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SPORT | Page 2
QIIB net
profit rises
10% to
4 – 12, 36
14, 15
16 – 31
32, 33
1 – 6, 13 – 16
7 – 13
1 – 12
Rojas wins
Tour of
stage one
EGYPT | Violence
14 die as police and
football fans clash
Fourteen people were killed
yesterday in clashes between
Egyptian police and Zamalek
football club fans at a Cairo
stadium, the official Mena news
agency reported. The agency
quoted the state prosecution as
saying 14 bodies of those killed in
the clashes had been taken to a
morgue. Page 14
Vol. XXXV No. 9628
February 9, 2015
Rabia II 20, 1436 AH
www. 2 Riyals
Sidra unveils
care centre plans
The centre aims to become a
global leader in improving care
and outcomes for patients with
congenital heart disease
The stretch between the VIP Signals and Ras Aboud Flyover on the Corniche road in
Doha remained waterlogged for a few hours in the evening yesterday because of a
pipe burst along the road on the Umm Ghuwailina side. The flooding slowed down
traffic considerably. PICTURE: Nasar T K
Burst pipe floods road
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Latest Figures
he Sidra Medical and Research
Center yesterday unveiled detailed plans for its state-of-theart Cardiovascular Centre of Excellence.
The centre will provide children,
including newborn babies and adults
born with congenital heart disease,
with the highest standards of care. The
centre aims to become a global leader in
improving care and outcomes for patients with congenital heart disease.
“It is a source of pride and commitment from the team at Sidra to set up
the Cardiovascular Centre of Excellence
to world-class standards. Our collaboration between the Cardiovascular and
Neonatology Centres of Excellence will
also set Sidra apart as an international
leader in the care of premature infants
with congenital heart disease,” said Prof
Ziyad Hijazi, chair of the Department of
Paediatrics and acting chief medical officer of Sidra.
There will be five centres of excellence under Sidra, each of which focuses on delivering world-class care in
a key aspect of children’s and women’s
health. The four other centres are for
neonatology (the care of newborn infants), foetal therapy and intervention,
reproductive medicine and in vitro
fertilisation (IVF) and genetics and genomic medicine.
“The Cardiovascular Centre of Excellence will offer the people of Qatar
care of a quality that very few other
hospitals in the world are able to deliver,” Prof Hijazi explained.
“The pioneering research initiatives
spearheaded by the cardiology team will
advance the international medical and
scientific community’s understanding
of key aspects of cardiovascular medicine to benefit people everywhere for
generations to come.”
The Cardiovascular Centre of Excellence will be staffed by a large team of
experts in the field and led by Prof Hijazi, who is also an interventional cardiologist specialising in treating congenital and structural heart disease in both
children and adults.
Two co-directors, a chief of cardiac
surgery and a chief of cardiology, will
work alongside Prof Hijazi. In addition,
seven medical directors will be attached
to the centre of excellence, providing
expertise in vital areas such as noninvasive cardiology, cardiac critical care
and cardiac catheterisation. To Page 12
Qatar close to signing agreement on hosting Formula One race
atar is close to signing a contract to host a Formula One
Grand Prix within the next two
years, the president of the country’s
motor sport federation has told AFP.
Nasser bin Khalifa al-Attiyah, who
is also the vice- president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA),
said the race would be held in 2016 or
2017, adding to the growing list of high-
profile international sporting events
hosted by Qatar.
“We are about to sign contracts to
organise a Formula One race,” he said.
“We have completed all the steps and
there are only a few details before the
official signature.”
Al-Attiyah added that Qatar would
offer the choice of two circuits on
which to race, either in Lusail which
has already hosted Moto GP and World
Superbike events, or a specially-designed street course through the capital Doha.
Qatar has won the right to host the
2022 World Cup and has also been recently awarded the 2019 World Athletics Championships.
Qatar is expected to make a bid at
some point to host a Summer Olympics.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Erring companies fined
Dusty winds, partly cloudy QU cuts students’ bus frequency
conditions forecast today
The inspectors of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce
(MEC) has spotted 13 consumer protection violations at the
Central Market in Doha’s Abu Hamour area. The campaign
targeted mainly the yard for the sale of onions, potatoes and
dry agricultural products. The erring companies were issued
violation reports and fines of up to QR5,000 for each violation.
Most of the violations were regarding not abiding by posted
prices for the items on display.
lightly dusty and
party cloudy conditions are expected today, Met office
has said while forecasting the chance of strong
south easterly-southerly
winds lashing across the
There would be less
visibility on account of
the dusty winds and direct reach may fall to
3km or even less at times,
though the average visibility could be between
4 and 7km.
The climate in general
would be more or less
similar to the last few
days, and minimum and
maximum temperatures
may vary between 16 and
29 degrees.
However, in Abu Samra and suburbs it would
be colder than in other
areas and the minimum
would hover around 13
In Doha, the maximum
and minimum temperatures could be between
26 and 18 degrees.
The southern region,
comprising Mesaieed and
Wakrah, may be a little
more colder at 16 degrees.
Winds of magnitudes
ranging beyond 20 knots
have been forecast, with
the possibility of touching 25 knots, the weatherman has warned. Offshore, winds could be
between 18 and 28 knots,
getting stronger at times,
possibly touching 33
The sea is expected to
be more rough and volatile and the forecasters
have issued warning of
waters rising upto 10
feet in the offshore areas.
Sometimes, it may exceed even 12-feet mark.
HMC registers
45,000 organ
Dr Riyadh Abdul Sattar
Fadhil, director of the Organ
Donation Programme at
Hamad Medical Corporation
has confirmed that the
number of organ donors has
reached 45,000, reports AlWatan daily.
He stated that liver
transplantation was
conducted in four cases
this year and that the total
number of such cases
reached 8 since the start of
the programme.
Dr Fadhil stated that the
training and outfits necessary
for pancreas transplantation
surgeries have been
completed. He said that the
organ donation programme,
which is named Doha Model,
is distinguished by its
services which are conducted
without discrimination
between nationals and
He added that in many
countries there are separate
lists for the nationals and
residents where the nationals
receive distinguished care.
(QU) will reduce
its bus transportation service to students as
part of its ongoing logistics
re-arrangements from this
term, said an official of the
university yesterday.
The official also stated
that several measures were
undertaken to limit the
service to define its terms
of use and the various areas
it covers in Doha.
The reduced service will
cover areas in and outside
Doha that have been identified and selected by specialists, and was redesigned to
provide 4 trips per day, 7am,
10am, 2:15pm and 5:15pm.
Buses operating around
West Bay and Madinat Khalifa have been reduced from
44 to 14 and in some areas
such as Al Aziziya from 3 to 2,
in line with student capacity,
the official said. Ten buses
will operate to and from the
student dormitories from
6:30am to 10:30pm, and an
emergency bus will be active
for 24 hours.
QU has provided transport services to female students who have no appropriate means of transportation
that facilitates transition to
and from the campus.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
QC to host Japan electronics technology forum today
(QC) will host today “Japan electronics technology forum
for sustainable development” at its headquarters
in Doha.
A number of Qatari
and Japanese businessmen are expected to
take part in the forum.
Besides, the Japanese
Ambassador to Qatar,
Shingo Tsuda, officials
from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade
and Industry will attend
the forum, alongside QC
senior officials.
Topics such as en-
healthy cities, energy
saving society and safety
city will be discussed
during the forum with
focus on how technology
could be used to improve
the quality of life while
maintaining a sustainable environment.
Nissan supports The Color Run
Nissan Middle East and Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Company, its exclusive dealer in Qatar, supported The Color Run, held on Saturday, dubbed the
“Happiest 5k on the Planet.” The official vehicle was the new Nissan X-Trail, the Japanese auto maker’s compact SUV. Nissan was involved in
supporting The Color Run in the UAE with the X-Trail also to the fore. Monal Zeidan, director of marketing at Nissan Middle East, said: “The latest X-Trail,
which builds on our 4x4 heritage and benefits from the company’s crossover leadership, redefines the compact SUV segment.” Declan McClusky,
general manager automotive, at Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Company, said: “The sponsorship of the fun run bears further testimony to our commitment
to our market.”
Challenge 22 Roadshow reaches Oman
Roadshow began a
three-day visit to
Oman as the regional competition continued.
Initiated by the Supreme
Committee for Delivery &
Legacy (SC), Silatech and
Qatar National Research
Fund, Challenge 22 is an
innovation award that was
born out of a desire to celebrate the 2022 FIFA World
Cup Qatar as a regional
Ahead of four information sessions about the
initiative, Fatma al-Nuaimi, Human and Social
Legacy manager at SC,
spoke about the successful
visit to Saudi Arabia as the
roadshow prepared for its
latest stop in neighbouring
“We are very happy about
the excitement we’ve seen
from young innovators in
Saudi Arabia, with hundreds
of attendees per session, all
of whom were very excited
to take part. We are sure to
see the same interest from
Oman,” she said.
The Challenge 22 Roadshow continues with four
sessions in Muscat, between
Tawasul Global Connection
Centre, Knowledge Oman
and Sharakah.
“We are delighted to be
here in Muscat and to work
with our three partners on
the information sessions.
This is a great opportunity
to reach out to the innovators and the brightest minds
in the country to encourage
them to apply,” al-Nuaimi
Challenge 22 ambassadors Mohamed Saeed
Harib, founder of Lammatra Production and
creator of Freej, Mohamed
Saadon al-Kuwari, popular sports TV presenter,
and Areej al-Kharafi, Kuwaiti entrepreneur, will
continue their tour in
the visit to Oman, to talk
about their involvement
with the initiative.
Reflecting on her experience on Challenge 22 so
far, al-Kharafi said: “I am
blown away by the amount
of interest I’ve seen. I think
what’s different about the
initiative is that it’s an opportunity for people in the
GCC to share their ideas.
We’d like to encourage more
people to attend and find
out how they can be part of
Challenge 22.”
Al-Kuwari added, “This
initiative stays true to the
promise that was made
during Qatar’s bid for the
World Cup that this will be
a regional tournament, and
we are eager to see regional
submissions for this innovation award. This will
prove a lasting legacy past
Challenge 22 is seeking
residents and applicants
from the GCC, with solution-based proposals related to three key themes that
address challenges faced
by Qatar and the world
when hosting major sports
The next stop of the roadshow will be in Bahrain for a
two-day visit from February
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
48 organisations to mark
Law to protect
domestic workers
‘expected soon’
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
he Philippine government
has expressed optimism
that Qatar will soon pass
its “Domestic Workers Protection law” that will further protect household service workers
“They also mentioned earlier
that the Domestic Workers Protection law is nearing approval,”
said Attorney Hans Cacdac,
administrator of the Philippine
Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
The POEA senior official visited Doha last week to attend the
second Qatar-Philippines Joint
Labour Committee meeting. He
was joined by Ambassador Crescente Relacion and labour attaché Leopoldo De Jesus.
Cacdac stressed that they will
be closely watching the law’s approval as the Qatar’s Ministry
of Labour and Social Welfare
promised to provide them with
POEA is also encouraging the
ministry to be “more involved”
in the protection of household
service workers.
Cacdac made it clear that they
are not pushing the Qatari side to
“enact a law in terms of further
protecting HSWs” since this category of workers is not covered
by Qatar’s labour laws.
“It is more of providing them
Hans Cacdac
with documents to have an
agreement on how to best treat
Filipino HSWs,” he noted. “Once
an agreement is signed, this will
be the law that will be implemented between the two countries as far as the HSWs are concerned.”
Citing that Qatar had been
working hard to protect overseas
Filipino workers (OFWs) including HSWs, Cacdac said the Philippine government hopes that
HSWs will soon be covered by
the country’s labour laws just
like in other GCC countries.
At the meeting, he was told
that the Ministry of Labour has
some involvement in terms of
approving contracts and resolving a number of issues and disputes.
A mechanism to receive com-
plaints from HSWs seemed to be
in effect at the Ministry, according to Cacdac. He was also told
that the embassy and the labour
attaché can directly endorse and
refer Filipino HSWs who need
help to the ministry.
“Also, looking into dispute
settlement how we can best resolve disputes involving OFWs
with the clear participation of
the embassy and the labour attaché,” he added.
About the minimum salary of
household service workers, the
official said the issue was not
raised since the Philippine government maintained its stand
that the $400 monthly pay was
Of the 188,000 OFWs in Qatar,
Ambassador Relacion noted that
about 15% (more than 28,000)
are HSWs.
The Philippine government
also received a positive response
from Qatar’s Ministry of Labour
to further enhance the protection of OFWs welfare in the
Cacdac noted that some of the
issues tackled during the discussion focused on transparency in
the process of recruiting Filipino
workers and ethical practices
through regulation of recruitment costs and placement fees.
The Joint Committee meeting
between the two countries, pursuant to the agreement in 2008,
picks up from the 1997 original
bilateral labour agreement.
Ministry of Environment lines up exciting activities
The Ministry of Environment has
completed all preparations to
participate in the National Sport
Day tomorrow in Barzan park.
HE the Minister of Environment
Ahmed Amer Mohamed alHumaidi will attend the Ministry’s
sports activities that begin
at 8am with the participation
of the ministry’s officials and
employees, their families and the
general public.
Mohsen Zayed al-Khayareen,
Director of Public Relations and
Communication at the Ministry
of the Environment said the
ministry drew up plans and
programmes for various sports
and awareness activities during
the Sport Day in an effort to raise
awareness of the community
about the importance of sport,
explaining that the relationship
between sport and environment
is strong and powerful as they are
“are two sides of one coin.”
He added that the ministry will
organise sports activities such
as a march, country race, table
tennis, football matches and
volleyball competition.
Meanwhile, Qatar’s Sports and
Environment Committee, in
co-operation with Friends of
the Environment Centre and A
Flower Each Spring programme,
organised various sports
activities at Al Khor to celebrated
Qatar’s National Sport Day.
atara, the Cultural Village will launch over100
sport activities with the
participation of 48 entities on
the National Sport Day to be
held tomorrow.
The activities will start at
7.30am and will continue until late night and will feature a
wide range of sport events and
competitions for all social segments and age categories.
Katara has provided an adequate number of parking lots
to accommodate huge number
of visitors. It includes the parking space at the southern area
of Katara as well as the already
existing underground parking
There will be an area designated for buses that will transport visitors from the southern
parking to Katara esplanade,
where most of the activities are
Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim alSulaiti, general manager, Katara said: “Katara is fully prepared to receive visitors during
the sport day. We would like to
invite nationals and expatriates to take part in the events
and make it a remarkable milestone in our lives, and a pleasant memory that shapes our
healthy lives.”
He added: “Undoubtedly,
culture and sports are prominent factors in our lives, which
are the foundations of one’s
mind, body and soul. These two
Some of the activities at Katara last year
factors have crucial and positive
roles of spreading awareness
and upgrading civilised thinking in the community. Sports
and culture have fundamental
roles in the advancement of
civilisation and the illustration of the unity and harmony
among people.”
Katara will host more than
98 various sports activities
on its waterfront which will
be for women, men and children.
Last year, Katara hosted 83
activities with the participation
of 38 entities.
Some of the organisations
that are participating at Katara are Qatar Swimming Association, Qatar Basketball
Federation, Qatar Bodybuilding Federation, Qatar Boxing
Federation, Qatar Tennis and
Squash Federation, Handball
Association, Golf Association,
Qatar Shooting and Archery
Association, Qatar Badminton
Association, Qatar Sailing &
Rowing Federation, Qatar Volleyball Association, Qatar Table
Tennis Federation, Qatar Cycling Federation, Qatar Wrestling Federation, Qatar Chess
Association and Qatar Football
Commercial Bank promotes healthy lifestyle
he Commercial Bank allocates around 2.5% of
its net profits for the
support of cultural, social and
sport activities in the country,
CEO Abdulla Saleh al-Raisi
said yesterday.
“There is a specialised committee to distribute this sum for
activities that serve the strategic objectives and interests
of the bank in this respect,” he
explained at a press conference convened to announce the
preparations of the bank for the
National Sport Day.
“Commercial Bank and all
its employees and staff are
ready to mark the day in an active and collaborative manner.
In a symbolic move, the main
hall of the bank’s headquarters
was allocated for table tennis
with the participation of the
bank employees ahead of the
“The bank took part in a
number of sport activities earlier, such as the mini football
tournament, and the Qatar
Central Bank’s activities for last
year’s National Sport Day, including the mini marathon on
Doha Corniche. We have also
taken part in golf competitions,
and we encourage our employees to walk regularly and participate in more sport activities
as they wish.”
Commercial Bank will take
part tomorrow in all the featured activities held in co-operation with Qatar Central Bank
and the other financial institutions in Qatar.
Al-Raisi further stressed the
steadfast belief of the bank in
the benefits of maintaining a
healthy life style and the National Sport Day is a good opportunity in this regard.
Abdulla Saleh al-Raisi
Central Laboratories of SCH wins top accreditation
he Central Laboratories
of the Supreme Council
of Health (SCH) has won
the international accreditation
of the standard specifications
of testing and calibration laboratories (ISO 17025:2005) from
Laboratory Accreditation Bureau
(LAB) in the US.
This accreditation is a benchmark for the standards of food
safety and the evaluation of the
accuracy of lab test results.
