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Italy, France ask EU to revise open border treaty

Soaring food prices a threat across Asia


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Sony chases Apple with launch of Android tablet



Man United outclass Schalke 2-0


Egypt: Iran ties will not undermine Gulf security Tehran eyes similar relations with other regional states

Bahrain expels Iran diplomat over ‘spy ring’

conspiracy theories

What foreign hands???

Medics targeted

By Badrya Darwish


am finally back from my flu attack to attack. I have noticed that there is something common between countries of unrest starting from Tunisia, Egypt, through Yemen, Bahrain and to Syria. In all of them, the governments are using the same defence slogans. It is foreign hands that are meddling in our country’s internal affairs and security. It is foreign hands that have interest to topple us (the governments). It’s muharabeen (saboteurs). What foreign hands are playing in the Middle East? If there are foreign hands, then you are their agents. Maybe you can raise your voice and tell us who are these foreign hands! The second scenario if things get worse and the governments start cracking down on the demonstrators by using force, guns, tanks and military arsenal, then they all use the same justification that demonstrators are armed. Moreover, the justification goes as far as the interference of ‘sleeper cells’ in their countries. By now we all know what these two words mean. Do you want to convince me that these dictatorship regimes did not know for so many years that there were sleeper cells in their countries? Do you want to convince me that the secret police in these countries which knows what people eat for dinner at home were unaware that people were planning to topple governments. Only now did they discover them? Poor governments? I really sympathize with their innocence. The problem is that they never blame themselves and never stand up to their mistakes and admit that they are dictators and rule the nation with an iron fist. They ruin their own countries. They live in their high ivory towers surrounded by their clique and gangs while the rest of the nation lives in extreme poverty. Maybe people will accept poverty if they breathe the fresh air of freedom and if you leave them their dignity. But if you strip them of their dignity and freedom, then a day will come when they will revolt. This is the age of Twitter, Internet, satellite and social media. We no longer live like 30 years ago when nobody was there to report what the governments were doing. So please, wake up and face realities! Maybe then you will have a chance. Maybe then people will forgive you and accept you. Do not keep underestimating people’s intelligence with your meaningless slogans! Have a good day!

Max 34 Min 23 Low Tide 00:20 : 12:03 High Tide 07:12 & 17:22

KUWAIT: Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf (left) meets HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah at Bayan Palace yesterday. — KUNA KUWAIT: Visiting Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf yesterday vowed that Cairo’s possible ties with Iran will not undermine the security of oil-rich Arab states in the Gulf. “If we have to open a (new) page with Iran... it will not undermine the security of the Gulf states because the security of Gulf states is important to us and Egypt’s national security,” he told reporters. Sharaf arrived in Kuwait yesterday for a two-day official visit as part of his first Gulf tour that began in Saudi Arabia and

will also include Qatar. Relations between the Sunniruled Arab states in the Gulf and non-Arab predominantly Shiite Iran were strained following a crackdown on protests in Bahrain led by the tiny kingdom’s Shiite majority. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi asked Egypt on Saturday to take a “courageous step” towards renewing diplomatic ties which Tehran broke in 1980 over Cairo’s recognition of Israel. And yesterday, Iran’s Deputy

Foreign Minister for Middle East affairs, Mohammad Reza Sheibani, said any cooperation between Iran and Egypt will help develop similar relations with other regional states. “Cooperation between Iran and Egypt will not be against any Arab country in the region and these relationships can develop multilateral cooperation among regional states, particularly Saudi Arabia and Turkey,” state news agency IRNA quoted him as saying. Continued on Page 15

MPs to override govt rejection of pay raise Panel raises housing loan to KD 100,000 By B Izzak KUWAIT: The National Assembly’s financial and economic affairs committee yesterday unanimously opposed a government decision to reject a law stipulating a KD 50 monthly pay raise for Kuwaiti employees to face the rising cost of living. The law was approved last month by the Assembly despite stiff government opposition to the law and vowed it will not approve it because of its high cost to state coffers. Under Kuwaiti law, the government has the right to reject laws passed by the Assembly but MPs can override the government rejection in a fresh vote with a two-thirds majority. If 44 members of the Assembly vote for the rejected law, then it becomes mandatory and the government must implement it. Head of the financial committee MP Youssef AlZalzalah said that the committee will send a report on

the law to the Assembly to have a second vote before the end of the current term. Spokesman of the Popular Action Bloc MP Musallam Al-Barrak said the bloc will file a request to give priority to voting on the law in the first Assembly session. He said the bloc has started gathering signatures of MPs supporting the bill, recalling that it requires the support of 44 lawmakers to pass in the second vote and becomes mandatory. Meanwhile, the legal and legislative committee yesterday approved a draft law calling to increase the government housing loan to citizens from the current KD 70,000 to KD 100,000 to help citizens cope with the rise in the cost of construction services and materials, head of the committee said. MP Hussein Al-Huraiti said the panel also approved a proposal to raise the renovation loan from KD 25,000 to KD 30,000 for the same reason. But the committee rejected a proposal calling Continued on Page 15

Daraa assault rages

ATHENS: Syrians who live in Greece chant slogan against Syrian President Bashar Assad during a protest yesterday. About 500 Syrians took part in the protest that ended at the Syrian embassy of Athens. — AP

DAMASCUS: Syria sent more troops to the southern town of Daraa yesterday where a deadly crackdown against prodemocracy protesters raged into a second day, activists said, as Washington considered “targeted sanctions” against Damascus. Britain said it was working with Western partners to send a “strong signal” to Damascus, while France and Italy denounced the “unacceptable” situation in Syria. Washington ordered nonessential embassy staff to leave Syria which has been shaken by six weeks of protests against President Bashar AlAssad’s autocratic rule and Italy warned its citizens against travel there. And UN rights chief Navi Pillay, who has denounced the “disregard” for human life in Syria, has been invited to visit Damascus, a spokesman said, urging authorities to probe the killing of protesters. Nearly 400 people have been killed by security forces firing live rounds and

tear gas since March 15, activists say, including 25 on Monday alone in Daraa, with scores of arrests. “New army troops and security reinforcements have entered Daraa and a tank was deployed in the central Kaziat Al-Balad square,” activist Abdullah Abazid told AFP by telephone from Daraa near the Jordanian border. He said troops were firing on residents and a mosque and had laid siege to the home of Daraa’s top Muslim cleric, Mufti Rizk Abdulrahman Abazeid, who quit last week in protest at the crackdown. “The bullets continue against the people, but we are resisting,” he said, adding that shooting continued well into the afternoon. The Abu Bakr Assidiq mosque, schools and reservoirs were hit and shops looted, Abazid said, adding that “tanks and roadblocks are deployed at the entrance to the town”, preventing anyone from entering. Continued on Page 15

MANAMA: Bahrain has ordered the expulsion of an Iranian diplomat for alleged links to a spy ring in fellow Gulf state Kuwait, state media said, in a further deterioration of relations with Tehran. The kingdom also sought criminal charges against 30 health ministry staff, extending a crackdown against public employees suspected of participating in pro-democracy protests that Bahrain crushed last month with outside military help. Relations between Shiite Iran and Gulf Arab states have nosedived since Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sent troops into the island state, where a Sunni-led monarchy rules over a Shiite majority, to end weeks of pro-democracy protests. Bahrain accused the Islamic Republic of fomenting Shiite unrest. A statement on the Bahrain News Agency late on Monday said the foreign ministry had summoned Iranian charge d’affaires Mehdi Islami to inform him that second secretary Hojjatullah Rahmani had 72 hours to leave “based on his link to the spy cell in Kuwait”. “Bahrain calls on Iran to desist from these serious violations of standards of international relations, which are a threat to the security and stability of the region,” it said. Kuwait expelled three Iranian diplomats earlier this month over accusations of involvement in an alleged spy ring, prompting Tehran to order three Kuwaiti diplomats to leave Iran. That was after a Kuwaiti court sentenced two Iranians and a Kuwaiti to death in March for involvement in espionage. Bahrain, a US ally that hosts the US Fifth Fleet, has also begun the trial of two Iranians and a Bahraini on charges of spying for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran may take “retaliatory measures”, Iranian media reported. “The latest move by the Bahraini Foreign Ministry is against the two countries’ good neighbourly relations and not based on realities,” he was quoted as saying. Iran, which once claimed sovereignty over Bahrain, complained to the United Nations over the recent crackdown that has continued with the arrests of hundreds of activists and deaths of some in police custody. Continued on Page 15

in the


Iran plans gas from joint field TEHRAN: Iran plans to produce gas from a joint field with Kuwait in the coming months, news agency ISNA quoted a senior official as saying yesterday. A dispute between Iran and Kuwait over the offshore Arash field, which lies between them in the Middle East Gulf, was resolved last year after the Islamic state proposed joint development of the field. “The executive operation of the Arash field ... will start by Iran this year and it will come on stream by the end of the year or the beginning of next year,” ISNA quoted Mahmoud Zirakchian-zadeh, managing director of Iran’s Offshore Oil Company, as saying. It was not clear whether the official meant the Iranian year, which ends on March 2012. “With the mutual cooperation of Iran and Kuwait ... we can lower the costs. That is why Iran wants disputes to be resolved through diplomacy,” he said. National Iranian Oil Company exploration director Seyed Mahmoud Mohaddes predicted that at least five more gas and oil fields would be discovered by March 2011, SHANA news agency reported yesterday.

Iraq to replace post-war fund BAGHDAD: Iraq has approved opening two bank accounts to manage its revenues after a post-war fund to protect the money from foreign claims closes this summer, a government spokesman said yesterday. One of the accounts will hold 95 percent of Iraq’s government income, the vast majority of which comes from oil exports, while the remaining five percent will be held in another to pay off UN-mandated war reparations to Kuwait. “Iraq will present its proposal to the United Nations Security Council on May 1st for approval,” government spokesman Ali AlDabbagh told AFP. “The plan will take effect July 1st, pending Security Council approval.” He added: “Both accounts will be held by the US Federal Reserve to avoid foreign claims. ... These accounts will hold not only revenues from oil, but also all the money we can retake from the former regime.” The new accounts will replace the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), which was set up after the 2003 US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein to handle oil and other revenues. The DFI has been protected against claims by a UN resolution that expires on June 30.



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local In My View

The Libya thing is taking too long

Sawsan Kazak


few weeks ago the saga in Libya was all people could talk about. Protestors in the street trying to topple long standing dictator Muammar Gaddafi was the hot topic. Treating it like a comedy at times and a tragedy at others, the world’s full focus was on Libya. Recent news reports and general public interest in the Libyan revolution is slowly fading with people simply stating how long Gaddafi has held out. I guess we expect war to be like it is in big American block buster movies with a humble beginning, an action filled middle and a happy ending (preferably). That’s what we witnessed in Egypt, right? It was small protests growing into a nationwide drama and finally the happy ending most people cheered for. The good guys won and it seemed for a moment in time that the world was fair and justice was served. But with Libya it’s just taking too long. Our collective attention span lasts about a week, maybe two, and after that we need to be stimulated with yet another situation. We get bored of long and drawnout dramas that don’t seem to have momentum. A perfect example of our boredom with conflict is our attitude towards the Iraq War. Very rarely does Iraq make the front page anymore, nor is even a topic of conversation; it has just been accepted as normal. This is not a new phenomenon. Palestine is yet another example of how conflict without end is accepted as the norm and boredom of the whole situation sets in. We can see how the world’s attention is drifting ever so slowly from Japan and the national disaster that rocked the country. If something is not affecting us directly it’s hard to stay focused. Long after the attention is gone we must keep in mind that problems tend to linger.

Counterfeit bills KUWAIT: Money collectors with the Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW) have been instructed to make sure that the bills they receive are not fake. They have been informed to use banknote counters with counterfeit detection capabilities to verify the moneys’ authenticity. The decision, announced by the MEW Undersecretary Assistant for Consumer Affairs Department Jassem AlLinqawi, instructs fee collection supervisors to make sure the ministry does not collect damaged or counterfeit bills from clients. They have been asked to give priority to those paying their bills with credit cards or by K-Net. The decision said that employees failing to commit to the new regulations will be subject to legal accountability.— Al-Qabas

Egypt PM’s visit symbolizes strategic weight of Gulf New phase in bilateral ties: Ambassador KUWAIT: Current visit by Egyptian Prime Minister Issam Sharaf reflects the strategic significance and weight of the Gulf region through Egypt’s perspective, said the Egyptian Ambassador. Taher Farhat said the visit by the premier would signal a new turn for further promotion of the bilateral ties for realizing higher aspirations in this respect, as desired by the two brotherly countries, out of keenness on fruitful cooperation with Kuwait and the other Gulf states. It also affirms the solid ties bounding Egypt and the brotherly Kuwait, he stressed. Recounting remarks made by Sharaf during his visit to Saudi Arabia, on Monday, the ambassador said the ties between Egypt and countries of the region are historic, noting that Cairo views “intervention in the internal affairs of other states as a red line” and stressing that the security of the GCC states “is part of Egypt’s security.” On status of the Egyptian economy following the recent events, the diplomat affirmed that it has remained solid noting that the authorities in Cairo ensure full protection of foreign investments. Among the positive aspects of the sound status of the economy is the huge reserves of the hard currencies, insuring bank assets and continuous work at the Suez Canal, the diplomat noted. He also indicated that Kuwaiti entrepreneurs have continued launching businesses in Egypt at the local and public levels, to the extent that Kuwait has become the second largest “exporter of external investments to Egypt.” He affirmed the strategic nature of the bilateral ties, based on respect of the laws, national interests and moralistic dealing. He also asserted that the recent events in Egypt would result in boosting the development and investments, namely the Kuwaiti enterprises. Sharaf’s visit to Kuwait followed a visit to Cairo by a Kuwaiti delegation of economic figures on April 7 for discussing investment cooperation. His Gulf tour is primarily aimed at discussing means of promoting ties between Cairo and the states of the region, namely Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. —KUNA

KUWAIT: Egyptian Prime Minister Issam Sharaf (left) walks with Speaker Jassem Al-Khorafi as they arrive at the National Assembly yesterday.

KUWAIT: Ali Al-Ghanim and Dr Issam Sharaf. (Right) The Egyptian delegation. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Egyptian PM, delegation meets with KCCI By Nawara Fattahova KUWAIT: The Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) welcomed the Prime Minister of Egypt, Dr Issam Sharaf and his accompanying delegation yesterday. Three weeks ago a Kuwaiti delegation visited Egypt. “The Kuwaiti delegation was warmly welcomed and expressed their appreciation of the deep economic and political relations between the two countries,” said Ali Al-Ghanim, head of KCCI during the meeting yesterday. “We believe in the Egyptian economy and its ability to

pass through this phase successfully. It’s our duty to support Egypt in all it sectors.” Kuwait’s investments in Egypt make a strong base for future development and cooperation. “The history of these investments goes back to the 1950s,” Al-Ghanim continued. “ These investment always respected the law and we are sure that these investment will always have a great level of security. We need to protect this trust. We are not asking for special treatment for our investments but only equity when it comes to laws and legislation.” Investing in Egypt during this time brings unique investment opportunities

from a financial and economic perspective. “It’s a social and security duty,” he explained. “We should increase our commercial exchange to find more investment opportunities that provide job opportunities. This will deliver the results of development for those who need it. Establishing small and medium sized projects may be suitable for this.” However, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are facing many challenges. “We are over exposed politically, economically and culturally and we hope that following Egypt’s revolution Egypt will continue to cooperate with us economical-

ly,” Al-Ghanim concluded. Egypt’s economic policy won’t change. “There should be new rules for investment according to transparency and equity. Development leads to stability,” said the Egyptian Prime Minister. Sharaf sees Egypt’s cooperation with other Arab countries and the GCC as prosperous. “Some legal demands have caused a delay in productivity as they believe that these demands should be applied quickly. Egypt’s current situation is temporary and is not something to be feared. People should be patient and believe in a better future,” Sharaf added.

US envoy urges protection of intellectual rights BY Nisreen Zahreddine KUWAIT: Regulating and protecting intellectual property rights will help protect the technologies of tomorrow and provide jobs for young graduates, said US Ambassador to Kuwait Deborah Jones. The ambassador shared her sentiments yesterday at a seminar organized by both the US Embassy and the Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST) entitled, ‘Designing the Future.’ The seminar was organized on the occasion of the 11th annual celebration of World Intellectual Property Day and was held on GUST’s campus. Panelists included the Dean of GUST’s College of Business Administration Lee Caldwell, the US Embassy’s Economic Officer Arati Shroff and invited guest panelists Naif Al-Muttawa, Anadel AlMatar and Shamlan Al-Bahar. Jones identified intellectual property as everything from inventions, creative art, life saving medical devices and or new climate saving technologies. Jones expressed her amazement at the entrepreneurial spirit of Kuwaitis. She reminded visitors of the words United States President Barack

Municipality holds surprise health visit KUWAIT: The foods and markets supervisory in Hawally municipality made a surprise inspection visit, in coordination with canteens’ committee in the governorate. The campaign covered a number of private school canteens in Hawally educational area. Food supervisor Dhaiden Al-Adwani said that they inspected the meals provided to the students, and checked its validity and the method of storing meals. They also took samples to double-check the quality and observed the manner in which it was distributed to students. The schools were found to abide by the set rules and regulations.

Obama said while being inaugurated when he pointed out that minds today are not less inventive and that goods today are not less needed than they were last week, last month or last year. “We need appropriate legislation in place to protect every invention, design or business idea from being stolen or copied at the expense of innovators or entrepreneurs,” she said. She added that it is

KUWAIT: US ambassador Deborah Jones addressing the meeting at GUST campus.

everybody’s responsibility to continue working on encouraging the protection of intellectual rights and to fight for global involvement and innovation in Kuwait. Jones said that infringing upon intellectual property rights is theft, whether it is selling pirated CDs on the street or downloading movies illegally on the internet. She pointed out that Microsoft sources say that over 60 percent of software piracy occurs within Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) states. World Intellectual Property Day is observed annually on April 26. The event was first established by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2000 to raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks and designs impact daily life and to celebrate creativity and the contributions made by creators and innovators. WIPO is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international property system that includes industrial property rights that protects inventions as well as copyrights that protect literary and artistic work such as novels, poems, plays, films, music, paintings, photographs, sculptures and other original works.



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Fear overwhelms expats entering employment sector in Kuwait

Hayef sues former information official KUWAIT: Lawmaker Mohammad Hayef has lodged a complaint with the Public Prosecution against the former undersecretar y assistant for architectural affairs at the Ministry of Information, demanding an investigation into the case of assisting illegal confiscation of public funds. Hayef ’s attorney Adel AlAbdulhadi demanded that legal procedures be initiated against the defendant and any people involved in the case based on the results of the probe. The lawmaker further explained that when he inquired with the ministry last year about a suspected money squander incident pertaining with one of the its tenders, the former undersecretary assistant claimed that that there is a constant coordination between the ministry’s radio broadcast and television departments. “In reality, however, there’s no such a coordination between the two departments”, Hayef said. —Al-Qabas

Job prospects affected by regional turmoil By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: The Kuwait Diving Team has lifted fishing nets from coral reef areas in Bnaidar and helped save various marine species that were trapped in the nets. The Environmental Voluntary Foundation urged all sailors and fishermen to avoid coral reef areas and to help protect the biodiversity in Kuwaiti waters.

Five nationalities suspended from issuing new work permits KUWAIT: The Ministry of Interior has suspended issuing new work permits and residencies to citizens of five countries until further notice owing to security reasons. The nationalities affected are Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian, Pakistani and Afghani. As per the new regulations, citizens of those countries will temporarily not be able to receive new work permits or renew their residencies for an indefinite period of time. An Al-Rai report quoted security sources who said that only the Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Hmoud Al-Sabah or the

Ministry’s Undersecretary Lieutenant General Ghazi AlOmar can make exceptions to issue work permits, visitor’s visas or residencies for citizens of the affected nationalities. This regulation does not affect residents in Kuwait, who can still renew their residencies normally after they expire. However, residency violators from the aforementioned nationalities who wish to benefit from the ongoing Amiri amnesty by leaving the country without paying fines, wouldn’t be able to return until the ban is lifted. — Al-Rai

KUWAIT: Although Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have not been affected by the current political upheavals sweeping the Middle East, one sector of the countries’ economies have been hit hard; human resources. There is a continuous decline in the pursuit of job opportunities of labor workers from the Philippines, said Philippine Labor Attache Vivo Vidal. In an interview with the Kuwait Times yesterday he explained that the interest of Kuwaiti employers, especially in the Filipino workforce, has always been great but that a “fear factor” has contributed to the decline of deploying Filipino workers to the Middle East. “The crisis in the Middle East has affected workers’ decision to accept job prospects here, at least for now,” he said, specifically mentioning Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar. “ These countries are not affected by the unrest of neighboring countries but since they are part of the Middle East, if you ask Filipino workers to come and work, they would think twice,” he said. The decline, he observed, is obvious in both domestic and skilled laborers. On the other hand, Vidal argued that ‘old timers’ in the Middle East are definitely more likely to take a risk, unlike newly-hired workers. “These new workers contemplate whether to push through on a plan or not. You can never blame them since they have witnessed the hardship of being displaced from a job abroad, such as Filipino workers from Libya,” he cited. Before the unrest in Libya erupted, the country employed some 26,000 Filipino workers and the Philippine government has struggled to bring them back. In fact, the government has even requested

Group protests Kuwaitis’ probe of Gitmo detainees KUWAIT: Five Kuwaiti officers representing different security departments have taken part in an interrogation process with citizens detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison, which is conducted by detectives from the United States and other countries. According to Khalid Al- Odah, head of the Kuwaiti Detainees’ Families Committee, the Kuwaiti officers traveled three times between 2002 and 2004 to the United States based on a request from the authorities in Washington. AlOdah, whose son Fawzi Al-Odah and another citizen Fayez Al-Kandari are the only remaining Kuwaitis out of 12 originally held in Guantanamo. He argued that summoning Kuwaiti officials to interrogate detained citizens violates international laws. “Under these circumstances, the Kuwaiti detainees could have given information which could have been used as evidence to support their convic tion claims”, AlOdah explained, adding that the Kuwaiti authorities should have demanded that its detained citizens be returned for fur ther probe. Moreover, Al- Odah noted that the visits of Kuwaiti officers stopped after the committee filed a protest with the local authorities regarding this, adding at the same time that the issue of the officers being sent to assist the US Army in investigations was being dealt with “ex treme secrecy”. Al-Odah reiterated his demands for the release of the remaining two Kuwaiti detainees “who are held against their will despite no evidence being found to prove their involvement in terrorist activities”. He insisted that the committee’s efforts will continue until the citizens’ release. — Al-Qabas

KUWAIT: Vivo Vidal, center, is seen here with some Pinoy workers at their embassy in Jabriya. Vidal said ‘fear factor’ contributed to the decline of deployment of Filipino workers in the Middle East. - File photo by Ben Garcia international help to rescue their workers from Libya. Now that many returned to the Philippines, the government faces another challengejob placements. There are workers accommodated to government projects but a number of them have to be redeployed to countries such as Taiwan, Malaysia and Hong Kong as the Philippines continue to face troubling unemployment rates. The Philippine Department of Labor and Employment admitted that hiring Filipino workers has declined in the past several months due to the continuing political unrest in the Middle East and Libya. Philippine Labor Secretary, Rosalinda Baldoz was quoted by a Manila newspaper, saying that there is, “No immediate solution to the Middle East crisis and that fewer Filipino workers will be deployed this year.” On a slightly different

note, the slowdown of recruitment from Nepal seems mostly attributed to the recently introduced new passport system, said Pushpa Raj Bhattarai, Second Secretary at the Nepalese Embassy of Kuwait. Earlier, Nepalese workers could apply for passports and get it in three days. “Since the launch of the new system it takes time, about one month to get the passport,” he said. “In terms of employers’ interest however, the job orders are increasing day by day and the demand for our workers is really huge, even at the on-going Middle East political turmoil.” The Indonesian Ambassador to Kuwait, Ferry Adamhar noted that his country has experienced no decline. He said that Indonesia only sends skilled laborers to Kuwait, pointing out that there is still a demand for Indonesian workers in Kuwait regardless of regional turmoil.



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The Muniers: As multifaceted as their jewelry

Marie Munier world and my experiences in life,” she said. The Marie Munier brand does not mass produce, but rather builds KUWAIT: Studded with precious stones and crafted each piece independently and uniquely on its own. Nathalie was born in Lebanon, and inspired by the with passion, the jewelry of Marie Munier does a lot more than fiercely take your attention. The pieces on fascinating work of her mother, she followed her steps display at the Konooz Jewelry and Watches Exhibition in and attended The Academy of Fine Arts. She pursued Arraya Ballroom are Munier’s interpretation of mytholo- further studies at the Gemological Institute of America gies and legends of the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and in Santa Monica, California, where she graduated as a Phoenicians. They pulsate with life and energy, and are Jeweler Gemologist. In Paris she received her graduate degree in Jewelry Design and the B.J.O. (Bijouterie, not to be missed. The designers of the Marie Munier brand - Marie and Joaillerie, Orfevrierie). After a year of training at O J her daughter Nathalie - inspire themselves from the pri- Perrin, the well known Parisian jeweler, she joined her mother’s business, breathing her creativmary element of their jewelry - the ity into her mother’s business. stone. It is around the beautiful and Founder of the brand Marie Munier is unique stone that they craft and crea native of Lebanon where she lives and ate the one-of-a-kind gem-encrustworks. She began her artistic career by ed pieces. The designers use a getting a degree in interior design, and unique technique which Marie her passion for beauty and art led her to developed using 18 karat gold switch her career to oil painting before dipped in 22 karat gold, which has finally settling on jewelry design about become her trademark. Always 40 years ago. She quickly developed a aware of fashion trends, Marie devoted international following for her Munier produces her jewelry by beautiful gemstone encrusted pieces, hand with seasonal inclinations in finding a wide audience for her reintermind. pretations of ancient Greek, Roman, Speaking to Kuwait Times, Byzantine and Phoenician styles. She Nathalie Munier noted her mother was selected as one of 5 out of 800 parhas been in the business for forty ticipants in the Las Vegas “Rising Stars years, during which a lot has been 2002” and among these five, she was the learned and accomplished. “The one chosen to exhibit her collection in inspiration comes from what I see, New York. Her boutique in Lebanon is the beauty of life that I see and Nathalie Munier located in Ashrafieh, Beirut. appreciate from my trips around the By Hussain Al-Qatari

—Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Kuwaiti man dies Sarayat winds in accident prevent red Tide By Hanan Al-Saadoun phenomenon KUWAIT: Strong currents at the Kuwaiti shores which are caused by the Sarayat winds are helping protect local waters from the red tide phenomenon which has already been detected on the United Arab Emirates beaches. This was mentioned by Dr Abdurrahman Al-Awadhi, Head of the Regional Organization for the Protection of Marine Environment, during a seminar held recently as a part of the environmental month activities. During the event, Dr AlAwadhi explained that one of the factors that causes red tides are planktons and poisonous plants which float on water and suck all the oxygen from the sea. This leads to the death of fishes and other sea creatures. He added that the Sarayat winds prevents those planktons from gathering and helps maintain the stability of oxygen levels in the sea. Dr Al-Awadhi also said that red tides aren’t a normal occurrence in Kuwaiti waters and explained that they usually move from South East Asian waters to the Arabian Sea and then make their way to the Arabian Gulf, which explains their appearance in UAE shores first. — Al-Qabas

Team to promote e-learning strategy awareness KUWAIT: Minister of Education Moudhi AlHumoud issued a decision to form a working team on e-learning strategy awareness and information as part of the e-learning strategy portion of the second year of the state’s development plan. A statement by the ministry’s Media and Public Relations Department said the team is to set information and awareness promotion strategies and decide the time-frame for their implementation. They are also to design information and media programs in cooperation with schools’ administrations to spread awareness on benefits of e-learning and how to realize its objectives. The team includes engineers at the Central Agency for Information Technology, TV engineering department staff, Education Ministry Information Center staff, and representatives of the ministry’s Media and Public Relations Department.— KUNA

KUWAIT: A motorcycle accident was reported on the Arabian Gulf street in Salmiya which resulted in the injury of a 24-year-old Kuwaiti man. He was taken to Mubarak hospital. A car accident was reported on Damascus Street close to Al-Rawdha and Al-Odailia. Two persons were injured in the accident: A 67-year-old Saudi woman reported dizziness and a 47-year-old Bangladeshi expat complained of back injuries. Both were referred to Amiri hospital. Car accidents A car accident took place early yesterday morning at Sabhan near Sheikh Saad terminal. The car turned upside down and resulted in the injury of a 30-year-old man, who was taken to Mubarak hospital. A car accident took place in Wafra near the stables. A 53year-old Pakistani man was injured apart from another two Pakistanis aged 51-years-old and 75-years-old. Three ambulances were immediately called and the injured were shifted to Adan hospital. Egyptian injured A fight broke out at Sabah Al-Nasser area, opposite Hardeez restaurant in which a 27-year-old Egyptian expat sustained head injuries and was taken to Farwaniya hospital. Drunkard found A 37-year-old Kuwaiti man was found drunk at Fintas coastal road. The case was handed over to concerned authorities at the ministry of interior. Fatal fall A 26-year-old Sri Lankan who fell from a high-rise building in Salmiya near Arabian Gulf theater fractured his skull and died on the spot. His body was taken to the coroner.

Science, technology council established KUWAIT: The government recently allocated KD500 million to develop scientific research to be utilized in developing the state and other educational facilities. This generous subsidy is the result of a comprehensive plan made by the Supreme Planning Council in collaboration with Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science (KFAS), Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) and Kuwait University. According to the plan, recommendations have been made to establish Supreme Council for Scientific Research and Creativity that would be responsible for setting a national long-term policy on science and technology, strategic planning, restructuring scientific research activities, coordinating between various related national bodies and increasing spending on scientific research. —Al-Jarida

KUWAIT: An accident on Newspaper Street in Shuwaikh occurred when a vehicle collided into another, forcing it to smash into two other vehicles parked on the side of the road. No injuries were reported in the incident. —Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat



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local Kuwait Digest

What should be taken as top priority By Dr Yaqoub Al-Sharrah


he deteriorating services, repeated errors, failure of officials in state departments to commit to their responsibilities as well as their shortcoming in fulfilling their duties are clear signs indicating the amount of negligence and chaos that citizens are suffering from. It is sad that a community that enjoys high salaries and financial surpluses is still suffering from so much chaos. How can we achieve sustainable development when citizens aren’t provided a setting that allows them to lead the development process? Instead, citizens are struggling with the cumulative problems of the public sector, which has led to the general deterioration of the quality of services provided by the government. Moreover, the deterioration of services has lead to more complicated problems that will only cost more money to solve. Many of the problems we are suffering from today have been escalating for years. These problems include the spoiled food crisis, marine and air pollution, traffic jams, regression of airline service and the failure to improve the health and education sectors. In the meantime, citizens are left to wonder why these problems persist despite the country’s demographic, geographic, financial and intellectual capabilities. Can they still be confident in their government’s ability to find solutions while they see nothing but promises to end corruption and improve services with the development plan? Should citizen continue to believe that their government is capable of coming up with radical reforms after years of no improvements? There are a lot of questions that can only be answered with time. Until then, we have no choice but to continue struggling with the deteriorating services our government provides. I hope that the new cabinet makes improving services a top priority.— Al-Rai

95 companies involved in spoiled food case KUWAIT: A good number of MPs are in favor of a proposal to extend the current parliamentary term that is scheduled to come to an end in June until the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, toward the end of July. Many are in favor of the move to compensate for the sessions that were missed with the previous cabinet’s resignation. The 20 lawmakers that voiced their agreement to the proposal said they hoped to use the extra sessions to finish discussing financial disclosure reports on state departments as mentioned in State Audit Bureau reports. Moreover, the MPs pushed for the establishment of an administrative prosecution department and extending the Audit Bureau’s authority, granting them the ability to send cases directly to the public prosecutor. Meanwhile, the parliament’s health committee postponed voting on its investigation into the spoiled food crisis until next Sunday. Committee representative Saleh Ashour explained to the press that the committee reached 25 conclusions and came up with 16 recommendations for the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Municipal Affairs to consider immediately. Moreover, Ashour revealed that there are 95 different companies involved in the spoiled food crisis including 11 poultry companies, 18 water bottling companies, 22 dairy companies, five food production companies, 25 food importing companies and 14 meat producing companies. He added that the investigations report will include attachments detailing the violations that each company is accused of committing as well as the inquiries and answers that they received from various offenders. The report will also mention the names of commerce and municipality ministry personnel convicted in the case, said panel chairman MP Dr Rula Dashti. — Al-Qabas

Budget committee wants financial supervision KUWAIT: The Chairman of the Budget Committee MP Adnan Abdul Samad said that some MPs suggested extending the legislative term to discuss final accounts, and ask the Audit Bureau to filter all repeated violations. He said further state rights should be concentrated upon apart from public property so that it cannot be cancelled through prescription. Abdul Samad said that some people have demanded for the cancellation of supplementary credit (except for chapter one of the budget) to avoid cases of misdealing. He urged for secret expenditures to be supervised and to limit spending apart from regulating the number of leadership posts, specially the undersecretaries who are appointed in the minister grade. He also called for a review of cadre affairs, to look into administration violations, and to quickly finalize accounts. — Al-Anba

Divorce rates drop KUWAIT: Divorce rates in Kuwait have dropped by 5 percent during the past year while an increase in marriage rates has been recorded. A decrease in matrimony numbers between Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti spouses has also been witnessed. This was mentioned in a statistical report released by the Ministry of Justice’s legal authentications department, which explained that only 421 out of 8,435 marriages in 2010 ended in divorce. Meanwhile, the Ministry’s Undersecretary Assistant for Legal Affairs Dr Badr Al-Zamanan said that the statistics prove that Kuwait no longer suffers from an increasing divorce rate phenomenon, acknowledging the ministry’s efforts have ‘paid off’ in reducing the number of divorces. — Al-Qabas

Wataniya Telecom honors winners of Helwa Ya Kuwait KUWAIT: Based on its ongoing quest in supporting youth in all sectors and encouraging talented people, Wataniya Telecom has recently sponsored a photography contest named “Helwa Ya Kuwait”, which was held for the fifth time in a row and organized by Kuwait News Agency “KUNA” under the patronage and presence of both former Oil and Information Minister Sheikh Ahmed AlAbdullah and President of the Board of Directors and Director General of “KUNA” Sheikh Mubarak and number of sponsors’ representatives. A photo exhibition for a total of 550 photos was organized for 115 participants. 11 winners were announced on Monday in a special ceremony and were honored by Wataniya Telecom and were given valuable prizes in return. On this occasion, Director of Public Relations at Wataniya Telecom Abdulaziz AlBalool stressed on the importance of such events which carried out talents in our com-

munity and added “This competition is the ideal platform to promote local talents and highlight the innovations in the field of pho-

tography. We, in Wataniya Telecom always aim at showcase young people’s talents in various sectors, especially in the field of

KUWAIT: Winners of the photography contest pictured with the officials.

photography. It was proudly noticeable today seeing all such skills and creative energies of diverse group of participants. “ It is worth mentioning that the contest “Helwa Ya Kuwait” was presented and organized by “KUNA” last February in celebration of Kuwait’s 50th anniversary, whereby all photos showed aspects of the State of Kuwait’s aesthetic scenes, resourceful photos published in local press and sports in addition to shots of HH the Amir and some photos of the invasion and liberation. Winners were selected based on several criteria including: fine-looking snapshots of Kuwait’s landmarks, the best shot of HH the Amir, photos in news, sports, invasion or liberation, as well as best retouched photos. During the ceremony, Wataniya telecom was honored as a key sponsor. Wataniya Telecom promises to continue its constant national approach in the field of social responsibility and provision of society.

Can sustainable development work? Dutch ambassador focuses on energy consumption at AUK By Hussain Al-Qatari KUWAIT: The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands to Kuwait, Ton Boon von Ochssee presented a seminar at the American University of Kuwait (AUK) yesterday about sustainable energy. The seminar was titled “Can Sustainable Development Work?” Ochssee is a sustainable energy advocate and the Ambassador for Sustainable Development in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. He said that sustainable development can be achieved and is not at all impossible, but is as challenging as all new projects. Drawing the audience’s attention to the status quo, Ochssee noted: “Over the past few years, our consumption of energy has grown 16-fold. We have

a significant shortage of water on the planet, as well as a significant demand for water. We also have a notable loss of biological diversity, species threatened by extinction, and generally a big damage to the ecological system.” He noted that these issues face everybody as residents of this planet. “There are no borders on this globe. We all share one ecological system,” he noted. Ochssee explained that there are four responsible entities who can affect sustainable development: governments, science and research institutes, non-government organizations, and businesses. “These four entities are all consumers of the ecological system, so they will benefit greatly if the ecological system is sustained. It serves them, they are dependent on it, and they can have an impact on it too, whether positive or negative,” he said.

Giving examples of solutions to the problem, Ochssee said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands follows certain policies where it aims to reduce energy consumption annually by 2 percent, or cut down on traveling for business and replacing it with tele-conferencing instead. “In our embassies around the world, we also encourage reducing the waste of papers. These are just examples of small things that can have a great impact over time. Climate change and the disturbance of the ecological system will eventually affect Kuwait and all the countries in the world. The country is already trying to implement sustainable policies, but serious attention should be paid to the areas concerning waste management as well as water and energy conservation,” he said.



Car mechanic killed in Shuwaikh garage fire Asian woman commits suicide KUWAIT: A car mechanic died while two others managed to escape unharmed following a fire that completely burned down a garage in Shuwaikh’s Industrial Area. The three Egyptian brothers were working on a truck when its gas tank exploded after being exposed to heat. Two of them were able to escape in time, but the third got trapped in smoke while he was trying to escape from the roof, and was later found dead from suffocation. His body was taken to the coroner and an investigation has been opened into the case.

Lulu Hypermarket launches food festival KUWAIT: Lulu Hypermarket, the largest retail and lifestyle shopping destination in Kuwait, launched their Food Festival 2011 on 25th April at their Al Rai outlet. Sheikh Ali Naser Ali Al-Sabah inaugurated the food festival in the presence of Dr. Mustafa Yacoub Behbehani, a large

gathering of shoppers, well-wishers and the hypermarket’s management. Cutting a stupendous cake of 22 meters length, easily the longest cake baked in the country, Sheikh Ali declared the festival open. The food festival, which will run simultaneously at the hypermarket’s Al Rai and Al Qurain outlets till the 12th of May, promises to be 18 full days of attractive promotions, exciting competitions and a celebration of great foods from around the globe. During weekends, the festival will feature special offerings and

tastings sessions at the Hot Foods and Bakery section that focus on a range of classic foods. Showcasing themes like Choc-O-Mania, Grill-OMania and Rice-N-spice, the special counters will provide shoppers with the unique opportunity to experience food and food-related prod-

ucts from all over the world. Adding further anticipation to the food festival will be a special raffle-draw promotion that will run for a whole month, till the 25th of May. During the promotion, for every KD 3 spent, shoppers will get a chance to win attractive prizes, including 5 Samsung Home (32” LED TV, refrigerator, washing machine, microwave oven and home theatre), 10 Apple wi-fi iPads, 10 Samsung Galaxy Tabs and 100 Gift vouchers of KD 50. Another exciting event lined up for the festival is the appearance of

Fake companies support spying networks: Study KUWAIT: There are Iranian espionage networks in Kuwait who are active through bogus companies that employ staff members whose main job is to monitor the local conditions, provide financial and logistic support to sleeping cells, infiltrate into security and military institutions as well as recruit personnel with similar ideologies to that of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionar y Guard, according to a study. Those allegations were mentioned in a recent study carried out by the Diplomatic Center for Strategic Studies, which indicates that Tehran wouldn’t hesitate carr ying out any action “as long as it serves its interests, even if it comes at the expense of other countries including neighboring nations”. The study attempted to look into the reasons and connota-

tions for the presence of a spying network in Kuwait that was discovered to be working for Iran. The study mentions Kuwait as “a top priority in Iran’s expansion strategy ”, and “a main base for its regional project”, while noting Kuwait’s ‘great level of openness’ compared to other Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Moreover, the study demands certain procedures from state departments that include announcing official stances decidedly, finalizing investigation reports as soon as possible, and fixing any holes that can be used to infiltrate into Kuwait’s security. It also recommends reassessment of KuwaitiIranian relations on which the sustainability of bilateral relations would depend. — Al-Qabas

international celebrity chef, Sanjeev Kapoor of India, who will unveil his ‘Ready-to-Eat’ range of foods and provide live-demos of his culinary skills. Chef Kapoor, an international best-selling author in his own right, will provide signed copies of his latest cook-book. A special press-conference to meet and talk with the celebrity chef has been arranged for the 7thof May. This year’s food festival is also distinctive in that the format of the cookery contest has been extended to give many more participants a chance to showcase their skills. Winners of the initial contests from the categories of Salads, Meat, Chicken, Seafood, Rice and Desserts will take part in the mega final. Attractive prizes await winners of the cookery contest finals. Besides displaying niche food products and seasonal food produce from several countries, the Lulu Food Festival is also an annual celebration of the rich cultural, social and culinary diversity worldwide. It is an opportunity to pay tribute to the marvelous foods that give us such unalloyed pleasure, and to reflect for a moment on how close together the world is really becoming - with kiwis from New Zealand and salmon from Alaska gracing dining tables in Kuwait. The food Festival 2011 is part of Lulu Hypermarket’s initiative to continuously bring the best of the world to their customers through providing the right products in the right place at the right time. Catering to over 420,000 customers every day across the region, the Lulu Hypermarket chain has grown to become the shopping center of choice among discerning customers looking for quality retailing. This popularity is attested by the fact that the brand enjoys close to 35 percent of the total retail market share in the GCC. With a clear focus on consolidating its retail dominance in the region, the Lulu Hypermarkets chain is rapidly expanding in both existing as well as new markets around the Gulf region. The latest outlet of Lulu Hypermarket, which recently opened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, takes the total number of retail outlets in the region to 89 and sets the hypermarket well on its way to reaching their target of opening 100 stores by the end of 2011.

Kuwait envoy meets Brazilian official BRASILIA: Kuwaiti Ambassador in Brazil Yussif Abdelasamad met here yesterday Brazilian Minas Gerais Governor Antonio Anastasia as part of a visit by Arab ambassadors to the Brazilian state. The tour is mainly intended to seek closer cooperative relations between Brazil and Arab countries, the Kuwaiti embassy here said in a release. During the meeting, the Kuwaiti ambassador stressed the significance of the visit, which highlighted available investment opportunities in Minas Gerais, a key powerhouse in Brazil, according to the release. Minas Gerais is rich in natural resources, chiefly iron, steel, industrial, electronic, electric and food materials, it said. During their tour, the Arab ambassadors also met several Brazilian officials in the state on possible cooperation and plans for mutual visits between both sides’ officials in the field of trade and industry, it added. — KUNA

Inebriated patient Medical staff of the Adan Hospital filed a case against a patient who caused a scene inside the hospital where he was admitted in a state of heavy intoxication. The suspect, an American citizen, engaged in a fight with doctors and public relation officers alike and also flashed the female nurses. He was restrained and the hospital’s authorities went to the Abdullah Port police station and pressed charges.

ed to the scene after an 18-year-old young man reported finding his father motionless in the bathroom after he slipped in the shower. After his death was confirmed, the victim’s body was taken to the coroner for an autopsy.

Medical Zone, which is worth more than KD25,000. Officers headed to the scene after the facility’s supervisor reported the beds missing, and investigators were able to find evidence which indicated that the beds were indeed stolen.

