my loved ones,” she said. Dominguez, who is four months pregnant and not competing, has previously

denied any wrongdoing. Other suspects include her coach Cesar Perez, former European 5,000-meter champion Alberto Garcia and Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the center of cycling’s Operation Puerto probe. The Spanish athletics federation has said that Dominguez, who also is a twotime European 5,000-meter champion and one of Spain’s most decorated athletes, will be stripped of her medals if found to have been involved in the doping ring.

More than 350 Spanish track and field coaches released a statement on Tuesday giving their support to the anti-doping investigation. They said the “suspects should be investigated to the full extent.” Galgo, meaning “greyhound” in Spanish, is the third recent Civil Guard investigation into doping in sports after Operation Puerto, a massive investigation which led to bans for cyclists Alejandro Valverde and Ivan Basso, and last year’s Operation Grial. — AP

NEW YORK: The New York Yankees lowered spending on players by $12 million this year, cutting payroll by $5 million and slashing their Major League Baseballleading luxury tax by more than $7 million. New York was hit with an $18 million luxury tax by MLB on Tuesday. The tax was New York’s lowest since 2003 and down from $25.7 million last year, when the Yankees won the World Series. Season-ending payroll information and the tax was sent to teams on Tuesday and obtained by The Associated Press. Boston is the only other team that will have to pay. The Red Sox, who missed the playoffs this year, exceeded the payroll threshold for the first time since 2007 and owe $1.49 million. According to the collective bargaining agreement, the Yankees and Red Sox must send checks to the commissioner’s office by Jan. 31. Red Sox president Larry Lucchino declined comment. Since the current tax began in 2003, the Yankees have run up a bill of $192.2 million. The only other teams to pay are Boston ($15.34 million), Detroit ($1.3 million) and the Los Angeles Angels ($927,000). New York’s payroll was $215.1 million for the purpose of the luxury tax, down from $226.2 million, and the Yankees pay at a 40 percent rate for the amount over the threshold, which rose from $162 million to $170 million. Boston’s luxury-tax payroll was $176.6 million, and the Red Sox pay at a 22.5 percent rate. “We’re doing a better job of managing our payroll and managing our decisionmaking as we enter the free-agent market,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “Our payroll doesn’t necessarily have to live at that level, but it’s nice to know that our owners are committed to allow us to get there if we need to.” To compute the payroll, MLB uses the average annual values of contracts for players on 40-man rosters and adds benefits. The Yankees failed to land free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee despite being given permission from ownership to make a $150 million, seven-year offer. Lee agreed to a $120 million, five-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. “We weren’t going to exceed where we were this past year, but the bottom line is that now that the Lee thing has declared itself, it would be hard-pressed for us to get up to that level,” Cashman

said. While the Yankees are stocked with high-salaried veterans, Cashman has mixed in young players in recent years such as Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Brett Gardner. “You need a strong farm system that prevents you from being desperate in the free-agent market,” Cashman said. “You don’t want to be desperate in the free-agent market, because you’ll get slaughtered.” New York’s payroll under the conventional method of calculation — salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses — dropped from $222.5 million in 2008 to $220 million last year to $215.1 million this season. Boston’s payroll rose by $30.2 million to $170.7 million. The $44.4 million between the Yankees and Red Sox was larger than the payrolls of San Diego ($43.7 million) and Pittsburgh ($44.1 million). After moving into Target Field, Minnesota’s payroll also went up by $30 million, leaving the Twins 10th in the majors at $103 million. Cincinnati increased its payroll by $9.8 million to $82.5 million. Florida raised its payroll by $9.8 million to $47.3 million after an agreement by the Marlins with the players’ association last January to increase spending. Florida moves into a new ballpark in 2012. The Los Angeles Dodgers cut payroll by a major league-high $21.8 million to $109.8 million as owners Frank and Jamie McCourt argued in divorce proceedings. Houston dropped by $17.9 million to $90.1 million and the New York Mets by $14.7 million to $127.6 million. Cleveland cut $16.7 million to $60.5 million. The Yankees, Phillies (third at $145.5 million), Twins and the World Series champion San Francisco Giants (11th at $101.4 million) were the only teams from the top half by payroll to make the playoffs. American League champion Texas was 22nd at $74.3 million. Joining the Rangers in the postseason from the bottom half by spending were Atlanta (16th at $89.2 million), Cincinnati (19th) and Tampa Bay (20th at $77.5 million). Overall payroll dropped by $2.3 million to $2.912 billion. The commissioner’s office computed the average salary at $2,932,162, up 1.7 percent from last year’s $2,882,336. The players’ association, which uses a slightly different method, pegged the average at $3,014,572 last week, up 0.6 percent from $2,996,106. —AP



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Feisty Foster hits jackpot with Westwood LONDON: It is said that every dog has its day and for Lee Westwood’s feisty caddie Billy Foster, a self-proclaimed golfing Jack Russell, that day is now. The straight-talking Yorkshireman has previously worked with Seve Ballesteros and Tiger Woods among others but it is only this year he has truly cashed in following fellow Briton Westwood’s stunning rise to the top of the world rankings. “If you had asked me two years ago whether I think he can be number one in the world, I’d be lying if I said the answer was yes,” Foster told Reuters in a telephone interview. “That’s a testament to Lee and how he’s dedicated himself and his focus and he is possibly now one of the fittest golfers out there. A few years ago that would never have been considered. “He has put in a fantastic effort on the fitness front and is reaping the rewards. He has improved in

all departments,” added Foster. “When I started working with him (in May 2009) I didn’t think he’d be as good as he is now. He has moved on to another level and you feel now he is almost guaranteed to finish in the top five every single week.” The 44-year-old has caddied for years and can remember a night when money was so tight he had to sleep rough. The globe-trotting Westwood picked up 3.2 million euros ($4.2 million) on the European Tour alone in season 2009-10 and with caddies taking a cut of between five and 10 percent, and earning bonuses for good results, that adds up to a princely sum for Foster. “The caddying game has changed,” he explained. “The first 10 years I did it I probably never made a penny. “I remember working for (Zimbabwean)

Tony Johnstone at the Portuguese Open in the 1980s and we finished around seventh and won about $1,392. I got five percent of that and had to pay for my travel, hotel, everything. “I couldn’t afford to fly in those days. I used to get overnight buses, sleep on trains and I slept in a bush one night,” said Foster. “These days I can afford to fly everywhere, stay in a decent hotel, drive a nice car. Since Tiger came along money’s gone through the roof and the caddies are earning a lot more than they used to.” Foster teamed up with Woods in 2005 when the former world number one took him on loan from Darren Clarke for the Presidents Cup match. “We only worked together for a week,” said the caddie. “It was about 10 years after I worked with Seve but that was the first time I had felt the same aura about a player since.

“I said to Tiger I would never swap lives, with all the hassle and focus on his life. You’ve got to appreciate how difficult it is for him. “He was a true gentleman. His manners, and respect for me, were bizarre-everything he said was with a please and a thank you and I just thought he was true class on the golf course. “I also remember one hole we had 142 yards to carry up a hill into a little bit of a breeze and I knew he hit a pitching wedge around 130 yards. He pulled a pitching wedge out and I said, ‘you sure that’s enough?’, but he said it would be fine. “It went as high in the air as it went forward and finished six inches from the hole. As we walked up to the green I asked him how he did it and he said, ‘Don’t worry Billy I’ve got another gear when I need it’. That’s what makes people special.” Foster also enjoyed a memorable working rela-

tionship with the brilliant Ballesteros. “Seve was a great experience in my life,” he said. “I started with him in 1990 when I was 24 and caddied for him for five years. “He was the world’s dominant player in the previous decade and just being with him and witnessing the aura around him and his course management skills, I learned a lot. “I could talk all day about his unbelievable vision and the magical skills he had when he was in trouble. He didn’t often ignore my advice and we gelled very well as a team, much like I do with Lee now,” added Foster. “I spoke my mind at times and he did the same to me. I think he liked that little feisty edge about me, it was probably like having a little Jack Russell on his bag. “I’ve got special memories I will treasure for ever.” — Reuters

Blunted killer instinct lets Casey down in ’10

Paul Casey seen in this file photo

Wild seas warning for Sydney to Hobart race SYDNEY: Wild seas and gale-force winds will make this year’s Sydney to Hobart yacht race the most challenging in years, forecasters warned yesterday, as crews focused on survival not victory. Though no repeat is expected of the catastrophic weather that claimed six lives and sank five yachts in 1998, it is set to be a rain-soaked and bumpy ride down the Australian mainland’s southeast coast and across to Tasmania. Two southerly bursts will buffet the 89-strong fleet, whipping up steep seas in the notorious Bass Strait and all but ensuring Wild Oats XI’s 2005 record of 18 hours and 40 minutes will remain untouched. The forecast of robust headwinds and towering swells have ended talk of tactics, with Wild Oats navigator Ian Burns saying the sole focus would be weathering the storm after the fleet sets sail from Sydney Harbour on Sunday. “The real challenge I think is the first couple of nights and keeping the boat together,” said Burns of his 30-metre (98 foot) super-maxi, the hot favourite for line honours, won by the first boat to cross the winning line. “We’ll be slowing down rather than trying to break any record, or even necessarily breaking our competition.” Forecasters have tipped a slow start to the race’s 66th edition, with light winds giving way to 30-knot gales and mounting to 40 knots in the Bass Strait, where waves will reach five metres (yards). It will be the “most testing period of the race weather-wise, (with) the combination of gale-force winds and large seas,” said Barry Hanstrum, chief forecaster at the bureau of meteorology. Wild Oats, chasing redemption after New Zealand’s Alfa Romeo broke its four-year line honours streak in 2009, has been rigorously rehearsing abandon ship procedures in anticipation of the wild upwind sailing. “It’s of prime importance because when something does go wrong aboard a yacht this large and

powerful it happens fast,” said skipper Mark Richards, who said he would chart a cautious passage to Hobart. “You have to emerge in one piece and that’s done by nursing the boat through.” The recordholding sloop is hot favorite for a fifth line honors win, with just one other super-maxi, Investec LOYAL, considered a threat after Alfa Romeo and last year’s third-placed ICAP Leopard decided not to race. Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom’s Ran is tipped for the overall prize, the coveted handicap honours, or Tattersall’s Cup-taking into account a boat’s dimensions-after a string of recent victories including the inaugural Mini Maxi World Championship in Sardinia. British-flagged Ran, 22 metres long, finished sixth overall in the 2009 Sydney to Hobart and faces stiff competition from Australia’s Loki, ninth in last year’s race, which has since bagged a number of smaller titles. A “confident” Zennstrom said it was vital to make the most of the conditions and minimise mistakes. “I think one thing we (have) learned is that no matter how well you do, if you don’t have the right conditions you’re not going to win,” said the Swedish-born telecoms mogul. The field, which includes 30 first-time starters and entries from the United States, Britain, Russia, Italy and France, is expected to battle it out at the finish, with winds set to drop off on Tuesday and the ocean to calm. “It’s about battening down the hatches the first day and a half, and really looking after the boat and the crew and setting yourself up for the last 300 miles,” said Bryan Northcote, a 13-race veteran and navigator of Australia’s Ragamuffin. “That’s where the race will be won and lost.” This year’s race start will be broadcast to 45 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and South Asia, organisers said. The first finishers are expected to cross the line in about two-and-half days. — AFP

LOS ANGELES: Britain’s Paul Casey believes his 2010 campaign could have been the most successful of his career had he not lost a bit of his killer instinct in pursuit of technical excellence. A year which began with the long-hitting Englishman cautiously recovering from a lingering rib injury will end with him back to full fitness and comfortably established in the world’s top 10. His one frustration after producing consistently good golf on both sides of the Atlantic was his failure to win a single tournament, in his view a possible result of the ongoing hard work on his swing. “It was very close to being a fantastic year,” world number eight Casey told Reuters in a recent interview. “Overall I am slightly disappointed and frustrated with no wins. “I played some very good golf, gave myself lots of opportunities but didn’t close anything out. So from that angle I’m not happy.” Casey, who plays most of his golf in the United States, recorded seven top-10s in 17 starts on the PGA Tour, including runner-up spots at the high-profile WGCAccenture Match Play Championship and the BMW Championship. “It’s another season where I felt like I have progressed and I am a better player than I was before, trying to tick all the boxes on things that need work,” the 33year-old said. “And I’ve done a good job at that but is that at the sacrifice of losing that slight killer instinct when you’ve got to close out a tournament? I don’t know,” Casey added with a chuckle. “You’ve got be willing to risk it a little bit more to pull off the win. Playing nice, clean, sensible golf is great and it gets you good results but sometimes you need to be a little more aggressive. “In the past, I’ve been pretty good at closing out tournaments. If I’ve had a sniff, I’ve won.” A 10-times winner on the European Tour, Casey was proud of his consistent form during 2010 after starting the season with a major question mark hanging over his fitness. “Going into the year, I couldn’t swing it really freely but I did a good job of getting around the golf course,” the Arizonabased professional said. “It was very much sort of, ‘Let’s see how this is going to go, is the game going to get back to where I was in the beginning half of 2009 before I injured myself?’ And then it kind of did.” Despite not winning a title, Casey ended the 2010 PGA Tour season eighth in the money list with earnings of $3,613,194. He also finished a highly creditable 12th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai after competing in just 14 events. “I won a ridiculous amount of world ranking points and gave myself opportunities to win the (PGA Tour’s) FedExCup,” he said. “Not so much the Race to Dubai but I didn’t play that many times in Europe, so it wasn’t like I was a complete slouch at that either. “Where I am in the world, at number eight, that was probably about fair. I didn’t win a major, I didn’t win any tournaments but I was solid, which is good.” Casey’s goals for 2011 mirror those of 2010. “It’s still the majors,” he said. “The performances of the three European Tour-based players this year - Louis (Oosthuizen), Graeme (McDowell) and Martin (Kaymer) — their major wins just highlight how wide open it is right now. “They are all great players but I think there are 20-odd guys in the world now going, ‘I want that first major.’ And these guys have illustrated that it’s right there.” Northern Irishman McDowell claimed his first major title at the U.S. Open before South African Oosthuizen followed suit at the British Open and German Kaymer at the PGA Championship. “You’ve got to go out and play great golf and beat the best in the world but it’s so attainable right now, and it hasn’t felt like that since I’ve been on tour,” Casey said. “It still felt attainable but with Tiger (Woods) not playing the golf that Tiger wants to play, or we know that he’s capable of ... it’s all right there.” — Reuters

Manny Pacquiao celebrates in this file photo

Pacquiao to fight Mosley on May 7 NEW YORK: Manny Pacquiao plans to fight Shane Mosley in his next bout on May 7 in Las Vegas. Promoter Bob Arum told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the deal will be done after Mosley’s lawyers approve the final paperwork for the WBO welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Arum says Pacquiao chose the bout because Mosley is the most accomplished and famous boxer in the field of candidates, which included Juan Manuel Marquez and welterweight champion Andre Berto. “He’s the most recognizable name, and it’s a difficult fight for him,” said Arum, who met with Pacquiao in the Philippines last week. “People are also saying, ‘Well, why hasn’t he fought an African-American fighter?’ He’s doing that, but mostly it’s because Mosley is the biggest name.” Pacquiao also realizes a potential superbout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. is likely still impossible because of the Mayweather family’s various legal troubles. Pacquiao (523-2, 38 KOs) is on top of the boxing world after trouncing Antonio Margarito in a one-sided decision in Texas on Nov. 13. The 32-year-old Filipino congressman has won 13 straight fights while claiming world titles in an astonishing eight weight classes, most recently taking the WBC light middleweight belt with his win over Margarito. Arum realizes he could have trouble selling a fight against a 39-year-old opponent who will be nearly 21/2 years removed from his last victory when he faces Pacquiao, but believes Mosley’s skill and speed will challenge Pacquiao. “That was obviously a negative, but Shane Mosley is

capable of doing great things,” Arum said. Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs) is near the tail end of a remarkable career that began in 1993. The former three-division champion has won just two of his past five fights, getting walloped by Mayweather in an unanimous decision last May before fighting to a dull draw with Sergio Mora on Sept. 18. The deal further cements Mosley’s acrimonious split from Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya’s promotional company. Mosley was a founding partner in Golden Boy, but he has cut ties with the organization since his draw with Mora last September, even refusing to answer phone calls from Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer. Mosley apparently was angry that Golden Boy pushed Marquez, the talented Mexican champion, as Pacquiao’s next opponent. Golden Boy and Top Rank, Arum’s promotion, are involved in a bitter rivalry. The companies have become unwilling to match any of their fighters against each other, which likely proved to be an insurmountable obstacle for Golden Boy’s Marquez. Pacquiao and Marquez have fought twice before, with a draw in 2004 and a split-decision win for Pacquiao in 2008. Both fights were thrilling contests that easily could have been decided for Marquez, who has been campaigning for a third bout since moments after their second fight ended. After straying to suburban Dallas for his victories this year over Joshua Clottey and Margarito in cavernous Cowboys Stadium, Pacquiao is eager to return to Las Vegas, where his fights always attract thousands of fans eager to pump gambling money into Nevada’s struggling gaming industry. “It’s great to do a promotion where I can sleep in my own bed,” Arum said. — AP

TUNIS: Tunisian swimming Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli poses with his four medals upon his arrival at Tunis-Carthage airport after he won the men’s 1500m freestyle event of the FINA short course world championships in Dubai. — AFP



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pietersen: We won’t be fooled again MELBOURNE: England batsman Kevin Pietersen speaks to the media during a press conference ahead for the fourth Ashes cricket Test between Australia and England starting on Boxing Day.—AFP

MELBOURNE: England were blindsided by the intensity of paceman Mitchell Johnson’s swing during their third test defeat to Australia in Perth, but would not be caught out again in Melbourne, batsman Kevin Pietersen warned yesterday. Johnson ripped apart England’s top order in the first innings with a match-turning six wicket haul that propelled Australia to an emphatic 267-run victory that levelled the five-match series at 1-1. “(It) Definitely took us by surprise, for sure, but he bowled well, bowled really, really well, he bowled a really good game of cricket, Pietersen, who was trapped

Hurricane Johnson may have blown his worst Imagine a leg-break bowler who cannot bowl a googly or top-spinner. Or an off-break bowler without a drifter. Then contemplate the lot of a left-arm pace bowler whose sole modus operandi is to fire the ball across the bows of the right-handed batsman and hope he chases one and edges. Think in fact of Alan Mullally. There are few things batsmen like more than a predictable bowler who spins or swings it one way only. For two years, since he destroyed South Africa in Durban, until he did the same to England at the Waca, that was the fortune of Mitchell Johnson. Fast of course when he got it right, but the more he tried to swing the ball into the right-hander, the delivery that is fundamental to any left-arm paceman of ambition, the more it seemed to want to do the opposite. So batsmen were able to play him on the line. Anything on the stumps and bat could be put to ball while anyt h i n g o f f t a rg e t c o u l d b e i g n o re d secure in the knowledge that it was not going to boomerang back and make them look foolish. Then, last Friday, in one inspirational bowling spell, that whole perception changed. From here on in it may not actually matter if Johnson gets another ball from the straight, for the notion has been planted that he m i g h t , a n d t h e t h re a t i s o f t e n a s potent as the deed. Quite how Johnson manages to swing the ball at all is a mystery, probably as much to him as anyone. Certainly he does not conform to the normal physical laws of orthodox swing bowling, where the seam is upright and a loose wrist promotes backward rotation on the ball to maintain its stability, like a gyroscope. No teachers of swing would need to look further than the seam position maintained by Jimmy Anderson at his best. But this is all delivered from a high arm action. Johnsons bowling arm is so low, a round-arm slingshot, that the umpires will soon be required to wear hard hats. So low indeed that he cannot physically get his wrist into the upright position that can deliver a perfect seam. In fact it was perplexing to see the television super-slow motion, which showed the seam scrambling on the way down, which is to say revolving r a n d o m l y. U n l e s s v e r y occasionally the seam actually scrambles itself into the correct position by chance, it is hard to understand how the ball then swerves. Nor is it quite the same a s

Mitchell Johnson

the movement obtained by the Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga, with whom Johnson is often compared. However, the difference is considerable, Johnsons bowling arm coming round between 10 and 11 on a clock face, while Malinga The Slinger would barely reach 10oclock. The swing Malinga gets is more akin to that which might be seen with a Frisbee, a skimming motion, where the rotation on the ball is almost in a horizontal plane: swerve rather than swing in other words. Instead, leaving aside all the reports of remedial work done since he was dropped from the Adelaide Test (which seem to range from eulogising Troy Cooleys biomechanics to a 10-minute session with Dennis Lillee) t h e s t ron g e s t t h e o r y re g a rd i n g Johnsons performance in Perth relates to nothing more than the wind. From the second day onwards, the wind blew consistently oven-hot from the east, a counterpoint to the prevailing Fremantle Doctor, the cooling south-westerly sea breeze that comes up the Swan River virtually on a daily basis at some stage in the afternoon. This easterly, say those who know the Waca well, is the wind that promotes swing. But an understanding of why it happened makes it no easier to play. In fact, it was the arbitrary nature of his spell that contributed to Englands downfall, for alert batsmen can look for clues in the bowler, from the way he holds the ball, to spotting the shiny side. Quite clearly Johnson tried to b o w l c o n s i d e r a b l y m o re o f t h e inswinging delivery but succeeded only in pushing the ball wide instead as it refused to change course. Leaving the ball in such circumstance becomes fraught, to which Paul Collingwood would testify, his decision to offer no stroke too far gone to be able to react sufficiently quickly when the ball ducked into his pads. It will be a surprise if Johnson can repeat his trickery at the MCG. Fully enclosed grounds can create their own micro-climate, but as with the Gabba i t i s n o t re n o w n e d a s a s w i n g i n g ground but rather one that can seam while the ball is new, and perhaps reverse swings later. The danger for Englands batsmen now, though, is that because of the potential, there will be a temptation to want to play deliveries that until now their gameplan has been to avoid. It is a mindset they will do well to avoid although one it will be hard to avoid. As Andy Flower has said about Perth, although the destructive spell came when the Australians had had a chance to work on the ball, there were indications with the newish ball to Englands pair of left-handed openers that he was just shaping the ball a fraction away from them. Pe rh a p s the biggest clue will c o m e f ro m B e n Hilfenhaus and Ryan Har r is, both of whom can swing the new ball. If they fail to get any real movement then the chances a re t h a t Johnson will not either. — Guardian

lbw for a duck by Johnson in Perth, told reporters. “Obviously we’re going to prepare ourselves for that swinging ball. We knew he was going to swing it, but we didn’t think he was going to swing it that much.” Johnson said he had enjoyed taking Pietersen’s wicket and described him as a ‘smart-arse’ after the South Africa-born batsman had asked him teasingly for his phone number so they could be ‘best mates’. Johnson declined to give it, and Pietersen, who remains firm friends with Australia’s retired legspinner Shane Warne, confirmed the players were far from being on good terms. “I don’t have a relationship with Mitchell Johnson,” Pietersen said, repeating himself when pushed to clarify. Australia’s bowlers credited their improved performance at Perth in part to a renewed aggression that saw them exchange

heated words with a number of English batsmen amid peppering them with volleys of furious short-pitched bowling. Pietersen denied England had been unsettled by any verbal attacks and said he had heard worse when facing the likes of Australias Warne and retired paceman Glenn McGrath during England’s last Ashes tour four years ago. “I haven’t seen or heard anything different to anything that’s happened in the first two test matches let alone last year in England,” he said. “There’s not really any big chirpers or big sledgers. “It’s just England versus Australia, it’s an Ashes series. Blokes get a bit of red mist occasionally. “It’s historic, it’s huge, but there’s nothing that’s been overboard and if things go overboard, match referees deal with stuff like that.”

Pietersen also shrugged off controversy over the choice of pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground where the fourth test gets underway on Sunday. Pitches for the MCG are dropped into the oval and English media have cried foul that the head groundsman would choose a grassier wicket more suited to Australia’s quicks rather than a drier track that might favour England and particularly, spinner Graeme Swann. “Of course, they’re going to do it, they just had success in Perth with a bouncy wicket, but we’ve had success around the world with bouncy wickets,” Pietersen said, attributing England’s loss to their disastrous first innings collapse, rather than the pitch. “We lost that test match in half an hour, (with) five (wickets) for 20, that’s where we lost that test match.” — Reuters

I’m a better bowler when I’m sledging, says Siddle MELBOURNE: Australia paceman Peter Siddle was unapologetic for his tirade at Matt Prior after dismissing the England wicketkeeper in the third Test in Perth and described sledging as ‘good fun’ enjoyed by both the Ashes rivals. Siddle sprayed invective at Prior after bowling him for 12, prompting the wicketkeeper to fire back a few choice words of his own before trudging off the field. Prior vented his anger in a British newspaper column on Tuesday: “There are not many boxing matches when a guy knocks someone out and then kicks him when him while he’s on the floor,” he wrote. But Siddle described the episode as “part of the game”. “It’s always going to be there, we fight hard in the field and the emotions come out. It’s always around and no doubt going to be around in the future as well,” he told reporters at a luxury hotel in Melbourne on Wednesday. “I think that’s part of my game anyway. When I play my best that’s what I’m doing anyway. Sometimes it comes off and sometimes it doesn’t, in this case it has. “It’s just both teams going hard at it. It’s good fun out there-they’re at us, we’re at them and it makes the game a bit more lively and no doubt the spectators like to see it.” Australia’s pacemen skittled England for 187 and 123 in a stunning turnaround in form to clinch a series-levelling victory at Perth after managing only six wickets for 1,137 runs in their previous two innings in Adelaide and Brisbane. The five-test series is tied at 1-1 but Australia have all the momentum as they head into the fourth test in Melbourne, which starts on Dec. 26. The 26-year-old Siddle, a fiery red-head from country Victoria, managed only one wicket in Perth, where Mitchell Johnson and fellow quick Ryan Harris took 18, but said he was happy enough scoring the verbal points over England. “I enjoy having some fun with the batters and it’s just the way I like to play my cricket, so if it helps the other boys get the job done, I’m happy to do it,” he said. Australia’s selectors are likely to persist with the four-pronged pace attack at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where the wicket is expected to favour their seamers. Only captain Ricky Ponting remains a doubt after breaking his little finger in a catch attempt during Jonathon Trott’s dismissal in the second innings at Perth. Siddle was bullish about Ponting’s recovery and said the Tasmanian should be fit for selection. “It’s looking good, he’s come over here confident, and he said he’s holding the bat fine and all that type of thing.—Reuters

Ted Ligety in action in this file photo

Vonn, Ligety leading World Cup standings FRANCE: Sometimes, even the best in the business need a little inspiration before a big race. Prior to her competition last weekend, three-time World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn tuned in to a men’s race, hoping to draw motivation from watching Ted Ligety. Ligety attacked the hill and captured the giant slalom in Alta Badia, Italy. Instantly inspired, Vonn followed suit, winning the super-combined in Val d’Isere, France. It’s been that kind of season for the US skiers. After a stellar showing at the Vancouver Olympics last winter, hauling in a team-record eight medals, the Americans are still riding the momentum, with Ligety and Vonn currently leading the overall World Cup standings. The US team’s performance has become the chatter on the slopes. “I think there’s a lot of people that are very impressed with what we’re doing and there’s a lot of people talking about the strength of our team and the dominance right now that we have,” Vonn said. “It’s so motivating and inspiring and makes you want to keep skiing fast.” The fact Vonn is skiing this well hardly comes as a surprise. She’s the gold standard in the sport and has picked up right where she left off in Vancouver when she won the downhill and took bronze in the super-G — on a badly bruised right shin, no less. Ligety’s rise to the top of the standings does come as a surprise. He’s known more as a technical skier but has diligently worked on improving his speed. His extra attention to the downhill appears to be spilling over as he’s flying through even the tightest of giant slalom courses. The 26-year-old from Park City, Utah, won his third straight World Cup giant slalom race last weekend. Can he retain his overall lead all season? “It’s a tall task,” said Ligety, who won gold in the combined at the 2006 Turin Games. Vonn and Ligety are far from the only Americans making an early impression on the slopes this season. Julia Mancuso, winner of two silver medals in Vancouver, has been skiing solid and is sixth in the overall standings. Even more, there’s been a bevy of up-and-com-

ing women’s skiers consistently placing in the top 30. Alice McKennis, 21, recently took 11th during a downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta. “They’re all on a great track right now, and they’re all showing a lot of potential,” said Vonn, who lives and trains in Vail, Colo. “We try to work as a team and feed off of each other and learn from each other. That’s why we’re able to have the success we’re having right now.” On the men’s side, Bode Miller has started off slowly, with just one top-10 finish so far this season. This after winning gold, silver and bronze in Vancouver to run his career total to five Winter Games medals. However, there’s an influx of youth waiting in the wings, skiers such as Travis Ganong, the 22-year-old out of Squaw Valley, California, who recently finished 20th at a super-G in Lake Louise. It’s been quite a showing for the Americans this season in the traditionally European-dominated sport. As for garnering more respect, Ligety said that was attained years ago through skiers such as Miller and Daron Rahlves. “We used to be able to train with the Austrians, but they don’t

let us do that anymore because they know we can beat them,” Ligety said. “I guess that’s respect in a way. “Over the last few years, we’ve definitely gained more respect in the ski racing world.” For both Vonn and Ligety, the early season success can be directly attributed to a strong fitness program. Vonn took the opportunity over the summer to revamp her entire routine, overhauling her training and her diet. She incorporated track workouts into her regimen to enrich her explosion in the slalom and giant slalom. She figured the only way to maintain an advantage over best friend and top rival Maria Riesch of Germany was to get better at the events Vonn’s struggled with most — the technical ones. She currently leads Riesch by just three points in the overall standings after both crashed out of the slalom course Tuesday during a race in Courchevel, France. Vonn also changed her diet, basically eliminating breads, rice, dairy and pastas — all the things she typically craves. So far, her training routine is paying off. Vonn credits her increased strength for helping her stave off what looked to be certain

wipeouts in two races this season to not only finish but wind up on the podium. In Lake Louise, she momentarily went down on her left hip before springing back up off the snow and regaining her tuck position to keep charging down the mountain and finish second. She nearly went down again in a downhill race over the weekend, before regaining her balance and winning the race. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes this year in my races and I’ve been able to make really fast recoveries because of the training I’ve done this summer,” Vonn said. Ligety’s source of motivation in the offseason was simple — missing out on the medals in Vancouver. That didn’t sit well with the skier known as “Teddy Ball Game” for his cool under pressure. “That’s a big motivator,” said Ligety, who captured the overall GS title last winter for the second time in three seasons. “You’re training in the gym and going in there five days a week _ you don’t always want to be in there. “But it’s definitely good motivation to think about that and know that this little extra work is going to help you in those situations.”—AP

FRANCE: US Lindsey Vonn clears a gate during the first run of the FIS World Cup Alpine skiing Women’s Slalom in this file photo. —AFP



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Scientists do not know how fast people can run A leading expert believes it could be many years before we understand the limits of human performance When Usain Bolt ran in the 100 metres final at the Beijing Olympics he became the first man to go under 9.7sec. The world looked on in awe. A year later Bolt did it again, becoming the first to better 9.6 when he set the world record of 9.58. His athletic feats led many of the world’s most distinguished scientists to ponder just how fast a human can possibly run. Some are already sure of the limits. In 2008 the French Institute of Sport concluded that athletics world records would hit a ceiling in the year 2060. The Institute analysed all 3,260 world records set since the first modern Olympics in 1896 and found that, while athletes were performing at 75% of their potential in 1896, in 2008 they were functioning at 99%. Others looked more closely at Bolt’s potential. A scientific paper produced by Cornell University analysed the Jamaican’s Beijing run of 9.69 in which he famously slowed down to celebrate his victory. Had he not done so, the scientists believe, he could have won in 9.55sec. They went on to predict that Bolt was capable of breaking the 9.5 barrier. Another study by Mark Denny of Stanford University claimed that the absolute limit for any sprinter would be 9.48. Bolt himself, despite a year plagued by injury, says he would like to set an unbeatable mark before he retires. “I’m hoping I get to be the one to get to 9.4 because that’s where I think the record will probably never be beaten. I think it will stop at 9.4 but you never know.” They are all wrong, according to one of the world’s leading experts in the field. Frans Bosch, professor of biomechanics and motor learning at Fontys University in the Netherlands and a specialist in athletic performance, is one of the speakers at a groundbreaking conference in London this week. He believes that many predictions, often based on statistical calculations, are fundamentally flawed. “As long as nobody knows the limiting factor in sprinting, then a prediction in that area makes no sense,” says Bosch. “If you look at all the predictions that have been made so far, they’re all based on one small aspect

of sprinting. When you only look at that you lose perspective.” Bosch discusses the various theories, among them the assertion that sprinters’ muscles will simply break down if pushed to their limits or that the brain is the decisive factor but is unable to process the signals fast enough. His own interest lies in the role that shock absorbers play in the movement stability of a sprinter. There is a great deal more to learn, says Bosch - a point on which many more scientists agree. “It’s very early stages in understanding,” he says. “It could be many, many years still before we know more. If you look at a very important development in science over the last 15 years called dynamic systems theory and complex theory, we have learned that the answers to our questions are actually further away than ever before. We’re probably not getting closer to the answer, we’re just getting closer to asking the right questions.” Bosch uses the example of a BBC documentary in which the 400m world record holder Michael Johnson analyses Bolt’s 9.58sec world-record run and points out his technical flaws in running - losing power by moving too much from side to side. “It could easily be that, if he corrects it [in the way that Johnson suggests], he could be slower,” Bosch says. “You usually see if someone has a poor sprinting technique because he’s rocking to the side of his stand leg. So, if you have your left foot on the ground, then you’re rocking to the left ... that’s been perceived as a flaw in technique. But with Usain Bolt it’s the opposite. When his left foot is on the ground he’s rocking to his right, when his right foot is on the ground he’s rocking to his left. And if you look carefully at why this is happening it’s because he’s capable of producing forces on the ground much quicker than somebody else just because he’s rocking.” So Johnson’s theory is wrong? “Yes, exactly. They don’t know why Bolt’s doing that and he [Bolt] doesn’t know it himself.” Bosch believes that sprinting is so complex, and so vari-

able in each individual, that “nobody, not even Michael Johnson, can calculate or tell or explain what the ideal technique for the body of Usain Bolt would be.” While the world is wowed by Bolt’s achievements, Bosch views the French sprinter Christophe Lemaitre as an equally fascinating model for study - not, as most observers point out, because of his white skin but because of his body type which, like Bolt’s, is long and lean. “Lemaitre is interesting because he’s not strong at all, his physical capabilities are absolutely moderate he clean and jerks 60kg and snatches 45kg [in the gym], which is almost at a recreational level. But what you see now more than before is sprinters like Bolt or Lemaitre, who are not as strength-based as the Ben Johnsons of this world, and are very tall. Maybe another body composition is emerging that is even more suited for reaching these tremendous speeds.”