The SCH Central Laboratories had started the accreditation
process since 2011.
programmes were held to equip the
laboratory staff with the necessary advanced skills. In addition, World Health Organisation
programmes in this respect were
implemented in co-operation
with international experts in auditing and evaluation.
The Central Labs staff celebrating the international accreditation.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
HMC hosting events for staff,
their families on Sport Day
amad Medical Corporation (HMC) is hosting a
programme of healthy
and sports-related activities
for its staff and their families to
mark National Sport Day.
HMC will hold a walkathon
around Hamad Bin Khalifa
Medical City (HBKMC) starting
at 9am from the Nurses Club
and a football tournament also
to be held at Nurses Club from
2pm to 4pm.
The HMC Qatar National
Sport Day organising committee
has also planned other healthy
and fun activities, including
basketball, golf, and children’s
Participants will have the opportunity to check their blood
pressure, body mass index
(BMI), height and weight as well
as diabetes screening. Staff from
the nutrition department will
be present to provide healthy
eating tips.
Ali al-Khater, executive director, corporate communications, HMC, said that as the
principal public healthcare
provider in Qatar, HMC plays
an integral role on the day both
on a wider community and staff
“HMC is striving to implement the Qatar National Vision
2030 which highlights the need
to build a healthy society to
meet the country’s growth and
development goals,” al-Khater
said, adding: “HMC is proud to
be participating in Sports Day
for the fourth consecutive year.
This special day highlights Qatar’s commitment to a healthy
future and we are pleased to be
joining other major government
entities and organisations in
supporting this day.”
Aisha al-Khulaifi, head of
corporate social responsibility
at HMC, said: “We are actively
encouraging our staff and their
families to get involved and
to make every effort to lead a
healthy life.”
Ministry completes
The Ministry of Economy
and Commerce has completed
its preparations for National
Sport Day, which will be observed tomorrow. Around 110
ministry employees will take
part in the activities to stress
the importance of adopting
a healthy lifestyle for more
The General Authority of
Customs has also prepared a
fully packed programme for the
employees of its various departments to enjoy National
Sport Day. Some basic medical
check-ups such as blood sugar
and blood pressure measurement, will be conducted for the
More than 400 employees of
the Ministry of Transport and its
affiliates are expected to take part
in activities at Al-Khor Airport.
Oryx GTL publishes
lifestyle guide
Oryx GTL has published a
Healthy Lifestyle Guide, pictured right, in association with
Gulf Times. Brought out to mark
Qatar’s National Sport Day, observed tomorrow, the guide provides simple, month-by-month
steps anyone can adopt, to lead
a healthy lifestyle. The guide is
being distributed free with Gulf
Times today.
Qatar Tourism Authority organising walkathon at The Pearl-Qatar
Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA),
in co-operation with the United
Development Company, is
organising a walkathon at The
Pearl-Qatar tomorrow to mark
Qatar National Sport Day.
QTA has sent an open invitation to
the public, hotel establishments,
and tourism companies to
participate in the event.
“The event aims to allow
participants to carry out a
pleasant sport tour of The PearlQatar, a synonym for the Arab
Riviera in the heart of Doha,” said
Saif al-Kuwari, director of Public
Relations and Communications
Department at QTA.
The walkathon is part of QTA’s
efforts to engage the public and
the hotel sector to attend and
take part in world-class sport
Al-Kuwari said they want to
further boost the sports tourism
industry in co-operation with
private and public sectors
and promote Qatar as a world
tourism destination capable of
attracting tourists from various
“Through this event, we seek
to highlight the importance of
sport in preserving a healthy
society, demonstrate a sportive
spirit in the face of daily
challenges, and show solidarity
and co-operation to attain
goals” he added.
The National Sport Day
aims to shed the light on the
importance of sports and
physical activity in achieving
a sound and healthy lifestyle,
which in turn, helps in the
development of the society.
The event is also an opportunity
to spend quality time outdoors
with family and friends.
The National Sport Day
was launched in 2012 to
spread awareness about the
importance of physical activity
and help develop and promote
a healthy living and regular
QIB books beach
for celebration
Bank (QIB) has
Four Seasons Doha
beach area for its officials, staff and families to participate in a
comprehensive sports
programme to be held
tomorrow as part of
National Sport Day.
The programme, from
8am to 1pm, will feature
various sporting activities such as football,
tennis, dodge ball, boot
camp, beach volley, tug
of war, strongest employee and other sport
enhance team building.
Ooredoo lines up
activities at MIA
Ooredoo has announced its
activity-packed schedule for
National Sport Day, designed to
engage with people across Qatar
and encourage them to take part
in a day-long celebration of sport
Ooredoo’s activities, which
include competitions, children’s
shows and exercise classes,
will be hosted at the Museum
of Islamic Art (MIA) Park, and
the company has promised its
customers the biggest and best
Sports Day event yet.
Highlights include the new “Snow
Area”, an activity zone where
everyone can get a taste of the
cold with snowball fights and a
snow slide. For children, Ooredoo
has arranged two exciting live
shows: “Speed Painting with Jean
Francois” and Disney’s “Wish
Upon A Dream”, which will have
performances throughout the
There will also be a series of
classic sporting competitions,
such as football tournaments,
shooting tournaments, landrowing, arm wrestling, sumo
wrestling, a family treasure hunt
and more.
Fatima Sultan al-Kuwari,
director of community and
public relations, Ooredoo, said:
“This year, Ooredoo is all about
encouraging everyone to take
part and get fit through a range
of fun activities. We have pulled
out all the stops to provide our
biggest-ever National Sport Day
event yet, and we hope everyone
will take part.”
Young adults and people looking
for more alternative ways to
exercise have also been catered
for this year, with activities such
as Paintballing and a dedicated
Parkour section.
Ooredoo will also install a
number of ‘Socialising Stations’ in
the park where people can take
and post pictures to social media,
as well as invite friends to come
and join the fun.
Ooredoo’s support for Qatar’s
National Sport Day is part of its
ongoing commitment to raise
awareness on the importance of
fitness and health to the people
of Qatar.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Desert Caravan
Challenge ends
wo caravans, each comprising 15 adventure lovers, participated in the
second Desert Caravan Challenge organised by Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) over the
The 12km camel-riding endurance challenge, held on Friday and Saturday, kicked off
from the historical Bait Al Imam
(House of Imam) near the historical mosque of Zekreet.
Participants wound their way
through the scenic desert along
the western quarter of Qatar,
and then straight to the historical fort of Zekreet. The two
caravans then stopped for break
at specific sites near the famous
sculptures of Richard Serra in
the Ras Brouq area and the ruins
of Zekreet village.
Many of the participants were
residents of Qatar but some
came from other GCC countries. Aged between 18 and 60,
half of them were female.
“We are always seeking to
diversify tourism products by
encouraging the launch of new
ones every now and then that
entice tourists and highlight
the rich Qatari heritage as well
At least 50% of the participants were women.
Certificates were distributed to participants after the challenge.
Participants braved the 12km camel-riding endurance challenge.
as the importance of preserving
Qatar’s archaeological wealth,”
said QTA chairman Issa bin
Mohamed al-Mohannadi.
He noted that the challenge is
part of QTA’s efforts to support
cultural tourism and introduce
archaeological sites to residents
and visitors.
“Activities like this reflect
the deep history and originality of this place that witnessed
QNB officials celebrate with members of the handball team.
QNB celebrates success of Qatar men’s handball team
QNB, acting in its dual capacity
as tournament sponsor and
strategic partner of the Qatar
men’s national handball team,
has celebrated the historic
sporting achievement of
Qatar reaching the final of the
24th Men’s Handball World
Championship in Doha by
hosting a team reception
Players and officials were
honoured by the bank
in recognition of Qatar
becoming the first ever
non-European side to reach a
world handball final following
knockout stage victories over
Austria, Germany and Poland.
In a hard-fought final,
Qatar lost 25-22 to Olympic
and European champions
France at a packed and
hugely supportive Lusail
Multipurpose Hall.
Previously, no Asian team
had reached the quarterfinals stage and only two
African sides had ever
reached the semi-finals.
Commenting on Qatar’s
performance at the handball
world championship, QNB
Group CEO Ali Ahmed
al-Kuwari said: “QNB is
delighted to be recognising
the outstanding performance
of the Qatar men’s handball
team during the recent world
championship. Coach Valero
Rivera and the players were
an inspiration to many and
they have captivated the
hearts and minds of the
population by their stirring
on-court performances.
“Their achievements were
both considerable and
historic and combined with
an excellent organised
tournament, they have left
a lasting sporting legacy for
Qatar sport to emulate and
be proud of in future years.”
A cornerstone of QNB’s
corporate social responsibility
programme is the support
given to national and
grassroots sporting activities
and organisations across Qatar.
This is aligned with Qatar
National Vision to become
a true centre of sporting
excellence in the Mena region
and an exceptional destination
of sports tourism.
the struggle of our ancestors and
their adherence to traditions,”
Mohannadi stressed.
At the end of the five-hour
long journey, he said participants
enjoyed a wonderful Arabic hos-
pitality experience in the middle
of the Bait Al Imam, at the village
of Zekreet.
Certificates were also given
to them at the event which was
also attended by QTA chief tourism development officer Hassan
al-Ibrahim, Dr Fatema al-Sulaiti
and Faisal al-Noaimi from Qatar
Mohannadi said the challenge
intends to show authentic Arab
landmarks such as Zekreet Fort
and Al Zubara Archeological Site,
a Unesco world heritage site,
and showcase the beauty of the
Qatari desert and nature.
QTA has organised the event in
cooperation with Qatar Museums
while Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel, Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels,
Regency Travel and Tours, and
Qatar International Adventures
are the official sponsors.
hospitality. It also aims to showcase citizens’ desire to support
tourism in their country and develop a modern and sustainable
tourism sector with deep cultural
The Desert Caravan Challenge
is part of QTA’s efforts to diversify tourism products in Qatar,
shed light on Qatar as a world
tourism destination with deep
cultural roots, promote historical
WISH partners with Gates Foundation
to release report on newborn care
he World Innovation Summit
for Health (WISH), an initiative of Qatar Foundation, yesterday announced a joint effort with
the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to release a report highlighting
the importance of integrated maternal and newborn healthcare at the
second WISH summit taking place
on February 17 and 18.
The report, developed with
Harvard University and Save the
Children, is part of a partnership between WISH and Gates to
highlight critical global health and
development issues.
In 2013, more than 280,000
women and girls died due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth while 2.9mn newborns died
due to lack of available care. As the
health of mothers and their children
are inextricably linked - biologically, socially, and through health
systems - integrated care systems
that use innovative approaches are
desperately needed across the full
range of reproductive, maternal,
newborn, and child healthcare.
In partnership with the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation, Harvard
University and Save the Children,
WISH will host a special panel session at the summit to present some
of the report insights with an aim to
tackle the critical unfinished agenda of reproductive, maternal and
newborn health.
The panel discussion will put forward the case for service integration
and provide a platform for thoughtprovoking debate on both the critical issues and the opportunities that
can be mobilised to ensure efforts
to reduce maternal and newborn
mortality remain a top priority.
The briefing will also provide five
recommendations for healthcare
Vodafone Qatar
offers Porsche
Design P’9983
from Blackberry
odafone Qatar has introduced the highend
Design P’9983,
pictured, from Blackberry in limited quantities at its Villaggio Mall
and Landmark Mall
The telecom provider
is also offering 1 GB of
free local data valid for
one month for its Prepaid customers and 6 GB
of free local data, also
valid for one month, for
its Postpaid customers.
Priced at QR6,999, the P’9983 smartphone
combines the unique stylish design of the Porsche Design brand with the smooth productivity experience of BlackBerry 10 technology.
“At Vodafone, we’re always looking at products and services that exceed the expectations
of our most discerning and VIP customers
and the availability of this superb product is
a reflection of our commitment to continue to
offer them a truly unique mobile experience,”
said Marc Norris, chief commercial officer of
Vodafone Qatar.
Marking the third smartphone collaboration between BlackBerry and Porsche Design,
the device integrates premium quality materials such as sapphire glass for the camera lens,
forged stainless steel for the Porsche Design
floating logo and chassis, and a special glassweave technology for the back door.
Porsche Design has also collaborated with
BlackBerry for the first QWERTY version with
BlackBerry 10 with specially crafted glass-like
keys with the durability of rigid synthetic material, and a special 3D effect with silver font
stakeholders who are committed to
improving the health and wellbeing
of mothers and newborns.
The WISH panel will coincide
with the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will replace
the United Nation’s Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015
ensuring that this vital issue of maternal and child health remain at
the forefront of global and national
health agendas. And it previews
some of the proceedings expected
at the Global Maternal Newborn
Health Conference to be held in
October 2015 in Mexico City.
“While we have seen advancements in maternal and newborn
health these past fifteen years, comparatively maternal and newborn
survival have not progressed as
quickly as other health goals,” said
Mariam Claeson, director of the
maternal, newborn and child health
programme at the Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation.
“Newborn mortality now makes
up the majority of all under-five
deaths, despite the existence of
proven, cost-effective interventions that could save the lives of
hundreds of thousands more women and newborns each year. At the
Gates Foundation, we believe global
health equity is achievable and we
want to make childbirth safe for all
women and newborns.”
Prof Lord Darzi of Denham, executive chair of WISH, said: “This
special WISH policy briefing aims
to build the case for integrating
policies and services in ways that
improve the quality and accessibility of care for mothers and newborns. The subject of newborn and
maternal health cannot be of greater
importance to families, society and
the world.”
Qatar Charity distributes
aid for displaced in Yemen
atar Charity has distributed
humanitarian relief assistance to
displaced Yemenis from two
provinces at a cost of over
QR500,000 ($140,000).
The aid included shelter,
food, medicine and medical
treatment for the benefit of
6,076 people.
The projects were carried
out in partnership with Yemen
Development Network (YDN),
which took part in the distribution of tents, mattresses,
blankets, winter clothing and
kitchen utensils, in addition to
food items.
Food baskets, each containing 50kg of wheat, 25kg of flour,
four litres of cooking oil, 10kg
of sugar, 10kg of rice and 500gm
of tea, were distributed to 5,000
displaced families in the governorates of Al-Jawf and Marib,
in the areas of Hazm, Motoon,
Khalq, Masloub, Higher Jouf,
Salamat, Sahara, Baten, Khalifa
Basha, Al Salah and Madina in
the province of Marib.
The relief efforts represent
Qatar Charity’s humanitarian role and its desire to offer
support to the most needy, in
light of the fact that the Yemeni people are experiencing
extreme suffering as a result
of conflict and displacement. The displaced often
lack the most basic necessities of life, which results
in a humanitarian disaster,
particularly during the winter.
This aid is in addition to covering the cost of treatment for
1,500 patients and the purchase
and distribution of chronic disease treatments, such as blood
pressure and diabetes medicines, health checks and drugs
for other diseases that are
common in this period, such as
pneumonia and ailments of the
digestive system. Some 6,076
people have benefited from the
According to recent reports
by YDN, 193 families are currently displaced as a result of
events in the two provinces and
739 families have returned to
their homes. Although the situation is currently stable, there
is considerable fear among
the population that the situation may explode again in the
coming days.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Jassim al-Thani, Qatar Charity’s
general superviser of projects
in Yemen, recently laid the
foundation stone for several
projects on Socotra island in
Yemen. These comprise the
launch of major health projects,
including the receipt of medical
and social services at the Doha
Centre building.
Sidra plans cardiovascular care centre
From Page 1
This team will be supported by
expert nurses and technicians
to ensure the highest possible
standards in every aspect of patient care.
“The research conducted by
Sidra’s neonatal experts into the
physiology and heart function of
newborns and premature babies
in particular will enhance the
team’s understanding of how to
improve the care of premature
infants, including those with associated heart disease,” added
Prof Hijazi.
As a cutting edge centre to
provide care of exceptional quality to patients and become a hub
for education and research, Sidra
follows the North American
model of care. Organisations following this model are notable for
their centres of excellence. These
centres will be underpinned by
integration across multi-dis-
ciplinary functions, including
professional education, community outreach, leadership development, research and clinical
services, with the aim of improving clinical outcomes through a
comprehensive approach to specialised areas.
The announcement about the
centre comes on the occasion of
Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, marked from February 7 to 14.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Hello to the future
backs nuclear
if deal is fair
Iran’s supreme leader says
any workable deal would
mean both sides easing their
Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, shakes
hands with a robot as he inaugurates The Museum of Future Government Services, at the Government Summit in Dubai yesterday.
Yemen talks to resume as
militia ‘coup’ denounced
he United Nations said
yesterday that all parties
in Yemen, where a Shia
militia dissolved the government and parliament two days
ago, are to resume political negotiations.
Factions including the widely
condemned Houthi militia will
resume talks today, envoy Jamal
Benomar said after the UN chief
called for Western-backed
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour
Hadi to be restored to power.
On Friday, the militia dissolved parliament and created
a “presidential council” in a
move it said was designed to fill
a power vacuum after Hadi and
Prime Minister Khaled Bahah
resigned last month.
The militia also sought to
portray the move as a way of
heading off the threat from Al
Qaeda, which has a strong presence in east and south Yemen.
Benomar told reporters in
Sanaa yesterday that Shia militia leader “Abdelmalek alHouthi and all political parties
in Yemen have agreed to resume
dialogue... which will begin tomorrow (Monday)”.