Suicide probe An investigation was launched to reveal the circumstances which led to an Asian woman’s suicide at home in Sabah Al-Salem where she worked as a maid. Police headed to the scene after a female citizen reported finding the housemaid’s body hanging from the ceiling inside her room. The preliminary investigation report ruled the victim’s death as a suicide, and her body was taken for an autopsy.

Cultural dispute An employee at the Palace of Justice lodged a complaint against a Kuwaiti man following a misunderstanding in which he mistook a compliment for an insult. The incident started when the citizen who is of bedoon origins, used a complimentar y term from his culture which the officer wasn’t familiar with, and thought was an insult. The complainant went first to his manager who tried to explain to him after hearing the story that the word which the citizen used was actually a compliment. He wasn’t convinced, and headed directly to the general director who also tried to explain to him what the citizen had meant. The employee insisted on lodging a complaint nonetheless.

Cat-fight A female student was taken to the Mubarak Hospital with a stab wound she obtained during a fight that took place between four students at the female students’ commercial college in Hawally. The three other brawlers were taken into custody for interrogation.

Imposters held Two militar y personnel were arrested shortly after they mugged a citizen at the parking lot of AlJahra hospital. Investigations were underway after the victim reported being approached by two persons who identified themselves as police detectives and engaged him in conversation outside the hospital. The suspects then forced their victim inside their car, and stole his money before kicking him out and driving away. Police were able to locate the suspects an hour later after using the license plate number of their car to find it, as it was discovered that they were employees of the Ministry of Defense.

Cardiac arrest A citizen in his forties was pronounced dead at home in Saad AlAbdullah house owing to a cardiac arrest. Paramedics and police head-

Stolen beds Police are trying to uncover the mystery behind the disappearance of nine hospital beds from a medical facility located in Al-Sabah

Arab-Rocks team (Shipments Spy project)

Fraud arrested A state employee working at a customer care department was recently put under arrest after he was found responsible for several illegal deals in which he installed electricity meters to unlicensed buildings in exchange for money. The suspect was nabbed after he was set up in a trap in which he agreed on a deal to install a device at an unlicensed building for KD1,500. He confessed under interrogation that he had committed 35 other similar crimes. - Al-Watan, AlAnba, Al-Rai, Al-Qabas

SWAP team (Revolutionary Reporting System project)

University students from Kuwait to compete in Imagine Cup finals KUWAIT: Microsoft Kuwait yesterday announced that four teams from leading universities in the country have qualified for the regional finals of Microsoft’s premier technology competition, Imagine Cup 2011. The teams selected represent Kuwait University and American University of Kuwait. Now in its ninth year, Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2011 called upon students across Kuwait to rise to the challenge and “imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today.” The four teams selected will compete with other teams from UAE and Oman to showcase their innovative projects at the regional finals to be held in the UAE on April 25, 2011. “With Microsoft Imagine Cup, a small idea can lead to a ground breaking solution” said Ehab Mostafa, Country Manager, Microsoft Kuwait. “ The notion of making the world a better place is at the heart of Imagine Cup and it provides a fertile environment where the brightest young minds across Kuwait can express their creativity and passion for technology by coming up with new solutions for the challenges we face today in the world. “The teams have exhibited tremendous passion and innovation to make it to the regional finals and I wish them the very best for the future. Our focus on Imagine Cup reflects Microsoft’s continued commitment in supporting student talent in science and technology to drive future prosperity in the country”. The four projects advancing from Kuwait to the regional finals consist of the following: • A team from Kuwait University has developed a project called “Shipments Spy”. This consists of computer software that monitors petroleum shipments by sensing the surrounding temperature, humidity, pressure and other factors that may affect them. For certain boundaries, the software will alert the user for any potential risks and the path of the shipment will be tracked. • The “Enlight” project developed by students from the American University of Kuwait consists of a portable, low-cost hardware & software development platform in the form of a smartboard with a touchbased surface. This allows an individual with a walking/motor disability to connect a Windows Phone 7 handset to a class session & teach using the phone • The “Revolutionary Reporting System” project which has been developed by students from the American University of Kuwait consists of a simple image reporting software that uses the geographic location tagging on images to make reporting efficient • “The World” project developed by students from the American University of Kuwait consists of an application which helps a user to communicate with all human languages. The voice wave feature of the

application captures the sound wave of the user and translates it into a valid language As the world’s premier student technology competition, the Imagine Cup is Microsoft’s initiative to encourage young people to apply their imagination and creativity to technology innovations that can make a difference and address real-world issues. Students aged 16 and over were invited to register for the 2011 event for which they use technology to create innovative solutions that can change the world. Imagine Cup compliments Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential commitment to create social and economic opportunity through programs and products that transform education, foster local innovation and enable jobs and opportunities worldwide. Over 2,000 students from various universities around the Gulf region registered last year, with an all-female Kuwaiti team emerging as winners in the Gulf in 2010.

Team Dream (Enlight project)

Team VOL (The World project)

UN panel finds ‘credible evidence’ of Lanka war crimes Page 12


Libya descends into civil war West mounts pressure on Gaddafi

MISRATA: A Libyan rebel walks past a tank to Muammar Gaddafi’s forces that was destroyed by a NATO bombing at the vegetable market near the severely damaged Tripoli street of the besieged city of Misrata yesterday. — AFP

TRIPOLI: Britain and the United States plan to step up military pressure on Muammar Gaddafi yesterday, as the Libyan leader’s army engaged in fierce clashes with rebels in the bloody siege of Misrata. More than a month of air strikes in a British and French-led NATO mission to protect Libyan civilians have failed to dislodge Gaddafi or bring big gains for antigovernment rebels who hold much of east Libya, raising fears of a lingering stalemate. British Defense Secretary Liam Fox and Britain’s Chief of the Defense Staff General David Richards will meet US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington. “The meeting will be about how we can put military pressure on the regime, and that will include the tooth and the tail- the people pulling the trigger to kill civilians in Misrata and the people supplying them,” a Ministry of Defense source said. As Libya has descended into civil war, counterattacks by government forces have underlined that Gaddafi will not go the same way as fellow leaders in Egypt and Tunisia did in the tide of popular unrest that has rolled across the Arab world. The Libyan leader has vowed to fight to the death, blaming foreign powers and AlQaeda for the insurgency. The war has split the oil producer, Africa’s fourth biggest, into a government-held western area round the capital Tripoli and an eastern region held by ragged but dedicated rebels. Tripoli was quiet yesterday after a NATO strike on Gaddafi’s compound in the capital which Libyan officials said was an attempt to kill the leader who is fighting an uprising against his 41-year rule of this oil producing desert state. FIERCE FIGHTING IN MISRATA Troops loyal to Gaddafi have extended their campaign to pound Berber towns in Libya’s Western Mountains while battling rebels around the port of the western hold-out city of Misrata, scene of a worsening humanitarian crisis. “Gaddafi’s forces bombarded the port today,” the spokesman, called Abdelsalam, said by telephone. “The (pro-Gaddafi) troops launched an attack on an eastern area in a bid to control the port. Fierce fighting is taking place there now,” he said. Asked about the death toll he said: “There are three martyrs and 10 wounded.” While the world’s attention has been on the deadly siege of Misrata and battles further east, fighting has intensified in the Western Mountains. Flanked by deserts, the mountain range stretches west for over 150 km from south of Tripoli to Tunisia, and is inhabited by Berbers who are ethnically distinct from most Libyans and long viewed with suspicion by the government. Western Mountains towns joined the wider revolt against Gaddafi’s rule in February. They fear they are now paying the price while NATO efforts to whittle down Gaddafi’s forces from the air are concentrated on bigger population centers. ZINTAN FEARS MISSILE STRIKES A rebel spokesman, called Abdulrahman, told Reuters from the town of Zintan in Libya’s Western Mountains: “It is quiet today but we fear shelling tonight. Gaddafi’s forces have bombarded us with

Grad rockets for four days after sunset.” “Four people were killed on Sunday including an elderly woman. Three people were also wounded including a 11-year old girl child,” he said, adding: “We have not heard any air strike by NATO forces for, I think, four days. They attacked Gaddafi’s soldiers in an area north of Zintan on Friday but the troops are still there hiding in valleys.” The UN refugee agency UNHCR said 30,000 people had fled the Western Mountains for Tunisia in the past three weeks, leaving the towns of Nalut and Wazin virtually deserted. “Only a few men could be seen thereno women and children,” the agency said in a statement. A British military spokesman, Major General John Lorimer, said British planes were in action at the weekend around Misrata, Yafran, Ajdabiyah and Brega, destroying tanks, rockets, missile launchers and armored personnel carriers. Around Brega, the Libyan army reinforced its positions and dug in its longrange missile batteries to conceal them from attacks by NATO planes, a rebel army officer said yesterday. Comments by rebel officer Abdul Salam Mohammed suggested Gaddafi now had clear control of the fought-over town. “There are 3,000 government troops in Brega and the next two towns. They have been building up their presence,” he said on the western edge of the strategic town of Ajdabiyah. “We are controlling the area from here to alArbeen (halfway to Brega) but they still have snipers in the area, hiding in the desert behind the sand dunes, and they are active,” he added. The United States, the United Nations and European Union imposed sanctions on the Libyan government and selected Libyan companies in late February and in March. But Libya has imported gasoline from Italian refiner Saras in April, taking advantage of a loophole in UN sanctions that permits purchases by companies not on a UN list of banned entities, according to shipping sources. LIBYAN IMPORTS UNDER SCRUTINY Libyan efforts to import fuel may be raised at the meeting in Washington yesterday. Fox told the BBC on Monday that Western forces were already interdicting oil tankers carrying refined products for Gaddafi fighters. Britain’s Foreign Minister William Hague told the cabinet yesterday to “prepare for the long haul” in Libya. The African Union has been holding separate talks with Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi and rebel representatives in Addis Ababa to discuss a ceasefire plan. The rebels had earlier rebuffed an AU plan because it did not entail Gaddafi’s departure, while the United States, Britain and France say there can be no political solution until the Libyan leader leaves power. Ramtane Lamamra, AU’s Commissioner for Peace and Security, accused the West of failing to support the Ethiopia-based bloc’s own peace proposal. “Attempts have been made to marginalize an African solution to the crisis,” he said. “The imposition of a nofly zone over Libya and aerial bombardment by the Coalition, and now by NATO, have not brought a solution to the crisis,” Lamamra said. “In fact, the military situation on the ground seems to be sliding into a stalemate.” — Reuters




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Nigerians head for polls finale after bloody riots Nigeria to elect governors for 36 states UYO: Nigeria headed to the polls yesterday to choose powerful state governors amid fears of a resurgence of the violence that left hundreds dead after a presidential election earlier this month. Yesterday’s vote is the last stage of an election process that while considered to have been the fairest in decades has not escaped the violence long associated with Nigerian politics. There were outbreaks of unrest in the oil-rich Niger Delta, where six people were arrested attempting to steal ballot boxes in Rivers state, and opposition party members made accusations of political thuggery in areas of President Goodluck Jonathan’s home state of Bayelsa, where there were also arrests. The vote is expected to be fiercely fought as the 36 state governors are some of Nigeria’s most powerful politicians, wielding influence at the national level and controlling budgets in some cases larger than those of small African nations. In the federal parliament polls earlier this month, few voters could name their candidates and turnout was low. There was more enthusiasm at the presidential

around the southern city of corrugated iron roofs among mango and palm trees. “Everybody wants their voice to be heard and they believe that their governor is closer to them than the president,” Effiong said as scores of people lined up to be accredited even before voting materials had arrived. Supporters in the commercial hub Lagos tried to boost voter turnout with chain text messages

helping run polling units, stayed indoors fearing they may be targeted again in election violence. “The turnout of voters is very low ... even my fellow corps members are not here because of fear of insecurity,” said Mahmud Abubakar, working in the ancient northern city of Kano. The opposition Action Congress of Nigeria party said at least three of its supporters were killed in the village of Ikot Osudu,

UYO: Motorcyclists ride past a campaign billboard of John James Akpan, of the Action Congress of Nigeria, in Uyo. —AP election a week later, but the debate on the street was around personalities rather than policies. Yesterday, much more is at stake. “It determines who governs the soul of your state,” said Tony Effiong, 28, a student waiting to vote in Uyo, as armed police and soldiers manned checkpoints

urging the recipients not to “sit in your house” and to remember “every vote is important.” But numbers were down in some northern areas hard hit by last week’s riots, while accreditation started late in many parts of the country after some youth corp members, young graduates on national service

in Akwa Ibom, overnight in an attempt to intimidate voters. The police said it was a simple armed robbery. An Islamic sect is suspected of being behind bomb blasts that killed at least two people in northeast Nigeria on Sunday. This month’s elections have already been an emotional

rollercoaster for the 73 million registered voters in Nigeria, which-until 10 days ago-had failed to hold a single credible election since the end of military rule in 1999. Hundreds were feared dead after violence erupted in the mostly Muslim north last week after Jonathan, a southern Christian, was declared winner by a wide margin of an April 16 presidential election. Supporters of his northern opponent Muhammadu Buhari rejected the results and took to the streets, burning churches, mosques and homes to the ground. Tens of thousands of displaced people are sheltering in army barracks where they are being looked after by aid agencies. Yesterday’s vote has been delayed by two days in the northern states of Kaduna and Bauchi, two of the worst-hit areas. Africa’s most populous country, with more people than Russia, is split almost equally between a mainly Muslim north and a majority Christian south, although large minority groups live in both regions. Jonathan may have been declared the winner of the presidential race but his ruling People’s Democratic Party, which has already seen its parliamentary majority weakened, is expected to lose ground at the state level. A poll by global research firm Ipsos published in This Day newspaper showed the PDP, which currently controls more than two thirds of the 36 states, could lose as many as nine to opposition parties. The Congress for Progressive Change of former military ruler Buhari, Jonathan’s main rival in the presidential race, who claims rigging deprived him of victory, is expected to perform strongly in the north. —Reuters

Yemen rivals to sign power transfer plan SANAA: Yemen’s government and opposition will travel to Riyadh today to sign an agreement brokered by Gulf states to end three months of political unrest that claimed over 130 lives, both sides said. “We have received an invitation from Saudi Arabia to sign in Riyadh an agreement on the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative,” said Sultan al-Barakani, the deputy secretary general of Yemen’s ruling party. A leader from the Common Forum, a coalition of Yemen’s parliamentary opposition, said a delegation from his group would also head to Riyadh on Wednesday to sign the agreement. Barakani said the ambassadors of the United States, European Union members, GCC states and a UN representative in Riyadh will witness the signing. The six-nation GCC had proposed the formation of a government of national unity in Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh transferring his powers to his vice president, and an end to deadly protests rocking the impoverished country. Under the GCC initiative, the president would submit his resignation to parliament within 30 days, with a presidential vote to be held within two months. However, a defiant Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for 32 years, has publicly insisted on sticking to the constitution in any transfer of power, even though his ruling General People’s Congress party has said it accepts the GCC plan. Demonstrations demanding the immediate ouster of Saleh since late January have claimed the lives of at least 130 people. The GCC states, including Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States and the European Union vouch for the implementation of the agreement, according to the text of the plan. Opposition spokesman Mohammed Qahtan said the Common Forum told GCC secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani of the decision to accept the transition. “We have given our final accord to the (GCC) initiative after having received assurances from our Gulf brothers and American and European friends on our objections to certain clauses in the plan,” Qahtan said. The US has strongly backed the plan, while Britain on Monday warned that Yemen’s “grave economic, social and security challenges” would escalate unless the transition from Saleh’s rule was achieved quickly. British Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt urged all sides to “seize this opportunity and finalize an agreement,” adding: “The GCC initiative represents our best hope for a constructive and peaceful way forward.” Despite the Common Forum agreeing to the Gulf transition plan, demonstrators have kept up their agitation for the immediate ouster and trial of Saleh. At least six more people were shot and wounded during separate demonstrations in Yemen yesterday. Violence erupted in the town of Taez, 200 kilometers south of the capital Sanaa. An organizer of the protest in Taez, Ahmed Wafi, said three men were wounded, one seriously, when troops fired at demonstrators. In Aden farther south, three people were wounded when security forces opened fire, witnesses and medical sources said. Tens of thousands of people kept up their sit-in at the main square in the capital and repeated their rejection of the transition plan. “We totally reject this plan. We demand not only that President Ali Abdullah Saleh leave, but he should also be tried,” one protester, Hashim Al-Sufi said. The more radical demonstrators, who have been observing a three-month sit-in at the main square yesterday called for a “march on the presidential palace.” —AFP

MISRATA: New recruits train and learn how to use weapons after signing up to join the rebel forces, at a training base in Misrata yesterday. —AP

N Africa, not Europe, shoulders Libya crisis GENEVA: Europe should help frontline Italy and Malta cope with people fleeing unrest in Nor th Africa, but the Maghreb region itself has borne the brunt of Libya’s crisis, aid agencies said yesterday. French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Rome yesterday looking to end a row over North African immigration and seeking a deal on tighter EU border controls with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi before taking joint proposals to EU partners. Around 25,000 migrants, most from France’s former colony Tunisia, have arrived in southern Italy so far this year, mainly aboard overcrowded boats landing on the island of Lampedusa. But the vast majority of the 665,000 people, mainly migrant workers, who have fled Libya since February have crossed into Tunisia, Egypt, Niger, Algeria, Chad and Sudan, aid agencies say. Only 5,182 of them have reached Italy and Malta. “I think we need to put it back into a context. You’ve got more than 600,000 people who have left Libya and transited through neighboring countries. Tunisia and Egypt have kept their borders open, Chad, Mali and others have done the same,” Jean-Philippe Chauzy of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said. “In terms of migration, the migratory pressure is not for the moment on European countries, it is on countries of

North Africa,” Chauzy told a news briefing in Geneva. The UN refugee agency said that a distinction must be drawn between people fleeing fighting and possible persecution in Libya and economic migrants who have left Tunisia, mainly young men in desperate search of jobs. “We have appealed a number of times to European countries to show solidarity with the countries on the frontline, namely Italy and Malta,” Andrej Mahecic of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. “But also we would like to highlight the fact that the brunt of this crisis in Libya is being basically taken care of by the countries in northern Africa, primarily by Tunisia itself, with more than a quarter of a million people arriving there, and by Egypt and the other countries in the region,” he said. An estimated 30,000 Libyan civilians have now fled their homes in the Western Mountains region and crossed into southern Tunisia over the past three weeks, UNHCR said. Most of the refugees are ethnic Berbers who wanted to escape fighting and shelling of their towns and villages, Mahecic said. “ The vast majority of (these) Libyan refugees are hosted by the local Tunisian communities, demonstrating once again their great generosity,” he said.—Reuters

CAIRO: Egyptian military police perform with their weapons on the anniversary of Sinai Liberation Day in front of the National TV building in Cairo on Monday, April 25, 2011. —AP

Most Egyptians want holy Quran as source of laws CAIRO: A majority of Egyptians believe laws in their country should observe the teachings of Islam’s holy book, the Quran, according to the results of an opinion poll by a US-based research center. The results also show that Egyptians, who have shifted toward religious conservatism over the past 40 or so years, are open to the inclusion of religious parties in future governments. Only a minority, however, sympathize with fundamentalist religious parties, according to the results. Overall, the results of the poll paint a picture of Egyptians as a people who prefer religious moderation over extremism and prize democratic values even if they come at the risk of some political instability. The poll results were released late Monday and come five months ahead of legislative elections, the first since the February ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak. Islamic parties are expected to make a significant showing in the crucial vote, with 50 percent of people saying it was “very important” for religious parties to be part of a future government and as much 37 percent have a “very favorable” view of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country ’s largest and best organized Islamic group. Another 62 percent of Egyptians believe laws in their country should strictly follow the teachings of the Quran, though 27 percent thought it was enough that the laws reflect Islam’s general values and principles. The poll, based on interviews with 1,000 Egyptians, was conducted by the Pew Research Center between March 24 and April 7. Its margin of error was plus or minus 4 percent. Its results gauge the mood in Egypt at a time when the country’s future is wide open after an end to 29 years of rule by Mubarak - a period defined for many by political suppression, corruption and wide socio-economic disparities. Mubarak’s departure in the face of a popular, 18-day uprising will now give Egyptians unprecedented freedom to choose their future government as well as give new opportunities to political and social forces that have long been kept under wraps. Islamic groups long suppressed under Mubarak are now free to operate publicly and plan to contest

the September vote, including some advocating a militant interpretation of Islam’s teachings and the creation of a state run by Islamic law. In a result that doesn’t bode well for the country’s lingering sectarian issues, the poll showed that only 36 percent of those questioned believe it is “very important” for Christians and other minorities to freely practice their religions, suggesting the influence of these militant groups, who have incited hatred of the country’s 10 percent Christian minority. Post-Mubarak Egypt also suffers from a security vacuum that has led to a dramatic surge in crime. Economic problems are also deepening and the country has had to borrow from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to balance its books since the political upheavals of the past three months have disrupted productivity, scared away tourists and hit exports. The poll results also showed that more than half of all Egyptians would like to see the 1979 peace agreement with Israel annulled, highlighting the deep unpopularity of the treaty, which is central to US policy in the region and was scrupulously adhered to by Mubarak. More than anything else, however, the youth-led pro-democracy movement, which reworked the political environment, dramatically improved people’s attitudes. The polls show a major rise in optimism and changing of national priorities. In 2007, Egyptian were evenly split over which was more important, a strong leader or democracy, but in the recent poll, 64 percent rated democracy higher. Of those whose names have been put forward as possible candidates for the presidential elections late this year, former Arab League head Amr Moussa was the most popular, with 89 percent giving him a very or somewhat favorable rating. Former presidential candidate Ayman Nour trailed with a 70 percent rating while Nobel Prize Laureate and reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei only had 57 percent rating. The United States, Egypt’s strongest foreign backer since the mid-1970s, continued to garner low approval ratings, with only 20 percent of Egyptians seeing it in a positive light, up from 17 percent in 2010.—AP

Egyptian court scraps land sale to Palm Hills CAIRO: An Egyptian court ruled yesterday that a state land sale to Palm Hills Development was illegal and scrapped the contract, sending more alarm through Egypt’s battered property sector. Property firms in Egypt are reeling under a string of legal challenges to their land holdings since a court ruled last year that a state deal with Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG), the country’s biggest developer, was illegal. Analysts said the court verdict yesterday will weigh on Palm Hills’ cash flow in 2011, as the firm struggles with mounting debt and liabilities, as well as rattle Egypt’s property market because of fear of contagion to other cases. A judicial panel is expected to submit this week reports on whether a government contract with TMG should be scrapped and if a state land sale to Egyptian Resorts’ Sahl Hasheesh Red Sea resort is illegal. The judicial body’s decisions have in the past influenced court verdicts. Hisham Halaldeen, an analyst at Naeem Holding, said Palm Hills had originally bought the land for around 300 pounds per square metre, whereas other land auctions in the same area of Katameya on Cairo’s outskirts had fetched 750 pounds per square metre. “If the company is to pay the difference as a settlement, they will have to pay an additional 422 million Egyptian pounds,” Halaldeen added. The company’s shares have tumbled 69 percent this year. “The biggest challenge for Palm Hills is the cash flow concerns for 2011. If they have to make the additional payment immediately, it will be tough,” said Halaldeen. He said he did not think the company would need to

make the payments immediately, adding that Palm Hills had said it might raise cash through a rights issue worth 400 million Egyptian pounds ($67.18 million). “Nevertheless, until there is more clarity on the land transactions, real estate stocks will continue to be impacted.” The company had no immediate comment on the verdict. Shares in Palm Hills, the country’s second-biggest listed developer, fell 3.6 percent yesterday, while Egypt’s benchmark index was down 0.1 percent. A judicial panel said in March the sale to Palm Hills was illegal because it was priced too cheaply and the land was not publicly auctioned. The court’s ruling comes in response to a suit filed by engineer Hamdy Fakhrany concerning the state’s sale of 960,000 square meters of land in a Cairo suburb. Palm Hills said in March the land plot had an existing project on it, Palm Hills Katameya, and represented only 2 percent of the firm’s land bank. But analysts expect a wider impact, with buyers nervous about signing up for properties from Palm Hills, which sells most of its developments off plan. “Definitely the more cancellations cannot be ruled out, and new sales are likely to remain muted,” said Ankur Khetawat, real estate analyst at HC Securities. “It’s not only because of uncertainty regarding companies such as Palm Hills and others but also because the overall environment is really uncertain until the new government is elected and more certainty returns to the market.” The land suits have unnerved investors about the risks of investing in Egyptian real estate. —Reuters



BBC journalist’s confession fuels Britain privacy debate LONDON: A BBC television journalist has disclosed that he won a court order in 2008 to prevent British newspapers from reporting details of an extra-marital affair, fuelling a debate on individual privacy versus press freedom. Andrew Marr, who regularly interviews senior politicians on an agenda-setting Sunday morning TV show, said he felt uncomfortable about obtaining a “super injunction” which critics say the rich and the famous are using to silence the press. “I did not come into journalism to go around gagging journalists,” the former BBC political editor told the Daily Mail newspaper in

TV journalist discloses he had media gagging order comments published on Tuesday. “Am I embarrassed by it? Am I uneasy about it? Yes. But at the time there was a crisis in my marriage,” added Marr, who is also a former editor of the Independent newspaper. Marr went public rather than fight a fresh attempt by satirical magazine Private Eye to get the 2008 ruling lifted. The “super injunction” is so named because not only are newspapers not allowed to publish the news, they are fur-

Sarkozy visits Italy to ease tensions ROME: French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Rome yesterday looking to end a row over North African immigration and ease tensions over a bid by France’s Lactalis for Italian food group Parmalat. Sarkozy, facing pressure on immigration from the far-right ahead of next year’s presidential election, wants to agree a deal on tighter EU border controls with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi before taking joint proposals to EU partners. The visit follows deep discord over the issue between Paris and Rome, which have also been at odds over French takeover bids of Italian companies and over policy in Libya. Just hours before the two leaders were due to give a news conference at 1100 GMT, dairy group Lactalis bid for Parmalat, a company Rome has declared to be of strategic importance to Italy’s economy. Sarkozy will welcome Italy ’s announcement late on Monday that its war planes will join France’s and Britain’s in bombing Libya, after previously playing only support roles but the meeting is expected to be a tense one. France and Italy have accused the other of flouting the spirit of the Schengen treaty, which eliminates many border controls within the EU, as they grapple with a wave of migrants arriving in the wake of unrest across North Africa. So far this year, around 25,000 migrants, most from France’s former colony Tunisia, have arrived in southern Italy on

small, overloaded fishing boats, creating a humanitarian emergency on the tiny island of Lampedusa where most of the boats landed. Italy says it has been left to deal with the problem on its own while France has accused Rome of trying to escape its responsibilities by allowing illegal immigrants free transit across the border. Italian officials said Sarkozy and Berlusconi would sign a joint letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council head Herman Van Rompuy seeking to tighten Schengen controls. The letter will ask that the EU strengthen border control agency Frontex, step up development assistance to North African countries and allow member states to reimpose frontier controls in exceptional circumstances. The two leaders may also discuss Bank of Italy Governor Mario Draghi’s bid to succeed Jean-Claude Trichet at the head of the European Central Bank as well as a simmering row over a series of takeovers involving French and Italian companies. The battle for Parmalat, Italy’s biggest listed food group in which Lactalis has built a stake of 30 percent, has been most in focus but other deals involving luxury group Bulgari and power group Edison have also caused friction. Yesterday, as Italian banks were trying to form a consortium to bid for Parmalat, Lactalis said it was launching a bid valuing the company at 3.375 billion euros ($4.90 billion). — Reuters

ther blocked from saying who won the order. Prime Minister David Cameron said last week that he was uneasy about the way that judges were creating a form of privacy law by the backdoor through a series of such orders, rather than allowing parliament to legislate. Britain has a highly competitive tabloid press which uses tales of infidelity by sportsmen and celebrities to help sell newspapers in a declining market. Tabloid tactics

are in the spotlight after the News of the World, part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, apologized to eight people including actress Sienna Miller for intercepting their voicemail messages in search of stories. Newspapers argue that the use of gagging orders risks harming genuine investigative journalism. “These super-injunctions don’t just involve the tabloids,” David Leigh, investigations executive editor at the Guardian newspaper, told the BBC. “They

have spread like a disease or a virus and they cause serious problems for serious papers.” Advocates of press freedom cite the case of former Royal Bank of Scotland boss Fred Goodwin, who became a public hate figure after leaving the bailed-out bank with a lucrative pension. Goodwin won a super injunction imposing a news blackout on reporting about him, including the detail that he was a banker. It was disclosed when Liberal Democrat lawmaker John Hemming used parliamentary privilege to talk about the order in March. — Reuters

World marks Chernobyl ’versary, eyes Fukushima 1986 Chernobyl explosion spread radiation across Europe CHERNOBYL: Ukraine marked the 25th anniversary yesterday of the world’s worst nuclear accident at its Chernobyl power plant as Japan pressed on with efforts to control the crisis at its Fukushima plant. On April 26 1986, the No 4 reactor at the Chernobyl plant, then in the Soviet Union, exploded and caught fire after a safety test experiment went badly wrong. The blast sent radiation billowing across Europe. A total of 31 people died immediately but many more died of radiation-related sicknesses such as cancer, many of them in what is today Belarus. Tens of thousands were evacuated, never to return, from Prypyat, the town closest to the site which then had a population of 50,000. Last week the world community, spurred by the nuclear crisis at Japan’s Fukushima plant, pledged 550 million euros ($780 million) to help build a new containment shell over the stricken reactor at the Chernobyl site to replace a makeshift one that has begun to leak radiation. “Chernobyl was a challenge of planetary dimensions. The answer to this challenge can be provided only by the world community,” Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said yesterday. “For a long time, Ukraine was

CHERNOBYL: (From left) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill are seen during a memorial ceremony at the monument to Chernobyl victims outside Chernobyl’s ravaged 4th nuclear reactor that exploded on April 26, 1986. — AP alone with this calamity, but happily we are not alone now,” he said in a statement on the presidential website Yanukovich was to visit Chernobyl later yesterday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. Chernobyl has remained the benchmark for nuclear accidents. Though Chernobyl town itself was rela-

tively untouched by the accident, Prypyat is now a ghost town at the centre of a largely uninhabited exclusion zone with a radius of 30 km. On April 12 Japan raised the severity rating at its Fukishima plant to seven, the same level as that of Chernobyl. “This is a day of mourning for us. We are in mourning for the people who 25 years ago fought to protect us,” said Gennady Pikul, 50, referring to firefighters and

other ‘liquidators’ who at risk to their lives fought to control the blazing reactor. “We will do everything we can so that this is never repeated,” he said. The 550 million euros raised at the donors’ conference last week will be added to cash already contributed for construction of a new 110-metre high encasement over the reactor and a storage facility for spent fuel. Soviet officials in 1986 withheld reporting the accident for two days, provoking Western accusations that a secrecy-obsessed Moscow had hoped to cover the accident up. Medvedev, meeting survivors of Chernobyl clean-up efforts in the Kremlin on Monday, said there must be greater transparency in nuclear emergencies. “I think that our state must learn the lessons from what happened-from the now-distant Chernobyl incident in 1986 and the recent tragedies in Japan. Perhaps the most important lesson is the need to tell people the truth,” he said. “Because the world is so fragile and we are all so inter-connected, any attempts to hide the truth-to refrain from talking about something publicly, glossing over a situation, making it more optimistic than it is-these subsequently result in the tragic loss of human lives,” he said. — Reuters



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Migrants forced to be sex slaves in Mexico TAPACHULA: Locals call them “merchandise” and that is how criminal gangs treat the Central American youths they force into prostitution near Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala. Victims recount being tricked into making the dangerous journey across Central America in the hope of a better life before being stopped en route in southern Mexico and forced to work for nothing. The Honduran consul in Mexico’s southern Chiapas state, Patricia Villamil, alerted local authorities to several cases when she took on her job last November. When they failed to respond, she spoke out.” They bring women from Honduras, preferably under 18,” said Villamil, who has already recorded a dozen cases of minors between 14 and 17 years old being forced into prostitution. “They steal their innocence. They hit them, mistreat

them, humiliate and rape them,” she said. Witness accounts map out a route starting in the poor communities of Honduras, passing through Guatemala before crossing the border into Mexico. The girls are then distributed among several dozen bars and brothels in Chiapas, which are each thought to employ between eight and 14 foreigners. A 17-year-old Honduran who gave her name as Valeria ended up in Mexico after following that well-worn route, on the promise of a free journey and a job in a restaurant in Mexico from a woman in her village. The single mother travelled with a friend and four other minors-those who are most in demand by pimps at the border. Valeria eventually arrived at a sordid bar in Mexico where she forced herself to drink 17 beers to give her courage to face clients on her first

night as a prostitute. “I had to ‘deal with it’ every time a client wanted it. It was six or seven times almost every day. Once it was 12 times,” she said. The owner of the bar demanded 5,000 pesos (430 dollars) for the journey. Another bar owner eventually paid the debt, but forced her to work for him in return. After four months’ of work, with up to 16-hour days, she has not yet received any money. “Generally they don’t pay minors. They give them food and clothes and build up new debts for them,” said Enrique Mendez, the prosecutor in charge of crimes against immigrants in Chiapas state. Mendez denied that organized criminal groups were operating in the area, and said most girls arrived independently in Chiapas, on a route taken by hundreds of thousands of migrants hop-

ing to reach the United States each year. But the consul and victims said bar owners sought new supplies of young girls, who arrived in groups of five or six. “Yes, there’s people trafficking but not in an alarming manner,” Mendez admitted in his office in the border town of Tapachula. “There is a lot of prostitution, particularly of minors,” he added. The consul and activists for immigrants’ rights blame authorities for minimizing the problem, which occurs alongside a spike in attacks on migrants in Mexico and an explosion of gang violence in recent years. “Here in Chiapas, everyone knows what’s happening,” the Honduran consul said. “I don’t care if the government is bothered that I say it. I’m not going to shut up until they do their job.”— AFP

Gitmo files show inmates combative and depressed US blunders at Guantanamo exposed

CHIHUAHUA: Inmates play basketball in the prison courtyard in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. Six-meter-high walls separate the Aztecas and Mexicles gangs in the jail of Ciudad Juarez, in an attempt to avoid the confrontations that they maintain in the blood-stained streets of Mexico’s most violent city. —AFP

Washington expands Mexico travel warning Police free 51 kidnapped in Mexico PHOENIX: Spreading drug violence in Mexico has led the US State Department to increase the number of places it says Americans should avoid for safety reasons. A travel advisory issued over the Easter weekend urged US citizens to avoid all but essential travel to 10 states in northern and central Mexico due to “ongoing violence and persistent security concerns.” Last September, it had issued a warning about six states. The latest advisory cited concerns about parts of Sonora, south of Arizona, and Mexico’s central Jalisco, San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas states, where drug cartel violence has spiked in recent months. The State Department also maintained its September warning against non-essential travel to nor thern Tamaulipas and central Michoacan, parts of northwestern Durango and Sinaloa and the border states of Coahuila and Chihuahua, south of Texas. “Bystanders, including US citizens, have been injured or killed in violent incidents in various parts of the country, especially, but not exclusively in the nor thern border region, demonstrating the heightened risk of violence throughout Mexico,” the travel advisory said. More than 37,000 people have been k illed in Mexico since late 2006 when President Felipe Calderon took office and sent the Mexican armed forces to crush powerful cartels battling for lucrative smuggling routes to the United States. The State Depar tment advisor y noted that 111 Americans were repor ted murdered in Mexico last year, up from 35 in 2007. Authorities earlier this month retrieved 177 corpses from a mass grave in San Fernando, Tamaulipas. Mexico’s Attorney General blamed the Zetas drug cartel for the killings. In another high profile incident, a US federal agent was shot dead and a second wounded on a highway in San Luis Potosi in February. That attack was also blamed on the Zetas. Meanwhile, Mexican police on Monday freed 51 people who had been kidnapped in the northeast of the country, including 18 Central American and six Chinese migrant workers, the public security ministry said.

The raid on a building in the northeastern town of Reynosa near the US border-where rival drug cartels battle it out for lucrative trade routes to the north-uncovered 14 Guatemalans, two Hondurans and two Salvadorans. The other 27 detainees were Mexicans, the ministry said in a statement. The statement did not mention any arrests during the operation. Earlier this month police freed 68 kidnapped individuals, including 12 Central American migrants, in Reynosa. Four policemen were detained on Monday in connection with the earlier release. Those who were rescued said they had been kidnapped when gunmen from the Gulf drug cartel hijacked the buses they were traveling on. Reynosa is around 160 kilometers away from the town of San Fernando, where police have unearthed 177 bodies buried in unmarked graves. Officials said the total probably includes 122 passengers from a bus that was commandeered near San Fernando, and have blamed the killings on the Zetas drug cartel, now in a bloody dispute with the Gulf, its former ally. San Fernando was the same municipality where the Zetas last year kidnapped and slaughtered 73 immigrants from Central and South America on their way north to try to illegally cross into the United States. Mexican police have also been unearthing bodies in the central city of Durango over the last two weeks. On Monday the state prosecutor’s office said they had found an additional 17 corpses, bringing the total to 75. Authorities have yet to identify the victims or say who might have been responsible for the killings. Mexico has been convulsed by drug violence since the government launched a major military assault on the cartels in 2006, with some 34,600 people killed in shootouts among rival cartels and security forces. Three policemen were shot dead on Monday in two separate incidents in the city of Monterrey, the state government said. The shootings followed a series of deadly attacks on police and shops in recent days that have been blamed on drug gangs.— Agencies

US still unpopular in Egypt WASHINGTON: Political change in Egypt has done little to improve the opinion that Egyptians have of the United States, according to a poll out Monday. Only 22 percent of Egyptians said that the United States had a positive impact on the political situation in Egypt, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. According to the survey, 39 percent said the United States had a negative impact, and 35 percent said that it had neutral impact. Washington, which was closely tied to the authoritarian regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, is supporting the transition to democracy in Egypt. Yet 79 percent of those asked in the Pew survey had an unfavorable view of the United States, a tiny change from 82 percent in a similar poll in 2010. Twenty percent have a favorable view of the United States against 17 percent in last year’s poll. In a key June 2009 speech in Cairo, President Barack Obama called for better relations between the United States and the Muslim world. Yet according to the poll, 64 percent have little or no confidence in

Obama up from 59 percent in 2010 against 35 percent who have a lot or some confidence in him, up from 33 percent last year. More broadly, 52 percent of those polled disapprove the way Obama is handling calls for political change in places like Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Libya, against 45 percent who approve. Among those who disapprove, 42 percent say that Obama has been too timid in showing support for those calling for change. Concerning bilateral relations, 40 percent of those surveyed want Egypt to maintain relations unchanged with the United States and 15 percent are hoping closer ties, against 43 percent who want Cairo to distance itself from Washington. Separately, 77 percent of those surveyed said that Mubarak’s resignation was a good thing, and 65 percent are satisfied with the way things are going in Egypt. The Pew Global Attitudes Project survey was conducted March 24-April 7 in personal interviews with a representative sample of 1,000 adults in Egypt. The survey has a plus or minus 4 percent margin of error.— AFP

WASHINGTON: Vindictive, depressed or cooperative: the behavior of Guantanamo detainees, described in secret US documents released by Wikileaks, sheds light on conditions in the US military prison in Cuba. “He went on three hunger strikes in the past, most recently in July 2005. The detainee was a major participant in the voluntary total fast of 2005-2006,” read a March 2006 entry in the file of detainee Yasser Al Zahrani. The Saudi died months later when he committed suicide with two other detainees, according to US military officials. Zahrani’s file reported that in July 2005 he “told a guard that he would use a knife to cut his stomach open, cut his face off, and then drink his blood, smiling and laughing as he said it.” Zahrani was sent to the prison at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay in January 2002, when he was 17 years old, to be questioned about Taleban training centers in Afghanistan, but ultimately he was considered “probably the average mujahid.” “Detainee’s exposure to the jihadist element in Afghanistan is unremarkable and less than many other detainees,” according to his file, which also noted him being of “low” intelligence value. Zahrani was considered a “medium risk” to US interests, but military officials nevertheless ordered that he remain in custody. Another detainee, Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, who died while in prison in June 2009, was judged to be a “high risk” and was a “strong candidate for recidivism,” according to a June 2008 memo. The Yemeni, who was 24 when he was sent to Guantanamo, was cited in files for “inappropriate use of bodily fluids” as well as “assaults, provoking words and gestures, exposure of sexual organs.” Another Yemeni, Abdul Saleh, held at Guantanamo since June 2002, was assessed as having been “a common foot soldier supporting the Taleban,” and was of “medium risk” but “low” intelligence value. “Detainee has a history of Major Depressive Disorder which is controlled with frequent follow up to

mental health services but he refuses antidepressant treatment,” an October 2008 memo said. He also has “chronic low body weight” because of participation in hunger strikes. A June 2005 memo on Abd Al Nasir, a Chinese Uighur who was transferred to Bermuda in 2009, said: “Detainee continually practices martial arts and hand-to-hand combat despite repeated warnings by the (guards) to stop.” Nasir once mimicked the

The files do not discuss whether any harsh treatment took place during interrogations early in their detention at the naval base prison or before in secret CIA prisons elsewhere. They also don’t mention harsh interrogation techniques used on Abd-Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, the accused mastermind of the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, which killed 17 US sailors and wounded more than three-dozen in October 2000. The 46year-old Saudi was described as “one

Ahmad Al-Shaalan Al-Qahtani, was personally chosen by Al-Qaeda terror network chief Osama bin Laden to be the “20th hijacker” for the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, but was denied a US visa. He also was subjected to harsh treatment, widely described as torture by human rights groups. “Although publicly released records allege detainee was subject to harsh interrogation techniques in the early stages of detention, detainee’s admission of involvement

BAVARIA: This illustration photo shows the Internet page of whistle-blower Wikileaks in the southern German city of Wuerzburg informing on the US military prison at Guantanamo naval base. —AFP September 11 attacks by making a paper airplane and guiding it into two paper models that appeared to represent the World Trade Center towers. “Detainee ran the plane into the buildings and laughed as he flushed the paper down his toilet,” the memo said. “Detainee has been considered cooperative during interviews, except when the Chinese delegation interviewed him,” it added.

of Al-Qaeda’s most skilled and capable operational coordinators.” “Detainee is so dedicated to jihad that he reportedly received injections to promote impotence and recommended the injections to others so more time could be spent on the jihad-rather than being distracted by women,” a December 2006 memo said. Another man, Muhammad Mani

in (Osama bin Laden’s) special mission to the US appear to be true and are corroborated in reporting from other sources,” an October 2008 document said. The United States has botched the handling of inmates at Guantanamo, holding men for years without reliable evidence while releasing others who posed a grave threat, according to leaked secret files. —Agencies