Even tiny genetic details within the human body can explain certain capabilities. Using a virtual model of a human body at the University of Amsterdam, scientists found that the point at which muscles are attached to the human skeleton can affect its performance. “They calculated a vertical jump, looking at what the influence was of the calf muscle, and they found it had no influence whatsoever of the jumping height,” Bosch says. “Then they changed the lever of the calf muscle at the knee joint by about 2mm and they found it had a massive influence. It’s only now science is beginning to model and calculate these things.” Dr Eddie Coyle, a professor at the University of Texas, is a specialist in the physiological factors that limit human endurance in sport and has worked with the cyclist Lance Armstrong for many years. He, too, will speak at the three-day UKSEM conference (UK Sport and Exercise

Medicine) at which dozens of the world’s leading experts in exercise, nutrition and human performance will present papers. After Haile Gebrselassie ran the marathon in 2hr 3min 59sec in 2008 there was renewed speculation over whether anyone could run the distance in under two hours. Coyle is confident it is possible. “Science says that we can predict a two-hour marathon and I think people have the ability, eventually, to run about 1hr 58min,” Coyle says. “The two most important factors are how economical the runners are, how much energy they expend while they’re running. The very best runners expend 30% less energy than an average runner. We don’t know what that is due to. Some people think it’s because they have less mass in their lower legs. That takes less energy. We don’t really have any other credible theories ... but it’s unlikely there’s one factor.

Another factor is their ability to consume oxygen at higher rates while producing very little lactic acid.” Coyle says the 1:58 mark is based on the data and research available at the moment but, if there was more information to work with, that time could be reduced further still. Gebrselassie, 37, is unlikely to be the man to take on that challenge but Coyle has earmarked another runner who could: Sammy Wanjiru, the Olympic marathon champion in 2008. “It was hot in Beijing and he still ran close to two hours,” says Coyle of the Kenyan’s Olympic record time of 2:06:32, almost three minutes faster than the previous best set in 1984. “That’s a pretty impressive time for such oppressive conditions and he was so young at the time, only 21, which means he’s got time to improve still.” Ellis Cashmore, professor of culture, media and sport at Staffordshire University, believes that human

nature will continue to confound sports scientists by throwing up unpredictable variables. “People say Bolt’s a freak. Actually he’s not. Look at the history of athletics, of people defying expectations. “Tiger Woods redefined the expectations of golf, so now we have golfers doing gymwork to become more powerful. Martina Navratilova, when she came along, was seen as a freak. She played such aggressive tennis, no one had ever seen a woman play like that before. Again she rewrote the script so that we then had Steffi Graf and the Williams sisters. Now when I look back at Navratilova playing it doesn’t look at all strange to me but at the time it was a real ‘wow’ moment. Just as those athletes have done, the rules will continue to be rewritten throughout this century and we will continue to be surprised. The human element will always defy sports scientists.” —Guardian

Can a great champion turn his career around? A new year never comes fast enough for those people seeking the hope implied by the clean slate of the calendar but perhaps no one is looking ahead to 2011 with quite the same combination of relief and anticipation as Tiger Woods. No wonder. This year has been shocker for the world No2 - a year in which his personal problems away from the golf course were reflected in his performances on it. Not only has he not won in 2010, he has never looked like winning, at least not on a Sunday afternoon. Throw in a handful of shocking performances - his tree-knocking, chipduffing, putt-missing efforts during the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in August spring to mind - and you have a portrait of a once great champion in decline. “I have had a lot on my mind,” Woods has become fond of saying. So does the world of golf in general when it comes to its long-time talisman. Like him or loathe him, there is no denying his transcendental brilliance or his importance to the sport. He is its most compelling figure. He drives television ratings, ticket sales and media attention. He lifts golf out of its particular corner of the sporting ghetto and into the mainstream. Who else can generate such attention? Not Lee Westwood, who recently replaced him as world No1, not Phil Mickelson, hidebound for much of 2010 by long-term injury worries, and certainly not Jim Furyk, whose designation as the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year yesterday brought to mind the old existential conundrum about the tree falling in the forest: if no one noticed, did it really happen? Well, it really did happen and, yes, no one noticed. There is no blame attached to Furyk for that, of course. It is not his fault the public cares little about his efforts during the course of 2010, beyond a justifiable unease that the putt he holed on the final green of the Tour Championship in Atlanta (the finale of the FedEx Cup series) was worth an extraordinary - which is to say, unseemly and decadent - $11m (£6.8m). But with that kind of money at

stake, the casual fan, and the corporate sponsor, expects to see sporting titans at their epic best, not relatively anonymous PGA lifers grinding out to the bitter end. Golf might heap riches upon the Furyks of this world, but it will not thrive on their efforts, not in the long run. There is a new breed of player coming through, but their time is yet to come. For the moment, golf must surely hope it is still in the era of Woods. But is it? With the one-year anniversary of the infamous car crash yet to pass, common sense and common decency demands that Woods be given a pass on his overall performances in 2010 (even though he himself was disinclined to do so, dismissing his incredible fourth-place finish at the Masters this year - his comeback event - as a “disappointment”). In the circumstances, how could anyone have expected him to touch his previous heights? However, one suspects similar courtesy will not be extended on the eve of the second anniversary. He had better produce the goods in 2011 or the obituarists will be lining up to chronicle the demise of once-great career. So can he turn things around? Woods, now embarked on yet another swing change, this time under the tutelage of the Canadian swing coach Sean Foley, is sure that he will. Or at least he says he is sure. He covered the final few holes of the Australian Masters on Sunday in six under par, finishing with a round of 65 and fourth place at a tournament he won last year. “I can do this in streaks, unfortunately I haven’t done it for an entire round yet,” he said afterwards about his sparkling finish. “That’s one of the things when you’re making changes in the game, it takes time. I’m pleased with some of the progress I have made because the streaks are now lasting longer but I still need to do it for an entire round. I still need to do it for 72 holes.” At least his mastery of the obvious is undiminished. As for his game - to the untrained eye his swing looks in pretty good shape. It certainly looks more orthodox and fluid now, under Foley, than it

was during the dying days of the “Hank Haney” era. Or at least it does when he trusts it. There have been, as he says, flashes of brilliance; during Sunday’s closing holes and, more impressively, during his final match of the Ryder Cup in Wales, when he annihilated Francesco Molinari in their singles match. The problem is he clearly doesn’t trust his new swing yet. That is usually the case when a golfer is trying to bed-in changes. Yet with Foley insisting his tinkering with Woods’s mechanics is relatively minor, and Woods himself forever singing the optimist’s song, they have given themselves less leeway than they might otherwise have had. If both keep insisting Nirvana is just round the corner, then they can’t blame those who become impatient when it doesn’t arrive today. And even if Foley does complete a successful refit of the great man’s swing - as he has done with many of his other pupils, Justin Rose among them - that does not necessarily mean Woods of old will be fully restored. Give or take the occasional shocking shot (something that has always, to a greater or lesser degree, been a feature of his game), Woods has always been a supreme ball-striker. What made him stand out - what helped him cement his domination during the years he won his 14 major championships - was his putting. He was one of the greatest there ever was on the greens and, under the utmost pressure, he was the greatest ever. That no longer is the case. These days, Woods’s putting is ordinary and so, by his own past standards, are his results. The world No2 will have made that unhappy connection and so might Foley. Asked the other day to predict what kind of year his pupil will have in 2011, the normally confident Canadian struck an unusually cautious note. “I don’t like to project like that,” he said. “It just give people [material] to come back at you with.” Fair enough, though the rest of us need not feel so hidebound. So here goes: Woods will win one major championship in 2011. If he doesn’t, then the obituarists will get to work. —Guardian

Fehily to miss Kauto Star ride

Even if his new coach does complete a successful refit of the great man’s swing, that does not necessarily mean the Tiger Woods of old will be fully restored.

KEMPTON: Noel Fehily will miss the ride on Kauto Star in the King George VI Chase on Sunday, paving the way for champion jockey Tony McCoy to climb aboard the recordbreaking horse. Paul Nicholls, trainer of the 10-year-old gelding which has won the last four races in succession and was bidding to claim a record fifth victory, said yesterday that Fehily needs surgery on a wrist injury and could be out for up to eight weeks. Nicholls said he has offered the mount to McCoy, who was due to ride Albertas Run for Jonjo O’Neill and Trevor Hemmings. “He (Fehily) has stood himself down as he believes he needs an operation and surgery, and could be out for six to eight weeks,” said Nicholls, writing in his column on the Betfair website. “I have asked A.P. McCoy to take the ride but I am awaiting a response.” Fehily was due to ride Kauto Star in the absence of multiple Irish champion jockey Ruby Walsh, who was sidelined with a broken leg. Fehily hurt his wrist at a meeting at Newbury last month but was expected to be fit for the Boxing Day race at Kempton. “It (his wrist) had been good for my comeback and everything was great, but I had a couple of rides yesterday and I’ve tweaked it again somehow,” Fehily said. “It’s just flared up again and I haven’t got enough time to get it right. I need to get it looked at again. It’s not good.” Northern Ireland’s McCoy, who on Sunday became the first jockey to be voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year, rode Don’t Push It to victory at the Grand National at Aintree in April. It was the first time McCoy, a 15-time champion jockey, won Britain’s most famous race. McCoy won the 2002 King George VI Chase, riding Best Mate. Walsh has ridden Kauto Star for the last four years at Kempton. —AP


Thursday, December 23, 2010


Blatter defends WCup choices in historic year

Jerome Anderson is a positive thinker who will believe he can help to deliver Venky’s vision for Blackburn.

How an agent came to hold so much power at Blackburn For Blackburn Rovers, as the saying nearly goes, the proof of the poultry will be in the eating. The new Indian owners of the Lancashire club, who sacked Sam Allardyce almost immediately, may be visionaries or they may be undoing a decade of generally admired management since Rovers’ benefactor, the local steelman turned Jersey tax exile Jack Walker, died in 2000. If it feels like the outer limit of Premier League clubs’ rush into foreign ownership for Blackburn Rovers to have been taken over by an Indian chicken company - Venkateshwara Hatcheries, or Venky’s - it is also clear that Rovers are scampering into an experiment. A substantial, unexpected degree of influence has clearly been entrusted at Ewood Park to the football agent Jerome Anderson, whose company, SEM, which is merged with the Swiss sports rights agency Kentaro, was advising Venky’s before they bought Rovers. Anderson, one of English football’s longest established and famously hard-working agents, helped introduce Venky’s to buy Rovers for £25m from the trustees of Walker’s estate, and is advising them now on what to do with it. For all the heady talk of “our vision” by Anuradha Desai, chair of Venky’s, when dismissing Allardyce for not embodying it, she and her two brothers running the chicken business have also admitted to little knowledge of or even interest in football before buying Rovers. The stated vision, of a fifthplace Premier League finish playing more sparkling football, and hatching a fan base in India, which has provoked widespread scoffs in football, may well have sprung infectiously from Anderson who, an obsessive observer of players and compulsive positive thinker, will believe he can help deliver it. Rovers sources have denied reports that Allardyce and the new owners clashed over a list of players for the January transfer window, saying discussions never got that far - or took place to any depth at all. Players, including David Dunn and Ryan Nelsen, have talked of shell-shock, a vacuum of communication at the club, and the long-serving chairman, John Williams - widely considered to have run the club solidly with 10 years’ limited backing from the Walker trustees - is understood not to have been even consulted over Allardyce, and now to be agonising over whether to stay on. Steve Kean, the coach promoted into Allardyce’s chair, is

Does Venky’s grand ‘vision’ involve buying players on the books of Anderson, the agent who helped broker the takeover? himself represented by Anderson who, senior football sources say, has for years rated Kean as highly promising. Kean has already disregarded the time-honoured rules of caretaker management diplomacy, which dictate that coaches in his temporary position say they do not want the position fulltime, at least at first. Seasoned pros figured out decades ago that in a workplace as insecure as football they have little chance of being

him. Yet Kean, just Saturday’s 11 home draw with the Premier League’s bottom club, West Ham United, on his managerial CV, said he does want the job full-time - an apparent sign that he is emboldened by having the confidence of Anderson, his agent and adviser to the new owners. Anderson and Kentaro have been in a similarly influential position with a Premier League club’s new overseas owner

some notable hits, Elano and Vedran Corluka, along with one or two who did not make it at City - the £8.8m striker Rolando Bianchi returned to Italy after one season. Anderson can justifiably recall the sunny spirit arisen at City then, as Eriksson’s side briefly topped the table and City fans guzzled free noodles laid on by Thaksin in Manchester’s Albert Square. Anderson’s status as favoured fixer was undermined, however, as Thaksin

Kean to rule Rovers roost LONDON: Steve Kean will remain as manager of Blackburn Rovers until the end of the season, the English Premier League club announced yesterday. Kean was promoted from first-team coach to caretaker manager following the surprise sacking of former boss Sam Allardyce and assistant Neil McDonald last week. Venky’s, the Indian-based poultry business that took over the north-west club last month for 23 million pounds (30 million dollars), had made it clear they would not rush to appoint a successor to Allardyce. A club statement read: “Following the departure of Mr Sam Allardyce as football manager of Blackburn Rovers Football Club earlier this month, Mr Steve Kean was appointed as manager. “Venky’s London Limited - Blackburn Rovers - has decided to continue with Mr Steve Kean as manager, until the end of the season, June 2011.” Kean’s first match in charge was an uninspiring 1-1 draw at home to bottom of the table West Ham last weekend. Rovers are currently 12th in the 20-team Premier League, six points above the relegation zone. After the West Ham match, Kean made it clear he wanted to stay as manager at Ewood Park. “I want to take the club forward. It’s an interim period, there’s been no games or period of time put on it. I will work with the lads and try appointed permanently anyway, and if they say they want it, a new manager will see them as rivals-in-waiting and be inclined to cast them aside. A foremost exponent of this art is still to be found at Ewood itself - Tony Parkes, a caretaker between four Rovers managers while never saying he wanted the job, lasted as a Rovers coaching fixture until Mark Hughes arrived in 2004 and decided there was no role for

MILAN: Rafa Benitez’s future with Inter Milan remains in serious doubt, with Italian media reporting that former AC Milan coach Leonardo has already been selected as his replacement. Benitez reportedly angered club officials when he said after Saturday’s 3-0 win over TP Mazembe in the Club World Cup

and take us forward.” Kean was previously a long-time assistant to Chris Coleman, who he worked with at Fulham, Real Sociedad and Coventry before going to Blackburn. Venky’s have reportedly targeted a topseven finish for Rovers-the club are currently four points off such a position-but injury problems and a potential lack of funds in next month’s transfer window threaten that ambition. Midfielders Vince Grella, Steven Nzonzi and Keith Andrews are all currently injured while teenager Phil Jones could be out for the remainder of the season following knee surgery on Monday. Rovers defender and New Zealand international Ryan Nelsen voiced his unhappiness over Allardyce’s sacking last weekend while Christopher Samba is reportedly so angry he wants to leave the club. Allardyce’s exit was labelled “stupid” by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who said it “confounded common sense”. Former Bolton and Newcastle manager Allardyce took over as Rovers boss on a threeyear contract on December 17, 2008. His first season saw Blackburn finish 15th in the league and in January he took them to the semi-finals of the English League Cup, where they lost 6-4 on aggregate to Aston Villa. They then finished the league season in 10th place. —AFP

before - Thaksin Shinawatra, when the former Thai prime minister, accused of corruption and human rights abuses, took over Manchester City in May 2007, certified by the Premier League as “fit and proper”. Anderson, working his mobile phone from a dugout in the City of Manchester Stadium, was instrumental in the hiring of Sven-Goran Eriksson to replace Stuart Pearce as manager, and signing eight players, including

final that the board should either fully support him and buy new players in January, or let him go. While Inter has not made any official announcement yet, the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper reports that club president Massimo Moratti has settled on Leonardo to manage the squad when the

was persuaded he did not need to pay an agent to sign players, then Kia Joorabchian, Carlos Tevez’s adviser, and Pini Zahavi, the prolific transfer intermediary, became close at Eastlands to Thaksin’s lieutenant, Pairoj Piempongsant. If City was a frustrated project for Anderson he will believe he can help improve Blackburn post-Allardyce as another of his clients, Owen Coyle, is transforming Bolton Wanderers.

Serie A resumes in January. However, there are some problems terminating Benitez’s contract that need to be resolved. “Nothing is expected today,” Moratti said when he exited club headquarters for lunch on Wednesday. “I haven’t been able to talk to anyone. We’re trying to figure it all out. ... Everything

January beckons, and if Desai financially backs signing new players - she has said Kean will make the football decisions Anderson will fancy his prospects of advising shrewdly. Football will be watching carefully, though, to see whether Blackburn’s recruitment includes a roster of SEM clients. To understand how Rovers, formed in 1875, came to be owned by poultry producers from Pune, two details must be borne in mind. The first is that Walker’s trustees funded the club only reluctantly after 2000, then in 2007 put it up for sale. In three years, no solid investor came forward with the required price until Venky’s, who have not said how they funded their purchase. Not one British business person looked at 10 years in the top flight, crowds around 22,000, the vaunted global profile as a televised member of the Premier League, and decided the Rovers “brand” looked a sound investment. The other is to remember Desai’s first interview to explain the takeover. She talked not about what Venky’s can do for the football club, but what being associated with Premier League fame could do for her company. “I feel that the Venky’s brand will get an immediate recognition if we take over this club, and that is the main reason why we are doing this,” she said. Since they took over, the company’s financial power has been vastly exaggerated. Reports of a £1bn turnover and £100m profits may have sprung from confusion over multiples of rupees, lakhs (100,000 rupees) and crores (10m rupees). In Venky’s (India) Ltd’s annual report for 2009-10, last year’s turnover is reported as 71,000 lakhs (7.1bn rupees), the pre-tax profit 8,200 lakhs (820m rupees). At yesterday’s exchange rate of 0.0143 rupees to the pound, that amounts to a £100m turnover, a £12m profit, about a 10th of what was initially reported. Not in the billionaire class, then, but healthy, of course, for a company founded in 1971 by Desai’s father, Padmashree Dr Banda Vasudev Rao. His vision, reaffirmed in a corporate speech by Desai last June, was: “To see India in the No1 position on the poultry map of the world.” They see buying Blackburn Rovers as a leg on that journey, and January will be key to its direction. Rovers may flounder, as many predict, or the sacking of Allardyce may yet be recognised as proof of the adage, that you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.—Guardian

that has happened was unexpected and we’re evaluating all the (options).” Except for the Club World Cup, Inter has struggled all season, and sits seventh in the standings, 13 points behind city rival AC Milan. Inter is off until it hosts secondplace Napoli when the Serie A resumes on Jan. 6. —AP

GENEVA: FIFA President Sepp Blatter yesterday defended the “historic” choice of Russia and Qatar to host the World Cups in 2018 and 2022, calling it part of a “natural” progression into new regions. The head of world football’s governing body also paid tribute to South Africa’s role in organising the world’s most watched sporting event on the African continent for the first time. “2010 has been a year of ‘fulfilment’, a historic year, one in which we’ve broken new ground,” Blatter said in an end-of-year interview on FIFA’s website. “The sporting media don’t always appreciate the social or cultural importance of awarding the World Cup finals to a country,” he said. “They just think about penalties, corners, refereeing and money. But, as I’ve already said, this decision wasn’t about making money.” Blatter added that after giving previous World Cups to Asia and to Africa, it was “natural” for FIFA to take the tournament to other regions. “We have made historic decisions in terms of sport and geopolitics. We’ve sent the World Cup to new territories,” he said. “The 2018 World Cup will go to eastern Europe and the vast country that is Russia, and the 2022 event will go to Qatar, in the Arab world. “The World Cup will discover new cultures in new regions, and that’s something I’m delighted about. Blatter said moves to make football a universal sport had started under his predecessor Joao Havelange. “When I jumped into this project in November 1974 I did so with my feet tied together, and I could see straightaway that there was more to football than just kicking

a ball,” he said. “When I became the FIFA President, the decision was made to go into Asia. And then I said we had to go to Africa, which is what we did. It’s only natural, then, that we should keep on moving into new regions.” Blatter said he understood the disappointment of the losing candidates. “But maybe some people have forgotten that in football you have to learn to lose as well as to win,” he said. “It was a competition. Some people won, some people lost. That’s normal.” He said this year’s World Cup in South Africa had had a huge economic impact on the country. “2010 has been a year of ‘fulfilment’, a historic year, one in which we’ve broken new ground,” Blatter said. “We’ve had the World Cup in Africa, which is an extraordinary achievement in itself. It’s had a phenomenal impact around the world, and the economic impact of the event can never be underestimated.” “Back in 2004, when the competition was awarded to South Africa, the country was a young republic that had been in existence for 10 years and was looking to find its place in the modern world,” he said. “Since then, both the rest of the world and South Africa itself have come to realise just how important a country it is.” He said his only disappointment about the World Cup was that African teams did not do better. “To be honest, I was expecting to see more African teams in the second round of the World Cup, with one of them going on to the semi-finals,” Blatter said. “Ghana just missed out by the narrowest of margins, though, and there was huge disappointment.” —Agencies

FIFA President Sepp Blatter

Schalke advance in German Cup BERLIN: Schalke 04 needed an 84th minute goal from Jefferson Farfan to edge second division Augsburg 1-0 and advance into the German Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday. Hoffenheim eased past Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-0 with goals to Iceland’s Gylfi Sigurdsson and striker Demba Ba. Schalke, who have won their last three league games after a bad start and qualified top of their Champions League group for the round of 16, saw Christmas come early when coach Felix Magath restored their holidays to 10 days. Magath had been angered by Schalke’s bad start to the season and late last month he gave them less than a week off and ordered them to return to training on Dec. 27. However, after their win in Augsburg his

players were told to return on Jan. 2 instead. “I am very satisfied and that is why we all together will have a break until January 2,” Magath told reporters. “I am satisfied with my team’s performance. It was a tough task especially given the pitch condition.” Schalke found it hard going against well-positioned Augsburg on a rough pitch in freezing temperatures. The Bavarians even threatened with Tobias Werner midway through the second half but he failed to beat keeper Manuel Neuer at point blank range. Spaniard Raul took on the Augsburg defence singlehandedly with six minutes left, shaking off three defenders and sending Peruvian Farfan through

down the right to fire in the winner. Hoffenheim had an easier task. Sigurdsson scored with a free-kick from 20 metres in the 35th minute, as keeper Christofer Heimeroth picked the wrong corner, to take the lead. Ba made sure of their quarter-final spot in the 63nd minute as Gladbach were punished for the numerous defensive absences. The loss was Gladbach’s sixth consecutive defeat in all competitions and, with the team in bottom place in the league as well, coach Michael Frontzeck’s future at the club is now in serious doubt going into the four-week winter break. Title holders Bayern Munich are in action against VfB Stuttgart late yesterday. —Reuters

GERMANY: Schalke’s Raul celebrates after Jefferson Farfan’s goal during the German soccer cup match between FC Augsburg and FC Schalke. —AP

Mavericks stop Magic

Louisville defeat Southern Mississippi ST. PETERSBURG: Justin Burke threw for a pair touchdowns to lead Louisville to a 31-28 win over Southern Mississippi in college football’s Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl on Tuesday. Burke tossed scoring passes to 11 yards to Cameron Graham and 10 yards to Josh Chichester while the Cardinals erased a 14-point firsthalf deficit, then went ahead in the final quarter. Jeremy Wright scored on a 95-yard kickoff return to make it 28-28 early in the fourth quarter. Chris Philpott’s 36yard field goal gave the Cardinals their first lead with 6:30 remaining. Austin Davis threw 205 yards and two touchdowns to become Southern Mississippi’s career TD pass leader, moving ahead of Brett Favre and Lee Roberts in the Golden Eagles’ record book with 53 in three seasons. The Southern Miss quarterback also scored on a 17-yard reception from receiver Quentin Pierce. —AP

ORLANDO: The Dallas Mavericks became the latest team to topple the reconstructed Orlando Magic, winning 105-99 in the NBA on Tuesday. Caron Butler scored 20 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 17 to help the Mavericks pull away in the fourth quarter for their 16th win in 17 games. A night after ending Miami’s 12-game streak, Dallas shot 50 percent from the floor, including 46 percent from 3-point range. The Magic have lost their first two games since Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu were acquired on Saturday, and eight of their past nine. Dwight Howard had 26 points and 23 rebounds but got little help from teammates.

ZURICH: Switzerland’s Roger Federer (right) and Spain’s Rafael Nadal (left) pose for photographers prior to the first exhibition match “Federer/Nadal Match for Africa” in the Hallenstation Arena in Zurich. —AP

Federer beats Nadal to open exhibition series ZURICH: Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 on Tuesday to open a two-match exhibition series for charity between the world’s best tennis players. Federer sealed victory on Nadal’s serve with a backhand crosscourt return for a winner in front of 10,000 spectators at the sold-out Hallenstadion indoor arena. It was the first time they have played each other in Federer’s native Switzerland.

The match raised money for the Roger Federer Foundation which backs educational work with children in Africa. It currently supports projects in Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and his mother’s native South Africa. “This is a special match for me, which I will remember forever,” Federer said. “I’m just so proud and so happy that we all made it work.” The friendly rivals travel to Madrid on Wednesday for a return match in

Nadal’s home country in support of the Rafael Nadal Foundation. “It was an unforgettable experience. I’m very happy to be part of this event,” Nadal said. The good-natured match was the showpiece of a telethon-like event broadcast live by Swiss television. Swiss sports stars, including Olympic champion cyclist Fabian Cancellara and Alpine skier Didier Cuche, helped auction prizes they donated. Also attending was United States skier Lindsey Vonn. The Olympic women’s downhill champion is a fan and friend of Federer, and arrived in Zurich hours after competing in a World Cup slalom race in Courchevel, France. In tournament play, Nadal has the advantage with a 14-8 career record against Federer. The Swiss won their most recent meeting, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals in London last month. Meanwhile, Austria will play France on a clay court in an aircraft hangar in the first round of the 2011 Davis Cup. A 10,000square-meter hangar at Austria’s main airport — 20 kilometers east of Vienna — which is being used for maintenance of a Boeing 747, will be transformed into a 6,000-capacity tennis stadium for the March 4-6 tie, the Austrian Tennis Federation announced yesterday. “It will be really cool to play there,” the 11th-ranked Jurgen Melzer said. “A lot of fans can get in so we hope to put on a good show.” The federation struggled to find an appropriate location as no suitable sporting venue in Vienna region was available for that week. “(Melzer’s manager) Ronnie Leitgeb came up with the idea. ... It’s a unique project,” federation vice president Helmut Dorn said. “We are glad to fulfill the players’ wish to get the match staged near Vienna.” Melzer didn’t expect the constant noise of airplanes to cause any significant disturbance. —AP

Bucks 98, Lakers 79 In Los Angeles, undermanned Milwaukee produced a stunning upset, winning easily over Los Angeles. Earl Boykins scored a season-high 22 points and John Salmons added 20 to end the two-time defending champions’ five-game winning streak. Kobe Bryant scored 21 points for the Lakers, who perhaps had their minds on the Christmas visit from the Miami Heat. The Bucks had lost three straight and were down to nine healthy players against the Lakers, who had beaten them six straight times. Thunder 99, Bobcats 81 In Charlotte, Oklahoma City overcame a poor shooting night by dominating the fourth quarter in a victory over reeling Charlotte. The Thunder entered the final period trailing 69-68, but responded with a 25-3 run. The Bobcats missed their first 11 shots, committed five turnovers and didn’t get their first field goal until 2:52 remained, producing sarcastic cheers. Oklahoma’s Kevin Durant scored 32 points, hitting 14-of-16 free throws and adding seven rebounds. Stephen Jackson scored 20 points for the Bobcats, who dropped their fourth straight as coach Larry Brown continues to question their effort. Bulls 121, 76ers 76 In Chicago, the home team beat Philadelphia for its eighth win in nine games. Despite missing big men Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, Chicago dominated nearly every offensive category and recorded its most lopsided win of the season. Derrick Rose and Luol Deng each scored 22 points. Rose also had 12 assists for his seventh double-double. Andre Iguodala scored 17 points for Philadelphia. Nets 101, Grizzlies 94 In Memphis, New Jersey snapped a 10-game road losing skid by beating Memphis. Brook Lopez scored 26 points and Sasha Vujacic added a season-high 16. Lopez was 8 of 14 from the field, and missed only one of his 11 free throws. The Nets outrebounded Memphis 49-39. Marc Gasol scored 19 points to lead the Grizzlies. Warriors 117, Kings 109 In Sacramento, Monta Ellis scored nine of his 36 points in overtime to lift Golden State over struggling Sacramento. The Warriors, who had lost 14 of their previous 16 games, rallied from a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Reggie Williams scored 24 points for Golden State. Beno Udrih scored a career-high 34 points for the Kings, who have lost six straight. —AP

SACRAMENTO: Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis (right) drives to the basket past Sacramento Kings guard Pooh Jeter during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game. —AP

NBA results/standings Dallas 105, Orlando 99; Oklahoma City 99, Charlotte 81; Chicago 121, Philadelphia 76; New Jersey 101, Memphis 94; Golden State 117, Sacramento 109 (OT); Milwaukee 98, LA Lakers 79. Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L PCT Boston 22 4 .846 NY Knicks 16 12 .571 Philadelphia 11 17 .393 Toronto 10 18 .357 New Jersey 9 20 .310 Central Division Chicago 17 9 .654 Indiana 13 14 .481 Milwaukee 11 16 .407 Detroit 9 19 .321 Cleveland 8 20 .286 Southeast Division Miami 21 9 .700 Atlanta 18 12 .600 Orlando 16 12 .571 Charlotte 9 19 .321 Washington 7 19 .269

GB 7 12 13 14.5 4.5 6.5 9 10 3 4 11 12

Western Conference Northwest Division Utah 20 9 .690 Oklahoma City 20 9 .690 Denver 16 10 .615 Portland 15 14 .517 Minnesota 6 23 .207 Pacific Division LA Lakers 21 8 .724 Phoenix 13 14 .481 Golden State 10 18 .357 LA Clippers 8 21 .276 Sacramento 5 21 .192 Southwest Division San Antonio 24 3 .889 Dallas 23 5 .821 New Orleans 16 12 .571 Houston 13 15 .464 Memphis 12 17 .414

2.5 5 14 7 10.5 13 14.5 1.5 8.5 11.5 13

ABK Visa cardholders enjoy Atlantis experience


Husam Hantouli wins KD 125,000 Al-Jawhara prize


China ready to buy $5.3bn of Portugal debt


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dubai World arm cuts stake in Australia for $1.5 billion Desperate bid to trim whopping debt

DUBAI: A cargo ship docked at Dubai’s Jebel Ali port, managed by state-owned Dubai Ports World (DP World). Dubai ports operator DP World said yesterday it has agreed to sell 75 percent of its stake in DP World Australia for $1.5 billion. — AFP

DP World at 27-month high on Australian sale DUBAI: Dubai’s DP World surged to a 27-month high yesterday after the ports operator sold a 75 percent in its Australian operations for $1.5 billion. The firm’s shares rose 6.3 percent to their highest close since Sept. 25, 2008. “The deal seems EPS (earnings per share) accretive,” said Shehzad Janab, Daman Investments chief investment officer. “The fact it has been able to sell assets in the current environment should be seen as a positive, but for people following DP World the deal is not a surprise.” DP World will sell majority control in its Australian operations to private equity firm Citi Infrastructure Investors (CII) as it seeks to reduce debts, with a $3 billion revolving credit facility maturing in 2012. It will continue to manage the Australian facilities on the new owner’s behalf. “DP World’s prize asset is Jebel Ali, which generates the bulk of its earnings, while its growth assets such as its Cochin port and Vietnam are still there,” said Janab. DP World was excluded from parent company Dubai World’s $25 billion debt restructuring, while in November Dubai officials said the emirate may sell off assets as the it seeks to reduce an esti-

MIDEAST STOCK MARKETS mated $115 billion debt pile, mainly held by government-owned companies. “DP World is making money and is a play on regional and global growth and I would expect it to continue to be ringfenced from Dubai asset sales until prices improve and I don’t see that happening any time soon,” Janab added. Dubai’s Emaar Properties fell 1.4 percent following a report by Indian media that the developer’s Indian unit lost a $41 million court case in India. “The case isn’t a big deal, but the pressure on Emaar’s stock was more pronounced given the low volumes in the market,” said Tarik Lotfy, Arqaam Capital Head of MENA equities. Dubai’s index fell to a new 15-week low in muted trade. “Institutional trading has largely dried up due to seasonal issues,” added Lotfy. “We may have drifted lower over the past couple of weeks, but I’m bullish for next year and expect interest to return and sentiment to improve over the course of Q1 - UAE markets are under-owned, so risk is to

the upside.” In Egypt, Orascom Telecom (OT) fell 0.5 percent after Russian mobile operator Vimpelcom said it wanted to renegotiate the terms of a $6.6 billion deal that includes buying OT assets. New terms may be the only way to save the deal after objections from a Vimplecom shareholder. Saudi Electricity Co rose 1.4 percent a two-month high after the utility said it may involve private firms in building more power plants, helping Saudi Arabia’s index edge up to a new sevenmonth peak. Saudi shares have been little moved by kingdom’s record budget for 2011, announced on Monday. “Saudi Arabia’s market hardly reacts to the budget, but in the long term the impact will be positive,” said Shakeel Sarwar, Sico investment bank head of asset management. “Next year, we’ll see infrastructure spending having a trickle impact on many sectors of the Saudi economy.” — Reuters

Banks seen driving more Saudi index gains in 2011 CAIRO: The Saudi stock market will see more gains in 2011 after outperforming most Gulf markets this year as companies benefit from high oil prices, a record budget and global recovery, analysts and investors said. The biggest Arab bourse has risen some 8 percent this year and investors see more gains next year as oil prices hover around $90, while the top OPEC exporter is rolling out a $400 billion stimulus, the world’s biggest relative to GDP. On Monday, the kingdom said it would spend $155 billion in 2011, mainly on education and infrastructure. The main benchmark could hit 7,000 points within two months, said Youssef Kassantini, chief executive at Bourse Experts, citing a stock market correlation of about 74 percent with oil prices. It closed yesterday at 6,610. “The investment environment will

help as Saudi’s record budget and spending should act as a catalyst to TASI,” he said. Saudi’s stock market benchmark would reach 7,000-7,100 in the first quarter of 2011 and top 9,000 by the end of the year, said Mohamed El Aasar, chief technical analyst at EFG-Hermes. “The Saudi stock market is well positioned to harvest good gains, especially from petrochemicals, banks and telecoms, and should fare well in 2011,” Kassantini said. Despite a 5 percent gain in the banking index, some banking shares are still cheaper than peers in the Gulf. Riyad Bank has a price-to-earnings (PE) ratio of 13.4, while Samba Financial Group trades at 12.3 times 2010 earnings, according to Thomson Reuters data. National Bank of Kuwait has a PE ratio of 15.9. “The index will fare better (in 2011)

as banks recover ... Banking will be among the sectors investors bet on during 2011,” said Turki Fadaak, financial analyst and member of the Saudi Economic Association, a semi-official think-tank. The banking index, which ended Wednesday at 16,524, could hit 16,900 in the first quarter of next year and see a 10 percent rise by end-2011, said Aasar. With oil prices expected to stay high, the petrochemical sector should also be a strong performer in 2011, analysts said. Jumping 21 percent this year the petrochemical index- whose biggest stock is Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) — might gain 25-30 percent next year, they said. It ended yesterday at 6,506. “(Petrochemicals) should target 6,720 points in the first quarter and end 2011 at 8,400-8,500 points,” Aasar said. — Reuters

DUBAI: DP World, the port management arm of struggling state conglomerate Dubai World, sold the bulk of its Australian businesses to a Citi investment fund yesterday for $1.5 billion in a bid to trim its debt. Unloading the stake allows the cargo handler to cash in on its DP World Australia division yet retain a foothold in the country while it focuses on the emerging markets that fuel much of its growth. Under the terms of the deal, DP World will keep a 25 percent stake and continue to manage the ports in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle. It is selling the remaining 75 percent of its Australian operations to Citi Infrastructure Investors, a private equity division of the New York-based bank. DP World CEO Mohammed Sharaf told reporters it was not part of a broader effort to dismantle the company’s globe-spanning operations. “We’re not in a selling spree out there. We’re talking about bringing in strategic partners,” he said. “They approached us.” Investors cheered the move, driving the company’s stock price to its highest close in over two years. DP World shares rose 6.3 percent to close at 64 cents on the NASDAQ Dubai. DP World is one of Dubai’s more profitable state-linked companies. It ranks as the world’s fourth largest port operator, with business at 50 cargo terminals on six continents, including the Mideast’s largest in Dubai. It pulled in $219.2 million in profit in the first half of this year. The company is part of the city-state’s struggling Dubai World conglomerate, but was exempted from its parent’s $24.9 billion debt restructuring effort. Yuvraj Narayan, DP World’s chief financial officer, said all proceeds from the sale will go toward paying down the port company’s debt. DP World was carrying $8.04 billion in debt as of the end of June, according to a bond prospectus released last month. Included in its liabilities is a $3 billion revolving credit line that must be paid off or refinanced by October 2012 — a task that could be difficult given the immense debt challenges facing its parent. Paring its debt load using the Citi proceeds gives the company more breathing room, said Samir Murad, assistant vice president for research at NBK Capital in Kuwait. “They wanted to ease some pressure off their balance sheet,” he said. “Overall DP World wasn’t in a bad position in terms of debt. ... The only problem was this revolving facility they needed to take care of in 2012.” DP World said it expects to retain its existing management and staff in Australia, where its ports account for about half the cargo container market. It employs about 2,100 people throughout the country, according to a corporate website. The $1.5 billion it expects to generate includes the repayment of debts held by the Australian division. DP World has had a presence in Australia since 2005, when it took over operations in Adelaide following the acquisition of US railroad operator CSX Corp’s international port business. It gained operational control of the other four ports through its buyout of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co the following year.