Tensions remained high in the
south and southeast, where authorities said they did “not recognise” the rule of the Houthis
and that they “totally reject the
constitutional declaration” under which they seized control.
Speaking to reporters after
talks with King Salman in Saudi
Arabia, UN Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon warned “the situation is very, very seriously deteriorating, with the Houthis
A Houthi fighter in army uniform stands next to a military vehicle
which was seized from the army during recent clashes, outside an
entrance to the presidential palace in Sanaa yesterday.
taking power and making this
government vacuum”.
“There must be restoration of
legitimacy of President Hadi,”
Ban said.
The fall of Hadi’s government
has sparked fears that impoverished
located next to Saudi Arabia and
on the key shipping route from
the Suez Canal to the Gulf—
would plunge into chaos.
Yemen’s Gulf neighbours
on Saturday voiced alarm and
condemned what they called a
“coup” in Sanaa.
A US official at a security conference in Munich said Washington and its Gulf Arab allies
“don’t agree” with the Houthis’
plans for a transition.
Arab League chief Nabil alArabi yesterday echoed that
statement, branding the Houthi
move as a “coup against consti-
Charles to urge halt
to flogging: report
ritain’s Prince Charles
will intervene in the
case of a jailed Saudi
blogger sentenced to 1,000
lashes and urge Saudi Arabia’s new king to halt the
punishment, the Mail on
Sunday newspaper reported.
Charles embarked on a
six-day tour of the Middle
East this weekend beginning
in Jordan and is expected to
also visit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United
Arab Emirates. His office is
not commenting on his exact agenda and the content of
any meetings until they are
under way.
But the Mail on Sunday,
without citing sources, said
the heir to the British throne
would intervene in the case
of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was arrested in June
2012 for offences including
insulting Islam, cyber crime
and disobeying his father.
Badawi was sentenced last
year to 10 years in jail, a fine,
and the flogging.
Before he set off, Amnesty
International urged Charles
to seize the opportunity of
his visit for “a frank discussion of human rights”.
Separately, in an interview
recorded before he departed
and broadcast yesterday,
Charles spoke of his alarm at
the number of young British
Muslims being radicalised.
“This is one of the greatest
worries ... I think the fact it’s
the extent which this is happening is the alarming part,”
he told BBC Radio 2’s The
Sunday Hour.
tutional legitimacy to impose
that group’s will at gunpoint”.
Hadi had been under virtual
house arrest since the Houthis
seized the presidential palace
and key government buildings
last month, prompting him to
tender his resignation to parliament, along with Bahah.
The Houthis have said they
will set up a national council of
551 members to replace the legislature in the violence-wracked
Yemen is a key American ally
in the fight against Al Qaeda in
the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP),
which claimed responsibility for
last month’s deadly attack on
French satirical weekly Charlie
Abdelmalek al-Houthi said
creating the transitional bodies, which include a security
committee, would also head
off the threat from Al Qaeda.
However, the statement by
authorities in the south, which
was independent until 1990,
said forces in these provinces—
Aden, Abyan, Lahj, Shabwa,
Daleh and Hadramout—rejected
the Houthi takeover.
In the oil-rich eastern
province of Marib, which the
Houthis have long been eyeing,
deputy governor Abdelwahid
Namran said Sunni tribesmen
were “discussing means of facing any developments”.
Marib residents said heavily armed tribes were preparing
to counter any attempts by the
Houthis to take over their region.
“The Houthis are incapable
of governing (Sunni-majority)
Yemen alone,” said analyst Ali
Any attempts to expand beyond Sanaa and nearby cities
“under the cover of the constitutional declaration... will provoke a civil war” in the deeply
tribal country awash with
The Houthis, also known as
Ansarullah, have been met by
deadly resistance from Al Qaeda and Sunni tribes since they
descended from their northern strongholds and expanded
south of Sanaa last year.
Ban said his envoy Benomar
had been “working very hard in
Yemen, facilitating a way out of
the current political crisis and a
return to the path of the peaceful political transition”.
UN Security Council president Liu Jieyi said on Friday its
15 members were ready to “take
further steps” if UN-brokered
negotiations to resolve Yemen’s
political crisis were not resumed
ran’s supreme leader said yesterday he could accept a compromise in nuclear talks and
gave his strongest defence yet of
President Hassan Rouhani’s decision to negotiate with the West, a
policy opposed by powerful hardliners at home.
As his foreign minister met
counterparties in the talks at a
conference in Munich, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he “firmly”
backed a fair nuclear deal.
“I would go along with any
agreement that could be made.
Of course, if it is not a bad deal.
No agreement is better than an
agreement which runs contrary
to our nation’s interests,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iranian air
force personnel, according to official news agencies.
In a speech that still underlined
his suspicions about Western
nations that he characterised as
“bullies”, Khamenei backed Rouhani’s negotiations with them
and said any workable deal would
mean both sides easing their demands.
“As the president said, negotiations mean reaching a common
point. Therefore, the other party
... should not expect its illogical
expectations to be materialised.
This means that one side would
not end up getting all it wants.”
“I am for reaching a good settlement and the Iranian nation
too will certainly not oppose any
deal to uphold its dignity and integrity,” Khamenei said, an apparent warning to hardliners that
they might have to accept a deal
with powers including the United
States, commonly known in Iran
as “the Great Satan”.
Negotiators have set a June 30
final deadline for a nuclear deal,
and Western officials have said
they aim to agree on the substance
Khamenei speaks during a meeting with air force commanders in
Tehran yesterday.
of such an accord by March.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will address the US Congress on Iran on
March 3 – to the annoyance of the
Obama administration - said he
would strive to thwart would be a
“bad and dangerous agreement”.
“World powers and Iran are
charging ahead to an agreement
that would allow Iran to arm itself
with nuclear weaponry, something that would imperil the
existence of the State of Israel,”
Netanyahu told his weekly cabinet meeting.
The nuclear talks with the
United States, Russia, China,
Britain, France and Germany are
aimed at clinching a deal that
would ease Western concerns that
Tehran could pursue a convert
nuclear weapons programme, in
return for the lifting of sanctions
that have ravaged the Iranian
Major sticking points are the
pace at which sanctions would be
removed, the size of Iran’s nuclear
fuel-producing capacity—a key
consideration in preventing any
output of bomb material—and the
length of any agreement.
“Our (nuclear) negotiators are
trying to take the weapon of sanctions away from the enemy. If they
can, so much the better. If they
fail, everyone should know there
are many ways at our disposal to
dull this weapon,” Khamenei said.
Any deal “must be concluded in
one stage and consist of clear and
detailed specifications, and not
subject to (various) interpretations”, he said.
“Given our past experience in
dealing with the (West), a final
draft must not leave any room for
the other side to repeatedly extract concessions.”
Separately, Foreign Minister
Mohamed Javad Zarif denied yesterday a Reuters report quoting
unidentified senior Iranian officials saying he had told the United
States during the talks that Rouhani’s political clout would be
heavily damaged if negotiations
“I believe the entire Iranian
population understands that this
government, that Dr Rouhani, his
administration and the government in its entirety supported our
efforts in the negotiations,” Zarif
told a security conference in Munich where he met counterparties
in the negotiations, in what he
called a “very serious discussion”.
“Everybody has taken every
necessary measure to make sure
we succeed. All Iranians know
this. If we fail, and I hope we
won’t, they (Iranians) will not
consider us responsible for that
failure. They will consider attempts (to ask) too much from
Iran as a reason for failure.”
No talks extension without ‘outlines’ of an agreement: Kerry
US Secretary of State John Kerry
ruled out extending a March 31
deadline for Iran nuclear talks
unless the basic framework of
an agreement is hammered out,
speaking in an interview aired
“The only chance I can see of an extension at this point in time would
be that you really have the outlines
of the agreement,” Kerry said in the
interview on NBC’s Meet the Press
taped on Saturday in Munich.
Global powers have been struggling for more than a year to
pin down a comprehensive deal
to rein in Iran’s suspect nuclear
programme, after an interim accord
was struck in November 2013.
Kerry met with his Iranian counterpart Mohamed Javad Zarif on
Friday and again yesterday in
Munich, where the top US diplomat
stressed Washington’s commitment
to seeing the deadline met.
After their meeting yesterday,
Zarif appeared to rule out any new
extension to tough negotiations
with world powers.
Kerry said outlining the basics of
the agreement was crucial before a
possible extension could be considered, but reiterated his preference
for sticking to the target date.
“But if we’re not able to make the
fundamental decisions that have to
be made over the course of the next
weeks, literally, I think it would be
impossible to extend,” he told NBC.
“I don’t think we would want to
extend at that point. Either you
make the decisions to prove your
programme is a peaceful one, or if
you’re unable to do that, it may tell a
story that none of us want to hear.”
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
32 militants planning major attacks held: Tunisia
unisia has arrested 32
militant Islamists, some
of them returning from
fighting in Syria, who planned
“spectacular” attacks, officials
“Counter-terrorism forces
foiled plots to carry out spectacular attacks against vital
installations, including the interior ministry, security stations and civilian buildings in
the capital Tunis,” Mohamed
Ali Aroui, a spokesman for the
interior ministry, said on Saturday.
“During the past three days,
we arrested 32 terrorists from
this group planning to attack targets in Tunis and other cities,”
he said, adding that the group
included “several terrorists re-
turned from fighting in Syria”.
News of the arrests came one
day after a secular-Islamist coalition cabinet headed by Prime
Minister Habib Essid took office. The new cabinet faces many
challenges, including Islamist
groups that emerged after a 2011
uprising to threaten its nascent
Since the uprising that toppled
the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben
Ali, the country has become a
major source of Islamist fighters
travelling to Syria.
With an economy heavily reliant on foreign tourism, Tunisia
has been cracking down on Islamist militants.
“Our priority will be to
strengthen measures to combat
extremism and strengthen security capabilities to confront
terrorism and the protection of
the democratic transition,” Essid
said this week.
The number of Tunisians
fighting in Syria has been estimated at about 3,000. A few
hundred have returned to Tunisia and many have been tracked
down and arrested.
Aroui said special forces are
pursuing other militants in the
southern city of Gafsa led by an
Islamist named Mourad Gaesseli.
He did not give details about
the identity of this group.
Ansar al Shariah, which the
United States lists as a foreign terrorist organisation, was
among the most hardline movements calling for an Islamic state
to emerge since Tunisia’s uprising. It has claimed responsibility for attacks in Libya in recent
zA man was shot dead yesterday in clashes between demonstrators and security forces in the
southern town of Dhiba, near the
border with Libya, during a pro-
test over the economy, witnesses
Protests started two days ago
over taxes imposed on local traders, with residents demanding
more opportunities and jobs. Witnesses said police fired bullets and
teargas to disperse crowds who had
burned a police station in the city.
“A youth was shot dead by security forces ... there are many
others injured,” said Kamal AbdLtif, a local union official.
Egypt retrial
of Al Jazeera
staffers starts
on Thursday
Firefighters extinguish fire from a vehicle outside a sports stadium in Cairo yesterday during clashes between supporters of football fans and security forces.
14 die as football fans,
police clash in Cairo
ourteen people were killed
yesterday in clashes between Egyptian police and
Zamalek football club fans at a
Cairo stadium, the official Mena
news agency reported, raising an
earlier death toll.
The agency quoted the state
prosecution as saying 14 bodies
of those killed in the clashes had
been taken to a morgue.
The health ministry had initially said that three people died
in the violence.
The clashes erupted outside
the stadium in the city’s northeast after fans tried to force their
way into the venue to watch a
game, the ministry said.
The match between the
Zamalek and Enbi was open to
the public, unlike most other
games between Egyptian football clubs since deadly stadium
riots in Port Said in 2012.
But the interior ministry had
restricted to 10,000 the number
of spectators allowed into the
stadium, and tickets quickly ran
A man wearing a mask gestures near a burning car.
Angry members of the Ultra
White Knights, a group of hardcore Zamalek fans, tried to force
their way into the stadium, police said.
Police fired teargas to disperse
them, before the Zamalek supporters let off fireworks, police
and witnesses said.
Hospital doctors said the
deaths were due to suffocation.
A witness said some of the fans
were killed in a stampede after
the police fired teargas.
“Huge numbers of Zamalek
club fans came to Air Defence
Stadium to attend the match ...
and tried to storm the stadium
gates by force, which prompted
the troops to prevent them from
continuing the assault,” the interior ministry said in a statement, without giving more details.
In February 2012, more than
70 people were killed and hundreds injured in post-match vi-
olence following a game in Port
Said between Cairo’s Al Ahly
and Al Masry.
The riots, considered the deadliest in Egypt’s sports history,
were largely blamed on supporters
of veteran leader Hosni Mubarak,
who was ousted in early 2011 after
a popular uprising.
n Egyptian court will
this week retry Al Jazeera
journalists, including a
Canadian awaiting deportation,
a judicial official said yesterday,
after his Australian colleague
was deported.
Canadian Mohamed Fahmy
and Egyptian Baher Mohamed
were originally sentenced to up
to 10 years in prison for allegedly
aiding the blacklisted Muslim
Brotherhood, along with Australia’s Peter Greste.
But an appeals court overturned that verdict in January
and ordered a retrial, which the
judicial official said is to begin on
Greste was deported on February 1 under a presidential decree
that allows the authorities to expel foreigners charged in Egypt
and see them instead face trial in
their home countries.
As a result, lawyers said the
court was likely to drop proceedings against Greste after the
opening session.
In a bid to secure his own deportation, Fahmy has renounced
his Egyptian nationality and is
awaiting a return to Canada,
where he also has citizenship.
However, the third journalist,
producer Mohamed, remains in
jail as he only has Egyptian nationality.
The three employees of Al
Jazeera English were arrested in
December 2013 and tried on allegations of supporting the Brotherhood.
In June last year Greste and
Fahmy were jailed for seven
years, while Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years in prison before the retrial was ordered.
Canada had said on Monday
that the release of Fahmy was
“imminent”, amid reports that it
had a team of diplomats in Cairo
pressing for his freedom, but he
remains in Egyptian custody.
Fahmy’s counsel, the prominent lawyer Amal Clooney, on
Saturday sent a letter to Sisi demanding a meeting to press for
his release.
His family said in a statement
yesterday that a retrial would be
“our worst nightmare, to have
to go through another circus of a
They said they were disappointed with what they called
the Canadian government’s
“conservative approach” in lobbying for his release and called on
Prime Minister Stephan Harper
to intervene.
Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed
work for Al Jazeera’s English
channel, which operated separately from the Egyptian channel
Al Jazeera Mubashir Masr.
Lawyers said the court
was likely to drop
proceedings against
Greste after the opening
But the prosecution made no
distinction between the channels during the trial.
Their arrest had sparked a global outcry and calls for their release led by Washington and the
United Nations.
In November, Sisi enacted a
decree that appeared tailored
for Greste and Fahmy, but not
Mohamed: foreigners on trial,
or convicted in Egypt, could be
deported to their home countries
to stand trial or serve out their
Both Australia and Canada
have made clear they will not
place Greste and Fahmy on trial.
But the decree’s wording was
aimed more at avoiding the impression in Egypt that the two
had been released under international pressure.
Iraqis celebrate end of night curfew in Baghdad
raqis roared through central
Baghdad in dozens of cars
flying flags, honking horns
and filling the street with smoke
from their screeching tyres to
celebrate the end of a years-old
nightly curfew.
“Long live Iraq!” one young
man shouted while hanging out
the window of a passing car early
yesterday morning.
It was the first night in years that
Baghdad residents could stay out
as late as they wished, after Iraqi
premier Haider al-Abadi ordered
an end to the long-running curfew
that had most recently lasted from
midnight to 5am.
And while most residents
stayed at home, some chose to
mark the occasion in a more lively fashion.
Young men made up the majority of the revellers, many of
them driving American muscle
cars with big engines and loud
exhausts, but some families also
turned out to celebrate by driving
when they previously could not.
Security forces members who
once stopped drivers out past
curfew instead stood by and
watched the show, though one
young man fell afoul of the authorities for performing a burnout outside a hotel in his Dodge
Challenger, the tyres shrieking
and spilling smoke as they spun
After being chastised, he sped
away, turned around and proceeded to repeat the manoeuvre
on the other side of the street.
Dozens of drivers parked in a
long line on one side of Jadriyah
bridge, with some young men
dancing to music blaring from
speakers in their cars.
The gathering was organised
over Facebook to celebrate the
end of the curfew, said Ali Majid
Mohsen, a student driving a silver Dodge Charger with an Iraqi
flag flying from one side.
On Karrada Dakhil, a main
shopping street in central Baghdad, a group of men sat smoking
water pipes in front of a cafe after
“Before, we felt like we were
in prison,” said Faez Adbulillah
Ahmed, the owner of the cafe.
“We were restricted.”
“We would have to leave by
11:30pm... to reach the house by
twelve,” he said. Now, “we will be
free to stay.”
Down the street, a group of
young men stood smoking cigarettes in front of a clothing store.
“We were waiting for this decision for years,” shop owner
Marwan Hashem said of ending
the curfew.
Before, “when it was midnight,
we would never stay out in the
street,” he said.
Doing away with the curfew
ends a long-standing policy
aimed at curbing violence in the
capital by limiting movement at
The hours it was in force varied
over the years and it has previously been cancelled but later
The curfew did little to prevent
the deadly bombings that plague
Baghdad, which militants carry
out during the day or in the early
evening to maximise casualties.