US evacuates staff, ups pressure on syria WASHINGTON: The United States has ordered embassy families and some regime kingpins have substantial holdings in the United States. But should similar measures be adopted by Europe, they could have staff out of Syria as it has hardened its tone on Damascus’s crackdown on protests without calling for President Bashar Al-Assad to go. The State more bite, given more substantial holdings in the continent by the Assad Department late Monday ordered embassy family members and some family, it said. Syria is already subject to American sanctions, aid restricnon-emergency personnel to leave Syria, after an earlier travel warning tions and export bans, due to its presence on Washington’s list of state telling US citizens to leave the country because of escalating attacks on sponsors of terrorism. So far, Washington has not threatened to recall its protesters. At the same time, Washington has defended the presence of a ambassador, a post filled in January after a six-year absence, as Obama US ambassador in Damascus, who only arrived after a six-year absence in sought to court Damascus as part of a broader Middle East diplomatic January, as Assad’s forces deployed tanks and snipers, killing at least 25 push. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the presence of the ambaspeople in a key town. “The brutal violence used by the government of Syria sador had allowed Washington “to make our views known directly and not against its people is completely deplorable and we condemn it in the be a long distance (away).” Carney was also pressed on why Obama had not personally called for strongest possible terms,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Assad to heed calls of protesters and leave-raising an apparent contradicVietor said Monday. tion with US policy in Libya, “The United States is pursuwhich has seen the president call ing a range of possible policy for Muammar Gaddafi’s ouster. options, including targeted “Libya was, again, a unique situasanctions, to respond to the tion,” Carney said, citing the intercrackdown and make clear that national consensus to intervene. this behavior is unacceptable. “We had large portions of the “ The Syrian people’s call for country that were out of the confreedom of expression, associatrol of Muammar Gaddafi, we tion, peaceful assembly, and the had a Gaddafi regime that was ability to freely choose their moving against its own people in leaders must be heard.” a coordinated military fashion Washington has issued repeatand was about to assault a very ed statements by senior officials large city.” Late Monday, the State including President Barack Department urged US citizens to Obama calling for an end to viodepart while commercial translence and political reform in portation is readily available and Syria, but has faced criticism for limit travel within the country, not taking more concrete steps. citing “the uncertainty and But Monday ’s crackdown volatility of the current situation.” appeared to mark a point at The crackdown in Syria poses which the administration a dilemma for the Obama which has sought to engage Syria as a key regional power WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama hits a tennis ball from administration, which has found player-had little choice but to between his legs during a tennis workshop with children and Chris its regional policy repeatedly by unrest. be seen to act more robustly. Evert, right on Monday, April 25, 2011, at the White House Easter challenged Washington could stand to profit As well as the crackdown in the Egg Roll. — AP from a fall of Assad’s minority town of Daraa, a focal point of protests, Syrian troops also on Monday launched assaults on the Damascus Alawite regime, which is allied to Shiite Iran, a longtime US foe, and which suburbs of Douma and Al-Maadamiyeh, witnesses said. Some 390 people wields power detrimental to US goals in Lebanon. On Friday, Obama have been killed in security crackdowns since protests erupted in Syria in accused Syria of blaming outsiders for its troubles, and specifically said it mid-March, according to rights activists and witnesses. New US sanctions was seeking Iranian help to suppress its citizens. But though it may welwould have a strong symbolic element but the Wall Street Journal report- come a weakening of Syrian ties to Iran, Washington also fears a more radied that they would not have much impact on Assad’s inner circle as few cal government could replace the Assad regime.— AFP



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NATO kills ‘number two most-wanted’ Afghan forces recapture 65 from Kandahar jailbreak

PUTTAPARTI: An unidentified devotee reacts as she looks at a television screen showing the body of Indian religious leader Sathya Sai Baba during public viewing in Puttaparti. — AP

Devotees fear for India guru’s charity empire NEW DELHI: Deep grief in India over the death of guru Sathya Sai Baba is compounded by one practical concern among followers: who will run his hugely wealthy trust and its myriad of charitable schemes. The spiritual leader, whose millions of followers across the globe believe had supernatural powers, used donations to build up a sprawling empire of free hospitals, schools, clinics, prayer centers and other properties and assets. His trust, which has often been criticized for lack of transparency, is estimated to be worth up to $9 billion. But its future is in doubt after Sai Baba died aged 85 on Sunday without leaving a will or a named successor. Devotees, who often credit Sai Baba for magically healing them of illnesses or providing free life-saving medical operations, say they worry that any battle for succession may taint the guru’s shining legacy. “We want the trust to continue Baba’s work. There are many who are eyeing the top position for the money. This is not acceptable,” said Narayanan Ravi, a follower in Sai Baba’s hometown of Puttaparthi in India’s southeast. The Andhra Pradesh state government has tried to curb speculation about the future. “Baba still lives with us and all the matters of the trust are in order,” state chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy said within hours of his death. “There’ll be no change. The trust will continue to function the way it did.” The announcement did little to dampen rumors that the organization had grown so large that the state government was considering taking it over. Sai Baba

established ashrams in 126 countries as well as hospitals in Puttaparthi and Bangalore, according to his website. The trust also runs a university, museum and aid projects providing drinking water. Founded in 1972, the trust has always been unclear about its hierarchy but most observers say the key influences are now long-time secretary K Chakravarthi and R J Ratnakar, son of Sai Baba’s younger brother. Other trustees include a retired vice chancellor of the university, a former Supreme Court judge and the trust’s accountant. For the guru’s followers, the uncertainty added to distress over his death as they prepared for his burial today. “People would donate money, gold, silver to the trust to express their love and devotion,” said Radha Gopalchari, a member of the Sai Baba branch in New Delhi who says he gave a plot of land in 1999. “I hope the trust will remember to make good use of gifts, which people gave after their prayers were answered by Sai Baba.” Also bound up with the trust’s fate is the town of Puttaparthi itself. It grew from a small village into a hectic pilgrimage site due to Sai Baba’s presence and now boasts an airport, numerous hotels and hundreds of other related businesses ranging from travel agents to trinket stalls. Whether devotees will still pour in without Sai Baba’s public meetings and regular appearances is unclear-and a fall in donations could mean tough times ahead for the trust. —AFP

KABUL: NATO troops in Afghanistan said yesterday they had killed a Saudi described as an “Al-Qaeda senior leader” who was their number two most-wanted insurgent in the country. The US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said Abu Hafs Al-Najdi, also known as Abdul Ghani, was killed in an air strike in Kunar province, eastern Afghanistan, on April 13. ISAF said he was responsible for coordinating “numerous high-profile attacks” and that they had been hunting him for four years. But spokesman Major Michael Johnson said he could not give details on the attacks for “safety and security reasons” and could not say who was number one on the most wanted list because of legal issues. The Saudi interior ministry website lists a man named Saleh Nayef Eid Al-Makhlafi, with the nicknames Abu Hafs, Abu Hafs Al-Najdi and Abdul Ghani, as one of its 85 most-wanted. ISAF said he operated primarily from Kunar, which borders Pakistan and is the scene of some of the country’s heaviest fighting, and travelled frequently between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Islamist networks have rear bases. It accused him of directing Al-Qaeda operations in the province, including “recruiting, training and employing fighters”, obtaining weapons, organizing Al-Qaeda finances, and planning attacks against Afghan and NATO forces. He was blamed for directing a suicide attack which killed a pro-Kabul tribal elder in Kunar and nine other people on the morning of his death, plus other unspecified attacks on security forces and officials. Johnson said it had taken time to confirm the insurgent’s identity, hence the delay between his death and its announcement. The Wall Street Journal earlier this month reported that Al-Qaeda militants were returning to eastern Afghanistan and setting up bases for the first time in years as troops pulled back from some remote outposts. NATO in Afghanistan has denied this, although it said Tuesday that coalition forces had killed more than 25 AlQaeda leaders and fighters in the last month. The announcement came the day after nearly 500 prisoners, many of them Taleban, escaped from Kandahar prison in southern Afghanistan in a major embarrassment to the Kabul government. In another development, Afghan forces have recaptured at least 65 of the prisoners who escaped from the south’s largest prison, the government said yesterday as it scrambled

KABUL: Afghan policemen (back to camera) look on as a NATO fuel tanker burns on the outskirts of Jalalabad, Nangarhar province east of Kabul, Afghanistan yesterday. — AP to recover from the massive security breach that allowed 480 inmates to be spirited out in a stunning jailbreak. Prison officials discovered early Monday morning that the convicts - nearly all of them Taleban militants - were missing from their cells, and then found the tunnel through which they appeared to have made their getaway. The Taleban said the prison break was five months in the making, with diggers starting the tunnel from under a nearby house while they arranged for inmates to get cell keys so that they could open their cells on the night of the escape. The Kandahar provincial governor’s office said that Afghan and international forces are working together to find the missing convicts and re-arrest them. It said the troops have already caught 65 and killed two who tried to resist. Authorities have biometric data on each prisoner, which aids in their identification, the statement said. But even if a sizable number of the convicts are recaptured, the already weak provincial government will likely continue to struggle to recover from the blow to its image. Adding to the feelings of insecurity, the prison break came less than two weeks after the Kandahar police chief was killed by a suicide bomber inside his heavily defended office

compound. “How can we trust or rely on a government that can’t protect the police chief inside the police headquarters and can’t keep prisoners in the prison?” asked Islamullah Agha Bashir, who sells washing machines and other appliances in Kandahar city. “Last night while we were eating dinner I told my two sons not to go out as much because I am afraid that now when the morale of the Taleban is high, they will attack more.” In Kabul, officials started to piece through the details of the escape and place blame. Justice Minister Abibullah Ghalab sent a formal letter to President Hamid Karzai acknowledging that prison officials or guards likely acted as accomplices but also saying that Afghan and international security forces should have detected the plot. “The escape of all the prisoners from one tunnel ... shows that collaborators inside the prison somehow provided an opportunity,” Ghalab said in the letter. However, he also noted that Afghan police searched the compound from which the tunnel originated about two and a half months before the prison break and he said that Canadian and American forces have been responsible for security improvements to the prison. A full investigation was under way. — Agencies



UN panel finds ‘credible evidence’ of Sri Lanka war crimes UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretar yGeneral Ban Ki-moon said he lacks the authority to personally order a probe into the mass killings of civilians in the final months of Sri Lanka’s civil war, as a report recommended on Monday. A human rights group disagreed with Ban’s description of his limited powers, saying he has the authority to push ahead. A UN panel appointed by Ban said in its report on the 2008-2009 fighting in northeastern Sri Lanka that there was evidence that the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were guilty of war crimes. It recommended that those crimes be investigated and suspects prosecuted. The panel urged the UN chief to proceed to establish “an independent international mechanism” to investigate the quartercentury war’s final stages. But Ban said he could not automatically follow the recommendation of his advisory panel, whose more than 200page report was rejected as biased and fraudulent by the Sri Lankan government. “In regard to the recommendation that he establish an international investigation mechanism, the Secretar y-

General is advised that this will require host country (Sri Lankan) consent or a decision from member states through an appropriate intergovernmental forum,” Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said. In other words, without consent of Sri Lanka’s government or a decision by the UN Security Council, General Assembly, Human Rights Council or other international body, Ban will not move to set up a formal investigation of the civilian deaths. UN officials concede that Colombo would never consent to such an investigation of its conduct in the conflict. Sri Lanka is not a member of the International Criminal Court, which means the Hague-based court would require a referral by the UN Security Council to investigate any possible war crimes there. Veto powers Russia and China, as well as India, are among the council members opposed to formal Security Council involvement in the case of Sri Lanka, diplomats said. The council has only referred two previous situations to the ICC: the conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur region and Libya’s violent crackdown against anti-government

rebels that sparked an uprising and a Security Council decision to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. In response to international pressure, Sri Lanka set up its own probe. Ban said it was important for the country to pursue “genuine investigations” into the civil war actions. US envoy to the United Nations Susan Rice said the UN panel report showed “the need for an independent and full accounting of the facts ... to ensure that allegations of abuse are addressed and impunity for human rights violations is avoided.” In a statement, she added that Washington supports Ban’s call for Sri Lanka “to respond constructively to the report.” Philippe Bolopion of the advocacy group Human Rights Watch disagreed with Ban’s assessment and urged him to set up an international inquiry. Despite Russian and Chinese reluctance, other Security Council members would support a formal UN investigation, he said. “While we think such intergovernmental support would be highly desirable, we don’t consider it necessary to the creation of an investigative mechanism by (Ban),” he said.

Council diplomats said it was highly unlikely that the council would direct Ban to investigate the Sri Lankan war or refer the case to the ICC, though it might encourage the government to pursue a fuller investigation on its own. Much of the UN report was leaked to the Sri Lankan press this month after an advance copy was sent to the government. The panel blames both sides for deaths. But the elimination of the LTTE’s leadership by the government and its definitive defeat of the insurgency in May 2009 means that only government forces would be to account in any inquiry. The UN report specifically accuses the government of widespread shelling including targeting field hospitals, denying humanitarian aid, and committing rights violations against people inside and outside the conflict zone. It says there is no authoritative figure for civilian deaths in the final phase of the war, but “multiple sources of information indicate that a range of up to 40,000 civilians deaths cannot be ruled out at this stage.” — Reuters

COLOMBO: A file picture shows an injured man at a ward in the main hospital of Colombo. The Sri Lankan army killed most of the tens of thousands of civilian victims of a final offensive against Tamil separatists in 2009 but both sides may be guilty of war crimes, a UN panel said yesterday. — AFP

Australia PM woos China, presses on human rights China warns against ‘interference’ ahead of rights talks

PYONGYANG: Former US President Jimmy Carter (third left) talks with Pak Ui Chun, North Korea’s foreign minister (unseen) in the Paekhwawon state guesthouse in Pyongyang yesterday. — AP

‘Elders’ in Pyongyang on peace-building mission Ex-leaders try to defuse nuclear tensions SEOUL: Former US President Jimmy Carter and three other former heads of state arrived in Pyongyang yesterday, hoping to defuse tensions on the divided Korean peninsula and revive long-stalled nuclear talks. The “Elders” delegation want to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and his son and heir apparent Kim Jong-un to press for a resumption of dialogue between the two Koreas. They will also discuss ways to help alleviate the North’s food shortages. The North’s KCNA state news agency said the group had arrived by chartered plane, and later attended a reception given by Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun. Carter’s visit comes as momentum builds towards a resumption of aid-fordisarmament talks, which the North quit in 2009 but now wants to rejoin. The sixparty talks involve the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia. “ The outlook for the diplomatic engagement is the best it has been in two years, but the prospects for a satisfactory outcome have never looked worse,” said Douglas Paal of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. Few people believe the secretive North will ever give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons, saying they serve as a deterrent against attack as well as being the ultimate bargaining chip. “All sides are now preparing propaganda campaigns to portray their stances as more reasonable than those of the other countries involved,” Paal wrote on the Carnegie website. Both Seoul and Washington are skeptical about the North’s sincerity about denuclearizing, and have demanded Pyongyang take concrete actions to

show it is willing to ditch its nuclear weapons program. Experts say the North could do this by allowing international nuclear inspectors back into the country. South Korea’s foreign minister played down the Elders’ visit, but said he would meet the delegates in Seoul at the end of the week when they conclude their three -day visit to Pyongyang. “Personally, I don’t see why North Korea would send a message through a third party or civilians when various channels for dialogue are open,” Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan told a news briefing. The United States and South Korea want the North “to show a responsible attitude” for last year’s two deadly attacks on the peninsula, which spiked tensions to their highest level in years. The two Koreas are still technically at war, having only signed a truce at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The North denies responsibility for the torpedoing of a South Korean warship last year, and said it shelled Yongpyeong island after South Korea testfired artillery into its waters. Nobel Peace prize winner Carter brokered in 1994 a deal that pulled Washington and Pyongyang back from the brink of war over the North’s nuclear program. But he said he was not going in as anyone’s envoy this week. Carter said the Elders were not in a position to negotiate, but were going to learn what they could and then share their findings with relevant leaders. Shuttle diplomacy between the six-party envoys has increased in recent weeks, and China’s representative Wu Dawei held talks with his South Korean counterpart in Seoul yesterday to “coordinate their positions” on the situation. — Reuters

12 Indonesians on trial over sectarian killings SERANG: Twelve Indonesians stood trial yesterday over the gruesome mob slaying of three minority Islamic sect members, the worst in a recent spate of hate crimes in the mainly Muslim country. More than 1,000 troops and police backed by water cannon and armored vehicles threw a security cordon around the court in Serang, west Java, amid fears of further violence from the defendants’ radical supporters. Around 2,000 people held a mass prayer and chanted Quranic verses in a show of solidarity with the accused, who could face between 12 years in jail and death if convicted. The indictment accuses the male defendants of crimes including “inciting violence” but not murder, even though a graphic video of the slayings has been widely distributed on the Internet. Islamic fanatics brutally murdered three members of the Ahmadiyah sect in west Java’s Banten province in February, one of the most horrific in a

long line of attacks on the sect in Indonesia in recent years. Ahmadiyah, unlike mainstream Muslims, do not believe Mohammed was the last prophet and are regarded as heretics and blasphemers by conservatives in places like Indonesia and Pakistan. A video taken by a sect member showed the crowd of more than 1,000 people push police aside and storm a local Ahmadiyah leader’s house shouting “infidel” and “Allahu akbar” (God is greater). After a brief exchange of rocks, the mob overpowered the defenders and set upon them with sticks and stones. One man was filmed being stoned and clubbed to death as he knelt on the ground half naked. The bodies were then mutilated. Police officers fled the scene once the violence began, but returned later to mill among the mob as it destroyed the sect’s property and continued to beat the corpses of the three male victims. — AFP

BEIJING: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday pressed China on human rights and North Korea, while seeking to boost trade with her nation’s biggest buyer of coal and iron ore. The goals for her visit to Beijing highlighted the awkward challenges facing Australia and other Western governments: a desire to prod China’s leaders over human rights and regional friction while trying to nurture trade ties with the world’s second-biggest economy. “The relationship with China is in good shape,” Gillard told reporters after meeting Premier Wen Jiabao. “Of course, our economic relationship is a vital one for Australia’s national interest, and it is growing in leaps and bounds.” Gillard said her talks focused on trade and investment, and speeding up negotiations on a free trade agreement. But she also raised human rights. “I did have the opportunity to raise with Premier Wen issues associated with Australia’s concerns with human rights,” she said, noting China’s “remarkable progress” in lifting its people out of poverty. She pointed to concerns over China’s treatment of ethnic minorities, rights activists and religious believers. “(Wen) did indicate his view that his view is that China has not taken a backward step on human rights,” she said. The two leaders also oversaw the signing of several agreements and also a Chinese bank funding deal for developing the Karara iron ore project in Australia. Meanwhile, the Chinese government warned yesterday against using human rights disputes as what it called a tool to meddle, ahead of talks with the United States that will focus on complaints about Beijing’s crackdown on dissent. The two-day-long human rights dialogue, from today, with US Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner and other Washington officials, will come at a sensitive time over the issue, long a sore point with Beijing. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said his government was willing to discuss rights issues with the United States as equals. But he warned against what Beijing sees as Western over-reaching. “When it comes to differences between China and the United States over human

BEIJING: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard applause as Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang walks on his way to deliver a speech at the 2nd Australia China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum and Prime Ministerial Dinner at a hotel in Beijing yesterday. — AP rights, the two sides can enhance mutual understanding on a basis of equality and mutual respect,” Hong told a regular news conference. “We oppose any country using human rights issues as an excuse to interfere in China’s domestic affairs.” China’s position augurs little movement from the talks in Beijing. China has jailed, detained or placed in secretive informal custody dozens of dissidents, human rights lawyers and protesters it fears will challenge Communist Party rule, drawing an outcry from Washington and other Western capitals. Beijing police have also detained or placed under house arrest members of a Protestant “house” church who have tried to worship outside after they were evicted from the rented premises they had been using. The US State Department has said it wants to discuss with China “the recent negative trend of forced disappearances, extralegal detention, and arrests and convictions”. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said earlier this month

that she was “deeply concerned” about China’s clampdown and cited “negative trends”, including the detention of Chinese artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei. Ai, 53, was detained on April 3 as he was about to board a flight to Hong Kong from Beijing. Chinese police said Ai, a critic of China’s ruling Communist Party, was under investigation for “suspected economic crimes”. Hong dismissed foreign criticism of the detention of Ai. “China does not fear the antagonism of other countries, but of course I hope the countries concerned and their publics will be patient in waiting the outcome of the public security investigation into Ai Weiwei,” he said. Ai’s sister, Gao Ge, told Reuters that she hoped pressure from the United States would help free her brother, who she said was being persecuted for his outspoken activism. “Of course I really hope that Weiwei’s case is bought up, that he is supported,” she said of the rights dialogue. “I think the whole world is paying attention.” — Agencies

Thailand, Cambodia eye truce as fighting spreads PHANOM DONG RAK: Thailand and Cambodia were preparing yesterday for ceasefire talks after a new front opened in their worst border fighting in recent history, in which 13 troops have died. Tens of thousands of civilians have been forced to flee their homes on both sides as heavy weapons fire pounded the jungle frontier, shattering a fragile truce that had held since February. “Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh has agreed to meet his Thai counterpart in Phnom Penh shortly to discuss a ceasefire between the two countries,” the Cambodian defense ministry said in a statement. Thai Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon indicated that he was ready for dialogue with his Cambodian counterpart.”We will have an opportunity to talk and there will be no problem. I think the situation will ease within a few days,” he told reporters in Thailand during a visit to the border area. The two armies exchanged fire yesterday near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, which has been the focus of strained relations between the neighbors since it was granted UN World Heritage status in 2008. Fighting erupted near the ruins at 1:30 pm and lasted for 30 minutes, said Thai army spokesman Colonel Prawit

Hookaew. “They fired artillery and mortar and we retaliated,” he said. Cambodia blamed Thailand for starting the clash, which broke out in an area that had been relatively calm for two months and is 150 kilometers east of two other disputed temple complexes that have been the scene of fierce fighting since Friday. In February 10 people were killed near the Preah Vihear temple, prompting a UN appeal for a permanent ceasefire. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday urged Thailand and Cambodia to show restraint and said Washington was “deeply concerned”.

She said that the United States had engaged directly with Thai and Cambodian officials in hopes of ending the violence, without providing further details. The neighbors agreed in late February to allow observers from Indonesia into the area near Preah Vihear. But the Thai military has since said the monitors are not welcome and they have not been deployed. Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said yesterday that Bangkok would review its policy towards Cambodia including trade, border checkpoints and cooperation at all levels, but would not sever

SURIN: Thai residents seek shelter under a bunker in Surin province, northeastern Thailand yesterday. — AP

diplomatic ties. Kasit is due to hold talks with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, whose country is the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regional bloc tomorrow in Jakarta. “Thailand will inform him that Thailand agrees to international observers but Cambodian troops must withdraw from Preah Vihear,” Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said. The World Court ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia, but both countries claim ownership of a 4.6-square-kilometre surrounding area. Eight Cambodian soldiers and five Thai troops have died in the latest fighting further west along the border, while another Cambodian soldier is missing. Thailand said nearly 26,000 people had been evacuated on its side of the border and were being housed in 22 shelters. Three districts-Phanom Dong Rak, Kap Choeng and Prasat-have been declared emergency areas. More than 23,000 people have been displaced by the fighting on the Cambodian side, authorities have said. Cambodia has accused Thailand of using spy planes and poisonous gas in the recent fighting-which Bangkok has strongly denied. — AFP





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Splitting could benefit Canada Conservatives By David Ljunggren anada’s right-of-center Conservatives could win a pivotal majority government in the May 2 election due to a surge in support for a small left-leaning party that is comprehensively splitting the opposition vote. Polls show the left-of-center New Democrats have jumped in popularity since the campaign started and are now almost level with the main opposition Liberal Party, which started the campaign in undisputed possession of second place. Canadians seeking an alternative to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper look set to divide their votes between opposition parties, ironically increasing Harper’s chances of gaining a majority after he won minorities in 2006 and 2008. “It’s the left. The left is all splitting ... it’s all fighting over there whereas the Conservative vote is kind of standing still,” said John Wright of polling firm Ipsos Reid. “If the turnout continues the way it is and the Liberal vote is suppressed, he (Harper) has got at least a 15-seat majority right now,” Wright told Reuters on Monday. Under Canada’s electoral laws, a party winning most of the 308 seats in the House of Commons would be able to govern for four years without risk of defeat. Harper says he needs a majority to press ahead with an agenda of keeping taxes low, curbing government spending and pushing through a comprehensive anti-crime bill. He has also vowed to kill off public financing for political parties, which would badly hurt the opposition and help solidify Conservative strength. Under Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs about 40 percent of the vote to win a majority, but that number can drop if no opposition party dominates second place. Several recent polls put the Conservatives at or near the 40 percent mark with the Liberals and New Democrats tied. “If the Liberals and the New Democrats remain relatively close ... there are going to be constituencies where their splitting the vote will result in a Conservative winning when it might otherwise have been a Liberal,” said Robert Drummond, professor of political science at York University in Toronto. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who has run a competent but unexciting campaign so far, said on Monday that if Canadians “vote for other parties, what they’re going to end up with is four years or more of Mr Harper”. New Democrat leader Jack Layton dismissed suggestions that he could inadvertently hand a majority to a man with whom he has virtually nothing in common. “This is what Canadians have been told for so many years, that they don’t have any choice,” he told reporters on Monday. “But Canadians I think are reacting to that ... and people are saying ‘We can make some change happen here’.” The phenomenon of vote-splitting is not new in Canada, where the Conservatives were created in a 2003 merger between two rival right-wing parties. Divisions between those parties helped the Liberals win majorities in 1993, 1997 and 2000. Indeed, the Liberals won most of the seats in the House of Commons in 1997 with just 38.5 percent of the vote. Party leaders are paying most attention to the populous central province of Ontario, which has 106 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons. One potential problem for Layton is that Ontario had a deeply unpopular New Democrat provincial government from 1990 to 1995. Pollster Nik Nanos of Nanos Research suggested that Liberals in Ontario worried about a New Democrat surge could hold their noses and vote for Harper. “I don’t want to be the first person to say we may see strategic voting for the Conservatives to block the New Democrats in Ontario, but ...” he told Reuters. Vote-splitting might also help Harper in the province of Quebec, which has been dominated by the left-leaning separatist Bloc Quebecois. Before the campaign started, the Conservatives looked set to lose some of their Quebec seats to the Bloc. But Bloc support is sinking on the back of an uninspiring campaign and pollsters say voters might be tempted by the New Democrats, generating opposition divisions that would help the Conservatives keep their seats in Quebec. — Reuters


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Israel sees hope, risks in Syria unrest By Sara Hussein olitical unrest in Syria could benefit Israel by weakening Iran’s influence, but also raises the spectre of new border tensions and uncertainty about a new regime there, analysts said yesterday. Experts said it was impossible to predict whether weeks of demonstrations against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad would succeed in toppling the regime, as the security forces respond with increasing violence to the spreading protests. They said Israel stood to benefit in some ways from the unrest, particularly if Assad’s regime falls, because the turmoil was weakening Iranian influence. But they warned it was hard to tell how a new regime would approach Israel, and that domestic pressure on Assad could encourage him or his allies in Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement to provoke the Jewish state. “The weakening of Syria, of the regime, is a blow for Iran and this, from a strategic point of view, is a positive development not only for Israel but for Jordan and for other forces,” said Michael Eppel, a Middle East expert at the University of Haifa. “But there is always the possibility, and this you cannot predict, that maybe there will be a temptation to bring a crisis to Gaza or southern Lebanon in order to divert public opinion.” Eyal Zisser, a Syria specialist and professor at Tel Aviv University, echoed Eppel’s analysis. “Israel should be worried about the situation along the border in the Golan Heights because now it’s quiet, (but) if there is a regime change, you don’t know,” he said. “But at the same time, it will be a blow for Iran and will mean the collapse of this alliance of the radical bloc or camp in the Middle East,” he said of the ties linking Damascus, Tehran, Hezbollah and Gaza’s Islamist Hamas rulers. “So on the one hand you gain something, on the other hand you lose something.” Mordechai Nisan, a retired Middle East studies professor writing on the Ynet news site this week, even suggested that if the Assad regime collapses, “the collapse of Iranian hegemony across the region may not be far behind”. But other observers were more cautious, warning an unstable Syria could jeopardise regional security, and a new government in Damascus could be more hostile to Israel. Itamar Rabinovich, a former Israeli negotiator with Syria, said internal upheaval in Syria could lead to “a regional crisis”. “The main cause of the May 1967 crisis, which led to the Six Day War, was instability in Syria,” he wrote in Yediot Aharonot newspaper yesterday. “Weak regimes in Syria in the past were sometimes pushed towards more adventurous policies towards Israel,” agreed Eppel. Despite his alliance with Iran and Hezbollah, Assad is a known quantity for Israel, analysts said. “The Israeli establishment has a certain sentiment for the Assad family,” commentator Alex Fishman wrote in Yediot Aharonot. “They kept their promises throughout the


Three of 15 coffins of slain members of either the army or security forces are taken from the October Military hospital in Damascus to their towns and villages for burial, following several days of unrest. — AFP

years and even talked about an arrangement with Israel on their terms. It’s hard to part with a comfortable old slipper.” For Israeli officials, policy discussions are likely to focus on the uprising’s effect on Hamas and Hezbollah, which both currently find support in Damascus. Experts said both Tehran and Lebanon’s Shiite militia group could both expect to find their power diminished with regime change in Syria, but Hamas would likely retain its status in Damascus. “Any new regime will maintain relations not with Iran, but with Hamas, because Hamas is Arab, it’s Sunni... I don’t

see any dramatic change there,” Zisser said. Israeli government officials have so far kept fairly quiet on the turmoil next door, reportedly at the instruction of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But one senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said all possible outcomes were being discussed. “Anything could happen in that country, changes at the top of the hierarchy, the collapse of the regime, or greater involvement by Iran,” he told AFP. “There is great uncertainty about what is happening in Syria,” he acknowledged. — AFP



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PISA, Italy: Tourists visit the leaning tower of Pisa, free of scaffoldings for the first time after 20 years of stabilization and restoration works yesterday. Legend has it the tower was begun in 1173 after a Pisan noblewoman left 60 coins to the city in her will to build a magnificent belfry. But after just three levels had been built, the tower began to lean, sinking into its foundations on one side. Though panicked architects and engineers have been trying to stabilise it ever since, the tower has continued to tilt. — AFP

Statue of powerful pharaoh unearthed CAIRO: Archaeologists unearthed one of the largest statues found to date of a powerful ancient Egyptian pharaoh at his mortuary temple in the southern city of Luxor, the country’s antiquities authority announced yesterday. The 13 m tall statue of Amenhotep III was one of a pair that flanked the northern entrance to the grand funerary temple on the west bank of the Nile that is currently the focus of a major excavation. The statue consists of seven large quartzite blocks and still lacks a head and was actually first discovered in the 1928 and then rehidden, according to the press release from the country’s antiquities authority. Archaeologists expect to find its twin in the next digging season. Excavation supervisor Abdel-Ghaffar Wagdi said two other statues were also unearthed, one of the god Thoth with a baboon’s head and a 1.85 m tall one of the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet. Archaeologists working on the temple over the past few years have issued a flood of announcements about new discoveries of statues. The 3,400-year-old temple is one of the largest on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor, where the powerful pharaohs of Egypt’s New Kingdom built their tombs. Amenhotep III, who was the grandfather of the famed boy-pharaoh Tutankhamun, ruled in the 14th century BC at the height of Egypt’s New Kingdom and presided over a vast empire stretching from Nubia in the south to Syria in the north. — AP

LUXOR, Egypt: This undated photo released yesterday shows a 13-m tall statue of Amenhotep III. — AP

Bahrain expels Iran diplomat over ‘spy ring’ Continued from Page 1 A separate statement carried by Bahrain’s state news agency said the health ministry had referred 30 employees who had been suspended from work in the aftermath of the protests for prosecution over “acts which appear to constitute crimes”. Ten other ministry employ-

ees who had been suspended, nine of them doctors, would be allowed to return to work, the agency said. Human rights groups have accused Bahrain of arresting patients and medical staff suspected of taking part in protests, and sacking hundreds of public workers. Bahrain says it targets only those who committed crimes during the unrest in

March. A former member of parliament from Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition party said security forces seized at least eight health workers from two separate medical facilities in Bahrain yesterday. “We’ve heard reports that some doctors ... were beaten inside the medical centre and then taken away,” Mattar Ibrahim Mattar said. — Reuters

Daraa assault rages Continued from Page 1 Residents complained that water and electricity had been cut throughout Daraa since dawn on Monday, when 3,000-5,000 Syrian troops backed by tanks and snipers rolled in. Abazid said communications were also down. Also yesterday, authorities referred to military court prominent dissident Mahmud Issa owning a satellite phone, a week after his arrest and an interview he gave to Al-Jazeera television, a leading activist said. “Mahmud Issa will be tried by a military court for owning a Thuraya phone and a high-tech computer,” said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Issa was twice jailed in Syria for a total of 11 years. Abdel Rahman said activist Qassem Azzawi was arrested yesterday for taking part in an anti-regime protest last week, and that 43 people were rounded up since Monday in raids across the country while 11 others were freed yesterday. Activists on Monday said that at least 25 people were killed in day one of the Daraa assault and Abazid said the bodies of 22 people had been retrieved. Amnesty International said tanks shelled civilian buildings in Daraa, commenting: “The Syrian government’s brutal reaction to its people’s demand for change has reached a new and outrageous low.” The operation in Daraa came four days after Assad scrapped nearly five decades of draconian emergency rule and abolished the repressive state security court to pacify protesters demanding reforms and the fall of the regime. Around 160 people have been killed since Thursday, activists and rights group have said. The Syrian army said the troops entered Daraa “in response to calls for help from” citizens to rid them of “extremist terrorist groups” behind a spate of killings and sabotage. A huge crackdown was also reported on Monday in Douma, a large suburb in northern Damascus, and nearby Al-Maadamiyeh, said activists and residents reached by telephone. By yesterday afternoon Douma had

become a “ghost town and the presence of security forces decreased”, one resident told AFP. A witness said three doctors were arrested yesterday from the suburb’s Hamdan hospital and security forces made patients leave the facility, even those in intensive care. In the seaside city of Banias, divided between Sunni Muslims and Alawites - the sect of the ruling Assad family and many key officials - about 5,000 people demonstrated peacefully in support of the citizens of Daraa, and there was no interference from security forces, activists said. Life was almost back to normal in the central city of Homs, except for intense security, a witness said. A few hundred people demonstrated there Monday in support of Daraa, the witness said Daraa has seen some of the worst bloodshed in the past five weeks as the uprising gained momentum. Recently, the city has absorbed many rural migrants who can no longer farm after years of drought. Washington ordered the evacuation of non-essential embassy staff from Syria, where the first US ambassador in six years took his post just three months ago. The United States last week urged its citizens to leave, and the Philippines yesterday urged its 17,000 citizens in Syria to leave also. Italy warned its citizens against going to Syria and told those already there to avoid protests. Washington is also considering imposing “targeted sanctions” against Damascus, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said on Monday. Britain, Italy and France denounced the “violent repression” in Syria as British Foreign Secretary William Hague said London was working with the United Nations and European Union to send a “strong signal” to Damascus. France called for “strong measures” against Syria, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said as President Nicolas Sarkozy branded the situation in Syria “unacceptable”, insisting however that France would not intervene without a UN Security Council resolution. — AFP

Women seek vote in Saudi elections JEDDAH: Sara Abbar knew what would happen when she and her 28-year-old daughter tried to register to vote in Saudi Arabia’s municipal elections. The vote, set for September, ruled out in advance any participation by the country’s 9 million women. “We will keep trying again and again until we get our right,” she said after meeting a resolute “no” from the election official she encountered at a voter registration center in Jeddah when registration began on April 23. “The demand for our rights should never be postponed so we will continue calling for them.” The municipal council elections, only the second such experiment in more than 40 years, highlight the contradictions that arise when an absolute monarchy rooted in austere religious authority dabbles in democracy. The kingdom allows no political parties or an elected parliament. Religious police patrol the streets to enforce segregation of the sexes and ensure women are modestly dressed. Its government announced in March it would hold polls for half the seats in municipal councils, but ruled out female candidates or voters. Local officials cited logistical difficulties arranging sex-segregated polling stations. The decision sparked a campaign which Abbar and her daughter have joined called Baladi, Arabic for My Country, organised by women activists on Facebook and Twitter, to show up at polling stations around the kingdom and demand their right to vote. Slogans aimed at encouraging men to register were plastered on buildings designated for voter registration. “Be a part of the decision making process,” read one. But in many parts of the kingdom, it was the women who responded to those calls. From the Western province in Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah, to the Eastern province and even the capital of Riyadh, dozens of women headed to voter registration centers on April 23 to demand participation. “Through this pressure we are attempting to change the decision, saying that the reason given is not convincing,” said Nailah Attar, one of the campaign organizers. “We will continue trying until they stop us.” Organizers intend to force the issue of their participation through the end of registration on July 28. “We expect that (female participation) can happen this year, and until the last minute we will keep thinking that and we have high hopes for it to happen,” said Norah Alsowayan, who is based in Riyadh. For her, the attempt

to vote could chip away at Saudi Arabia’s “guardianship” system, which requires women to show written permission from a father, husband or brother in order to travel, work or undergo certain surgeries. “Women here are looked at as minors and it is crucial for them to be recognized as competent individuals. If that happens there will be positive steps to follow and the society’s outlook on women will change,” Alsowayan said. Activists dismiss the claim of logistical barriers to women voters, noting that 2005 elections for the other half of council seats also excluded women, and that an election scheduled for 2009 was delayed on grounds of other logistics. “If we don’t seek our right, no one else will seek it for us,” said one would-be voter, Yasmine Attar, outside a Jeddah voting registration center. “All the steps that have been taken for women’s rights were fought for, it wasn’t given to them.” While groups of women across the country struggle to register for the vote, a growing number of male activists say there is no point in voting at all. While the municipal councils’ role is to oversee projects headed by municipalities, many citizens complain the councils do have no real authority or influence in decision making. Blogger Mahmoud Al-Sabbagh says the country’s firstever municipal elections in 1939 gave more authority to councils than the latest round in 2005. Councils then could oversee and approve municipal projects, whereas their role now is limited to suggestions submitted to central authority, he wrote. “I will certainly abstain from participating in electing a puppet municipal council with no power,” Sabbagh wrote on his Twitter page on April 23, calling others to do the same. Sabbagh and fellow activists plan to register for the elections before abstaining from voting in order to demonstrate the number of boycotters. “We should all issue electing cards starting from today, April 23, before abstaining from voting in September,” Sabbagh, a resident of Jeddah, posted on his Twitter page on the first day of registration. The boycott calls underline discontent with the pace of reforms Saudi King Abdullah promised after coming to power in 2005. They have languished in a struggle between conservatives who fear change and liberals who want it intensified. “Men have gained their right to participate so they don’t have the problem,” said Alsowayan. “We still did not get that right as women and now it is our goal to obtain that right.” - — Reuters

MPs to override govt rejection of pay raise Continued from Page 1 to register in the name of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis the government house they are renting currently. Huraiti said the rejection was based on the Credit and Savings Bank which allows granting such houses only if the husband is Kuwaiti. Huraiti also called for speeding up the process of forming the new Cabinet because failure to do so means obstructing the functioning of the Assembly, stressing that the constitution bans such obstruction even under emergency rule. Barrak meanwhile lashed out at Prime Minister HH Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad AlSabah accusing him of using public funds to boost his influence and interests. He cited the example of requesting additional budget allocations worth KD 131 million for the planned purchase of two transport planes from a

local company for the defense ministry in violation of the law and another KD 12 million to build a museum for old luxury cars which is one of the prime minister’s hobbies. The lawmaker also criticized the government for not implementing a court verdict to jail an influential merchant for six months for selling expired food products, recalling that the government immediately implemented similar verdicts against government opponents Khaled Al-Fadhalah and Mohammad Al-Jassem. MP Saleh Ashour meanwhile called on the prime minister to keep the oil ministry outside political deals while forming the new Cabinet, stressing that the ministry is vital for the national economy. He said that the ministry requires a strong minister, especially after reports of corruption at Kuwait Oil Company and Kuwait Oil Tanker Co, both subsidiaries of national oil conglomerate Kuwait Petroleum Corp

Egypt: Iran ties will not undermine Gulf... Continued from Page 1 “There are many political, economic, social and cultural similarities between Iran, Egypt and other Arab countries in the region which strengthens the capacity for cooperation.” Earlier this month, Egyptian

Foreign Minister Nabil Al-Arabi declared Cairo was ready to open a “new page” with Tehran. “The Egyptian and Iranian people deserve relations which reflect their history and civilisation, provided they are based on mutual respect of state sovereignty and non-interference of any kind in

internal affairs,” he said. Sharaf denied Cairo had strained relations with the United Arab Emirates which he had been expected to visit during the current tour. He said the UAE visit clashed with a visit to Sinai and had to be postponed. He said he also planned to visit Bahrain and Oman. — AFP



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Bautista ready for action LONDON: Suzuki MotoGP rider Alvaro Bautista could be back in action in Portugal this weekend just 42 days after he broke his thigh bone. “I have been work ing ver y hard to b e b ac k in t i m e fo r Estoril and I believe I will be able to t ake p ar t in t he r ace,” t he Spaniard told the Suzuki team web si te ( w w w.r iz la- suz uk yesterday. “I know it will be difficult, but I think the sooner I can get on the bike the more it will aid my total recovery and help my way to full fitness.” B aut i st a, a fo r m er 125cc world champion and Suzuk i’s sole rider in the championship, broke his left femur in practice for the season-opening Qatar

MANCHESTER: Seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry was left contemplating his future after a 13-4 thrashing by Mark Selby in the second round of the world snooker championship on Monday. The 42-year-old Briton said he would make a final decision “in the summer” but his 26th appearance at the event may well have been his last as his fellow players contemplated competing without the man many consider the greatest ever snooker player. “You need 100 percent self-belief to compete at this level,” local media quoted the Scot as saying after losing in Sheffield. “At the moment I don’t have it, which is basically down to not having any success in the last few years. If I can’t win, or (can’t) believe I can win, then I’m not going to enjoy it. “I have to think about what is best for me and my life. To not come back would be hard but I’ve had 26 great years.” Hendry holds many snooker records, including becoming the youngest world champion aged 21 and winning the most world titles but his form over recent years has been inconsistent. The comprehensive defeat by Selby, where Hendry was on the wrong end of a record for a change as the 27-year-old Englishman became the first player to record six century breaks in a 25frame match, could prove to be the final straw.—AP

Blue Jays defeat Rangers ARLINGTON: Corey Patterson and Jose Bautista homered on consecutive pitches in the fifth inning to help power the Toronto Blue Jays to a 6-4 win over the Texas Rangers in the American League on Monday. Texas pitcher Colby Lewis (1-3) gave up both those shots, and another two-run homer in the same inning by Juan Rivera. He conceded six runs and walked four in five innings.

to 15 games with an RBI double that made it 6-3 in the sixth. Angels 5, Athletics 0 In Anaheim, Los Angeles pitcher Jered Weaver struck out 10 and won his sixth straight start, shutting out Oakland. Weaver pitched his second straight complete game to help Los Angeles snap a four-game losing streak. He is the first pitcher in the majors with six victories in his team’s first 23 games since Randy Johnson did it with the 2002 Arizona Diamondbacks. Weaver only walked one and allowed just one runner as far as third base, lowering his ERA to 0.99. Oakland was shut out for the third time in five games. A’s starter Gio Gonzalez (2-2) gave up five runs in five innings while striking out five.