PHOENIX: Dock clerk Charles Salvi labels boxes as they arrive at an fulfillment center, in Phoenix. The economy grew at a moderate pace last summer, reflecting stronger spending by businesses to replenish stockpiles. More recent barometers suggest the economy is gaining momentum in the final months of the year. — AP

US Q3 growth raised, spending less robust Durable goods demand drops WASHINGTON: US economic growth was a touch stronger than previously estimated in the third quarter, but consumer spending was softer and more of the goods produced ended up on warehouse shelves. Gross domestic product growth was revised up to an annualized rate of 2.6 percent from 2.5 percent, reflecting a higher than previously estimated pace of inventory accumulation, the Commerce Department said in its final estimate of third-quarter GDP yesterday. Economists had expected GDP growth, which measures total goods and services output within US borders, to be revised up to a 2.8 percent pace. The economy expanded at a 1.7 percent rate in the second quarter. Despite the less robust-than-expected reading for the third quarter, economists said they were optimistic growth was accelerating in the final months of the year. “The more recent data suggests we’re seeing reasonably healthy retail sales growth, pretty healthy investment spending, some growth in employment, so maybe the core growth or final sales growth is starting to accelerate in the fourth quarter,” said Zach Pandl an economist at Nomura Securities International in New York. US stock index futures trimmed gains after the report, while Treasury debt prices pared losses. The dollar extended declines against the euro and yen. Economists

expect growth to remain supported in 2011 by an $858 billion tax deal, which will help plug the gap from the fading boost from the rebuilding of inventories by businesses and winding down of the government’s $814 billion stimulus package. The tax plan, widely viewed as a second fiscal stimulus for the economy, is seen complementing the Federal Reserve’s program to buy $600 billion worth of government bonds to shore up the recovery. Thirdquarter growth estimates were revised to reflect a $121.4 billion increase in business inventories rather than the $111.5 billion rise reported last month. Inventories added 1.61 percentage points to GDP growth. Excluding inventories, the economy expanded at a 0.9 percent pace rather than 1.2 percent. The increase in consumer spending was revised down to a 2.4 percent rate from 2.8 percent rate. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity and contributed 1.67 percentage points to growth in the July-September period. Still, consumer spending during the quarter was the fastest since the first quarter of 2007 and was a pick-up from the second quarter’s 2.2 percent pace. Government spending was trimmed to show a 3.9 percent rate rise rather than 4.0 percent. There were also slight downward revisions to business investment as spending on equipment and software estimates were lowered. —Reuters

UAE CB denies plan to change bank reserves DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates’ central bank has no intention of changing the minimum reserves for banks as liquidity of banks operating in the country was good, a senior central bank official was quoted as saying yesterday. The central bank of the UAE, the world’s third biggest oil exporter, had no intention to modify the minimum mandatory reserves for banks at the current stage, Seif Al-Shamsi, executive director for the treasury department at the UAE Central Bank, told Arabic language daily Al-Khaleej newspaper. Lending in the UAE’s banking sector have almost come to a standstill when the financial crisis and the Dubai debt crisis hit the region and the emirate’s real-estate driven boom came to a halt.

Measures adopted by the central bank regarding banks’ liquidity reflect good conditions and do not call for central bank intervention, Shamsi told the paper. Money supply (M3) in the Arab world’s second-largest economy grew 5.1 percent year-on-year in October, the fastest rate this year, after a 2.0 percent rise in the previous month, central bank data showed. Bank provisions for bad loans rose to 39.6 billion UAE dirhams in October, the highest level this year, up 4.8 percent from September and 36.6 percent from October 2009. The UAE finance ministry said this month it expected to launch a new credit bureau within the next six months to help banks, already exposed to debts of Dubai’s state-linked companies, assess individuals’ credit worthiness. —Reuters



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rating reflects resilience of Bahrain economy

Fitch affirms Bahrain at ‘A’; outlook stable MANAMA: Fitch Ratings has affirmed Bahrain’s long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at ‘A’ and ‘A+’ respectively, Shortterm foreign currency IDR at ‘F1’ and Country Ceiling at ‘A+’. The Outlooks on the Long-term IDRs are Stable. The Stable Outlook reflects the continued

resilience of Bahrain’s economy and the banking sector to the stresses from the global downturn and regional property markets over the last two years. It also reflects the strong starting point for public finances in the context of the government’s planned fiscal expansion during 2011-12. As per Fitch forecasts, the central government fiscal deficit will remain a wide 5.5% of GDP on average in 2011-12, and debt will increase to 38% of GDP by 2012, from 16.4% in 2008. “However, even at these elevated levels, debt will remain below the forecast ‘A’ median, while net debt is appreciably lower,” says Purvi Harlalka, Director in Fitch’s Sovereign Group. “Bahrain’s track record of fiscal prudence has created enough fiscal space to accommodate a planned increase in capital spending. However, were debt to exhibit a sustained rise above 40% of GDP beyond 2012, it would compromise the kingdom’s credit strengths.” Part of the increase in spending owes to a one-off USD1.06bn (5.6% of GDP) plan to restructure Gulf Air, the loss-making national carrier, with the intent to return it to profitability within three years. However, infrastructure investment is also rising. Excluding capital spending, the current budget is planned to remain in small surplus. The authorities also plan to better target the distribution of subsidies, which may, however, prove politically difficult to execute. The expanded 2011-12 budgets are based on a more realistic oil price assumption ($80 per barrel) than in the past ($40 for 2009-10). Fitch views this as a positive development as it helps improve fiscal transparency. However, it also means that downside risks to public finances from an unforeseen fall in oil prices have increased, given that the breakeven budget price ($98.5 on average over 2011-12) is much above current oil price levels. About 84% of budgetary revenues were accrued from the oil sector during 2008-2010. Government deposits of 19% of GDP, however, provide a substantial buffer, while the government has generally been quick to pare back capital expenditure at times of previous unforeseen oil price falls. Diversification of the revenue base away from oil would be positive for ratings but oil dependency is set to increase over the next decade owing to plans to triple production from the Bahrain field - the smaller of Bahrain’s two existing oil fields. This, together with the incipient recovery in finance and construction, will buoy GDP growth to between 4% and 5% in 2011 and 2012 and public finances will also benefit. Nevertheless, growth is likely to remain subdued relative to the 7% rate witnessed during the boom in 2003-2008. The lower growth trajectory partly reflects the revised business model of the financial sector, which has been de-leveraging and re-orienting towards more conventional activities. This is especially visible in the wholesale banks whose assets have shrunk to 7x GDP in Q310 from 10.6x in 2007. The conventional retail banks have stopped contracting but remain cautious and liquid. Their non-performing loan ratio appears to be stabilizing near 6%. The Islamic banks’ exposure to the property sector will continue to exert pressure on their asset quality. However, Fitch expects the domestic banking sector to remain stable and profitable. Fitch also considers political risk in Bahrain to be within the tolerance of its ‘A’ rating, despite the disquiet and mass arrests witnessed in the run-up to the parliamentary elections held in October 2010. Supporters of the Sunni-led government won the polls with a narrow 2-seat margin - a total of 40 seats were contested. However, the opposition retained all of its existing 17 seats and added one more to reach a total of 18. Bahrain’s ‘A’ rating remains supported by its higher per capita income relative to the ‘A’ range median; business-friendly regulations; prudent policymaking which has resulted in macroeconomic stability; and its net external creditor position. —Reuters

Northern Gulf Trading organizes test drive for luxurious collection of Hyundai cars KUWAIT: Northern Gulf Trading Co, the exclusive distributer of Hyundai Motor Company in Kuwait, conducted a test drive event for Hyundai’s Centennial and Genesis last Friday at the Sahara Kuwait Resort. The test drive was honorably attended by an elite and selected group of Northern Gulf Trading Co. VIP customers, luxury cars’ lovers and Sahara Kuwait Resort Members, in the presence of a notable number of journalists and media representatives. Sahara Kuwait Resort has been chosen for that event as it portrays the extravagance of the cars displayed. The test drive started at 9am where clients and participants registered for the event. After a simple explanation of the principles of driving, road safety, review of the cars properties and a highlight on the latest auto-

mobile specifications, the participants were taken on a tour inside the luxurious cockpits of Hyundai cars. Subsequently, the participants were given the opportunity to enjoy the experience of driving and testing the capacity and the real potential of their favorite cars. Followed by this enjoyable tour was an open buffet lunch which made the day more exceptional. Hyundai Centennial has managed to bring all standards of safety, comfort and luxury to reality, and to become a luxury dream car with a V8 engine, capacity of 4600 cc and 375 horsepower; which is a treasured elite choice. Similarly, the Genesis is characterized by techniques allowing it to compete with the finest sedan cars. The Genesis has been designed according to Hyundai’s new rear wheel drive structure that is

designed to permit the highest performance and which provides freedom of choice between two systems for power transmission; one has engine capacity of 3.8 liter estimated up to 290 and 9.6 BS, while the other has V6 engine capacity of 4.6 liter of the new model (Tau). (Tau) engine can generate 375 horsepower using premium fuel and 368 horsepower using regular unleaded fuel, and it is the perfect choice for luxury and quality lovers. Genesis has double engine strength of CVVT with an effective absorbance capacity, allowing a real engine performance with 24v and 6 cylinders, in addition to the strong gearbox transmission of 6 speeds. Also, Genesis attracts those who prefer smart technology such as the Adaptive Lighting and cruise control. On this occasion, the General Manager of

Northern Gulf Trading Co., Raed Turjuman, stated: “There is no way you can test your dream car and its real potential better than on a test drive day. For this reason, today we give driving enthusiasts the opportunity of getting the pleasure of a unique experience of exploring the latest Hyundai 2011 luxurious cars characterized by all the safety, comfort and luxury standards, brought to Kuwait by the Northern Gulf Trading Co. since the mid of this year “. Torjoman added that all participants were eligible to enter a draw done at the end of the event on two flying tickets to Dubai including accommodations in Atlantis Dubai Hotel, as an expression of gratitude from the Northern Gulf Trading Co. to the loyalty and continuous support of the customers of the trade mark Hyundai.

Shaikha Mohammed Ali Bin Rajab wins the $30,000 weekly cash prize KUWAIT: Zain is happy to announce that Shaikha Mohammed Ali Bin Rajab is the winner of the $30,000.00 cash prize in the weekly draw of its recently-launched promotional campaign, aimed at both its prepaid eeZee and postpaid voice and data customers. The campaign, which ends December 31st 2010, allows every Zain customer recharging or settling an invoice of KD5 or more to be part of

the draw, which offers weekly cash prizes worth $30,000.00 and the chance to win the grand prize of a Ferrari California. Zain congratulates the winner and urges all its customers to participate in the campaign by simply recharging or setting their bills on time. Zain launched this campaign to create a totally a new dimension in its devoted relationship with customers.

ABK Visa Cardholders enjoy the Atlantis Experience Save up to 40% at Atlantis Hotel, Dubai KUWAIT: Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait announces a fabulous promotion in cooperation with Visa International to offer their customers up to 40 percent discount at the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai. ABK’s Visa cardholders can now save by using any of their ABK Visa Credit or Debit cards when booking to stay at the Atlantis Hotel. Stewart Lockie, Acting General Manager, Retail Banking commented “This is a fantastic offer and demonstrates ABK’s commitment to deliver genuine and valuable benefits to our cardholders. With this discount ABK Visa cardholders can stay at one of the leading 5 Star hotels in Dubai for KD 152 for a deluxe room for 2, which also includes complimentary breakfast for 2, a dinner coupon with a value of KD 62 in Ronda Locatelli or Rostang restaurants, 2 for 1 Spa treatment, Entry to the Sanctuary for 2, Free access to the Aquaventure Water Park and Lost Chambers, preferential rates at the Dolphin Bay and other great advantages.” In addition to this amaz-

Stewart Lockie, Acting General Manager, Retail Banking ing offer, ABK Cardholders can also benefit from Free Travel Insurance when using their credit card to book their flights and also receive 3 skywards miles for every 1kd spent on their ABK/Emirates cobranded credit card. To benefit from this great offer use your ABK Visa debit or credit cards and book your stay in

Atlantis Hotel through the website or by calling +97144261000 quoting ‘Atlantis Visa Package’ before the 15th of January, and enjoy a luxurious break. For further details, including Terms and Conditions, please call Ahlan Ahli on 1 899 899 or visit your nearest ABK branch.

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 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

.2730000 .4320000 .3660000 .2890000 .2740000 .2780000 .0045000 .0020000 .0762300 .7426870 .3900000 .0730000 .7280720 .0045000 .0480000 CUSTOMER TRANSFER RATES .2808000 .4347060 .3688030 .2930190 .2762150 .0494990 .0411710 .2800420 .0361210 .2142200 .0033520 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0764710 .7450250 .0000000 .0749000 .7295400 .0000000

Al-Muzaini Exchange Co. Japanese Yen Indian Rupees


.2860000 .4460000 .3760000 .2990000 .2840000 .2860000 .0075000 .0035000 .0769960 .7501510 .4100000 .0780000 .7353900 .0072000 .0560000 .2829000 .4379570 .3715610 .2952100 .2782810 .0498700 .0414790 .2821360 .0363910 .2158220 .0033770 .0063010 .0025520 .0033130 .0040410 .0770420 .7505970 .4001410 .0754600 .7349960 .0064150

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

3.286 2.530 3.917 215.660 36.303 3.990 6.372 9.360 0.271 0.273 GCC COUNTRIES Saudi Riyal 75.265 Qatari Riyal 77.551 Omani Riyal 733.280 Bahraini Dinar 749.650 UAE Dirham 76.860 ARAB COUNTRIES Egyptian Pound - Cash 51.800 Egyptian Pound - Transfer 48.577 Yemen Riyal 1.324 Tunisian Dinar 194.710 Jordanian Dinar 398.570 Lebanese Lira 187.700 Syrian Lier 6.113 Morocco Dirham 33.829 EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer 282.130 Euro 372.270 Sterling Pound 438.430 Canadian dollar 279.060 Turkish lire 181.520 Swiss Franc 296.360 Australian dollar 281.260 US Dollar Buying 280.895 GOLD 20 Gram 266.000 10 Gram 135.000 5 Gram 69.000

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 10 Tola Sterling Pound US Dollar

SELL CASH 285.000 750.090 4.230 280.600 553.900 14.100 51.400 167.800 51.420 375.000

36.850 6.245 0.032

398.660 0.190 92.810 3.930 212.000

SELL DRAFT 283.500 750.090 3.993 279.300

216.400 48.617 373.500

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

281.950 279.615 437.185 372.825 293.951 691.625 746.258 76.740 77.421 75.155 397.853 48.630 6.254 3.295

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

2.531 4.002 6.370 3.363 9.332 6.150 3.907

Kuwait Bahrain Intl Exchange Co. Currency

732.450 3.300 6.385 77.590 75.310 216.390 43.780 2.532 439.000 296.500 6.200 9.540 76.860 282.000

Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd

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

37.000 6.500 0.033 0.264 0.252 3.460 400.540 0.191 92.810 46.000 4.420 213.500 1.918 48.100 732.630 3.390 6.690 78.020 75.310 216.390 43.780 2.686 441.000 42.300 298.000 6.200 9.730 198.263 76.960 282.400 1.360 GOLD 1,465.080 TRAVELLER’S CHEQUE 439.000 282.000

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

282.000 3.295 6.255 2.540 3.995 6.415 76.870 75.395 749.700 48.575 442.200 0.00003280 3.950 1.550 400.600 5.750 376.200 283.100

Al Mulla Exchange Currency 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 281.650 373.100 438.650 278.900 3.385 6.245 48.580 2.530 3.987 6.365 3.289 749.800 76.750 75.200


Thursday, December 23 2010


QInvest CEO sees Qatar sukuk and IPOs in 2011 Expansion into Saudi Arabia, Turkey and UAE on cards

Husam Jamal Hantouli with Bader Al-Oun, account manager and Yasmin Al Banwan- Sour Branch manager

Husam Jamal Hantouli wins KD 125,000 Al-Jawhara prize KUWAIT: National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), the leading bank in Kuwait and the highest rated bank in the Middle East, recently announced the names of the Al-Jawhara Draw prize winners for the month of December 2010 which was conducted at NBK’s Head Office. The first prize of KD 125,000 went to HUSAM JAMAL HANTOULI, while the second place winner MARYAM NASER ALI received KD 7,500. The third winner KUSUM KAPILA was awarded KD 3,000 and the remaining 97 winners were awarded KD 400 each. The first winner of Al-Jawhara prize, HUSAM HANTOULI said that he opened the account two years ago but never thought that he will win the first prize. He intends to donate part of the amount to charity and achieve his dream to travel

around the world. Al-Jawhara account offers numerous benefits to NBK customers. It is not only an interest-free account with regular deposit and withdrawal privileges, but also automatically entitles account holders to enter the monthly Al-Jawhara draw. Each KD 50 in an Al-Jawhara account entitles the customer to one chance at winning any one of the 100 prizes allocated for each draw. All prizes are automatically credited to the winners’ accounts the day after the draw. The more money held in your Al-Jawhara account, the greater your chances of winning! Al-Jawhara accounts are available for both Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis and can be opened at any one of NBK’s branches around Kuwait. For further information kindly visit, or call Hala Watani at 1801801.

DUBAI: Qatar’s largest investment bank QInvest sees Islamic bond issuances continuing to gain momentum in 2011 while initial public offerings may also see some revival, the company’s chief executive said. Shahzad Shahbaz said the firm is working with potential issuers in Qatar who are looking to tap the Islamic bond, or sukuk, market in 2011 after Qatar Islamic Bank’s oversubscribed $750 million sukuk demonstrated growing appetite and set a benchmark for other corporates to raise capital on favorable terms. “The market has stabilized and as long as liquidity is there and capital is available, issuers can tap the sukuk market with favorable pricing,” he said in an interview with Reuters. “We’re looking at opportunities with

some issuers to potentially bring them to market in 2011.” The market for initial public offerings may also see some revitalization next year, he said, adding that the company is currently working on a few deals to bring private companies to the market in 2011. “This is an area that we see gradually picking up in 2011,” he said. “There’s a strong underlying story in Qatar and definitely an opportunity to bring some names to market.” Shahbaz said in October that QInvest would consider an IPO on Qatar’s exchange next year. The Gulf IPO market remained muted for months as trading on regional exchanges dwindled and volatility prevailed. Qatar’s bourse, however, is the market leader, up 24 percent so far this year, dwarfing gains

from other Gulf markets. Following Qatar’s winning bid for the 2022 World Cup, the Gulf Arab state is expected to reap the benefits of an infrastructure boom as it plans to spend more than $100 billion over the next five years on projects. Shahbaz said the games will draw increasing interest both regionally and globally for Qatar, which will translate to more opportunities for investments and capital raising. “We are the leading and most wellestablished bank in Qatar so we certainly see all these initiatives providing opportunity for us,” he said. EYEING EXPANSION But the company is not looking solely within its borders. QInvest has applied for a licence to operate in Saudi Arabia and aims to enter the kingdom in

Dubai’s ENBD to sell 49% of Network Intl to Abraaj

AL JAWHARA WINNERS December 2010 Sr.# Cert. No.

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2011. He said the company also plans to expand its operations into Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. While QInvest has an organic growth strategy, the company would consider acquisitions to fast-track its growth plans, he said. To that end, QInvest - whose shareholders include Qatar Islamic Bank acquired a 25 percent stake in Mumbaibased Ambit Group in February. The two firms launched a sharia-compliant fund in India earlier this month. And last May, QInvest trumped two other bidders to buy a 44 percent stake in the UK’s Panmure Gordon, investing 23 million pounds in the 130-year-old stockbroking firm, which has since been pummelled by tough financial market conditions. QInvest said it had plans to change its stake. — Reuters

ATHENS: A demonstrator waves a Greek flag with “for sale” notices on it during a protest outside the Greek parliament yesterday in Athens. Hundreds of protesters marched in Athens yesterday as lawmakers prepared to approve an austerity budget under a tough economic overhaul imposed after the debt-hit country’s international bailout. Some 3,000 unionists and Communists staged separate demonstrations to reject the economic blueprint containing over 14 billion euros in savings for 2011 in a bid to restore balance to Greece’s woeful public finances. — AFP

India scraps onion tax as prices soar NEW DELHI: The Indian government, facing mounting public anger over soaring onion costs, yesterday scrapped tax on imports of the vegetable to try to rein in prices of a staple ingredient. The move comes after Premier Manmohan Singh expressed “deep concern” over the cost of onions doubling in a matter of days and called for steps to lower prices of what is normally one of the cheapest vegetables. Onions are selling for 80 rupees a kilogram (88 cents a pound) after a price surge from 35 to 40 rupees, and stories about the increase have become front-page news. Indian authorities are mindful that onions can be a potent political issue, with voters in 1998 throwing out the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Delhi state polls after a sharp surge in onion prices. The so-called “onion factor” also helped defeat the left-leaning, now defunct Janata Party in 1980 parliamentary elections when prices went up quickly. The government, which is battling to curb inflation, has already banned the export of onions but has warned prices will stay high for several weeks due to unseasonal rains in western India’s onion-growing region. Authorities also say traders hoarding onions are driving up prices and starting to make the vegetable unaffordable for India’s poor, for whom it is an essential ingredient to add taste to food. “Disturbing allegations that hoarding in some onion-producing states have officialdom’s blessings demand probing and, if needed, tough punitive action,” said the Times of India in its editorial yesterday. “It’s scandalous that prices frequently soar while farm produce rots for lack of infrastructure,” it added. Onions are being trucked in from neighboring Pakistan, where they cost a fifth of the price, in a bid to meet domestic demand. “The customs duty on onions has been brought down to zero,” Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla told reporters in New Delhi. The government has also asked state-run cooperative stores to sell onions at wholesale rates of 35 to 40 rupees a kilogram to cool prices. The spike in onion prices comes as overall food inflation runs at nearly 10 percent, causing huge hardship for India’s impoverished millions. The government has been feeling the heat over inflation as the opposition BJP has seized on the issue to galvanize its fortunes. —AFP

Investors enter 2011 in bullish mood: Poll LONDON: Investors are entering 2011 in a relatively bullish mood, raising equity holdings to a 10-month high, increasing exposure to high-yield credit and cutting back on government debt, Reuters polls showed yesterday. Within bond portfolios, however, concern about the cost of US Treasuries and the stability of euro zone debt, did not show up dramatically. Allocations to emerging market debt were cut instead. Surveys of 55 leading investment houses in the United States, Europe ex UK, Japan and Britain showed investors holding 54.1 percent of a typical mixed-asset portfolio in stocks in December. That was up from 53.2 percent in November and the highest since 55.4 percent in February. —Reuters

DUBAI: Dubai-based lender Emirates NBD will sell a 49 percent stake in its subsidiary Network International for 2 billion UAE dirhams ($539 million) to UAE-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital, Abraaj said yesterday. The sale to Abraaj, biggest private equity fund in the Middle East after raising about $7 billion since it started in 2002, is expected to be finalised in the first quarter of 2011, pending regulatory approvals. At least three private equity firms had bid for a stake in Network International, sources told Reuters in July. “Network International is ideally positioned to take advantage of the continuing shift from cash-based to electronic transactions,” Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, managing director and chief executive of Abraaj Investment

Management said. The company also looked set to capitalize on the massive growth potential of the region in light of the current under-penetration of payment cards, he added. Payments solutions provider Network International is fully owned by Dubai-controlled Emirates NBD which had long been considering plans to support the company’s international expansion. Emirates NBD suffered a spike in bad loans as the global financial crisis took hold and provisioned for its exposure to debt-laden conglomerate Dubai World in the third quarter. Abraaj Capital’s acquisition, through its unit Financial Technologies Holdings Limited, is the first under its flagship fund, the Abraaj Buyout Fund IV, the statement said. — Reuters

World stocks steady after US growth data LONDON: Global stocks held steady yesterday as modestly lower-than-expected US growth figures for the third quarter did little to alter views that the world’s largest economy is gaining steam. In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 26.08 points, or 0.4 percent, at 5,977.88 while Germany’s DAX fell around a point to 7,076.70. The CAC-40 in France was up about a point at 3,028.56. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up a little more than 4 points at 11,537.28 soon after the open while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose just under 2 points to 1,246.47. The response to figures showing that the US economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.6 percent in the third quarter was muted. Though the rate was up on the 2.5 percent previously reported, it was below expectations for a bigger rise to 2.8 percent. The figure did not spook investors following a strong run in stock markets around the world, particularly in the US where on Tuesday the S&P closed at its highest level since the trading day before Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008. The Dow ended at its highest since August 2008. The growth figures have not altered the prevailing view in the markets that the US economic recovery is gaining traction, partly thanks to a recent deal to extend tax cuts to all Americans. That sentiment was reinforced by figures from the National Association of Realtors showing that sales of previously occupied homes spiked by 5.6 percent during November. Though sales are at extremely low levels, the increase represents the third rise in four months. Further insight will be sought today when a number of key economic releases are due — particularly durable goods

NEW YORK: Trader Gregory Rowe, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. —AP orders for November and the University of Michigan’s assessment of consumer confidence in the crucial month of December. Once they’re out of the way, traders will be preparing for the Christmas break, with many off until the new year. Christmas Eve on Friday is a holiday in the US and Germany, and a half day in Britain and France. “Tomorrow’s barrage of US data ahead of the holiday weekend is likely to provide ample fodder for traders,” said Michael Woolfolk, an analyst at Bank of New York Mellon. The dollar continued to garner strength through the day, particularly after the data releases — by mid afternoon London time, the euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.3083. Earlier, the euro had been buoyed by reports that China is

planning to buy 4.5 billion euros worth of Portuguese debt but nagging concerns over the European debt crisis after further warnings from credit rating agencies capped the gains. “Whether Chinese support for first Greece and now Portugal will be enough to draw an end to this year’s drama for the euro remains to be seen, but I doubt it will,” said Andrew Wilkinson, senior market analyst at Interactive Brokers. On Tuesday, Moody’s Investor Services warned that Portugal may have its rating cut in coming months, while rival Fitch indicated that it may slash its rating on bailed-out Greece to so-called junk status by the end of January. Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have already cut their rating on Greece to non-investment grade. —AP



KSE rallies on positive news Global Daily Market Report KUWAIT: Kuwait bourse surged 46.3 points yesterday supported by good news about the Zain deal. The good news gave traders the confidence to invest again helping the volume and value levels to go up. Global General Index (GGI) closed higher by 0.96 points (+0.44 percent), at 220.12 points as the Market capitalization increased reaching KD35.66bn. On the other hand, Kuwait Stock Exchange Price Index increased by 46.30 points (+0.68 percent) and closed at 6,865.80 points. Market breadth During the session, 121 companies were traded. Market breadth was skewed towards advancers as 60 advanced versus 23 that ended on a lower note. Volume of shares traded on the exchange increased by 52.82 percent to reach 211.82mn shares. The value of shares traded almost doubled, reaching KD40.98mn, which is an increase of 94.63 percent compared to the day before. The Investment Sector was the volume leader, accounting for 34.93 percent of total shares traded, while the Services Sector was the value leader, with 51.32 percent of total market traded value. Company-wise, Pearl of Kuwait Real Estate Company was the volume leader, with a total traded volume of 26.32mn shares changing hands. While Zain was the value leader, with a total traded value of KD11.09mn. In terms of gainers, First Dubai for Real Estate Development Company's share price was the biggest gainer for the day, adding 7.46 percent to Market Capitalization (KD) 35,657,834,382 0.44% its value, which closed at

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oil above $90 on US inventories, cold LONDON: Oil rose yesterday to trade above $90 for only the third time in two years, supported by data showing a drop in USoil and gasoline inventories, cold weather and a weaker dollar. ICE Brent crude rose 41 cents to $93.61 and traded as high as $93.79, the highest since October 2008. US crude climbed 42 cents to $90.24 by 1241 GMT, having topped $90 on two previous occasions since 2008. "With two days to go until Christmas Eve risk markets have ignited the afterburner, reinforcing one more time the all-pervasive mantra throughout 2010, "What crisis?", JP Morgan analysts said in a note. American Petroleum Institute data released on Tuesday showed a large 5.8 million barrel decline in weekly crude stocks, surpassing analyst expectations. "Big drops in crude oil and gasoline inventories in the API data pushed the oil market to the up. But buying interest around this level, around $90 a barrel, is not so large," said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity derivatives manager at Japan's Newedge brokerage. API data also showed an unexpected 2.9 million barrel fall in gasoline inventories. The US Energy Information Service will release its inventory data at 1530 GMT yesterday. Oil prices were also supported by chilly weather in northern Europe and the United

States, which has increased heating fuel demand. US heating oil demand was expected to average 4.6 percent above normal this week. expects temperatures in the US Northeast to average mostly below normal for the next week, with slightly milder readings late this month. Thin trading volumes lent further support to oil prices. "Ahead of the long Christmas holiday, there are relatively fewer participants. Therefore, it is possible to extend gains through the night on thin volumes, but I don't think the market is that bullish," Hasegawa said. Looking beyond the New Year, Barclays Capital said it expected strong Chinese demand to continue supporting prices. "We have a strong suspicion that upside surprises and the resultant global demand upgrades have not yet run their full course," said Amrita Sen. "Indeed, the persistence of strong growth and further upward revisions to Chinese oil demand could drag long-term oil demand another leg higher". The US dollar fell to a two-month low against the Swiss franc yesterday and was 0.26 percent down versus a basket of currencies. A weaker greenback supports dollar-denominated commodities such as oil, making it cheaper for those holding other currencies. —Reuters

Northern Foods gets approach KD0.036. On the other side, Damac Kuwaiti Holding Company was the biggest decliner, dropping by 8.20 percent and closed at KD0.112. Sector-wise All Global indices ended the session positively. The biggest gainer for the day was Global Real Estate Sector, which gained 1.35 percent, pushed by the top gainer for the day, First Dubai For Real Estate Development Company. Pearl

of Kuwait Real Estate Company ended the session with an increase of 6.52 percent also helping the index. Global Industrial Index followed, adding 1.06 percent. Heavy weight National Industries Group (Holding) increased by 2.90 percent to close at KD0.355 helping the industrial index go up. Salbookh Trading Company followed, adding 2.78 percent to its share value. Global Special Indices were

skewed towards advancers. Global Islamic Yield Index was the biggest advancer, adding 0.41 percent to its value, pushed up by Aref Energy Holding Company share price, which added 4.55 percent. On the other Hand Global Small Cap. Index was the only loser for the day, declining 1.37 percent. Corporate news Abyaar Real Estate Development company is seek-

ing to attract more investors to its potential development Jeddah, in addition to its plan to reschedule its assets over the coming two years, to alleviate the repercussions of the global financial crisis. Oil news Kuwaiti oil prices increased 59 cents in Tuesday's trading to $87.98 per barrel, compared to $87.39 per barrel on Monday, the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) said.