Bombings killed at least 32
people and wounded more than
70 in the capital on Saturday, just
hours before the lifting of the
But now, Iraqis are at least able
to move more freely.
Walid al-Tayyib walked down
Karrada Dakhil after midnight with
his young nephew, which he could
not have done just a night before.
“What do we feel today? We
feel all the difference,” he said.
“Now, thank God, we are going
out with the kids enjoying ourselves.”
People celebrate the lifting of curfew in central Baghdad yesterday.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Arab FMs bemoan lack of anti-militant strategy
rab leaders bemoaned
what they called a lack
of strategy and weapons in the fight against militants like Islamic State (IS) at
a security conference attended
by Western leaders in Munich
IS fighters have brought large
areas in Syria and Iraq under
their control, using extreme violence against civilians, journalists and Arab and Kurdish soldiers.
US-led air strikes and arms
deliveries from Western countries to Kurdish fighters have
helped contain IS expansion
into Kurdish territory in northern Iraq. But on the ground,
IS - known as Daesh in Arabic
- uses heavy weapons captured
from a weakened Iraqi army,
leaving local fighters painfully
“I don’t see that there is a clear
strategy how to deal with (IS),”
Palestinian Foreign Minister
Riad al-Malki said. “How to face
it, how to contain it, control it,
defeat it and eliminate it. I don’t
see it... Unless the air strikes is a
strategy. That’s not a strategy.”
Last month, the head of Nato
said air strikes alone would not
be enough to defeat IS and greater Western help in building up
Iraqi security forces could also
play a role.
Qatar called for a strategy in
tackling militancy in Iraq.
“If we want those people
(Sunnis) to fight for themselves,
to clean Iraq from any terrorists,
we have to not only issue a programme but to implement this
programme tangibly,” Qatar’s
Foreign Minister HE Dr Khalid
bin Mohamed al-Attiyah said in
“We still need to have a strategy in Iraq from our allies. There
is no strategy, I’ll be very frank
on this.”
Saudi Arabia and Jordan have
taken part in air strikes against
IS. Other countries like Egypt
say the international community is not helping enough in
their fight against other militant
groups such as Ansar Beit alMaqdis in the Sinai Peninsula,
bordering Israel.
“We need more weapons, the
quality, the sophistication of
the weapons, the technology so
that we can track and be able to
infiltrate these organisations,”
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh
Shoukry told Reuters on the
sidelines of the Munich conference.
Echoing Egypt’s calls for a
more comprehensive strategy,
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani
urged leaders in Munich to act
on militants operating from his
country, adding that this threat
should not be treated in isolation
from IS and other groups.
New militia
in fierce fight
with Islamist
F16 fighter jets from the United Arab Emirates arrive at an air base in Jordan yesterday.
Jordan hits IS positions
as air war begins to bite
US Secretary of State
John Kerry says the aerial
campaign on IS in Iraq and
Syria is beginning to win
back territory
ordan announced yesterday
it conducted dozens of air
strikes on the Islamic State
group that murdered one of its
pilots, as part of an international
assault Washington says is bearing fruit.
Air Force chief Major General
Mansour al-Jobour told reporters
the kingdom had launched 56 air
raids on IS since Thursday.
“On the first day of the campaign to avenge our airman Maaz
al-Kassasbeh, 19 targets were destroyed, including training camps
and equipment,” he said, reading
from a prepared text.
Jordan has vowed to crush IS
after the militants burned alive
Kassasbeh, who was captured in
December when his F-16 warplane went down in Syria.
Eighteen more targets including ammunition and fuel depots
and logistics centres were hit on
On Saturday, 19 IS targets were
destroyed, including barracks
and residential centres.
“So far, the campaign has destroyed 20% of the fighting capabilities of Daesh,” he said using
another name for IS which controls swathes of both Syria and
Jordan is part of the US-led
coalition of Arab and Western
countries that has been carrying
out air strikes against IS since
State media reported that a
squadron of UAE F-16 fighter jets
arrived yesterday in Jordan escorted by pilots and technicians.
C-17 transporters and refuelling planes were part of the
squadron sent to on the orders
of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the
Petra news agency said.
US Secretary of State John
Kerry said the aerial campaign on
IS in Iraq and Syria was beginning
to win back territory seized by the
militants and deprive the group
of key funds.
There have been 2,000 air
strikes on IS since the coalition’s
formation in August, Kerry told
the Munich Security Conference.
The air war had helped to retake some 700sq km of territory,
or “one-fifth of the area they had
in their control”, he said.
The top US diplomat did not
specify whether the regained territory was in Iraq or Syria.
But he added the coalition had
“deprived the militants of the
use of 200 oil and gas facilities...
disrupted their command structure... squeezed its finance and
dispersed its personnel”.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister
Nasser Judeh said that while the
bombing campaign had “degraded” IS capability, the group was
still in control of “vast territory”.
“They still have access to Syria’s cash and funds. They have
access to weaponry. They’re not
gone as a threat yet,” Judeh told
ABC television.
Interior Minister Hussein Majali said in remarks published on
Saturday that Kassasbeh’s gruesome murder by IS was a “turning point” in the kingdom’s fight
against extremism.
“The day of the hero, martyr
pilot’s assassination is a turning
point in Jordan’s history in order
to face this horrific crime that
was committed by the cowardly
terrorist organisation,” he said.
Jobour said more than 7,000
IS militants had been killed since
Jordan began participating in coalition air strikes.
Following Jordan’s intensified
sorties, the group claimed US
hostage Kayla Jean Mueller had
been buried alive under rubble
in its self-proclaimed capital of
Raqa in Syria.
Mueller’s parents said they
were hopeful the 26-year-old
aid worker was still alive and
appealed to IS to contact them
in order to ensure her safe return.
Yesterday, US Secretary of
Homeland Security Jeh Johnson
said Washington was seeking
clarification on Mueller’s fate.
“We’re learning as much as we
can as quickly as we can about
Ms Mueller’s situation,” he told
CNN. “Our thoughts, our prayers
are with her family right now.”
ormer rebel militiamen who
have switched sides and
joined Syria’s regime forces are engaged in a fierce battle
against Islamist insurgents near
Damascus, sources said yesterday.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, proregime Jaysh al-Wafaa launched
its “fiercest battle yet” on Saturday night against Jaysh al-Islam
fighters near the rebel bastion of
Douma, east of the capital.
“The fighting is ongoing now,”
Observatory director Rami Abdel
Rahman said yesterday.
Jaysh al-Wafaa, whose name in
Arabic roughly translates as “The
Loyalists’ Army”, was formed
some three months ago, more
than a year into a suffocating regime siege of the Eastern Ghouta
area, which includes Douma.
The militia’s task is to confront
Jaysh al-Islam, the best-armed
opposition group in the Damascus area, according to the Observatory and activists in Douma.
President Bashar al-Assad’s
regime “is financing and arming
Jaysh al-Wafaa”, Abdel Rahman
“Among its ranks are armed
men who, after more than a year
under siege, handed themselves
in to the regime,” Abdel Rahman
“Because of the siege, some
people prefer to evacuate their
children and have a chance at
survival, rather than stay put and
die either from hunger or because
of the bombings.”
He said Jaysh al-Wafaa “provides a way for fighters to be free
both from the regime siege, and
from (Jaysh al-Islam chief) Zahran Alloush”, who is notorious for
his abuses.
Douma, which emerged early
in Syria’s conflict as an important
anti-regime bastion, is now under Jaysh al-Islam’s control.
Tens of thousands trapped in
the siege suffer from food and
medical shortages, as well as
deadly regime bombardment.
A source close to Assad’s
regime and a Jaysh al-Islam
spokesman both confirmed that a
battle was taking place.
“Jaysh al-Wafaa was set up
three months ago by people from
Douma and former rebels,” the
pro-government source said.
“Yesterday (Saturday) they attacked Jaysh al-Islam and killed
12 of its fighters.”
A spokesman for the Islamist
group said rebels also killed an
unknown number of the enemy.
The Observatory was not in a
position to confirm tolls, but said
loyalists were backed by Lebanese Shia Hezbollah fighters on
the ground, as well as by regime
Abdel Rahman also said Syrian
Kurdish forces have recaptured
more than a third of the villages
around Kobane from the Islamic
State group since routing the militants from the town a fortnight
“The (Kurdish) People’s Protection Units (YPG) have recaptured 128 villages out of some 350
in the past two weeks,” he said.
The YPG recaptured Kobane
on the border with Turkey from
IS militants on January 26, after
four months of fierce fighting
backed by Syrian rebels and USled coalition air strikes.
“The IS withdrew from villages east and south of Kobane
mostly without resistance, but
fought hard to try to keep control
of villages to the west,” said Abdel
“That’s because it wants to try
to protect areas under its control
in Aleppo province. But the Kurds
are steadily advancing,” he said.
The US-led coalition has been
carrying out strikes against the IS
militants in Syria since September.
In recent days, it has continued to pound IS positions around
Kobane, while YPG troops backed
by Syrian rebels press the fight on
the ground.
Syria’s war began in March 2011
as a peaceful movement demanding democratic change but later
morphed into a brutal civil war,
after Assad’s regime unleashed a
crackdown on dissent.
US delivers arms to
Lebanon’s military
he United States delivered
more than $25mn worth
of military aid including
heavy artillery to the Lebanese
army yesterday to help it fight
militant groups which have repeatedly battled with security
forces near the Syrian border.
The US ambassador to Beirut,
David Hale, said in a statement
the weapons would be used to
“defeat the terrorist and extremist threat from Syria”.
“We are fighting the same
enemy, so our support for you
has been swift and continuous,”
Hale said at an event marking
the delivery of the weapons in
The Lebanese army has fought
regular battles with armed
linked to Islamic State and the Al
Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front
in areas near the Syrian border,
most recently late last month
when six soldiers were killed.
Hale said Lebanon was the fifth
biggest recipient of US military
aid. It received more than $100mn
last year. Lebanese officials have
warned of plans by radical Islamist groups fighting in the Syria war
to seize territory in Lebanon.
While the US-backed Lebanese
army has been battling hardline
Islamists on the Lebanese side of
the frontier, the Iranian-backed
Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah
has been battling the same groups
on the Syrian side of the border—
part of its role fighting alongside
Damascus in the Syrian war.
The Lebanese army, rebuilt
after the country’s 1975-90 civil
war, is one of the strongest institutions in the country, but it
has been hamstrung by outdated
The United States has accelerated the delivery of military aid to
Lebanon since last August, when
Islamist militants staged a major
attack in the border town of Arsal,
said Nabil Haitham, a columnist
in the Lebanese newspaper AsSafir.
“Despite the importance of
these weapons, they cannot make
up for the big shortfall from which
the army is suffering,” he said in a
phone interview, adding that helicopters were vital.
France and Lebanon signed a
$3bn Saudi-funded deal in early
November to provide French
weapons and military equipment,
including helicopters, to the Lebanese army.
The first deliveries of the French
weapons will begin in April, a
spokesman for Foreign Minister
Laurent Fabius said in Munich
Fabius confirmed the timeframe at a meeting with Lebanese
Prime Minister Tammam Salam
on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Romain Nadal
told reporters.
A Lebanese soldier stands next to M198 155mm howitzers upon the arrival of a shipment of US weapons at the Beirut port yesterday.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Bodies of newborn babies
discovered in freezers
2 dead in militant attack in
Somalia’s Puntland
Guinea to expand use of
experimental Ebola drugs
Protesters want Burkina
presidential guard scrapped
Somali PM urges US banks
to resume money transfers
South African police said yesterday they
have discovered the frozen corpses of
four newborn babies in freezers at a
house in the southern city of Mthatha.
Acting on a tip-off, police raided a house on
Saturday and made the grim discovery of the
infants estimated to be aged between just one
and two months. “The babies were found in two
freezers,” police spokesman Mzukisi Fatyela
told AFP. Police are looking for the owner of the
house, a woman, who was away in Johannesburg
at the time of the search. Investigations have
been launched and the bodies have been sent
for post mortems.
At least two people were killed when Somali
militants Shebaab attacked the house of a
senior police official in the semi-autonomous
region of Puntland, police said yesterday. Abshir
Mohamed, a policeman in charge of security at
the deputy police commander Muhidin Ahmed’s
home, said the rebels drove up to a checkpoint
near the house in a minibus late on Saturday.
“They opened fire and hurled grenades at
us once when we stopped the car to check,”
Mohamed said. Shebaab claimed responsibility
for the attack. “We were behind the attack,”
said sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, Shebaab’s
spokesman for military operations.
Guinea’s government has authorised the wider use
of an experimental drug to treat Ebola in treatment
centres after successful initial trials, officials said
over the weekend. The expansion of the treatment
comes as the number of people with Ebola in
Guinea has doubled in the past week, reversing a
broader trend of decline across the three worst-hit
West African states - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra
Leone. The experimental Japanese drug - Avigan,
or favipiravir - developed by Toyama Chemical
has been tested by French and Guinean teams
in southern Guinea since mid-December. Health
officials have not provided any data for the results
of the trials of the anti-Ebola drug.
Hundreds of people protested over the weekend
in Burkina Faso calling for the dissolution of the
presidential guard, a powerful unit within the
military that earlier this week called for the prime
minister to resign. Hundreds gathered in central
Ouagadougou on Saturday demanding that the
unit, which enjoyed special privileges and was
better armed and trained than other military
units under Compaore, be scrapped. “We demand
without any conditions the dissolution of the
RSP,” said Guy Herve Kam, a spokesman for the
civil society organisations that organised the
march. Some held banners reading “Threat to the
republic” and “No to intimidation and threats”.
Somalia’s prime minister has urged the US
government and US banks to support money
transfer firms that offer a lifeline for many in the
war-torn nation. About 40% of all Somali families
rely on remittances from another country, and the
estimated annual total of $1.3bn is more than all
foreign aid and investment in Somalia combined.
Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke said yesterday
he had spoken to American government officials
about this “pressing issue” and repeated his
calls to US banks to reconsider their decision.
“I will seek to appease their concerns and I will
do everything in my power to find a permanent,
legitimate and transparent solution,” he said.
Nigeria puts off elections
over Boko Haram threat
riticism mounted yesterday over
Nigeria’s decision to postpone
national elections by six weeks
because of Boko Haram violence, with
some insisting President Goodluck
Jonathan’s political woes were the true
cause of the delay.
Election body chairman Attahiru Jega
announced the postponement for presidential and parliamentary polls from
February 14 to March 28 on Saturday
night, citing guidance from the national
security advisor (NSA).
Gubernatorial and state assembly
elections will be held on April 11.
NSA Sambo Dasuki had written to
Jega last week explaining that security
could not be guaranteed on February 14
because all available military resources
had been committed to an intensified
operation against Islamist rebels in the
“The security agencies forced (Jega)
into postponing on an issue that is frivolous,” said Jibrin Ibrahim, a political
analyst with the Centre on Democracy
and Development.
“They say they need six weeks to defeat Boko Haram. Boko Haram has been
growing for six years... If in six weeks
Boko Haram has not been defeated, they
could call for another delay and ultimately destroy Nigerian democracy,” he
The vote is expected to see the ruling
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) face its
first serious electoral challenge since
the end of military rule in 1999.
Many observers believed that the
opposition All Progressives Congress
(APC), led by ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, had seized the momentum in the campaign against Jonathan.
Buhari, who has positioned himself
as Nigeria’s top anti-corruption crusader, was thought to have locked up a
majority in the mainly Muslim north,
his home region, while building support
among southerners fed up with graft.
The APC called the postponement
“highly provocative” and “a major setback for democracy” but appealed for
The US said it was “deeply disappointed” by the delay, with US Secretary of State John Kerry warning the
Nigerian government against using “security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process.”
The PDP said it welcomed the postponement because “it was in the best
interest of democracy.”
Analysts have said the PDP could
use the extra time to rebuild lost support, noting that its superior financial
resources put the ruling party in a far
better position to run an extended campaign.
National security chief Dasuki first
mentioned the prospect of a postponement last month when he noted strug-
Govt under
on security
in Kenya
People hold signs to protest the postponement of elections in Abuja.
gles in distributing voter identity cards.
Jega on Thursday said his Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC) was ready for February 14 - more
prepared than INEC was for 2011 polls
- and that 66.5% of Nigeria’s 68.8mn
registered voters had collected their
A meeting of the powerful Council
of States which includes Jonathan, past
presidents and state governors ended
on Thursday with the council telling
Jega to move ahead with the February
14 date if he legitimately believed INEC
was prepared.
On Saturday night, Jega said “other
variables” aside from voter card distribution made a delay necessary, specifically mentioning the fact that the
military “may not be able to provide the
traditional support they render,” during
There had long been security concerns about voting in Boko Haram’s
northeast stronghold, where hundreds
of thousands of people displaced by
fighting faced disenfranchisement.
But Jega had previously told AFP that
the crisis in the northeast would likely
not undermine the national poll results.
The unavailability of soldiers to secure polling stations nationwide had
not been widely discussed and election
day security has previously been led by
police and a civil defence body.
A coalition of more than 20 civil society groups said the military’s inability to
deploy for the election amounted to “an
abdication of its constitutional duties.”
The postponement “appeared contrived to truncate the democratic process in Nigeria,” the coalition said.