White Sox 2, Yankees 0 In New York, Phil Humber held the Yankees hitless until the seventh, guiding Chicago to an impressive win. The White Sox, who won for only the second time in 12 games, snapped a 23-inning scoreless drought in the fourth when Carlos Quentin doubled and scored on Adam Dunn’s grounder. Chicago added a run in the ninth after a popup fell behind the mound. Sergio Santos got the final ARLINGTON: Toronto Blue Jays’ Kyle Drabek (4) delivers to the Texas Rangers in the first inning four outs for his first save and only Chicago’s second save of a baseball game. —AP in eight chances this season. Toronto pitcher Kyle Drabek (2-0) final- He gave the White Sox a scare, allowing a ly got credit for a win, having got no-deci- leadoff single before a double play and a sions in three consecutive starts that the strikeout ended it. Humber (2-2) struck Blue Jays won after he had pitched into at out five in seven innings, Yankees starter least the sixth. He gave up three runs in AJ Burnett (3-1) had his best outing of the six innings. Texas designated hitter season, pitching eight innings, but still Michael Young extended his hitting streak took the loss. —AP

MLB results/standings Major League Baseball results and standings on Monday. Pittsburgh 4, Washington 2; Chicago White Sox 2, NY Yankees 0; Florida 5, LA Dodgers 4; Toronto 6, Texas 4; Colorado 5, Chicago Cubs 3; Cincinnati 9, Milwaukee 5; Arizona 4, Philadelphia 0; LA Angels 5, Oakland 0; San Diego 5, Atlanta 3 (13 innings). American League Eastern Division W L PCT NY Yankees 12 7 .632 Tampa Bay 11 11 .500 Boston 10 11 .476 Toronto 10 12 .455 Baltimore 8 12 .400 Central Division Cleveland 13 8 Kansas City 12 10 Detroit 12 10 Minnesota 9 12 Chicago White Sox 9 14

.619 .545 .545 .429 .391

Western Division Texas 14 8 .636 LA Angels 13 10 .565 Oakland 11 12 .478 Seattle 8 15 .348

GB 2.5 3 3.5 4.5

1.5 1.5 4 5

1.5 3.5 6.5

National League Eastern Division Philadelphia 15 7 Florida 14 7 Washington 10 11 Atlanta 11 13 NY Mets 9 13

.682 .667 .476 .458 .409

.5 4.5 5 6

Central Division St. Louis 12 10 Cincinnati 12 11 Milwaukee 11 11 Pittsburgh 10 12 Chicago Cubs 10 12 Houston 8 14

.545 .522 .500 .455 .455 .364

.5 1 2 2 4

Western Division Colorado 15 7 .682 LA Dodgers 12 12 .500 San Francisco 10 11 .476 Arizona 9 12 .429 San Diego 9 14 .391

4 4.5 5.5 6.5

Sharks eliminate Kings LOS ANGELES: Joe Thornton’s overtime goal gave San Jose a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, clinching the series for the Sharks and putting them into the next stage of the NHL playoffs. Kyle Wellwood, Jason Demers and Dany Heatley also scored for the Sharks, who wrapped up the all-California series 4-2. Justin Williams, Ryan Smyth and rookie Trevor Lewis scored for the Kings, who lost in the opening round for the second straight year and have won just one playoff series since their run to the 1993 Stanley Cup finals with Wayne Gretzky. The Kings lost all three home games in the series and all three overtime games. Antti Niemi made 26 saves for the Sharks after being pulled in two of the past three games. Jonathan Quick stopped 31 shots for Los Angeles. He gave up 16 goals

in the team’s three home games. Lightning 4, Penguins 2 In Tampa, the Tampa Bay-Pittsburgh series will go to a Game 7 after the Lightning’s win. The deciding game is today in Pittsburgh, where Tampa Bay has already won twice this postseason, including an 8-2 Game 5 blowout that began its comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the Eastern Conference series. Steve Downie put the Lightning ahead for good, scoring just over a minute after Pittsburgh’s Jordan Staal had made it 22 early in the third. Teddy Purcell, Sean Bergenheim and Ryan Malone also scored against Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who faltered for the second straight game. Pascal DuPuis also scored for the Penguins. —AP

Grand Prix in March. American John Hopkins replaced him in Spain this month and finished 10th. The Spaniard said he had finished his rehabilitation phase after repeated trips to a hyperbaric chamber in Madrid and was now working on physical preparation with plenty of swimming and cycling. “It is going to be really tough, b ut I a m totally focu s ed on being on the GSV-R in Portugal, it’s all I can think about at the m oment and that is my firs t goal,” he said. T h e Po r t u g u e s e r a c e a t Estoril is the third round of the s e a s o n . S u z u k i s a i d J a p a n’s Nobuatsu Aok i would remain on standby if Bautista was unable to race. —Reuters

Lakers player arrested NEW ORLEANS: Los Angeles Lakers forward Derrick Caracter was arrested for drunkenness and allegedly shoving a cashier after being refused service at a pancake restaurant in New Orleans, police said on Monday. Police said the 22-year-old reserve forward was “obviously drunk, unruly and started harassing the cashier” when he was refused service at the restaurant early on Sunday. “One officer was called to the restaurant, and attempted to diffuse the situation. But Caracter was uncooperative, so that officer called in back-up,” the New Orleans Police Department said in a statement. “Caracter continued to be belligerent with police and was subsequently arrested.” Caracter was booked into jail on charges of battery, public drunkenness and resisting arrest, according to police, who also said they are trying to obtain a copy of the video surveillance recorded by a camera at the International House of Pancakes. Caracter, who averaged two points and one rebound per game during the regular season, was released by police but did not play in his team’s playoff loss to the New Orleans Hornets later on Sunday. —Reuters

Marlins gifted win by Dodgers MIAMI: The Florida Marlins were gifted a 5-4 win over Los Angeles in the National League on Monday when the Dodgers committed two errors with two outs in the ninth. The comeback was helped along by shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who was mired in a 2for-27 slump and was left out of the starting lineup. He came in as a pinch hitter with two outs in the ninth and Florida trailing 4-3, and his single put runners at first and third. Scott Cousins grounder off Jonathan Broxton (1-1) scooted under the glove of shortstop Jamey Carroll for an error to score the tying run. Chris Coghlan was then intentionally walked to load the bases, and Omar Infante lined a pitch. LA left fielder Jerry Sands started in, braked and leaped, and the ball sailed over his glove. Florida’s Brian Sanches (3-0) extended his scoreless streak to start the season to 13 2-3 innings with a perfect ninth. Rockies 5, Cubs 3 In Chicago, the home team’s shortstop Starlin Castro committed three errors in the second inning alone as Colorado notched a win. Pitcher Matt Garza’s errant throw to first on a bunt was the Cubs’ fourth error of the game and opened the door to two more runs. Dexter Fowler had a triple, walk and scored a run for Colorado. Rockies starter Esmil Rogers (3-1) gave up three runs in 5 1-3 innings. Huston Street pitched the ninth for his eighth save from as many chances. Only one of the five runs scored against Garza (0-3) were earned. D’backs 4, Phillies 0 In Phoenix, new father Ian Kennedy threw a complete game shutout, outpitching Cliff Lee and steering Arizona past Philadelphia. Kennedy (3-1) struck out 10 and walked none. Chris Young and Gerardo Parra homered off Lee, both on the first pitch of an atbat. Lee (2-2) gave up four runs in seven innings, matching his season high with 12 strikeouts, one shy of his career high. The Diamondbacks snapped a four-game skid as they opened a 10-game home stand. Reds 9, Brewers 5 In Milwaukee, Cincinnati piled on six runs in the third inning to overwhelm Milwaukee. Jay Bruce hit a two-run homer for the Reds, who sent 11 batters to the plate in the third, prematurely ending the night for Brewers starter Chris Narveson (1-1), who had the shortest start of his career. Bruce homered and Brandon Phillips, Jonny Gomes, R yan Hanigan and even

MIAMI: Florida Marlins shortstop Donnie Murphy throws to first for the double play as Los Angeles Dodgers’ James Loney (7) attempts to slide into second base during the eighth inning of a baseball game. —AP pitcher Bronson Arroyo drove in a run each to give Cincinnati a 7-0 lead. Phillips added a two-run single in the ninth. Arroyo (3-2) pitched effectively into the seventh. Pirates 4, Nationals 2 In Pittsburgh, Brandon Wood’s two-run double in his first game for Pittsburgh was part of a four-run fourth inning that helped the Pirates defeat Washington. Wood, picked up on waivers from the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, gave the Pirates their first lead. Pittsburgh star ter Paul Maholm (1-3) retired the final 13 batters he faced in seven strong innings. Joel Hanrahan struck out that last batter with runners on first and third to

finish his sixth save. Washington starter John Lannan (2-2) allowed four runs in 5 2-3 innings. Padres 5, Braves 3 In San Diego, Ryan Ludwick ’s second homer of the night, a 2-run shot with one out in the 13th inning, lifted San Diego over Atlanta. Ludwick’s winning shot, his fourth of the year, came off Cristhian Martinez (0-2). It was the fourth game-winning homer of his career. Nick Hundley, who tied the game with an RBI double in the seventh, was aboard. Padres reliever Cory Luebke (1-1) pitched two innings to take the win. —AP

‘Massive surge in ticket demand for London Games’ LONDON: Olympic organizers braced for a last-minute surge in ticket applications yesterday, the final day for fans to purchase the 6.6 million tickets on offer for the 2012 London Games. With the six-week online sales period closing at 11:59 p.m. in Britain, organizers reported a big spike in demand for tickets to the first Olympics in London in 64 years. Paul Deighton, chief executive of organizing committee LOCOG, said the level of applications had “hit the roof” in recent days. “In the last week we have been getting three or four times the applications above and beyond what was coming in for the previous five weeks,” he said. “The sky’s the limit based on the pattern that I’m seeing at the moment.” Organizers said about 100,000 people had started the ticket process but had not yet completed their purchases going into the final day. “We urge sports fans to complete their applications by tonight or they could miss out,” Deighton said. Applications rose

dramatically over the four-day weekend as the deadline approached. “Six weeks ago I said this was a marathon and not a sprint, but now we are heading for the line big time,” LOCOG chairman Sebastian Coe said, citing a late “massive surge” in demand. On sale are tickets for 650 sessions across 26 sports, with prices ranging from 20 pounds ($33) for some events to 2,012 pounds ($3,320) for a top seat at the opening ceremony. The best tickets for the men’s 100-meter final go for 750 pounds ($1,200). Organizers opted against a first-come, first-ser ved syste m , m e a ni ng c us tom e r s a p p l yi ng on t he f i na l d ay s t a nd a s good a c ha nce i n landing tickets as those who applied on the first day. Organizers have targeted selling about 80 percent of the tickets by Tuesday night, leaving about 1.3 million available for sale in a later phase. Applications will be processed in May and June, with applicants notified by June 24 if

they have been successful. Tickets for oversubscribed events will be decided by an automated ballot or lottery system. LOCOG has declined to give any figures or statistics for applications so far, although Deighton said applications were “pretty well spread” across the sports. Coe said it was no surprise that tickets for the opening ceremony and 100-meter final were in top demand. Rowing and track cycling — two sports in which Britain excels — are also expected to sell strongly. Coe urged fans to sign up for “less obvious” sports, including handball and basketball. Despite basketball’s high-profile status in many countries and the appearance of big-name NBA stars in the Olympics, the sport still struggles for recognition in Britain. LOCOG has budgeted about 500 million ($825 million) from ticket sales, about a quarter of its overall operating budget. The online process was available for residents of the UK and

26 European countries, with Visa the only credit card accepted. Elsewhere, including in the United States, ticket sales are handled through national Olympic committees. About 1 million tickets will go to nonEuropean overseas buyers. There have been complaints in Britain about high ticket prices, but organizers say the top-level prices allow for more affordable tickets at the other end. Some buyers are concerned they have to commit their money before knowing how many tickets they will be allocated. Money will be taken out of customers’ accounts between May 10 and June 10, more than a month before they find out the status of their orders. Ticket buyers are worried they might end up with more tickets than they actually want or can afford. Organizers say they plan to set up an official ticket resale site, where customers can sell off their tickets at face value. “It’s like the purchase of anything,” Coe said. —AP



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sp orts

C’wealth Games probe triggers Indian anger

PITTSBURGH: Steelers football players Ryan Clark (left) and Charlie Batch arrive at the team’s training facility. —AP

No end to NFL dispute even after court ruling NEW YORK: The NFL’s players claimed an early points victory in their fight with team owners on Monday, but there was still no immediate end in sight to the long and increasingly bitter row over how to carve up the $9 billion empire. A federal court judge in Minnesota ordered the NFL to end their six-week lockout of the players, saying that the league’s actions were hurting not only the players but fans alike. “The public interest represented by the fans of professional football, who have a strong investment in the 2011 season, is an intangible interest that weighs against the lockout, Judge Susan Nelson wrote in an 89-page ruling released on Monday. “In short, this particular employment dispute is far from a purely private argument over compensation.” Judge Nelson dismissed the NFL’s argument that the decertification of the players’ union was a sham but the league refused to concede defeat. Just as soon as the ruling was announced, the NFL formally requested a stay and appealed the ruling to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing the federal court could not rule on the union’s decertification and that was a matter for the National Labor Relations Board. “We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes,” the NFL said in a statement. “We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree.” If the Eighth Circuit Court agrees to hear the league’s appeal and issues a stay on Nelson’s ruling, the case would be expected to drag on for months, possibly threatening to disrupt the start of the 2011 season, scheduled for early September. But if the court rejected the appeal, the NFL would have to immediately recommence business, although exactly how remained uncertain. DeMaurice Smith, an executive director of the NFL Players Association, welcomed the ruling and said he expected the judge’s decision would stand up against an appeal. “I’m happy for our players and for our fans. Today, those who love football are the winners,” he said. There were celebrations as well from some players. The social networks were lit up by players and fans jubilantly declaring victory but not everyone was popping the champagne corks. Osi Umenyiora, the New York Giants defensive end who was one of the plaintiffs that had asked the court to grant an injunction against the lockout, said he did not think Monday’s decision marked the end of the dispute.

“The lockout is bad for everyone, and players will continue to fight it,” Umenyiora said. “We hope that this will bring us one step closer to playing the game we love.” Judge Nelson had previously told the feuding parties to try and resolve their dispute through mediation. They agreed to recommence mediation earlier this week and the NFL said that was still their best chance of reaching a lasting agreement. “We also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans,” the NFL said in their statement. “We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal.” All sides in the dispute, dubbed as a row between billionaires and millionaires, have been heavily criticized by American media and even U.S. President Barack Obama for squabbling over a fortune at a time when thousands of families were struggling to make ends meet. America’s most popular sport was plunged into its first work stoppage in almost a quarter of a century when nearly two years of collective bargaining talks between the players’ union and the league collapsed last month. With both sides unable to reach agreement on a range of issues centred around how they should divide more than $9 billion in annual revenues, the union immediately decertified, allowing the players to take individual action against the NFL. Nine players, led by high-profile quarterback Tom Brady, filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL and its owners, who responded by imposing the lockout. Under the current agreement, owners received a guaranteed $1 billion while the remaining money was split, with the players getting around 60 percent and the owners 40 percent. The league and owners want to increase their automatic cut by another $1 billion, arguing that operational costs had risen since the last deal was struck five years ago. But the players wanted to maintain the status quo, claiming the owners had failed to provide them with enough financial evidence to prove they needed a bigger slice of the profits. With the 2011 season not due to kick off until September, both sides were holding out hope a solution can be found by then although the bill for the dispute was still likely to be astronomical. League officials had estimated a lockout would cost the game $1 billion by September.—Reuters

Major question getting on Westwood’s nerves SEOUL: World number one Lee Westwood is growing increasingly weary with being asked about his failure to win a first major title and told reporters in Seoul yesterday the question was getting on his nerves. The Briton, speaking to reporters in Seoul ahead of the $2.8 million Ballantines Championship, said becoming world number one and winning a major were separate issues and that his only focus was to keep playing good golf. “The amount of times I have to answer it gets on my nerves,” Westwood said. “This might be the very last time I could be answering this question. It could be no comment after this. “The world rankings and major championships are two completely separate things,” added Westwood, who celebrated his 38th birthday by winning the Indonesian Masters in Jakarta at the weekend. That victory, combined with fellow Englishman Luke Donald’s failure to win The Heritage, moved him back above Germany’s Martin Kaymer into top spot. “I haven’t won a major yet but hope to do so soon. I’ve had a lot of good chances to win majors but it just hasn’t happened. “But the world rankings are all about consistency and playing well week-in and week-out, which I tend to do. The secret to being world number one is having the con-

sistency, and all parts of your game have to be good to do that.” Westwood, who was world number one for 17 weeks after deposing Tiger Woods in November, acknowledged the pressure was greater having reached the summit of men’s golf. “Obviously with being number one there is a lot more responsibility,” he said. “You have a lot more things to do, media commitments and things like that. “People want a lot more of your time, it becomes a bit difficult to cram everything in and leave time for practising golf and doing what got to you where you are. That’s the toughest part of it.” Three-times major champion Ernie Els and local favourite Yang Yong-eun, the first Asian man to win a major at the 2009 PGA Championship, are set to push Westwood this week at the Ballantines, which is cosanctioned by the Asian, European and Korean Tours. Teenage Korean sensation Noh Seungyul, the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, and European Ryder Cup players Ian Poulter and Miguel Angel Jimenez are also among a quality field at the Blackstone Golf Club near Seoul. “My confidence is high,” said Westwood. “I didn’t realise the world number one had never competed in Korea before so it’s a bit of an honor.”—Reuters

NEW DELHI: Critics threw a slipper at the organizer of India’s Commonwealth Games and ransacked his office after his arrest on a corruption charge unleashed a new wave of anger over widespread graft and its effect on the country’s reputation. Suresh Kalmadi — who had promised the New Delhi games would be a spectacle to rival the 2008 Beijing Olympics — has become the focus of anger over India’s humiliation by allegations of graft, construction delays and massive cost overruns in the October staging of the sporting event. He was arrested Monday and charged with conspiracy in connection with an allegedly overly sweet contract for timing and scoring equipment from a Swiss company — one of many deals being questioned in the ongoing probe. Investigators also arrested two others on Kalmadi’s organizing committee and said more suspects would be taken into custody in coming days. At a hearing yesterday, a judge ordered Kalmadi be held for eight days for further questioning. Federal investigators had asked for even more time, saying he and others arrested in the case were being uncooperative and evasive. “They are not revealing the true facts and circumstances of the criminal conspiracy,” the Central Bureau of Investigation said, according to the Press Trust of India. The Games’ final $15 billion price tag — several times the initial $412 million estimate — had shocked the country and dented the reputation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government, which along with the Commonwealth Games Federation had selected Kalmadi, a longtime sporting official, to head India’s event committee. India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party claimed millions were siphoned off by companies run by relatives of Games officials. The governing Congress Party, meanwhile, fired Kalmadi as its parliamentary secretary in November, and on Monday suspended him from the party itself. The sports minister demanded Kalmadi be replaced on the country’s Olympic association after about 15 years as its president. Following Kalmadi’s arrest, party activists ransacked his office and tore down his photo at the Congress building in Pune, the western city outside Mumbai that Kalmadi represents as a lawmaker in Parliament. Opposition parties also staged protests accusing Kalmadi of tarnishing the region’s image and demanding he quit the national assembly altogether. One man hurled a slipper at Kalmadi yesterday as he arrived at court in New Delhi. Police immediately grabbed the man and subdued him in a headlock. Delhi’s chief minister, also under fire for the pricey staging of the Games, said yesterday there was likely a justification for Kalmadi’s arrest.

“Nothing is done without any basis,” Sheila Dikshit said. She has insisted city officials committed no wrongdoing, and always pointed to Kalmadi’s organizing committee as the source of any corruption. A government report last month said delays, inefficiency and waste had cost the country $355 million. Despite years of preparations, the last days before the Oct. 3 opening ceremony were fraught with chaotic efforts to finish construction,

selecting the winning bids and alleged coercion and threats against those making the final decision. Swiss Timing — a subsidiary of watchmaking giant Swatch Group that provides timekeeping services at the Olympic Games and other sporting events — denied any allegation of wrongdoing or irregularities on its part, and said yesterday it had not been contacted by Indian investigators. The International Olympic Committee declined to discuss the case.

NEW DELHI: New Delhi Commonwealth Games chief organizer Suresh Kalmadi (center) who was arrested Monday by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation, arrives for a court hearing. —AP clean filthy athletes’ quarters and assuage security concerns that had some teams threatening to skip the two-week event altogether. Kalmadi saw his control slip just weeks before the start when the government assigned several ministers to his organizing committee after an audit body identified concerns over bidding procedures and inflated costs. In the end, the event was staged on time and deemed a success. Kalmadi is the highest highest-ranking member arrested in the probe. The investigating bureau said that, on his watch, the government was bilked out of about $31 million, paid to Swiss Timing Ltd. for equipment available from a Spanish company for less. It said competition for the contract had been wrongfully restricted, with no clear criteria for

“Since a criminal investigation is under way in India it would not be appropriate for the IOC to comment at the present time,” spokesman Mark Adams told The Associated Press. The Swiss Timing deal is just one of many being scrutinized by investigators, who filed their first lawsuits in November against two Londonbased companies involved in the Queen’s Baton Relay ceremony held a year before the Delhi Games. Allegations of funding irregularities for that event led to the arrest of committee members TS Darbari and Sanjay Mahendroo and a warrant for the companies’ director that accused him of cheating and colluding with Games officials to provide service at exorbitant rates justified through forged documents or false price quotes.—AP

Gulf Bank celebrates 3rd consecutive KBC soccer championship victory

A group picture of Gulf Bank Management with the Bank’s Soccer team KUWAIT: Gulf Bank celebrated its success at the KBC Cup final on Saturday, April 23 following the match against National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) with an impressive 2-0 score. The winning goals were scored by Ali Subhi. The final match between Gulf Bank and NBK was attended by a large number of Gulf Bank supporters that included Michel Accad, Chief Executive Officer and Chief General Manager of Gulf Bank, Surour Alsamerai, General Manager — Human Resources, and Fawzy Al-Thunayan, General Manager — Board Affairs who were all present to support their team. The team also received support from the KBC Chairman, Hesham Al-Baijan, who is of course also a member of the Gulf Bank family. “Gulf Bank is now the champion for third year in a row, and I’d like to congratulate the team for all their hard work, commitment, and professionalism. Gulf Bank encourages its employees to participate more in physical activity and we are proud of our victorious team and wish to see them next year with the trophy again.” commented Surour Alsamerai. The KBC Cup is an annual football tournament between Kuwaiti banks, culminating in an exciting cup final at the Sabah Al-Salem stadium at the Al-Arabi Sports Club.

The NBK team following their coronation.

Khalid Hafiz receiving the best coach NBK’s Badr BuAbbas gifts a bouquet to Gulf Bank’s human award. resources manager Surour AlSamaraei.

Michel Accad, CGM & CEO, Gulf Bank, (middle), Hisham Al-Baijan KBC Chairman (left) handing the victory trophy to the Gulf Bank team.




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Shehzad ton steers Pakistan to victory

NEW DELHI: Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Zaheer Khan stretches to catch the ball as Delhi Daredevils’ Naman Ojha looks on during an Indian Premier League cricket match. —AP

Kohli hits half-century in Bangalore victory NEW DELHI: Virat Kohli smashed a brisk half-century to help Royal Challengers Bangalore post a three-wicket victory over Delhi Daredevils in an Indian Premier League match yesterday. He hit two sixes and eight fours in his 38-ball 56 as Bangalore surpassed Delhi’s total of 160-6 with three balls to spare for their third win in seven matches of the Twenty20 tournament. Bangalore needed 22 runs to win in the last three overs, but skipper Daniel Vettori (18 not out) and Syed Mohammad (13 not out) held their nerve under pressure to see their team home. It was Delhi’s fourth defeat in six matches. Kohli looked in excellent touch from the beginning, cracking four boundaries in an over from seamer Ir fan Pathan

before completing his half-century off just 31 balls. He put on 82 for the second wicket with West Indies opener Chris Gayle after the first-ball dismissal of Sri Lankan Tillakaratne Dilshan. Gayle, who hit a century in the previous match, scored a 14-ball 26. Delhi fought back when they dismissed Gayle, South African AB de Villiers (five) and Kohli in the space of 13 runs to reduce Bangalore to 96-4. Kohli fell in the 10th over, bowled by S outh African paceman Morne Morkel. Morkel then removed Saurabh Tiwar y (18) and Abhimanyu Mithun in the same over to finish with 3-25 off four overs. Australian James Hopes earlier hit a 43-ball 54 with the help of seven fours as Delhi reached a

competitive total at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground. Put in to bat, Delhi suffered a twin blow when they lost openers David Warner (seven) and skipper Virender Sehwag (25) in the space of 10 runs. Australian Warner was bowled by paceman Zaheer Khan while Sehwag was run out. Hopes and Venugopal R ao steadied the innings with a 47-run stand for the fourth wicket. Rao hit one six and two fours in his 21-ball 24 before being bowled by New Zealand left-arm spinner Vettori. Brief scores: Delhi Daredevils 160-6 in 20 overs (J. Hopes 54, V. Sehwag 25, V. Rao 24; A. Mithun 2-37) lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore 1617 in 19.3 overs ( V. Kohli 56, C. Gayle 26; M. Morkel 3-25) by three wickets. —AFP

Grizzlies rout Spurs MEMPHIS: The eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies routed the topseeded San Antonio Spurs 104-86 on Monday to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their NBA first-round playoff series. The Grizzlies already had made franchise history by winning their first playoff game in Game 1 and added their first playoff win at home. Now they are a game away from becoming the second eighth seed to knock off a No. 1 seed since the NBA expanded to a best-of-seven series. Mike Conley had 15 points and seven assists while Darrell Arthur added 14 points off the bench for Memphis. Tony Allen had 12, Zach Randolph and O.J. Mayo 11 apiece. Tony Parker led the Spurs with 23 points. Game 5 is today in San Antonio. Mavericks 93, T Blazers 82 In Dallas, the hosts avoided another late collapse to beat Portland, taking a 3-2 lead in their first-round series. Dirk Nowitzki scored 11 of his 25 points in the third quarter, Tyson Chandler had 14 points and 20 rebounds — his most ever in a playoff game — and Jason Kidd had 14 assists to make sure Dallas bounced back strongly after blowing a late 23-point lead in Game 4. Now the Mavericks have two days to rest before trying to close out the series in Game 6 on Thursday in Portland. It won’t be easy as the Trail Blazers have won all four meetings there this season. History is certainly on Dallas’ side.

GROS ISLET: Opener Ahmed Shehzad struck his second oneday international hundred to anchor Pakistan to a confident seven-wicket victory over West Indies on Monday. Shehzad hit seven fours and one six in his 102 from 148 balls as Pakistan successfully chased 221 for victory in the second ODI at the Beausejour Cricket Ground. Umar Akmal carried the visitors over the threshold with 12 balls remaining when he lofted a delivery from Dwayne Bravo to long-off for the final boundar y of the match. The result means that Pakistan take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series after winning the first game by eight wickets on Saturday at the same ground. Pakistan have now won their last seven ODIs against West Indies, a sequence spread over the last four years. “We made a plan at our team meeting and our guys stuck to it and that was good,” said Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi. “Shehzad is a very talented guy and he showed that he is capable of performing. He took his time, but chasing a small total, he could afford to do that and we won the game. “I think our bowlers are doing a great job, and the fielding has improved because it is a ver y important area for us. Our batting has shown responsibility and we hope to maintain this discipline right throughout the series.” The visitors’ spin bowling trio of Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Afridi had dominated on another docile pitch. After Pakistan chose to field, West Indies were dismissed for 220 in their 50 overs - one less than the total they made in the first ODI. Ajmal, Hafeez and Afridi shared six wickets for 102 runs in 30 overs bet ween them, and only West I ndies opener Lendl Simmons looked close to getting on top of them, leading the way with 51 from 48 balls, which included four fours and two sixes. “We didn’t make use of the key moments in the match,” said West Indies captain Darren Sammy. “We could have tried to squeeze their batsmen more and when we batted we got a good start, but did not capitalise on it. “The spinners continue to bog us down, and we could have got a lot more on the board. It seems that whatever approach we have taken, we seem only able to get

GROS ISLET: Pakistan’s Asad Shafiq (left) plays a shot as the ball gets past West Indies’ wicket keeper Carlton Baugh during the second one-day international cricket match. —AP t h e s a m e k i n d o f to t a l o n t h e board. We have a lot more work to do.” Shehzad shared three successive half- centur y par tnerships with Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq and Misbah-ul-Haq that put Pakistan firmly on course for their victory. He glanced a deliver y in the 44th over from Dwayne Bravo to deep fine leg for a single to reach his milestone from 143 balls. “ We tried to keep wickets in hand. It was not a huge total so I k new that I had to control my stroke-play and not get carried away,” said Shehzad. He was fortunate on 30 when he came close to being run out

after pulling a delivery from Bravo to mid-wicket and Hafeez turned down the chance of going for a single. Sammy fired his throw from mid-wicket wide of the stumps and the opener was able to regain his ground. By the time he became the second wicket for leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo in the 46th over, Pakistan required just 30 from the final 28 deliveries which came with little trouble. The third and fourth matches of the series will be played on Thursday and M onday at Kensington Oval in Barbados, with the final game coming three days later at the Guyana National Stadium. —AFP

Scoreboard GROS ISLET, Saint Lucia: Scoreboard from the second one-day international between West Indies and Pakistan on Monday at the Beausejour Cricket Ground: West Indies L. Simmons c Umar b Shahid Afridi 51 D. Smith lbw b Mohammad Hafeez 16 Darren Bravo c Misbah b Saeed Ajmal 12 M. Samuels b Hammad Azam 29 K. Edwards b Mohammad Hafeez 4 Dwayne Bravo c Misbah b Wahab 18 C. Baugh lbw b Shahid Afridi 15 D. Sammy c Hammad Azam b Wahab 18 K. Roach run out (Hammad Azam) 24 D. Bishoo c and b Saeed Ajmal 4 A. Martin not out 4 Extras (lb17, w7, nb1) 25 Total (all out; 50 overs) 220 Fall of wickets: 1-24 (Smith); 2-58 (Darren Bravo); 3-90 (Simmons); 4-108 (Edwards); 5-144 (Samuels); 6-148 (Dwayne Bravo); 7-173 (Baugh); 8-188 (Sammy); 9-193 (Bishoo), 10-220 (Roach) Bowling: Junaid Khan 7-1-36-0; Mohammad Hafeez 10-0-38-2 (w1);

Wahab Riaz 8-0-39-2 (nb1); Saeed Ajmal 10-3-23-2; Shahid Afridi 10-1-41-2 (w1); Hammad Azam 5-0-26-1 (w5) Pakistan Mohammad Hafeez c Martin b Bishoo 32 Ahmed Shehzad st Baugh b Bishoo 102 Asad Shafiq run out (Smith/Martin) 23 Misbah-ul-Haq not out 43 Umar Akmal not out 17 Extras (lb1, w3, nb2) 6 Total (3 wkts; 48 overs) 223 Did not bat: Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Salman, Hammad Azam, Wahab Riaz, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan Fall of wickets: 1-66 (Mohammad Hafeez); 2-132 (Asad Shafiq); 3-193 (Ahmed Shehzad) Bowling: Roach 9-1-43-0; Sammy 10-0-520 (w1); Dwayne Bravo 9-0-55-0 (w2); Bishoo 10-1-36-2 (nb2); Martin 10-0-36-0 Result: Pakistan won by seven wickets

Figure skating worlds to start after month delay MEMPHIS: San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) looks for a way around Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33), of Spain, during the first half of Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series. —AP Of the previous 157 series tied 2-2, the Game 5 winner has come out on top in the overall series 83 percent of the time. Nuggets 104, Thunder 101 In Denver, Denver avoided being swept by Oklahoma City. Ty Lawson scored a career playoff-high 27 points and J.R. Smith and Danilo Gallinari hit clutch late shots as the Nuggets cut the series deficit to 3-1. The series will resume today with Game 5 in Oklahoma City. The Nuggets still face a huge challenge in trying to become the

first NBA team ever to overcome a 3-0 series deficit, but they finally found a formula for beating their nemesis, who had beaten Denver five times this month. In denying the Thunder their first playoff series win since moving from Seattle in 2008, the Nuggets went to the hoop better than they had all series and relied on the smooth touch of Gallinari, who totaled just 13 points in the previous two games but finished with 18 on Monday night to counter Kevin Durant’s 31 points and Russell Westbrook’s 30. —AP

IRB orders Japan to move Pacific games TOKYO: Japan have been ordered to move five Pacific Nations Cup matches to Fiji in the wake of last month’s deadly earthquake and tsunami and fears over the current nuclear crisis. The Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) said yesterday only the July 2 curtain-raiser against Samoa had survived after the International Rugby Board (IRB) decided on the switch. Japan coach John Kirwan called the IRB decision “disappointing” but said it would not disrupt his team’s World Cup plans. “There was probably some fear involved (behind the decision),” the former New Zealand All Black told Reuters. “I think it would have been better to play the games in Japan and help the Japanese people get back to normal as quickly as possible. “But it won’t make any difference to the World Cup preparation,” added Kirwan, looking ahead to rugby’s showcase event that begins in New Zealand on Sept. 9. “We’ll deal with it.” IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset defended the decision. “This has been a hard decision for everyone

involved,” he said. “But all stakeholders agreed that it is in the best interests of the Union, the nation and the tournament.” Apart from Japan’s opener against Samoa in Tokyo, the remainder of the competition from July 9-13 will be held in Fiji, which hosted the 2009 Pacific Nations Cup. The JRFU took the decision on the chin. “The relocation of matches was a difficult decision,” JRFU General Secretary Tatsuzo Yabe told reporters. “It was a great disappointment ... but it was the logical decision.” Sporting events have been thrown into chaos following the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami on March 11, which left 28,000 dead or missing in northeast Japan. The huge tsunami wave triggered by the quake severely damaged a nuclear plant in Fukushima some 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo. Workers have been battling around the clock to prevent further radiation leaks and prevent a Chernobyllike meltdown, forcing the abandonment of major sports events across Japan. —Reuters

MOSCOW: Figure skating’s top athletes take to the ice for the world championships a month later than they’d expected and in a different country. The championships’ hasty relocation to Moscow from Tokyo after Japan’s catastrophic earthquake has been a challenge to every skater’s training schedule. But for some, it’s also brought an additional jolt of motivation. “I feel like, OK, I can do it and I have to do something for the people who are living ... in Japan,” says Miki Ando, a top contender for women’s gold. “So many people can’t have a normal life any more, and so many people died, or they don’t k now where they are still, so I feel like I couldn’t be like normal. But after so many people were telling me and so many people were sending (messages) to me ‘go forward’ ... they push me to feel better to skate.” After two days of qualification rounds, the championships open Wednesday at the Megasport Arena with the men’s short program. “I don’t want to think about what happened in Japan. But to show everything I can do here is the best thing I can do for everybody,” said defending men’s champion Daisuke Takahashi of Japan. “I’d like to give joy and hope to the people with my skating.” The championships originally were to have started March 21 in Tokyo, and the ensuing uncertainty and rescheduling left most skaters wobbling with doubt and anxiety about how to train. “When we knew about Tokyo and Russia I was very tired, and

it was ver y difficult to come back on the ice again to get ready for the world championship,” said Brian Joubert of France, a bronze medalist at the last t wo worlds. But most appear to have adjusted. “I think we’re all in the same boat, on the same playing field,” said Canada’s Patrick Chan, the reigning silver medalist. “It feels like a world championship, like it always does.” Japanese fans seeking consolation through the beauty and power of skating will have much to watch in this championships. Mao Asada is defending her title and Ando, the 2007 world champion, aims for another gold. Ando recently has appeared to be resurgent, defeating Asada in the Four Continents and in the Japanese national championships. Both, meanwhile, face the challenge of South Korea’s Kim Yu-na, the Olympic gold medalist; the worlds is Kim’s first competition of this season. American Alissa Czisny, who won this season’s Grand Prix Final, is also in the mix, along with countrywoman Rachel Flatt and three-time European champion Carolina Kostner. Takahashi is joined by two other strong Japanese in the men’s competition, Nobunari Oda and Takahiko Kozuka, who took silver and bronze respectively at the Grand Prix Final. The U.S. entries are national champion Ryan Bradley, Ross Miner and Richard Dornbush. The pairs competition features defending champions Pang Qing and Tong Jian of China, challenged by world sil-

ver medalist Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany. In ice dancing, Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the reigning silver medalists, are in strong position to take the country’s first-ever world gold in the discipline. They face Olympic and world champions Tessa Vir tue and Scott Moir of Canada, but Virtue has been troubled since surgery last fall and the couple withdrew in the Four Continents, their only competition of the season. Russia, a longtime figure skating power, offers a comparatively underwhelming field for these championships. Its top medal contenders are Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, the defending world bronze pair. Home-country fans also will be closely watching several young skaters who hold promise for Russian glory when the countr y hosts the 2014 Olympics: Ar tur Gachinsk i, whose technique is of ten likened to Evgeni Plushenko’s, and Ksenia Makarova and Alena Leonova. But if Russia’s medal prospects are a bit dim this year, the countr y effec tively has already won a gold for its swift organization of the championships, putting it all together in 31 days. “I think its unbelievable that any country, any federation in four weeks can turn everything around so quickly; have hotels available with volunteers, a beautiful stadium, it ’s really unbelievable,” said Alan Seabrook, chairman of Britain’s National Ice Sk ating Association.—AP



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sp orts

Wounded Barca brace for another Real duel

MADRID: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi from Argentina (left) and Daniel Alves from Brazil (right) exercise during a training session. —AP

Mourinho pokes fun at Barca boss Guardiola MADRID: Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho took an early shot at his Barcelona counterpart ahead of their Champions League match, saying Pep Guardiola belongs to a new group of coaches “who criticise a correct decision of the referee”. Real and arch-rivals Barcelona clash today in the Champions League semifinal first leg at the Bernabeu stadium where experienced German official Wolfgang Stark is to be the referee. But before Stark was named, Guardiola said Mourinho, who is Portuguese, would be “super happy” if Portugal’s Pedro Proenca was chosen. “Besides the naming of the referee and the pressure that they exerted that it was not Proenca, the most important thing is that we are in new cycle,” Mourinho told a news conference on Tuesday. “Up to now we have had two types of coaches. A very small group of coaches who never speak to the referees. After that, there is a bigger group, of whom I am one, who criticise the referees when they make huge errors. But it is also a group who are happy to highlight the good work of the referee. “And now, with the declaration of Pep the other day, we are entering a new era with a third group, which for the moment includes only him, who criticise the correct decision of the referee,” he said. “This is something I have never seen in the world of football.” Mourinho was referring to a goal by Barcelona’s Pedro Rodriguez that was disallowed for offside in the Spanish Cup final against Real on

Real Madrid’s coach Jose Mourinho April 20, and which video replays showed was a correct decision by the referee. Wednesday’s will be the third of four of “Clasico” meetings between the two Spanish powerhouses in less than three weeks. Real drew 1-1 with the Spanish champions in the league on April 16 before defeating their rivals 1-0 to take the Spanish Cup. But Mourinho rejected suggestions that Real will be the favorites today. “I believe we are not favourites, it is a semi-final of champions, two rival teams who know each other well, with tradition, with players who know what it is to succeed, who know what it is to play big games,” he said. “Maybe tomorrow (Wednesday) after the match you can say one is a little bit ahead or one is is a little behind, but for now there are no favorites.” —AFP

SPAIN: Octopus Iker eats a sardine placed inside a box decorated with the crest of the Real Madrid football team predicting Real Madrid will play the Champions League final match. —AFP

Octopus predicts Real in final SPAIN: An octopus named Iker, which correctly predicted the result of the last two “classicos” between Real Madrid and Barcelona, has foreseen Real will reach the final of the Champions League. Iker predicted Real would reach the final at London’s Wembley arena on May 28 by choosing to eat a sardine from a glass cylinder decorated with the club’s badge instead of one from a cylinder with Barcelona’s badge yesterday at the Sea Life Aquarium in the southern city of Benalmadena. The 16-kilo (35-pound) octupus, named after Real keeper Iker Casillas, has already predicted Real’s 1-1 draw against Barcelona in La Liga on April 16 and the

club’s 1-0 win over the Catalan club in the King’s Cup final four days later. The two sides will face each other in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at Real’s Bernabeu stadium today. The second leg will take place at Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium on May 3. Whichever Spanish team makes it to the final will face either Manchester United or Schalke 04. During the World Cup in South Africa last year, Paul, an octopus in the German town of Oberhausen, became world famous after correctly predicting all the results involving the German team, as well as that of the final, won by Spain. Paul died on October 26, 2010. —AFP

MADRID: With the Kings Cup final loss fresh in their minds, Barcelona are out for revenge when they face bitter rivals Real Madrid in today ’s eagerly-anticipated Champions League semi-first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu. It is the third meeting between the two Spanish powerhouses in just 12 days and Barcelona hope to continue their impressive recent record at the Bernabeu as they look to bounce back from the 1-0 Kings Cup extra-time final defeat to Real five days ago. It was Jose Mourinho’s first trophy as Madrid manager and now the Portuguese coach has his eye on delivering a 10th European Cup to Madrid as he bids to become the first coach to win the Champions League with three different clubs. Mourinho was humiliated 5-0 by Barcelona in the league back in November, but Real are now on the up with a 1-1 league home draw against Barca followed by the Cup win. “We can take them on over two games; we have just done that,” said Mourinho. “There is no reason we can’t beat them in the Champions League because we have just drawn once against them and then beaten them.” History is on Madrid’s side with Real getting the better of Barcelona in their two previous semi-final meetings in the 1960 European Cup and most recently the last four of the 2002 Champions League with Madrid going on to be crowned champions on both occasions. Barcelona have reached the Champions League semi-finals for four successive seasons and coach Pep Guardiola will hope to fare better than last season when he was outfoxed by Mourinho’s Inter Milan side at this stage. Barcelona defeated Osasuna 2-0 on Saturday to maintain their eight-point gap over Real and stay on course for their third consecutive La Liga title. But Guardiola admitted his side were feeling the effects of a long season. “We won’t be going to Madrid in the best physical shape, but we’ll go there with a lot of enthusiasm and we have a lot of belief in ourselves,” said Guardiola. “ We accept that Madrid may be favourites, but we will go to the Bernabeu to attack, score goals and try to win the game.” Lionel Messi notched his 50th goal of the season in the Osasuna win and has scored on each of his last three visits to the Bernabeu with Barcelona boasting two wins and a draw from their last three trips to the

MADRID: Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal (center) heads a ball during a training session. —AP capital. The form of Messi and David Villa’s goal at the weekend, ending an 11-game drought in all competitions, is a boon for Barca but an injury to Brazilian Adriano is their latest defensive concern. Full back Adriano could miss the rest of the season with a thigh injury so Guardiola is stretched at the back with captain Carles Puyol struggling with muscular problems and Frenchman Eric Abidal recovering from surgery on a liver tumour. Real are having more luck with Argentine forward Gonzalo Higuain and Brazilian playmaker Kaka back to their best after long layoffs. Higuain scored a hat-trick and Kaka grabbed a brace in Real’s 6-3 win at Valencia on Saturday to throw their hats into the ring for a starting place against Barca. “He (Kaka) had a fantastic game in a position I like a lot,” said Mourinho. “It is fantastic for his confidence.” Mourinho rested key players such as Pepe, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored the winner in the Cup final, but will be handicapped by the absence of experienced centre-back Ricardo Carvalho through suspension. German midfielder Sami Khedira is also out with a muscular injury so Frenchman Lass Diarra is set to deputise. —AFP