LONDON: British group Northern Foods has received an approach from a top 10 shareholderfood tycoon Ranjit Boparan, threatening a planned merger with Irish food group Greencore agreed in November. Boparan, who owns British fish and chip shop chain Harry Ramsden, said yesterday he was evaluating a cash offer for Northern Foods, which supplies sandwiches and chilled foods to supermarkets, and had asked for information. Northern Foods said it was approached on Dec. 17 by Boparan who more than doubled his stake in the owner of Fox's biscuits and Matthew Walker, Britain's oldest maker of Christmas puddings, to 6.6 percent last month. Davy Stockbrokers analyst Cathal Kenny said: "Reports speculate that Boparan may put together a deal valuing the company at around 300 million pounds ($465 million). This would equate to

65 pence per share". Northern Foods shares were up 7.4 percent to 65 pence at 1300 GMT, while Greencore was down 4.9 percent at 1.2650 euros. The agreed allpaper Greencore deal would see it pay 0.4479 new share per Northern Foods share, valuing the enlarged group at about 530 million euros ($697 million) at current prices Exane BNP Paribas analyst James Bushnell said issues surrounding Northern Foods' pension deficit, around 140 million pounds and a key part of the merger structure with Greencore, could scupper Boparan's move. "It is clear that there are a couple of things that they would need to sort out. The biggest one would be the pension deficit. There have obviously been agreements in the original deal with Greencore with Northern's pension trustees so they would need to have a similar agreement to make any counterbid." — Reuters


Thursday, December 23, 2010


Protests in Athens ahead of 2011 austerity budget vote ATHENS: Protests and garbage clogged central Athens yesterday as lawmakers prepared to approve an austerity budget under a tough economic overhaul imposed after the debt-hit country’s international bailout. Unionists, Communists and leftists staged separate demonstrations to reject the economic blueprint containing over 14 billion euros in savings for 2011 in a bid to restore balance to Greece’s woeful public finances. The streets of the capital were already clogged with traffic since morning from a public transport strike-the fourth this monthagainst wage cuts and parts of the city are overflowing with garbage after a sanitation walkout. The 2011 budget includes cuts in the badly mismanaged Greek health sector and public companies, a twopercent increase in the lower sales tax rate from 11 to 13 percent, a tax evasion crackdown, lower defense spending and a nominal pension freeze. The Socialist government of George Papandreou has a six-seat

majority in parliament and is expected to carry the vote to be held after midnight. But the strain of the fiscal correction after decades of profligacy has exposed deep strains in the ruling Pasok party, with many prominent lawmakers now publicly questioning a strategy that has plunged Greece into recession. “Is this budget reliable? The answer is no,” said Vasso Papandreou, the head of the Greek parliament’s economic affairs commission, and no relation to Prime Minister George Papandreou. “It has shortcomings in its aims and execution,” she argued in the chamber. Investors also doubt that Greece can pull off what it promises, despite having slashed its public deficit by some six percent of output this year. One of the big rating agencies, Fitch, said on Tuesday it could downgrade its rating on Greece after a similar warning from another agency, Moody’s, last week. In an interview with Newsweek magazine yesterday, the prime minister insisted that “reform was long overdue.” “Greece is one of the

richest countries in the world but was also one of the most mismanaged. The world financial crisis highlighted all our weaknesses.” With thousands of jobs already lost, wages cut and prices climbing from tax hikes, the country’s influential unions have hit back with seven general strikes this year and waves of street protests. “Right now people are in limbo,” Papandreou admitted yesterday. “Our drastic measures are still fresh, and people feel the pain. Reforms need time to kick in and show results,” he said. Fearful of further social unrest in the midst of the festive season, the government has opted to postpone to early next year a controversial reform to liberalize scores of regulated professions. Officials say that existing entry or pricing restrictions in these sectors have stymied competition for decades but many of the professionals targeted in the reform, including notaries, pharmacists, engineers and architects, counter that the measure will harm quality

Deutsche Bank US tax fraud deal opens floodgates FRANKFURT: Deutsche Bank’s US tax fraud settlement has heightened expectations of more deals being struck as American authorities target overseas banks in a crackdown on tax dodgers. US prosecutors are pushing ahead with more probes, emboldened after top Swiss wealth manager UBS had to hand over the details of 4,450 clients. Leads from that case have helped investigators look at banks in Asia and the Middle East, while clients from HSBC have also been under scrutiny, lawyers have said. There was relief that Deutsche Bank’s $553.6 million settlement would not hit its earnings and is unlikely to have a lasting impact, analysts and tax experts said. Deutsche Bank’s shares slipped 0.3 percent. Germany’s flagship lender admitted criminal wrongdoing for taking part in fraudulent tax shelters that allowed clients to hide billions of dollars, US prosecutors said on Tuesday. But unlike Swiss rival UBS, which suffered a client backlash after an earlier settlement, Deutsche Bank is seen as less likely to face a longerterm hit to its reputation. Deutsche is not bound by the same bank secrecy laws as UBS, which means it can hand client data over to US authorities if necessary, a Zurichbased tax lawyer told Reuters. Deutsche Bank said it had already provisioned for the settlement. It set aside 250

million euros in March 2006 in connection with talks with the US Justice Department to settle an investigation into tax shelters. Its third quarter results released in October said it was close to resolving the issue. Sarasin analyst Rainer Skierka did not see Deutsche suffering any reputational damage from the settlement that could result in clients withdrawing their money. “The settlement draws a line under the case,” Skierka said. “They paid a hefty price.” Philipp Haessler, an analyst at Equinet Bank, agreed, noting the case was known about and goes back many years: “I don’t think many clients will leave-if there was going to be a client exodus, it would already have happened.” The Deutsche Bank settlement is part of a wider US drive to crack down on banks that help wealthy Americans evade taxes and could herald similar settlements with other banks. “This is probably just the start. There are so many banks out there and they all did the same, so it’s easy for the IRS. It’s just a question of how much information they have,” the Zurich tax lawyer said. UBS paid $780 million in fines for helping clients with roughly $20 billion in assets hide their accounts from the US Internal Revenue Service. The US Department of Justice opened an investiga-

tion into whether some HSBC clients may have failed to disclose offshore accounts, lawyers familiar with the probe said in July. Some HSBC clients received a letter notifying them they are the subject of a criminal probe. The US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said the Deutsche Bank fine represented fees the bank earned setting up tax shelters, the taxes and interest the IRS could not collect and a civil penalty of $150 million. Some of the shelters are linked to accounting firm KPMG, which reached a $456 million settlement with the government in 2005 to avoid prosecution on charges it helped wealthy clients set up questionable tax shelters. Two former KPMG officials went to prison. German lender HVB in early 2006 agreed to pay $30 million to avoid prosecution on charges it had helped KPMG sell tax shelters. Deutsche said at that time the settlement allowed it to estimate potential costs. The shelters in the Deutsche Bank case were set up between 1996 and 2002 and allowed more than 2,100 customers avoid $5.9 billion in income taxes. The IRS has also offered an amnesty to wealthy people who declared their assets, and is now using information from some of those taxpayers to build cases against other banks that facilitate tax evasion. — Reuters

Iraq oil output hits 2.5m bpd: Minister BAGHDAD: Iraq’s oil output has reached 2.5 million barrels per day from around 2.4 mln bpd, Iraq’s newly appointed oil minister said yesterday. “Production has increased after the success of Iraqi workers and international oil companies to shortening the period of achieving the 10 percent raise from Rumaila and Zubair oilfields in less than a year,” Abdul Kareem Luaibi said in a statement. Iraq’s parliament confirmed Luaibi as oil minister on Tuesday as it installed a new cabinet under Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki. Former Oil Minister Hussain Al-Shahristani was promoted to deputy prime minister for energy. OPEC member Iraq, which sits on some of the world’s largest oil reserves, has struggled to push its output close to the 3 million bpd it saw in the late 1980s before it invaded neighboring Kuwait. Reuters surveys of OPEC output pegged Iraqi production at 2.5 million bpd a year ago, but have found it dipped below that level in subsequent months. Luaibi said he expected further increases in production from other fields in the near future. Iraq has signed deals with international oil companies that have the potential to boost its output capacity to 12 million bpd in seven years, which would place it on a par with top oil exporter Saudi Arabia. — Reuters

HUBEI: A worker changes the prices on a billboard at a gas station in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province. China is increasing state-controlled gasoline and diesel prices by about 4 percent starting Wednesday after international crude oil prices jumped in recent weeks due to higher demand. —AP

NICOSIA: A Turkish Cypriot man holds up a cucumber, parsley and a green pepper to symbolically demonstrate against what protesters say are unfair restrictions imposed by authorities in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of the divided island on bringing back goods purchased in the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south at a crossing point in the divided capital Nicosia on Tuesday. — AP

of service and have pledged to resist it. The economic overhaul has been mandated by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund which in May extended Greece a 110-billion-euro ($145-billion) loan when the country came close to bankruptcy. The money is released in installments conditional on Greece making progress in its reforms. Under the terms of the rescue, Greece agreed that its public deficit would be reduced to 7.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2011, aiming to eventually reach the EU limit of three percent. But additional measures became necessary after the 2009 public deficit was revised upwards last month to 15.4 percent of GDP from the previous 13.6 percent by Eurostat, the EU statistics agency. The resulting effect is that the 2010 shortfall will now be 9.4 percent of output, above the 8.1 percent target. Accordingly, Athens has had to find extra savings to keep its finances on track to meet the 2011 target. AFP

China ready to buy $5.3bn of Portugal debt: Report Beijing under domestic pressure to invest more carefully LISBON: China is ready to buy 4-5 billion euros ($5.3-$6.6 billion) of Portuguese sovereign debt to help the country w ard off pressure in debt markets, the J ornal de Negocios business daily reported on Wednesday. The paper said, w ithout citing any sources, that a deal reached betw een the tw o governments w ill lead to China buying Portuguese debt in auctions or in the secondary markets during the first quarter of 2011. China’s central bank declined to comment on the report, w hile Portuguese government officials w ere not immediately available for comment. It is unclear whether China’s government would be prepared to take on so much fresh exposure to Portugal in such a short space of time, given that Beijing has faced domestic political pressure to invest the country’s foreign reserves more carefully. Chinese investment funds suffered some large, high-profile losses during the global financial crisis. The euro rose to the day’s high versus the dollar yesterday on the back of the report, climbing around 30 pips to a session high of $1.3168 according to Reuters data. However, “the report is unsourced so although it’s providing a bit of support, clients certainly aren’t putting much weight on it,” said one trader. Portugal has moved into the eye of the storm in the euro zone’s debt crisis, with borrowing costs spiking as investors grew concerned it would be next in line to seek an international bailout after Ireland and Greece. Despite the report, the premium investors demand to hold Portuguese 10-year bonds rather than safer German Bunds was still seven basis points from Tuesday’s settlement levels to 378 bps. Last month the spread hit a euro lifetime record of more than 481 bps but has narrowed thanks to bond buying by the European Central Bank. Portugal has completed its debt issuance program for 2010, and according to the IGCP debt agency, its next bond redemption is due in April, when it has to repay 4.5 billion euros. In total, Lisbon has to repay 9.5 billion euros in bonds next year. The 2011 budget puts next year’s net financing needs at 10.75 billion euros. The IGCP has not yet announced the issuance program for next year. Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos met Chinese Finance Minister Xie Xuren and the head of the People’s Bank of China during a visit to the country last week. Portuguese officials have said the government is trying to diversify the debt investor base, with China as a priority. On Tuesday Moody’s Investor Service warned it may downgrade Portugal’s A1 rating by one or two notches after a review that will take up to three months, citing high borrowing costs and weak growth prospects. In October, during a visit to Greece, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao offered to buy Greek bonds when Athens resumed issuing. A month later, President Hu Jintao visited Portugal and offered “concrete measures” to help the weak economy but stopped short of promising to buy Portuguese bonds. Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan said on Tuesday that Beijing supported efforts by the EU and the International Monetary Fund to calm global markets in the wake of Europe’s debt crisis and said China had taken “concrete actions” to help some European countries. —Reuters

BEIJING: An overview of the 3rd EU-China High-level Economic and Trade Dialogue at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Tuesday. —AP

Deal reached on aircraft export credits: OECD PARIS: Leading passenger aircraft manufacturing countries have agreed on “level playing field” reform of export credits used to boost sales, a spokesman for the OECD which hosted the talks said yesterday. “There is an agreement in principle between the negotiating countries. This agreement has been sent to the governments for ratification,” OECD spokesman Stephen Dibiaso said. “We expect this ratification to be completed before January 20 so it may enter into force on February 1,” he added. Major aircraft manufacturing countries had been holding talks for months at the Paris headquarters of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on reforming the so-called export credits, under which foreign buyers got government loan guarantees to help them to buy aircraft. “The objective of the agreement is to create and maintain a marketand risk-based fee system that produces a level playing field between manufacturers, airlines and governments,” said a copy of the accord obtained by AFP. A number of big airlines in Europe and the United States opposed the export credit system in place since 2007, complaining that it unfairly supported their competitors in the Gulf by giving them financing at rates considerably below the market. They were unable to access the preferential financing offered by export promotion agencies in the United States and European countries. European manufacturer Airbus and Boeing of the United States had defended the system, which helped boost sales. A reform was also necessary to take into account new com-

petitors in the passenger aircraft market such as the Brazilian company Embraer and Canadian Bombardier, and seeks to eliminate financing differences between big and regional aircraft. “The agreement unifies previously bifurcated fee curves and other financing terms and conditions ... between large and regional jets,” according to the document. The agreement also contains mechanisms to smooth out sharp market movements but does not put quantitative restrictions on export credit agency programs, according to the document. However the export credits will henceforth be tied to the market, ending the sharp differences in financing terms. “It moves fees toward the market and then through quarterly adjustments keeps the fees in step with market developments.” France welcomed the “balanced” deal which it said will harmonize conditions for market players. “The new agreement will permit the harmonization of the conditions of financial support for all civil aircraft,” said a statement from French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde. “The agreement reached will allow reducing the difference between the level of the credits and the evolution of the market, and bring about a better equilibrium between French, German and British airlines and their competitors,” she added. The accord also maintains parity between Airbus and its US competitor Boeing in terms of access to sales promoting financing, added the statement signed as well by Foreign Trade Secretary Pierre Lellouche and Transport Secretary Thierry Mariani. — AFP

PPG to pay $3.7m in export control fines SHANGHAI: A Chinese subsidiary of US-based PPG Industries Inc has pleaded guilty to violating US export controls by exporting high-tech coatings to a nuclear reactor in Pakistan, the US Commerce Department said. PPG and its wholly owned subsidiary PPG Paints Trading (Shanghai) Co. will pay a combined $3.75 million in fines and forfeit the $32,319 earned by the deal, said a statement seen Wednesday on the website of the department’s Bureau of Industry and Security. It said the fine is one of the biggest ever paid for an export violation. The coatings were sent from the United States to the Pakistan’s Chashma 2 Nuclear Power Plant via a Chinese distributor. Chashma 2 is a nuclear power plant under construction near Kundian, in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based PPG issued a statement saying it acted quickly to investigate and cooperate with the authorities after learning of the violation and has a “long and sustained commitment to compliance with the law.” PPG Paints Trading also will serve five years of “corporate probation” under a plea agreement in the US District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C. The fine includes $2 million to be paid by PPG Paints Trading and civil penalties of $1.75 million to be paid by PPG Industries and the subsidiary. The Bureau of Industry and Security will also audit export transactions of PPG and its “relevant business units” in 2011 and 2012, it said. “This case demonstrates our resolve to vigorously enforce US export law,” US Attorney Ronald C Machen said in the statement. “It should also serve as a warning to corporations that would violate US export laws. It is not only unlawful, it is also bad business.” The violations, between about June 2006 and March 2007, involved exporting the coatings to the Pakistani nuclear facility without having first obtained a required export license. Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission and its facilities were added to a list of prohibited export end users following Pakistan’s first successful detonation of a nuclear device in 1998. According to the Commerce Department, PPG Paints Trading sought and failed to get an export license and later agreed to sell the coatings via another, unnamed distributor in China, which was to deliver the products to Pakistan. — AP



Thursday, December 23, 2010

UK GDP growth revised down unexpectedly in Q3 LONDON: Britain’s economy grew less quickly than previously thought in the third quarter, with falling government spending and rising household saving raising the risk of a sharp slowdown at the start of next year. The Office for National Statistics said UK GDP grew 0.7 percent on the quarter, down from the 0.8 percent previously estimated-a move it blamed on downward revisions to production, construction and business services. Growth for the previous two quarters was also revised down. However, economists have been sur-

prised by the resilience of the preliminary readings and said the recent growth trend was still better than most had dared hope. “We are likely to see a further softening of GDP growth in the fourth quarter, but taken over the year as a whole, GDP growth will almost certainly be above most expectations at the start of this year,” said Philip Shaw, an economist at Investec. Second quarter growth was shaved to 1.1 percent from 1.2 percent previously and first quarter growth was revised down to 0.3 percent from 0.4 percent.

Sterling fell on the figures but recouped its losses as investors also digested minutes of the Bank of England’s latest policy meeting, which showed some members becoming more worried about inflationary risks. A breakdown of the figures showed government spending fell by 0.4 percent in the third quarter after a rise of 0.6 percent in the second. The fall was the largest since the start of 2009, and will undoubtedly be followed by even sharper declines as the government’s aggressive austerity program begins in earnest next

year. The household saving ratio rose to 5.0 percent from 3.5 percent in the second quarter, suggesting Britons are bracing themselves for tough times to come. The government, accused by the opposition of risking the recovery with cuts that are too deep and too fast, said its deficit-reduction plan remained on track. “This is further evidence that a gradual but sustained private sector-led recovery is underway,” said a Treasury spokesman. On the year, growth in the third

quarter was revised down to 2.7 percent from the 2.8 percent previously reported. George Buckley, UK economist at Deutsche Bank, noted there were several optimistic signs-real incomes had bounced back and corporate profits were decent. However, he noted that the contribution from exports had turned negative. Balance of payments data released at the same time showed Britain’s deficit with the rest of the world widened more than expected to 9.568 billion pounds in the third quarter from 5.22 billion in the second. — Reuters

Stimulus-driven shopping rush eases and exports fall

Japan forecasts economic growth to slow in 2011 TOKYO: The pace of Japan’s economic growth will halve in fiscal 2011 from this year as a stimulus-driven shopping rush eases and exports fall on a strong yen and softer demand, the government said yesterday. In its outlook report, the Cabinet Office also said consumer prices will stop falling but will not rise,

dealing a blow to Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s stated goal of ending deflation in the year. Recent year-on-year falls in the consumer price index will halt in the middle of next year, the Cabinet Office said, but suggested this would not represent the defeat of chronic deflation in the economy.

TOKYO: Trailer trucks move with containers at a wharf in Tokyo yesterday. The pace of Japan’s economic growth will halve in fiscal 2011 from this year as a stimulus-driven shopping rush eases and exports fall on a strong yen and softer demand, the government said. — AFP

Russia opens probe into Bank of Moscow MOSCOW: Russian law enforcement officials have opened a criminal investigation into a top Russian bank owned by the Moscow city government, the Kommersant business daily reported yesterday. The probe into the Bank of Moscow, which has been majority-owned by the city since 1995, is linked to a 12.76-billion-ruble ($415-milliondollar) loan the bank issued to a little known firm in 2009, Kommersant said. That company then went on to purchase a plot of land at what investigators believe was an inflated price from Yelena Baturina, the wife of the now-deposed mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov. Baturina has risen to become Russia’s richest woman according to Forbes magazine on the back of Moscow real estate contracts awarded to her Inteko construc-

tion firm. But the company has been riddled with debt since the 2009 financial crisis. The Financial Times reported that the transaction took place on the same day as the Moscow city parliament approved a 15billion-ruble transfer to the Bank of Moscow. Russia’s interior ministry is now checking to see whether the funds were transferred to help Baturina settle her debts, the Financial Times said. Luzhkov became mayor of Moscow in 1992 and eventually established himself as one of Russia’s most powerful regional bosses. But he lost a political tug of war with the Kremlin and was fired by President Dmitry Medvedev in September. The Russian media reported this month that Baturina has been negotiating to sell her company. Inteko officials have refused to

publicly comment on the reports. The investigation surfaced amid attempts by Russia’s VTB bank to acquire the Moscow lender. The Bank of Moscow has accused VTB of making a series of false allegation about the bank that are meant to help reduce its eventual acquisition price. VTB executives this month said they had questions about the Bank of Moscow’s ownership structure and whether some of its city assets were in fact privately held. The Bank of Moscow reports on its website that it is Russia’s fifth-largest bank in terms of assets and capital. It also says that the Moscow city government owns 46.48 percent of the bank directly and 17.32 percent indirectly through another city-controlled firm. — AFP

Indonesia eyes Temasek’s assets in lieu of fine JAKARTA: Indonesia threatened yesterday to seize in-country assets of Singapore investment giant Temasek Holdings worth 150 billion rupiah ($16.6 million) in lieu of an outstanding fine. The competition agency said it was considering seeking a court injunction to seize assets equivalent to the amount of the fine owed in relation to a ruling that Temasek had breached anti-monopoly rules in the telecommunications market. Competition watchdog the KPPU ruled in November 2007 that Temasek was guilty of anticompetitive behaviour in Indonesia’s cellular phone market through stakes in the two biggest domestic mobile phone operators. The watchdog fined the state-linked investment firm and ordered it to divest its holdings in either PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel) or PT Indosat. “This is a kind of warning from the KPPU that Temasek has to pay the fine. We’re working with the district court to provide data about the assets,” KPPU head Tresna Soemardi told AFP. Singapore Technologies Telemedia, a whollyowned unit of Temasek, sold off its interest in PT Indosat to business partner Qatar Telecom in June last year. Temasek indirectly holds 35 percent of Telkomsel via its 56-percent owned unit Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel). The Supreme Court rejected Temasek’s final appeal against the KPPU’s ruling in May. “Based on the ruling by the Supreme Court, Temasek is ordered to pay the fines. If they don’t pay, then the district court will have to seize assets worth some 150 billion rupiah,” Soemardi said. — AFP

TOKYO: Trailer trucks move with containers at a wharf in Tokyo yesterday. The pace of Japan’s economic growth will halve in fiscal 2011 from this year as a stimulus-driven shopping rush eases and exports fall on a strong yen and softer demand, the government said. — AFP

Growth is forecast to slow to a real 1.5 percent from 3.1 percent in this year, the report said. Government stimulus measures helped boost domestic production and consumption in the current year, including subsidy programs for purchases of environmentally friendly vehicles and appliances. Japan’s economy grew 4.5 percent in the July-September quarter, amplified by a rush by car buyers to use expiring subsidies and smokers who stocked up on cigarettes ahead of a tax hike during the period. The hottest summer on record also drove sales of items such as air conditioners, helping spur growth in the quarter. Private consumption accounts for around 60 percent of gross domestic product. However, analysts warn of a contraction in the fourth calendar quarter as the removal of such one-off factors highlights Japan’s exposure to a weakening export picture and slow domestic demand. At a cabinet meeting, Kan noted “concern about declines in the October-December quarter” and said now was “a crucial time to secure economic recovery”, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku told a news conference yesterday. Recent data has shown a slump in industrial output, especially among carmakers, as well as weakening consumer confidence as such incentive programs come to an end. The economy remains mired in crippling deflation, as falling prices prompt consumers to hold off on purchase decisions in the expectation of further price drops, clouding future corporate investment. Consumer spending growth is seen slowing next year, to 0.6 percent from 1.5 percent this year. However, the government forecast unemployment to slowly improve, with the jobless rate tipped to fall next fiscal year to 4.7 percent from 5.0 percent now. Japan’s export growth accelerated for the first time in nine months in November, other data showed Wednesday, but the reading of a 9.1 percent increase fell short of expectations amid fears of a looming economic slowdown. “The pick-up in the year-on-year growth rate of exports in November may look encouraging but exports are heading for a big quarterly fall,” noted research consultancy Capital Economics. Analysts said the Japanese economy remains locked in a trend of shrinking exports due to a stronger yen, which makes the nation’s products more expensive in overseas markets, and expectations that overseas demand will weaken. The unit has been relatively stable in recent weeks after hitting a 15-year high of 80.21 against the dollar in November, giving some respite to the export sector and easing pressure on the economy. But it has stayed at a relatively high level-it was sitting at 83.82 to the dollar in yesterday trade. On Tuesday the Bank of Japan held its key rate at between zero and 0.1 percent after a two-day meeting, warning that a fragile recovery from deep recession was “pausing”. Japan last month passed an extra budget worth $58 billion to cover a new stimulus package aimed at averting the threat of a “double-dip” recession. Kan’s second stimulus package since he came to power is designed to ease concerns over deflation and a strong yen, and includes job programs, welfare spending and assistance for small businesses. Kan took office in June promising to slash spending and work towards cutting the country’s massive public debt, at nearly 200 percent of gross domestic product. But the state of Japan’s economy has complicated his ambitions. — AFP

BEIJING: A woman walks in front of a billboard promoting company trademarks at a shopping mall yesterday. Foreign direct investment in China leapt 38.17 percent in November despite efforts by authorities to cool the economy and stem liquidity flows. — AFP

Trend in world trade is flat in Oct: Dutch CPB GENEVA: The trend in the volume of global exports and imports was flat in October and has still not regained pre-crisis levels, figures from the Dutch CPB economic research institute showed yesterday. The institute, whose trade data are used by the World Bank and European Commission, also sharply revised down estimates for trade growth in the third quarter and issued data showing that trade flows are normalizing after a sharp fall in 2008 and rebound in late 2009 and early 2010. The figures are an indicator of overall economic activity. The volume of merchandise trade in October was 0.5 percent higher than in September, when it fell 0.4 percent, it said in its latest World Trade Monitor. But individual monthly figures are volatile and the institute said a more accurate picture comes from looking at “momentum”-the average of the latest three

months compared with the average of the previous three months. On that basis, trade momentum was 0.0 percent in October, having slowed steadily from 6.1 percent in January at the height of the rebound from the crisis as companies restocked inventories leading to a surge in exports and imports. The institute also revised its figures for growth in world trade in the third quarter of this year to only 0.3 percent above second-quarter levels from a previous estimate of 0.9 percent on the basis of new information on trade prices in Asia and Latin America. CPB said the October figures reflected strong import growth in emerging Asian economies, while imports declined in the United States for the second month in a row, but US exports jumped 3.5 percent. Latin America saw falls of 4-5 percent in both import and export volume, it said. — Reuters

Nike future orders dismal, shares fall DETROIT: Nike Inc posted future orders data that missed many analysts’ expectations on Tuesday, sending shares of the world’s largest athletic shoe and clothing maker down almost 6 percent. Nike also said it might undertake some targeted price increases to help offset rising cotton costs. Future orders, excluding currency exchange rates-a key measure of sales growthrose 11 percent. “They didn’t beat rising expectations for future orders and that’s why the stock’s down,” said John Fisher, portfolio manager with Fifth Third Asset Management, which owns Nike shares. Wall Street was looking for future orders growth of 12 to 13 percent, he said. Nike executives also repeated comments made in the previous quarter that rising cotton, labor and transportation costs would hurt profit margins in the second half of the fiscal year despite rising demand. They said the cost pressures would ease over the next 12 to 18 months. “As supply and demand find a new normal in the recovering economy, our industry is going to experience margin pressure due to rising input costs,” Nike Chief Executive Mark Parker said on a conference call. Executives again said the company is working to boost capacity at supplier factories and it would continue to incur higher-than-normal air freight costs at least through the first half of fiscal 2012 as it tries to meet strong demand. Forecast-beating quarterly profits reported by athletic footwear retailer Finish Line Inc on Tuesday underscored the demand. Nike’s net income in the fiscal second quarter rose 22 percent to $457 million, or 94 cents a share, from $375 million, or 76 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. That was 6 cents better than analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected. Sales in the quarter ended Nov. 30 rose 10 percent to $4.84 billion, above the $4.81 billion analysts had expected. Excluding currency fluctuations, revenue rose 11 percent. By region, revenue in Nike’s largest market, North America, increased 14 percent to $1.7 billion, while sales in emerging markets and greater

China rose 24 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Orders for Nike brand shoes and apparel scheduled for delivery from December 2010 through April 2011 totaled $7.7 billion. However, the 11 percent rise from a year ago orders, which included minimal impact due to currency effects, disappointed many analysts. Sterne Agee and Barclays Capital had expected future order growth, excluding currency effects, of 12 to 13 percent, UBS had expected 13 percent and Susquehanna International Group had forecast growth in the mid-teens range. Others had expected a lower increase, including Stifel Nicolaus (10 to 12 percent) and McAdams Wright Ragen (10 to 11 percent). The company in the first quarter had seen saw a 13 percent rise, the biggest increase in more than a decade. Nike said its full-year financial forecast is unchanged, with revenue excluding the impact of currency exchange rates to grow in the high single-digits on a percentage basis. For the third quarter, revenue should grow at the top end of the full-year forecast, executives said. Chief Financial Officer Don Blair said second-half gross margins would fall below record levels seen in 2010, but Nike would look to take “surgical” price increases market by market and minimize inventories and promotions. He said 2011 gross margins would be at least 50 basis points below 2010. Gross margins in the second quarter rose 80 basis points to 45.3 percent as more full-price sales and fewer promotions offset the higher freight costs. Shares fell to $87.00 in after-hours trading, down 5.7 percent from Tuesday’s closing price of $92.30 on the New York Stock Exchange. Nike shares hit an all-time high of $92.49 earlier in the day. The stock has risen almost 19 percent since the company reported strongerthan-expected first-quarter results and surging consumer demand on Sept. 23. “The stock’s had a really good run here ... and there’s going to be some profit taking,” Fifth Third’s Fisher said. “I don’t take away any negatives from this at all.” — Reuters


Thursday, December 23, 2010


Europe seen needing more regulation on Internet access US regulator approves net neutrality rules LONDON: Europe’s confidence that it need not follow the United States in adopting rules to ensure fair Internet access may be short-lived, as competition between mobile operators and service providers like Skype intensifies. A debate over net neutrality-the principle that all Internet traffic be treated equally-has been heating up in the United States for years but has so far generated little public concern in Europe.