Neighbouring Chad, Cameroon
and Niger have in the past two weeks
stepped up their joint efforts with Nigeria against Boko Haram.
The multinational offensive has
claimed major successes this month,
including the recapture of several key
towns previously under Islamist control.
Experts say further gains are possible over the next six weeks but note
that Boko Haram has proved resilient
throughout the six-year conflict.
“To dislodge Boko Haram from all
these areas in a period of six weeks
would be an unprecedented feat,” said
Ryan Cummings, chief Africa analyst at
Red24 risk consultants.
Militants open new war front in neighbouring Niger
Boko Haram fighters waged a new attack
yesterday in a southeastern border town
in Niger, where a blast killed at least one
person and injured at least 10, witnesses
and hospital sources said.
The Islamist militants launched the
assault around the town of Diffa before
dawn, just two days after their first major
offensive in Niger in the area bordering
Nigeria on Friday, witnesses said.
There were no immediate toll from
the fighting between Islamist rebels and
the Niger troops, whose parliament is
due to vote today on joining the regional
offensive against Boko Haram.
Aid workers said the assailants had
come from Nigeria, Boko Haram’s home
base, and reported heavy artillery fire.
The cause of the deadly blast in the
centre of Diffa was not immediately
An official at Diffa town hall said the
blast appeared to be the work of a female
suicide attacker who blew herself up at
the local market, while other sources
referred to a bomb or mortar shell.
A local journalist said he had seen the
body of a person killed and had counted
18 injured at the local hospital.
Boko Haram launched its first major
attack in Niger on Friday, triggering a
forceful response from regional troops
who claimed to have killed more than
100 Islamists.
The fighting along the border with
Nigeria have marked an expansion of the
violence attributed to Boko Haram, which
has waged a six-year insurgency centred
in northeastern Nigeria, where the Islamists have seized swathes of territory.
In the first attack by Boko Haram in Niger on Friday, Chadian forces, who have
taken a lead role in battling Boko Haram,
fought alongside Niger’s troops.
Regional efforts have intensified in
recent days to end a conflict that has
killed at least 13,000 people and forced
more than a million from their homes
since 2009.
Niger announced last week that it
would ask its parliament today to approve sending troops to Nigeria to fight
the militants alongside Chadian and
Cameroon soldiers.
he Kenyan government
was back under pressure
yesterday over its alleged
failure to deal with worsening
insecurity following the execution-style killing of a prominent
MP in the city centre.
George Muchai, a member
of Kenya’s governing Jubilee
coalition and well-known trade
unionist, was returning home
around dawn on Saturday after
a night out in a restaurant when
he was shot dead along with his
driver and two bodyguards by
masked men with assault rifles.
Kenya’s interior minister,
Joseph Nkaissery, vowed in a
statement that “no effort will
be spared to bring to book those
responsible” and said he had
“issued firm instructions to security agencies to move with
maximum speed” to apprehend
the killers.
But Kenyan newspapers said
the killing was merely representative of a wider, disturbing
phenomenon in the increasingly
violent nation.
An editorial in yesterday’s
Sunday Nation newspaper said
the murder “fits into a worrying
trend where people described as
‘unknown gunmen’, sometimes
suspected to be hitmen or rogue
police officers have escaped arrest.”
“These unresolved deaths are
a blot on the nation. They breed
a culture of violence where people act outside the law to settle
their disputes,” it said.
“If an MP can be gunned
down at the CBD (Central Business District, Nairobi’s city
centre) in the presence of his
bodyguards, CCTV and police,
then how safe is the ordinary
Kenyan?” MP Mary Wambui
also told the Standard on Sunday newspaper.
“The Muchai shooting and
other similar violent attacks
raise questions about the capacity of our law enforcement agencies in the management of security for all Kenyans,” the paper
also wrote in an editorial.
It lamented a society where
“vigilantes thrive” and “mob
justice takes root”.
Police sources said yesterday
that they were still trying to establish a motive for the attack.
Kenyan media reports said
Muchai, a father of seven, had
been “uneasy” in recent weeks
and had “expressed fears for his
life and had accordingly made
statements to the police”. He was
also reported to have survived an
apparent assassination attempt
in 2011.
Race ties at crossroads in Mandela’s South Africa
s a country that emerged
from years of racial segregation, South Africa is
often lauded for its reconciliation
efforts, but cracks in the foundation of Nelson Mandela’s ‘Rainbow Nation’ are starting to show.
In the 25 years since the late
anti-apartheid hero’s release
from prison on February 11, 1990,
South Africa has had to confront
the realities of its divided past.
It has not been easy, and race
remains a dividing factor despite
the efforts of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC),
which sought to help heal the
A recent spike in race-tinged
comments from the public and political leaders alike has raised questions about the country’s ability to
fully reconcile with its history, and
the extent of apartheid-era divisions in the public psyche.
“The reconciliation project is
in trouble,” said Verne Harris, director of research and archives at
the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Perhaps South Africans “tried
to reckon with our pasts too quickly”, he said, referring to the TRC,
which focused on politically-motivated crimes during traumatic
hearings which began in 1996.
“Some countries can wait. Even
20 years. We could not wait,” he
said, adding that the old schisms
in society had resurfaced.
The renaming this month of
a Cape Town street in honour of
the country’s last white apartheid-era leader, FW de Klerk, was
met with protests by some in the
black community who queried
his role in bringing about change
in South Africa.
De Klerk is credited with releasing Mandela from prison
laws, leading him to share a Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela
in 1993. Black critics, however,
point to the role of De Klerk’s
government in atrocities even in
the dying days of apartheid.
In a speech on the renaming, De
Klerk referred to the “new, bitter
and confrontational tone in the national discourse” as the antithesis
of everything that Mandela worked
for during his time as president.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which is tasked with preserving the legacy of the late
peace icon, has been hosting
public dialogues on issues of reconciliation.
“We have not taken the final
step of our journey, but the first
step on a longer and even more
difficult road,” said Harris.
“South Africa needs to look
beyond the TRC and consider
implementing new strategies for
reckoning with the past.
“The vast majority of South
Africans live in a reality that is still
profoundly shaped by apartheid.
It makes them angry... old divisions and old schisms have become more marked now,” he said.
Last month, President Jacob
Zuma came under fire over his
comments about the arrival of the
first Dutch settler, Jan van Riebeek,
who came to the Cape in 1652.
He told delegates attending an
African National Congress dinner that Van Riebeek’s arrival
was “the start of trouble in this
The right-wing Freedom Front
Plus party threatened to lay hatespeech charges against Zuma.
His statement also elicited
a fierce tirade on social media
from Mandela’s former personal
assistant, Zelda la Grange, who
tweeted: “I’m SICK of Jacob Zuma’s constant go at whites every
few months.” Her series of tweets
made headlines and angered
many blacks, who denounced her
as a racist.
According to Anele Mtwesi, a
researcher at the Helen Suzman
Foundation, racial divisions in
South Africa “have been simmering for a while, especially in
the last year”.
“We are not travelling on the
same path. After the TRC we all
assumed that things would then
just fall into place.”
She lamented that the burden
of forgiveness had been placed on
the shoulders of victims of past
“I think the burden has become
too much. Reconciliation is supposed to be a collective effort.”
The results of a decade-long
study on race relations revealed
that just 53% of white South Africans believe that apartheid was
a crime against humanity.
The study by the Institute of
Justice and Reconciliation said
the period between 2010 and
2013 witnessed the steepest decline in citizens’ desire for a united South Africa.
The director of the Institute for
Reconciliation and Social Justice
at the University of Free State,
Andre Keet, pinned the lack of
common identity among South
Africans on not having a “history
of solidarity across the divide”.
“Our style of national politics
does not help in developing these
solidarities,” said Keet.
The country had “focused too
much on the TRC process... and
less on what would be the democratic political project that should
bring us together”, he said, adding
that a sense of superiority among
white people was still strong.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Musicians Carole King, John Legend, and Meghan Trainor attend the pre-Grammy Gala and Salute To Industry Icons honouring Martin Bandier at The Beverly Hilton Hotel. Right: Pharrell Williams at the pre-Grammy Gala.
Sam Smith vies with Beyonce,
Pharrell for Grammy glory
Los Angeles
resh-faced Sam Smith could
make history at the Grammys
with a chance to sweep top categories, but the music industry’s big
night could also coronate Beyonce or
Pharrell Williams.
The 22-year-old Smith, who a few
years ago was bartending in London,
has enjoyed a phenomenal rise with
Stay With Me—a ballad about a onenight stand marked by rich, soulful
tenor voice.
Smith, who will also perform at the
ceremony at the Staples Center in Los
Angeles, said the sensation of appearing before a global audience was “indescribable” and recalled attending the
year before.
“I was in the back—the very, very
back. And I couldn’t go to a party afterward because I had to record something
in my label’s building the next day,” he
Smith is up for Grammys in the four
most closely-watched categories—Album of the Year; Record of the Year,
which honours the top tune; Song of
the Year, which recognises the composer; and Best New Artist.
Only one artist has previously won all
four categories at once—Christopher
Cross, whose 1981 triumph heralded
a decade of soft rock as he controversially beat out Pink Floyd’s now-classic
The Wall.
But Smith is tied with two big names
for a total of six nominations—Beyonce
and Williams.
A Grammy victory for Williams
would serve as vindication for the
41-year-old producer who achieved
success in his own right with the globally viral song of optimism, Happy.
In a forum on Twitter, Williams said
that he recorded nine versions of Happy
that were rejected before he came up
with his hit.
“I had to change my approach to
writing it—stop thinking and start feeling instead,” Williams wrote.
Williams last year enjoyed Grammy
nominations for his work both on Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines and with the
French electronic duo Daft Punk, who
were 2014’s big winners.
In June, Williams is joining former
vice president Al Gore in Live Earth
global concerts aimed at building momentum for a climate change agreement later this year at talks in Paris.
Beyonce has already won 17 Grammys but never the most prestigious Album of the Year.
The 33-year-old singer offered some
of her most personal work on her latest,
self-titled album, which she recorded
in secret and released with no previous
publicity in December 2013.
The new numbers by the former teen
star with R&B band Destiny’s Child include the ode to marital bliss Drunk in
Love sung with her husband Jay-Z.
A dark horse for Album of the Year is
Morning Phase by Beck, the innovative
Los Angeles rocker who for two decades
has enjoyed critical acclaim and a cult
following, if not the mainstream appeal
usually recognized by the Grammys.
Also up for Album of the Year is X by
Ed Sheeran—like Smith, a British singer
and relative newcomer—who previously worked with pop giants such as Tay-
Barry Gibb performs at the pre-Grammy Gala
lor Swift and boy band One Direction.
Another new star in contention is
Iggy Azalea, who could be the first solo
woman to win for Best Rap Album.
Azalea, who is also up for Best New
Artist and Record of the Year, has
become a cultural flashpoint as the
white Australian raps in an accent
that is markedly African American.
Her most prominent critic has been
rapper Azealia Banks, who has accused
Azalea of exploiting African American
culture and regretted that the music
industry does not offer more space to
women of color.
Azalea is up against a packed field
for Best Rap Album, including fivetime winner Eminem. Other nominees
for Best New Artist include alternative
country singer Brandy Clark and threesister rock band Haim.
The Grammys, which take place at
the Staples Center in Los Angeles, are
known for elaborate, surprise-filled
shows meant to pull in television viewers.
This year’s performers will include
Madonna, who made an unannounced
appearance at the 2014 Grammys.
The last Grammys also featured a reunion of sorts of the Beatles, with surviving members Paul McCartney and
Ringo Starr joined by relatives.
McCartney will return—this time to
showcase a very different venture, his
collaboration with R&B singer Rihanna
and hip-hop star Kanye West.
zMusic veterans like Carole King
and current stars such as Pharrell Williams rubbed shoulders at record producer Clive Davis’ annual star-studded
party on Saturday, the night before the
Grammy awards, joining in with singalongs and dancing.
British newcomer Sam Smith kicked
off the evening with soulful renditions
of his hits My Funny Valentine and Stay
With Me.
R&B singer-producer Pharrell was
encouraged into an encore of his upbeat
Davis’ party has become the hottest
pre-Grammy ticket in town, attracting
an eclectic, high-profile crowd including former US vice president Al Gore,
Apple CEO Tim Cook, actress Jane
Fonda, popstar Taylor Swift, singersongwriter Joni Mitchell and Motown
veteran Smokey Robinson.
Embattled NBC television anchor
Williams takes himself off the air
op US television anchor Brian Williams said Saturday he was taking
himself off the air for “several days”
as he faces an internal investigation for
embellishing an Iraq war story.
Williams, 55, who reportedly earns
$10mn a year and is watched by an estimated 9mn Americans each night, admitted earlier this week that a story he has repeated on air about coming under fire was
not true.
“In the midst of a career spent covering
and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently
too much a part of the news, due to my actions,” Williams said in a note posted on
NBC’s website.
“As managing editor of NBC Nightly
News, I have decided to take myself off
of my daily broadcast for the next several
days, and Lester Holt has kindly agreed to
sit in for me to allow us to adequately deal
with this issue,” he added.
“Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of
those who place their trust in us,” he said,
without specifying when he will be back
on the air.
On Friday, NBC launched an internal
investigation about Williams’s claims that
Brian Williams
he came under fire in a helicopter in 2003,
amid criticism from troops who were
present at the time.
His on-air apology on Wednesday further fanned the flames, with critics refusing to accept Williams simply made an
honest mistake.
The embellished tale dates back at least
to an interview with US chat show king
David Letterman in 2013.
Fox News reported Saturday that NBC
was not conducting a formal internal investigation into Williams and instead had
launched a “journalistic fact-gathering”
mission to better understand the situation.
Citing a source close to the story, Fox
News confirmed Williams had made the
decision to leave on his own accord and
was not pressured by his network to do so.
The same source said a report detailing
Williams’s conduct was not expected to be
released after the fact-finding mission.
The embattled anchor is scheduled
to appear on Letterman’s Late Show on
At the time of the incident in 2003, Williams said it was the Chinook ahead that
was “almost blown out of the sky”, but his
story has gradually changed.
The controversy erupted after he recently repeated a different version of the
story on television, claiming his own helicopter came under fire. He made the comments in an elaborate tribute to a retired
soldier who helped provide ground security for the grounded aircraft and crew.
Crew members of the Chinook helicopter and Williams’s aircraft told Stars and
Stripes, a US publication that covers the
armed forces, that the anchor had been
nowhere near the helicopter that was fired
upon or other Chinooks in its formation.
He instead arrived later in a separate
helicopter, which landed due to an oncoming sandstorm.
Now, Williams faces further scrutiny for
his coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005
over an account that he saw a body float
face down in the French Quarter, the historic district of New Orleans.
A hugely respected journalist in the
United States, Williams is a former chief
White House correspondent and has an-
chored NBC Nightly News since 2004.
In December, he renewed his contract
with NBC for five years.
He has collected more than two dozen
industry awards during his journalism career.
NBC News president Deborah Turness
told staffers in an e-mail that the network
had launched an investigation and was
“working on what the best next steps are”,
according to media reports.
NBC executives “were flummoxed over
why the leading network anchor felt that
he needed Hemingwayesque, bulletswhizzing-by flourishes to puff himself up”,
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd
But it also seemed “redundant to gnaw
on his bones”, she wrote, referring to the
outpouring of alarm over erosion of the
credibility of TV news.
Other reporting from Williams’ highprofile news career is facing scrutiny, too.
The New Orleans Advocate questioned
Williams’ dramatic recollections while reporting on Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He
claimed he had contracted dysentery from
drinking floodwater and saw a body float
past his hotel room.
The newspaper quoted health officials
saying they had no reports of dysentery
cases, and that the French Quarter, where
Williams stayed, is on high ground and remained largely dry during the flooding.
The night is also known for its musical performances and impromptu moments on stage.
Robinson hit the stage with singers
Miguel, JC Chasez and Aloe Blacc for
a throwback of The Temptations’ My
Girl, with Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip
Bailey and actor Jamie Foxx jumping in
to lend their vocals.
R&B singers Mary J.Blige and John
Legend also spontaneously hopped
onto the microphone to sing along with
Carole King as she performed Beautiful
and You’ve Got A Friend.
Romance was in the air as veteran
crooner Johnny Mathis sang hits such
as It’s Not For Me To Say and Chances
Are, while Legend silenced the room
with his ballad All of Me, before dueting with newcomer Meghan Trainor on
Like I’m Gonna Lose You.
Rapper Iggy Azalea got the crowd
dancing as Rita Ora joined her for Black
Widow and Jennifer Hudson came on
stage for Trouble. Barry Gibb, the lone
surviving member of The Bee Gees,
rounded out the night singing the
band’s classic To Love Somebody.
Davis, 82, is credited with honing the
careers of numerous artists including
late singer Whitney Houston, who was
found dead in a bathtub at the Beverly
Hilton hotel three years ago, just hours
before Davis’ party in the same hotel.
Former basketball player Magic
Johnson paid tribute to the singer as
he introduced Davis on stage. He also
asked attendees to hold a 30-second
silence and send prayers for Houston’s
21-year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina
Brown, who is fighting for her life after
being found unconscious in a bathtub
last week.
GOP congressman
brushes off criticism
over healthcare vote
Portland, Maine
Republican congressman is brushing off
criticism from conservatives angry that he didn’t
vote to repeal President Barack
Obama’s healthcare law.