Marseille aiming for top spot PARIS: Defending champion Marseille is halfway to repeating the domestic double it achieved last year but Didier Deschamps’ team is likely to be missing three key players in the final stretch of the season. Marseille successfully defended the League Cup with a 1-0 win over Montpellier over the weekend and can knock faltering league leader Lille off its perch with a win against Nice today in a rescheduled match. But Marseille will be without the injured Stephane M’Bia and suspended striker Loic Remy for the match. M’Bia picked up a groin injur y only minutes into the League Cup final while Remy still has two matches to ser ve after being handed a three-match ban following a red card. Deschamps said M’Bia is likely to be sidelined until mid-May. Nigeria defender Taye Taiwo is available but is facing a lengthy suspension for an expletive-laced chant following the victory in the League Cup. After the game, Taiwo took a microphone and joined fans in a chant aimed at archrival Paris Saint-Germain. The French league will submit Taiwo’s case to the football federation’s ethics council, which will decide whether to suspend him. Deschamps criticized Taiwo’s reaction but tried to downplay the importance of the player’s “mistake,” hoping that the defender will escape a harsh penalty. “He shouldn’t have done this,” Deschamps said. “But he is not the first player to do this. I remember that Samuel Eto’o took a microphone to celebrate a title with Barcelona. At the time he spoke about Real and it was also a mistake. What Taiwo said was not good, he realized it and apologized.” Eto’o was fined §12,000 by the Spanish federation for singing anti-Real Madrid songs during 2005 Spanish league title celebrations but was not suspended. A win against Nice

would give Marseille a one-point lead over Lille with six rounds remaining this season. “Mathematically, if we win all our remaining matches, we will be champions,” Deschamps said. “But we first need to take the three points on Wednesday, something that is yet to achieve.” Nice is only six points above the relegation zone, which should give the team extra motivation for the match. But the club has a terrible record at the Stade Velodrome, where it lost 15 of its last 16 matches. Marseille is unbeaten in the league since a 2-1 home loss to Lille on March 6 and has lost only three games in all competitions in 2011. Last year, Deschamps’ team also used a strong second part of the season to secure the double. Lille’s 1-1 draw at Orient was its third straight league match without a win, and coach Rudi Garcia is acknowledging that Marseille’s current pace will be difficult to keep up with. “Marseille are picking up points faster than us in 2011 and Marseille are title favorites,” Garcia said. “We’ve got seven finals to play, including the French Cup final, between now and the end of the season. We are leaders at least until today.” Third-place Lyon will be trying to cut the gap to Lille to four points with a win against M ontpellier in today ’s other match. — AP

Matches on TV (Local Timings) UEFA Champions League Real Madrid v Barcelona Al Jazeera Sport +5 Al Jazeera Sport +3 Al Jazeera Sport 1 HD Al Jazeera Sport +4 Al Jazeera Sport 2 HD


Barcelona’s coach Josep Guardiola

Dzeko boosts City’s Euro hopes BLACKBURN: Edin Dzeko’s first Premier League goal Blackburn 0 earned Manchester City a 1-0 win over Blackburn on Monday which strengthened his team’s hopes of Man City 1 qualifying for the Champions League. City were heading for a disappointing draw against their relegation-threatened hosts when substitute Dzeko, who had only been on the pitch three minutes, finished well after the Rovers defence failed to clear a dangerous ball by David Silva in the 75th minute. It sent City four points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham in the race for the Champions League and increased Blackburn’s relegation worries. “I’m very happy that this goal helped my team to win the game,” said Dzeko. “Sometimes it’s difficult, I’m not the first who didn’t make the best start but I’m happy because I scored today and helped the team.” Rovers will feel hard done by but they have now won just three times in 17 league attempts under manager Steve Kean who, nevertheless, insists his team can avoid relegation. “We feel as a group if we play like that against Bolton on Saturday we can get a win, never mind a draw,” he said. “We’re gutted we didn’t get anything tonight but if we play like that, we’ve got a great chance.” Since their previous appearance on the Premier League stage, a miserable 3-0 defeat at Liverpool, Roberto Mancini’s City have closed in on their first piece of major silverware for 35 years by reaching the FA Cup final. And Mancini kept faith with the team that overcame neighbours Manchester United in the semi-final as City looked to end a three-match losing run on the road in the league. Blackburn, who started just above the relegation zone, desperately needed a win after taking just four points out of a possible 27. Yet they almost found themselves behind as early as the third minute when Spanish international Silva let fly with a sweetly-struck left-foot volley which crashed against the post with keeper Paul Robinson beaten. Robinson was almost embarrassed by Aleksandar Kolarov in the 10th minute, the Serbian full-back’s speculative 35-yard effort dipping narrowly wide of the target. With their 10-season stay in the top-tier in jeopardy, Blackburn, who recalled former City striker Benjani Mwaruwari to the side, needed to seize the initiative. But despite claims for a penalty after Vincent Kompany’s challenge on Jason Roberts, they lacked the cutting edge to seriously trouble City keeper Joe Hart. His biggest test in a first half of few chances came from David Dunn’s 31st minute free-kick which posed few problems for the England keeper. However, City survived a major 41st minute scare when Blackburn defender Chris Samba outjumped both Kolarov and Gareth Barry to connect with Michel Salgado’s cross to power a header just wide. — AFP

Kohli shines in Bangalore victory

Wounded Barca brace for another Real duel

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C’wealth Games probe triggers Indian anger

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GERMANY: Manchester United’s forward Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring during the Champions League semi-final, first-leg match against Schalke 04. (Inset) United’s Ryan Giggs (left) scores against Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. —AP GERMANY: Manchester United produced a devastating attacking performance to record a 2-0 win over Schalke 04 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final yesterday. Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, a reported United target, kept the three-time champions at bay almost single-handedly before quick-fire second-half goals from Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney brought United a deserved victory. The result puts Sir Alex Ferguson’s side firmly in the driving seat ahead of next week’s return leg at Old Trafford, when they will seek to book their place in the Champions League final for the third time in four seasons. “We’re delighted but a bit disappointed in terms of not scoring more,” said Rooney. “We have done very well. We have to be professional for the second leg as Schalke can’t be taken lightly. They went to Inter and won 5-2 (in the first leg of their quarter-final).” Giggs was always confident of victory. “I thought if we kept creating chances then they would go in,” said the Welshman who, at 37, became the oldest player to score a Champions League goal. “We could have been four or five up at half-time. Before the match we would have taken 2-0 but it’s quite disappointing in terms of the final result now.” Schalke upset defending champions Inter Milan in the previous round but the visitors’ onslaught meant they were unable to cause Edwin van der Sar any real problems as the United goalkeeper kept his 50th clean sheet in the competition. Neuer has been the subject of intense speculation since he announced he was not going to extend his contract but the Schalke captain demonstrated why he is so highly sought after with a string of world-class stops in the first half. The first, on three minutes, saw him brilliantly palm away a Rooney curler, before he plunged to his right to

keep out a low Park Ji-Sung drive two minutes later. United’s best early chance fell to Javier Hernandez but, having beaten the offside trap from Park’s pass, the Mexican international found his route to goal blocked by the imposing frame of the Germany number one. Hernandez ruffled the side netting and flashed a shot across the face of goal before a stunning one-handed stop from Neuer prevented Giggs heading United in front. It seemed only a matter of time before semi-final debutants Schalke buckled and Atsuto Uchida had to produce a tremendous block to deny Park after Neuer’s save from Hernandez left the Korean with an open goal. Neuer was at it again seconds from half-time, boldly racing from his line to deny Giggs, after Schalke had seen a penalty appeal rejected when Antonio Valencia nudged Alexander Baumjohann in the back beneath a high ball. A Rooney header from a Giggs free-kick prompted more acrobatics from Neuer early in the second half, while Giggs should have done better than blaze wide moments later after flummoxing three defenders with a cunning feint. A rare sight of goal at the other end saw Jose Manuel Jurado slice a volley wide, before the breakthrough that United’s first-half dominance merited finally materialised in the 67th minute. Rooney bought himself space on the edge of the box by shaping to shoot and as the Schalke defence advanced to close him down, he slipped a pass through for Giggs to roll the ball between Neuer’s legs. The deadlock finally broken, United required just two minutes to stretch their lead. Hernandez drove infield from the right flank before stabbing the ball to Rooney, who beat the exposed Neuer with a first-time shot into the bottom-left corner. Victory could even have been more handsome, had Patrice Evra’s low shot two minutes from time not whistled narrowly wide of the right-hand upright. —AFP

Stoke deepen Wolves’ drop fears Stoke 3

Wolves 0

STOKE: FA Cup finalists Stoke’s fine run of form continued yesterday as they dealt a huge blow to Wolves prospects of staying in the Premier League with a 3-0 win. Goals by Trinidadian international Kenwyne Jones, Ryan Shawcross and the outstanding Jermaine Pennant easily saw off a woeful Wolves side, who are second from bottom a point adrift of safety with four matches remaining. The hosts took the lead just after the quarter-hour mark as Jones headed home from a great cross by Pennant, who had beaten a couple of weak challenges down the right flank. Jones, a record signing for Stoke last August for £8million, wasted a better chance eight minutes later as Shawcross found him with a brilliant long pass but unmolested he shot well wide with just goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey to beat. Stoke, though, suffered a potential

LONDON: Stoke City’s English forward Jermaine Pennant (left) and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Irish defender Stephen Ward compete during the English Premier League football match. —AFP hammerblow in terms of their FA Cup final hopes when winger Matthew Etherington - man of the match in their semi-final demolition of Bolton had to go off after suffering what looked like a hamstring injury on the half hour mark. Stoke doubled their lead before half-time as Shawcross bundled the ball past Hennessey from a corner -

cruel luck on the Welsh international goalkeeper as he had pulled off a superb double save in giving away the corner. Wolves, though, could find no answers in the second-half either as they produced a listless performance worthy more of a side in mid-table security than fighting for its Premier League survival. —AFP



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Dubai’s Aramex expects modest growth in 2011


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Banking growth stagnates in Middle East


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India’s double-digit growth dreams fade

Kuwait bourse remains positive

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MANILA: Fruit’s are displayed at a wet market in Quezon City, east of Manila yesterday. Soaring global food prices threaten to push tens of millions of Asians into extreme poverty and cut the region’s economic growth this year, the Asian Development Bank warned in a report. — AFP

ME shocks demand risk rating rethink SINGAPORE: Attempting to predict the future, rather than imagining possible versions of it, may have blinded risk analysts to the likelihood of this year’s uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa. Concentrating on what precedent taught was probable, and trying to pick the likeliest of those eventualities, left only a narrow range of events considered-like a sports bookmaker not even offering odds on an outsider winning a competition. Some inside the industry, and some investors who use that research, think the fact that among traditional analysts, the ‘Arab Spring’ wasn’t even on the cards should be the cue for changes in how political risk analysts do their work. “Most if not all risk rating agencies ... were comfortable with the future outlook despite highlighting the fact that 2011 (was) the year for political succession (in Egypt),” said Ahmed Ali Abdelrahman, chief executive for Egypt at Kuwaiti asset management firm Global Investment House. The most radical scenario postulated, he said, was opposition party the Muslim Brotherhood winning the election scheduled for later in the year. “Other than the election outcome there was no concern whatsoever over the political situation.” Though on the face of it the preservation of the status quo may have been the likeliest outcome, investors would be better served by a more imaginative approach that considers the possible events that would mark a departure from the established narrative, rather than analysis that aims to forecast the future. “The key lesson for political risk consultancies is not about how better to predict the kind of events we have been witnessing: that is simply not possible,” said Nigel Inkster, director for transnational threats and political risk at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “Rather they should look at regimes like Egypt’s and ask more ‘what if ’ questions which don’t just assume the status quo will continue.” Investors and others interested in the country in question would then be able to examine a range of possible futures, and consider how they might respond to each. By doing this, they would be better prepared to cope with an actual future which is unlikely to be identical to any they have imagined, but would at least have elements of some of them, he said. Scenario planning would be more constructive than trying to rank potential outcomes by likelihood. “Many investors and some analysts use the recent past as a guide to the future which is often misleading at best,” said Elizabeth Stephens, head of credit and political risk analysis at insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group. At the core of popular revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya was deep, widespread unhappiness about being poor, repressed and denied opportunity by regimes run by coteries of corrupt, lavish-spending officials and their families. But for years, unequal societies and unbending governments had been seen as the price of stability, and as a result there was little expectation among observers that street-level misery would blow up into revolt. “It is difficult to calculate the impact of discontent as local grievances don’t often flare into regime change,” said JLT’s Stephens. One of the key lessons for risk analysts is that big-picture economics and politics should not overshadow events and sentiment on the ground. — Reuters


Markets muted; earnings fail to spur UAE bourse DUBAI: Mideast markets saw muted trade yesterday in the absence of institutional players while solid earnings had little effect in the United Arab Emirates where markets closed lower. Dubai’s index fell to a 12-day low on thin volumes and Emaar Properties yesterday extended losses. The developer reported a 45 percent fall in first-quarter earnings on Sunday. “We’re going to need remainder of numbers from UAE companies before anyone makes a decision and liquidity returns,” said Julian Bruce, EFG-Hermes director of institutional equity sales. The benchmark eased 0.05 percent, its lowest close since April 14. Emirates NBD posted a net profit of 1.4 billion dirhams ($381 million) beating forecasts. Its shares rose 2.4 percent. Logistics firm Aramex fell

2.1 percent before reporting quarter results, which were up five percent. Property stocks weighed on Abu Dhabi’s index with Aldar Properties falling 1.9 percent and Sorouh Real Estate down 0.7 percent. The benchmark eased 0.05 percent and fell to a two-week low. After market close, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank said its quarterly profit more than doubled, helped by lower loan provisions, also beating analysts expectations. Its shares did not trade yesterday. Stock-specific trading in Kuwait’s index pushed it up to a 10-week high and banks recovered from a sell-off on Monday. The benchmark ended 0.4 percent up, its highest close since Feb 16. Ahli United Bank gained 1.9 percent, with the heaviest trading among the top 10

Emirates NBD Q1 up on sale but growth sluggish DUBAI: UAE lender Emirates NBD posted a 27 percent rise in first-quarter net profit, boosted by a stake sale of one of its units. The bank, the third largest by market value in the UAE, said yesterday it made a net profit of 1.4 billion dirhams ($381 million) in the three months to March 31. The average forecast of seven analysts’ estimates on the bank’s website was for 1.04 billion dirhams. “The bottom line number is extremely high but it is interesting that they have used the profit from Network International to offset writedowns from Union Properties and improvement of portfolio provisions,” said Raj Madha, analyst at Rasmala Investment. “Looks like a significant amount of balance sheet cleanup but there is no growth-this might be a little disappointing, but we were expecting minimal growth.” The bank said it made a gain of 1.8 billion dirhams from the sale of a 49 percent stake in payment solutions provider Network International to private equity firm Abraaj Capital, a sale completed during the quarter. Loans slipped 1 percent in the period, while impairments on financial assets and on loans continued to increase. Emirates NBD booked a further 426 million dirhams in impairments on its investment in Union Properties, now valued at 782 million dirhams, the statement said. Other indicators did not present a very optimistic picture. Customer loans fell 1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010, while deposits grew a moderate 6 percent from the end of 2010. Total impairment allowances stood at 2.8 billion dirhams at the end of March, the statement said, increasing by 628 million dirhams during the first quarter. —Reuters

largest stocks Agility rose 2.4 percent. Global Investment House surged 6 percent after winning a $250 million UAE court ruling against Abu Dhabi-listed National Bank of Umm Al Qaiwain. “The market is healthy at this point, but on an individual stock basis, there are very few bargains at these prices,” said a Kuwaitbased trader, speaking on condition of anonymity. Banking stocks are the bourse’s safehaven, he added. After public holidays, Egypt’s main index slipped as court decisions over questionable sales of state land to real estate developers weighed on investor confidence, traders say. The EGX30 index ended 0.1 percent lower, with proper ty developer Palm Hills Development Coclosing flat after re t r a c i n g e a r l i e r l o s s e s a n d Ta l a a t

Moustafa fell 8 percent. An Egyptian court ruled yesterday that a sale of state land to Palm Hills, the country’s second-biggest listed developer, was illegal and scrapped the contract. “The same stocks that pressured the market on Thursday are still doing the same today,” said Mohamed Radwan, head of equities at Pharos Securities. “Verdicts will come out in favour of the government, so investors should have discounted that.” Saudi Arabia’s index ended flat as investors await more cues after first-quarter earnings are priced in. “The overall index is not moving heavy in any direction - it’s consolidating and building a base before moving higher,” says a Riyadh-based who asked not to be identified. The index ended up 0.02 percent at a fresh two-month high.— Reuters

Consumer Confidence Index rises in April NEW YORK: Americans’ concerns about jobs and inflation eased somewhat in April, pushing the Consumer Confidence Index higher. The increase comes after an unexpected drop in March. But the measure had risen for five consecutive months before that and hit a three-year high in February. “Consumer’s short-term outlook improved slightly, suggesting that the uncertainty expressed last month is easing,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, in a statement. “Inflation expectations, which had spiked, retreated somewhat in April.” The Conference Board said Tuesday the index rose to 65.4 from a revised 63.8 in March. Economists expected a smaller rise to 64.8, according to FactSet. The index is still far from the reading of 90 that indicates a healthy economy. It hasn’t approached that level since the recession began in December 2007. Economists monitor confidence because consumer spending, including big-ticket items such as housing and health care, accounts for about 70 percent of US economic activity and is critical for a strong rebound. The Conference Board survey, which is conducted by The Nielsen Co. and based on a random survey mailed to 3,000 households, showed that the proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their income improved to 16.7 percent from 15.2 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market improved modestly as well. Those saying jobs are “hard to get” fell to 41.8 percent from 44.4 percent, and those saying jobs are “plentiful” rose to 5.2 percent from 4.6 percent. Chris Christopher, an economist with IHS Global Insight, says

NEW YORK: US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations yesterday in New York City. — AFP the data backs up that improvement. He said last month’s shaken consumer confidence could have had more to do with unrest in Libya and Japan’s earthquake and tsunami rather than fundamental worry over the economy “People lowered their expectations, and now they’re bouncing back a little bit,” he said. “Their evaluation of the current situation is stronger and that jibes with employment numbers we are seeing.” Companies added more than 200,000 jobs in March for the second straight month, according to the government’s jobs report released this month, the first time that has happened since 2006. The unemployment rate fell to a twoyear low of 8.8 percent and has dropped a full percentage point since November. —AP



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Dubai’s Aramex expects modest growth in 2011 Q1 net profit at 49.8 million dirhams DUBAI: Logistics firm Aramex said revenue will grow at a modest 10 to 12 percent this year as unrest hits key markets and oil prices soar, after the company posted an increase in quarterly profit. The Dubai-listed firm, which competes with Fedex and DHL, stopped its Libya operations and was hit by unrest in Egypt and Bahrain, it said in a statement yesterday. “I expect very low double digit growth this year,” Fadi Ghandour, Aramex’s chief executive told Reuters after the results were announced. “It will be similar to what we have seen. About 10 to 12 percent.” He said the company is now concerned about its operations in Syria, where social unrest is growing. “Operations are normal in most parts right now but we are concerned,” said Ghandour. He said the courier firm’s operations in Libya are not expected to return to normal anytime soon. Aramex posted a 5 percent rise in first-quar-

ter profits to 49.8 million dirhams ($13.6 million), as revenues from Gulf operations grew. That was up from 47.5 million dirhams in the prior-year period. Net revenue rose 12 percent to 595 million dirhams from 530 million dirhams. “UAE and Saudi Arabia continue to be our strongest markets. Other Gulf markets also continue to grow despite the uncertainties. We have been gaining clients.” said Ghandour. The company, which acquired two Kenyan delivery companies in February, will look at more acquisitions this year, the CEO said. “We

are looking at 2 to 3 acquisitions this year. We are aggressive about it..... we are looking at opportunities in Africa,” said Ghandour. Shares of Aramex ended 2 percent lower on the Dubai bourse before the results were announced. AlembicHC upgraded Aramex to “overweight” earlier this month stating that geographical diversification will help the firm grow earnings modestly in 2011 despite regional turmoil. Aramex posted a 11 percent rise in its fourth-quarter net profit last year but warned that it faces rising operating costs in 2011. — Reuters

IKEA Kuwait awards George Haider, Frank Schusselberger Marketing management program diploma studies. IMMP leads to the development of strategic marketing plans for IKEA, as well as its leadership businesses by applying these learning methods in real IKEA business. The diplomas, which recognize managers’ accomplishments across their careers at IKEA, are awarded once the successful implementation of the strategic plans is completed. IKEA Kuwait is determined to carry on its program, focusing on delivering world class services to the Kuwaiti market. At the heart of the its successful operations is a highly motivated and experienced staff base that thrives in a unique professional culture, combining superb teamwork and a passion for excellence to continually deliver the best possible service and product range. IKEA continues to heavily invest in the training and development of its employees.

KUWAIT: IKEA Kuwait announced yesterday that it has awarded George Abu Haider, Acting Store Manager, Frank Schsselberger, Market Hall Sales Manager, and Emile Al Shaar, with its renowned IKEA Marketing Management Program (IMMP) diplomas from Inter IKEA systems B.V. The training diplomas were handed out by IKEA Kuwait’s General Manager, Adel Al-Shamali. From Kuwait, Abu Haidar, Al Shaar, and Schsselberger are the first batch of participants from this unique graduate program. More executives and managers are being fully trained to further become eligible for this diploma. IMMP is a 6 months extensive study program that is held in IKEA Business College in Delft, Netherlands, and combines a range of workshops as well as e-learning methods, designed to equip IKEA executives with best practice case

GM signs MOU with SSTEC Plan to explore integration of EN-Vs into Tianjin Eco-City SHANGHAI: General Motors and the SinoSingapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co. Ltd. (SSTEC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on integrating a next-generation of GM’s Electric Networked-Vehicle (EN-V) into the Tianjin Eco-City, located in north China, from a power, communications and physical infrastructure perspective. The award-winning EN-V was one of the stars of World Expo 2010 Shanghai. The first-generation EN-V was showcased to the public at last year’s global exposition in Shanghai. The intelligent two-seat electric vehicle concept aims to tackle urban problems such as traffic congestion, parking availability, air quality and affordability. The EN-V is powered by lithium-ion batteries that produce zero emissions. By combining GPS with vehicle-tovehicle communications and distance-sensing technologies, the EN-V can be driven both manually and autonomously. These innovative features, together with the EN-V’s compact size, mean greater maneuverability and safety, especially in areas where space is limited. “At World Expo 2010 Shanghai, GM demonstrated our vision of sustainable urban mobility

and published the GM Sustainable Urban Mobility Blue Paper at the conclusion of the event as a call for action and a roadmap to the future,” said Kevin Wale, President and Managing Director of the GM China Group. “We are pleased that GM’s partnership with SSTEC can serve as the first step for realizing our vision.” This MOU is part of SSTEC’s efforts to identify global eco-solutions and drive the adoption of new-energy vehicles in the Eco-City. As an innovative zero-emission small networked vehicle, the EN-V could contribute by reducing congestion and making the Eco-City a more comfortable and pleasant place for future residents. Ho Tong Yen, CEO of SSTEC, said: “SSTEC is committed to building a practical and sustainable Eco-City, which includes having a comprehensive and integrated green transport system. We look forward to welcoming EN-Vs in the Eco-City. We are confident that GM’s expertise, commitment and innovation will help in our drive to promote the early adoption of new-energy vehicles in the Tianjin Eco-City.” SSTEC is the master developer for the Tianjin Eco-City. It is a 50/50 joint venture between the Chinese consortium led by Tianjin TEDA

Investment Holding Co, Ltd (Tianjin TEDA) and the Singapore consortium led by the Keppel Group. The Tianjin Eco-City is a landmark bilateral project between China and Singapore with private-sector investment and development. Located in the Tianjin Binhai New Area (40 kilometers away from Tianjin’s city center), the 30square-kilometer Tianjin Eco-City is designed to create a harmonious and sustainable community that meets the needs of an urbanizing China. Once completed, it will be a modern township where 350,000 residents will eventually live, work and play. The 4-square-kilometer start-up area will contain as many as 26,500 households, with the first residents expected to move in around 2012. “Since its global introduction at World Expo 2010 Shanghai, the first-generation EN-V has travelled the world and received attention from global leaders, academics and environmentalists,” said Alan Taub, Vice President of GM’s Global Research and Development Organization. “The EN-V provides a glimpse into the future and represents another major step forward in GM’s advanced vehicle technology leadership.”

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

.2734670 .4510560 .3997400 .3118210 .2870740 .2939090 .0061800 .0024880 .0744840 .7255680 .3867990 .0729440 .7104870 .0063600 .0463500

.2787390 .4597520 .4074470 .3178320 .2926090 .2995750 .0062990 .0025360 .0759200 .7395560 .3942560 .0743500 .7241850 .0064820 .0472430

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

CUSTOMER TRANSFER RATES .2741500 .4521830 .4007390 .3126000 .2877910 .0537430 .0449630 .2946430 .0352720 .2220740 .0033560 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0746700 .7273810 .0000000 .0731260 .7122630 .0000000

.2777500 .4581210 .4060010 .3167050 .2915700 .0544490 .0455530 .2985120 .0357350 .2249900 .0034000 .0062770 .0025270 .0032950 .0038310 .0756500 .7369330 .3928570 .0740860 .7216160 .0064590

Al-Muzaini Exchange Co. ASIAN COUNTRIES Japanese Yen Indian Rupees Pakistani Rupees Srilankan Rupees Nepali Rupees Singapore Dollar Hongkong Dollar Bangladesh Taka

3.381 6.211 3.279 2.503 3.896 224.180 35.560 3.896

Philippine Peso Thai Baht Irani Riyal - Transfer Irani Riyal - Cash

6.391 9.234 0.271 0.273

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

GCC COUNTRIES Saudi Riyal Qatari Riyal Omani Riyal Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham

73.704 75.948 717.940 733.960 75.250 ARAB COUNTRIES

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

47.750 46.406 1.265 204.140 390.340 183.300 5.967 36.070

EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer 276.300 Euro 403.810 Sterling Pound 457.690 Canadian dollar 291.760 Turkish lire 182.140 Swiss Franc 313.980 Australian dollar 296.690 US Dollar Buying 275.100 280.000 142.000 72.000

SELL CASH 298.900 734.440 3.990 293.600 542.400 14.100 54.800 167.800 47.460 406.400 36.220 6.510

390.320 0.186 93.870 3.890 223.000

314.500 5.900 9.430 75.250 276.100

224.900 46.456 404.900 36.070 6.200

Rate for Transfer US Dollar Canadian Dollar Sterling Pound Euro Swiss Frank Bahrain Dinar UAE Dirhams Qatari Riyals Saudi Riyals Jordanian Dinar Egyptian Pound Sri Lankan Rupees Indian Rupees

Selling Rate 276.800 292.345 453.255 400.600 308.720 732.607 75.339 76.008 73.783 391.007 46.496 2.506 6.239

3.283 3.806 6.397 678.972 3.437 9.341 6.038 3.943 91.033


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 Canadian Dollars

TRAVELLER’S CHEQUE 456.700 276.100

Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd SELL DRAFT 297.400 734.440 3.790 291.500

Pakistani Rupees Bangladesh Taka Philippines Pesso Cyprus pound Japanese Yen Thai Bhat Syrian Pound Nepalese Rupees Malaysian Ringgit

Kuwait Bahrain Intl Exchange Co. 717.120 3.285 6.390 75.970 73.730 224.930 43.510 2.503 456.700


Sterling Pound US Dollar

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


GOLD 10 Tola

GOLD 20 Gram 10 Gram 5 Gram

0.033 0.247 0.243 3.480 391.790 0.187 93.870 47.800 4.330 224.500 1.872 52.700 717.300 3.360 6.600 76.400 73.730 224.930 43.510 2.680 458.700 45.600 316.300 5.900 9.570 198.263 75.350 276.500 1.230

276.100 3.280 6.205 2.515 3.800 6.420 75.275 73.830 734.000 46.415 460.800 0.00003280 3.910 1.550 392.300 5.750 406.900 296.000

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

Transfer Rate (Per 1000) 275.550 404.200 458.000 287.600 3.390 6.230 46.360 2.500 3.777 6.395 3.272 734.100 75.200 73.700

*Rates are subject to change




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Banking growth stagnates in Mideast but profits recover Mastering new market reality of a slow growth environment THE BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP REPORT

Al Tijari rewards its customers who used their cards at IKEA he campaign “Get 20% Discount When Shopping with your Card at Ikea” launched by Commercial Bank of Kuwait in collaboration with Ikea Co on 8th April 2011 proved outstanding success, where a large number of CBK customers enjoyed the deal with this exclusive offer for a period of 10 days. With the campaign comes to an end, the Bank will credit the amounts due to customers to their accounts the next week. The Bank will subsequently announce the date scheduled to reward its customers as promised, to offer 20% cash back of the value of their purchases. On this occasion, Ramzi Al Sabboury, the Executive Manager for Marketing and Sales said that “This offer was a great success for both Al Tijari and Ikea Co., where our customers’ purchases with Ikea Co. increased by more than fourfold compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. This proves that the campaign has achieved great success and we attained our objective for customer convenience and satisfaction. Al Sabboury added that this is the second campaign for April to customers shopping by using Al-Tijari cards to receive cash back equal to the value of their purchases and that it will continue throughout the year, in cooperation with different companies which contribute to make such marketing programs a success. Al Sabboury stated that more various promotional programs will be launched in the next months in view of the considerable demand by customers for such deals.


KUWAIT: A recent study by The Boston Consulting Group shows that Middle East banking revenue growth slowed down in 2010, whilst profits picked up quite significantly due to reduced provisions for bad loans. Overall, Middle East banks were much less affected by the financial crisis than their international peers - the profit index did not fall below 100 during the crisis and is slowly returning to 2006 levels. Middle East banks are now facing the challenge of how to improve operating models and process efficiency in order to prevent costs from growing at a higher rate than revenues. Dubai, 26 April 2011 - According to a new study by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the banking industry in the Middle East shows further signs of recovery but at a slower pace. In 2010, banking revenues stagnated with only a minor increase at the end of 2010 in comparison to 2009. On the other hand profits in 2010 increased significantly due to lower loan loss provisions (LLPs down by 17%) although the latter still remained high at above $8 billion. International banks recovered faster in 2010 but still remained at a much lower revenue and profit index level than their Middle East counterparts. Based on 2010 annual results as reported by the banks in the first quarter of 2011, the new study is part of BCG’s biannual banking performance indices measuring the development of banking revenues (operating income) and profits for leading global banks. In April 2009, BCG launched the first edition of the banking performance index in the Middle East, creating a customized index specifically for the regional banking markets, with 2005 revenues and profits as starting benchmarks. The index covers the largest banks in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “In 2010, the BCG index includes 35 banks from across the GCC capturing nearly 80% of the total regional banking sector”, said Dr. Reinhold Leichtfuss, Senior Partner & Managing Director in BCG’s Dubai office and leader of BCG’s Financial Institutions practice in the Middle East.

Banking revenues in the Middle East stagnated while international benchmarks recovered. 21 out of the 35 banks covered by the index grew their revenues from 2009 to 2010. For the first time, international banks’ revenues reached the 2006 level of BCG’s index, but remain significantly below the index level of the Middle Eastern banks. As anticipated by BCG last year, profits recovered in 2010 despite a decline in the first half of 2010 compared to 2009. Banks in the Middle East still had high

ble digit increases in profits mainly due to strong reductions in loan loss provisions. Qatar and Oman showed the strongest revenue growth from 2009 to 2010, with 14% and 13% increases respectively. Retail revenues After retail banking revenues reached their peak in 2006 and dropped in 2007, the GCC retail revenue index has grown at a steady rate of close to 7%. In the same period, the profit index had two years of decline. The index development

GCC retail profits are also driven by the market size of Saudi banks which have been decreasing since 2006, while banks in the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman were able to increase their retail profit over the past 5 years. This trend continues in 2010 with strong profit growth in the UAE and Qatar. 2010 corporate banking revenues stable; corporate profits recover following decline in 2009 The corporate segment experienced strong revenue growth of 16% annually

provisions, but most banks in the region stayed well below the previous year’s level. All countries remained in total below the 2009 level of provisions. Middle East banks in total saw the highest stability in revenues, profits and loan loss provisions compared to the previous years, although the performances of individual countries and banks differs. While revenues and profits remained relatively stable for banks in Saudi Arabia, all other countries showed dou-

is to some extent driven by the weight of Saudi banks in the BCG retail banking sample of banks, with constant segment reporting from 2005 to 2009. While retail revenues of Saudi Arabian banks have remained flat since 2005, banks in other Middle Eastern countries were able to generate double digit growth rates, led by the UAE banks with an annual growth of 22%. Since 2009, retail revenues throughout the region have returned to single digit growth.

over the past five years with revenues doubling since 2005. However, in 2010, revenues stayed flat for the first time while profits recovered following their significant decline in 2009. Banking performance Overall, the indices show that the core banking segments (retail and corporate) are developing at a relatively stable rate in terms of revenues and profits; fluctuations are mostly caused by other income elements.

Successful end to ABK’s 50 years 50 days campaign

BOSTON: A US Airways jet taxies along the tarmac at Boston’s Logan International Airport. US Airways said yesterday that its first-quarter loss more than doubled to $114 million as fuel prices rose sharply. —AP

US Airways lost $114m in 1Q on bigger fuel bill TEMPE, Arizona: US Airways said yesterday that its first-quarter loss more than doubled to $114 million as fuel prices rose sharply. Fuel costs jumped by $200 million, up almost 39 percent from a year earlier. US Airways is the only US airline that does not hedge against fuel price spikes. It has been raising fares to make up for higher fuel prices. And the demand is there — traffic rose 4 percent from the same period last year. Those two things helped push revenue up 11.7 percent to $2.96 billion. The loss amounted to 71

cents per share. It would have been 68 cents per share if not for special items. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected a slightly larger loss of 73 cents per share on revenue of $2.94 billion. A year ago, the airline lost $45 million, or 28 cents per share. Not counting fuel, its costs for each seat flown one mile fell by 1.3 percent. US Air ways Group I nc., based in Tempe, Arizona, is the nation’s fifthlargest airline. Its shares rose 23 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $8.51 in morning trading. —AP

UAE regulator delays number portability ABU DHABI: Number por tability in t h e U n i te d A r a b E m i r a te s w i l l b e pushed back to the third quarter, the regulator said yesterday, to address technical issues. The move, which is meant to boost competition in the saturated UAE market, had already been delayed once to the second quarter. “ We are hoping it will be operational in the third quarter,” Mohamed Ghanem, the director general of the Tel ecom m u n i c a t i on s R eg ul ato r y Authority (TRA) told reporters at a conference.

The plan means customers of telecom providers Etisalat and du will be able to keep their old telephone number if they switch providers. Ghanem said the delay was due to technical compatibility issues. “There were two upgrades to the mobile number portabilit y sof t ware solutions. We have done that and opened the common database and testing will go in this quarter. The first phase will be on all mobile numbers, that is prepaid and post paid.” He said TRA will also include fixed lines in the future. —Reuters

KUWAIT: Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait saw a receive the best-in-market benefits and successful end to their “50 years, 50 days” rewards.” He added that “the 50 day unique campaign, in collaboration with Emirates campaign delivered a and Visa International. strong response which Timed with Kuwait’s demonstrated the value 50thanniversary of indeto our cardholders, espependence this unique cially when it coincided campaign rewarded our with the holiday season. valued cardholders with ABK likes to keep it simextra Skywards miles. ple and customer centric, Stewart Lockie, GM, rewarding customers Retail reflected, “ABK with Skywards miles that Emirates Co-branded Visa they can use to get free Credit and Debit, namely flights, flight upgrades, the Al Raed and Prestige, hotel book ings, and were rewarded with up goods and services from to triple miles when makthe Skywards High ing international purStewart Lockie Street” To ensure you do chases per KD spend as GM, Retail not miss out on future compared to the standard 3 miles earned. This is a true reflec- promotions, please contact Ahlan Ahli tion of how ABK are enhancing our prod- on 1899 899 or visit your nearest ABK uct offering to ensure our customers branch for further details.

Egypt in talks with IMF on up to $4bn loan KUWAIT: Egypt’s government is in talks with the I nternational Monetary Fund for an up to $4 billion loan, and the country’s economic growth should double next year, Finance M inister Samir Radwan said yesterday. In all, Egypt has said it is seeking $10 billion in funding from international lenders and rich nations to cope with the fallout from the mass protests that toppled the country’s long-time leader in February. “We are still negotiating a loan with the IMF for $3 to $4 billion,” Radwan told reporters after a meeting at Kuwait ’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He also said Egypt was seeking to increase its share of loans from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development by $100 million from the current $200 million. The IMF head said earlier this month the fund would likely make available $35 billion in loans to oilimporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa where popular uprisings have occurred.

Anti- government protests fuelled by soaring prices, unemployment and repression brought much of Egypt ’s economy to its knees for nearly three weeks until President Hosni Mubarak, the country’s ruler for 30 years, resigned on Feb. 11. A collapse in tourism and foreign investment have hit revenues hard. “Economic growth is unfortunately going down. Our estimate is 2 percent this year ... next year it is about 4 percent,” he told journalists in Kuwait. He did not say whether he was referring to the fiscal or calendar year. The economy contracted by an estimated 7 percent in Januar yMarch and was expected to grow by 2 percent in the current fiscal year to June, a newspaper quoted Radwan as saying last week. Egypt’s budget deficit may top 10 percent of gross domestic product in the coming fiscal year as the government responds to demands for jobs and higher wages, Radwan said in the Saudi capital late on Monday. —Reuters

Etihad partners with Remit2India for ‘the Light of India Awards’ ABU DHABI: Etihad Airways has partnered with Remit2India for the first-ever “ The Light of India Awards” ceremony held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on April 22, recognizing exemplary achievement by overseas Indians in the fields of business leadership, corporate leadership, political leadership, science and technology, journalism and literature and arts and entertainment. Etihad Airways’ Senior Vice President Americas Geert Boven, said: “The individuals honored here have proven themselves to be exceptional leaders among Indians living abroad, for their talent, dedication and individual successes. “Etihad Airways is proud to be the international airline partner of The Light of India, and an ongoing supporter of the Indian community. Both as a strong international market for our guests and as a valuable part of our workforce, Indians have made great contributions to the success of our business.” India is the largest market served by Etihad, with 52 flights per week from Abu Dhabi to eight destinations: Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Calicut and Bangalore. In addition to “The Light of India” partnership, Etihad outreach to the I ndian communit y worldwide includes ongoing promotions with Bollywood Star and Etihad Brand Ambassador, Katrina Kaif, and the “Next Stop Bollywood” Facebook competition. Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, began operations in 2003, and in 2010 carried more than seven million passengers. From its hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Etihad serves 66 cities in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and North America (New York, Chicago and Toronto), with a fleet of 57 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, and 100 aircraft on order, including 10 Airbus A380s, the world’s largest passenger aircraft. Photo caption (from left): During the April 22 “The Light of India” awards ceremony, Geert Boven, Senior Vice President Americas of Etihad Airways, presents Ajay Banga, President and Chief Executive Officer of M asterCard, with the Jur y Award in Corporate Leadership.




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Kuwait bourse positive Oil gains ahead of Fed meeting


LONDON: Oil edged up from earlier losses yesterday in low trading volumes as some investors took advantage of the dip to buy, though gains were limited ahead of a closely watched US Federal Reserve policy meeting. Prices were also capped by the chief of Saudi Arabia’s state oil company comment that the world’s top oil exporter was concerned about the economic impact of expensive oil. By 1051 GMT, North Sea Brent crude futures were trading 20 cents up at $123.86 a barrel, having fallen to as low as $122.66. US crude futures were trading 27 cents lower at $112.01 a barrel, having dropped by more than $1. On Monday, US crude had hit $113.48, the highest since September 2008. Trading volumes were moderate for both contracts. Analysts said that some investors would rely on technical indicators to make profits from short-term trading and that the price range might remain very narrow. “This week, it will be all about the Fed meeting. Volume and volatility will come back after the meeting,” said Olivier Jakob with Petromatrix in Switzerland. Investors were focused on the meeting, due to start later yesterday, particularly

KUWAIT: Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) ended yesterday’s trading on a positive note. Buying on selective large cap stocks in the last minute turned market indices from red to green. Five out of the eight sectors managing to eke out some gains. The gains were bolstered by a fresh climb in Zain, NBK, Gulf Bank and KIB in the last second of the trading, giving wrong a indicator for investors. Global General Index (GGI), market weighted, ended the day up by 0.11 percent, at 205.51 point. Market Capitalization was up for the day at KD33.71bn. On the other hand, KSE Price Index closed at 6,493.5 point, adding 27.90 points (0.43 percent) to its previous close. Market breadth During the session, 118 companies were traded. Market breadth was skewed towards advancers as 58 equities advanced versus 25 that retreated. Yesterday’s performance was accompanied by mixed trading activity with most of the trades conducted in the Services and Investment sectors. Total volume traded was up by 12.64 percent with 308.94mn shares changing hands at a total value of KD38.93mn (1.24 percent lower compared to the day before). The Services Sector was the volume leader yesterday, accounting for 39.97 percent of total shares. The Banking sector was the value leader, with 33.18 percent of total traded value. Kuwait International Bank was the most active in terms of values of shares traded during yesterday session, with 11mn shares exchanged at an aggregate value of KD3.71mn. Food stocks paced the

since Ben Bernanke is to give the first regularly scheduled news briefing by a Fed chief in the bank’s 97-year history following its decision today. The dollar fell to a 16 month low against the euro. Oil prices have surged this year due to conflict in oil producer Libya and unrest in other countries in North Africa and the Middle East. A senior official with Saudi Arabian state-run firm Aramco voiced concerns over high oil prices. “We are not comfortable with oil prices where they are today ... I am concerned about the impact it could have on the global economy,” Khalid Al-Falih, Aramco’s chief executive, told an industry gathering in Seoul. Saudi Arabia has enough capacity to meet any spike in demand and plug shortterm outages in supply, and there is no tightness in global oil markets, Falih said. His comments echoed Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi, who said last week that the kingdom had cut oil output in March as the market was oversupplied. In the United States, the industry group American Petroleum Institute (API) will issue its weekly oil data later in the day followed by the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday. —Reuters

Saudi uneasy with high oil

advance with an impressive 1.67 percent improvement. The gains were bolstered by a 1.30 percent increase in the equity price of Kuwait Foodstuff Company (Americana), the largest in the sector. Moreover, Livestock Transport & Trading Company was the top gainer in the sector, adding 7.14 percent to its share price as it closed at KD0.300. Industrial stocks too were notable advancers as well, producing 0.93 percent in sector

gains. Four stocks only managed to end the session on higher note. Equipment Holding Company’s share price was the top gainer in the sector, adding 6.06 percent and closed at KD0.070. Two real estate companies topped the gainers list for the day, lifting the Global Real Estate Index up by 0.54 percent. First Dubai For Real Estate Development Company and Ajial Real Estate & Entertainment Company were both up by 8.77 percent and 8.47 percent,

respectively. Corporate news Al Ahleia Insurance Company will start, today, paying cash dividend at 25 percent and distributing bonus shares for FY2010, to shareholders of record on the general meeting date; April 20, 2011. The price of OPEC basket of twelve crudes stood at $119.38 a barrel on Monday, compared with $119.46 the previous Thursday, according to OPEC Secretariat calculations.

SEOUL: Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia is uneasy with high oil prices and concerned about their impact on the global economy, the chief executive of state oil firm Aramco said yesterday. Oil prices recovered from early losses yesterday Tuesday, with Brent crude trading up 16 cents at $123.82 a barrel at 1059 GMT. Aramco Chief Executive Khalid Al-Falih’s comments at an industry event in South Korea had weighed on sentiment earlier, when prices fell amid a wider decline in commodities. “We are not comfortable with oil prices where they are today...I am concerned about the impact it could have on the global economy,” Falih told an industry gathering in South Korea. There was no tightness in global oil markets, Falih said. His comments echoed those of Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, who said last week that the kingdom had cut oil output in March as the market was oversupplied.