SHANDONG: In this Dec 14, 2010 file photo, a customer collects a drink from a robot waiter cycling around a restaurant in Jinan in eastern China’s Shandong province. —AP

Robot waiters in China never lose patience JINAN: Service with a smile also comes with an electronic voice at the Dalu Robot restaurant, where the hotpot meals are not as famous yet as the staff who never lose their patience and never take tips. The restaurant, which opened this month in Jinan in northern Shandong province, is touted as China’s first robot hotpot eatery where robots resembling Star Wars droids circle the room carrying trays of food in a conveyor belt-like system. More than a dozen robots operate in the restaurant as entertainers, servers, greeters and receptionists. Each robot has a motion sensor that tells it to stop when someone is in its path so customers can reach for dishes they want. The service industry in China has not always kept up with the country’s rapid economic growth, and can be quite basic in some restaurants, leading customers in the Dalu restaurant to praise the robots. “They have a better service attitude than humans,” said Li Xiaomei, 35, who was visiting the restaurant for the first time. “Humans can be temperamental or impatient,

but they don’t feel tired, they just keep working and moving round and round the restaurant all night,” Li said. Inspired by space exploration, robot technology and global innovation, the restaurant’s owner, Zhang Yongpei, said he hopes his restaurant will show the world China is a serious competitor in developing technology. “I hope this new concept shows that China is forward-thinking and innovative,” Zhang said. As customers enter the dimly lit restaurant lined with blinking neon lights to simulate a futuristic environment, a female robot decorated with batting eyelashes greets people with an electronic “welcome.” During the meal, crowds of up to 100 customers, are entertained by a dancing and talking robot that looks more like a mannequin with a dress, flapping its arms around in a stiff motion. Zhang said he hopes to roll out 30 robots which cost $6,000 each - in the coming months and eventually develop robots with human-like qualities that serve customers at their table and can walk up and down the stairs. —APF

‘World’s first’ glasses-free 3D TV hits stores in Japan TOKYO: Toshiba yesterday launched in Japan what it calls the world’s first television that allows viewers to see 3D images without having to wear special glasses, amid intensifying competition in the market. But while curious shoppers stopped to test out the screen at an electronics store in central Tokyo as the 12-inch model of the Regza GL1 Series went on sale, there were doubts as to whether the technology will catch. The new model with a liquid crystal display carries a price tag of 119,800 yen (1,400 dollars), which may put off consumers accustomed to falling prices. A 20-inch model will be released on Saturday. While other 3D-capable TVs require glasses that act as filters to separate images to each eye, creating the illusion of depth Toshiba’s new screens use processing technology to create depth-filled images. The Regza GL1 Series also allows users to switch between 2D and 3D on normal TV programmes. Kazuhito Gunji, a public relations official at electronics retailer Bic Camera, said the company had received several inquiries from customers on when they can get their hands on the product. Electronics stores are hoping that the release of the latest technology will help offset

declining sales as government incentives for purchasing environment-friendly home appliances were reduced this month. The hugely competitive TV sector is a challenge for many electronics makers given that customers are increasingly accustomed to declining prices, making it difficult for the industry to generate profits. Sony on Monday said it may fall short of its sales goal of 25 million liquid crystal display TV sets this fiscal year as it struggles to be profitable in the sector, and has also embraced 3D TV technology in a bid to diversify. Many in the industry say 3D television demand is being held back by a consumer resistance to wearing glasses and most shoppers yesterday were curious but also cautious about the new Toshiba device. “I want to watch on a big screen,” said a 47-year-old man who has a 37-inch TV at home. “I’ll wait for another year before buying,” he said. Another customer, 33, said: “It’s great that we don’t have to wear glasses, which is a nuisance.” “But I didn’t feel images were flying out of the screen on some programs,” he added. Toshiba says images on the 12-inch screen are best viewed directly from the front and some 65 centimetres (26 inches) away, making the 3D

capability less effective for families that would view together from different points around a room. “Customers currently think of 3D images as just an add-on function... but 3D is expected to become a standard eventually” with 3D films and video titles increasing, said Toshiba sales official Eiichi Matsuzawa. Haruo Sato, analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Centre, said it was “a big advantage” that the new series does not require viewers to wear glasses. “That feature could help the product’s popularity,” he said. But Sato was cautious about whether the 3D market as a whole would see strong demand despite the fact that equipped TV sets usually attract a lot of interest at retail stores as consumers try out the devices. “It’s questionable that consumers want 3D TVs as much as manufacturers are pushing them.” “People may not be finding the extra value” that convinces them to purchase the relatively new technology, he said. Rival Sharp earlier this year unveiled a small glassesfree LCD touchscreen that shows 3D images for use in mobile phones, digital cameras and games consoles such as Nintendo’s 3DS, which is set for release in Japan in February. —AFP

TOKYO: A sales clerk introduces a 3D television, a new model with a liquid crystal display at an electronics store in central Tokyo yesterday. —AFP

At stake is the ability of Internet service providers (ISPs) to ration access to their networks, allowing them to manage congestion but running the risk they will favor their own services or those who pay more, restricting consumer choice. The US communications regulator on Tuesday adopted rules that banned high-speed Internet service providers from blocking lawful traffic but allowed them to “reasonably” manage their networks. In Europe, telecoms operators such as Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom or Telefonicaformer state monopolies which typically have close relationships with national governments- still have the upper hand. The European Commission has so far refrained from legislating to avert a looming conflict with the likes of Skype, Google or Facebook, which offer virtually free voice communications and messaging, striking at the heart of the carriers’ business. But Internet service providers (ISPs) — mainly telcos in Europe-already actively manage traffic to make it more efficient, and the potential to do more to protect their own services or earn extra revenues may be too much to resist. “Mobile operators will be sorely tempted to do all they can to block the competition and stop them from cannibalizing their revenue streams,” says Bengt Nordstrom, chief executive of Nordic telecoms consultancy Northstream. “While operators have dodged the net neutrality bullet for now, they can expect further intrusion from the European Commission in the not-too-distant future,” says Nordstrom, who predicts such intervention will come in 2012. Europe’s competitive environment is different from that in the United States, with fiercer rivalry among more mobile carriers operating in smaller markets, and a less-developed cable infrastructure. This has led some to argue that the need for legislation in Europe is far less, as competition between ISPs allows customers to easily switch to an alternative provider if they are not getting the services they want. At the same time, the operators argue they need and deserve help to upgrade their networks, which have begun to creak under the weight of traffic generated by services like Google-owned YouTube, Facebook and the BBC iPlayer. “What is evident is that Internet search engines use our networks without paying for it. That’s real luck for them and a disgrace for us,” Telefonica Chairman Cesar Alierta said this year. “We do everything. I mean, they just have algorithms.” Bernstein analysts wrote in a recent research note: “In Europe, unlike the US, the net neutrality debate can, and we think will, be cast not as a battle for free speech but instead as a battle between aggressive overreaching, freeriding US content companies and homegrown European infrastructure providers (that also happen to be the number two or three employer in each respective country).” They said their stock preferences to play this state of affairs was for European telcos and US cable operators. Vodafone Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telefonica and Telecom Italia have all complained about Google, Facebook and Apple using their networks to deliver services without contributing to network investments. So far the European Union has taken a wait-and-see attitude, having directed national governments to ensure ISPs adopt non-discriminatory and transparent policies-something they will have to put into practice by May 2011. Meantime, it is consulting to determine whether traffic-management tools deployed by ISPs constitute a problem. “There is cognitive dissonance. The service providers say we’re not doing any of this, the likes of Skype say their services are being throttled,” says one senior EU official. — Reuters

KRUGERSDORP: In this phorograph taken on July 21, 2010 a nine-month-old rhinoceros called Vuma (C) rests with two others rhinoceros at the animal orphanage of the private Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in Krugersdorp, north of Johannesburg. —AFP

High-tech poachers threaten fight to save rhinoceroses JOHANNESBURG: A booming black-market demand for rhinoceros horns is driving a lucrative new wave of hightech poaching that threatens the fight to save the world’s rhino populations from extinction. The epicenter of the crisis is South Africa, which has lost nearly one rhinoceros a day to poaching this year. But conservationists fear the problem could spill over into other regions, pushed by a surge in demand for rhino horn in Asia, notably in Vietnam, where it is used as a traditional medicine and sells for tens of thousands of dollars per horn. South Africa, which is home to more than 70 percent of the world’s remaining rhinos, has lost 316 of the animals to poaching this year, up from 122 last year, and a jump from less than 10 each year two decades ago, according to Joseph Okori, African rhino coordinator for the World Wildlife Fund. “It has been a disastrous year for rhino conservation,” Okori told AFP. He blamed the surge in poaching on “wellorganized syndicates” that use helicopters, night-vision equip-

ment, veterinary tranquilizers and silencers to hunt their prey at night. “The criminal syndicates in South Africa operate on very high-tech. They are very well-coordinated,” Okori said. “This is not normal poaching.” Conservationists estimate there are around 25,000 rhinos left globally, with three species in Asia and two in Africa. Asia’s rhino populations have already been pushed to the brink of extinction by hunting and deforestation. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists both Javan and Sumatran rhinos as critically endangered and Indian rhinos as vulnerable to extinction. In Africa, conservationists have fought to restore the continent’s black and white rhino species, both decimated by hunting in the 19th and 20th centuries. Thanks to the largescale creation of national parks and efforts to combat poaching, the southern white rhino, once thought to be extinct, now numbers 17,500 and growing. Black rhino numbers are also rising and stand at 4,200

‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’ sales top one billion dollars NEW YORK: “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” the new videogame from Activision Blizzard, has crossed the one-billion-dollar mark in worldwide sales, the company said Tuesday. Activision, citing internal estimates, said “Call of Duty: Black Ops” reaped more than 650 million dollars worldwide in the first five days after it went on sale in November and has gone on to earn more than one billion dollars. “In all of entertainment, only ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Avatar’ have ever achieved the billion dollar revenue milestone this quickly,” Activision Blizzard chief executive Bobby Kotick said in a statement. Activision said more than 600 million hours have been logged playing “Call of Duty: Black Ops” since the launch of the game on November 9. Activision said that according to Microsoft, the average player logs on more than once a day and plays for more than one hour each time. “Even more remarkable than the number of units sold is the number of hours people are playing the game together online which are unprecedented,” said Eric Hirshberg, chief executive of Activision Publishing. “Call of Duty: Black Ops” is the seventh title in a franchise that has won a devoted following since the first version was released in 2003. The latest installment takes gamers on a series of Cold War-era military adventures. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” was last year’s biggest grossing console game with more than 20 million units sold around the world. — AFP

— though this is a fraction of the hundreds of thousands thought to have roamed the continent in 1900, the IUCN says. But that resurgence now faces a setback as a new wave of poaching hits the continent. While the rhino horn trade is banned under the 175-member Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the use of rhino horn in Asian traditional medicine has continued to feed demand. In one recent case, a rhino horn sold for 70,000 dollars, according to CITES. The wildlife monitoring group Traffic, which has studied the medicinal use of rhino horn powder, says the substance is used as a fever-reducer in traditional Chinese medicine. More recently, researchers say, a belief that rhino horn can cure cancer has emerged in Vietnam. Tom Milliken, Traffic’s director for east and southern Africa, said that belief-together with Vietnam’s recent economic boom-is helping drive the current surge in poaching. “Vietnam suddenly emerged in the mid-2000s as a

new market,” he told AFP. “In my view it is the largest rhino horn market in the world today and really stands behind this trade.” Milliken led a delegation of South African officials to Vietnam in October to meet with his contemporaries there on measures to curb the trade, but no agreements have been reached. South African officials are meanwhile targeting the supply side. The government launched a National Wildlife Crime Investigation Unit in October to crack down on poachers. Parks and game reserves have also begun a range of inventive anti-poaching programs, including dying the horns, tracking them with micro-chips and cutting them off before poachers can get to them. But Milliken fears the crackdown in South Africa will only displace the problem to other regions. “That’s the whole history of the rhino horn trade to Asia,” Milliken said. “There’s unlimited consumer demand driving this, and if it’s not contained at source, it historically has swept from one country to another.” —AFP

Craigslist pulls all adult services ads: State official WASHINGTON: Online classifieds website Craigslist has shut down its “adult services” sections worldwide, nearly four months after removing the listings in the United States, a US state attorney general said. Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal said legal representatives for Craigslist had confirmed to his office that erotic and adult services sections had been removed from the company’s websites around the world. “This worldwide shutdown of erotic services sections on

Craigslist is a victory in the fight against sexual exploitation of women and children and human trafficking connected to prostitution,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “This move is another important step in the ongoing fight to more effectively screen and stop pernicious prostitution ads,” he said. Blumenthal, a Democrat who won election to the US Senate in November, added that he is “determined to continue seeking new ways to protect women and children from online predators.” — AFP

Pakistani IT firm ‘on top of the world’ in Blackberry apps ISLAMABAD: Photo editing software developed by a Pakistan technology firm Five Rivers became the best selling paidfor application for the Blackberry, the firm said yesterday. Lahore-based Five Rivers said its Photo Editor Suite had hit the top spot across all sectors on Blackberry’s AppWorld store. “This is extremely good news for us and especially for the Pakistani IT industry,” Mahe Zehra Husain, the head of operations and product management at Five Rivers Technology, told AFP. “We feel we are on top of the world. This is incredible.” The application “has been in the top five paid applications for quite a

while now and on Sunday made its way to the number one spot,” she said. Photo Editor Suite allows users to crop, rotate, adjust brightness and contrast, recolour and resize photos, Husain added. The website of Five Rivers, which opened a year and a half ago, says it has developed and run out more than 100 mobile applications for the Blackberry and iPhone as well as other smartphones. Pakistan, a nuclear-armed conservative Muslim country of 167 million people, is in deep recession, exacerbated by years of Al-Qaeda-linked bombings, an energy crisis, poor foreign investment and this year by catastrophic flooding. —AFP



Thurssday, December 23, 2010

Doctors ask: Where are the drugs? In their quest to find drugs to curb obesity, scientists have had about as much success as long-term dieters who want to stay thin — which is to say, very little. In fact, the last year has been so bleak on the research front that some experts are questioning whether a long-desired safe and effective diet pill can be found. Advisory panels for the Food and Drug Administration recommended against approval of two experimental weight-loss drugs this year — Lorqess in September and Qnexa in July — citing unacceptable risks for unimpressive benefits. Another drug, Meridia, was withdrawn from the market in October after it was linked to higher risks of heart attacks and strokes. Earlier this month, an advisory panel did finally recommend approval of a weight-loss drug: Contrave, a combination of two existing drugs, the antidepressant bupropion and the anti-addiction medication naltrexone. (FDA rulings for all three drugs are expected next year.) But it did so with a marked lack of enthusiasm, citing the medication’s poor effectiveness and a need to closely track health risks, such as high blood pressure, once the drug is in broad use. As drug after drug falters or falls by the wayside, doctors who treat obese patients are growing increasingly frustrated. They say that the agency’s standards for approving anti-obesity drugs are overly stringent and fail to recognize the health risks associated with carrying extra weight — at a time when almost 34 percent of US adults are obese and almost 6 percent are morbidly obese, and when study after study has shown that the most that can be hoped for from diets and exercise, on average, is a 10 percent loss of body weight sustained for at least one year. So gloomy is the climate for these drugs that some experts fear drug companies will out-and-out abandon the anti-obesity market. “Every big company is going to get out of the game, and venture capitalists are not going to invest in the smaller companies to develop drugs,” Dr. Donna Ryan, past president of the Obesity Society, said in October during that group’s annual meeting in San Diego. “Everybody in the obesity field is upset. There is a lot of anger.” Obesity drugs in the US certainly don’t have a terrific track record. Fen-phen, a combination of appetite suppressants fenfluramine and phentermine, was hugely popular in the 1990s but was pulled from the market in 1997 after it was linked with primary pulmonary hypertension, a potentially fatal condition, and heart-valve problems. But the new generation of medications was supposed to be more finely crafted, and therefore safer and better.

As Americans keep getting fatter…

Ramona Galindo jokes that she would like to be as thin as her niece’s doll. She is turning to medicine, once again, to lose weight. — MCT The only prescription medication approved solely for weight loss is orlistat, a drug that inhibits fat absorption that is sold under the trade name Xenical or as a weaker over-the-counter version, Alli. And though an FDA advisory committee did recently endorse expanding eligibility for Lap-Band surgery to allow people with less-extreme obesity to be candidates, obesity experts say that not everyone is eligible for surgery and that this decision, in any case, does nothing to serve people who are overweight, not obese.

The FDA treats drugs for obesity “as if they were in a different category,” said Judith Stern, professor of nutrition and internal medicine at the University of California-Davis. “I think (it is) not taking it seriously as a disease, and I have no clue why. We have a problem that affects over 65 percent of the adult population ... the FDA should be jumping through hoops to give approval.” FDA officials would not comment on this year’s advisory committee votes nor on its philosophy on obesity drugs. But in an era when the agency is hold-

ing all new drugs to more rigorous safety standards, it’s clear that most of the new offerings haven’t cut the mustard in the key equation of whether benefits outweigh potential risks. “I understand the frustrations people have — but I don’t think we have great medications,” said Dr. Abraham Thomas, division head of endocrinology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, who was acting chairman on the FDA advisory panels that reviewed Meridia and Lorqess (also known by its generic name, lorcaserin) and a member of the panel that reviewed Qnexa. “It’s a balance,” Thomas added. Each panel carefully weighs a drug’s effectiveness against its safety. If weight-loss results look good, then potential side effects (unless they’re extremely serious) might not be weighed so heavily. But if a drug isn’t very effective, “then the safety issues become magnified.” So, for example, in the case of lorcaserin, panel members were hesitant to recommend approval because trials “barely proved” effectiveness, Thomas said. Obesity experts counter that the agency and its expert panels don’t properly appreciate the health risks associated with obesity — diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, certain types of cancers and, possibly, dementia. “They are framing weight loss as a cosmetic problem,” Ryan said. “Obesity is a medical problem.” They point to studies showing that even modest weight loss — what might be considered just a drop in the bucket when measured against a person’s total weight — can have surprisingly large effects. A 10 percent drop in weight can reduce the risk for Type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure and help counter other problems such as sleep apnea and high blood cholesterol. They say that a diet medication could be the catalyst needed to jump-start a successful weight loss program. “In my office a patient will come in and say, ‘You know, doctor, I’ve lost some weight through diet and exercise, but I need something to help me kick-start (a serious weight loss program),’” said Dr. Ken Fujioka, director of nutrition and metabolic research at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego. And they note that while several studies show that diet and exercise can produce about the same weight-loss percentages as medication, such pro-

grams — which can include supervised fitness instruction and pre-made meals — may not be realistic or affordable for most people, let alone viable for the long haul. “When you look at interventions, they’re done with volunteers and there are all kinds of people on the team, like psychologists and trainers,” said Dr. Arya Sharma, professor of medicine at the University of Alberta in Canada. “You’ll see the lengths they go to keep people motivated, and in the end they may get 3 percent to 5 percent weight loss.” Finally, most people can’t maintain significant weight loss for more than a year or two through diet and exercise alone in part because the body kicks into a starvation mode and begins to conserve energy. Getting around this thorny problem has become one of the most significant scientific questions in the field — and may possibly, say obesity specialists, be a place where diet pills could help. Some, such as Dr Sidney Wolfe, director of the not-for-profit health research group Public Citizen, feel that more caution — not less — is in order when assessing these drugs. Contrave “is another drug that increases blood pressure and pulse, and it’s possibly going to be approved — and that is a huge mistake. Losing weight is meaningless if it is nullified by increasing cardiovascular risks.” Wolfe knows that some doctors are frustrated by a lack of obesity medications. But that, he said, isn’t justification for approving drugs that may have serious side effects. “If the overall benefits are outweighed by the risks, that’s it. The FDA is part of the public health service, and we have to be aware that if they approve a drug, a doctor can prescribe it ... why would any doctor want to prescribe a drug like that?” But obesity experts argue that risks can be managed. In a September statement to the FDA advisory panel regarding Meridia and the increased risk of cardiovascular events, officials from the Obesity Society noted that “the drug is intended for use in patients who do not have established cardiovascular disease.” They note that other medications for serious disorders have been approved despite known adverse side effects. It certainly makes sense to carefully scrutinize potential health risks of any new obesity medication, especially because they have to be taken for a year or even longer, Ryan said. But diet drugs should not be held to a higher safety standard than other types of medications. “Safety is important,” Ryan said. “That is not to say that they have to be as safe as water.” — MCT

How patients react After a decade practicing palliative medicine, Wallenstein, 53, has seen a range of reactions from patients with terminal diseases. Some have come to terms with their illnesses. Some are terrified. Others are tired, even depressed, and anticipate the end. Others are fighters, willing to pursue treatment through cycles of remission and relapse, no matter the cost. Last August palliative care received a boost when the New England Journal of Medicine published a study showing that early palliative intervention among some cancer patients improved their quality of life and led to longer survival rates. The journal also published an editorial with a surprisingly simple message: “ ... reducing patients’ misery may help

them live longer.” But the editors admitted to the challenge that these specialists face in their practice. Most physicians “tend to perceive palliative care as ... what we do when there is nothing more that we can do.” Even with evidence that palliative care reduces costs and avoids unwanted and futile intensive care, the specialty is undervalued. Its doctors see patients at the request of the primary physician, who can reject their recommendations, and compensating doctors for leading end-of-life discussions is complicated. “Health care reimbursement tends to favor high-tech and procedure orientations like surgery and endoscopy over the less dramatic like spending time talking,” says Thomas Strouse, a

colleague of Wallenstein’s at UCLA. It is a situation, Strouse believes, reflective of “a society not quite knowing what to do with the activity of sitting with a patient and family and identifying goals of care.” Wallenstein hopes this will change, but for now he is undeterred, confident in his training and the purpose of this medicine. He has seen how dying patients are marginalized, even discriminated against by doctors who pull back when they feel that nothing more can be done. Death will always be sad, he says, but it doesn’t have to be horrific. In the 1980s, he worked as a social worker in the AIDS unit of a Chicago hospital and still remembers the patient who was in so much pain that he want-

Edith O’Neil, CNS-Palliative Care, and Dr David Wallenstein, both with UCLA’s Palliative Care Services visit with Dixie and Elvin Flynn at UCLA hospital yesterday. — MCT

ed to kill himself. The attending physician dismissed the behavior as “drug seeking.” “Well, he’s dying,” Wallenstein recalls saying. “Shouldn’t he be comfortable?” The doctor wasn’t going to be questioned. “Damn it,” he said. “If you can do my job better than me, you can go to medical school.” Wallenstein did, studying internal medicine and anesthesiology before completing a fellowship in pain and palliative care. Alice Chen, one of Flynn’s physicians, called for the consult. A recent MRI showed progression of the infection, known as mucormycosis, and she knew the Flynns had to decide whether to stop the antibiotics and give up on other possible treatments. It would be a lengthy and sensitive conversation. Terminal illnesses often challenge doctors, who may see up to 20 patients a day and are so strictly schooled to find cures that anything else is thought of as a failure. “As a physician,” says Chen, 31, “it requires a very different mind-set to accept that disease is winning and that our role is now to ease the path rather than to change its course.” Two days later Wallenstein drops in again on Flynn, who mentions discomfort in his lower right chest. Pain and symptom management is always the first order of business. Wallenstein wants to keep his patients lucid, but he also realizes that any suffering will make thinking about the future more difficult. He leans over and feels Flynn’s abdomen. He thinks there might be a cracked rib. Flynn had had a bad cough. Wallenstein wants to recommend an Xray and a course of methadone, a longacting opioid, and morphine as necessary. —MCT

New rule offers bitter pill Starting Jan 1, just buying aspirin may give you a headache. People with health care spending accounts will be required to get a doctor’s prescription to purchase over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol and Prilosec with their pre-tax dollars. The change is a little-known part of the Affordable Care Act signed by President Barack Obama in March. It affects people who have flexible spending accounts or health reimbursement arrangements. These special accounts allow people to voluntarily set aside pre-tax money to pay for out-of-pocket health expenses, saving them about 20 percent of the cost of care. Starting in 2003, consumers who used these pre-tax accounts could use the money toward 16,000 over-thecounter products like cough syrup, allergy medications and antacids. But that free ticket ends on Jan. 1. To be eligible for reimbursement, people will need a doctor’s prescription. “I’m unhappy with some of the elements of the ACA and this is one of them,” said Dr. Mary Rappazzo, an Albany internist and president of the New York Chapter

of the American College of Physicians. “It’s going to fall, I’m afraid, largely on the primary care physician who is already stressed to the max with paperwork and insignificant things that do not contribute the patient care. I don’t know the rationale for this or why it was put in there, but we are not happy.” Depending on the illness and the patient’s medical history, the doctor may require an office visit before writing a script. Craig M. Burridge, executive director of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, said the new rule may cut down on wasteful spending. “I think the prescription requirement is there for control, so you don’t just walk off the street and buy up everything you can to use up your dollars before the end of the year,” Burridge said. Flexible spending accounts are use-it-or-lose it arrangements. If the consumer does not spend the money in a year, they do not get the money back. Buying overthe-counter items was an easy way to use up the money before the deadline. “They probably saw a huge spend-down toward the

end of the year,” Burridge said, “and that can be terribly wasteful.” There are a few exceptions to the new rule. People can still use pre-tax dollars to buy insulin and “medical durable products” like bandages, crutches, blood sugar monitors and contact lens solution without getting a doctor’s prescription. The new rule means that people who have debit cards for their flexible spending accounts won’t be able to use them at the drug store. Since the debit card system has no way to tell if the purchase is backed by a doctor’s prescription, the debit cards will no longer work, according to the IRS. An analysis done by Aon Hewitt, which maintains a database of health benefits provided to 220 employers and 6 million employees, said the new rule will not have a major impact. Only 20 percent of employees have flexible spending accounts and among those that use them, only 7 percent of all FSA claims were for over-the-counter drugs, according to the Aon Hewitt analysis. – MCT

Edith O’Neil-Page of UCLa’s Palliative Care Service (right) hugs Dixie Flynn, whose husband is a patient at the hospital on Tuesday in Los Angeles. —MCT

Palliative care

Easing life’s final choices Elvin Flynn is a dying man, but no one here is about to deprive him of his chances to live. He lies in a hospital bed on the seventh floor of the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, a fungal infection threatening his central nervous system. He’s already on a rigorous regimen of antibiotics. More surgery is an option but after three operations, he says he’s had enough. There’s the hyperbaric chamber; a concentrated dose of oxygen might help. His doctors believe the odds are long. His condition is complicated by a disease in his bone marrow, and they’re waiting to find out what Flynn, 78, and his wife, Dixie, want to do. The couple are reluctant to have this conversation. To say no to further treatment means that death is imminent. To say yes means living longer in the limbo of the hospital, no positive outcome guaranteed. David Wallenstein would like to help. He is a specialist in palliative care, a field that lies between curing disease and entering hospice, a poorly understood and slowly evolving discipline of health care today. Its practitioners are like other physicians. They run clinics, offer consultations but are skilled in leading discussions other doctors avoid. They are not shy about addressing the limitations of treat-

ment. Nor are they averse to talking about the end of life. “You are the tour guide to the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and as that guide, you have to carry the baggage, point out the stony road and suggest possible alternatives,” says Judith Ford, who worked with Wallenstein before returning to England in 2006 to become a math teacher. Ford headed the palliative care program at UCLA for nearly six years. Wallenstein is more matter-of-fact. “My job is to convince patients that I have something of benefit to them when they may feel there is absolutely no reason in the world to trust a physician,” he says. Today he is nervous about meeting Flynn, but it’s always been this way. Even before palliative care was associated with “death panels” during the recent health care debate, he could see patients tense when he introduced himself. They assume he has been sent to restrict their care, so he begins asking about pain and symptoms, an introduction that often leads to a conversation about the patient’s goals for treatment. He isn’t about to limit anyone’s choices. He just wants patients like Flynn — those who have been fighting disease for so long that all they know is the fight — to realize all of their options. Sometimes there is more to life than fighting death. — MCT

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Spain says ‘Adios’ to smoky bars, cafes, eateries MADRID: Spanish smokers will be able to light up in bars and restaurants for the final time during the holiday period after lawmakers on Tuesday approved a ban starting on January 2. The new law bans smoking in all enclosed public spaces, including bars, restaurants and nightclubs. It will be illegal to smoke in parks for children, plus on school or hospital grounds, according to the text of the law. Existing anti-smoking legislation bans smoking in work places and public transport. Health Minister Leire Pajin said implentation of the ban would not happen overnight, and called on Spaniards to share responsibility for its success. Smoker Angel Pena, lighting up a cigarette over a cup of coffee at a Madrid bar, said Spain is playing catchup to the rest of the world and will become more modern with the new law. “We have to start being civ-

ilized,” said Pena, 53. “No one should have to put up with secondhand smoke.” The law will make Spain a tougher place to smoke than EU countries where bars and restaurants are still allowed to have smoking sections. It will also prohibit smoking in outdoor places such as playgrounds and the grounds of schools and hospitals. The nation’s previous antismoking law-approved in 2006, and aimed at cracking down on smoking and smoking-related deaths-prohibited smoking in the workplace, and workers are commonly seen puffing away outside their offices. But critics called it a failure because it allowed most bar and cafe owners to decide whether to allow smoking or not, and almost all permitted it. Bar and cafe owners will now lose that privilege, and larger restaurants that have separate smoking sections will have to get rid of them. Officials predict the thousands

of lives that would have been lost to secondhand smoke will now be saved. “This is a crucial step for the protection of public health,” said Health Minister Leire Panjin. “It is a necessary law that makes history.” Bar and restaurant owners failed to win an exception in the new law allowing them to construct hermetically sealed smoking sections. Hotels, however, will be allowed to set aside 30 percent of their rooms for smokers. Spain’s main restaurant and bar association predicted the law will lead to 145,000 lost jobs and a 10 percent decline in revenue for the sector, but the Health Ministry said similar laws in recent years for Britain, France and Italy did not badly hurt business. Rufino Escobar, 27, smoking and sipping coffee inside a Madrid cafe, said the new law is wrong because he doesn’t consider bars to be public places. “A bar is a private business, and the owners should

have the right to choose,” he said. But the waitress serving him, Elizabeth Torres, complained that she’s been breathing smoke from customers for six years, and can’t wait for the law to take effect. “I don’t smoke, and it’s really annoying having to put up with all of the smoke from everyone else,” said Torres, 33. Smokers will still be allowed to light up on open-air terraces, which many Spanish bars have, often setting up tables and chairs on the sidewalk. Other exceptions are provided for jails, psychiatric institutions and retirement homes. Spain’s National Committee for the Prevention of Smoking says up to 1,000 waiters die yearly from lung cancer, mainly from breathing in secondhand smoke. Health officials predict more lives will be saved because many more smokers will find it tougher to find places to smoke, and will quit. —Agencies

PAMPLONA, Spain: A woman smokes a cigarette in a bar in Pamplona, Spain on Tuesday. —AP




Thursday, December 23, 2010

Indian Chartered Accountants’ Family Day he Indian Chartered Accountants in Kuwait held a Family Day on Friday, 10th December, 2010 at a Tspring camp organized by Al- Mulla Financial Services Group. The members and their families had a field day, basking in the wonderful weather and indulging in various games and fun activities, which were led by the jovial DJ, Mervin. The event started with outdoor games which tested the stamina, co-ordination, capability and tenacity of the members and their families. Tug of War, organized for men and women was the most hilarious event, with participants toiling and the partisan crowd cheering their team. Meanwhile, the children were treated to music, musical chair competition and several other games.

A sumptuous lunch threatened to lull the participants to a siesta but the DJ ensured that everyone was kept on their toes with various indoor games. Some members also entertained the crowd with their singing talent. The highlight of the day was a magic performance by Nissar. He kept the crowd spellbound with some fascinating tricks such as producing a live pigeon from a handkerchief. He involved the children in his show and they thoroughly enjoyed sharing the stage with the magician. M S Mathew, Chairman of the Kuwait Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, welcomed the members and their families and thanked the officials of Al-Mulla Financial Services Group for organizing the event on behalf of the Chapter.

St Gregorios Indian Orthodox, Kuwait leaders welcoming Dr Josef Mar Divaniyasios who arrived in Kuwait to lead the Orthodox Christmas - New Year celebrations.

Early Years Annual Winter Concert at Kuwait National English School uwait National English School in Hawally, at Al Farabi Round About celebrated its 20th annual Winter Concert prior to winter break. The children performed beyond expectations. Early Years children from Kuwait National English School ages 1.5 years to 6 years old, delighted family and friends with a variety of K songs and dances exhibiting their everyday skills and activities. We are always proud of each of our Early Years students at Kuwait National English School, but the night made our pride shine just a little bit more than usual. Kuwait National English School wishes everyone a Happy Peaceful Winter Holiday!

29 schools compete in Sony Dubai Schools Football League ony Gulf announced the four winning teams representing primary school Schildren in Dubai fromgrades 3, 4, 5 and 6 that bagged top honors at the fourth edition of the Sony Dubai Schools Football League. The championship finals held on 5, 8, 12 and 14 Dec for grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 respectively saw the Dubai English Speaking School (DESS) winning the Champion’s Trophy for Grade 3 and Repton School taking the top spot for Grade 4 and 6. The Dubai British School won the championship for Grade 5. Osamu Miura, Managing Director, Sony Gulf FZE, said: “Soccer is definitely a sport that generates tremendous passion in this region and young school children, especially, find this sport very engaging. Through the Sony Dubai Schools Football League, Sony Gulf aims to encourage and promote sportsmanship qualities in children and help them grow as proud members of the sporting community.Our support for sport also reflects Sony’s overall objective to contribute to the building of character and spirit of team work, both on and off the field.” Rob Ingham, tournament director, said: “This tournament is an exciting way to bring together young children and help them develop a sense of cama-

raderie and an active lifestyle. We are delighted with this year’s turnout and the high level of commitment and performance demonstrated by the students. We are extremely encouraged by Sony’s involvement towards this sport and their support in developing the skills and interests among our youth.”

Recently, 24 children from the Sony Dubai Schools Football League were selected by the Sony Flag Bearers program to carry the FIFA flag for the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi. The children, selected from the 29 participating schools, received a unique opportunity to meet their icons and be part of the

football action as the official flag bearers. Sony has been actively involved in the Dubai Schools Football League since 2007. By supporting the Dubai Schools Football League, Sony Gulf aims to nurture and enhance the skills of young players and improve the overall quality of the game at the grassroots level.

YS Jagan’s birthday celebrated in Kuwait on of late YS Raja Sekhar Reddy (Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh) YS Jagan Mohan Reddyís fans and well wishers celebrated his birthday at Mina Abdullah IAP Worldwide Yard and Hawally. In Mina Abdullah Nag Reddy, Sankar, Narayana Reddy, Kovaru Sudarshan Naidu, Bommavaram Sudheer Kumar Reddy, Kancharla S Bhaskar Reddy, Kadimalla Ragu Varma, Depuri Subba Reddy, Rajesh Reddy, Darla Srinivasulu Achari took a lead part. At the same time in Hawally Tettu Rafi, Coriar Prabhakar, Sheik Pyarelal, Bhaskar, Sheik Dadapeer, Bhaskar Goud, Subba Reddy and Mohammed Yousef celebrated with a huge Telugu community.

r Sasi Tharoor honors Salam Valancheri, Kuwait Muslim Cultural Center leader who is leaving Kuwait, at a function organized by Overseas Indian Congress, Kuwait.


l-Adan youths club of the Public Authority for Youth and Sport organized a train-

Aing course recently for its members, regarding the use of radio-controlled aircrafts indoors. The courses featured training on assembling, operating and flying RC planes, in addition to training on safety and security measures. Several models were displayed during the event.