US representative Bruce
Poliquin of Maine joined representatives Bob Dold of Illinois and John Katko of New
York to become the only three
Republicans to vote this week
against a proposal to repeal the
Affordable Care Act.
Poliquin said he opposes the
law but believes a replacement
plan needs to be developed
first. Furthermore, the house
has voted several times to repeal the law and it has never
become a reality, he said.
“Insanity is doing the same
thing over and over again and
expecting a different result,”
the freshman representing the
vast, rural 2nd District said
Friday. “I’m doing exactly what
I told the voters I would do,
which is to come down here
and fix problems.”
Some conservative groups
are condemning Poliquin for his
action, including the national
board of the libertarian-leaning
Republican Liberty Caucus,
which voted Thursday to rescind its endorsement of him.
“We were both stunned and
disappointed by representative
Poliquin’s vote,” Matt Nye, national chair of the Republican
Liberty Caucus, said in a statement. The House voted 239186 to repeal the law.
All three Republicans who voted against the move were elected
in districts won by Obama.
Katko also said he would
vote to repeal the healthcare
law if there’s a replacement.
Dold previously opposed the
Affordable Care Act but said
it’s time to stop talking about
its flaws and to start talking
about fixing them. “Casting
yet another symbolic vote for
full repeal of the law, without any replacement legislation, simply distracts us from
the work that must be done to
drive costs down, restore access to care and make healthcare work for everyone,” he said
in a statement.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Democrats abandon
isolated governor
The Oregon governor is up against
the wall facing charges of influence
Salem, Oregon
acing the biggest crisis of his decades-long political career, Oregon
governor John Kitzhaber finds himself increasingly isolated.
Few of Kitzhaber’s fellow Democrats are
sticking up for him as he confronts a barrage of criticism, calls for his resignation
and, potentially, a recall petition.
After simmering for months, influence-peddling allegations boiled over on
Kitzhaber last week, when an editorial by
the Oregonian newspaper calling for his
resignation shined a national spotlight
on the controversy. On Friday, another
newspaper, the Yamhill Valley News-Register in McMinnville, followed suit, saying
Kitzhaber has “ardently resisted coming
“While you have enjoyed many successes, your once-admirable legacy has
become soiled by your refusal to recognise
and rectify wrong turns,” the newspaper’s
editorial team wrote in a letter to Kitzhaber.
Unlike the Oregonian, which endorsed
Kitzhaber’s re-election bid last year, the
McMinnville paper had endorsed Kitzhaber’s Republican rival, Dennis Richardson.
A series of newspaper reports since October have revealed that Kitzhaber’s fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, did paid consulting work
for organisations with an interest in Oregon
public policy. During the same period, she
worked as an unpaid adviser in the governor’s office on some of the same issues.
Kitzhaber has said repeatedly that he and
John Kitzhaber
Hayes took care to avoid conflicts, and a
state ethics commission will decide whether conflict-of-interest laws were broken.
Kitzhaber’s troubles overshadowed
the first week of the legislative session as
Democrats moved aggressively to advance
some of their top priorities, including a
measure to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions that Kitzhaber and Hayes strongly
In response to questions about the
Kitzhaber, legislative leaders demurred.
“This session is off to a productive
start,” house speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, said in a statement. “As the Oregon
Government Ethics Commission does its
job, we must remain focused on our job as
legislators, which is to serve Oregonians by
advancing policies that improve people’s
lives and strengthen our state.”
Senate president Peter Courtney, DSalem, offered his compassion, but he also
said he’s focused on his own job. Spokespeople for Courtney and Kotek declined to
say whether the leaders believed Kitzhaber
could effectively govern after the Oregon-
ian editorial said he could not do so.
Attorney general Ellen Rosenblum, a
Democrat, called the allegations “very
serious” and “troubling” and said she’s
exploring her legal options. A spokesman
for secretary of state Kate Brown, also a
Democrat, declined to make her available
for an interview.
Kitzhaber did get praise from one former
rival, former secretary of state Bill Bradbury, a Democrat who lost to Kitzhaber in
the 2010 primary for governor. Bradbury
said that the controversy has been “really
quite overblown”.
“He’s going to be able to move forward
effectively, and it’s just going to take a
while to get over these humps,” Bradbury
said. “He’s a hell of a good governor, and
he’s going to continue to perform.”
Meanwhile, newly released public
records revealed more details about Hayes’
work advocating a client’s agenda. Emails
released to the Oregonian by the Department of Administrative Services showed
she instructed state officials to help implement a policy known as the genuine
progress indicator, which she was being
paid to promote.
The genuine progress indicator is an alternative to the gross domestic product,
which uses health and environmental data
to help measure economic success. Hayes
was paid by Demos, a New York-based
nonprofit, to promote the policy.
The emails show Hayes orchestrated an
effort aimed at implementing the genuine
progress indicator into the state budget, according to The Oregonian. When
Michael Jordan, the state’s chief operating
officer, said he couldn’t attend a meeting
on the issue at the governor’s mansion,
Hayes replied: “Not good. We went forward with this date because you had committed to attending.”
The records also show that Kitzhaber
himself intervened to urge Jordan to hire
a former Maryland official who worked
on the genuine progress indicator in that
state, the newspaper reported. He was
eventually hired on a yearlong contract
worth about $65,000.
Demos distanced itself from Hayes.
“Although we were assured that the
contract was reviewed by Oregon counsel, we now know that we should not have
trusted Ms. Hayes to carefully monitor
the balance between her public and private roles,” Demos’ spokeswoman, Elextra Gray, said in a statement to the Oregonian.
Although his role in arranging the deals
isn’t clear, the scandal has posed a threat
to the decades-long political career of the
four-term Democrat.
The Oregonian, called for him to resign
this week, saying the controversy has become such a distraction that he can’t effectively lead. Two advisers to the Republican he defeated last year took early steps
Friday to begin a recall effort.
Under Oregon law, the attorney general’s authority to investigate and bring
criminal charges is limited, but her office
sometimes assists district attorneys with
complex cases.
Kitzhaber has repeatedly declined to
appoint a special prosecutor, saying it’s
unnecessary. He has refused to step aside,
no doubt emboldened by his re-election
victory three months ago. Even after the
first strands of scandal became the centrepiece of his rival’s campaign, Kitzhaber
won by a larger margin than he managed
four years earlier.
“I was elected by the people of this
state to do a job, and I’m going to do it,”
Kitzhaber said in a January 30 news conference that failed to quell the storm.
Montana to
drop slur
from place
Salmon, Idaho
bill that would strip the
word “half-breed” and
another derogatory term
for Native Americans from
Montana place names, signs
and maps won easy approval
on Friday from a state House of
Representatives committee.
The measure, sponsored by a
Republican lawmaker, expands
a bill passed by the state legislature in 1999 that stripped place
names of the word “squaw”,
used as a pejorative term for
Native American women.
The bill striking “halfbreed” or “breed” from the
titles of 17 geographic sites or
features in Montana and renaming them cleared the State
Administration Committee in
a 20-0 vote and now moves to
the full House.
Montana tribes have made
it a priority to rid the state of
place names that contain offensive words that were added
to the lexicon at a time when
Indians were treated as second-class citizens or even
non-citizens, said Gerald Gray,
chairman of the Little Shell
Chippewa Tribe in north central Montana.
“We don’t need reminders
in this day and age of how severely we were discriminated
against,” Gray said.
If approved by the Republican-led Montana legislature as
expected and signed into law
by the state’s Democratic governor, the measure would see
updating of maps, signs and
other markers when they need
replacing because of age or
Montana is one of several
US states in which the word
“squaw” has been removed
from place names. The vote
comes as the National Football
League’s Washington Redskins
face pressure to change their
name. The Oklahoma City
Public Schools Board last year
voted unanimously to remove
“Redskins” as the nickname for
a high school after hearing pleas
from students and teachers who
found the term offensive.
The demeaning reference
once appeared in the titles of
more than 800 geographic
places or features in the United States but it has since been
excised from numerous sites
in states including Maine and
Oregon, according to the US
Board on Geographic Names.
The board must approve or
reject name changes proposed
by federal and state governments.
Florida mom delivers
14-pound baby
Home attacked
Tampa, Florida
A makeshift memorial outside a home in a suburban neighbourhood in Douglasville, Georgia. At least seven people were shot in the community west of Atlanta on Saturday
in an attack that left five people dead.
axxzandra Ford said
she realised during
delivery that she was
giving birth to an unusually
large baby, but had no idea her
son was 14.1 pounds. It was a
double surprise for the Florida
mom who didn’t even realise she was pregnant until her
third trimester.Ford said her
“feet never swelled, never was
really that tired, my back didn’t
hurt so obviously I didn’t think
anything of it”, Ford told TV
station WFLA.
But Ford said she was rapidly
gaining weight last fall. That’s
when doctors confirmed she
was more than eight months
along. Ford, who also has a
1-year-old son and 5-year-old
daughter, initially thought she
was having twins.
After 18 hours of labor, Ford
naturally delivered Avery at St
Joseph’s Women’s Hospital in
Tampa on January 29. Hospital
officials say Avery is the heaviest born at the hospital, and
one of the largest-ever born in
the state.
“I was cussing up a storm,”
during delivery, Ford said.
Avery Denton
“I was like, ‘Oh my goodness,’ and they were like ‘Stop
pushing. Stop pushing,” she
told WFTS.
“When I felt his head come
out I knew he was bigger than
10 pounds,” said Ford, whose
other children weighed nine
and 10 pounds at birth.
His father said he’s a linebacker in the making.
“When I finally did get to
hold him, I loved it,” Ford said.
“I just melted.”
Avery, who has a full head of
hair, remains in neonatal intensive care but is expected to go
home soon.
“They can have some difficulties getting out of the birth
canal and there can be some
residual effects from that,” said
Dr Jenelle Ferry, a neonatologist who is taking care of him.
Lawmakers want tougher vaccine exemptions
everal US states are considering laws
to make it harder for parents to legally opt out of vaccinating their
children, as health officials fight a measles outbreak that has sickened some 120
people in more than a dozen mostly West
Coast states.
Lawmakers in California, Oregon, and
Washington state, which have all had recent measles cases, want to remove exemptions based on personal beliefs, while
farther afield, Ohio recently extended a
law that covers those entering childcare.
All US states require certain vaccines for
students for diseases such as mumps, rubella, tetanus, or polio, but school immunisation laws grant exemptions to children
for medical reasons, including an inhibited
immune system. At least 20 states extend
exemptions to include a range of personal
beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“I’m a physician and a mother. I don’t
want my kids exposed to un-immunised
kids,” said Oregon senator Elizabeth Hayward, a Portland Democrat. “These are totally preventable diseases.”
Health officials have reported that more
than 120 people across the US have been
infected with measles, many of them
traced to an outbreak that began at a Disneyland theme park in Anaheim in December.
Lawmakers in California, which has 99
confirmed cases, said on Wednesday they
would introduce legislation requiring all
school children to be vaccinated unless a
child’s life is threatened.
On Thursday, five babies at a suburban
Chicago daycare center were diagnosed
with measles. All are under 1 year old and
would not have been subject to a routine
vaccination, which begins at 12 months.
In Ohio, a law requiring children enrolled in a licensed childcare facility to be
immunised against measles and other diseases takes effect in March, a state Department of Health spokeswoman told Reuters.
Oregon, with some of the country’s lowest immunisation rates, passed a 2013 law
requiring parents to obtain a doctor’s signature or watch an educational video on
vaccination risks and benefits. Colorado
forces schools to collect and publish data
about vaccination and exemption rates.
“The vast majority of the exemptions
currently being used are the personal
ones,” said Washington state Representative June Robinson.
But some lawmakers are going the other
way, backing measures that expand parental freedoms even in the face of mainstream medicine and science supporting
Bills in New York State and Montana
would add philosophical and personal
beliefs to the current medical exemption,
while proposals in Mississippi and West
Virginia would add exemptions for “medical reasons or conscientious beliefs” and
on religious grounds, respectively.
Debate over vaccinating has even seeped
into the 2016 presidential race, with at
least two potential Republican candidates
in the last week causing a stir after voicing
support for giving parents some choice in
whether to immunise their children.
A paediatrician vaccinates 1-year-old Cameron Fierro with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, or MMR vaccine
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Protest against education bill
Malfunction forces
AirAsia X to abort
flight, turn back
Kuala Lumpur
Myanmar students hold placards as they stage a protest and march in Yangon yesterday. Dozens of Myanmar students marched in protest against a national education
bill they see as undemocratic after the government did not meet their demands.
Junta denies Yingluck
permission to travel
hailand’s military government has denied
former Prime Minister
Yingluck Shinawatra permission to travel overseas to ensure she is in the country to
face criminal charges later this
month, a government spokesman said yesterday.
The military toppled the
remnants of Yingluck’s government in a coup last May, ending
months of demonstrations on
the streets of Bangkok that had
paralysed her administration.
Yingluck was last month
banned from politics for five
years and indicted on criminal
charges over her involvement in
a state rice buying scheme that
cost Thailand billions of dollars.
The attorney general will
submit a subpoena to the Supreme Court on Feb 19, and
wants Yingluck to be present for
that, government spokesman
Sunsern Kaewkumnerd said
Yingluck had asked for permission to leave from Sunday
until Feb. 22, he said.
“The suspect must be present
for the first process of the case
otherwise the case cannot proceed,” Sunsern said.
Yingluck’s lawyer, Norawit
Aussie religious leaders’
plea for death row pair
Laleng, said it was not necessary for her to appear in court
for at least two months while
prosecutors consider the case
and chose judges to oversee it.
“If the NCPO (junta) denies
her permission to travel using her court case as an excuse,
then it is a violation of her basic
rights,” Norawit said.
Thailand has been tense
since Yingluck’s impeachment
in January. Two bombs rattled
a luxury shopping mall a week
ago, and Thai media reported on
Saturday that the government
had confiscated banners from
students ahead of an annual
university football match.
Yingluck’s supporters say the
charges against her are an attempt to limit the political influence of her brother, ousted
former prime minister Thaksin
The charges are the latest
twist in 10 years of turbulent politics that have pitted Yingluck and her brother
against the royalist military
establishment that sees the
Shinawatras as a threat and
reviles their populist policies.
Yingluck’s fortunes have
been similar to those of her
billionaire brother.
Both led populist governments toppled in coups, despite being elected in landslides, and both were subjected
to legal action and street protests by pro-establishment
Thaksin was ousted in 2006
and fled Thailand to avoid a
2008 jail term for corruption.
He has lived abroad since, but
retains a strong influence over
Thai politics.
Yingluck could face up to 10
years in prison if found guilty
by the Supreme Court. She has
pledged to fight the charges
and her advisers say she has no
intention of fleeing.
“Yingluck is ready to fight.
She will not run because we
have facts and evidence to
fight the case,” Norawit, her
attorney, said.
enior religious leaders
in Australia yesterday
called on Indonesia to
show mercy to two men on
death row in Bali, as Indonesia’s top diplomat in the country said their executions would
go ahead.
Andrew Chan and Myuran
Sukumaran were arrested in
2005 on the holiday island of
Bali and sentenced to death
the following year for attempting to smuggle heroin
out of Indonesia.
The pair, members of an
Australian drug-smuggling
gang dubbed the “Bali Nine”,
recently lost their final appeals for clemency despite
arguing that they had rehabilitated themselves in prison.
are pushing ahead with the
planned executions, which
are expected to be carried out
this month.
Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher and
Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu
Mohamed called on Indonesian President Joko Widodo
to save the men, who are both
in their early 30s.
“Our request today is for
clemency or a commuted
sentence for Andrew and
Myuran so as to allow them
to be further rehabilitated,”
Helen Chan (left), the mother of
Australian death row prisoner
Andrew Chan, accompanied by
her son Michael, leave
Kerobokan Prison yesterday.
the religious leaders said in a
joint statement. “To execute
would prematurely end these
lives, robbing both of them
and our communities of the
opportunity for ongoing repentance and rehabilitation.”
But Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia Nadjib
Riphat Kesoema told reporters in Canberra the duo’s
legal appeals had already
reached the “highest level”.
“I think all the efforts, all
the legal efforts have reached
the highest level now and Indonesia has notified the government of Australia that we
will execute,” The Australian reported him as saying
“One auto-thrust not
functioning properly.
Actually okay to fly
but we just
returning it to base”
Although QZ8501 was the
AirAsia group’s first deadly accident, it followed two deadly
Malaysia Airlines incidents last
year that killed over 500 people and raised concerns among
many travellers about the safety of the country’s carriers.
“What is happening with
Malaysia and airplanes? This is
really, really scary,” posted one
Twitter user.
Flight QZ8501 went down in
stormy weather on December
28 in the Java Sea.
MH370 disappeared last March
after inexplicably diverting
from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing
course. The airliner, carrying
239 people, is believed to have
crashed in the Indian Ocean,
but no trace has been found.
MH17 went down last July in
rebellion-torn eastern Ukraine
—believed hit by a surfaceto-air missile — killing all 298
aboard. Malaysia Airlines had
previously had a solid safety
Jet search teams find
emergency transmitter
ndonesian search teams
found an emergency locator
transmitter believed to be
part of the AirAsia plane that
crashed into the Java Sea in December, local media reported
The device, which was
switched off, was plucked from
the waters off Majene in West
Sulawesi, reported. It was the second emergency locator transmitter from
AirAsia flight QZ8501 found
within a week.