Unrest in North Africa and the Middle East and strong demand growth in Asia have pushed oil prices to their highest levels since 2008, triggering concern among consumers costly oil would harm economic growth and crimp fuel demand. OPEC producers also warned last week of the strain of high energy prices on economies still fragile as they emerge from the global financial crisis. The kingdom has enough capacity to meet any spike in demand and plug shortterm outages in supply, Falih said, adding that without Saudi spare capacity, oil price volatility would have been a lot worse when Libyan supply was lost. OPEC’s largest producer boosted supply in February to above 9 million bpd to plug the gap left by fellow OPEC member Libya, where civil war cut exports. Saudi Arabia is the only oil producer with significant spare capacity to meet large supply outages such as that experienced in Libya.—Reuters




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Breakthrough unlikely in Pakistan-India trade talks ISLAMABAD: Top trade officials from Pakistan and India will open two days of talks today to push commercial ties, as the nuclear-armed rivals seek to build on goodwill from last month’s successful bout of “cricket diplomacy”. While no major breakthrough seems likely, on the table would be an Indian offer to export electricity and possibly sell petroleum products to Pakistan, which is faced with an acute energy crisis, officials say. “There will not be any dramatic changes, of course, but it can help put things on the right track for fur ther progress,” a Pakistani official familiar with trade negotia-

tions with India, said of the trade talks, their first in nearly three-and-a-half years. “There is nothing specific on the agenda.” Trade talks are part of a 7-year-old peace process the two sides agreed to resume in February, after the 2008 attacks on Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants killed at least 166 people and stalled the talks. “There will not be any substantive gains but any positive development will help to improve the environment, and that is essential to take up contentious issues like Kashmir,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political analyst. After the last round of trade talks held in August

2007, the two sides added some 136 items to their trade basket- which now contains 1,946 goods-before the Mumbai attacks put the process on hold. At that meeting, the two sides set a target of $10 billion by 2010. Today, even that seems unlikely, and pledges to open banks on both sides of the border remain only on paper. But a visit in March by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to India at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh to watch a cricket World Cup semi-final between their teams raised hopes for further improvement

in their ties. After the SinghGilani meeting, dubbed “cricket diplomacy”, field hockey officials of the two countries are attempting to renew ties and there is talk of more cricket matches. “We are optimistic. We are meeting after three, four years, and hope to make progress on decisions made in the last meeting,” said a senior Commerce Ministry official involved in the negotiations. “We will push for a decision on opening bank branches in each other countries.” Pakistan would also likely discuss European Union plans to temporarily waive duties on some Pakistani imports to help

it recover from last summer’s floods, which have been frustrated by opposition from India and other members of the World Trade Organization. Trade ties between Pakistan and India were severed after the 1965 conflict, the second of the three full-scale wars fought since their independence from the British colonial rule in 1947. Commercial relations have since recovered, albeit slowly. Political differences are the major hurdles. India granted a Most-Favored Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan in 1996, but awaits a similar gesture by Islamabad, which has linked progress on trade to progress on political disputes, notably

Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan region they both rule in part but claim in full. Pakistani officials also question the utility of MFN status, given the balance of trade which remains heavily tilted in India’s favor, citing “non-trade barriers” such as quality standards and customs procedure against Pakistani exports. Indian exports to Pakistan stood at $1.2 billion while Pakistan exports totaled about $270 million in the 2009/10 (July-June) fiscal year. Unregulated and illegal trade, often routed through Dubai and Singapore, is estimated at between $2 billion and $2.5 billion, officials say. —Reuters

India’s double-digit growth dreams fade High inflation, slow reforms NEW DELHI: India’s dreams of attaining double-digit economic growth within the next few years are fading, undermined by high inflation, slow progress on reforms and an uncertain global outlook. The ruling Congress party has long wanted to make history as the administration which ushered in growth of 10 percent-touted by successive governments as vital to significantly reduce crushing poverty. But India’s main economic planning body looks set to row back on the goal of double-digit expansion when it fixes the country’s five-year economic, social and other goals to 2017.

HANOI: A woman rides a bicycle transporting recyclable items she collects to sell on a Hanoi street yesterday. Consumer prices climbed to 17.51 this month from a year earlier, making harder daily life of poor people. —AFP

Investors look to buoyant Vietnam’s long-term offer HANOI: Despite Vietnam’s persistent economic woes, a record deal this month has shown foreign investors are still lured to the frontier market by its young, growing population and rising disposable incomes. The sealing of the communist country’s largest-ever private equity deal, at a time of soaring inflation and a struggling currency, has underscored faith in Vietnam’s long-term potential, beyond its current macro instabilities. US-based investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) is to pay $159 million for a 10 percent stake in Masan Consumer Corp, the leading fish sauce producer in Vietnam, the companies announced on April 13. “KKR is bullish on Vietnam,” KKR spokesman Ming Lu said. “In the past decade, there has been considerable economic progress, structural reforms and a notable increase in living standards.” With annual GDP growth averaging 7.1 percent from 1990 to 2009, Vietnam’s 87 million people-about half of them under 30 — are now a “ferocious” consumer force, according to Adam Sitkoff of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi. “Now I walk around seeing a 10-yearold Vietnamese with an iPod and a Gucci hat-it still shocks me,” he told AFP, explaining that decades of limited choice, poor quality and high prices had generated pent-up demand. Boutique shops, BlackBerry smartphones and BMWs are almost as common as the red banners, army uniforms and loudspeakers that dot the capital Hanoi’s streets-symbols of the socialist regime still dominating the political landscape. But rapid expansion since the early 1990s-after the country began to turn away from a planned economy to embrace the free market-has come at a cost to Vietnam, once celebrated as a new “Asian Tiger”. Relative to other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) such as Singapore or Malaysia, Vietnam has struggled to keep up with its own expansion, suggested Marc Mealy of the US-ASEAN Business Council. “In Vietnam’s case, the pace of liberalization to global capital has in some ways outpaced the development of their institutions and human resources to manage their macroeconomy,” he said. The hurdles are formidable and persistent: inflation which hit nearly 14 percent year-on-year in March, a trade deficit of an estimated $12.4 billion last year and a weak currency, the dong, devalued four times since late 2009. Corruption and wasteful bureau-

cracy have also damaged Vietnam’s global financial reputation, with the credit worthiness of state-owned enterprises further threatened by the nearbankruptcy of shipbuilder Vinashin. Economic stabilization, rather than growth, has subsequently become the government’s main focus, with the ruling Communist Party announcing an overhaul of its business growth model during a five-year congress in January. While analysts have welcomed the moves, global credit ratings agency Moody’s upheld a negative outlook for Vietnam in a report issued Wednesday. This “reflects concerns about the sustainability of the country’s balance of payments despite the government’s recent macro-stabilization measures,” the report said. Moody ’s analyst Christian de Guzman said the country was “fraught with risks” for foreign portfolio investors considering buying Vietnamese stocks or bonds, and interest had “dried up”. But he said long-term foreign direct investment (FDI) was “still very healthy and coming through at a steady pace.” Government figures show disbursed FDI into Vietnam totalled $2.54 billion in the first quarter of 2011, up 1.6 percent from the same period last year. Such long-term investors “believe in the strong underlying potential and believe the current macroeconomic factors to be transitory,” said economist Dariusz Kowalczyk at Credit Agricole CIB. One key attraction is lower labour costs, encouraging foreign manufacturers to relocate from China to Vietnam, or to use it in a “China plus one” strategy of adding a second production base outside the Asian giant. “Vietnam has very strong growth potential because of the entrepreneurship of the population,” Kowalcz yk added. “People seem to be really driven to improve their lives.” He warned however that investors in a one-party state such as Vietnam will still want proof that it can follow China in competently managing key policymaking and thereby maintaining social stability. “In a centrally planned economy, there’s a greater risk that the government will make a mistake that will lower investment returns,” Kowalczyk said. While optimism is tempered, some believe KKR’s vote of confidence could encourage further interest in Vietnam. “KKR’s deal will certainly cause some investors to take a second look,” said Dan Hallett, director of asset management at HighView Financial Group, a Canadian investment management firm. —AFP

Setting a target of 10 percent average growth “for the next five years is not feasible”, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia admitted late last week, citing inflation, a need to jump-start reforms and an “international situation full of uncertainty”. However, Ahluwalia said nine percent was a realistic target as the country of 1.2 billion people struggles to haul millions out of poverty-over 40 percent of Indians live below the extreme poverty line of $1.25 a day, according to the World Bank. Despite moves to free up its economy, India still runs on fiveyear plans introduced in 1951 by its first premier, Jawaharlal Nehru, who admired the Soviet Union’s central economic planning model. Back then expansion was forecast at just 2.1 percent. Fast for-

ward and according to the Planning Commission, average growth during the current 200712 plan period is likely to be 8.2 percent-a huge leap from the 1950s but far short of the magic double-digit figure. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee optimistically said late last year he hoped India would “find the means to cross the double-digit growth barrier in the coming year or two”. Premier Manmohan Singh, who initiated the first wave of economic liberalization in 1991 when he was finance minister, has voiced similar hopes. But the goal will remain elusive without radical reforms to cut government control over the economy, better skills education for a burgeoning population and heavy investment to improve India’s

infrastructure, economists say. Despite government promises, the reform pace has been slow, hamstrung by fierce political opposition. Under an optimistic scenario, if reforms are implemented quickly, growth could “reach 10 percent as soon as 2020 and reach slightly above that by 2025”, said HSBC chief India economist Leif Eskesen. “If double-digit growth is to be more than just a dream,” Eskesen added, “India must push through further structural reforms that address infrastructure and skill gaps, make it easier to do business.” The demands of India’s expanding economy has pushed its creaking infrastructure to the limits. Power cuts last hours, congested ports delay loading and roads are notoriously potholed. Last week, Goldman Sachs

slashed India’s growth forecast for this fiscal year to March 2012 to 7.8 percent from 8.7 percent, citing the effects of rising interest rates on economic activity. The estimate was way below the government’s own nine-percent forecast. India’s central bank has hiked interest rates eight times in a year and is expected to raise them again next month to combat inflation which unexpectedly spurted to nearly nine percent this month. While hundreds of millions of Indians are still mired in poverty, the step-change in growth has transformed living standards for many millions of others and “remains the most compelling story of our times”, said Business Standard publisher T N Ninan in a weekend column. —AFP

Ford posts best Q1 profit in 13 years DETROIT: Ford Motor Co reported its best first-quarter profit in 13 years, driven by strong sales in its home market and demand for more fuel efficient vehicles. Ford also said yesterday that last month’s earthquake in Japan had “minimal” impact on its business. Lewis Booth, Ford’s chief financial officer, said that so far the automaker has lost about 12,000 to 14,000 vehicles of production in Asia, where it has shut several plants temporarily. Ford beat expectations on Tuesday, which helped send the The Ford logo is displayed company ’s share up at a Ford dealership in 3.5 percent to $16.09. Hudson, Wisconsin. Its fourth quarter 2010 results missed analyst expectations by a wide mark. Any near-term production losses are likely to recover in late 2011 and into 2012. Production in Ford’s business regions outside of Asia have not yet been changed. Net income rose to $2.55 billion, or 61 cents a share, compared with $2.09 billion, or 50 cents a share, in the year earlier period. It was the highest firstquarter net income since 1998. Excluding one-time items, it earned 62 cents a share, easily topping the 50 cents analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected. It was the seventh straight quarter of operating profit. Revenue rose to $33.1 billion from $28.1 billion last year. Analysts had expected $29.7 billion. —Reuters

Mired in recession, Greece sees deficit BRUSSELS: Mired in recession despite record spending cuts, Greece yesterday posted a higherthan-forecast deficit for 2010 as experts tipped radical restructuring of national debts worth some 330 billion euros. The EU’s data agency Eurostat said last year’s public deficit for Greece, the first euro-zone state bailed out, shot up to 10.5 percent-well wide of original aims. It tallied Greece’s total public debt at the end of last year at 328.5 billion euros-although nearly five months later, local estimates put it at around 340 billion. Athens had intended squeezing its deficit down to 8.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2010, from 15.4 percent in 2009. That was part of a deal last year to overhaul its economy and slash public spending in return for a 110-billion-euro EU-IMF loan that saved the country from default. A statement by the Greek finance ministry said the “deviation” was “mainly the result of the deeper than anticipated recession of the Greek economy that affected tax revenues and social security contributions.” It insisted that Greece’s annual deficit reduction was the largest ever achieved by any euro-zone state. —AFP

GERMANY: A border post, marking the German part of the village Gubin can be seen. EU agreements require Germany and Austria to fully open their job markets to the bloc’s eastern workers as of May 1, marking seven years since the European Union’s 2004 ‘big bang’ expansion bringing 10 mostly ex-communist states of eastern Europe into the fold. —AFP

E-trading switch spurs Khartoum bourse hopes KHARTOUM: It takes a special kind of investor to dabble in the stock market in Sudan, a country with an insurgency in the west, a secession in the south and US sanctions everywhere else. That has not dampened the enthusiasm among officials at the Khartoum stock exchange, who hope a switch to electronic trading in June will boost volumes and allow it to expand into trade in gold and foreign currencies. “Once we move from manual to electronic trading, we’re going to target new markets like commodities, forex and real estate,” said the exchange’s General Manager Osman Hamad Khair. Started in 1995, Khartoum’s stock exchange trades in company shares, investment funds and Islamic bonds, with all activity designed to comply with strict Islamic principles. The bourse says it racked up record volumes of 2.4 billion Sudanese pounds ($802.7 million) in 2010, and the number of shares traded on the exchange more than doubled to 28.9 million in the first quarter from 12.7 million a year earlier. In a dingy building in the heart of downtown Khartoum, Khair proudly shows off the new trading floor-a hall with a giant electronic board, cubicles with bright orange chairs for traders and a row in the back for investors.

The floor has yet to see any action but should flicker to life on June 30 if all goes to plan, says Khair. The switch to electronic trading was initially expected last year but trouble bringing in computer equipment without running afoul of US sanctions caused the delay, he said. Khartoum-an Islamist state that has worked to Islamize its financial system-is classified by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism. Due to the sanctions, many items like computers and network equipment must be imported from China or other Asian countries at a higher cost. Indeed, Khartoum has lagged behind countries like war-torn Iraq in going electronic. Baghdad’s stock exchange switched to automated trading in April 2009. For now, the trading floor is a room tucked away in another corner of the same building, where a crowd of brokers gathers daily for the one-hour trading session from 10-11 am. At a recent session, traders chatted and milled about. A quick scribble with a felt marker on white boards stuck to the walls or propped up on the floor marked the occasional trade. “Right now, one hour of trading is more than enough, but perhaps there will be a pickup in trading when we go electronic,” said Mohammed Mahajoob, the official who runs the trading floor. —Reuters




American firms say Chinese protectionism rising BEIJING: Chinese protectionism has increased since the 2008 global crisis and US companies are being hurt by Beijing’s policies aimed at developing its technology industries, a business group said yesterday. A report by the American Chamber of Commerce in China adds to mounting complaints that Beijing is violating the spirit of its free-trade pledges by limiting market access and trying to shield its fledgling technology industries from competition. Beijing has alarmed foreign companies by pushing them to hand over technology in fields from high-speed rail and renewable energy to mobile phones. The communist government says it will favor Chinese suppliers when it purchases computers and other technology and has ordered banks and other companies to limit use of foreign data security products. The report comes ahead of next month’s meeting of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a Cabinet-level gathering aimed at defusing trade tensions and promoting cooperation in health, the environment and other areas. The American chamber said a group of members will visit Washington next week to give copies of its report to US officials. Access to the world’s second-largest economy is especially sensitive at a time when other governments are trying to create jobs following the global crisis. The

American chamber said 26 percent of its member companies responding to a survey said they are being hurt by China’s “indigenous innovation” policies. It said more companies expect to be hurt by them in the future. “Protectionism increased during and following the global downturn. Key manufacturing sectors remain only partially open and services are especially restricted,” the report said. Despite three decades of reform, China’s heavily regulated economy is dominated by state-owned companies. Beijing is trying to build up “national champions” in a range of industries from banking to oil to shipping, prompting complaints it is violating the spirit of pledges it made when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. A European group, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, complained in a report last week that foreign companies are treated unfairly in government procurement, a market worth an estimated 6.8 trillion yuan ($1 trillion) a year. In the American chamber survey, over half of companies responding said foreign enterprises cannot obtain the same licenses as domestic competitors or the process is more complicated or takes longer. Companies said market conditions had improved due to China’s quick rebound from the global crisis. Some 85 percent of respondents reported higher revenues in

2010 and 78 percent said they were profitable. The report reflected complaints that foreign-owned companies in China have seen less benefit from its rebound, due in part to Beijing’s efforts to support domestic industries by reserving fast-growing market segments for them. While foreign companies in some industries are growing quickly, in others “you do still see that the growth of foreign companies is restricted by the regulatory environment,” said the chamber ’s president, Christian Murck, at a news conference. The chamber said banking, insurance and finance are heavily restricted, and foreign companies are allowed little access. Foreign life insurance companies were reducing their investments in China due to their inability to obtain licenses required to expand to the size necessary to be efficient and profitable, said a chamber board member, Matthew Estes. Murck said, however, he did not expect tensions over China’s industrial policy to result in formal complaints against Beijing in the World Trade Organization by Washington and other trading partners. “It can’t be solved by simply referring it to the WTO,” he said. “It has to be negotiated, and it has to be negotiated in a spirit of contributing to China’s development of a sustainable innovation within the economy.” — AP

BEIJING: Chinese workers set up a signboard showing the American flag for a shop selling cruise motorcycles in Beijing. Chinese protectionism has increased since the 2008 global crisis and US companies are being hurt by Beijing’s policies aimed at developing its technology industries, a business group said yesterday. —AP

ADB: Rising food prices threaten Asia’s poor 64 million people face poverty in Asia HONG KONG: World food prices that surged 30 percent in the first two months of the year threaten to push millions of Asians into extreme poverty and cut economic growth, the Asian Development Bank said yesterday. The surging prices translated into domestic food inflation of 10 percent on average in many Asian economies, which could drive 64 million people into poverty, the bank said in a report, adding that it will also erode the living standards of families already living in poverty. Food prices have been driven higher by surging oil prices, production shortfalls due to bad weather and export restrictions by several food producing countries. If higher food and oil prices persist for the rest of the year, they could shave as much as 1.5 percentage points from economic growth in developing Asian countries, the report said. Some countries will be hit harder than others. Singapore is highly vulnerable to inflation because the tiny city-state must import all its food. On the other hand, South Korea, where food accounts for a relatively small part of the consumer price index, will get off more lightly. The rapid increases in the cost of food are a serious setback for the region that has rebounded rapidly from the global economic crisis. Declining grain stocks, higher demand from Asian countries with big populations that are growing wealthier and a dwindling amount of agricultural land will continue to keep food prices high in the short term. So will competition for food grains from biofuel production and stagnant or declining crop yields. Drought in China’s major wheat-producing belt and flooding in rice-producing regions of Asia have reduced supplies of those crops. ADB chief economist Changyong Rhee said food export bans and other short-term measures should be avoided. Instead, he urged greater spending to boost agricultural productivity and more investment to improve irrigation, food storage and other infrastructure. “Left unchecked, the food crisis will badly undermine recent gains in poverty reduction made in Asia,” he said. Poor families in Asia are hit much harder by food price inflation because they spend as much as 60 percent of their income on food, a much higher proportion than in developed countries. Asia’s developing countries are

MANILA: Meats are displayed at a wet market in Quezon City, east of Manila yesterday. Soaring global food prices threaten to push tens of millions of Asians into extreme poverty and cut the region’s economic growth this year, the Asian Development Bank warned in a report. —AFP home to two-thirds of the world’s poor — about 600 million people — who live on $1.25 a day or less. In contrast, people in the US and other wealthy countries spend about 15 percent of their income on food, so the impact on rising food prices on their wallets isn’t as big. And a lot of the food sold in wealthy countries is processed, so manufacturing costs account for a bigger share of the final price. The ADB is a development lender whose mission is to alleviate poverty through loans, grants and assistance projects. Global food prices jumped 34.2 percent in

February over a year ago following a 28.4 percent rise in January, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) benchmark index. Surging cereal, edible oil and meat prices were behind the increases. The FAO warned that 29 countries in Africa, Asia, Middle East and Latin America and the Caribbean would need food assistance. Afghanistan and Pakistan are among those that will face severe food shortages in part due to factors such as social unrest and ethnic conflicts. Cambodia and Laos also face unfavorable prospects for crops due to delayed and erratic rains. — AP

EU adds billions to UK’s deficit numbers BRUSSELS: The EU added yesterday some four billion euros to Britain’s reported deficits over the past four years, expressing “reservations” over unaccounted-for military spending and domestic bank bailouts. “Eurostat is expressing a reservation on the quality of the data reported by the United Kingdom,” the European Union data agency said in releasing deficit and debt figures for the 27-state bloc. This was due to “uncertainties” relating to when military expenditure is reported as well as funds pumped into failed lenders Bradford and Bingley and Northern Rock by the previous Labor administration under Gordon Brown. Britain, already locked into one lengthy war in Afghanistan, is along with France the major contributor to military action against forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi. Britain “does not record military expenditure on a delivery basis, as required,” Eurostat said. The figures come days from a lavish royal wedding, also paid for by British taxpayers. The military impact on the government deficits between 2007 and 2010 amounted to more than two billion euros. Eurostat said this takes into account Britain’s spring-tospring financial years through to

the beginning of this month. The bank bailouts account for a sum almost as large, on the same basis. Britain’s deficit for the 2010-2011 financial year fell from almost 162 billion euros the previous year to just below 147 billion, after a swathe of cuts ordered by new conservative premier David Cameron. That meant it was logged at 10.0 percent of national output, down from 11.5 percent 12 months earlier. It is the third-highest in the EU after Ireland and Greece, higher than either Spain or Portugal, next in line at just above nine percent each. Its cumulative national debt, however, rose by almost 20 percent year-on-year to more than 1.2 trillion-and now accounts for 82.5 percent of GDP. While its ratio remains slightly better than euro-zone giants Germany, France or Italy, in the space of the last four years, it has risen alarmingly from 43.6 percent. In a new category, the EU also now logs inter-governmental lending- code for bailout funding. Britain has committed to loaning money to Ireland, as well as underwriting some EU bailout funding for Greece and Portugal, but this column showed up empty for the government in London as of April 2011. — AFP

SHANGHAI: An investor looks at the stock price board at a private securities company yesterday in Shanghai, China. Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.9 percent to 2,937.73 yesterday. — AP

Micro Focus receives approach LONDON: Micro Focus International, the British IT firm whose chief executive resigned earlier this month, said it had received a takeover approach and was considering its response, boosting its shares yesterday. Micro Focus, which supports mainframe computer applications for Tesco and Boeing, has issued a number of profit warnings in the last year, caused by weak demand and problems with the software testing arm it created through acquisitions in 2009. “ There is no certainty that any formal offer for the company will be forthcoming nor as to the price at which any offer might be made,” it said in a statement. Shares in the group were knocked when

Nigel Clifford resigned on April 15 but they have since bounced back . News of the approach sent them up as much as 12 percent to 380 pence, the highest level since the group warned on profits in February. They were trading 6.5 percent higher at 360 pence by 1113 GMT, valuing M icro Focus at about 710 million pounds ($1.2 billion). The British company has often been named by traders as a target for a private equity buyer, or for US firms IBM, Oracle or Microsoft, or Germany’s SAP. Matrix analyst Rajeev Bahl said Micro Focus’s free cash flow yield of above 10 percent and maintenance base worth around 60 percent of its market cap would attract private equity interest. — Reuters

China raises bar for polluters in revamp plan BEIJING: China’s top economic planning agency yesterday published a detailed list of industries that it would encourage, restrict or ban, a blueprint that could have a far-reaching impact on investment activity in China over the coming years. The 111-page list published by the National Development and Reform Commission ratcheted up the minimum size requirement for coal mines, oil refineries and steelmaking blast furnaces while lending support to alternative energy sources. The list, an update of one published in 2005, will serve as a guideline for Chinese regulators in making policies on tax, bank credit, land and trade, and will also be a reference for Beijing to decide which foreign investors are welcomed. On the hit-list, the NDRC said it would get rid of oil refineries with capacity of less than 40,000 barrels per day, on-grid coal-fired power generators of up to 100 MW and coal mines below 30,000 tons per year. Such efforts are part of a plan to clean up China’s most polluting sectors, but also to increase efficiency by pooling control of many industries in the hands of a few statebacked champions and reordering the distribution of resources across China. “Definitely, the launch of the detailed plan is a good thing to help upgrade industrial structure and may push domestic firms to move up the value chain, which is also in line with Beijing’s broader goal of transforming the economic growth model,” said Sun Xuegong, an economist at a research institution affiliated to the NDRC. “But I think currently it is only a sketchy guideline and companies will have to wait and see more concrete steps, such as possible supportive measures or government subsidies.” Areas to be encouraged include nuclear power station construction and exploration of uranium as well as further development of advanced nuclear reactor technology, the NDRC said. But China’s past moves towards restructuring have sometimes had unintended consequences. The closure of small coal mines has turned China into a major coal importer, with a concomitant effect on world prices, and a crackdown on coal-fired power caused a run on diesel last winter, as big power users rushed to skirt the rules by using dieselpowered generators. The favored list did not only include new energy, but also big coal mines of 1.2 million tons per year.Eager to increase its capability in offshore oil and gas drilling and production, the government will encourage building jack-up drilling platforms able to operate in water depth of 120 metres or more, drilling vessels with working water depth of 1,500 metres or more, semi-submersible rigs for operating at 1,500 metres, 150,000-tonne floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels, and large pipeline laying vessels. Among the other projects to get a thumbs-up was gold mining below 1,000 metres, although gold mining in forests, farmlands and near rivers will be restricted, while the smallest gold mining projects will be banned. With easy-to-reach gold lodes already discovered, gold miners in China are now drilling deeper to find new reserves. Many companies are already drilling at an average depth of 2,000 metres and a project in Shandong kicked off the country’s first ultradeep gold mine with a planned depth of 4,000 metres last year. China will also restrict new projects for mining tungsten, molybdenum, tin, antimony, and rare earths. For projects in sectors listed as “to be encouraged”, investors often find it easy to get government approvals, cheap bank loans and preferential tax treatment, whereas those out of favor are often the first to be cut off when power shortages force government rationing of electricity. In some cases, the government will make exceptions, such as small oil refineries in less-developed areas of Xinjiang and Qinghai, which will be exempt from the national crackdown. — Reuters




Technology addiction takes toll in Asia SINGAPORE: A baby girl starves to death as her parents raise a virtual child online; a boy scolded for excessive gaming kills his mother then commits suicide-technology addiction is taking a toll in Asia. With more 100 million “smartphones” now sold annually in the Asia-Pacific regionexpected to double in five years’ time-it is the world’s largest market for advanced mobile devices. And as social networking sites and mobile games explode in tandem with the telecom industry, many young Asians are finding it tough to cope without a gadget in hand or a computer within reach. “I guess you can call me addicted, fine,” admitted 22-year-old Singaporean university student Hanna Ruslana, who has befriended more schoolmates on Twitter than on campus. She checks her iPhone at

least ever y 15 minutes and maintains accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and LinkedIn. When Twitter freezes, she and her friends plunge into an anxious wait. But hers is a mild case compared to tragic examples in South Korea, one of the world’s most electronically-connected societies. Last December, a mother was arrested for allegedly killing her three-year-old son while she was tired from Internet gameplaying. A month earlier, a 15-year-old boy committed suicide after killing his mother for scolding him over his gaming habits. In May 2010, a 41-year-old South Korean man was sentenced to two years in jail after he and his wife left their baby daughter to die of malnutrition while raising a virtual child on the Internet. The Seoul government estimates the

number of web addicts at about two million in a nation of almost 50 million. From this year, it will offer free software to people at risk to limit the time they spend on the web. Parliament is also about to consider a “Cinderella” law which would ban those aged under 15 from playing online games between midnight and 6.00 am. In Singapore, a survey conducted on 600 university and polytechnic students earlier this year showed 88 percent of them preferred communicating through technology over face-to-face chats. More than 40 percent of respondents spent more than four hours a day glued to their mobile phones in a country where there are now 1.4 mobile phones per person, most of them web-enabled. Clinical director of privately-owned

astically. According to a study released by global research firm TNS in November 2010, Malaysians are the most sociable people on the Internet with an average of 233 friends in their network, compared to 68 in China and just 29 in Japan. The University Malaya Centre of Addiction Sciences said it received about 50 cases when it began a study on addiction to social networking giant Facebook in 2009, and the cases increased to about 70 last year, most involving young people. “It is more common among youth because they have more exposure to the Internet and social networking sites,” said Muhammad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari, deputy chief coordinator of the centre. “They are more inclined to attach themselves to the computer and ignore other modes of socialising.” — AFP

Raffles Hospital’s pain management service Ho Kok Yuen likened the craving felt by tech addicts for their hit to drug addicts’ “compulsive need to obtain certain medication”. “So it becomes abnormal behavior, where the compulsive behavior will lead to harm to a person or to people around him or her,” he told AFP. In Japan, the internal affairs ministry has warned that young people’s addiction to gaming and mobile phones can make them apathetic and harm their social relations and health. The National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan said cases brought to it for consultation on online games-related concerns rose to 1,692 in 2010, up from 1,437 in 2009, many of them involving youths. In Malaysia, the population has embraced social networking sites enthusi-

Sony takes fight to Apple with launch of Android tablets Tablets will allow use of PlayStation games

MONTPELIER: In this Feb. 11, 2011 photo, a Facebook page is seen on a computer in Montpelier, Vt. Following on the popularity of sites like Groupon, Facebook launched its own daily deals program yesterday in five US cities. — AP

Facebook launches deals program WASHINGTON: What happens when you cross the world’s largest social network with one of the hottest business models in e-commerce? Facebook wants to find out. Facebook launched a deal program yesterday in five US cities, following on the popularity of Groupon and other services that offer deep discounts — for example: $50 worth of food at a local eatery for $25. By allowing small businesses to leverage the Internet while helping consumers score great deals, these groupcouponing services have become some of the fastest-growing businesses in the world. Facebook now wants a part of that. It hopes to exploit its existing networks of friends and family when it begins testing offers in San Diego, San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas and Austin, Texas. Many deals sites have a social component. For instance, if you get three friends to buy a LivingSocial voucher, yours is free. Groupon’s offers become valid only after a certain number of people purchase them. But the deals are circulated to users through email, and the community aspect is secondary. Facebook is hoping to change that. “We’re building a product that is social from the ground up,” says Emily White, director of local for Facebook. “All of these deals are things you want to do with friends, so no teeth whitening, but yes to river rafting.” Starting Tuesday, when Facebook users in the five test markets log into the site, they will see a deals insignia at the bottom of the page. Clicking on it brings up a list of currently available offers. A user can buy one, click the “like” button to recommend it to others or share the offer with friends through Facebook’s private messaging system. When users purchase or “like” a deal, it shows up in their friends’ news feed. That means “the discovery of the product can happen in lots of different places,” White says. To get the program started, Facebook has enlisted 11 companies that already supply deals elsewhere. Restaurant reservation service OpenTable will broadcast offers for local eateries, while online ticket seller Viagogo will market events. Not all offers involve discounts. Some are experiences people may not other-

wise have access to, such as a backstage pass to Austin City Limits concerts, a tour of the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium, or a children’s sleepover at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco with live-snake demos. In some cases, you’ll get a “friend bonus” — an additional discount — if at least one other person in your social network buys a deal. Leveraging social tools and direct sharing among friends will be “a key to success for daily deal companies” going forward, says Lou Kerner, social media analyst at Wedbush. This is not the first time a social network has made a foray into disseminating deals. Twitter launched its own daily deal program called Earlybird Offers last year but canceled it after just two months. Last November Facebook launched a product called Check-in Deals that allowed users to “check in” via their mobile phones when they visit certain businesses and in turn receive discounts and other special offers. Location-based social network Foursquare has a similar program. Offers through Facebook can last anywhere from a day to a week. The social network won’t disclose how much commission it takes. (With Groupon and others, the deal site typically takes up to half the revenue.) There are hundreds of Groupon copycats willing to accept lower commissions, but many small businesses prefer to partner with larger companies such as Groupon and LivingSocial because they reach more potential customers. Facebook will bring deals to even more people. While Groupon has 70 million members and LivingSocial has 28 million, Facebook has 500 million people worldwide. Add to that the fact that many small businesses already have a Facebook presence, and the social network becomes a good fit for daily deals, says Greg Sterling, senior analyst for Opus Research. As a share of overall Web surfing, visits to group-buying sites grew ten-fold over the past year, according to research firm Experian. LivingSocial had 7 million unique visitors in March, up 27 percent from February, making it one of the 10 fastest-growing websites in the US, according to ComScore. — AP

TOKYO: Sony launched its first tablet computers in an ambitious attempt to grab the No 2 spot in a market dominated by Apple’s iPad and set to quadruple in four years. The gadgets, based on Google’s Android 3.0 operating system, could be one of the Japanese company’s most important product launches since the Playstation game console made its debut in 1994. Sony, also the inventor of the Walkman, is struggling to come up with hit products and improve profit margins as it competes with Apple, Samsung Electronics and Nintendo . “Expectations are low that any company can present a credible challenge to Apple,” said Jay Defibaugh, director of equity research at MF Global in Tokyo. “Sony strikes me as having a legitimate chance of combining its proprietary content and network services with an interesting form factor to attain its self-proclaimed target of being No.2 in this market.” Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is Apple’s strongest competitor while Motorola , LG Electronics and HTC are flooding the market with tablets running Android. Sony’s black, glossy devices, code-named S1 and S2, will be the first tablets to enable the use of PlayStation games, Kunimasa Suzuki, deputy president of the consumer products and services group, said at Tuesday’s media launch. Sony is banking on the unusual, off-centre design of the S1 and access to first generation PlayStation games and its other networked content, to differentiate the products from the flood of tablets in the market. Sales of tablet devices are expected to quadruple to about 294 million units between 2011 and 2015, with almost half that Androidbased, research firm Gartner has forecast. Sony gave no clues on the price of the new tablets, which will need to compete with the iPad2, offered at $499 and upwards depending on the model. “It has to be the same price as the iPad or less,” said analyst Shiro Mikoshiba of Nomura Securities. “They are in the position of having to catch up with Apple, so they have to be attractive in terms of price.” Still, price alone may not be enough. Research in Motion , which has priced the PlayBook to match the iPad, has struggled to

TOKYO: Sony Corp.’s prototype tablets code-named, S1, left, and S2, are held by models in Tokyo yesterday. Sony is planning a tablet computer with a touch panel similar to Apple’s iPad for later this year that the Japanese manufacturer promises will make the best of its gadgetry and entertainment strengths. — AP win consumer fans since launching the device last week. Sony’s tablets will be WiFi and 3G/4G compatible. S1 has a 9.4-inch display and a curved design that Sony said makes it easier to hold for long periods of time. The S2 has two 5.5-inch displays in a clamshell design, which Suzuki emphasised by producing one of them from his jacket pocket during the launch. Sony, once a symbol of Japan’s high-tech might, has seen its share price slide in the past decade as it struggled to keep up with rivals. Helped by its success in TVs and other products, Samsung’s market capitalisation of some $134 billion dwarfs Sony’s $30 billion market value. Sony’s Kazuo Hirai, seen as a likely successor to CEO Howard Stringer, made his first public appearance at the event after the company promoted the gaming division chief to the number 2 position last month. Google’s

Facebook adds ‘Send’ button SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook began letting members of cozy cliques formed at the social networking service share website links or photo albums without all their friends knowing about it. A “Send” button that lets people share website links with selected cadres instead of all Facebook friends was among enhancements being rolled out to a “Groups” feature launched in October of last year. More than 50 million groups have been created at Facebook since the option became available. “A year ago, we launched the ‘Like’ button, which gives you a quick way to share the things you find on the Web with all your friends,” Groups team engineer Elliot Lynde said in a blog post.”But there are times when you find something that you only want to share with a few specific people.” New Send buttons, which were at 50 popular websites and expected to spread to others, let Facebook users share links to pages with fellow members of specific groups or individual friends at the online social network.For example, someone could send a link to information about a rock concert to roommates and a link to an interesting business journal article to workplace peers. The Groups feature lets Facebook members set up private online havens for clusters of coworkers, family, teammates, or others. Enhancements to Groups included being able to poll members on topics ranging from timing of upcoming meetings to locations for social outings.Group members are also being given the option of uploading entire photo albums for sharing. An added control feature prevents new members from being added without approval of group administrators. — AFP

Android chief Andy Rubin was also on hand to show support. The company, which had been criticised for failing to come up with a tablet offering after iPad’s launch in April 2010, has emphasised the need to differentiate its tablet from rivals, even if that takes time. “Although it’s a late comer in the market, it has potential as what you need is just one big uniqueness that can sell to customers be it design or whatever,” said Lee Sun-tae, an analyst at Meritz Securities in Seoul. “By the same token it could become just another of the Android gadgets flooding the market amid intensifying competition.” Hewlett-Packard Co unveiled its entrant in the tablet race in February. Shares in Sony, which unveils its quarterly results on May 26, fell 2.1 percent on Tuesday in a Nikkei market down just over 1 percent. — Reuters

Livedoor founder fallen Internet star TOKYO: In under a decade, Ferrari-driving maverick tycoon Takafumi Horie built one of Japan’s top Internet empires with a brash business style that earned him stardom but few friends in the establishment. The 38-year-old Livedoor founder, who yesterday was told he must serve a two and a half year sentence for financial fraud, revelled in thumbing his nose at the establishment during his meteoric ascent as a leading Internet star. Few in the corporate old guard will be crying into their sake at news of his tough prison sentence, which capped a dramatic fall from grace for the chubby, spikyhaired whiz kid. The Tokyo University drop-out, who once boasted he could take over Sony, has been criticised by some traditional managers for following a ruthless, Wall Street style of capitalism. Along with another fallen corporate agitator, fund manager Yoshiaki Murakami who was jailed for two years in 2007, he symbolised a new way of doing business, bringing hostile takeover bids to a nation that traditionally avoided corporate confrontation. Affectionately nicknamed “Horiemon” by the public after the chubby Japanese cartoon robot cat Doraemon, the erstwhile tycoon once declared: “All the evils come from aged business managers” and “I will kill newspapers and television.” “Definitely his flamboyant lifestyle, his razzing of the fusty business establishment, did him no favours,” said Professor Jeffrey Kingston, Asian Studies director at Temple University in Tokyo, after Horie was first sentenced. “Because of what he did, he exposed problems in the regulatory system,” Kingston said, describing Horie as an

“inadvertent reformer”. Horie built Livedoor by buying up companies from financial services to real estate to publishing. He tried to take over the nation’s most watched private TV network and Takafumi Horie to buy a baseball team. Both bids failed-but earned him more valuable publicity. The tycoon was even tapped by then prime minister Junichiro Koizumi to run for parliament. But his bid for Fuji television also angered many in the corporate old guard, who labelled him a corporate raider. News of his arrest sent the Tokyo stock market briefly into freefall, forcing Asia’s largest bourse to close early for the first time ever as a flood of sell orders threatened to swamp the computer system. Horie took corporate Japan aback by wearing a T-shirt as he negotiated with older men in suits, and by complaining loudly of being bored with the business world’s slow decision-making. He wrote several books on how to be a successful entrepreneur and make a fortune-providing ammunition for critics who charge he is motivated purely by greed. He was a member of the “Roppongi Hills tribe,” an elite circle of rich young entrepreneurs who work and play in a glitzy modern residential and business complex towering over central Tokyo. And after steadfastly maintaining his innocence, the fallen Internet star defied convention to the bitter end with a rare not-guilty plea in a country which has a near 100-percent conviction rate. — AFP



health & science

Japan greenhouse gas emissions hit record low in 2010 TOKYO: Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions hit a record low in the year to March 2010, data showed yesterday, but emissions may rise this fiscal year despite an expected economic slowdown if the country turns to fossil fuels to make up for lost nuclear power in the wake of last month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. The world’s fifth-biggest polluter saw its emissions of global warming gases fall for the second straight year in 2009/10 to a revised 1.209 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, down 5.6 percent on

the year, final government data showed. Preliminary data issued in December had shown a 5.7 percent decline on the year. Yesterday’s data showed emissions were also 4.1 percent lower than in 1990/1991, when Japan began compiling data on greenhouse gas emissions. It was the first time emissions fell below the 1.261 billion tonnes recorded that year, reflecting the weakness in economic activity since the financial crisis in late 2008. Japan’s goal under the Kyoto Protocol is to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1.186

billion tonnes a year on average over the five years to March 2013, down 6 percent from 1990/1991 levels. If Tokyo factors in planned emissions cuts following its investments in clean energy steps abroad as well as forest conservation at home per year, as permitted under the Kyoto agreement, 2009/2010’s emissions were down 9.5 percent from the base year. But this fiscal year utilities may have to step up their thermal power usage to make up for lost nuclear power due to the tsuna-

impact on emissions,” said an official at the environment ministry, which compiles the emissions data. “One factor boosting emissions is the usage of fossil fuels as an alternative. But we also have to think about the impact of energy saving and of the renewable energy sector, which is growing,” the official said. Yesterday’s data showed Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions peaked at 1.365 billion tonnes in the financial year that ended in March 2008, one year before the Kyoto Protocol period started. — Reuters

mi-triggered crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeast Japan. There is growing public concern about safety in the wake of the nuclear crisis, which could affect Japanese energy policy in the longer term. More than half of Japan’s nuclear power capacity is currently offline as quake-hit plants remain shut. It is also expected to take longer than usual for utilities to conduct maintenance work and check safety after the quake. “It is difficult to forecast the post-quake

Heart attacks are more serious in the morning HIV infection raises heart failure risk: Study

PORTLAND: A March 30, 2011 photo shows Adam Boesel working out on a stationary bike hooked up to a generator at the Green Microgym yesterday in Portland, Ore. Equipment at the gym satisfies a demand among the 200 members to be fit in a way that fits Portland’s green-indie-local ethos. — AP

Russians run high health risks by smoking, drinking LONDON: Most Russians overestimate how healthy they are and many run high health risks by smoking, abusing alcohol, being obese and failing to take enough exercise, according to a report published yesterday. A sur vey by the Association of International Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (AIPM) and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) found that about 95 percent of Russians think they are in good or fair health, while only 44 percent saw a doctor last year. This could be one of the main reasons why diagnosis of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancers and diabetes is low, the researchers said. Such illnesses are also known as non-communicable diseases, or NCDs, and are the cause of the majority of deaths across the world. “Heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory disease together are responsible for 80 percent of all deaths in Russia,” said Vladimir Shipkov, AIPM’s executive director. “There is a significant gap between what people think is their state of health and the negative impact of their actual behaviour.” The sur vey also found that most Russians know about links between the incidence of chronic disease and risk fac-

tors such as smoking, harmful drinking, unhealthy diets and low levels of physical activity. But respondents to the survey tended to perceive these risks as a part of their regular lifestyle, the researchers said. The survey found that between one and three key risk factors feature in the everyday life of 82 percent of respondents, and only 9 percent could say that they had no risk factors. The survey also found that doctors could be an important factor in changing these unhealthy habits-with more than 50 percent of respondents saying they were ready to give up risk factors if a doctor told them their health was at risk. “This study is very important in terms of preventing NCDs from spreading further, because the fight against non-communicable diseases starts on a personal level. Half of deaths and disability cases caused by NCDs can be prevented,” said Mario Ottiglio of IFPMA. He said the survey showed how it “makes sense to put considerable efforts into prevention programmes”. “The benefits reaped would not limit themselves to improved health for individuals...There would also be relief from the mounting pressure on health care systems and the economic burden of such diseases on society as a whole,” he added. — Reuters

Boston hospital performs second full-face transplant BOSTON: Doctors at a Boston hospital have performed the United States’ second full-face transplant, less than a month after the first. A team of more than 30 doctors, nurses and other staff at Brigham and Women’s Hospital worked for more than 14 hours last week to replace the full facial area of 30-year-old Mitch Hunter, of Speedway, Indiana. The procedure replaced Hunter’s nose, eyelids, lips, facial animation muscles and the nerves that power them and provide sensation. Hunter suffered his injuries from a highvoltage electrical wire following a 2001 car accident. The donor family requested anonymity. The lead surgeon, Dr Bohdan

Pomahac, said the procedure went smoothly and they expect Hunter to have a successful recovery and new life. A Texas construction worker received a new face at the hospital last month. About a dozen face transplants have been done worldwide, in the US, France, Spain and China. The world’s first face transplant, a partial face transplant, was done in France in 2005 on a woman mauled by her dog. The US first, also a partial, was at the Cleveland Clinic in 2008. The Boston hospital has placed on a waiting list for a face and hands transplant Charla Nash, the Connecticut woman mauled by a friend’s chimpanzee two years ago. — AP

BUDAPEST: Activists and environmentalists protest against nuclear energy in front of the ministry of National Development in Budapest, yesterday. The protest was organised by Greenpeace and the National Society of Conservationists - Friends of the Earth. The white banner reads ‘Chernobil 25 years ago’ and the yellow sign reads ‘Nuclear energy? No, thanks!’. — AFP

PARIS: Heart attacks that occur in the morning are likely to be more serious than attacks at other times of the day, a specialist journal reported yesterday. Spanish researchers looked at data from 811 patients who had been admitted to a Madrid clinic with a myocardial infarction between 2003 and 2009. They used levels of an enzyme in the blood to measure the extent of dead tissue, known as an infarct, which is caused by blocked blood supply to heart muscle. Those who had had a heart attack between 6:00 am and noon, during the transition from darkness to light, had a 21-percent larger infarct compared with patients whose attack occurred between 6:00 pm and midnight. The study, published in the British journal Heart, builds on previous evidence that circadian rhythm-the famous “body clock”-influences the heart in many ways such as blood pressure, heart rate, cardiac output and the function of cells that line cardiac blood vessels. Of the 811 patients, 269 had their heart attacks in the period from 6:00 am to noon. More than three-quarters of the patients admitted to the clinic were men. Their average age was 62.