31 WHATʼS ON IN KUWAIT UC College Aluva Alumni Kuwait (UCCAAK) celebrates Alumni Day Thursday, December 23, 2010

program started with a prayer song by Ms and Ms Poornima at 5.30 pm. This TwasheNeelima followed by a program conducted by the Benedicts Orchestra. The formal meeting started at 6.30 pm. Ms Anitha Earaly, Vice-President welcomed the dignitaries and members. She has pointed out the unique sense of bonding shared by the former students of UC College. Mohammed Sageer delivered the Presidential Address, in which he reminded us to uphold the academic and social goals of U C College. M Mathews felicitated the alumni on the occasion and mentioned that he regretted not being able to study at U C College. Cyriac George presented the Annual Report and highlighted the possibilities that the UCCAAK presented as an organisation. He expressed his gratitude to all the office-bearers, committee members, members, well wishers and donors and sponsors. C J Joy enthralled all present with an eloquent speech in Malayalam which literally took all UCCians back to their college days. The business session of the UC College Aluva - Alumni Kuwait was held. The Following office-bearers were elected unanimously for the forthcoming year. Mohammed Sageer - President, Anitha Earaly - Vice-President, Cyriac George - Secretary, Mrs. Reena George - Joint Secretary, Jimmy Paul - Treasurer, Adv Narendran Menon - Joint Treasurer Executive Committee Members: Asif Pedikat, Bipin Madhavan, Bobby Paul, Mrs. Elizabeth Thomas, C J Joy, Kochumon Francis, Mrs. Mary Mathews, Prakash Menon, Prof. Rani Varghese, Sajeev Mathew, Mrs Sindhu Jacob. Commemorating the Anniversary Day, the senior most alumnus, Mrs Mary Mathews, cut the cake. The lighting of the lamp ceremony was performed by the dignitaries on the Diaz and Miss. Neelima, one of the contestants in Idea Star Singer-Season V. Immediately after the business session, talent session continued. Children of the Alumni presented a number dance items. Ms Neelima and members of the orchestra continued to entertain the audience with their melodious songs. Gifts were distributed to the winners of lucky draws and to all those who performed their talents. Bobby Paul, the Program Co-ordinator proposed a vote of thanks.

IKEA cafe celebrates Christmas and New Year Swedish way KEA Restaurant & Cafe is celebrating Christmas and New Year the ISwedish way this year. It is offering

Youth Chorus Christmas Carol

the traditional roasted turkey by the Swedish way to celebrate for only KD 1.500. The IKEA Restaurant & Cafe will also be offering the popular IKEA Swedish meatballs along with healthy grilled salmon fillet at exciting festive prices. There’s something for everyone and all kinds of palates. In fact, the IKEA will be the only place in Kuwait that offers a variety of Swedish dishes. Keeping the traditions and cultures in mind, IKEA each year hosts sea-

ellifluous and timeless Christmas Carols organized by the Youth Chorus will be rendered at M the Fourteenth Annual Christmas Carol Programme at the Indian Central School Auditorium, Abbassiya at 6:00 p.m. Youth Chorus, along with the Choirs from various Churches in Kuwait, United Indian School, Indian Central School and Indian Public School will usher in the spirit of Christmas in the three hour long Christmas Carol Service with a wide repertoire of classic Christmas carols. H. G. Joseph Mar Dionysius Metropolitan (Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church - Calcutta Diocese) has kindly consented to inaugurate the programme and the Christmas Message will be delivered by H.G. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Yulios Metropolitan (Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Ahmedabad Diocese). Respected Bishops, Priests and Elders of the different Churches will attend and lead the programme. Youth Chorus is the only Organization in Kuwait, authorized to conduct the International Bible Quest Examination. The prizes for the International Bible Quest Examination 2010 and the 5th Christian Malayalam Group Song Competition will be distributed on the occasion. Youth Chorus welcomes one and all to join this wonderful celebration.

EMBASSY OF BANGLADESH The Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in Kuwait has taken up an initiative to update the database of Bangladesh nationals residing in the State of Kuwait. For inclusion in the database all the Bangladesh nationals are requested to collect the Registration Form from the Labour Wing of the Embassy. The forms can also be collected sending request to e-mail address. The filled-in forms can also be submitted by hand, by email or by fax (number 2491-3204). The Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in Kuwait will remain closed on Thursday, December 16, 2010 on the occasion of Victory Day 2010. EMBASSY OF CANADA The Canadian Embassy will be closed on Sunday and Monday 26 and 27 Dec 2010 on the occasion of Christmas and Boxing Day. The Embassy will resume its duties on Tuesday 28 December 2010. The Embassy of Canada is open from 07:30 to 15:30 Sunday through Thursday. Consular Services for Canadian Citizens are provided from 09:00 until 12:00 on Sunday through Wednesday. The Embassy of Canada is located at Villa 24, AlMutawakel St., Block 4 in Daíaiyah.

sonal festival dedicated to a specific cuisine. IKEA upholds international quality standards and cultural preferences in their kitchen and F&B service - including using Halal processed meat, UTZ Certified Coffee - and the fact that all the food cooked is zero percent trans fat oil which is excellent to control your cholesterol. Furthermore, IKEA restaurant’s Swedish Breakfast & Family offer at an unbelievable price is not to be missed. In addition to that, IKEA Bistro has launched frozen yogurt “low fat low price” don’t miss to try while leaving the store.

Fun with learning at Indian Integrated School very child has an in born quality of doing something new. It is universally accepted that each child has sleeping artist in him. What needs to be strived at is the gradual unfolding of this innate treat through imaginative, fulfilled and exciting Elearning. With the aim of bringing out the hidden artist in each child the teachers of Integrated Indian School at Kindergarten conducted an activity on shapes. The bubbling tiny tots enjoyed the fulfilled activity as they found it really exciting cutting, pasting, colouring, glittering the shapes to form circles, squares, triangles, rectangles etc. The activity helped in promoting understanding by introducing to the child the concept of space, shapes and forms.

Please visit our website at Canada offers a registration service for all Canadians travelling or living abroad. This service is provided so that Consular Officials can contact and assist Canadians in an emergency in a foreign country, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, or inform Canadians of a family emergency at home. The Embassy of Canada encourages all Canadian Citizens to register online through the Government of Canada Travel Website at The Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi provides visa and immigration services to residents of Kuwait. Individuals who are interested in visiting, working or immigrating to Canada are invited to visit the website of the Canadian Embassy to the UAE at 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 India would like to inform that application forms for passport/visa services and labor contracts that are on its website,, have been upgraded to include the facility for online data entry. Affidavit forms on the

embassy website have had this facility since May 6, 2009. EMBASSY OF THE US The United States Department of State announces the increase in various visa fees to ensure sufficient resources to cover the increasing cost of processing nonimmigrant visas (NIVs). US law requires the Department to recover the cost of processing non-immigrant visas through the collection of the application fees. The increased fees are to take effect June 4, 2010. Under the new rule, applicants for all visas that are not petitionbased, including B1/B2 tourist and business visitor visas and all student and exchange-visitor visas, will pay a fee of $140. Applicants for petition-based visas will pay an application fee of $150, as each of the below categories requires a review of extensive documentation and a more in-depth interview of the applicant than other categories, such as tourists. These categories include: H visa for temporary workers and trainees L visa for intra-company transferees O visa for aliens with extraordinary ability P visa for athletes, artists and entertainers Q visa for international cultural exchange visitors R visa for religious occupations The application fee for K visas for

fiance(e)s of US citizens will be $350. The fee for E visas for treaty-traders and treaty-investors will be $390. EMBASSY OF GERMANY The German Embassy wishes to extend and update its information base on German business in Kuwait. Therefore all Kuwaiti companies representing German companies are invited to register at the embassy. For more information on the registration, please visit EMBASSY OF UK The British Embassy will be closed on the following days: Sunday 26, Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 Dec 2010 on the occasion of Christmas and will re-open on Wednesday 29 Dec 2010. The Embassy will also be closed on Sunday 2 Jan 2011 on the occasion of the New Year and will re-open on Monday 3 Jan 2011. The Consular Section will be closed on the same dates above. The Visa Application Centre (VAC) will be closed on Sunday 26 and Monday 27 Dec and will reopen on Tuesday 28 Dec 2010. The opening hours of the Visa Application Centre are from 0930 to 1630 hrs. Application forms remain available online from the UKBA or from the Visa Application Centreís website: And also, from the

UK Visa Application Centre located at: 4W First Floor, Al Banwan Building, (Burgan Bank Branch Office Building) Al Qibla area, opposite Central Bank of Kuwait Kuwait City For any further inquiries, please contact the Visa Application Centre: Website: ; E-mail:; Telephone: 22971170. For information On the British Embassy services, visit the British Embassy website: EMBASSY OF SOUTH AFRICA On the occasion of the Day of Good Will, the South African Embassy will be closed on Sunday, 26 Dec 2010. The Embassy will resume itís normal working hours on Monday, 27 Dec 2010, from Sunday to Thursday. Please note that the working hours will be from 0800 to 1600 and the Consular Section operation hours will from 0830 to 1230. The South African Embassy wishes its South African citizens a very Merry Christmas! EMBASSY OF AUSTRALIA The Australian Embassy wishes all readers a happy and safe Christmas and New Year holiday, and advises that it will be closed on the following days over the holiday season: 26 Dec 2010 (Sunday), 27 Dec 2010 (Monday), 2 Jan 2011 (Sunday).

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



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Orbit / Showtime Listings

00:00 The Ellen Degeneres Show 01:00 Good Morning America 03:00 Law And Order 04:00 Cold Case 05:00 Smallville 06:00 Good Morning America 08:00 Justified 09:00 Smallville 10:00 The Ellen Degeneres Show 11:00 Desperate Housewives 12:00 Karen Sisco 13:00 Law And Order 14:00 Justified 15:00 Live Good Morning America 17:00 Desperate Housewives 18:00 The Ellen Degeneres Show 19:00 Law And Order 20:00 One Tree Hill 21:00 Survivor: Nicaragua 22:00 Sons Of Anarchy 23:00 The Tudors

00:50 Whale Wars 01:45 Untamed And Uncut 02:40 World Wild Vet 03:35 Speed Of Life 04:30 Animal Cops Philadelphia 05:25 Into The Dragon’s Lair 06:20 Untamed And Uncut 07:10 Wildlife SOS 07:35 Rspca: On The Frontline 08:00 Max’s Big Tracks 08:50 The Planet’s Funniest Animals 09:40 Beverly Hills Groomer 10:05 Beverly Hills Groomer 10:35 Xtremely Wild 11:00 Wildlife SOS International 14:40 Wildlife SOS 16:30 Wildlife SOS International 20:10 Wildlife SOS 22:05 Panda Adventures With Nigel Marven 23:00 Cell Dogs 23:55 Whale Wars

00:30 Love Soup 01:00 Love Soup 01:30 The Weakest Link 02:15 Casualty 03:05 Eastenders 03:35 Doctors 04:05 Big Top 04:35 Me Too 04:55 Forget Me Not Farm 05:10 Fimbles 05:30 Teletubbies 05:55 Gigglebiz 06:10 Me Too 06:30 Forget Me Not Farm 06:45 Fimbles 07:05 Teletubbies 07:30 Gigglebiz 07:45 Me Too 08:05 Forget Me Not Farm 08:20 Fimbles 08:40 Teletubbies 09:05 Gigglebiz 09:20 Me Too 09:40 Forget Me Not Farm 09:55 Fimbles 10:15 Teletubbies 10:40 Big Top 11:40 The Weakest Link 12:25 Monarch Of The Glen 13:15 Doctors 13:45 Eastenders 14:15 Casualty 15:05 Big Top 16:40 Monarch Of The Glen 17:30 The Weakest Link 18:15 Doctors 18:45 Eastenders 19:15 Casualty 20:10 Monarch Of The Glen 21:00 The Weakest Link 21:45 Doctors 22:15 Eastenders 22:45 Casualty 23:40 Sahara

00:05 The Naked Chef 03:50 Daily Cooks Challenge 10:00 Rick Stein And The Japanese Ambassador 10:50 Rhodes Across China 16:05 Glamour Puds 19:25 Rhodes Across China 21:50 Rhodes Across China 22:40 Rhodes Across China 23:25 Rhodes Across China

00:00 BBC World News 00:30 Hardtalk 01:00 Business Edition With Tanya Beckett 01:30 Asia Business Report 01:45 Sport Today 02:00 BBC World News 02:30 Asia Business Report 02:45 Asia Today 03:00 BBC World News America 04:00 BBC World News 04:30 Asia Business Report 04:45 Asia Today 05:00 BBC World News 05:30 Asia Business Report 05:45 Asia Today 06:00 BBC World News 06:30 Asia Business Report 06:45 Asia Today 07:00 BBC World News 07:30 Hardtalk 08:00 BBC World News 08:30 World Business Report 08:45 BBC World News 09:30 World Business Report 09:45 BBC World News 10:00 BBC World News 10:30 World Business Report 10:45 Sport Today 11:00 BBC World News 11:30 World Business Report 11:45 Sport Today 12:00 BBC World News 12:30 Hardtalk

00:40 Overhaulin’ 01:35 Dirty Jobs 02:30 Time Warp 03:00 Time Warp 03:25 Extreme Engineering 04:20 Mythbusters 05:15 How Do They Do It? 06:05 Dirty Jobs 07:00 Fifth Gear 07:25 Extreme Engineering 08:15 American Chopper 09:10 Mythbusters 10:05 Ultimate Survival - The Pilot 10:55 Overhaulin’ 11:50 The Gadget Show 12:20 How Do They Do It? 12:45 How Do They Do It? 13:15 Mythbusters 14:10 La Ink 19:40 The Gadget Show 20:05 How Do They Do It? 20:35 How Do They Do It? 21:00 Destroyed In Seconds 21:30 Destroyed In Seconds 21:55 Sole Survivor 22:50 Surviving Disaster 23:45 Ross Kemp In Search Of Pirates

00:40 Space Pioneer 01:30 The Gadget Show 01:55 Mighty Ships 02:45 How Stuff’s Made 03:10 How Stuff’s Made 03:35 What’s That About? 04:25 How Stuff’s Made 04:50 Catch It Keep It 05:45 Beyond Tomorrow 06:40 Weird Connections 07:10 Engineered 08:00 Junkyard Wars 09:00 Space Pioneer 10:00 The Future Of... 10:55 Stunt Junkies 11:20 The Gadget Show 11:50 What’s That About? 12:45 How Does That Work? 13:15 Catch It Keep It 14:10 Weird Connections 14:35 The Future Of... 15:30 Human Body: Ultimate Machine 16:25 The Gadget Show 16:55 Space Pioneer 17:50 Mighty Ships 18:45 Brainiac 19:40 Weird Or What? 20:30 Science Of The Movies 21:20 How It’s Made 21:45 The Gadget Show 22:10 How The Universe Works 23:00 Weird Or What?

00:00 Kim Possible 00:25 Fairly Odd Parents

00:50 Fairly Odd Parents 01:15 Stitch 01:35 Stitch 02:00 Replacements 02:25 Replacements 02:50 Fairly Odd Parents 03:35 Stitch 04:25 Replacements 04:50 Replacements 05:15 Emperors New School 06:00 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 06:20 Handy Manny 06:45 Jungle Junction 07:05 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 07:30 Sonny With A Chance 07:50 Sonny With A Chance 08:15 Stitch 08:35 Wizards Of Waverly Place 09:00 Fairly Odd Parents 09:20 Jump In 10:50 Phineas And Ferb 11:15 Sonny With A Chance 11:35 Sonny With A Chance 12:00 Stitch 12:25 Hannah Montana 12:45 Hannah Montana 13:10 Kim Possible 13:30 Wizards Of Waverly Place 13:55 Wizards Of Waverly Place 14:20 Jake And Blake 14:50 A Kind Of Magic 15:15 Jonas 15:40 Jonas 16:00 Hannah Montana 16:30 Wizards Of Waverly Place 17:45 Phineas And Ferb 18:00 Viva High School Musical Mexico 19:35 Hannah Montana 20:00 Good Luck Charlie 20:25 Good Luck Charlie 20:50 Phineas And Ferb 21:35 Fairly Odd Parents 22:00 Hannah Montana 22:25 Hannah Montana 22:50 Wizards Of Waverly Place 23:15 Wizards Of Waverly Place 23:35 Jonas

00:15 Pretty Wild 00:40 Dr 90210 01:30 Wildest TV Show Moments 01:55 Reality Hell 02:20 Ths 03:15 Extreme Hollywood 04:10 Sexiest 05:05 Battle Of The Hollywood Hotties 05:30 Streets Of Hollywood 06:00 50 Most Shocking Celebrity Confessions 07:45 Behind The Scenes 08:10 Behind The Scenes 08:35 E! News 09:25 Giuliana And Bill 10:15 Ths 12:00 E! News 12:50 Kourtney And Khloe Take Miami 18:00 E! News 18:50 Kourtney And Khloe Take Miami 20:30 E! News 20:55 Chelsea Lately 21:20 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 22:10 E! News 23:00 Chelsea Lately 23:25 Kendra 23:50 Kourtney And Khloe Take Miami

00:00 Wrestling With Reality 00:50 Mantracker Series 2 01:40 Eds Up 02:30 World Combat League 03:20 Mantracker Series 2 04:10 Wrestling With Reality 05:00 Ride Guide Snow 2009 05:25 Rebel Events 2009: European Skateboard Champs 05:50 Eds Up 06:15 Eds Up 06:40 World Combat League 07:30 I-Ex 09:00 Quattro Int Events: Pkra Chile 2009 09:25 Quattro Int Events: London Ride 2009 09:50 Quattro Int Events: Fwt Russia (Sotchi) 10:15 Quattro Int Events: Verbier Ride 2009 10:40 Quattro Int Events: Swatch Profile Bmx/Crans Montana Freeski 11:05 Quattro Int Events: Engadin Snow 11:30 Rebel Tv 17 11:55 Summer Dew Tour 2010 12:45 Tread Bmx 13:10 Tread Bmx 13:35 Mantracker Series 2 14:25 Eds Up 15:15 World Combat League 16:05 Summer Dew Tour 2010 16:55 Tread Bmx 17:45 Quattro Int Events: Pkra Chile 2009 18:10 Quattro Int Events: London Ride

Multiple Sarcasms on Show Movies

2009 18:35 Quattro Int Events: Fwt Russia (Sotchi) 19:00 Quattro Int Events: Verbier Ride 2009 19:25 Quattro Int Events: Swatch Profile Bmx/Crans Montana Freeski 19:50 Quattro Int Events: Engadin Snow 20:15 Rebel Tv 17 20:40 Mantracker Series 2 21:30 Tread Bmx 21:55 Tread Bmx 22:20 Fim World Motorcross Mx3

13:00 Programmes Start At 8:00pm KSA 20:00 Sonic Christmas Blast 20:20 Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas 20:45 Wallace And Gromit: A Close Shave 21:10 Rescue Heroes 21:30 Ace Lightning 22:00 Even Stevens 22:25 Sabrina The Animated Series 22:50 Tales From The Cryptkeeper 23:10 Rescue Heroes 23:35 Ace Lightning

01:00 The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three-PG15 03:00 Rendition-18 05:00 The Hours-PG15 07:00 Einstein And Eddington-PG15 09:00 Motherhood-PG15 10:45 Coeurs-PG 13:00 Meet Bill-PG15 15:00 Sticks And Stones-PG 16:45 The Sting-PG15 19:00 Seven Pounds-PG15 21:00 Frida-18

00:00 NFL Replay Teams TBA 01:00 Dream Team Season 9 02:00 PGA Tour: Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge Day 2 03:00 NHL Montreal Canadiens at Carolina Hurricanes 04:00 Golf Channel - TBA 07:00 Pac-10 Men’s Basketball Kansas at Cal 09:00 World Team Tennis NY Sportimes v New York Buzz 11:00 ATP Champions Tour Algarve 11:30 Sport Express 12:00 Best of 2010: American Le Mans Series: Petit Le Mans from Braselton, GA 22:30 Pac-10 Men’s Basketball Kansas at Cal

00:40 Dr G: Medical Examiner 01:30 The Haunted 02:20 A Haunting 03:10 I Escaped Death 04:05 Murder Shift 05:00 Forensic Detectives 05:55 Black Museum 06:20 Dr G: Medical Examiner 07:10 Real Emergency Calls 08:00 Mystery Diagnosis 08:50 Real Emergency Calls 09:40 Forensic Detectives 10:30 Unsolved Crimes: USA 11:20 Extreme Forensics 12:10 FBI Files 13:00 Ghost Lab 13:50 On The Case With Paula Zahn 14:40 Mystery Diagnosis 15:30 Real Emergency Calls 16:20 Extreme Forensics 17:10 Forensic Detectives 18:00 Unsolved Crimes: USA 18:50 FBI Files 19:40 Mystery Diagnosis 20:30 Real Emergency Calls 20:55 Real Emergency Calls 21:20 Ghost Lab 22:10 On The Case With Paula Zahn 23:50 Dr G: Medical Examiner

00:00 Two And A Half Men 00:30 The Simpsons 01:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 01:30 The Colbert Report 02:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 03:00 Family Guy 03:30 The Ricky Gervais Show 04:00 The Cleveland Show 04:30 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 05:30 Dharma And Greg 06:00 Hope And Faith 06:30 The Drew Carey Show 07:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 08:00 The Simpsons 08:30 Dharma And Greg 09:00 Hope And Faith 09:30 The Drew Carey Show 10:00 Rita Rocks 10:30 Parks And Recreation 11:00 Dharma And Greg 11:30 Hope And Faith 12:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 13:00 The Simpsons 13:30 Dharma And Greg 14:00 Hope And Faith 14:30 Two And A Half Men 15:00 Parks And Recreation 15:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 16:00 The Colbert Report 16:30 The Drew Carey Show 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 The Simpsons 18:30 Rita Rocks 19:00 30 Rock 19:30 Two And A Half Men 20:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 Eastbound And Down 22:30 The Ricky Gervais Show 23:00 The Cleveland Show

00:00 The Garfield Show 00:25 The Scooby Doo Show 00:50 Wacky Races 01:15 Dastardly And Muttley 01:40 Help! It’s The Hair Bear Bunch 02:05 Popeye 02:30 The Perils Of Penelope Pitstop 02:55 Scooby-Doo And Scrappy-Doo 03:20 Looney Tunes 03:45 The Flintstones 04:10 The Jetsons 04:35 Top Cat 05:00 Tom And Jerry 05:25 Popeye Classics 05:50 Scooby Doo Where Are You! 06:15 Tom And Jerry Kids 06:40 A Pup Named Scooby-Doo 07:05 Yogi’s Treasure Hunt 07:30 Droopy And Dripple 08:00 Tom And Jerry 08:25 Looney Tunes 08:55 The Flintstones 09:20 The Jetsons 09:45 Tom And Jerry Kids 10:10 The Garfield Show 10:35 Duck Dodgers 11:00 The Scooby Doo Show 11:30 Wacky Races 12:00 Dastardly And Muttley 12:25 King Arthur’s Disasters 12:50 Help! It’s The Hair Bear Bunch 13:15 A Pup Named Scooby-Doo 13:40 Popeye 14:00 Looneynoons 17:00 Tom And Jerry 17:20 Top Cat 17:45 Wacky Races 18:00 Dastardly And Muttley 18:30 The Scooby Doo Show 19:00 Johnny Bravo 19:30 Dexter’s Laboratory 20:00 Looney Tunes 20:20 Duck Dodgers 20:45 The Garfield Show 21:10 The Flintstones 21:35 The Jetsons 22:00 Yogi’s Treasure Hunt 22:25 Tom And Jerry 22:50 The Scooby Doo Show 23:15 Droopy And Dripple

00:00 New Adventures Of Ocean Girl 00:25 Sabrina The Animated Series 00:50 Sonic Underground 01:15 Fat Dog Mendoza 01:40 Tales From The Cryptkeeper 02:00 Fat Dog Mendoza Marathon 07:00 New Adventures Of Madeline 07:25 Rupert 07:45 Babar 08:00 Programmes Start At 8:00pm KSA

00:15 Out Of Jimmy’s Head 00:40 Robotboy 01:05 Cow And Chicken 01:30 Cramp Twins 01:55 George Of The Jungle 02:20 Adrenalini Brothers 02:45 Eliot Kid 03:10 Ed, Edd N Eddy 03:35 Ben 10: Alien Force 04:00 The Powerpuff Girls 04:15 Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends 04:40 The Secret Saturdays 05:05 Codename: Kids Next Door 05:30 Ben 10 05:55 Best Ed 06:20 Samurai Jack 06:45 Cramp Twins 07:10 Eliot Kid 07:35 The Marvelous Misadventures Of Flapjack 08:00 Codename: Kids Next Door 08:25 Skunk Fu! 08:50 Best Ed 09:15 Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends 09:40 Ben 10: Alien Force 10:05 The Secret Saturdays 10:30 Batman: The Brave And The Bold 10:55 The Powerpuff Girls 11:20 Robotboy 11:30 The Life And Times Of Juniper Lee 11:31 Robotboy 11:55 Ben 10 12:20 Samurai Jack 12:45 Megas Xlr 13:10 Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes 13:35 Bakugan Battle Brawlers 14:00 Laughternoons 19:00 Hero 108 19:30 Total Drama World Tour 20:00 Bakugan Battle Brawlers 20:25 The Secret Saturdays 20:50 The Marvelous Misadventures Of Flapjack 21:05 Ben 10 21:30 Best Ed 21:45 Skunk Fu! 22:10 Ed, Edd N Eddy 22:35 Codename: Kids Next Door 23:00 Ben 10: Alien Force 23:25 Samurai Jack 23:50 Megas Xlr

00:55 Program 02:50 January Man 04:30 Witness To The Mob 06:35 Perez Family 08:30 The 60’s 10:35 The Black Stallion 12:30 Spikes Gang 14:05 The Aviator 15:40 Shot In The Dark, A 17:25 Woman In Red 18:50 Tune In Tomorrow 20:35 Frankie And Johnny 22:00 Son Of The Pink Panther 23:35 Sibling Rivalry

00:00 Stuart: A Life Backwards-18 02:00 Multiple Sarcasms-18 04:00 H2O Extreme-PG15 06:00 My Life In Ruins-PG15 08:00 The Express-PG 10:15 Morning Light-PG 12:00 My Sister’s Keeper-PG15 14:00 Ambrose Bierce: Civil War StoriesPG15 15:45 The Express-PG 18:00 Alice In Wonderland-PG 20:00 Star Trek-PG 22:15 Milk-18

01:00 Death Race-18 03:00 El Orfenato-18 05:00 Dog Pound-18 07:00 Jesse Stone: No Remorse-PG15 09:00 The Italian Job-PG15 11:00 Kiss The Girls-18 13:00 The Objective-PG15 15:00 The Italian Job-PG15 17:00 The Truth About Charlie-PG15 19:00 The Tournament-18 21:00 Lakeview Terrace-PG15 23:00 Revolver-18

00:00 Zero Effect-PG15 02:00 The Foot Fist Way-PG15 04:00 My Fake Fiance-PG15 06:00 Bustin’ Loose-PG15 08:00 Swing Vote-PG15 10:00 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang-PG 12:30 Will You Merry Me-PG15 14:00 Ghost Town-PG15 16:00 Zero Effect-PG15 18:00 Corky Romano-PG15 20:00 Saved!-PG15 22:00 Clerks-18

00:00 Felix 2-FAM 02:00 Patoruzito-FAM 04:00 Super 7-FAM 06:00 Zorro’s Secrets-PG 08:00 Young Fisherman-PG 10:00 Super 7-FAM 12:00 The Three Musketeers-PG 14:00 Patoruzito-FAM 16:00 Gladiators: The Tournament-PG 18:00 Hua Mulan-PG 20:00 Basket Fever-FAM 22:00 The Three Musketeers-PG

Beauty And The Briefcase on Super Movies

00:00 Grey’s Anatomy 01:00 Private Practice 02:00 The Martha Stewart Show 03:00 Heroes 04:00 The View 05:00 Look-A-Like 05:30 Look-A-Like 06:00 Emmerdale 06:30 Coronation Street 07:00 Heroes 08:00 The Martha Stewart Show 09:00 Look-A-Like 09:30 Look-A-Like 10:00 Heroes 11:00 The View 12:00 Emmerdale 12:30 Coronation Street 13:00 The Martha Stewart Show 14:00 Grey’s Anatomy 15:00 Private Practice 16:00 Look-A-Like 16:30 Look-A-Like 17:00 The View 18:00 Emmerdale 18:30 Eat Yourself Sexy 19:00 Bones 20:00 Drop Dead Diva 21:00 Heroes 22:00 The View 23:00 Look-A-Like 23:30 Look-A-Like

01:00 Cat City-PG15 02:45 Carnera: The Walking Mountain-PG 05:00 Living Out Loud-PG15 07:00 Adam-PG15 09:00 Beauty And The Briefcase-PG15 11:00 Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal-PG15 13:00 G-Force-PG 15:00 Ice Castles-PG15 17:00 Beauty And The Briefcase-PG15 19:00 Away We Go-PG15 21:00 Where The Wild Things Are-PG 23:00 Wanted-18

03:00 Asia Pacific Ironman Championship 04:00 European PGA Tour Highlights 05:00 Spirit of Yachting 05:30 Scottish Premier League Highlights 06:00 European Tour Weekly 06:30 Spirit of a Equestrian 07:00 European PGA Tour Highlights 08:00 European Tour Weekly Review of the Year 09:00 Masters Football 12:00 ICC Cricket World 12:30 Futbol Mundial 13:30 Scottish Premier League Highlights 14:00 Spirit of a Equestrian 14:30 PDC Darts World Championship 19:30 Asia Pacific Ironman Championship 20:30 World Sport 21:00 European Tour Weekly Review of the Year 22:00 Live PDC Darts World Championship

00:40 Deep Wreck Mysteries 01:30 Deep Sea Detectives 02:20 Carlos the Jackal 03:10 Conspiracy? 04:00 The Sinking of the Royal Oak 04:55 Battles B.C. 05:50 Battle Stations 06:40 Deep Wreck Mysteries 07:30 Deep Sea Detectives 08:20 Carlos the Jackal 09:10 Conspiracy? 10:00 The Sinking of the Royal Oak 10:55 Battles B.C. 11:50 Battle Stations 12:40 Deep Wreck Mysteries 13:30 Deep Sea Detectives 14:20 Carlos the Jackal 15:10 Conspiracy? 16:00 The Sinking of the Royal Oak 16:55 Battles B.C. 17:50 Battle Stations 18:40 Deep Wreck Mysteries 19:30 Deep Sea Detectives 20:20 Carlos the Jackal 21:10 Conspiracy? 22:00 MysteryQuest 22:55 Decoding the Past 23:50 Battles B.C.