National broadcaster Metro
TV also reported yesterday that
a large piece of debris believed
to be part of the plane’s wing
was located by a fisherman.
The AirAsia Indonesia plane
departed from Surabaya, Indonesia on December 28 en route
to Singapore.
It fell off the radar midway
to its destination after the pilot
requested a descent in altitude
in order to avoid bad weather.
All 162 people on board were
Police chief row sparks crisis for Widodo
forced the pilots of an
AirAsia X flight from
Kuala Lumpur to Jeddah to
abort the flight and return to
Malaysia yesterday, the AirAsia
Group’s CEO said.
The incident sparked fresh
questions on social media
about the Malaysian airline
group’s safety record as it
struggles with the aftermath
of the loss of Flight QZ8501 in
late December with 162 people
on board.
“One auto-thrust not functioning properly. Actually okay
to fly but we just returning it to
base,” Tony Fernandes said in a
text message, calling it a “minor issue”.
Auto-thrusters are systems
that are used to ensure a plane
continues to travel at a steady
speed. Fernandes confirmed
the Airbus A330 — operated by
the long-haul arm of the AirAsia Group of carriers, AirAsia X —landed safely at Kuala
Lumpur’s international airport
late yesterday afternoon.
Flight-tracking websites indicated AirAsia X Flight D7172
flew several wide circles over
the Strait of Malacca to burn
off fuel. Fernandes called the
manoeuvre a “routine” precaution as the plane was heavily
laden with fuel that normally
would have been used up during the several-hour flight to
the Saudi Arabian city.
“Just burning off fuel as it
has lots of fuel as was going to
Jeddah,” he said. AirAsia later
said the passengers were put on
another plane which was to depart in the evening.
“As a safety precaution, and
in full compliance with all international security and safety
standards, the aircraft made a
turn back and safely landed at
... 1740 hours (0940 GMT),” it
said in a statement.
feud between Indonesia’s
law enforcement and its
corruption watchdog over
the nomination of a police chief
has escalated into a full-blown
crisis for Joko Widodo, testing
the new president’s pledge to
usher in cleaner governance.
Barely 100 days into his term,
Widodo sparked an outcry last
month when he nominated Budi
Gunawan, a politically-connected figure with a murky financial record, to be head of the
national police.
The situation snowballed several days later when the anticorruption agency, known as
the KPK, named Gunawan as
the subject of a bribery investigation, prompting Widodo to
postpone -- but not cancel -his appointment as police chief.
The notoriously corrupt police — who have in the past
clashed with the hugely popular
KPK — retaliated by arresting
the agency’s deputy chairman
on years-old perjury allegations,
triggering angry protests.
The deputy chairman has
resigned, and police are now
threatening to bring charges
against the KPK’s entire leadership, a move that the agency
warns could paralyse it.
Activists rallying day after
day outside KPK headquarters
are urging Widodo, who comes
from a humble background and
is Indonesia’s first leader from
outside the political and military
Budi Gunawan, a politically-connected three-star police general with a
murky financial record, during a hearing with lawmakers in Jakarta.
elites, to intervene.
But so far the president has
taken a cautious approach to a
scandal that is proving the first
real test of his leadership.
“If he blunders in this KPK
case, his image of running a
clean government, he can kiss it
goodbye,” Yohanes Sulaiman, a
political expert at the Indonesian Defense University, said.
Widodo, popularly known as
Jokowi, is under immense pres-
sure to make a decision about
Gunawan’s future, but is backed
into a corner.
Pressing ahead and installing
a known criminal suspect as police chief would shatter his clean
credentials, but Widodo risks
revolt from political allies if he
dumps Gunawan.
Parliament, which must endorse new police chiefs, has
already backed Gunawan, and
many parties -- including from
Widodo’s own coalition —want
to see him inaugurated.
Gunawan used to be a close
aide of Megawati Sukarnoputri,
the head of Widodo’s political
party who backed him for the
presidency, and many suspect
she is the one who is continuing
to push the officer’s nomination.
Widodo is seeking to buy time
as he mulls a way out of the crisis. He asked a team of handpicked advisers to recommend a
course of action, and they said he
should not press ahead with the
While he now seems likely
to reject the nomination in the
coming days, Widodo is facing accusations of dithering like
his predecessor Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono, who was frequently
criticised for his indecision.
Former KPK deputy chairman
Erry Riyana Hardjapamekas, one
of the special advisers assisting the president, said Widodo
wanted to please but was more
firm than his predecessor.
“I think there is a strong will
to solve this problem as soon
as possible,” he said, adding he
did not think Widodo would go
ahead with Gunawan’s inauguration.
But activists fear every day
that passes puts the KPK in
greater jeopardy. If police level
accusations against the remaining commissioners they will be
forced by law to stand aside, hollowing out the agency’s leadership.
While the current showdown
has triggered an immediate crisis
for Widodo, it has also prompted
broader questions about how
to stop the cycle of conflict that
has seen the police and KPK lock
horns over the years.
The KPK has made many enemies since it was established
in 2002 to improve Indonesia’s
poor record on fighting graft.
Bribery is pervasive in Southeast
Asia’s largest economy, which
was ranked 107th out of 175 nations and territories in Transparency International’s latest
corruption index.
A number one ranking means
the least corrupt.
The KPK has exposed graft
at the highest levels, leading to
convictions for high-profile figures such as the former top judge
of the constitutional court, who
was jailed for life for bribery last
But the agency’s near perfect
conviction rate has attracted
many enemies, none more than
the police, who loath its extensive powers to pursue cases and
seek prosecutions in a special
corruption court.
The force has baulked at KPK
attempts to tackle police corruption, with Indonesia’s chief
detective in 2009 famously
mocking it as a “gecko versus a
Some are calling on Widodo
to grant KPK commissioners
immunity from prosecution
during their tenures. However,
others see tensions as inevitable until the graft-ridden police undertake drastic reform.
“I think it will be a long
battle, a long war,” said
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Australian premier brings
forward vote on leadership
ustralian Prime Minister
Tony Abbott, fighting for
his political life, said he
would bring forward to today
a meeting of his ruling party
to consider a challenge to his
leadership in an effort to halt a
destabilising internal revolt.
A member of Abbott’s conservative Liberal Party called
on Friday for a secret ballot to
decide whether to declare the
leadership and deputy leadership positions vacant, to be
held at a scheduled meeting on
However, Abbott said the
meeting would be brought
forward by a day.
“It is important to end the
uncertainty at the very beginning of the parliamentary sitting week,” Abbott said in a
brief statement yesterday.
Seeking to shore up support
among lawmakers, Abbott
reportedly promised to hold
an open tender to replace the
country’s ageing Collins-class
submarines, reversing a decision that would likely have
barred state-owned shipbuilder ASC Ltd from competing. Japan has been the
frontrunner to win the contract, valued at up to A$40bn
“I’m very pleased with the
decision of the Prime Minister and when he rang me today
with this very good news,” said
South Australian Senator Sean
Edwards, who had made his
support for Abbott contingent
on an open tender.
No member of the government has so far indicated a
direct challenge to Abbott,
although most attention has
focused on Communications
Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a
former party leader toppled by
Turnbull, a millionaire law-
Tony Abbott: fighting for political survival
yer and former investment
banker, has not yet said he will
challenge Abbott directly but
yesterday he gave the strongest indication yet he would
“If for whatever reason, the
leadership of a political party
is vacant, then any member of
the party can stand ... without any disloyalty,” Turnbull
told reporters outside a party
fund-raising function in Sydney.
Abbott has faced a torrent
of criticism in recent weeks
over policy decisions ranging
from his handling of the econ-
omy to awarding an Australian
knighthood to Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip.
Abbott, describing the call
for a leadership vote as a “very
chastening experience” vowed
to be more consultative in his
approach after several of his
so-called “captain’s calls”
backfired on his administration.
Political analysts said Abbott’s move to bring forward
the vote on his leadership
would give any challenger less
time to accumulate support
from colleagues, who will return to the nation’s capital,
Canberra, for parliament today.
“My reading of this is that
there is very strong support
behind the prime minister
(and) that it has strengthened,” said Nick Cater, a conservative columnist and commentator.
However, the move appeared to backfire with at least
some of Abbott’s colleagues.
Influential lawmaker Arthur
Sinodinos — chief of staff for
Abbott’s mentor, long-serving
former prime minister John
Howard — and former minister Teresa Gambaro were both
scathing in their criticism of
the decision.
If Abbott is ousted, Australia is faced with having its sixth
prime minister in eight years.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, deputy leader of Abbott’s
party, has also been touted as
either a potential successor to
Abbott or party deputy under
Bishop, seen as one of the
best-performing ministers in
Abbott’s Cabinet, has said she
will vote against the motion
but has not ruled out standing if the positions are declared vacant. Opinion polls
have consistently shown voters prefer Turnbull to lead the
party but his views on a carbon trading scheme, marriage
equality and support for an
Australian republic have made
him unpopular with the right
wing of his party.
Removing Abbott would
need support from more than
51 of the 102 members of the
federal Liberal Party at the
party-room vote.
Japan seizes passport of journalist trying to visit Syria
apan has seized the passport of a
journalist planning to travel to Syria
following the brutal killing of two
Japanese hostages by the Islamic State
Actress to
marry rocker
after drone
group there, local media said yesterday.
It was the first time Tokyo had taken
such a measure on the grounds it was
needed to protect the passport-holder’s
life, the Asahi Shimbun and other news
reports said.
They said the foreign ministry on Saturday confiscated the passport of Yuichi
eign ministry’s passport division came
and took my passport,” Sugimoto told the
Asahi. “What happens to my freedom to
travel and freedom of the press?”
The passport confiscation came in
the wake of the beheadings of journalist
Kenji Goto and adventurer Haruna Yukawa by Islamic State extremists.
HK police fire
pepper spray at
Hong Kong
ong Kong police fired
pepper spray and arrested protesters demonstrating against an influx of
visitors from mainland China
inside a shopping mall yesterday,
reports said.
More than 100 people took
part in the protest in the town of
Tuen Mun in the New Territories, not far from one of the border crossings to the mainland.
Local residents are becoming
increasingly angry at the growing number of mainland Chinese traders, who they say have
disrupted their daily lives and
clogged public transport.
The so-called parallel traders
typically travel to Hong Kong by
train and stock up on everything
from iPads to milk powder, taking advantage of lower prices,
wider choice and better quality in the city and dodging hefty
tariffs on their return.
Sunday’s protest was largely
peaceful until a group of activists broke off and headed into
shopping malls despite police
Pepper spray was used against
protesters inside one mall.
Broadcaster RTHK said about
10 people had been arrested fol-
Sydney siege survivors speak
of terror at hands of gunman
urvivors of a 16-hour
siege in a Sydney cafe
yesterday told of their
terror during the deadly
standoff, as a jihadist gunman
threatened to kill people “one
by one”.
cleric Man Haron Monis, 50,
held 17 people hostage at the
Lindt chocolate cafe in the
heart of the city’s financial district on the morning of December 15 before being killed when
police stormed the building in
the early hours of the next day.
In emotional interviews,
some of the surviving hostages
told Channels Seven and Nine
of how Monis forced them to
call emergency services to tell
them his demands, and how
the gunman became more
frustrated as night fell.
“I literally thought he was
going to shoot us so that everybody can see through the window,” survivor Harriette Denny
told commercial broadcaster
Channel Nine.
“You lose hope, thinking about your family outside, thinking there’s nothing
you can do to get yourself out
and it’s very hard,” said the
30-year-old, who was pregnant at the time of the hostage
The siege horrified Australia
hinese actress Zhang
Ziyi has accepted a
from a romantic rock star
who delivered a diamond
ring to her by drone, media
said yesterday.
Musician Wang Feng sent
a white drone carrying the
ring flying into Zhang’s 36th
birthday party, Chinese web
portal Netease reported.
Pictures posted online
showed a smiling Wang
reaching into a basket attached to the hovering drone,
as Zhang — standing beside
a large cake —- covered her
face. Zhang, who starred
in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of
a Geisha, accepted Wang’s
proposal at the party Saturday amid tears and applause
from a crowd of onlookers
including other celebrities,
it added.
Yesterday morning a microblog account widely believed
to be Zhang’s posted a picture
of fireworks with the words “I
do”, attracting thousands of
comments. Wang, 43, a popular musician and rock singer in
China, was reportedly married
twice before his relationship
with Zhang, divorcing his second wife in 2013.
Sugimoto, a freelance photographer who
had planned to enter Syria on February
27 to cover refugee camps among other
places. But the 58-year-old Japanese,
who has covered conflict zones in Iraq
and Syria over the years, said he had no
plans to enter areas controlled by Islamic
State.“Tonight, an official with the for-
Hong Kong police confront protesters demonstrating against an influx
of visitors from mainland China in the town of Tuen Mun in the New
Territories of Hong Kong yesterday.
This undated handout photo shows a portrait of Sydney siege survivors who shared their stories with
the Australian commercial broadcaster.
and prompted a mass outpouring of grief that saw thousands
of flowers laid near the cafe in
the city’s Martin Place.
Survivor John O’Brien, 82,
said Monis was “ranting and
raving” about Prime Minister
Tony Abbott and threatened to
kill everyone in the cafe.
“Tony Abbott wouldn’t
come to the phone, he said
Tony Abbott will have all your
blood on his hands when I kill
.you all, one by one,” O’Brien
told Channel Seven.
The interviews, for which
channels Seven and Nine reportedly paid hundreds of
thousands of dollars, came just
over a week after an inquest
opened into the siege.
Cafe manager Tori Johnson,
34, and barrister and motherof-three Katrina Dawson, 38,
were killed during the standoff,
and the New South Wales cor-
oner had been told in graphic
detail how Johnson was made
to kneel down and shot in the
back of the head after a group
of hostages escaped.
Dawson was killed after six
fragments of a police bullet, or
bullets, ricocheted from hard
surfaces and struck her body.
Louisa Hope, 52, who suffers from multiple sclerosis
and needs a walking stick to
move around, was one of the
hostages that failed to get away
and described to Channel Nine
how she saw Johnson die.
“When the noise of the gun,
and then Tori fell forward...
He hasn’t just died, his life has
been taken,” she said.
Hostage Marcia Mikhael said
Monis, who had a history of
violence and extremism, told
her he had a “plan” to die in the
“I knew he didn’t want
to get out of there alive and
because of that, I was very
scared about how it was going
to end,” the 43-year-old told
Channel Seven, struggling to
hold back tears.
Mikhael said she was beside
Dawson as police charged into
the cafe, shortly after Johnson was killed.
“There were just so many
shots. I could smell the gunpower, I could feel the heat...
It was so bright, everyone
was just lit up as if it was New
Year’s Eve,” she said.
“And then all of a sudden it
stopped... and I could see police officers wearing the black
uniform,” Mikhael added.
“She wasn’t moving. She
was just lying down with her
head facing me, looking at
A separate report into the
siege commissioned by the
federal and NSW state governments has been completed
and is expected to be published this month.
lowing rowdy demonstrations in
which protesters shouted at police and mainland visitors, forcing some shops to close early.
Police were unable to provide
details when contacted.
“Police have used pepper
spray and brought out batons
inside a shopping mall, there
are injured people that are being surrounded by police,” rally
organiser Hong Kong Indigenous
said on their Facebook page.
It was the first time police had
used pepper spray since a series
of major pro-democracy rallies
in the city last year which saw
intermittent violent clashes with
The semi-autonomous Chinese city governs itself in many
matters and imposes restrictions
on tourists from the mainland.
But Hong Kong’s leaders have
expanded tourist quotas in recent years to try to prop up the
city’s economy.
The influx has caused tensions
between Hong Kongers and
mainland Chinese to soar.
Reports said an estimated
10,000-12,000 mainland traders travelled to Tuen Mun within
three hours after shopping malls
there offered free bus rides.
The city in 2013 barred people from crossing into mainland
China with large quantities of
baby formula.
missiles fired
into sea by
North Korea
orth Korea test-fired
five short-range missiles
into the sea off its east
coast yesterday, raising crossborder tensions ahead of Seoul’s
planned joint army drills with
the US.
The North fired the missiles
into the East Sea (Sea of Japan)
from its eastern city of Wonsan
between 4:20-5:10 pm, (07200810 GMT) Seoul’s defence
ministry spokesman said.
They flew about 200 kilometres (124 miles) before landing.
“We are closely watching for
any signs of additional missile
launches by the North,” said
the spokesman. On Saturday,
the North said it had test-fired
an “ultra-precision” anti-ship
rocket, which will be deployed
across its navy “before long”.
The missile tests come as South
Korea and the US prepare to start
major annual joint military exercises hated by Pyongyang. The
large-scale Key Resolve and Foal
Eagle exercises, which will begin
in early March, look set to trigger
a sharp rise in military tensions on
the divided peninsula.
The Seoul and Washington
also started last week a joint naval
exercise involving a US nuclear
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Tories pumping £100,000 a month into Facebook advertising
Guardian News and Media
Like David Cameron’s new
Facebook page for the latest updates from the prime
minister .” That is what Facebook
urged many of its British users to
do in a so-called suggested post,
paid for by the Conservative
party. And perhaps surprisingly, a lot of people did - 470,718
as she lay
and counting. This promotion,
dropped in to the middle of news
feeds otherwise full of drunken
selfies and baby pics, did not come
cheap for the Tories.