The findings should be useful in assessing the effectiveness of drugs against heart disease, the researchers said. Meanwhile, infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can increase the risk of heart failure even in patients who don’t have a prior history of heart disease, a US study said. And as the HIV virus replicates, the risk increases, added the study, published in Archives of Internal Medicine. “Health care providers traditionally think of HIV and its therapies increasing the risk of atherosclerotic heart disease,” said lead author Adreel Butt, at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania. “The surprising finding from our study was the association of HIV with heart failure in the absence of prior coronary heart disease.” The study involved nearly 8,500 adults, with a median age of 48 years in both HIV infected subjects and controls. The HIV group was more likely to also be infected with Hepatitis C, 31 percent to 11 percent, and to abuse cocaine-22 percent to 16 percent. They were also more likely to be smokers but less likely to have hypertension or diabetes. During a median follow-up of 7.3 years, 286 people developed heart failure. Rates of

heart failure per 1,000 person-years, adjusted for age as well as race and ethnicity, were 7.12 for HIV patients and 4.82 for the controls. After accounting for traditional risk factors, the hazard ratio for heart failure with HIV was 1.81. In addition, ongoing replication of the virus led to a significantly higher risk of heart failure. “On the other hand, if HIV replication is well controlled, then the risk of heart failure is closer to that seen among HIV-uninfected persons,” Butt said. The exact mechanism by which HIV infection is linked to heart failure remains unclear, but possible explanations include the direct effects of the HIV infection, antiretroviral treatment that leads to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, and nutritional deficiencies. “Our results suggest that HIV itself is playing an important and independent role,” Butt and her colleagues wrote. The message for HIV care providers is clear, though. “Be on the lookout for early signs of heart failure in HIV-infected persons, even if there is no history of preceding coronary heart disease,” Butt told Reuters Health. “Controlling HIV well may reduce the risk of heart failure.” — Agencies

Nepal sees significant rise in rhino population KATHMANDU: Nepal’s rhinoceros population has risen significantly over the past three years owing to better security against poachers and community conservation programs, an official said yesterday. A survey this month showed that the country’s rhino population was 534 compared to 435 in 2008, when the last count was done, said Maheswor Dhakal, an ecologist with Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. Dhakal said the number of rhinos had decreased during the decade of fighting between government troops and Maoists rebels that ended in 2006 with a peace agreement. During the conflict, soldiers were pulled out of conservation duty to fight the insurgents, leaving the forests unguarded and allowing poachers to hunt the animals with little resistance. Since the end of the fighting, soldiers have been redeployed to keep poachers out, and the government has introduced programs with villagers living near the forests. “Working closely with the community to set up buffer zones has helped in our conservation,” Dhakal said, adding that the result has been an increase in rhino births and a decrease in killings. Conservationists riding elephants spent three weeks this month counting the one-horned rhinos in the forests of Chitwan in southern Nepal and Bardia in the southwest. The one-horned rhinos, also called Indian rhinos, are an endangered species. They are found in the southern plain forests of Nepal and in India. Maoist rebels seeking to end Nepal’s monarchy fought government troops from 1996 to 2006, when they gave up their armed revolt to join a peace process. More than 13,000 people were killed in the conflict. — AP

Discovery could aid tuberculosis treatment WASHINGTON: Scientists have isolated the enzyme that allows tuberculosis to destroy lung tissue, a discovery that could speed the search for treatments, said a US-British study published yesterday. Tuberculosis is a highly contagious and often fatal disease that kills two million people worldwide each year. Even though the disease has been around for thousands of years, scientists are only now learning how it works. The enzyme that drives the destruction of lung tissue is called MMP-1, and enzyme inhibitors are already available which could be used to treat it, said the study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. “Standard TB treatment has remained unchanged for 35 years, and no current treatments prevent the lung destruction that TB causes,” said study co-author Paul Elkington from Imperial College London. “These findings suggest that drugs available now might be able to reduce deaths from TB.” Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which gets into the lungs and causes coughing. That spreads the bacteria in the air where it can infiltrate other people’s lungs. The only treatments available are lengthy antibiotic regimens, which may not work against drug-resistant strains. But another avenue has shown promise, according to the study. Researchers treated human cells infected with TB-which were associated with a boost in the enzyme MMP-1 in the lungs-in the lab with an MMP inhibitor that has been proven safe for humans in clinical trials to treat arthritis. — AFP

BURLINGTON: In this Nov. 9, 2010 photo released by the University of Vermont, Janie Cohen, left, the Fleming Museum Mummy, Dr. Jason Johnson, and Aimee Marcereaum DeGalan stand with a mummy for scanning at Fletcher Allen Health Care, the teaching hospital at the University of Vermont, in Burlington, Vt. A childhood fascination with archaeology and a chance encounter with a 2,700year-old Egyptian mummy are helping Vermont doctors and law enforcement officials find truth in some of the most challenging of modern-day crimes, the unexplained deaths of young children. — AP

Aspirin reduces effect of anti-depressants WASHINGTON: Aspirin and other antiinflammatory drugs taken for pain relief may reduce the effectiveness of antidepressants such as Prozac, a US study suggested yesterday. As many as one in five people are affected by major depressive disorders but about one-third of them are resistant to anti-depressant drugs, said the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers at Rockefeller University in New York examined the most widely used type of anti-depressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, when taken in combination with ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. Some well-known drugs included in the family of SSRIs include Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro and Zoloft. In experiments on mice, researchers tracked brain levels of cell-signaling protein molecules called cytokines, which are boosted by SSRIs, and found they were counteracted by anti-inflammatory drugs. Then, they analyzed data collected from the largest US study on anti-depressant use in humans, the STAR*D study of 4,000 adults taken over seven years and published in 2006. The Rockefeller researchers found that

54 percent of patients not using pain relievers responded to anti-depressant therapy, but only 40 percent did among those using anti-inflammatory agents. “The mechanism underlying these effects is not yet clear. Nevertheless, our results may have profound implications for patients, given the very high treatment resistance rates for depressed individuals taking SSRIs,” said co-author Jennifer Warner-Schmidt. The findings may have particular relevance to patients who are trying to manage both chronic pain and depression. “Many elderly individuals suffering from depression also have arthritic or related diseases and as a consequence are taking both anti-depressant and antiinflammatory medications,” said coauthor Paul Greengard. “Our results suggest that physicians should carefully balance the advantages and disadvantages of continuing antiinflammatory therapy in patients being treated with anti-depressant medications.” Previous studies have suggested that anti-inflammatories may actually boost the potency of two other but less common types of anti-depressants, known as tricyclic or noradrenergic anti-depressants. — AFP



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Heart surgeons find their way in Senegal DAKAR: When Mouhamadou Ndiaye began talking about open-heart surgery in Senegal in 1990, authorities told him it wasn’t a priority. “ We don’t have open-heart surgery problems,” they said, according to Ndiaye, head of the thoracic and cardiovascular surgery department at Dakar’s Fann university teaching hospital. “Our problems are malaria, diarrhoea, vomiting.” “My reply, invariably, was that all patients were patients and needed care,” said Ndiaye, who received his training in Europe and returned to Senegal in 1989. It took time, collaboration with several non-governmental organisations and especially a for tuitous encounter, in 1995, with an American surgeon before the first open-heart operation took place in Senegal, Ndiaye said. Four patients underwent surgery at the Aristide Le Dantec hospital in Dakar, with a large US team taking

part including a surgeon and three anaesthetists, he said. “At the time, lots of people couldn’t believe it. It was a challenge,” Ndiaye said. “For tunately, it went well” for everyone, he added, recalling “a lot of pressure” from both the Senegalese and the American sides. Fifteen years later open-heart surgery has become common in this countr y of nearly 13 million, and Ngiaye’s department is a reference point for the west African region. “Here we have a permanent team. Every week there are patients who have (open-hear t) operations,” Ndiaye said, noting however that there are more adults than children. “ The share of pediatrics in our activity is around 15 to 20 percent, but this percentage concerns mainly big childen who weigh more than 20 kilogrammes (45 pounds),” he said. While the centre has operated on Malian adults before, it was treating

with every heart beat

non-Senegalese children for the first time. In the operating room, Senegalese and French surgeons lean over an open thorax in which a glistening heart is beating. Thirteen-year-old Aminata Diakite is one of six Malian children brought to Dakar under a humanitarian programme aimed at children from poor families who need surgery to “repair” their complicated heart conditions. Operating room attendant Amagor Diouf explains the working of the heart-lung machine, a sophisticated pump that “will take over when we stop the hear t to work inside the valves.” Aminata’s heart condition is “very advanced,” said French thoracic and cardio -vascular surgeon Gerard Babatasi, who is based in Caen, northern France. “If we did nothing, she would die.” The programme was developed and is underwritten by the French group La Chaine de l’Espoir ( The

Chain of Hope), which has worked with Senegalese heart specialists for two decades and has also worked in Cambdia, Afghanistan and Mozambique. Babatasi is also vice president of La Chaine de l’Espoir which, thanks to donations, “takes on and treats children’s hear t conditions in all countries where there is no cardiac surgical centre” such as Senegal’s. It brought four girls and two boys, aged between six and 15, from Mali, paying for the surger y and postoperative care. The six children from “very poor families” suffer congenital heart disease with no one to pay for a remedy, Babatasi said. One did not survive. “It was a very complex operation and it went badly,” he said. The five other operations at Dakar’s university hospital were successful and the patients are recovering remarkably quickly, doctors say. Nine-year-old Maimouna Diarra,

her torso swathed in bandages, tubes and wires in the recovery ward, “is already alert and energetic 24 hours af ter her operation,” said Oumar Diarra, a Senegalese member of the surgery team. After they leave hospital, the five little Malians will stay with Senegalese families who volunteered to take them in for a few weeks as they convalesce. The operations are very expensive by west African standards at around two million CFA francs (some 3,000 euros or 4,000 dollars), Ndiaye said. La Chaine de L’Espoir has demonstrated the advantages of an “interregional” approach, notably in reducing costs compared with treatment in Europe, and in the practical training of local specialists, Ndiaye said. “The ideal is to develop technical arenas locally so that we can operate on patients in the region,” he said, adding: “The more we do, the better we do.” — AFP

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appy birthday to our dearest Ayisha Shahama (Achu), who is celebrating her 11th birthday today. May Allah the Almighty bless her with good health and bright future. Best wishes coming from grandmothers, pappa, umma, uncles, aunts, sister Mariyam Aina Shahima, and cousins.

NBK shares happy moments with children at NBK hospital


Al Baqer said that NBK staff family has always devoted a considerable part of its time to demonstrate the bank’s corporate social responsibility towards the children residing at NBK hospital on major national and social occasions. “Sharing the happy moments with the beloved children at NBK hospital is not only a compassionate and support ges-

s part its social responsibility, National Bank of Kuwait’s (NBK) Public Relations Team and staff paid a visit to NBK Hospital at Sabah Medical district to share the happy moments with the children, comfort their sufferings and present them with felicitations & gifts. NBK Public Relations Officer, Yaqoub

General Manager of Safir Marina Hotel, Kuwait Nabil Hammoud (middle) with Ziad Boujaber (left) and Mario Sabeel.

ture on the part of NBK, such activities constitute an integral part of NBK’s commitment to shoulder its corporate social responsibility which was the basic motive that led NBK to build its children hospital at Sabah Medical district many years ago”, Al Baqer added. NBK’s visit to the hospital was emotional and overwhelming for both the

children & NBK Team. NBK’s staff visits to hospitals and care centers reflect the bank’s high sense of duty and responsibility towards all those in need from different sectors of society. It is a well rooted tradition that has been religiously carried out by NBK each year in its efforts to continuously have an active role in the Kuwait society.

General Manager of Safir Marina Hotel, Kuwait Nabil Hammoud (middle) with the Safir Marina team.

Poolside BBQ nights launched at The Safir Marina Hotel


afir Marina Hotel launched the Barbeque Nights by the pool yesterday with local media and senior management in attendance. Guests were welcomed on their arrival by General Manager, Nabil Hammoud and the entire Hotel’s management. They were treated to a captivating night out with an array of delights from the BBQ grill, live entertainment, shisha and sweeping views of the city’s iconic establishments by the Arabian Gulf.

The Hotel’s spectacular settings, beautiful landscape combined with the warm spring weather reflects the ambience of the BBQ dinner buffet. Guests were offered a variety of selections from the barbecue station filled with seafood, meats, chicken, kebabs and BBQ condiments and vegetables, Shawarma Station and Saj Station. For the occasion, Hammoud said: “Every year we receive a very positive feedback on our BBQ Nights. Known for

the freshness and quality of the ingredients we use as well as the exquisite taste of our barbequed dished, this year, there will also be an even bigger variety of choices. We are keen to offer the perfect setting for our guests to enjoy the warm spring weather under the starlight and have their meal whilst enjoying their Shisha and listening to the rhythm of the Oriental Band.” The Marina poolside BBQ has a capacity to accommodate up to 150

guests at a time and has a special area dedicated for groups. Guests can experience a feast for the senses which include delicious appetizing assortments of freshly grilled meat, chicken and sea food from the barbeque and wide range of salads followed by tasty deserts. With the launch of its Barbeque Nights, Safir Marina Hotel offers a scrumptious dining experience at its pool side every Wednesday evening.

IGM gears up for annual convention


KKMA chairman among Garshom awardees


arshom Awards for 2010 have been announced. Sageer Trikarpur, Chairman of Kuwait Kerala Muslim Association, the largest social welfare association of Indian nationals in Kuwait was selected for the prestigious Garshom Pravasi Ratna Award - 2010 for his exemplary leadership contribution to the non resident Indians in Kuwait. Remesh T A, Country Head of Gulfmart Supermarket was chosen for Special Award for his outstanding support to Malaylaee community in Kuwait. Dr. Sunitha Krishnan

(Hyderabad), V C Praveen(Chennai), S. Ahmed (Trivandrum) also have been awarded with Garshom Pravasi Vanitha, Gashom Yuva Pravasi and Garshom Pravasi Returnee respectively. AMMA (All Malaysia Malayalee Association) from Malaysia has won the best Pravasi Organization of the year 2010. The award committee constituting Ivan Nigli (Former Karnataka MLA), Dr. B. Ashok Kumar (Muscat), Polly Mathew Somatheeram (Germany), Jins Paul (Managing Editor, Garshom Infomedia Limited) selected the winners from the

names nominated by the readers of Garshom publications and These awards have been instituted by Garshom Vartha Magazine to honor those Malayalees who have contributed their might for the upliftment of Malayalees in their place of residence and have achieved success in life through their ingenuity and hard work. The 8th Garshom awards will be presented during a function to be held at Indian Community School Auditorium, Salmiya, Kuwait on 27th May 2011, according to a press release by Garshom.

he annual convention of the IGM (India Gospel Movement) is scheduled to be held from 27th to 29th instant at the National Evangelical Church Kuwait (NECK) premises. Bro George Cherian, General Secretary, (Missions India) Navajeevodayam, Thiruvella is the main speaker at the event. Navajeevodayam is an indigenous organisation in India targetting the downtrodden rustics and the impoverished ones, revitalising them through moral and vocational guidance, thereby reinstating to the mainstream of the society. George Cherian is a celebrated orator, noted social reformist and youth counsellor. A man with profound thoughts and passion for perishing souls, he has been tremendously used of God as a convention speaker and an eminent scholar. He travels extensively and preaches to millions of people in India and abroad through public meetings, media programmes and audio/video tapes. A man of prayer and strong convictions, his messages are daringly direct. Worship sessions will be handled by the professional 1GM choir. Convention timings are from 7.15 pm to 9.15 pm on 27th Wednesday, 28th Thursday and 29th Friday at the NECK church and parish hall. For more information and transport requirements call 99306522/ 66890824.

NSS conducts 10th general body meeting


SS-KUWAIT conducted its 10th General Body Meeting on 22nd April at the United Indian School Auditorium Abbasiya at 5.30 pm. The meeting, presided by N. Jaysankar, the President of

NSS-Kuwait was started with the prayer and Acharyanusmaranam and Dinachandran, the General Secretary welcomed the audience. The General Secretary presented the working Report and the Treasurer Madhusudhanan Pillai presented the Audited Financial Report for the year 2010 - 2011 for the approval of the General Body. The General Discussion on the Working Report and Financial Report was highlighted by the participation of the members and the General Body unanimously approved both

reports. The Charity Plan of action for 2010 - 2011 was presented by Hari Nair, the Charity Convener. The four major charitable activities (Vidyadhanam, Annadanam, Arogyaraksha and Rakthadanam) planned for the year 2011 - 2012 was formally inaugurated by Sri. Surya Narayanan by releasing its logo and flyers and Sri. Hari Nair, the Charity Convener received it from him. The Election of Prathinidhi Sabha, Executive Committee and Office Bearers were held through a very systematic and democratic way and the Steering Committee members of NSS-Kuwait were the presiding officers. Accordingly, the General Body elected the following members as the Officer Bearers of NSS-Kuwait for the year 2011 - 2012: Baiju Pillai (President), Suresh Nair K.S. (General Secretary), Anilkumar Ravi (Vice President), Gopa Kumar (Treasurer), Jayakumar (Joint Secretary), Shine Kumar (Joint Secretary), Prasad Ramanathan (Joint Treasurer), Padmakumar (Joint Treasurer), Vinod V. Nair (Cultural Secretary), Hari Nair (Charity Secretary) and Unnikrishna Pillai (Auditor). The New Office Bearers took charge by taking NSS-Oath. Gopakumar, the new Treasurer delivered the vote of thanks.


any happy returns of the day to dear Heba Mohammed Al Musser who celebrated her birthday on April 26. May Allah bless u with good health, happiness and may all your dreams come true. Best wishes come from dad Mohammed, mum Lulu, brothers Fawaz, Nawaf, sisters Atyaf, Lemas, uncle Halah Al Rifai and all your cousins and friends and special greetings from Nicole and Shannon.

Announcements Al Taalib Scholarship 2011 Al Taalib Scholarship is a financial aid scheme for the under privileged school students in Kuwait, sponsored by the Ministry of Awqaf in association with Islam Presentation Committee (IPC), Friday Forum and Pakistan Kuwait Welfare Association. These scholarships were given to the needy students irrespective of their religion or nationality. The process of Al Taalib Scholarship for the current academic year, 2011-12, has begun for all Indian and Pakistani Schools in Kuwait. In order to avail this scholarship, applicants are requested to collect the Application Form from Al Taalib Office located in CAMS, Ahmed Al Jaber Street, Darwaza, Near Warba Insurance Co., Int’l Islamic Charity Organization Building, 2nd Floor, Al Sharq. The duly filled application form shall be submitted to Al Taalib office on or before 10th May 2011 along with all supporting documents specified in the Application Form. ABCK golf tournament The American Business Council of Kuwait is hosting its 10th annual Golf Tournament at the Sahara Golf Club on Friday, May 13th, 2011. It will be a Texas 4man scramble and your participation is encouraged. Registration begins at 7.00am and shotgun at 8.00am. Event includes breakfast, lunch and raffle prizes. For details contact before May 10th. NAFO to present Soorya’s ‘Sangamam’ National Forum Kuwait (NAFO Kuwait) is all set to bringing a spectacular, well conceptualized, a jewel in crown super cultural show ‘Sangamam’ for the art lovers of Kuwait, according to a press release. Indian Ambassador Ajai Malhotra will inaugurate the first of its kind super show, scheduled for the evening of Friday, May 13, 2011 (6.00 PM) at the American International School Auditorium, Maidan-Hawalli. Voice Kuwait 6th Anniversary Voice Kuwait is celebrating its 6th anniversary “VISWAKALA 2011” on May 20th Friday from 4 pm to 9 pm at Carmel School Khaitan. Voice Kuwait is giving award to its member’s children who got highest mark in last S.S.L.C. either from Kuwait or from Kerala. The students those are eligible should give attested copy of their mark list to Area conveners or sent copy to For more information please contact 66950482,94419371. Catholicate College new members Catholicate College Alumni Association, Kuwait Chapter, is enrolling new members. Ex-students of Catholicate College who have not yet become members of the Alumni Association are requested to complete the Membership Forms and submit the completed Forms to the Treasurer, Thomas Mathew (Mobile no. 66025610) to become eligible for participation in Catholicate College Alumni Association’s activities and programmes. Membership Form is available at the Association’s website : For more details contact General Secretary (Mobile no. 66232408) or President ( Mobile no. 66864057. Aware Arabic course The AWARE management is glad to inform those interested in learning Arabic that Summer 1 Arabic language courses will begin on April 24 and go on till June 2, 2011. AWARE Arabic language courses are designed with the expat in mind. The environment is relaxed and courses are designed for those wanting to learn Arabic for travel, cultural understanding, and conducting business or simply to become more involved in the community. We cater to teachers, travelers and those working in the private business sector. Ernakulam District Association picnic Ernakulam District Association Kuwait will conduct ‘Picnic 2011’ on 29th April 2011 at Al Mulla Garden, Sharq. It will be a full day fun and entertainment for families of Ernakulam district Association. Members as well as friends, well wishers from Ernakulam District are most welcome to participate in this event. Transportation are available from different parts of Kuwait. All our members are requested to collect their food coupon and “vefpsa premium water purifier” sponsored lucky draw coupons from their respective area representatives. For more details contact following persons. Joseph Maxi, (Event Convener) 99598755 (Abbassiya); Thomas Vithayathil (Joint Convener) 66459234 (Farwaniya); Varghese Paul (Joint Convener) 97230215 (Abbassiya); Joseph Raphel (Coordinator) 97249078 (Fahaheel); Krishnan Unni (Coordinator) 99698702 (Hassawi); Biju M.Y (Coordinator) 66339920 (Salmiya) or visit our website




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Embassy Information EMBASSY OF AUSTRALIA The Embassy encourages all Australians to register their presence in Kuwait through Smartraveller Online (see link below). Australians who are registered are asked to update their details. The information provided will assist us in contacting you in an emergency. Kuwait citizens can apply for and receive visit visas to Australia online at This usually takes two working days. The Australian Embassy advises that it will be closed today Monday 25 April 2011 on the occasion of Easter Holiday. The Embassy will resume work on Tuesday 26 April 2011. All others visa applications are handled by the Australian Visa Application Centre Tel. 22971110. Witnessing and certifying documents are by appointment only, please contact the Embassy on 2232 2422. The Australian Embassy is open from 8.00am to 4.00pm, Sunday to Thursday. ■■■■■■■

GUST MIS and accounting students honored


he Gulf University for Science and Technology’s (GUST) Accounting and MIS Department held an honoring ceremony awarding their outstanding students for their academic achievements by fulfilling certain pre-specified criteria where Dr. Lee Caldwell, Dean of the Business Administration College at GUST, presented the students with their awards. The criteria includes that the student

must be a senior or junior at GUST. The seniors awarded achieved a GPA of 3.8 or higher, while the juniors a GPA of 3.9 or higher and are subject to completing at least 75 credit hours by the end of this academic year. The students have worked hard to attain such qualifications and the department made it a point to express their pride in those students. The students were awarded with a plaque by the Head

of the Department, Dr. Mohammad Shariff. “These students are being honored as the most outstanding accounting & MIS students in the university,” started Dr. Ahmed Al-Galfy, Assistant Professor of Accounting at GUST, “they should be proud of themselves and happy that they made their parents, relatives and friends so proud. They are still on their way to learn, grow, and achieve the highest lev-

els possible in this institution, and, then, in their work. We all wish them the best of luck.” The senior students awarded were: Yousef Akbar, GPA 3.97, Maha Al-Masri, GPA 3.91, Nussaiba Al-Henaidi, GPA 3.89, Bereen Al-Hajal, GPA 3.86. The junior students awarded were: Sabeeka Ayed AlShumailan, GPA 4.00, Naser Al-Ajmi, GPA 4.00 and Musallam Al-Musallam, GPA 3.9.

EMBASSY OF ARGENTINA In order to inform that 23rd of October 2011, will be Argentine national election where all Argentinean citizen residents permanently in Kuwait can vote only if they are registered at the Electoral Register of the Argentine Embassy. The procedure of inscription is for free and will be end on 25 of April 2011. To register it is necessary that Argentinean citizens should come personally at the Argentinean Embassy (Block 6, street 42, villa 57, Mishref ) and present the DNI and four personal photos (size 4x4, face should be front on white background). For further information, contact us on 25379211. ■■■■■■■

EMBASSY OF BRITAIN The Visa Application Centre (VAC) will be closed on the same dates above. The opening hours of the Visa Application Centre are 0930 1630 Application forms remain available online from the UKBAs’ website: or from the Visa Application Centre’s website: And also, from the UK Visa Application Centre located at: 4B, 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: Telephone:22971170. The Consular Section will also be closed on the same dates. For information on the British Embassy services, visit the British Embassy website: ■■■■■■■

Events this week Seminar for teenage girls

MES Ladies Wing Kuwait is organizing a “free” seminar for teenage girls on “Life Skills and Personal Safety for Adolescents” at Private Educational Center Salmiya on 29th April 2011 (Friday) from 5 pm until 8.30 pm. Mrs Simi Rajesh (renowned professional counselor in Kuwait) and Dr Susan Kuruvila will be the program leaders for this event. This program is designed exclusively for all girls falling in the age group of 12 to 19 years. Mothers of the teenage girls are also welcome to attend this program. Interested participants are required to register (before 28th April) to email id or contact 97299734/ 99862430 with the following details: (i) total number of attendees (ii) name, age and school of the teenager (iii) area of residence. Bake & educate Every child has a right to education, but there are those who cannot afford it. Support this just cause in giving a brighter future for those unfortunate children. Noora Al Obaid is hosting this event at Bayt Lothan on the 27 & 28 April 2011. Opening hours: 0900-13:00 & 17:0021:00. For details call 25755877/66. Pathanamthitta Meeting Pathanamthitta District Association’s Annual General Body Meeting will be held tomorrow 28th April 2011 at Chachoos Auditorium from 7 pm to 9.30 pm to elect new Office Bearers and Executive Committee for the year 2011-2012. All association members and Pathanamthitta residents interested to become members are hereby requested to attend the General Body Meeting. For more details contact, Oommen George (Jose) 99722437, or Benny at 66501482. Aware center diwaniya “Best herbs for indoor gardening,” by Michelle Van De Merwe. Growing your own herbs indoors can be both fun and therapeutic as it is relatively easy and not really expensive. Herbs can be placed roughly into 3 categories: culinary, medicinal and ornamental. Fresh herbs add a wonderful taste to a meal and can add just that right touch to decorate any dish. They can create a beautiful replacement for indoor plants having a multitude of uses - sprinkling on salads, spicing up your salsas, medicinal uses, teas, decoration and fragrance. Michelle van der Merwe is South African who has lived in numerous African countries and Saudi Arabia working as a Medical Technologist in Hematology (Medical laboratory) and now Kuwait. Herbs are just one of her many interests since she was a teenager as she grew up on a farm in South Africa. If you are interested in the topic, the AWARE Center is the best place to visit on April 26, 2011 at 7 pm.

India International School cares for Mother Earth


arth Day’ was celebrated at IIS on 21st April, to create awareness among children the importance of taking care of our mother earth. A special assembly was conducted by the members of Science Club and the Shanthinikethan House. During assembly the children depicted various causes of ailing planet and the immediate need of healing touch by their skits and songs. F.M.Basheer Ahmed, principal, in his brief address, stressed the importance of every child’s contribution

to protect the environment by way of planting one small sapling in their neighborhood. Moosa Koya, Director, flagged off a special team for ‘Beach Cleaning Programme’ at Fahaheel Beach. The team consists of F.M.Basheer, Najeeb, Dept of Physics, Mrs Sapna Raof, Class Coordinator, and the students of Science Club. All the members actively took part in cleaning the beach and they were competing each other in picking up the waste. The one who actively took part in this programme would be

honoured in the school Assembly. Jaber Al Hajri, Police Dept., who came for morning walk, witnessed the IIS children enthusiastically cleaning the beach and appreciated their selfless work. He assured them that he would extend his full support for their sincere effort. Children made public aware of protecting our environment by carrying placards with different messages like “ Save Earth for our children”. This kind of voluntary work had created a sense of civic and social awareness among the children.

Kuwait KMCC conducts ‘Karunyam’ conference


nder the auspices of Kuwait KMCC, two months of campaign program propagating the message of “mercy” to those who deserving, those who are marginalized, and those who are suffering ended with a final conference in Central Indian School, Abbassiya. To declare the support to this cause, the stalwarts came from India. Minister of State for External Affairs of India and IUML national president E. Ahmed inaugurated the final conference. He urged the community to extend its support to Kuwait KKMCC for alleviating the sufferings of underprivileged. India is a great nation with its unique culture, and its unity in diversity is its core value. The secularism in its pluralistic society is the backbone of our great nation. IUML is doing its best to safeguard the great principles of our secularism and national unity. Siding with congress party it is adding great value to Indian democracy. Indian community is revered in Kuwait because of its law abiding nature and dedication. We need to strive hard for keeping up our name here in the foreign soil. He stressed. He underlined the historical relationship between India and Kuwait and praised Kuwait for their benevolence to Indian community. He stressed that IUML will go to more strength under the leadership of Sayed Haidarali Shihab Thangal. Sayed Haidarali Shihab Thangal who is visiting Kuwait as president of Kerala state IUML, was honored with garlands and mementos. He thanked for the reception and praised the hard work put forward by Kuwait KMCC for the betterment of the society. He also stressed communal harmony exists in India especially in Kerala and the contribution of IUML towards it. Indian Ambassador Ajai Malhotra praised Kuwait KMCC activities. In the context of Ambassador leaving Kuwait after finishing his mission in

EMBASSY OF CANADA The Embassy of Canada is located at Villa 24, AlMutawakel St., Block 4 in Da’aiyah. 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 Effective January 15, 2011, the only Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) application form that will be accepted by CIC is the Application for Temporary Resident Visa Made Outside of Canada [IMM 5257] form. All previous Temporary Resident Visa application forms will no longer be accepted by CIC and instead will be returned to applicants. Should old applications be submitted prior to January 15, 2011 they will continue to be processed. To ensure that the most recent version of the Temporary Resident Visa application form is being utilized, applicants should refer to the CIC website. As of January 15, 2011, forms are to be filled in electronically. 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 forms are available on the internet at: E.PDF. A guide explaining the process can be found here: PDF. ■■■■■■■

EMBASSY OF FRANCE On the occasion of public holiday in France, the French Embassy in Kuwait will be closed on Sunday the 1st and Sunday the 8th of May 2011. Kuwait, he was honored with a memento in appreciation as a token of love and respect for his outstanding services to the community. He thanked for the gesture, and urged Indian community to avail the general amnesty which is offered by Kuwait government. Embassy is exerting all the efforts to help the community in this regard. He specified about the helpline, and shelter to help the destitute house maids. P.K. Kunjalikutty, former minister and state general secretary of IUML, stressed that UDF will come back to power in Kerala state and will do whatever possible to help the expatriate community including their rehabilitation. The people are longing for a change and UDF will execute that change. The Kuwait KMCC activities are exemplary. He said President Sharafuddeen Kanneth in his presidential address explained about the Kuwait KMCC activities including social and welfare schemes. KNA Khader,

state secretary delivered a thought provoking speech. Kuwait KMCC Chairman Sayed Naser Mashhoor Thangal, OICC chairman M.A.Hilal, FIMA president Siddeeque Valiyakath made felicitation speeches. A souvenir in connection with the program was released by Kunjalikutty delivering to Pancily Varkey country head of UAE Exchange. Ramesh, country head of Gulf Mart, Haris, RD of Lulu Hyper Market, Afsal Khan, Director of Malabar Gold and patrons of reception committee were present during the occasion. KKMCC Basheer Batha rendered vote of thanks and treasurer Nazeer Khan rendered vote of thanks. Various overall trophies of art festival were distributed by E. Ahmed and Sayed Haidarali thangal respectively. A caricature of Sayed Haidarlai Thangal created by John arts was presented to Thangal. Welcome song was rendered by Habeebullah Muttichoor.


EMBASSY OF GUYANA The Embassy of Guyana, recently established in Kuwait, announces that it is located at Block 3, Street 321, Villa 3, Mubarak Abdullah al Jabar, West Misrhef. The Embassy’s telephone numbers are 25397939 and 2539-4336; the fax number is 25393448. The Embassy can also be contacted by e-mail at; its website address is ■■■■■■■

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

Classifieds WEDNESDAY, APRIL 27, 2011

Why did St. Patrick drive all the snakes out of Ireland? He couldn’t afford plane fare!

Give friends a true Irish greeting: “Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit,” (pronounced la ale-lah paw-rig son-ah ditch), which means Happy St. Patrick’s Day in Gaelic.

Why do people wear shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day? Regular rocks are too heavy!

— Disney FamilyFun magazine


Zoo Atlanta’s giant panda cub reached a big milestone recently. The furry little guy turned 100 days old and received a name, Po. Sound familiar? That’s because the 3month-old cub was named after Po the warrior panda, from DreamWorks’ hit animated movie “Kung Fu Panda” and its sequel, in theaters May 26. Comedian Jack Black, who voices Po in the movies, was on hand to meet his character’s namesake at a special ceremony at the zoo, in Atlanta. “We are proud and honored to share this moment with Jack Black, who has already helped to bring the importance of saving this species to a new generation of conservationists,” said Raymond B. King, president and head of Zoo Atlanta.


All who gaze into this magic St. Paddy’s Day mirror get transformed into a leprechaun, at least for a few seconds. MATERIALS  Small mirror (4 or 5 inches)  Craft foam  Tacky glue 1. Use a small mirror (4 or 5 inches wide) as a base. 2. Download templates for the craft foam pieces from or simply make your own. 3. Use tacky glue to attach the pieces to the mirror as shown.


Place a few drops of green food coloring in a bowl and carefully spoon vanilla pudding on top. When your victim stirs it up, he’ll discover that a leprechaun has turned his dessert green!

Celebrate Ireland with these yummy shamrocks made from yogurt-covered pretzels. INGREDIENTS  waxed paper  3 yogurt-covered mini pretzels  1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil  1/4 cup white chocolate chips  green icing  decorating sugar 1. To make a batch, cover a work surface with a sheet of waxed paper. For each clover, arrange three yogurtcovered mini pretzels and a pretzel section as shown. 2. Combine 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil with 1/4 cup white chocolate chips and melt them together in the microwave according to the chips’ package directions. Dab the mixture between the pretzel pieces to adhere them. Let the chocolate harden. 3. Working with one clover at a time, pipe the edges and stem with green icing (we used a No.8 round piping tip), then quickly sprinkle it with decorating sugar (we used white, light green, and dark green). Tips: To save sugar, sprinkle each clover on a small piece of waxed paper. After you’ve covered a few treats, use the paper to funnel the extra sugar back into its jar.

Can you fool the leprechaun in search of the lost gold? In this group game, players must put on their poker faces and use sleight of hand to keep a coin from a leprechaun’s sight. First select a leprechaun and have her cover her eyes or look away while you hand a coin to one of the other players. Then have all the players sit in a circle with the leprechaun standing in the middle. At “go,” the seated players begin slyly passing the coin around the circle, being careful to hide the coin from the leprechaun’s view. The coin can reverse direction at any time, and players without the coin can pretend to pass it along to add to the challenge. When the leprechaun thinks she knows who has the coin, she calls “stop” and names her suspect. If the leprechaun guesses right, the two players switch places. If not, play continues.

It’s Chinese tradition to wait 100 days before naming a giant panda cub. Po was born on Nov. 3, to Zoo Atlanta’s female giant panda, Lun Lun. The baby boy is the mama bear’s third cub. He is also the only giant panda to be born in the United States last year. Zoo Atlanta teamed up with DreamWorks to bring more attention to the plight of the bears. Giant pandas are one of the most endangered species in the world. There are about 1,600 living in the wild. DreamWorks is donating money to the zoo’s panda conservation program in return for the name. “This is the beginning of an amazing alliance between Zoo Atlanta and DreamWorks Animation,” said King. “Our organizations share a commitment to giant panda conservation” Baby Po is expected to make his public debut at the zoo in late March or early April. In the meantime, fans can pay a virtual visit to the zoo’s pandas by going to pandacam. — Vickie An © 2011 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved. TIME FOR KIDS and are registered trademarks of Time Inc.

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Jack Black meets Dr. Hayley Murphy before the naming ceremony of Zoo Atlanta's baby panda. Below, Black poses with school children after the ceremony.

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Aries (March 21-April 19) Partnerships are accented and through this avenue, you will find much can be accomplished. When given the opportunity, you generously want to share your visions, ideals and ideas with other people—they can be spellbound for hours. You might want to pay attention to the interest that someone shows you and learn when to back away from a conversation if others are not interested. Today, however, you will encourage someone to move forward with their plans on some particular goal they thought they could not achieve. With all the communication exchange today, you may find a new interest. You may really become involved with the art of handwriting or the art of numerology. This is a time of harmony, fun and successful communication.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) You could be very popular today, especially with superiors or in relation to your work. You may find that you enjoy your job or the responsibility it entails more than usual. Your dealings with money will be successful as well. If your attitude is positive, this is what you will project and if your attitude is negative you will project this as well. You do not have a hidden agenda and others know what to expect from you. Make sure your feelings compliment your goodness. You may need the emotional balance of a friendly person today. A kind of romantic longing characterizes your approach to life. This could mean a longing for a soul mate or a yearning to save the world; it could mean carrying a torch as well; patience.

POOCH CAFE ACROSS 1. An inflammatory disease of connective tissue with variable features including fever and weakness and fatigability and joint pains and skin lesions on the face or neck or arms. 4. Used improperly or excessively especially drugs. 10. Inquire about. 13. A pass between mountain peaks. 14. An outbuilding (or part of a building) for housing automobiles. 15. A health resort near a spring or at the seaside. 16. A midnight meeting of witches to practice witchcraft and sorcery. 18. Usually dull-colored medium-sized nocturnal moth. 20. The content of cognition. 21. A constellation in the southern hemisphere near Telescopium and Norma. 23. A particular geographical region of indefinite boundary (usually serving some special purpose or distinguished by its people or culture or geography). 24. Date used in reckoning dates before the supposed year Christ was born. 26. One who works hard at boring tasks. 29. American prizefighter who won the world heavyweight championship three times (born in 1942). 30. Tropical American tree producing cacao beans. 33. Resinlike substance secreted by certain lac insects. 34. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. 35. Distant in either space or time. 40. Large high frilly cap with a full crown. 44. An amine containing the double bond linkage -C=C-N-. 46. (informal) Of the highest quality. 47. Boiled or baked buckwheat. 48. A feeling of strong eagerness (usually in favor of a person or cause). 51. A light touch or stroke. 53. A very poisonous metallic element that has three allotropic forms. 54. Shrubby thorny deciduous tree of southeastern United States with white flowers and small black drupaceous fruit. 60. Experiencing or showing sorrow or unhappiness. 61. Relating to or containing acetic acid. 64. The compass point midway between east and southeast. 65. An esoteric or occult matter that is traditionally secret. 66. Type genus of the family Myacidae. 67. A coenzyme derived from the B vitamin nicotinic acid. 68. A port city in southwestern Iran. 69. A room or establishment where alcoholic drinks are served over a counter. DOWN 1. Interface consisting of a standard port between a computer and its peripherals that is used in some computers. 2. Weight to be borne or conveyed. 3. A river in central Europe that arises in northwestern Czechoslovakia and flows northward through Germany to empty into the North Sea. 4. Title for a civil or military leader (especially in Turkey). 5. A Chadic language spoken south of Lake Chad. 6. An ancient city of Sumer located on a former channel of the Euphrates River. 7. The capital and largest city of Yemen. 8. An inflated feeling of pride in your superiority to others. 9. The last (12th) month of the year. 10. Earlier a god. 11. Plausible glib talk (especially useful to a salesperson). 12. A family of Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in southeastern Asia. 17. A small cake leavened with yeast. 19. A hard gray lustrous metallic element that is highly corrosionresistant. 22. Fertility goddess in ancient Greek mythology. 25. A heavy odorless colorless gas formed during respiration and by the decomposition of organic substances. 27. Group of people related by blood or marriage. 28. A small canoe consisting of a light frame made watertight with animal skins. 31. A dark-skinned member of a race of people living in Australia when Europeans arrived. 32. A compartment in front of a motor vehicle where driver sits. 36. English writer and a central member of the Fabian Society (1858-1943). 37. A young woman. 38. Antibacterial drug (trade name Nydrazid) used to treat tuberculosis. 39. A unit of length of thread or yarn. 41. Having the slant of a bevel. 42. A radioactive element of the actinide series. 43. A tricycle (usually propelled by pedalling). 44. An ancient city of Sumer located on a former channel of the Euphrates River. 45. A flat-bottomed volcanic crater that was formed by an explosion. 49. The sacred city of Lamaism. 50. Having help. 52. Naked freshwater or marine or parasitic protozoa that form temporary pseudopods for feeding and locomotion. 55. The basic unit of money in Bangladesh. 56. A river that rises in western New Mexico and flows westward through southern Arizona to become a tributary of the Colorado River. 57. The act of scanning. 58. Common Indian weaverbird. 59. (old-fashioned) At or from or to a great distance. 62. A slight amount or degree of difference. 63. The executive agency that advises the President on the federal budget.

Gemini (May 21-June 20) Some previous plans that are finally developing into a most positive end result will boost the mood for you and those around you today; whatever the case this is a day that is approached with high energy and an attitude that gets much accomplished. Success is easy to find. Others will notice your efficiency. Your inner resources and emotions are accented. This afternoon new projects come to your attention. There are interesting subjects for your evaluation and a relationship from the past may come to your attention later this afternoon. Find time to relax and commune with nature in order to balance your energies before the evening begins. Avoid actively pursuing new social objectives. There is a small package for you to open this evening.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)


Work progresses fairly well today; obtaining and exchanging information take on more importance. To complete important work, you may need certain information from others—you can successfully accomplish this with your smooth professional manner. If there is someone you are trying to influence, this would be the day when you would be most successful. Setting time aside this evening for family conversations makes for a closer knit family and the feeling of a good support system for all. Helping a young person with a hobby may aid in his or her creativeness and provide opportunities for one-on-one conversations. You work on a project this evening while this young person enjoys his or her hobby—perhaps you sew, repair furniture, etc.