00:00 Asia Pacific Ironman Championship Highlights 01:00 European Tour Weekly 01:30 Scottish Premier League 03:30 Masters Football 06:30 Scottish Premier League Highlights 07:00 PDC World Darts Championsip 12:00 European Tour Weekly 12:30 European Tour Weekly Review of the Year 2010 13:30 World Pool Masters 14:30 Asia Pacific Ironman Championship Highlights 15:30 Futbol Mundial 16:00 Masters Football 19:00 World Sport 19:30 European Tour Weekly 20:00 Scottish Premier League Highlights

02:00 FIM World Cup 02:30 FIA GT1 World Championship 04:00 UFC 115 07:00 WWE Smackdown 09:00 WWE Bottom Line 10:00 UAE National Race Day 11:00 Full Throttle 11:30 FIM World Cup 12:00 WWE Vintage Collection 13:00 WWE Bottom Line 14:00 V8 Supercars Championship 15:00 V8 Supercars Championship 16:00 Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge 17:00 UAE National Race Day 18:00 Full Throttle 18:30 FIA GT1 World Championship 20:00 WWE NXT 21:00 UFC Wired 22:00 UFC Unleashed

00:55 Blame It On Rio 02:50 Victor/Victoria 05:00 The Screening Room 05:30 The Survivors 07:15 The Screening Room 08:00 Flipper 09:30 Hotel Paradiso 11:05 Bhowani Junction 12:55 Please Don’t Eat The Daisies 14:45 The V.I.P.S 16:40 Flipper 18:10 Crazy In Love 19:40 Angels With Dirty Faces 21:15 Desert Bloom

00:00 VH1 Rocks 00:30 Smells Like The 90s 01:00 Music For The Masses 02:00 Greatest Hits 03:00 VH1 Music 06:00 Chill Out 08:00 VH1 Hits 10:00 Aerobic 11:00 VH1 Hits 12:00 Music For The Masses 13:00 Top 10 14:00 Music For The Masses 15:00 VH1 Pop Chart 16:00 VH1 Hits 18:00 Music For The Masses 19:00 VH1 Superchart 20:00 Guess The Year 21:00 Music For The Masses 22:00 Cover Power 23:00 VH1 Pop Chart

00:00 Connect The World With Becky Anderson 01:00 Backstory 01:30 World Sport 02:00 World Report 03:00 World Report 04:00 World Business Today 05:00 The Situation Room 06:00 Anderson Cooper 360 07:00 World Sport

07:30 Talk Asia 08:00 World Report 08:30 Backstory 09:00 World Report 10:00 World Report 11:00 World Business Today 12:00 World Report 12:30 News Special 13:00 Larry King Live 14:00 World Report 14:30 World Sport 15:00 World Report 15:30 Icon 16:00 World Report 17:00 World Business Today 18:00 International Desk 19:00 The Brief 19:30 World Sport 20:00 Prism 20:30 Icon 21:00 International Desk 22:00 Quest Means Business 23:00 World One

07:00 Phineas & Ferb 07:25 Phineas & Ferb 09:55 Cars Toons 10:00 Phineas & Ferb 10:25 Phineas & Ferb 10:50 Phineas & Ferb 11:15 Phineas & Ferb 11:40 Phineas & Ferb 12:55 Cars Toons 13:00 Jump In 14:30 Kid Vs Kat 14:55 Have A Laugh 15:00 The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody 15:25 The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody 15:50 Zeke And Luther 16:15 The Super Hero Squad Show 16:45 Kick Buttowski 17:10 Cars Toons 17:15 I’m In The Band 17:40 Suite Life On Deck 18:05 Suite Life On Deck 18:30 Suite Life On Deck 18:55 Phineas & Ferb 19:20 Phineas & Ferb 19:45 Kick Buttowski 20:10 Phineas & Ferb 20:45 Phineas & Ferb 21:00 Aaron Stone 21:25 Cars Toons 21:30 Kid Vs Kat 21:55 Have A Laugh 22:00 Phineas & Ferb 22:25 I’m In The Band 22:55 The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody 23:20 The Super Hero Squad Show

00:00 Good Eats 00:30 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 01:00 Iron Chef America 02:00 30 Minute Meals 02:30 Tyler’s Ultimate 03:00 Throwdown With Bobby Flay 04:00 Barefoot Contessa - Back to Basics 04:30 Unwrapped 05:00 Iron Chef America 06:00 Good Eats 06:30 Guys Big Bite 07:00 Chopped 08:00 Paula’s Best Dishes 08:25 Good Deal with Dave Lieberman 08:50 Guys Big Bite 09:15 Barefoot Contessa - Back to Basics 09:40 Everyday Italian 10:05 30 Minute Meals 10:30 Tyler’s Ultimate 11:00 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 11:30 Winning Holiday Cookies 12:30 Paula’s Party 13:30 Guys Big Bite 14:00 Good Deal with Dave Lieberman 14:30 Paula’s Best Dishes 15:00 Barefoot Contessa - Back to Basics 15:30 Everyday Italian 16:00 30 Minute Meals 16:30 Good Eats 17:00 Iron Chef America 18:00 Barefoot Contessa 18:30 Unwrapped 19:00 Paula’s Best Dishes 19:30 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 20:00 Winning Holiday Cookies 21:00 Throwdown With Bobby Flay 22:00 Barefoot Contessa 22:30 Everyday Italian 23:00 Iron Chef America

Thursday, December 23, 2010

33 ACCOMMODATION Sharing accommodation available for executive bachelor in a furnished flat near Behbehani Complex. Contact: 65627272. (C 2927) Room for rent in Mahaboula in a 2 bedroom flat with two bathrooms near Mahaboula Complex. Preference will be given to couples, bachelor, working lady. Contact: 66216713 / 65135094. (C 2928) 23-12-2010 Sharing accommodation in Farwaniya at the back of big Jamiya, available now for couples or ladies (Filipino only). Contact: 66826412. C-A/C room available for executive bachelor with small Goan Hindu family, Amman street Salmiya. Please call 99408202. (C 2924) 22-12-2010 Sharing accommodation available for bachelor or a family at Salmiya, Amman Street, opposite Al-Rashid Hospital. Contact: 65515717. (C 2918) 21-12-2010 Sharing accommodation

available in Abbassiya for one or two working ladies or married couple with Keralite family. Contact: 66013882. (C 2908) Sharing accommodation available in Farwaniya for couples (Keralite/South Indian only) with a small Keralite family in a two bedroom C-A/C flat, easy access to bus stop & Jamiya. Please contact: 97508939 or 66786103. (C 2910) 19-12-2010 Accommodation available in Abbassiya, bath attached independent room in CA/C building, 2 bedroom 2 bathroom flat - available for nonsmoking couples with Kerala Christian family near Integrated School from December end. Rent KD 85. Please contact: 99416236. (C 2905) 18-12-2010

Abbassiya with Keralite Christian family from 2011 January 1 onwards. Contact: 66037905. (C 3000) 16-12-2010

FOR SALE Laptop (new) HP Elite Book 8440p Intel Corei7-620M (2.66Ghz) 4GB DDR3, 500GB, 14.0 HD+AG LED SVA, NVIDIA Graphics 512MB dedicated, 2.0MP Webcam, DVDRW LS, WLAN, Bluetooth, Fingerprint, Windows 7 Pofessional 32-bit, 3 yrs warranty, Send All IT Inquiries Warranty 1 year. Call: 66158602. Email: (C 2925)

persons please 99948618. (C 2930)


Central AC Flat with furniture for sale, 3 bedroom, 2 bath room & big hall. Salmiya, Amman Street. Contact: 99948618. (C 2931) 23-12-2010

C-A/C room available for a single or two bachelors with a small Indian Goan Hindu family, Amman Street, Salmiya. Please call: 99408202 / 25625932. (C 2998)

Laptop Toshiba Satellite PRO S300-15N, Intel Core2Duo 2.53 GHz, 3 GB RAM, 250 GB, DVD RW, 15.4 LCD, Wifi, Blth, Webcam, Fingerprint, Serial Port, Windows 7 Ro & XP Pro Recovery. (Send All IT Inquiries Also) Warranty 1 year. Call: 66158602. Email: (C 2926)

Toyota Camry 2002, V4, Gold color, run 240,000 km, good condition, KD 1850. Contact: 99881982. (C 2921)

Sharing accommodation available for a couple or 2 working ladies in a two bedroom C-A/C flat in

Toyota Camry GLi 2006, white color sunroof, 73000km, excellent condition, seriously interested

Pure and fresh Olive oil just arrived from Palestine, 1.5 Liter KD 4.000. Contact: 99881982. (C 2922) 22-12-2010

Toyota Corolla 2008 XLi, silver color, run 55,000 km, excellent condition, KD 3300. Contact: 99881982. (C 2923)

Mitsubishi Pajero 1992, 4 Cylinder auto transmission, silver color, good condition, KD 700 only. Call: 94980492 / 99677443. (C 2917) 21-12-2010 Expat leaving Kuwait, for sale sofa set, TV, TV stand, DVD player at best offer, viewing between 5 - 7 pm. Call: 99701641. (C 2913) 2006 Suzuki Vitara, mileage 96000 km, Clear record, black exterior/4 cylinder/full option/Auto transmission. Tel: 66526872. 20-12-2010 Selling double bed 180/200, sofa 3 seats, microwave, vacuum. Call: 67665529. (C 2907) Toyota Corolla 1.6, Model 2009, color gray, low mileage, with CD and sensor, excellent condition, cash price KD 3,550. Contact: 99934965. (C 2909)


Mitsubishi Galant Super Saloon model 1990, engine, gear, tires excellent condition, automatic gear, price KD 220. Contact: 99105286. (C 2911) Toyota Camry model 2008, silver color, 48,960km done, A.B.S 4 cylinder engine, excellent condition. Cash price KD 3,800 (Installment possible). Contact: 66507741. (C 2912) 19-12-2010 SITUATION WANTED

Finance and Accounts manager is having 21 years well experience in Kuwait, seeks suitable position with sound organization. Please contact: (C 2929) 23-12-2010

CHANGE OF NAME Blesson Philip, holder of Indian Passport No. F3975917, hereby change my name to Blessen Philip. (C 2914) Benney Philip, holder of Indian Passport No. F0929875, hereby change my name to Benny Philip. (C 2915) 21-12-2010 I, Bramha Devra Deepak Kumar, holder of Indian Passport No. E5413572, son of Anandham Anjayya, converted to Islam, do hereby change my name to Mohammed Salahuddin. (C 2901)

Need full time job as sales executive. + MBA, have license & car. join immediately, currently working as sales & recovery coordinator. Contact: 55355954, E-mail: (C 2919) 21-12-2010

No: 14947

MATRIMONIAL Proposal invited for Pak. Muslim daughter, Dr. of Pharmacy, on job in Kwt, good height, smart, from reasonable qualified match through parents. Contact. PO. Box. 1329, 83001, Khaitan, Email: (C 2920) 22-12-2010 Marthomite parents living in Kuwait invite proposals for their son 27/168 BE Bio Medical Engineer, from B Sc Ministry nurse in Kuwait. E-mail: 21-12-2010 FOR AIRPORT INFORMATION 161

In case you are not travelling, your proper cancellation of bookings will help other passengers to use seats Airlines KLM WAN JZR KAC WAN GFA THY UAE DHX QTR FDB ETD KAC JZR KAC JZR FCX BAW KAC FDB KAC KAC KAC KAC UAE ABY QTR IRA ETD GFA WAN KAC JZR JZR MEA KNE SVA KAC MSR JZR KAC FDB MSR SYR UAL SVA KAC KNE KAC JZR JZR


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134 546 3511 403 303 857 118 215 402 510 800 777 562 239 127 322 97 227 177 304 542 618 106 786 614 674 104 774 617 642 458 93 61 647 572 618 372 217 201 136 445 859 178 513 502 606 981 402 612 185 135 981 389


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636 802 108 205



Departure Flights on Thursday 23/12/2010 Flt Route



394 981 576 216 447 637 203 283 773 371 68 854 306 139 98 560 164 212 120 54 545 356 156 671 256 551 771 101 856 124 133 606 302 214 165 541 776 238 561 405 704 785 176 611 2401 58

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23:35 23:50 23:55 23:55

Directorate General of Civil Aviation Home Page (


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



Thursday, December 23, 2010



Aries (March 21-April 19) We seldom recapture the past but a friend of yours may say they know just how to return to the days of the past. As it turns out, there may be a new exhibit or play or antique store in town that you didn?t know about. Plan your trip after work; you will be glad you did. You benefit from allowing your creative and intuitive sides to come forth as you work on an art project this evening. A new mailbox, the family crest or some other fun project has you making a list of all the things you need to show off your talents. You may find a good opportunity to draw closer to a young family member--art is the connection. A loved one really understands your need to be creative and is supportive of your rather interesting interests. Taurus (April 20-May 20) A co-worker shares a cooking secret and you are impressed. People have been bringing different items to work all winter and it just may be time you thought of something that others could enjoy, particularly a low-fat item. A business idea is discussed with a friend or ride-share person after work and the proposition may not be a good one. You can find a way to say no without seeming offended. This evening you are ready to enjoy a gathering of friends. In fact, your friends may have some good use for some of your talents, or it could be that in sharing talents, you will uncover the potential for a future neighborhood choir or dance group. A camera would not be a bad idea and then at the next gathering a fun show and tell can bring much laughter.

Pooch Cafe

ACROSS 1. The use of nuclear magnetic resonance of protons to produce proton density images. 4. Wear away through erosion or vaporization. 10. A condition (mostly in boys) characterized by behavioral and learning disorders. 13. An association of countries in the western hemisphere. 14. A Japanese woman trained to entertain men with conversation and singing and dancing. 15. A column of light (as from a beacon). 16. (Irish) Mother of the ancient Irish gods. 17. United States comedian. 19. Waterfall in Canada is the Horseshoe Falls. 21. A unit of length of thread or yarn. 23. A public promotion of some product or service. 24. A white metallic element that burns with a brilliant light. 26. The blood group whose red cells carry both the A and B antigens. 28. English theoretical physicist who applied relativity theory to quantum mechanics and predicted the existence of antimatter and the positron (19021984). 31. Type genus of the family Arcidae. 34. Of a pale purple color. 35. A clique that seeks power usually through intrigue. 38. A colorless and odorless inert gas. 39. A small pellet fired from an air rifle or BB gun. 40. The cry made by sheep. 42. A flexible container with a single opening. 43. Counting the number of white and red blood cells and the number of platelets in 1 cubic millimeter of blood. 46. A very poisonous metallic element that has three allotropic forms. 48. A flat wing-shaped process or winglike part of an organism. 50. An annual award for outstanding achievements in television. 52. The basic unit of money in Bangladesh. 56. Panel forming the lower part of an interior wall when it is finished differently from the rest. 57. Fish eggs or egg-filled ovary. 58. Advanced in years. 59. The organ of sight (`peeper' is an informal term for `eye'). 62. A small cake leavened with yeast. 63. Perennial herb of East India to Polynesia and Australia cultivated for its large edible root yielding Otaheite arrowroot starch. 64. Any of various spiny trees or shrubs of the genus Acacia. 66. An adult male person (as opposed to a woman). 67. Of a light yellowish-brown color n 1. 68. Highly seasoned fatty sausage of pork and beef usually dried. 69. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. DOWN 1. An utterance expressing pain or disapproval. 2. (the feminine of raja) A Hindu princess or the wife of a raja. 3. (Old Testament) The second patriarch. 4. Title for a civil or military leader (especially in Turkey). 5. Someone whose employment involves carrying something. 6. The basic unit of money on Malta. 7. Of southern Europe. 8. A holder attached to the gunwale of a boat that holds the oar in place and acts as a fulcrum for rowing. 9. (Akkadian) God of wisdom. 10. A constellation in the southern hemisphere near Telescopium and Norma. 11. A Chadic language spoken south of Lake Chad. 12. Two items of the same kind. 18. American dwarf fan palms. 20. A member of an agricultural people in southeastern India. 22. A trivalent metallic element of the rare earth group. 25. Someone who works (or provides workers) during a strike. 27. Top part of an apron. 29. The United Nations agency concerned with civil aviation. 30. A radioactive element of the actinide series. 32. A compartment in front of a motor vehicle where driver sits. 33. Electrical conduction through a gas in an applied electric field. 36. A soft silvery metallic element of the alkali earth group. 37. Title for a civil or military leader (especially in Turkey). 41. North American republic containing 50 states - 48 conterminous states in North America plus Alaska in northwest North America and the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean. 42. The basic unit of money on Malta. 44. Of or relating to or characteristic of Hades or Tartarus. 45. Without moral standards or principles. 47. A thrusting blow with a knife. 49. Genus of western United States annuals with showy yellow or white flowers. 51. Joint capital (with Riyadh) of Saudi Arabia. 53. Small terrestrial lizard of warm regions of the Old World. 54. Cubes of meat marinated and cooked on a skewer usually with vegetables. 55. A city in southern Turkey on the Seyhan River. 60. Any of several small ungulate mammals of Africa and Asia with rodentlike incisors and feet with hooflike toes. 61. An anticipated outcome that is intended or that guides your planned actions. 65. The branch of computer science that deal with writing computer programs that can solve problems creatively.

Gemini (May 21-June 20) Cleaning off a desk at work reminds you of plans to rearrange living arrangements. Today you may reassess your attitude toward marriage. If you are engaged, you may add a few more months to the wedding date. A little extra time will help you think through some ideas. If you are already married, consider a redo on a room and plan to share. One area could be for reading; another section could have an easel set up for art projects. Provide a rather large area for storage of games, art project baskets, etc. You may want to sew or write or learn a new talent and not be interrupted. Perhaps this room can have reservations so that others can enjoy a little creative time or you could work together. A faithful friend brings you encouragement this evening.

Non Sequitur

Cancer (June 21-July 22) You need freedom and action. You are an optimist. You are open to new ideas. You go through the newspapers and news on the Internet and feel ready for any conversation. Your job could depend on how well you can carry on a conversation with the public about current events. You stay up-to-date with the multitude of new technology; you can teach and demonstrate and are always in demand as an instructor, whether it is in the school system or for helping businesses to prosper. You enjoy the learning process and can be contagious when it comes to teaching others. Lately you have considered writing a childrenís book where you can be encouraging. Some additional education in general psychology may be very helpful here. Leo (July 23-August 22) This morning is a good time to complete unfinished tasks. Whether you are in the work place or at home, you seem to make great headway in getting things accomplished. You have to be pushy to get to the top of the professional ladder and if that is where your dreams are headed, this next year ought to be quite beneficial. Begin now to create some goals for this next year and while you work you could jot down a few thoughts as they come to you. This afternoon you may decide to enter into some game playing. A co-worker may want to get a team together. Some highly competitive games, such as one-on-one basketball, squash, handball, etc., can be a lot of fun. Much to your sweetheartís pleasure, you turn into a passionate lover tonight.


Virgo (August 23-September 22) You know you are on the right path in order to achieve what is needed and to put you in the best line of growth with the company for which you work. You want to learn as much as you can because some day, when you are ready, you will be able to create your own business. Donít sell yourself short with the creative talents that you have. Keep stretching and learning new things. The more varied you are with your capabilities; the more likely you are to keep your job going. A co-worker may need your help today and this is a good time to work with that person and to teach them the work. When you are agreeable and helpful, you are in line for advancement. Keep up the good work. You have a new and positive attitude about life and your place in it.

Mother Goose and Grimm

Libra (September 23-October 22) Financial investments are important for the future but if there is something you want now it would be difficult if your money is in financial investments. This is something you do not want to happen, although the energies show you a bit frustrated over money. You are smart enough to have set enough funds aside for a rainy day but you may have forgotten a fun day. Get some help soon so that in the near future, some of what you earn can be enjoyed through the development of a talent or a hobby or a vacation. Another subject about money comes up when the community wants to build a memorial or do helpful things for animals, etc. A planning committee may be just where your energies are best spent this evening. Scorpio (October 23-November 21) Technical answers may be hard to find today. The thought of going back to school does not please you but this class may be the one that will help you excel in the work place. You are enthusiastic to volunteer and look for new projects frequently. Informational seminars on a variety of health topics may soon take place in your community and people are needed to help with the handicapped or elderly. People are also needed to take healthy and warm food to the elderly. You may find that you and a friend will enjoy teaming up to help in one or more of these situations. There is, at the least, some talk of how you and this friend can best be helpful to your community. You help young people see the importance of caring for others through your actions. Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) When the time is appropriate call or ask someone about the date and place for the next meeting or presentation. You can then learn the details of going to live with a family in another country for weeks, or months--or having an international student come and stay in your own home. This is a way to reach out to other countries and learn more about their customs, beliefs and living habits and make new friends. We cannot have a one-world-at-peace until we know more about our brothers and sisters that are in other countries. This is a good time for you to check out the possibilities. You are in a good position to communicate to others and to be convincing.

Yesterday’s Solution


Yesterday’s Solution


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

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

Damascus Allepo Tunisia Rabat Washington New York Paris London Madrid Zurich Geneva Monaco Rome Bangkok

0096311 0096321 0021610 002127 001212 001718 00331 004471 00341 00411 004122 0033 00396 00662

Word Sleuth Solution

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) This day begins early and if you show up at the office early, it will allow you to take advantage of some quiet time to catch up on those unfinished projects. Clean up your space, make things look nice and then you are ready for the day. This afternoon you may have lots of fun catching up on a photo album. Calling a friend and talking about old friends brings back good memories and ideas for projects that would interest the young people around you. Creation consists of: Thought, Word and Deed. Your day just keeps getting better and better. Chores are finished quickly this afternoon and a good movie can be enjoyed in the early evening. A friend of the opposite sex has good news to share and may need a little time to tell you all about it; patience.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) With your kind of discipline you are able to accomplish quite a lot today. When it comes to the people you work with, you appreciate what is aboveboard and straightforward and have a particular distaste for anything that is secretive, intense and private. Today you may want to verbalize your disdain at the above but perhaps it would be best to wait a few days. Give as little time to the negative as possible. It may turn out that things are not what they seem. A former business associate may contact you today and you may want to listen to what they have to say. After work, you may enjoy shopping. Everything is like a winter type of festival. You can purchase a gift for a birthday or wedding such as baked goods, pottery, sterling silver, etc. Pisces (February 19-March 20) There may be a tiny lazy streak wanting to surface today and could cause you to ignore your responsibilities and do some socializing. However, reality has a way of rearing its head and getting your attention. You may not be up to your regular work this day but it-takes-what-it-takes. With resolve, you are successful in your endeavors. Before you know it, all the clues point to the exit . . . it is time to go home. After your struggle to do the very best job for your company, you may find yourself bartering with family members for a little time out tonight. You may barter to join the people that have planned a particular outing a little later in the evening, napping first. Leave a party early; there is work tomorrow. For now, you have been mentally refreshed.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

35 FIRE BRIGADE Operation Room 112 Al-Madena 22418714 Al-Shohada始a 22545171 Al-Shuwaikh 24810598 Al-Nuzha 22545171 Sabhan 24742838 Al-Helaly 22434853 Al-Fayhaa 22545051 Al-Farwaniya 24711433 Al-Sulaibikhat 24316983 Al-Fahaheel 23927002 Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh 24316983 Ahmadi 23980088 Al-Mangaf 23711183 Al-Shuaiba 23262845 Al-Jahra 25610011 Al-Salmiya 25616368

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始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

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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. Amer Zawaz Al-Amer 22610044 Dr. Mohammad Yousef Basher 25327148

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

Rheumatologists: Dr. Adel Al-Awadi 25330060 Dr. Khaled Al-Jarallah 25722290

(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



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

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

im Kardashian’s most heartbreaking Christmas gift was a puppy which died after two weeks. The reality TV star was given the pet when she “was really little”, but it sadly passed away soon af ter from “snail poisoning”. She explained: “Valentina was its name, but then she died two weeks later because she had snail poisoning - you know when snails leave a little trail? She got super excited and ate it and died.” However, Kim has enjoyed more happy Christmases than miserable ones and is looking forward to following her family’s Christmas Eve tradi-


tions this week and getting to wear pyjamas all day on Christmas Day . She added to website Just Jared: “Every Christmas Eve we have a Christmas Eve party, after my grandma would give everyone in the family a set of pyjamas that are some holiday theme - like flannel pyjamas. We have to wear them to bed and have to be at my mom’s house at 6am, no later. Then we go crazy opening gifts all wearing the pyjamas all day.” Kim, 30, also revealed she and her older sister Kourtney, 31, were very different on Christmas morning when they were opening their presents. She said:

“Kourtney would come down on Christmas morning and wouldn’t care, she didn’t really care that it was Christmas, while I was like, ‘Oh my God! I got a puppy!’ “We were so different for my mom it was so weird, especially Kourtney because she was so not emotional and she thought that that’s how all kids were going to turn out. But I love Christmas, it’s our family’s favourite holiday.” Kim and her younger sister, Khloe, 26, were worried they would be stranded in South Africa due to adverse weather conditions preventing their plane from taking off, but they eventually made it back to the US.

he ‘Water for Elephants’ actress - who has two children, Ava, 11, and Deacon, seven, with ex-husband Ryan Phillippe - is looking forward to the holiday season as it gives her time to work on a shelter for her pets, including pigs Booker T Washington and Lavender Valentine, goats George and Martha Washington and donkeys, Honky and Tonky. She said: “I’m building a barn. I think it’s cool. I really do have animal friends, I have donkeys, I have goats, I have pigs. “I wanted the donkeys to be called Honky Tonk and Badonkadonk but the kids weren’t so into it. They didn’t know what ‘badonkadonk’ meant. So apparently I am doing some good parenting. “Do I milk them? No. The goats are kind of worthless. They’re pretty nasty and don’t do anything. But I have chickens and they provide eggs.” Badonkadonk is an American slang term used to describe an extremely curvaceous, voluptuous and bouncy female behind, which usually belongs to a woman with a small waist. As well as building a barn, Reese - who is now in a relationship with Hollywood agent Jim Toth - is looking forward to welcoming her extended family for the holidays. She told TV talk show host Chelsea Handler: “I’ll just be hanging out with my kids and I’ll be cooking, my whole family is coming in from Tennessee, which will be fun.”

Hilton’s plane evacuated after knife scare


aris Hilton was among passengers evacuated from a plane after a knife was found on board. The heiress and her boyfriend Cy Waits were on an aircraft destined for the Hawaiian island of Maui when it was detained at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) after a passenger found a four-inch serrated knife in a seat pocket. Writing on her twitter page, Paris said: “We were about to take off then security made everyone deplane because they found a big knife on board the plane. Scary that it got on plane. “They just finished the security sweep of the plane. About to board again. So strange a knife got on board. Can’t wait to get to Maui.” However it was quickly revealed the knife was in fact a box-cutter belonging to the airline crew and passengers were soon allowed back on board. Police were not called as airline officials knew who the blade belonged to. Paris later updated her twitter account to reveal she and Cy finally made it to Maui. She wrote: “Just landed safely in Maui. Aloha! “Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on earth! So happy to be here! :) (sic)” The pair have joined Paris’ sister Nicky Hilton and her boyfriend David Katzenberg for a pre-Christmas break on the island. Paris tweeted: “Hanging out with my love, @NickyHilton and @DavidKatzenberg. So nice to be with family and loved ones.”


shley Jensen is excited about Christmas again since becoming a mother. The ‘Ugly Betty’ star - who has a 14-month-old son Frankie with her husband, English actor Terence Beesley - is looking forward to the big day this year more than she has in years because of her son, even though she accepts he is too young to know exactly what’s going on. She said: “He’s still too young to fully embrace the joys of the festive season but the fact that he’s starting to be aware of the world around him is the perfect excuse to reembrace those wonderful traditions - like leaving out a mince pie for Santa on Christmas Eve.” The 41-year-old star admits the festive season had


slightly lost its appeal for her in recent years and is delighted that Frankie’s arrival has changed her attitude. She added: “Before Frankie came along, it was all a bit forced. Now I can be all festive again!” However, Ashley admitted it is quite difficult to celebrate Christmas in the stifling heat of L os Angeles, where she and her family’s permanent home is. She explained: “It’s not easy living in Los Angeles and celebrating Christmas. Being in warm sunshine isn’t great for putting oneself in the mood. Going to the shopping mall, where they blow fake snow from a machine every hour on the hour while the PA system plays ‘White Christmas’ doesn’t quite do it for me.”

50 Centʼs home broken into 0 Cent’s home has been broken into. Police were called to the 52-room mansion in Connecticut yesterday after security guards saw a suspicious car in the driveway and officers promptly arrested two men, after finding one of them inside a closet. According to gossip website TMZ, the two suspects entered through an unlocked door and were in possession of marijuana when police arrived to the home. Both men were arrested and have been held on $50,000 bond. While the ‘Candy Shop’ hitmaker is the owner of a huge 52bedroom mansion, earlier this year he revealed he doesn’t


rince Frederic von Anhalt, who has been married to the Hungarian-born actress for 24 years, had to receive emergency medical treatment at a Beverly Hills clinic after mistaking nail glue for eye drops and must now wear a patch for two weeks. The couple’s publicist John Blanchette said: “It was dark and he grabbed his wife’s nail glue instead of eye drops.” Prince Frederic added: “It was stupid. She doesn’t use it anymore.” This is not the first time the 66-year-old German socialite - who is 93-year-old Zsa Zsa’s ninth husband - has been hospitalized with a bizarre injury in recent months. In October, he needed medical assistance after accidentally swallowing a bee, which stung the inside of his throat. Zsa Zsa has been plagued with ill health this year after falling out of bed and undergoing a hip replacement operation in July. At one point, a priest was called in to read the star her last rites. Prince Frederick has previously revealed he wants his wife’s body to be plastinated and put on show when she dies so her beauty will last forever. He said: “My wife has always dreamt that her beauty would be immortal. I would like to show the plastinated body of Zsa Zsa Gabor in the context of a scene in one of her films.” —Bang Showbiz

P Hathaway moves in with a man A

nne Hathaway has reportedly moved in with her boyfriend. The ‘Love and Other Drugs’ star is said to have taken her two-year romance with actor Adam Shulman to another level and agreed to live with him in his New York apartment. A source told Life & Style magazine: “She’s moved into his Brooklyn pad. They’ve been together for a long time, so she’s confident about moving in with him.” Anne started dating Adam shortly after splitting from Raffaello Follieri - who was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison in 2008 after pleading guilty to cheating investors out of millions of dollars - and though she was left “embarrassed” by the end of her previous relationship, she insists it never put her off the idea of finding love again. She told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: “I felt so foolish initially, and I expected everyone to judge me, but all I got from family members, friends and strangers - from every corner - was compassion. I found it so humbling, and it really got me through everything. “Goodness, it was a bad relationship. It was an embarrassing break-up, but what I went through is not that big a deal compared to what many people go through. “I think the thing that I have learnt is that a bad love experience is no reason to fear a new love experience. Everybody has bad relationships and, at the end of the day, they are just a great way to set yourself up for a good relationship.”

think his $400 million fortune is enough. The rapper said his troubled upbringing made him believe that having a lot of money would solve all his problems, and even though he no longer thinks that is the case, he always strives to do better. He said: “$400 million? I’m not sure how much I have, but that sounds great. I don’t really think it’ll ever be enough. I used to equate success with my finances because I didn’t have anything, and when you don’t have any money, it seems money is the answer to all your problems. Then you get money, and you’ve got a whole new set of problems.”


Thursday, December 23, 2010



At Christmas, elves in Quebec become lumber jacks By Sophie Fougeres


even-year-old Marie, wading through snow up to her knees, squealed in delight at one of Santa’s helpers: “Elf, elf, come here. I found my Christmas tree!” The elf, who was actually a 20-year-old red-haired man in a pointed hat and colorful tunic, smartly chopped down a two-meter (seven foot) bushy evergreen with a handsaw. He was just one of several elves at Plantations Fernet, a sprawling tree farm in Saint-Cuthbert in Quebec’s countryside, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Montreal. The farm is a winter wonderland that creates holiday magic for thousands of families eager to enjoy a tractor-pulled hay ride into the snow-covered forest to pick their ideal Christmas tree. The elves then invite the children and their parents into a century-old wood cabin to warm up amid the glow and crackle of logs burning in a cast iron stove. Those with hearty appetites head to a huge barn for vegetable soup, pancakes and sausages smothered in maple syrup. Others enjoy the sugar shack, where boiling hot sugar is poured onto the snow for kids to roll up on maple-covered popsicles-so called “sugar on snow.” All this entertainment is part of an effort over the last decade to boost business on the tree farms through diversification. Thanks to its notoriously cold winters, Canada has long been known for its prized coniferous trees, in particular its Balsam firs-the most popular species of Christmas tree in North America. At the beginning of the century, nearly two million Canadian Christmas trees were sold every year to the United States and Mexico. In recent years, however, industry competition and a strong Canadian dollar have pushed down exports from 1.8 million in 2008 to 1.7 million in 2009. And more and more North Americans are now buying artificial trees made in China. According to Statistics Canada, Canadians imported 44 million dollars worth of artificial trees in 2007. For many Canadians there is nothing sweeter at Christmas time than the smell of a freshly cut Balsam fir in the living room. The tradition of using evergreens as Christmas trees in Canada dates back to the 1780s. “Back in the old days, families went into the forest, found a big tree and chopped off the top of it, “said Cecile Grandchamp, who runs Plantations Fernet. “It’s a Quebec tradition, a magic I wanted to revive.”Plantations Fernet tries to enrich the experience for families by offering kids additional winter activities such as sledging, horse drawn sleigh rides, and a chance to meet Santa himself. The farm also has a boutique that sells maple sugar products and locally made handicrafts. During the rest of the winter season, the farm provides a good pit stop for snowmobilers interested in having a drink at the farm’s bar or a hot meal on a cold, snowy day. The farm’s efforts to diversify and please customers have paid off; more than 10,000 visitors come to Plantations Fernet every year before Christmas. Once families choose their trees and bring them back on the tractor, excited children wait for the “dance of the Christmas tree”-when a mechanical shaker that vibrates and detaches all the loose needles. The tree is

A pair of 10-storey high robotic cranes, the world’s largest animatronics spectacle created by Emmy Award winner Jeremy Railton “dance” during an outdoor show at Resorts World Sentosa, one of Singapore’s main tourist attractions yesterday. —AP

Lebanon’s disabled war veterans spread Christmas cheer By Mohamad Ali Harissi


echara was only 19 when, fighting for one of Lebanon’s many militias during the 1975-1990 civil war, he was wounded in battle as a bullet lodged itself in his spine. Thirty-four years later, from his wheelchair, he is crafting Christmas gifts for children across his native Lebanon, a still-divided country that risks sliding back into chaos at any moment.”My biggest hope is that Lebanon will no longer know war,” said the 53-year-old from his work station at the Lebanese Institute for the Disabled, where he paints mistletoes and pictures of Saint Nicholas onto tablecloths. The institute, located in the charming mountain village of Beit Shabab some 24 kilometers (15 miles) east of Beirut, has

given Bechara and dozens others the chance to rebuild their lives after the bloody 15-year civil war, which left more than 150,000 dead and thousands missing and maimed. The war, which initially pitted leftist and Palestinian factions against rightwing Christians, quickly escalated into a free-for-all sectarian bloodbath. But two decades after the end of the conflict, tensions again grip the tiny Mediterranean country as the UNbacked Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), tasked with investigating the 2005 murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, is reportedly ready to implicate the powerful Hezbollah in the assassination. The STL has been at the centre of a political face-off between Westernbacked Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son

of Rafiq, and pro-Iranian Hezbollah, which has launched an increasingly heated campaign to fend off any such accusations. And while tensions grip Lebanon this holiday season, Bechara, who asked that his family name not be used, for his part is hoping that his craftsmanship will bring a little happiness to the Lebanese. “Art has given me the strength to continue living, to fight in another way,” Bechara, who learned to paint in his hospital bed, told AFP. Bechara and 14 other disabled persons working at the Beit Shabab centre live in a hostel next to the institute. One, who gave his name only as Jihad, also received a bullet wound to his spine in 1985 while fighting what he says were his “Muslim enemies.” From his wheelchair, he is carving candles shaped like doves to adorn dinner tables

around the country this Christmas. “Crafts have become my weapon,” said the gaunt 40-year-old. “Being a craftsman has given me a role to replace the one that I played in combat.”I do not believe in violence, and I have been trying to compensate through my work those things that I missed out on in life.” The veterans of Beit Shabab are having a good season this year, and sometimes craft up to 100 pieces each a day, which sell for between 20 and 100 dollars (15 to 79 euros) per item. Their work is on display at Christmas exhibitions across Lebanon and has also featured in fairs in Toronto, as demand for the sentimental work continues to rise .And in turbulent Lebanon, demand for the little doveshaped candles, a message of peace, is

highest, says Jihad. Abdo, who has also been bound to his wheelchair since 1983, for his part makes and paints porcelain coffee cups and plates. “I thought I would die in the four or five months after I was wounded,” the 46year-old told AFP, also requesting that his family name not be used.”But here, I discovered that life was still worth living.” Marie Khoury, another former combatant who was in charge of a communication centre, looks much older than her 44 years. And while the paraplegic can barely move her hands, she nonetheless manages to display her paintings of landscapes and gardens with pride.”It has taught me to dream, taken my mind away from politics and war,” she said.”Violence leads to nothing.” —AFP

Two boys dressed as elves are reflected on a decoration hanged on a Christmas tree. —AFP

Protesters shut Nepal bungee jump bridge in ownership row


ngry protesters have closed a famous bungee jump in Nepal in a dispute over ownership of the bridge from which tourists dive into a narrow gorge while attached to an elastic cord. The Last Resort bungee jump, 160 meters (520 feet) above the raging Bhote Kosi river, boasts one of the longest free-fall bungee dives in the world, but the row has brought the high-adrenaline action to a halt. The suspension bridge was purpose-built for bungee jumping in 2000, close to the border with Tibet, by a private company that had scoured the region for the perfect adventure sports location. Locals are allowed to use the bridge to cross the gorge, saving them a five-hour walk, but they say it was agreed that they would take control of the bridge after 10 years.”The promise made by them remains unfulfilled. So yesterday we padlocked it shut with chains. We will continue the protest unless our demand is met,” Sanghu Sherpa, one of the campaign leaders, told AFP yesterday. The Last Resort company says it promotes responsible tourism by donating money from every jump to local infrastructure projects and adds that the bridge helps development by giving villagers easy access to a main road. “We made development of the area our first priority and gave the locals free access to the bridge and we also help in education. We also provide employment,” said Bishnu Neupane, director of the company. “But the locals felt that this was not enough and now they want to claim the ownership of the bridge,” he added. “There was an agreement for them to take over if the company left, and we have not gone anywhere.” Neupane said that all tourists had been vacated from the resort to avoid the protesters. “There is no one staying here now, the bridge is locked up, and we are hoping the dis-

A Lebanese disabled man draws on a drape at an exhibition for artisanal works for disabled people at the hospital of Beit Chabab northeast of Beirut on December 3, 2009. —AFP photos

Abdo, who became physically disabled following wounds sustained during Lebanon’s civil war, paints on a mug.

Mary Khoury, physically disabled during Lebanon’s civil war, paints during a workshop.

Joseph, another physically disabled during Lebanon’s civil war, paints on a drape during a workshop.



Thursday, December 23, 2010


2010 was a ‘Perfect Gift’ for Canadian Tenors By Mike Cidoni year after releasing their first hit album, the Canadian Tenors are delivering “The Perfect Gift,” a compilation of traditional and contemporary holiday music.”You have the classics like ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Silent Night,’ but there are songs that are not necessarily Christmas-specific,” explained tenor Victor Micallef. “Some great producers worked on that, as well,” added band mate Clifton Murray. “‘Hallelujah’ was (produced by) Bob Ezrin, who worked on ‘The Wall.”‘ That’s as in Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” — just one of many aspects of The Tenors that may surprise. The quartet’s clean-cut, all-North American looks scream “pre-fab,” and, indeed, the band was the brainchild of Canadian composer Jill Ann Siemens, who first started work on the project some 10 years ago. The current configuration of the group is Victor Micallef, Clifton Murray, Remigio


Pereira and Fraser Walters, who said that while they might not have come together organically, that’s precisely how they’ve stayed together. “Unlike some of these other pre-fab groups, there is a lot of money involved and everything,” Pereira said. “We started grassroots and just slowly built up. We cut our teeth on the road doing that. That is how it all happened.” The recent holiday album was released in October, months after the group’s debut album “The Canadian Tenors” ranked at the top of Billboard’s Classical Albums chart. Before making inroads in the US, Pereira said, the group did 12 shows in 12 small towns in Canada’s western Saskatchewan province without hitting the two main cities-Saskatoon and Regina. By late 2009, the Tenors had built a solid Canadian following, then caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey, who invited the members to be guests on her TV show. After that February 2010 appearance, the quartet quickly experienced the

Jennifer Hudson ʻFeeling Goodʼ about weight loss he won’t say how much weight she lost, but singer/actress Jennifer Hudson will say that in the nine months she’s been a spokeswoman for Weight Watchers, she has never felt better. Hudson is even singing about it in a new tune, “Feeling Good,” which is part of an ad campaign the dieting firm is launching on Dec 26 to coincide with its new nutritional PointsPlus program. Weight Watchers said roughly 11 percent of its annual attendance at meetings takes place in January, as Americans look to atone for their holiday-related binges. “Basically (the song) is the perfect way to describe this journey and how it’s left me feeling,” Hudson told Reuters. “If I could bottle everything inside me and tell others to help motivate them, then this is it.” Hudson and her gospelgrounded voice found their place on Hollywood’s starmaking menu in 2004 when she was a finalist on “American Idol,” and further when she won an Oscar for her supporting role in the 2006 musical “Dreamgirls.” But in an industry obsessed with skinny women, Hudson has been challenged by her big size. In April, Hudson announced she would become the new spokeswoman for Weight Watchers. It was about seven months after the birth of her son, David Jr., and at that time she had already lost some weight. By August, she told InStyle


Makeover magazine she’d dropped to a size 6 from a size 16. The company’s marketing chief, Cheryl Callan, called Hudson a great spokeswoman because people identify with her as a real woman who struggles with weight and eating issues, yet has found success in Hollywood. Hudson blogs about her diet on Weight Watchers’ website, and she said that building a network of friends and a community of followers among the diet community gives her as much pleasure as losing weight has. “That goes back to why I did the song,” Hudson said. “I know so many people out there who are on the same path. Anything I can do to help them along, that motivates me, and inspires me.” Yet, Hudson said she is still grappling with knowing herself in her thinner frame. She said she still feels like the same woman, but is aware that people now view her differently. “It’s almost like there is a new person, but there is still the question of how do I want to represent myself, how do I wasn’t to be perceived,” she said. She knows one thing, however, she is sticking to Weight Watchers in the new year. She has embraced its new PointsPlus program, which does away with calorie counting and assigns points to foods based on their overall nutritional value. The new program favors foods that more easily convert to energy that is used, create a sense of satisfaction and encourage the consumption of natural foods versus those with added sugar and fat. “It’s one thing to lose weight,” said Hudson, “but it’s another thing to eat healthy.”— Reuters

In this Oct 8, 2010 photo, the Canadian Tenors, from left, Fraser Walters, Clifton Murray, Victor Micallef and Remigio Pereira pose for a photo in Los Angeles. —AP

Judge to decide Jackson syringe testing issues By Anthony McCartney judge overseeing the criminal case of a doctor charged in Michael Jackson’s death has scheduled a hearing to determine if medical items found in the singer’s bedroom should undergo more testing that defense attorneys contend is crucial to the case. Attorneys for Dr Conrad Murray have been asking for months that fluids in two syringes and an IV bag found in Jackson’s rented mansion be tested to determine how much of the anesthetic propofol and painkiller lidocaine they contained. Coroner’s officials ruled Jackson died of acute propofol intoxication. Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor will hear the testing arguments on Dec 29 —six days before


Murray is scheduled to appear for what is expected to be a lengthy, detailed preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for the cardiologist to stand trial. Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Murray’s attorneys have struck an urgent tone regarding the need to test the medical items, saying the evidence is deteriorating. They have described the fluids in one of the syringes as having turned to “salt” and contended the testing should have been done after Jackson’s death in June 2009. Coroner’s officials say in court filings the testing was not necessary to determine Jackson’s cause of death. Prosecutors have downplayed the significance and refused to enter into an agreement with Murray about

In this March 5, 2009 file photo, US singer Michael Jackson is shown at a press conference in London. —AP

testing the items. The tests are likely to destroy the samples. In a document filed Friday, coroner’s officials laid out an experimental testing procedures they can use if Murray’s motion is approved. One of Murray’s attorneys, J. Michael Flanagan, argued in a court filing the delay in testing the syringes might hurt the doctor’s defense. “An essential fact in this case is not only how much propofol was in Michael Jackson’s body but how it was put into his body,” Flanagan wrote. “Since further degradation and deterioration of the evidence makes it increasingly more difficult to test, the prejudice to the defendant is increasing.” District attorney’s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said prosecutors had not filed a response to Murray’s motion. —AP

hristian Kane’s dual careers as an actor playing a martial arts expert on TV and a singer of country music with a new album might seem odd to some, but to Kane, the two jobs are a natural fit. In fact, the 36-year-old’s first acting role was portraying a country singer. Having been kicked out of the University of Oklahoma where he studied art (but joked that he majored in women and drinks), Kane heard about TV show “Fame LA,” so he headed to Hollywood and landed a part.


In this Feb 8, 2010 file photo, Michael Jackson’s physician, Conrad Murray arrives for his arraignment at the Airport Branch Courthouse in Los Angeles. —AP

Beatles ‘Abbey Road’ crossing given heritage status legendary London zebra crossing featured on the cover of The Beatles’ album “Abbey Road” has been designated a heritage site, the British government said yesterday. Heritage minister John Penrose said the decision to list the black-and-white crossing in north London was a “fantastic testimony to the international fame of the Beatles”. Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr are seen walking across the road in the picture on the sleeve of their 1969 album. The crossing is outside the Abbey Road studios where it was recorded. McCartney welcomed the news, which comes in a big year for the band after their songs went on sale on Apple’s iTunes for the first


A file photo taken on August 7, 2009, shows a person holding a print of the famous Abbey Road Beatles record cover, at the same pedestrian crossing on Abbey Road, in north London. —AFP

Chris Brown ‘proud’ he finished class on violence

By Etan Vlessing

&B singer Chris Brown took to Twitter on Tuesday to tell fans he completed domestic violence classes that were part of his sentence for assaulting ex-girlfriend Rihanna and that he was proud of finishing them. “I have enough self respect and decency to be proud of accomplishing this DV class.. Boyz run from their mistakes.. Men learn from them!!!thx,” Brown tweeted. Earlier on Twitter, he posted a picture of his certificate showing he had completed the course and said, “im done with class”. Brown, 21, pleaded guilty last year to attacking Rihanna during an argument on the eve the Grammy Awards in 2009. He was sentenced to five years of probation, community service and the year-long domestic violence course. Last month, the Los Angeles judge overseeing Brown’s probation praised the singer of hits like “Kiss Kiss” on his progress, telling him that “no one has done a better or more consistent job than you have” in meeting the requirements of probation. —Reuters


“I got my first acting role because I was a singer,” he told Reuters. “I’ve been fortunate that the music has never taken a back seat, it just didn’t come as fast for me as the acting did.” “Fame LA” lasted only a brief time before being yanked off the air, but it led to bigger-and better-jobs for Kane. And his dual careers continue to feed off each other. He and his band released an album, “The House Rules,” this month and his new show in which he portrays the martial arts expert, TNT’s “Leverage,” is now in its third season. The program’s star, Timothy Hutton, directed the video for

Kane’s single, “The House Rules,” while the two were taping the show. “A lot of people don’t know he (Hutton) directed ‘Drive’ by the Cars, and also videos by Don Henley and Neil Young. We sat in the trailer every day and came up with ideas,” Kane said. The singer-songwriter’s album cuts across his broad musical background, combining rock roots with lyrics that owe much to the storytelling tradition of country music. Country in LA “We were writing our stuff when we

time. “It’s been a great year for me and a great year for the Beatles and hearing that the Abbey Road crossing is to be preserved is the icing on the cake,” McCartney said. It is the first time that Britain has given so-called Grade II status to a site that is not a building. “It is a fantastic testimony to the international fame of the Beatles that, more than 40 years on, this crossing continues to attract thousands of visitors each year, trying to mimic their iconic Abbey Road album cover,” Penrose said. “Abbey Road” was the best-selling Beatles album on iTunes in the United States since the band’s debut on the site in November. This month marks 30 years since Lennon was gunned down in Manhattan in December 1980.— AFP

Leonard Cohen inspires new scalping law in Canada anada’s most populous province is cracking down on scalpers, passing a new law that forbids Ticketmaster and other ticket vendors from selling and reselling seats to the same sporting and entertainment events in Ontario through related websites. The Ticket Speculation Act aims to stop Ticketmaster from overcharging on event tickets purchased on resale sites. Ontario first took Ticketmaster to task in April 2009 when Leonard Cohen fans complained that tickets to his Canadian concerts were being sold at inflated prices through a Ticketmaster subsidiary, TicketsNow. Provincial attorney general Chris Bentley complained that sellers were taking tickets for Ontario events available on the primary market and were reselling them on the secondary market at inflated prices. The new Ontario law means anyone caught selling tickets at above their face value can now be slapped with fines. —Reuters


Country’s Christian Kane relishes dual careers By Vernell Hackett

so-called “Oprah Effect.” “It is still happening,” said Pereira, with a smile. The four spend more time together on the road than they do with their families these days. And, yes, they’re cool with the term “bromance.” “‘Bromance,”‘ replied Micallef. “It does work, but like any relationship, you have to work on it. And communication is key. As soon as you stop talking, there is a problem. So, half our work is the music and half our work is relationship building. So, it is so important or else this thing wouldn’t survive more than a year.” The Canadian Tenors wrapped up their 2010 tour schedule Tuesday night (21 December) in Fort Worth, Texas, then planned to head north, to the singers’ respective homes for the holidays. Talk about cutting it close. “It kind of makes sense because Christmas is a very busy time for us,” said Murray. “Obviously tenors and Christmas go hand in hand.”— AP

were the only country band in Los Angeles,” he said of his eponymous band. “Then I started traveling to Nashville and writing with these unbelievable songwriters like Casey Beathard, Jamey Johnson, Blair Daily, Brett James, Jerrod Niemann and David Lee Murphy.” Kane said he had always written story songs, but in Nashville he learned how to bring those stories to life. “Most of the guys I write with are on my album. I owe them a lot. The best songwriters in the world are in Nashville.” Kane and the band will resume touring again at the

end of January, and “Leverage” will shoot a fourth season in 2011. “Acting and music, they are two different things,” he said. “I consider myself an entertainer. I’m creating a business: Christian Kane. I’m the CEO. I get up every day and go to work. It’s a business and it’s run like one, except I love what I do so it’s not like it’s work.” It wasn’t always so easy. The son of a father in the oil business, Kane said he attended five elementary schools as a youngster, becoming an introvert who went to the movies by himself and dreamed of bigger things. —Reuters


Thursday, December 23, 2010



Rehab staffer accuses Lohan of battery, then fired

By Anthony McCartney

day that began with authorities confirming Lindsay Lohan was being investigated for battery on a female staffer at a California rehab facility treating the starlet ended with the worker fired after giving an interview about the incident. Riverside County sheriff ’s detectives said Tuesday they are investigating the “Mean Girls” star for an alleged altercation with a worker at a Betty Ford Center facility in Palm Desert that occurred after 1 am on Dec 12. The agency declined to say what prompted the fight, but said the worker was interested in pursuing charges against Lohan.


Betty Ford spokesman Russ Patrick said the staffer was fired for identifying patients at the center in an interview and “disclosing a privileged document.” Although Betty Ford and the sheriff’s department did not identify the worker, she appeared in an interview on celebrity website TMZ on Tuesday afternoon and was promptly fired. She claims the 24-year-old Lohan and two other girls had sneaked out of the facility. In the video, Dawn Holland claims she was trying to get Lohan to submit to a breathalyzer test when the actress became belligerent, pushed her and snatched a phone from her hand, straining her arm. Attempts to reach Holland

were unsuccessful. A phone number registered to her was not accepting calls Tuesday evening. Lohan has not been arrested or charged in the incident. Her attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, said in an e-mailed statement that it was the actress who called for the police. She declined to offer additional details, citing the ongoing sheriff’s investigation. While the fallout for Holland was swift, Lohan’s situation remains unclear. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elden S. Fox has ordered her to remain at Betty Ford until Jan. 3 and remain out of trouble until Feb. 25. He also ordered her to submit to all drug and alcohol screenings or face up to six months in jail for

violating her probation on a 3-yearold drunk driving case. Riverside County sheriff ’s Deputy Herlinda Valenzuela said Lohan’s case would be presented to prosecutors, who will decide whether Lohan should face a new charge. Lohan has been receiving treatment at the Betty Ford Center and its facilities, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, since late September. Patrick’s statement said that until Tuesday, Betty Ford had upheld the confidentiality of 96,000 patients who had received treatment there since it opened in 1982. He said Holland’s interview was a breach of trust and the rehab process. “When patients come to the

center for treatment, they come to a safe place where their identity is protected, where anonymity is safeguarded,” he said in an e-mail. “Their simple priority when in treatment is to learn how to live a life free of alcohol and other drugs. “Confidentiality and trust are key to the treatment and recovery process.” Lohan’s stint at Betty Ford is her fifth stay in rehab and her second this year. Beginning in July, she was jailed for 14 days, followed by three weeks at inpatient rehab. Fox agreed to release her early from treatment at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in late August based on doctor’s recommendations. —AP

In this July 20, 2010 file photo, Lindsay Lohan is shown in court in Beverly Hills. — AP

Gwyneth Paltrow finds ‘Country Strong’ a struggle By Zorianna Kit here is nothing easy about overcoming an addiction and for Gwyneth Paltrow, who plays an addict in her new movie “Country Strong,” it was a battle simply to comprehend why people abuse drugs and alcohol. “Country Strong” debuts on Wednesday with Paltrow, an Oscar win-


A photo shows Gwyneth Paltrow from the movie “Country Strong.”


Coppola’s LA isolation in ‘Somewhere’

n gauzy portraits of privileged isolation, she has situated her characters in a Tokyo hotel (“Lost in Translation”), the opulent remove of Versailles (“Marie Antoinette”) and now, in her new film “Somewhere,” at Los Angeles’ celebrity-infested Chateau Marmont. Though she gently coaxes her characters out of their insulation and toward the outside world, her talent is in her eye for cloistered, disaffected decadence. As a style icon and daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, she is, after all, portraying a life she knows intimately. “Somewhere,” which won the top prize at the Venice International Film Festival earlier this year, stars Stephen Dorff as a famous Hollywood actor, Johnny Marco. He lives at the Chateau Marmont where he lazily and indiscriminately passes the time between dutifully heeding the phone calls of his publicist. The film opens on him in a black Ferrari monotonously circling a course, watched from an unmoving camera. Laid up with a broken arm, he falls asleep watching private pole dancers. In one scene, he sits on a sofa drinking a beer and smoking a


cigarette for nearly two minutes. Handsome and aloof, Marco is a star in a bubble, living a vapid, easy life where adoration and sex come without even trying. When a mask of his face is made so he can look older for a part, Coppola lingers on him sitting alone, his head totally covered in plaster.

The plain message: He’s not even a person. But he has a daughter: 11-year-old Cleo (Elle Fanning), of whom he typically sees little. Her mother, Layla (Lala Sloatman), abruptly abandons her to Marco, leaving the two to bond. He brings her along on a trip to Milan, Italy, where

he’s promoting his latest action film, “Berlin Agenda.” Quiet and smart, Cleo is generally just happy to be around her father. Perhaps like Coppola, she’s an observer. Like any good child actor, Fanning has learned that less is more. Marco - a blank slate played appropriately

In this film publicity image released by Focus Features, Stephen Dorff, and Elle Fanning, right, are shown in a scene from, “Somewhere.” —AP

inscrutable by Dorff - doesn’t have much to teach her. In a lengthy pan out, Coppola shows them lounging pool-side under shades, while the Strokes play: “Sit me down/ Shut me up.” As they spend more time together, there’s a transformation taking place in Marco, but it’s very subtle. The film’s emotional breakthrough comes in just its last minutes. Will Marco shrug off banality for a life of substance? Do we care? That last question is what decides whether “Somewhere” has any impact on you. Coppola is brilliant at capturing mood: With cinematographer Harris Savides, her languid camera depicts California melancholy. But substance isn’t her game. As she did in “Lost in Translation,” she aims for a sudden rush of meaningfulness at the end of the film. But the weight isn’t there. A rejection of utter emptiness is less inspiring than rather obvious. “Somewhere” ultimately passes like a soft breeze down Sunset. “Somewhere,” a Focus Features release, is rated R for sexual content, nudity and language. Running time: 98 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four. —AP

Chinese film to star Hollywood’s Bale By Michael Martina hang Yimou, one of China’s best-known directors, and local movie moguls is hoping for an ascendance on the world’s silver screens to match the country’s rise on the global political and economic stage. Winning that international audience may mean tying a Chinese story to a Hollywood face. Zhang’s newest project, a film to depict wartime Nanjing under Japanese occupation, will mark the first time a domestically-funded Chinese movie has placed a Hollywood actor-Christian Bale-in a leading role, producers told a news conference in Beijing yesterday. “The strategy for China’s film industry is to go abroad. It is a goal for the future and matches China’s fast development,” Zhang said at the unveiling of Bale as the leading man in the film, currently titled in English, “Thir teen Women of Nanjing”. The movie, set to begin


Zhang Yimou speaks during a press conference to promote his new movie in Beijing, China yesterday. — AP

filming in Nanjing, formerly known as Nanking, in early January, is based on a book by Yan Geling, depicting a religious man (Bale) who attempts to save a group of young women forced into prostitution at by the Japanese army. “I think anyone who is doing artistic work has the responsibility for cultural exchange,” Zhang said. “We (China) have done many Nanjing-related films, but many of them were directed inwardly, and young people in the West may not know them. So we hope we can make a good film and more young people in foreign countries will see it,” he added. China’s movie industry is not alone in wanting to expand its audience. The government-from the State Council, or cabinet, to the Ministry of Culture-has had its hand in promoting China’s cultural footprint around the world. The movie that plays on the volatile historical memor y of

Chinese who suffered under a brutal Japanese occupation during World War Two may help carry a political reminder abroad. An indication of that push, the State Administration of Radio, Film and TV hosted 99 film festivals in 47 countries in 2009, according to the official China Daily. Zhang Weiping, chief producer at New Pictures Film Co Ltd, said many foreign investors had been interested in the film, but the 600 million yuan ($90 million) already invested in the project was generated entirely in China. “Investors first and foremost think about the market, unlike Yimou, who is focused on art. We invited Bale to join because I am thinking about the market and because we want the world to better understand Chinese culture,” the producer said. “Hollywood stars are expensive, but they are worth it because they can influence the whole world,” he added. —Reuters

ner in romantic comedy “Shakespeare in Love,” playing singer Kelly Canter. The actress strums the guitar and belts out tunes with ease, yet, getting her head around Kelly’s drinking and drug use was among her most difficult work as an actress. “I just couldn’t understand how you could be so drunk that you could wreck people’s lives and then wake up the next day and pretend everything was fine,” the actress, 38, told Reuters. “I struggled with that.” To prepare, Paltrow turned to her “Iron Man” costar Robert Downey Jr, who has recovered from addictions in his own life to stage a career comeback. “I asked Robert, ‘How does this work?’” said Paltrow. “He was really articulate about addiction and the psychology behind it. He really helped me a lot.” In the movie, country singer Canter is a star of the music industry when her drinking and drug use lands her in rehab. She is discharged before she is ready and embarks on a comeback tour, planned by her husband James (Tim McGraw). Joining Canter on tour is her sponsor-a budding young singer named Beau Hutton (Garrett Hedlund) — and rising starlet Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester). But they only complicate Canter’s return to the stage. Canter’s affection for Hutton threatens to come between her and her husband, and Stanton has her mind set on overtaking the Canter and ascending to the top of country music charts. Going country Paltrow is no stranger to music. She has sung on-screen before, in her late

father Bruce Paltrow’s “Duets,” and she is married to Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. When she sang the song “Country Strong” at last month’s Country Music Association awards, she earned a standing ovation. Yet, she said playing Canter offered new challenges. For one, a country star who sings in major arenas to tens of thousands of fans requires a booming voice. “I could always sing a bit and I have good pitch, but my singing teacher really kicked my butt. She was like, ‘There’s a big voice in there, we’re gonna get it out!” Paltrow sings three tunes on the film’s soundtrack, including “Coming Home,” which was nominated for a Golden Globe last week. A fourth song is a duet with Tim McGraw titled “Me and Tennessee,” written by Martin. The actress also said she enjoyed portraying Canter because she identifies with being a mature woman in an industry that favors youth. “I loved playing a woman who was feeling her age and worried about the young twenty-something coming up and stealing her thunder,” said Paltrow. After working almost non-stop in the 1990s and early 2000s, Paltrow slowed her career’s pace in recent years to focus on being a mother. She has two children with Martin, daughter Apple, 6, and son Moses, 4. She said winning the best actress Oscar for 1998’s “Shakespeare In Love,” left her feeling like there was little else to accomplish as an actress, and when her father died in 2002, she was overcome with grief and didn’t want to work anymore. “My dad died, then I met my husband and then we had a kid,” recalled the actress. “I was like, ‘What the hell have I been doing for 10 years? My daughter really redefined my life and the way I approached everything.” After son Moses was born in 2006, “I didn’t have the desire to work at all,” said Paltrow. But now she is back with roles in the smash hit “Iron Man” movies. A recent turn in TV comedy musical “Glee,” introduced her to a whole new set of young fans and “Country Song” has lovers of that genre singing the praises of Paltrow. “It’s funny how much I feel country music is a part of me even though I didn’t grow up surrounded by it,” said Paltrow. “I love how authentic it is. I find it homey and comforting. It’s about being who you are, full of soul and truth.” —Reuters

Lopez says heʼd like to be LA mayor-NOT omedian George Lopez caused a stir when he told a TV news program Tuesday that he wanted to be mayor of Los Angeles, but his municipal political ambitions were a joke. Lopez insisted he was serious when told the Fox 11 news show “Good Day LA” on Tuesday that he wants to run for mayor. Lopez said that if actor Arnold


In this May 19, 2010, file photo, talk show host George Lopez attends TNT and TBS Upfront presentation at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. —AP

Schwarzenegger could become California’s governor, there’s no reason he couldn’t be LA’s mayor. He added he’d be a sort of a “Lobama,” instead of an Obama. Fox put out a press release about the announcement. But Lopez’s spokeswoman, Ina Treciokas, late in the day had the punch line: Lopez was kidding. — AP

By Bonnie Bing n a world of denim and hoodies, it’s a nice change to see children and teens dress up. The holidays are a time when many kids actually enjoy it, too. Thanks to children’s wear designers and manufacturers, kids can find a wide variety of holiday attire that will make them look and feel special. Comfort is also key; most velvet and even lace these days is soft and stretchy. For girls, dresses range from traditional princess looks to styles just like big sis and mom are wearing. Madison Marcotte, a second-grader at College Hill Elementary in Wichita, Kan., is excited about her new dress. “It’s black with a flower in the middle. I’m going to wear it with my black boots,” she said.


Young models don holiday fashion at the CAC Theater at Wichita State University in Wichita.

By Samantha Critchell he chunky gray sweaters have moved out and the turquoise-colored caftans have moved in. Welcome to fashion’s “resort” season. Never mind that there are still post-holiday sales to be had, or that it just recently dipped to the freezing mark in some of America’s traditional snowbird spots. Stores and their shoppers want newness, and resort is how they get it. The clothes, with a cheerful color palette and lighter, easy-to-pack fabrics, arrive in December and fill the racks until spring merchandise takes over. “Let’s remember that fashion is all about change, moving forward and anticipating new moods in style,” says Linda Fargo, senior vice president of Bergdorf Goodman. Resort is the most transitional season of the year, she says, offering a mix of festive party clothes, a vacation wardrobe for sun and for snow, and a glimpse at what trends are coming in the new year. “For me, it’s the clothes I wear all year ‘round,” says designer Tory Burch. “The idea of layering is an important idea to resortand that’s how people dress.” In her collection, the knitwear is the highlight, Burch says, because everyone, no matter climate or occasion, always needs a sweater. Shoppers like a wear-now mentality, and who can blame them, says Michael Kors, known for building collections on the favorite


A young man escorts young ladies as they don holiday fashion at the CAC Theater. — MCT photos

haunts of jet-setters. Resort, even with its unfortunate name, is full of smart investment pieces that can be worn on the holiday vacation to the Caribbean or the Alps, do year-round duty in Dallas, Los Angeles, even Singapore, and be the go-to piece for New Yorkers on those weird days with in-between weather, he says. “These clothes are important for consumers, and a good chunk of these clothes, if you’re a smart designer, is seasonless. Women realize these are the clothes that let you get on with your life. If you buy them now, you don’t have to worry about it later,” Kors says. He adds, “It’s a very hard-working season. It’s a great place to invest your money.” Back in the day, the garment

“I have a dark pink and light pink one, too, that looks like it’s been stamped with polka dots.” Boys and teen guys can don everything from colorful sweaters and khakis to even tuxedoes. But we’re probably stretching our luck expecting a little guy to enjoy putting on a necktie. Hayden Hackwor th, a third-grader, didn’t hesitate when asked if he likes to dress up for the holidays. He does. He doesn’t even mind wearing slacks instead of jeans. And he’s got a new item that he’s saving for a special occasion. “I got a shirt with a Christmas tree on it and it lights up,” he said, then explained it actually glows in the dark. As we always say, there really is something for everyone. — MCT

industry had its fall season, then holiday, full of all the jingle-bells trappings, and cruise, clothes for cold-weather people to wear on cruise ships when they would be invited to dine at Capt. Stubing’s table. People do not want that fuss now, says Kors, and, anyway, there are a lot of people who work in office buildings that either blast the heat or forget it is there, or they spend their holiday break skiing one year and sunning another. Still, it is hard to shake the “resort” name. Both Fargo and Kors called it a “misnomer” since it implies a look that is much more tropical than it really is. Burch, for example, says she drew inspiration equally from recent trips to India and St. Moritz, Switzerland. “It’s one of my favorite collections we’ve done. You have silk linen and matte gold sequins on a jacket and a skirt, mixed with an Indian motif T-shirt and scarf, and you have apres-ski boots. ... It’s warm and cold in one collection,” Burch describes. A cashmere T-shirt dress, a longer-length skirt and a silk turtleneck are among this season’s resort must-haves, according to Kors. “We found numerous compelling trends and items such as crisp and jaunty stripes, nautical inspiration, clean slate-fresh start whites, urban safari, neutrals-in khaki and sand tones-and clothing with bohemian streaks,” says Bergdorf’s Fargo. Even at Lilly Pulitzer, which boasts a long Palm Beach heritage, there’s a more “universal” approach to resort than a hot-pink shift, explains design director Janie Schoenborn. “Our customer understands a ‘resort’ lifestyle, but resort has evolved into something incorporated into everyday life. ... It seems like resort collections are getting bigger, better and more universal.” An aqua tunic top pairs just as well with black dress pants as it does white jeans,” says Schoenborn, but the hallmark of the season is still the splash of color. “We try to make it easier for our customer to wear coral or blue year-round.” Schoenborn says the roots of resort were rich socialites who’d come to Florida-as far back as the 1920s _ and needed to buy clothes in what was the offseason in New York, Boston and Philadelphia for golf, tennis and boating. Now the business is spread throughout the country, taking a hint of its glamorous roots with it. “It’s a capsule for retailers, just like it gives designers, a chance to step out of the box a little,” Schoenborn says. “It lets retailers have a little corner of the store that’s bright and sunny, and gives a little zip to stores that have been full of autumnal or winter colors.” Kors, who is making it a habit to call attention to retail deliveries that do not get the big push on the fall and spring Fashion Week runways, notes the timing is good. “This is the busiest time of year in stores,” he said. “More people are shopping, and you want them to see something new and fresh.”—AP

This undated photos courtesy of Tory Burch show designs from the Tory Burch 2010/2011 Resort collection. — AP

Young models don holiday fashion at the CAC Theater.

This publicity image released by Disney Enterprises shows Julia Roberts in the 1990 film ‘Pretty Woman,’ starring Roberts and Richard Gere.

This product image courtesy of Brian Atwood shows Brian Atwood’s over-theknee suede RZ boot. — AP photos By Lisa A Flam ho can forget those black, vinyl thigh-high boots Julia Roberts wore, with little else, when she first spied her man in “Pretty Woman”? Twenty years later, tall boots are back, this time on ladies of fashion, not just ladies of the night. Thigh-high boots rocked the runways a year ago, but it has taken some time for the trend to evolve and gain acceptance by a broader audience. Now, over-the-knee styles are adding a sexyyet-chic statement to skinny jeans and leggings, skirts and dresses. “Every girl wants to be a little sexy,” says footwear designer Stuart Weitzman. “Do you know an American woman who hasn’t seen ‘Pretty Woman’?” Weitzman, who has made tall boots in past seasons, says over-the-knee boots are so popular now because women wear tights with many looks, even miniskirts and shorts. “They complement the new kind of dress that many, many girls are using today. It sort of breaks up the whole naked leg look and becomes an acceptable adaptation of modern dressing.” Options are plentiful: Choose a dramatic pair with a high heel, a mid-height wedge or a flat-bottomed boot. They come plain or embellished with chains, buckles and studs, and with details like distressing and lacing. Depending on the style, they can add glamour to an evening ensemble or keep you warm running errands by day. “They’re sexy and fun and everyone can wear them in their own way,” says Brian Atwood, just named Footwear News’ designer of the year. He offers a mid-thigh platform boot with a 5 1/2-inch (12.7 centimeter) heel and a flat shearling style. “Definitely don’t be afraid of the over-the-knee boot.” The beauty of the style, he says, is that it lengthens your appearance, regardless of your height. “Trust me,” he says. “It’s like wearing a legging. It elongates everything.” Still, the public’s collective eye needed to adjust to a style that perhaps spurred thoughts of fetishism. The success of the high-end designer collections led retailers to realize the everyday shopper was ready for the look this year, said Avril Graham, executive fashion and beauty editor of Harper’s Bazaar. “It had been seen as a very high-fashion look and super trendy,” she says. “Now, it’s so much more accessible. I’ve been traveling across the states in the last few months, and I’ve been noticing so many more regular women are wearing this look.” Graham advises wearing the boots with a “minimalist chic” look. Don’t


pair the boots with every other trend or pile on too many accessories, she cautions, and keep hemlines higher than the top of the boots. “The look has to be a linear, long, clean silhouette,” Graham says. “The whole object of this look is to keep your entire look very simple and chic.” That means close-fitting jeans or cigarette pants tucked into the boots, no flared pants or skirts and nothing flouncy. “You want to avoid having any resemblance to anything theatrical and the appearance of anything remotely looking like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,”‘ according to Graham. There is more variety than one might think in boot style, shaft and overall vibe, and that lets the trend live longer. Weitzman, whose best-selling item is an over-the-knee boot called 5050, says 10 to 15 percent of boots for his pre-fall

2011 collection will reach over the knee. Atwood is reissuing the limited-edition RZ boot, a collaboration with celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe that sold out. “These boots are here to stay, I think,” Atwood said of the tall style. “You have to have fun with them.” The growing popularity of over-the-knee boots surprised online retailer Piperlime, which says women of all ages and heights are booting up, making them a top seller. “We did think it was going to be a smaller trend,” says Brooke Banwart, divisional merchandise manager for shoes and accessories. “It’s gone mass.” Popularity has only surged alongside the jeggings craze in fashion, and Banwart notes manufacturers are offering the boots in many colors, and heels range from flats to wedges. (Women worried they are too short for the tall boots should try a wedge, she suggests.)—AP

This product image courtesy of Brian Atwood shows Brian Atwood’s over-theknee suede boot called Barretta.

This product image courtesy of Piperlime shows the Via Spiga Georgia flat over-the-knee boot.

23 Dec  
23 Dec  

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