Leo (July 23-August 22) Your enthusiasm is contagious and before the day is over Stay in touch with your own sense of direction today. Many things come to your attention this morning and staying focused may become very difficult. Work particularly hard now to stay focused and complete projects. This is an exciting day and you could become distracted from what you really want to accomplish. An instinctive urge to get serious about taking care of you is emphasized now. Diet, exercise and work become important routines now. You want to feel good about yourself and the way you do things. A healthy change in your diet and a new exercise program is a positive plan. Perhaps you can bring a friend or family member along when you exercise. You will find this time speeds right along when shared with a friend.


Virgo (August 23-September 22) An appointment or a meeting signifies the need to be professionally well dressed. You will have respect from all you meet. Considering you set the pace for others to follow, you will do well to keep current with trends and styles. Allocating certain responsibilities to trusted individuals will gain excellent results. You are in a planning mood this afternoon and are very clearheaded and able to view all the alternate paths. You can see the road ahead and will make the right choices. One of the most common human experiences is disappointment. You help a member of your family recover and learn from a disappointment they may be feeling today. Most people see disappointment as a downer; you teach that it can be a tool for correction, learning and growth.

Libra (September 23-October 22)


Scorpio (October 23-November 21) Clear some space so that you can work more easily. Hard work and trying to make contact with higher-ups seem to take priority. Problem is—this activity of trying to contact certain people may be a bit difficult. You have time to think through what you want to say—expressing yourself is done very well. You want to get things accomplished and this may end up a very productive day. After work your creative side kicks in as you help share your talents in the art of sewing, cooking or gardening. You may be surprised at the result of your effort with this teaching. You could become a teacher or others could teach you. Health habits and work goals also come to your attention and you may decide to set a few goals. A sense of harmony makes this a happy time.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) Watch what you say to a new person today—you will be protecting your best interests in your future job security. Speculating or participating in sports may be scheduled this afternoon. Perhaps you and your coworkers have an ongoing tournament. You may find yourself being put to good use by your friends and enjoying them as well. Excessive emotional energy could produce flare-ups, harsh words and arguments. Be aware of this possibility and when you feel yourself becoming highly emotional, take a break in order to refocus. Find ways to relax this evening by doing something really funny, renting a comedy video, tickling a loved one, etc. Laughter is the best way to promote a healing and get rid of excessive negative energy.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19)


Yesterday’s Solution

A feeling of inadequacy or frustrations may occur today. It is important to look at the possibility that failures at work may not be your fault. You are, however, to be commended for your dedication and perseverance and can find answers or solve a problem without the stress most would feel. You crave organization and you want to get things accomplished. Good eye-hand coordination and a sustained effort make almost any task run well. Be aware of an impossible standard and take it easier on everyone—including you. A little humor could go a long way today. It is your responsibility to expand your vision without losing the innocence of your convictions. Do not lose your ability to play. Borrow a relative or friend’s child if you have none and play.

Job-related subjects take precedence this morning. New projects turn out to be more successful than you had previously thought. There seems to be very little that you cannot do today—the day is yours. You have the energy and wisdom to tackle any problem that comes to your attention. A lot of personal and sensitive psychological material from a mate may be just as important for you as for your mate. You may look back on this time as very transforming. There could be a temporary estrangement from a loved one today but if you leave this alone it will be turned around for the positive. Being more closely involved with another person may well become your highest priority. Marriage, contracts and partnerships are seen as keys to success and happiness.

Yesterday’s Solution Yester

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) A clear-minded insight into your own plans and methods is available to you this day. This is a very good time to communicate your goals. You will also find this a good time for decision making with lots of talking to others about their goals. Your talkative mood could get you in trouble with an older person, however, so be discreet. An important relationship, perhaps an older person, may come into focus today. There could be some tension or sense of opposition requiring compromise or negotiation on your part. There will be opportunities for understanding and even growth. Tonight, you may be able to bring a group together with words or ideas that transport others such as poetry or music. Social involvement with friends is also fun.

Pisces (February 19-March 20)

Word Sleuth Solution

You are in a mood of self-enjoyment this morning and may express yourself with much confidence. You may see value in or feel love for an older person or someone in authority. You appreciate and discover the beauty in your own life and in those around you. At the same time, everything could take on added value and importance. Be careful that you do not overspend or indulge too much just now. You may find yourself enjoying a long conversation, writing a letter or making a special phone call this afternoon. You can demonstrate great understanding and sensitivity to the needs of others. The preparations for a get-together with your friends will show off your abilities to create a positive and beautiful atmosphere.



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lifest y le G o s s i p

Aniston set to spend $5.9m on NY apartment he ‘Just Go With It’ actress is close to finalising a deal on the luxurious Manhattan property after deciding to relocate to the city from her current home in Los Angeles. Although the 1,200 square foot penthouse apartment has just one bedroom and one bathroom, it comes with an 800-square foot terrace with north, south, east and west views of the New York Harbour to the Empire State Building. The property - which is on the 18th floor of a pre-war building with a doorman also has a new open-plan kitchen, dining room,


living room, hardwood and poured concrete floors as well as four closets. Jennifer recently revealed she wanted to move back to New York as she missed the city where she spent a lot of her childhood and attended acting school. The 41-year-old star said: “I’ve been looking and looking and looking. I grew up here (New York City). I miss it.” “There is nothing like being in the city that is just the city of Everyman. It’s all walks of life - I love that!”

Kidman speaks of stalker

Aguilera praises her ‘lovely’ boyfriend he 30-year-old singer has been romancing set designer Matthew Rutler since they met while working on her movie ‘Burlesque’, and she admits she is delighted to have found love again after splitting from husband Jordan Bratman last October. Christina - whose divorce was finalised earlier this month - said: “There is someone very lovely in my life. Yes.” The blonde beauty - who has a three-year-old son Max with Jordan - famously stumbled over the lyrics to American National Anthem when performing at the Super Bowl NFL game earlier this year, but she admitted she has learned to laugh about creating such an embarrassing memorable moment for herself. She told TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres: “I think had a moment where I was at the Super Bowl at 30 years old. I took in the moment a little bit too much. Shoot me for appreciating the moment but here I am at the Super Bowl, singing for a team and in front of the world. And remembering what it was like to be that young and look where I made it now. And then it was like, ‘Oh.’ “That night I knew, I just made myself a Trivial Pursuit question - ‘in 2011 what female


he 43-year-old actress revealed that when she was 18 she was followed around by an older man and says the ordeal was “a frightening experience”. She said: “[It] was my most frightening experience at that age. I had a man who followed me around - older, with long grey hair. “He found out where I lived and would phone me. He would just sit in a pub across the road and watch - then tell people he was a friend of mine.” The redheaded beauty was living alone at the time because she had left home to embark on her film career and although she informed police of the man she was told they couldn’t do anything unless he actually tried to harm her. She explained to The Sun newspaper: “The police talked to him, but said they couldn’t do anything until he did something to me. You never know how bad these people are going to be.” Nicole - who is married to Keith Urban, with whom she has two daughters Sunday Rose, two and four-month-old Faith, and is also an adopted mother to Isabella, 18 and Connor, 16 from her past marriage to Tom Cruise - filed a restraining order against another alleged stalker in 2001.


Kristin Cavallari has got engaged T

he former ‘Laguna Beach’ star is set to wed beau Jay Cutler after the NFL star proposed during a recent holiday in Mexico. A source said: “He surprised her with a quick trip to Cabo to ask her to marry him.” There is no further news on whether the couple have set a date for their nuptials. Kristin, 24, recently spoke out about Jay who she began dating last year - saying she thought he was the right man for her. She said: “I’d like to say he’s ‘The One’.” She also said she loved living in Chicago with him, where he plays for the Chicago Bears. She said: “I love Chicago. My mom is there - and that side of my family - so, I get to spend time with my mom who I don’t get to see that often. But it’s been great. I love the city and during the football season I was there a lot. Now, we’re both out here.” Kristin has previously dated Brody Jenner, who she starred with in ‘ The Hills’.

Rob Schneider has married his long-term girlfriend he ‘Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo’ actor tied the know with Mexican television producer Patricia Azarcoya Arce at a private ceremony in Beverly Hills on Saturday and the couple are now busy planning their honeymoon to an unspecified location. He said: “Patricia and I were surrounded by our closest friends and family; it was the happiest day of my life. We had a great time at the wedding and are looking forward to our honeymoon.” Rob, 47, was previously married to London King for two years between 1988 and 1990 and the pair have one daughter Elle Tanner Schneider. He married Helena Schneider in 2002 but that marriage also ended in divorce. Rob is currently starring in an untitled comedy pilot for CBS that imitates his own life, although he has admitted he would love to make a third ‘Deuce Bigalow’ movie, despite being disappointed by the second, ‘Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo’. He previously said: “I’d love to do a third Bigalow


wife gives birth to a boy

movie, ‘Deuce Bigalow: Irish Gigolo.’ The Irish come up with some good ideas. “The only reason why I did the second one is because everyone was asking for it but it notably failed. There were some funny parts in it but it got edited down too much and I was disappointed by it.”

he ‘Dilemma’ star and his spouse Steffiana de la Cruz who already have two daughters Sienna-Marie, five, and Shea, three, - welcomed their first son Kannon Valentine into the world on Sunday in Boston. The couple only confirmed they had “a baby on the way” in January. Discussing fatherhood in the past, Kevin, 45, said he had become less uptight about his family following the birth of his second child Shea. He said: “You kind of loosen up with the second child a little bit, which is nice. “The first child, I remember they just give it to you at the hospital, you’re


Kevin James’

singer, you know, flubbed the lyrics?’ It’s just insane. But I have a really good laugh about it and you get over things. You get back up again and you just prove to yourself and to everyone you’re much stronger.”

supposed to put her in the car seat and drive home. I was 10-2 on the wheel in the right lane 30 miles an hour on the highway with the flashers going. Second kid, I had the top down. I was steering with my knees.” ‘King of Queens’ star Kevin and model-and-actress Steffiana married in June 2004 after dating for several years. — BangShowbiz




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lifestyle A sculpture titled “Blazon” by artist Anthony Caro during a press preview to introduce the new installation of five of his large-scale sculptures on the Metrolpolitan Museum of Art’s Roof Garden, an open-air space offering unparalleled views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline .—AFP

Fergie shoots down lthough Fergie has a list of things she wants to tackle during her long-awaited hiatus from the Black Eyed Peas, being a judge on Simon Cowell’s upcoming “X-Factor” show isn’t one of them. Recently there were reports that Cowell was considering the powerhouse singer for the Fox talent competition, which is due to debut in September. But in a recent interview, Fergie eliminated herself from contention. “You know what? I think that it’s a very committed job that you have to put your time into and I don’t think I’m gonna have that much time, but I love Simon and I would love to do something like that,” she said. “It’s right down my alley, but I just don’t think I have enough time to give and I would want to give everything to those contestants.” Fergie is still touring with her Peas counterparts, but plans to wind things down. The group has been in overdrive. They’ve produced two albums since 2009, “The E.N.D.” and “The Beginning” , sold out arenas worldwide, and performed at this year’s Super Bowl. Just the idea of another Black Eyed Peas album , which had been rumored , sent Fergie into denial mode. “No, I am so excited to take a break. The guys know that I’ve been waiting and it’s time and it’s exciting. We’ve had such a great run together and we’re still touring this year, just less, more selective and we’re not working (on an album). Unless they’re doing one without me,” she laughed. The 36-year-old singer already has plans for her time off from the Peas. “I’m gonna get more into my charities. Charity work. I’m excited to do more of that. Give back, make it not so much about me, me, me, me, me,” she said in an interview last week. “And having some free

‘X-Factor’ judge rumors

Egyptian film hopes to be liberated by revolution efore a popular revolt ousted Egypt’s autocratic president this year, it seemed certain that a film about the desperation of Cairo’s poor would never reach the country’s cinemas. The director of “Cairo Exit,” Hesham Issawi, said the film was banned after he refused to make changes requested by Egyptian censors and then shot scenes behind the backs of authorities. But following a wave of demonstrations that swept President Hosni Mubarak from power on Feb 11, Issawi said he expected the ban to be lifted. “Now, I think it will be different,” he said in an interview following a screening of “Cairo Exit” at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. The film explores the sense of hopelessness that has driven Egyptians to emigrate, as well as the differences that have fragmented Egyptian society. Filmed in Cairo one year before the 18-day uprising, it addresses some of the grievances that led to the uprising, Issawi said. “During my time, people wanted to go to the States. That was the dream,” said Issawi, who at 45 has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States for half his life. “These last couple of years, everybody just wanted to get out. It didn’t matter, rich class, poor class, they all just wanted to get out,” he said. “It was like they just can’t breathe.” “Cairo Exit” follows a young Egyptian couple-Tarek, a Muslim who wants to escape in Italy, and his Coptic Christian girlfriend, Amal, who also wants to get out but worries about leaving her elderly mother. For money, Tarek delivers take-out lunches to the ostentatious mansions of the city’s elite, which are as alien to Cairo’s sprawl as a European resort. Issawi, who is Muslim, said his own teenage relationship with a Coptic Christian helped inspire the plot. And he said a reluctance to stir up tension among Egypt’s religious communities has meant that very few Egyptian films offer complex portrayals of Coptic Christians. It was the religious subject matter that got the film into trouble with state censors, whose approval is essential to being able to film on Cairo streets, Issawi said. “One of the things that that really bothered them in the script is they didn’t want to have the girl be a Christian. They don’t want problems with the Coptic community,” Issawi said. Eager to begin shooting and impatient with delays in the film’s approval process, Issawi said he began work without receiving permission. To keep a low profile, the crew worked with small handheld cameras, he said. Eventually, the film was rejected. To continue working, Issawi said he offered the state censors a fake script, which made it appear he was complying with their demands, and that script was approved. “Our hope was, if we shoot the movie, and get it outside of Egypt and it gets sold outside Egypt, then it’s gonna create a buzz. Then it kind of forces them to accept the movie,” he said. In the end, “Cairo Exit” became a case of “guerrilla filmmaking,” with Issawi, the producers and the crew playing games with the authorities, he said. By January of this year, the film had been completed and Issawi was planning to return home to California. When protests broke out in Cairo on Jan. 25, Issawi said at first he avoided them. But within a few days, as it become clear that something extraordinary was happening, Issawi and his wife, who is also Egyptian, joined the protests. Now, Issawi is rethinking his own exile, and says he hopes to return to his homeland. “Egypt now is very fertile,” he said. “If we don’t use this opportunity, nothing is going to happen. It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to happen next year, but we have to build that.”— Reuters



In this April 21, 2011 photo, singer Fergie poses for a portrait in New York. —AP

time. I have a football team that I’m a limited owner of, the Miami Dolphins, and I want to go to a game.” While she no plans to follow up her multiplatinum 2006 album, “The Dutchess,” she’s working on

expanding her Fergie shoe line, which made its debut at Macy’s last week. — AP

British punk icon

Poly Styrene dies aged 53 ritish punk singer Poly Styrene, who fronted the band X-Ray Spex wearing braces on her teeth and day-glo outfits, has died aged 53 after a battle with cancer, her website said yesterday. The singer-whose real name was Marianne Elliot Saidwas famed in the band’s late 1970s heyday for punchy songs such as “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” and “Germ Free Adolescents”. She was one of the first female punk icons and remained a rare presence in a largely male-dominated business, having formed her band after seeing The Sex Pistols perform on her 18th birthday. “We can confirm that the beautiful Poly Styrene, who has been a true fighter, won her battle on Monday evening to go to higher places,” a statement on her website said. British singer Boy George paid tribute to her on Twitter, saying: “Oh bless you Polly you will be missed! Legend!” Former Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock praised her “general joie de vivre nuttiness”. “I did see her not that long ago so it’s sad. Again, somebody from the punk rock scene has died far too young and it’s a loss,” he told BBC radio.— AFP




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Floral designer Shane Connolly poses for photographs in Windsor Great Park, Berkshire, where many of the flowers and plants for the royal wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton are being sourced.—AFP


ondon’s Westminster Abbey will be adorned with seasonal British flowers, shrubs and trees mainly sourced from royal estates for the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. An avenue of trees lining the aisle and leading to the altar will be the main feature of the display, which is based around growing, rather than cut plants, in line with the bride-to-be’s desire that it should be sustainable. London-based florist Shane Connolly, 47, who is in charge of the displays, said he had been in regular touch with Middleton and that the flowers would not give a message of “wow, what an extravagance”, but “how beautiful”. “I suggested right from the beginning that we would use things from the royal estates because her whole ethos has been that it had to be British ... and that it had to be seasonal and as organic to the place as possible,” he said. The plants will include blossoms, azaleas, rhododendron, euphorbias, beech, wisteria and lilac, royal officials said yesterday. Eight 20-foot high trees, six English Field Maple and two Hornbeam, will be the most prominent feature and they will be in planters designed by Connolly, who was chosen by the couple for his reputation for producing “elegant and unique” displays. Tradition dictates that the bride’s bouquet consists of white flowers but Connolly would not divulge any details. However, he hinted there could be a hidden message in the bouquet, as some flowers are said to convey certain meanings about love, romance, and fidelity. “One of the things that has been very important to

Catherine and to me are the meanings of flowers and the language of flowers,” said Connolly, who also arranged the flowers for the second marriage of William’s father Prince Charles in 2005. “We’ve tried, especially in the wedding bouquets, which you’ll see on the day, we’ve tried very much to make beautiful stories.” Whatever the design, media have reported that Middleton is expected to leave her flowers on a memorial in the abbey to an unknown soldier from World War One, following a tradition started by

the queen’s mother at her wedding in 1923. After the wedding, the other flowers and plants will be left at the church until May 6 for the public to view. After that, many of the trees will be taken to Highgrove, Charles’s residence in western England. The couple hope that other cut plants and flowers will be donated to charities or re-planted.— Reuters

Here come the bets: Royal wedding fuels UK wagers


British Royal Air Force RAF Personnel are seen during a drill rehearsal for the Royal Wedding, at the Royal Air Force base at Halton, England yesterday. Personnel from the three British forces will line the route from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace at the Royal wedding on April 29. —AP


he world’s first glimpse of Kate Middleton at her wedding to Prince William on Friday could be under an umbrella after forecasters said it may rain and even thunder on the big day. But the grim prediction failed to dissuade devoted fans of Britain’s royal family who have already begun camping out in front of Westminster Abbey for Britain’s biggest wedding in 30 years. As final preparations were under way yesterday, British police vowed “robust” action against planned Muslim protests but said they had no specific intelligence about any security threat. Scotland Yard said more than 5,000 police, including specialist protection and firearms officers, would be on duty for the ceremony, while military personnel would also line the processional route.

Royal enthusiast Terry Hutt arrives to camp across the road from the Westminster Abbey in order to ensure the best viewing spot for himself for the upcoming royal wedding, in central London yesterday.—AP

“In London we operate on a daily basis against a backdrop of a severe threat from international terrorism, and of course we have planned to this threat level for this event,” said Commander Christine Jones, one of the officers leading the massive security operation. London has suffered previous terror attacks like the suicide bombings on the transport system on July 7, 2005, in which 52 people were killed, while in Northern Ireland there has also been a recent surge in dissident violence. Meanwhile, after an unseasonably warm Easter break, forecasters warned rain was highly likely and conditions will be much cooler for the big day, spelling bad news for the hundreds of thousands of people expected to gather. “In London there is a risk of some showery rain, but equally there may well be some brighter

interludes at times. A brisk northeasterly wind could make it feel distinctly cool,” a Met Office spokeswoman said. Aisling Creevey, a forecaster at MeteoGroup, said there was a danger the crowds could have to contend with stormy conditions. “It is looking at the moment that there are going to be quite brisk north-easterly winds, showers and possibly a few rumblings of thunder-that’s sneaking into the charts at the moment,” she said. “We wouldn’t rule out the odd lightning strike as well.” Rain would also affect global TV coverage of an event expected to be watched by two billion people worldwide. But if it does pour on the big day, the crowd will be treated to the sight of the couple leaving Westminster Abbey in a glass coach that William’s mother Princess Diana used to travel to her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981. If the weather is fine then they will use an open-top horse-drawn carriage. Bad weather is unlikely to deter John Loughrey, 56, a self-confessed “super fan” of William’s mother Princess Diana. He was the first to arrive at the Abbey late Monday to ensure a front-row spot. Equipped with only a sleeping bag and two carrier bags at the start of his four-day wait, he was dressed in a t-shirt emblazoned with the words “Diana Would Be Proud” with pictures of Kate and William tied round his waist. “I think they are good for Britain and good for tourism. We have had them for more than 1,000 years and they make a great contribution to the life of this country,” said the former chef from London. Mother and daughter Guen Murray, 76, and Patricia Easthope, 48, arrived outside the abbey early yesterday. “I did the same thing for Princess Anne’s wedding, Charles and Diana, Andrew and Sarah. It’s going to be uncomfortable as we’ve slept on these cobbles before for a few nights,” she said. But in a rare case of someone turning down an invitation to the wedding, the captain of Ireland’s rugby union team, Brian O’Driscoll, said he had been invited but he had to stay at home to prepare for a big match for his club. The first public prayers for William and Kate were held yesterday at the abbey by duty chaplain Reverend Martin Hume. They will be held hourly until the wedding. The Dean of Westminster John Hall, who will be the first person to greet Kate when she arrives at the abbey in her Rolls Royce Phantom on Friday, said separately he expected she would have a “sense of calmness.” “It’s important that she enjoys it. It’s important that Prince William enjoys it,” he added.— AFP

ow long will Kate make William wait at the aisle? What color will the queen wear to the wedding? And will Harry be sober enough to deliver the best man’s speech? As betting-happy Britons shell out on their favorite royal wedding-themed wagers, the country’s bookmakers hope to make a mint. “In terms of royal betting, the wedding blows it out the window,” said Rupert Adams, a spokesman for bookmaker William Hill. “I think we will take the same amount as we’ve taken on royal betting in 30 years.” The betting industry can be difficult to forecast, in part because most gamblers place their bets in the 24 hours preceding the event, but British bookmakers say that they could see more than 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) worth of wagers on the royal wedding. That’s small change compared to what’s bet on sports but a hefty sum by the standards of nearly everything else in Britain’s betting industry. For example, the figure is 10 times the amount typically staked on “The X Factor,” Britain’s most-watched TV talent show. “As a nonsports event that will be second to only our pope-betting in 2005,” said Paddy Power spokesman Darren Haines, referring to the election that followed Pope John Paul II’s death in 2005. Britons have been swapping bets on royal foibles for decades , many gambled on the name Diana would choose for her eldest son , but recent years have seen an expansion in the scope of the bets offered by mainstream bookmakers. William Hill has bets out on whether Middleton will get a kiss on the cheek or on the lips when the couple appear at the Buckingham Palace balcony, whether her father will cry as he walks her down the aisle, and whether Prince Harry will catch her bouquet. Among the less likely bets: That the happy couple car’s will break down outside Westminster Abbey, that Middleton will jilt William at altar, or that Prince Harry will be too drunk to finish his speech. That last option pays out 25 pounds for every pound wagered. It all may sound a bit far-fetched. But in this country’s sometimes wacky betting industry, bookies accept wagers and set odds on whatever fanciful idea crops up in a gambler’s head , from predicting showbiz split-ups to the discovery of extraterrestrial life. Retiree Robert Foster, who was standing outside the abbey, said his “favorite bet” was the wager that William and Middleton would stay together. “I can’t see the car breaking down at all, and I can’t really see them parting because they’re a good-looking couple,” he said. The whens and the wheres of the wedding , which produced a surge of betting in the immediate aftermath of the engagement announcement , have already been settled. But some important questions , such as the kind of dress Middleton will wear on the day in question , are still up for grabs, at least at some bookmakers. Paddy Power’s website put the odds of Sarah Burton designing the dress at one to two, meaning that it was twice as likely as not that Burton would be the one chosen by Middleton to design the dress. Other possible designers include Bruce Oldfield and Jasper Conran. Paddy Power competitor Ladbrokes isn’t offering odds on the dress’s designer, but royal watchers can still bet on the weather (odds of rain are 3-to-1) or the color of the queen’s headgear (yellow is the clear favorite.) So will gamblers be rolling in the dough? Or do the bookmakers see the wedding as a chance to clean up? Neither, said Adams. Gamblers were most likely to place “a small bet for a joke,” for example by placing 10 pounds on William splitting his trousers or Prince Philip falling asleep. The average royal bets tend to be between 2 pounds and 6 pounds, he said. In contrast, the average soccer bet is about 14 pounds.—AP

Royal fan John Loughrey is surrounded by media as he camps outside London’s Westminster Abbey yesterday as he awaits the Royal Wedding between Britain’s Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton.—AP



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Free frocks let US

Cinderellas go to the prom O

n a sultry afternoon in Washington’s Chinatown, dozens of teenage girls tried on silk and satin evening dresses, chose glittery bling and handbags to match, and walked out without paying. And it was all perfectly legal. The girls were at a prom dress giveaway, one of a growing number of events where haves help the have-nots live part of the American dream despite the tough times that have hit the United States. The prom, an annual high school dance, “is a really important time for Americans and we want to make girls from all different backgrounds feel beautiful on that day without going broke,” said Robin Fisher, one of the organizers of the Prom Dress Project, from the Polished Image style consultancy. “All this stuff was donated, every single thing,” she said, waving her hand like a magic wand at racks of evening dresses, tables laden with glittery necklaces and earrings, and silk clutch handbags. Even the space for the one-night event was donated, and dozens of girls waited in the stuffy corridor of the long, narrow Chinatown Coffee Company cafe to try on dresses in the ladies’ room. Tiffany Cofield held a full-length burgundy dress with diamante studs around the empire waist up against her slender body. A pair of drop earrings caught the late afternoon sun that shone through the cafe’s bay window. Tiffany went to her school prom last year, too, but her mother had to pay for everything. “Dress, shoes, jewelry, hairone night, $600,” Jacqueline Cofield told AFP. “The

people who did this are a blessing.” All the girls in the cafe-turned-changing-room were African American and attend high schools in poor neighborhoods like the southeastern Anacostia district of Washington. More than a third of residents of southeast Washington live in poverty, and in 2009, the average annual household income in the districts-called wards in southeast Washington was $47,000, less than half the average in the city as a whole, according to the Urban Institute. In one southeast ward, the number of people who have such limited resources and incomes that they are eligible for federal aid to buy food has risen by more than 11,000 in a decade to reach 35,423 last year, the Urban Institute says. That’s more than half the ward’s population. For them, splashing out on a prom dress is out of the question. “The prom is very expensive and very taxing on a family, especially single moms. And there are a lot of single moms in this area,” said Stefanie Manns, who will be holding a prom dress giveaway for needy girls in Prince George’s County at the end of April. “I’ve seen dresses for as much as $600. One dress that you’ll wear one night, $600,” she said. “With the economy the way it is, a lot of families just can’t afford the prom.” But many will find the means to send their daughter to the prom in the dress of her dreams. “If we didn’t have this event to come to-which I’m glad is saving me $600 — I’d still find a way to let her go to the prom,” said Carla Campbell as she waited in line with daughter Martinea to pick out a dress,

preferably pink. “She’s a good student and I know how important the prom is. It’s a coming-of-age for Americans.” Even in upscale neighborhoods like Georgetown in northwest Washington, where the average family income is more than $250,000, some parents balk at the price on the tag of prom dresses, said Gilda Mizrahi, owner of the “Signature” shop on Wisconsin Avenue. Granted, in Mizrahi’s shop, a prom dress starts at $300 and goes for up to $1,000. But when mom goes into

shock at the price of a frock in Signature, it’s not a fairy godmother with a dress giveaway that comes to the rescue but more usually “grandmothers, aunts, friends.” “Everybody will chip in to let a girl have her dream dress for the prom,” said Mizrahi. — AFP

Twelfth grade high school student Cherish Gaines searches through racks of dresses at the Chinatown Coffee Company in Washington, DC, April 20. —AFP

Musicians clamor for answers from


Philly Orchestra

he Philadelphia Orchestra, counted among the world’s most renowned symphonies for most of its 111 years, is plotting steps toward financial harmony after filing for bankruptcy protection, even though it has no outstanding debt and an endowment of $140 million. As a judge in U.S. Bankruptcy Court plans hearings in coming months on the petition, orchestra leaders argue that it’s perilously low on cash. They’re getting little sympathy from the musicians, who say their bosses simply haven’t reached out to the right donors and have put them in the line of fire. “There’s a real fear because of the uncertainty about the future,” said cellist John Koen. “There are people who have been invited to audition in other places, or have won auditions in other places, or have been offered teaching positions, but are holding off to see what’s going to happen here.” While orchestras, museums and performing arts centers nationwide have been feeling the pinch amid the recession, the Philadelphia Orchestra also suffered from a gap in leadership for the past several years while it sought candidates for vacant positions , now filled , for a permanent board chairman, chief executive and music director. Long ago dubbed the Fabulous Philadelphians, the orchestra was the first to appear on national television in 1948, the first American orchestra to tour communist China in 1973, and the first to stream a concert over the Internet in 1997. Its hundreds of recordings include the soundtrack to Walt Disney’s 1940 film “Fantasia,” which helped popularize symphonic music in the U.S. It gained international renown under conductors Leopold Stokowski and Eugene Ormandy and is generally counted among the “Big Five” American orchestras, along with New York, Boston, Chicago and Cleveland. But struggling

with dwindling attendance and donations, shrinking endowment income, pension costs and rent prices at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, it became on April 16 the first major U.S. orchestra to seek bankruptcy protection. In court documents, Chairman Richard Worley also blamed the economic recession and an aging audience not being replenished by younger patrons amid an “increasingly crowded entertainment market.” Management said it was facing a $14.5 million shortfall on a $46 million budget and would run out of cash by June. A hearing before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Eric L. Frank last week allowed the orchestra time to reorganize its finances and its shortand long-term future without canceling the concert season. It has no outstanding debt and an endowment of $140 million , $120 million from the orchestra and $20 million from its beloved former home, The Academy of Music concert hall, which it owns. The endowment funds are restricted by various donors for specific uses, or to be held solely for interest income, and are off limits for general operating expenses, chief financial officer Mario Mestichelli said. The musicians largely object to the bankruptcy filing, which also seeks a new collective bargaining agreement with the musicians’ union and relief from millions of dollars in contributions to their pension fund. The players question the assertion that the endowment is untouchable and argue management failed to explore all avenues before resorting to extremes. “The board has been focused on their inner circle, the wealthiest people who are inside their comfort zone,” said Koen, chairman of the orchestra board’s musicians committee. “There’s a big middle ground of people who could easily give $5,000 or $10,000 on an annual basis and they’re not even being asked.” Chief executive officer Allison Vulgamore acknowledged that

In this April 23, 2011 photo Peter Nero begins his Saturday night performance by speaking to the audience. The Philadelphia Orchestra, which owns the the Philly Pops, is plotting steps toward financial harmony after filing for bankruptcy. —AP

fundraising outreach has been difficult because of earlier cuts to the development staff and said the orchestra plans to hire more people soon to find new people willing to donate. “The heavyheartedness comes from the treasure we know we hold,” she said. “No one would like to attach this process to the orchestra, but this is a means to a greater end.” Koen said many of his colleagues worry that the bankruptcy will tarnish the orchestra’s reputation and hurt its ability to attract and keep its “star roster” of players. Yannick Nezet-Seguin, slated to become the Philadelphia Orchestra’s eighth music director in fall 2012, said in a statement that he has faith in the orchestra’s future and will do “whatever it takes to get through this difficult time.” Possibilities include a residency in China, a series of dates at The Academy of Music, performances at historic Longwood Gardens in the Philadelphia suburbs, concert operas, a broader repertoire to attract new audiences, and program guides for audiences to follow in real time by text or tweet. Marketing materials are getting more user-friendly and outreach will intensify online and elsewhere. The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the area’s most generous and consistent benefactors of the arts, “has determined that they will not entertain a request for support of the Philadelphia Orchestra at this time,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. Pew, which generally does not provide operating funds to organizations without balanced budgets, has given the orchestra about $8 million over the past decade. Mestichelli said the organization hopes to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of the year. Named as debtors in the filing are the orchestra, the Academy of Music, which the orchestra still owns; and its affiliate Encore Series Inc., which presents the Peter Nero and the Philly Pops concert series. The organization has endured hardship before and survived, and Vulgamore said she is confident that the reorganization is the first step on the path to a reinvigorated orchestra. “The orchestra has survived a ‘save the symphony’ campaign in the early 1900s, it has survived a couple of world wars and a depression,” Vulgamore said. “This is a path that we believe gets us to a new future that has sustainable funding underneath it.”— AP

Visitors look at exhibits on display at the exhibition Inspiration Dior opening in the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum in Moscow, Russia yesterday. Exhibits from the Dior House and French leading museums are on display at the exhibition. —AP


erry Farrell will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Lollapalooza with an eclectic lineup this summer in Chicago that knows no boundaries, from rock and rap and even pop, to dance music and experimental sounds that can’t be described in a few words. Tens of thousands of fans will feel the grass between their toes as they leisure under the trees in Grant Park, snacking on festival haute cuisine imagined by one of the Windy City’s top chefs. There will be a place for kids to play, the chance to learn about socially conscious initiatives and the opportunity to live in harmony for three days. This is definitely not the Lollapalooza Farrell founded in 1991, but he loves what it has become. “I want to take care of my people,” Farrell said. “They’ve been with me for 20 years. That’s how I go. It’s a family-run business at this point.” Some of the top names in music are among the Aug. 5-7 festival headliners announced yesterday, including Eminem, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Muse, My Morning Jacket, Deadmau5 and Cee Lo Green. Farrell says he’s looking forward to hearing Green sing, hanging with his new friends from Muse, seeing if Eminem remembers his wife, Etty, a former video dancer for the rapper, and reliving childhood memories with The Cars, who he says were reluctant to play the festival because of the size of the crowd. “It might’ve been my first or second concert ever,” he said of the first time he saw The Cars live. “Yeah, I loved their music when I was growing up.” Farrell also is pleased there’s space on the big stage reserved for dance music, a passion of his. “I can tell you I’m excited for somebody like Deadmau5 because we’ve now got dance music in a headlining slot, and out on a main stage instead of in a dance tent,” Farrell said. While not the first festival when it

launched on July 18, 1991, in Phoenix, Lollapalooza was the ambitious archetype for the modern mega-festivals that have popped up since , Bonnaroo, Coachella and a legion of smaller multiday parties. Most festivals previously had focused on one type of music or fan. Farrell spread the umbrella wide, opening the gates for bands whose touring presence was often the small club. But working together, those bands could command the stage with thousands looking on. “A lot of this music , we’ll call it festival music , it’s still not popular music,” Farrell said. “If you look at pop, pop is one thing. Festival music is another, and it still holds true that we’re looking to book acts that are critically acclaimed and have credibility. It’s just very interesting that it’s become its own organism, its own working organism.”— AP


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Fergie shoots down ‘X-Factor’ judge rumors Years


By Priyanka Saligram


hen I was invited to be a part of a media delegation from Kuwait and visit Singapore, the first image that flashed in my head was that of steel-grey, tall, classy sky-scrapers because that’s the first picture news agencies click when they’re writing a story on Asia South Pacific’s most dependable financial hub. The few days (three to be precise) that I spent discovering Singapore changed my perception of the place entirely. What I thought initially to be a highly-developed, concrete money-minting business port was not only all that, but much, much more. It’s a country that has grown at breakneck speed where locals swear that they wake up each morning to find a brand new high-rise building looking down at them. But this progress hasn’t been made at the compromise of the environment. On the contrary, there’s so much

greenery and vegetation that it feels like you’re in the middle of the Amazon basin. In fact, a very common view that is visible everywhere is that of fresh trees and colorful plants on both sides and majestic-looking corporate architecture right in the front. Now how many countries can claim to have struck the right balance between growing a healthy eco-system and economy at the same time? The trip was so jam-packed with places to visit and things to do that 24 hours seemed on the lesser side though having a multi-lingual tour guide like Inas Ahmed made a world of difference as she was like a Wikipedia on two legs with statistics and information at the tip of her tongue. From checking out the breathtaking view of the entire city from on top of the Singapore Flyer to exploring Sentosa World Resorts, from watching Frankenstein and Marilyn Monroe walk the same path at Universal Studios to soaking some spirituality at the indescribably beautiful Buddha Tooth Relic

Temple, from a continental breakfast at Ritz-Carlton to a finger-licking sumptuous lunch at Anar, a Persian restaurant and still managing to devour a delicious Indonesian dinner at Garuda Padang, the journey was overwhelming on many levels. Given half a chance, would I do Singapore again? Most definitely yes! I also bet my last Singaporean dollar (not that I have any left thanks to the maniacal shopping at Arab Street and China Town) that the next time I visit, even if it’s within the next six months’ time, the city would have grown more and it would be a different - and even more wonderful - experience.

A first-

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leaves ies and table k s e h t for ing el com omanc ves in r he traveler fe reflects their e li e b s e warmth fl ig h t s make t re Airlin ingapo e unturned to ospitality and a n o p e r a t in g rch 15, h a g n no sto pered. Their A ir li n e s b e Dhabi on M al 2 at m u re in and pa re. S in g a p o pore, via Ab irpor t Term For the . iA lt u l) ga g a u in n c c S a ’ lo s h d s e a ir li n n Kuwait an Singapore C hrs (all time it at 2120hrs, 0 a betwee 458 depar ts Kuwait at 183 art from Kuw h legs of the Q t p 2009. S and arrives in Q457 will de e next day. Bo imes weekly S t s h r , t r h s ip u 5 r r t 0 h fo 13 unday, 30 he his new leg of t y and S re at 12 return e in Singapo Abu Dhabi. T sday, Saturda suites (yeah, r iv and arr ill operate via Tuesday, Thu he first- class hich have an T n . w o t t f seats w an be ircra fligh erate will op g 777-200 a uipped with a t t h e s e a t c hbor e ic v r e in s h ig eq iate ne he Boe s u re s t ts) are using t w royal it ge r in g ; t h is e n your immed g o e h v that’s ive s h e ll co ithout robbin t w in n ov a 180 degrees reclined or patience. of sleep






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here ther are luxu e are ry h C o that arlton M luxury h tels - a thei otel nd th i l l e n r s like e i opu le name a. It’s R n awa they nce all o is syno no big s itzy ny ec v h whe from t style ave the er the w mous w ret h r e o , la i Whe Ritz-C eir livin mak service, st word rld and th ther arlto g roo d es th and i i oor ng t’s m em r class n beaut the ‘Wel after yo the way ets it pe - and th w ,b y, ea is c r t u o h m gue ay they lly stan ut wha r even e ba eturn ey gre fectly r is t st m d to re ing’ or t ck’ inst with a et you ight. cam s feel. Th ake the apart is e at th ir ar e feel membe he way ad of a warm e that aderie a genuin t s f r h o p y e they r nd c e e mal to m cial i our b y go o tow ‘ f G r n n t i y e r h o c ely ern ar visit room their o thday e extr od i a stay ds anyo express a big ng plac at night wn way nd mak a mile s wit ne w e a ( h th s c I cam e you h f Ritz h t er cand ocol to fin em o in les, a ate c d the a long d e back leag a speci puts p ake ers pla ay m al u Ritz onally s atchbox waiting ce lit up of won e of its o i g g a f der and w o o n n e r e d like vote they n; no fam s all out d by the a birth me with w d i e t d ‘ t l he W B y. T re om ma ay rea Busin est H stay ho’s W here is li ake the nageme card thin servin ospital ders of ess Hot h t i a r t o t l and Ritz-C of th e dou guest nt), your g that i g the c ity stud Asiamo el’ by s fe ew bt th ar l s i i n e g e n m n e u s ot ta ts w advo y. even ests ake ere is al lton wh orld ch now wh el u e s e f e o l g e c o y v ne ing w en t os li sand when t el righ ht is h l but th ate ith t he or ttle dou ver the e to hey t at h ow t e on s of t h y d bt th e wo hem are t om mile trav ake e fe inary a rld e hou ome, s with el like t regular t they l guy ease he W st ho and affec ’s Who ayof tion .

On top of the world on

Singapore Flyer

which fusrld-class visitor attraction ed he Singapore Flyer is a wo lpt scu nic ico an structure to es a massive engineering eel from Wh ion vat ser Ob nt Gia building. Its USP lies in the mic view of nce a breath-taking panora and if you which visitors can experie ted ear t-h fain the for not nitely haps just see the entire city. This is defi r best bet would be to per suffer from acrophobia, you There are 28 air-conditioned capce. the pictures - from a distan allow the visitor to see everything and sules which move slowly best time to hop to Marina Bay Sands. The from the Sultan Mosque ut setting. The abo t jus when the sun is on to it would be by 7 pm fully planned uti bea how of te tas a you view in the morning gives a fireworks like k loo t at night might jus traffic. The the city is while the view and city the of ts ligh n g neo show thanks to the dazzlin meters tall and is the only Giant 165 la One Singapore Flyer stands at exclusive part of the Formu of the F1 an be to eel Wh ion w Observat vie eye d’s bir g ering a pulsatin Grand Prix race circuit, off night race in Singapore.


tosa n e S d l r o W Resorts r again child - Become a

, Festive Hotel , Hotel Michael ith unique el ot H lco Hotel w ntosa is a and Hard Rock y Singapore, what esorts World Se and attracel s qu rt ni so (U re es of them lection cellent ers something else do you expect) and ex tions which off ily. There’s e the as te to ns io the fam dining destinat e of the country for everyone in d so much to do ctiv e an palate, irrespe is so much to se week to . Don’t miss th rod m go fro a e m ke ta co u yo t fo n’ do d e that it would ac orld - an erything the pl place for the w just absorb ev ning over 49 a. an get your camer has in store. Sp ing a whopping st co d an es hectar o the math), d $6.59 billion (d SE Asia’s first an Sentosa houses udios theme park St only Universal rgest oceanarila ’s ld or w e and th ld be fe Park. It shou um, Marina Li of ‘Places to visit list on top of the ance’, ing to ‘Crane D before I die’ ow t dancing animaes the world’s larg apore’s first ever Sing e tronics show, spectacular, th theatrical circus show (which was Vie’ ‘Voyage de la ever mance I have or rf pe st be THE , and YT N at the guys watched and e or or m k in th e un the Herald Trib e stunning , th less the same) ds ls like Crockfor te ho er gn desi


It’s a wild party at


all ove

ingapore Zoo has been known to have the most beautiful settings in the world where animals roam around in open and natural habitats. It houses over 2,500 animals and aims to educate and entertain. Though we missed watching the native fire display, we managed to catch a show called ‘Creatures of the Night’ where animals came on stage and did their own thing. Unlike circuses where they are taught to perform under cruel circumstances, this show had adopted operant conditioning which is a type of training which is non-intrusive and considerate. The night safari showcased wild animals

Singapore Zoo

in their natural habitat like lions, tigers, rhinos (each of those specimens were estimated to weigh 2,500 kilograms, weightlifting anyone?) and wild elephants that appeared very well-fed and well taken care of which was why they didn’t view our visiting tram as Meals-on Wheels. Mahatma Gandhi once said ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated’. Considering the conservation and research Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) has undertaken, it’s easy to understand its growth as a country.

27 April  
27 April  

Kuwait Times