That and other adverts pumped
out on Facebook, including some
allowing users to hand over their
e-mail addresses, are costing the
party a whopping £100,000 a
month, or £1.2mn if continued
for a whole year. Put another way:
one in every £17 the Tories spent
on the last general election campaign is going towards drumming
up support on Facebook.
The party has been mercilessly
mocked this week for appearing to try to “buy” friends for the
prime minister. But the Tories’
social media push does have a
point. The site is an effective new
method of bombarding voters
with political messaging, given
that there are about 35mn users in
the UK - more than the number
of people who voted in the last
general election. The majority of
these people check into the site
Facebook allows electoral strategists to get ordinary users to do
the parties’ hard work for them
by sharing or endorsing political
messages with friends and family - thought to be a much more
effective form of social pressure
than a slogan coming directly
from a politician.
Hoping to get Londoners fit
Former PM bids to end talk
of rift as officials hold talks
over election role
Guardian News and Media
Every major park in London will get a free-to-use open-air gym under plans launched by
mayoral hopeful Tessa Jowell to make the city “healthier and happier”. The former Olympics minister wants to get more Londoners fit by offering workouts at 100 more recreation
grounds and play areas across the capital. Jowell, 67, a keen runner and gym user, said just
36% of Londoners took part in sport at least once a week.
Tycoon’s private garden
plan angers neighbours
London Evening Standard
roperty tycoon Christian
Candy has come under fire from his future
neighbours over plans to create a private garden next to his
£200mn home in Regent’s Park.
The row was triggered by
the One Hyde Park developer’s
£3mn purchase of a lease on a
200ft stretch of private road
and pavement from the Crown
Estate at the end of last year.
Candy already has planning
permission to convert a row of
offices at Cambridge Terrace
and Chester Gate into a stucco-fronted 15-bedroom family home for his wife Emily and
twins Isabella and Cayman.
However, residents were
angered by the latest proposal
to create a new garden by the
side of the house, which they
say will involve more than two
years of disruption.
The Chester Terrace Residents’ Association also claims
the work will pose a danger for
cyclists and pedestrians.
The group represents 40
households in a Grade I listed
row of £7mn neo-classical villas which use Candy’s road to
reach the Outer Circular route
through the park.
A spokeswoman said: “We
had a meeting with Crown Estate and they said there would
be hoardings in the road for
more than two years while the
work was ongoing.
The work will “interfere
with our quiet enjoyment
of our homes, there will
be traffic jams
“Then we were told about
the garden proposals and it
would only be for private use by
Christian Candy. All the other
gardens around here are for
communal use and this would
be the largest private garden
near here.”
She said the work will “interfere with our quiet enjoyment
of our homes, there will be traf-
fic jams and it will pose a serious danger to cyclists and pedestrians. It will be difficult to
get out of Chester Terrace and
on to the Outer Circular.”
A spokesman for andy’s
company CPC said the land had
been a private garden built by
architect John Nash as part of
the early 19th-century Regent’s
Park master plan. He said: “The
garden was subsequently removed to make way for an extra
lane of traffic and for a period
was two-way. The road is now
reverted to a one-way street.
It seems proper and fitting to
replace the second lane of tarmac and to reinstate the garden. This would, with the other
private gardens which feature
throughout the Nash Terraces,
restore Nash’s original design.”
Residents would be consulted before any decisions were
taken, he said.
Work on the house is due to
start this year but the garden
plans need to be approved by
Camden council and Crown
Estate Paving Commission.
ing Ed Miliband, then invites users to say what they think of the
Labour leader as well as providing their contact details - only
mentioning in tiny small print
at the bottom that it is promoted
by one Alan Mabbutt on behalf
of the Conservatives.
Invoices show the vast bulk of
Tory Facebook advertising was
actually spent on “e-mail collection” like this: enticing users to
sign up to a mailing list by asking
them if they want more information on what the prime minister is
up to or on policies such as Help to
The size of the Conservative mailing list is unknown, but
those who have signed up now
get attention-grabbing e-mails
that appear to come directly from
George Osborne or Cameron, addressing recipients by their first
names and appealing personally
for their support.
I will do what
it takes to help
Miliband win,
pledges Blair
he family of a dying pensioner whose purse was
stolen have urged the culprit to give himself up.
Police have described the theft
from 82-year-old Irene Ditcher as
a “disgusting” crime.
The incident happened in
Leigh, Greater Manchester, on
Wednesday. The dead woman’s
nephew and niece, in a statement
issued through police, said: “We
cannot believe that someone has
done this to our auntie. We are absolutely disgusted by this person’s
“Had Auntie Irene been alive she
would have given them the money
if they’d asked. We just hope their
conscience gets the better of them
and they hand themselves in to the
They said they wanted to thank
the public for the kindness shown
in their loss.
“To our dearly loved auntie,
who was taken from us; you now
sit with your beloved family. You
will be sadly missed by your dear
friends and you will always be in
our hearts but never forgotten.
“Rest in peace until we meet
again. Good night, God bless.”
Officers were called to Leigh
Road at 11.45am following reports
that a woman had been hit by a
lorry. They found her dead.
Officers were told by witnesses
that after the collision a man stole
her purse before leaving.
Detective sergeant Neil Lawless
said: “This is one of the most disgusting crimes I have ever investigated and I find it hard to believe
someone could stoop so low to
commit such a horrific offence.
“This man has taken what
he sees as an easy opportunity
by stealing a purse from a dying
woman. I am sure the community
will be equally disgusted and I appeal to anyone who may have seen
this man take the purse and walk
off on Leigh Road to contact police”.
On top of that, as US data gurus realised in the last presidential
campaign, the social network is an
unrivalled source of gaining information on voters.
E-mail addresses are a great
source, which is why the Tories
have several non-party branded
websites aimed at sucking in
data, like ,
registered to Tory HQ. The red
website confronts a reader with
a map of Labour figures criticis-
ith Miliband under intense pressure after a
succession of business
leaders criticised his policies
as bad for the country, former
prime minister Tony Blair has
made clear that he was ready to
aid Miliband restore Labour to
The Observer understands
that talks between Labour officials and Blair’s office have been
going on for weeks about the
role he might play in the election
Asked whether the three-time
election-winning Labour leader
was prepared to throw his support behind the campaign, Blair’s
office said that regarding “his involvement in the party’s election
campaign, he will do whatever
the party wants”.
While Blair’s presence in the
campaign will inevitably be controversial, , the declaration is a
sign that the leading lights of
New Labour are prepared to rally
behind the current leader.
Labour sources say Blair would
be ideally placed to counter recent bruising attacks on Miliband
from some Tory-supporting entrepreneurs, by arguing that the
Tories would do far more damage
to British business if they opened
the way for the UK to leave the
David Cameron, whose party is
under heavy pressure from Ukip,
has promised to hold a referen-
dum on EU membership by the
end of 2017 if he is returned to
Downing Street.
A majority of Tory cabinet
ministers say they will back a
British exit unless he can renegotiate terms of membership.
Most business leaders, however,
are strongly in favour of the UK
staying in.
In a recent interview with the
Economist, Blair suggested he
had reservations about Miliband’s strategy, saying the election looked like becoming a battle between traditional leftwing
and rightwing parties, with the
right most likely to win. He later
said he had not meant that Miliband was on course to lose.
But with his former spin doctor Alastair Campbell now heavily involved in preparing Miliband
for TV debates, Blair will know he
cannot be absent from the campaign without fuelling further
damaging speculation.
Despite a bruising couple of
weeks, during which two members of Blair’s cabinet - Alan
Milburn and John Hutton - both
raised questions about Miliband’s policies, Labour appears
to be holding on to a narrow lead
over the Tories.
The latest survey by Opinium
for the Observer puts Labour
on 34%, two points ahead of
the Tories.
On Friday Peter Mandelson, another New Labour luminary, who has
recently criticised
Labour’s plan for
a mansion tax
worth more than
£2mn, also lined
up behind the
Nuns can be brilliant
teachers: Hunt
Author Hilary Mantel poses with her Commander of
the British Empire (CBE) award at Buckingham Palace
in London.
Labour leader.
The former minister and Blair
ally said Miliband would “make
a very good prime minister” and
was not anti-business.
Mandelson also said that a
newspaper claim that he had
sounded out Alan Johnson as an
alternative Labour leader last
autumn was “complete rubbish.” Campbell, the other senior
Labour figure quoted as having
sounded out Johnson, has also
denied the claim.
Mandelson told BBC Radio 4’s
Today Programme that he had
spoken to Johnson only because
of speculation about him standing: “As a rather good friend of
Alan Johnson, it would be rather
strange if I didn’t phone him and
find out what all this hype was
“I think I probably teased him a
bit and suggested it was the publicity agent ... whipping up media interest to boost sales of his
book... But the rest of the story is
complete rubbish.”
Over the past week, Labour has
been under siege over its stance
on business, after the boss of
Boots said a Miliband premiership could be a “catastrophe”.
Mandelson accepted that more
needed to be done to counter the
impression being created, but
said the criticism was a deliberate attempt to misrepresent
the party’s position.
He said the greatest risk to
business would come from
a Tory party that offered a referendum
on EU membership
at which many
Conservative MPs
would campaign
for a British exit.
ome nuns are “brilliant
teachers” who are doing
“fantastic jobs”, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt
has said.
The Labour frontbencher was
asked a number of times whether
an unqualified nun could be a
good teacher before making the
Last week, Hunt was forced to
insist he meant “no offence” to
nuns after being accused of making “arrogant and ignorant” comments about their teaching ability.
He came under fire after he
clashed with journalist Cristina Odone on a TV show as she
praised the education she received.
Odone said some of the “most
inspiring” teachers she had
were ones who had not been
through teacher training colleges,
prompting Mr Hunt to say “these
were all nuns, weren’t they?”.
Yesterday on the BBC’s The
Andrew Marr Show, Hunt said:
“I’m sure there are brilliant
teachers who are nuns who are
doing fantastic jobs.”
On Thursday’s Question Time,
Hunt, who has opposed the use
of unqualified teachers in classrooms, said: “I know about your
religious schooling and there’s a
difference, I think, between a state
education system having qualified
teachers in the classroom.”
Odone said she had been to a
Catholic school, a state school
and a private school and “the best
(teachers) did not come out of
teacher training college”.
Following the exchanges on the
show, Odone hit out at Hunt.
Odone, a former editor of the
Catholic Herald, told the publication: “Tristram Hunt’s comments
on nuns were arrogant and ignorant.”
“To know he and Labour stand a
chance at the next election makes
me fear for the 7,000 brilliant faith
schools in this country.”
Hunt responded to the row by
posting a message on Twitter saying: “On BBC QT I was trying to
make a generalised point about
the use of unqualified teachers in
schools. I obviously meant no offence to nuns.”
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Magna Carta
copy found
in archives
n edition of the Magna
Carta which could be
worth up to £10mn has
been found after it lay forgotten
in a council’s archives.
The discovery of the version of
the historical parchment which
established the principle of the
rule of law, in the files of the history department of Kent County
Council, has been described as
an important historical find by
an expert.
The document was found in
the archives kept in Maidstone
but belonging to the town of
Speaking from Paris, Professor Nicholas Vincent, of the
University of East Anglia, who
authenticated the document,
said: “It is a fantastic discovery
which comes in the week that the
four other known versions were
brought together at the Houses
of Parliament.
“It is a fantastic piece of news
for Sandwich which puts it in a
small category of towns and institutions that own a 1300 issue.”
Prof Vincent said the fact
Sandwich had its own Magna
Carta gives backing to the theory
that it was issued more widely
than previously thought to at
least 50 cathedral towns and
And he added the discovery
gives him hope that further copies will also turn up.
There are only 24 editions of
the Magna Carta in known existence around the world.
Prof Vincent said: “It must
have been much more widely
distributed than previously
thought because if Sandwich had
one ... the chances are it went out
to a lot of other towns.
“And it is very likely that there
are one or two out there somewhere that no one has spotted
Prof Vincent, who specialises
in medieval history, said the value of the Sandwich edition could
be up to £10mn, but it was ripped
with about a third missing.
He said: “This would be an upper value as it has, like the town
of Sandwich, suffered over time
from French invasions and the
The discovery was made by
archivist Dr Mark Bateson at the
end of December just before the
800th anniversary year celebrations of King John’s concession.
The Sandwich Magna Carta
was found when Prof Vincent
asked Dr Bateson to look up a
copy of the town’s original Charter of the Forest.
It was found next to the charter in a Victorian scrapbook and
its high value comes from the
fact it also comprises the Forest
Charter. There is only one other
such pair in the world, owned by
Oriel College, Oxford.
It is understood that Sandwich
does not intend to sell its Magna
Carta but instead is hoping to
benefit from its potential as a
tourist attraction.
Paul Graeme, mayor of Sandwich Town Council, said: “On
behalf of Sandwich Town Council, I would like to say that we are
absolutely delighted to discover
that an original Magna Carta and
original Charter of the Forest,
previously unknown, are in our
“To own one of these documents, let alone both, is an immense privilege given their international importance.
“Perhaps it is fitting that they
belong to a town where Thomas
Paine lived, who proposed in his
pamphlet Common Sense a Continental Charter for what were
then the American colonies,
‘answering to what is called the
Magna Carta of England ... securing freedom and property to
all men, and ... the free exercise
of religion’.
“Through the American Declaration of Independence, continuing in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Magna
Carta still underpins individual
liberties worldwide.
“To own such a document and the Charter of the Forest - is
an honour and a great responsibility.”
The four known 1215 editions
are from Salisbury Cathedral,
Lincoln Cathedral and two held
at the British Library. They were
brought together for a one-day
exhibition at Parliament for a
crowd of 2,015 chosen by a public
Police team search cliff in death probe
A police search team is examining a cliff face where a man was
killed in a fall. Jamie Tipper, 28,
from the Old Market area of Bristol, died after falling at the Avon
Gorge on December 20 last year.
Specially trained officers with the
rope access team started searching a section of the 250ft high
cliff face earlier yesterday. Detective inspector Andy Bevan, who
is leading the investigation, said
the rope team had been asked
to look for “specific items” but
did not give any further details.
Tipper’s death is being treated
as unexplained and a 24-year-old
man arrested on suspicion of
murder remains on police bail. A
small area off Circular Road has
been cordoned off to allow the
investigative work to take place.
“The team has been tasked to
look for specific items relating
to the inquiry as a result of new
information we’ve received,”
Bevan said. The police are also
trying to identify a taxi driver
who was on the Circular Road
on Clifton Down between 7pm
and 7.30pm when Tipper fell to
his death.
Sledgehammer time at Mayfair hotel
It’s not every day a luxury hotel encourages you to give one of its rooms the full rock ‘n’ roll treatment. However, the Marriott Hotel Park Lane armed reporter Anna
Dubois with a sledgehammer to do her worst to the final room to be demolished in its renovation. The Grade II listed hotel in Mayfair, overlooking Hyde Park, has been
transforming its 152 rooms and will relaunch in June.
New hacking powers for
security services outlined
Home Office code of
practice spells out rules and
safeguards surrounding use
of computer hacking outside
Guardian News and Media
ritain’s security services
have acknowledged they
have the worldwide capability to bypass the growing use
of encryption by Internet companies by attacking the computers themselves.
The Home Office release of
the innocuously sounding “draft
equipment interference code
of practice” this week put into
the public domain the rules and
safeguards surrounding the use
of computer hacking outside the
UK by the security services for
the first time.
The publication of the draft
code follows David Cameron’s
speech last month in which he
pledged to break into encryption
and ensure there was no “safe
space” for terrorists or serious
criminals which could not be
monitored online by the security
services with a ministerial warrant, effectively spelling out how
it might be done.
Privacy campaigners said the
powers outlined in the draft
guidance detail the powers of
BMWs, Range Rovers
seized from containers
London Evening Standard
olice have seized a haul of
Range Rovers and BMW
car parts stolen from
London and the Home Counties which were bound for export abroad in huge shipping
They swooped on the containers at Felixstowe port and
found five stolen Range Rovers and hundreds of vehicle
parts destined for Cyprus and
In an operation to target organised crime gangs engaged
in “keyless” car thefts, officers
found one container with two
£80,000 Range Rovers which
had been stolen from homes in
London and Surrey last month.
Criminals used old mattresses and dozens of stolen bicycles
in an attempt to conceal the vehicles in the containers.
The police haul also included
parts from 12 BMWs stolen in
east London in recent weeks
which were bound for Cyprus.
The five Range Rovers, stolen
from Islington, South Woodford and Surrey, were destined
for Kenya.
Detectives believe the haul
is just part of a multi-millionpound racket involving eastern
European gangs stealing cars in
London and the South-East to
smuggle abroad.
Vehicles are stolen to
order and immediately
driven to the Home
Counties where many are
stripped down in as little
as 30 minutes
Last year more than 6,000
cars and vans were seized across
the capital by gangs using key
fobs that bypass vehicle security systems.
Vehicles are stolen to order
and immediately driven to the
Home Counties where many
are stripped down at locations
known as “slaughter houses” or
“chop houses” in as little as 30
From there, the parts are
exported as far afield as Africa where components fetch as
much as £1,000 for an engine,
while whole vehicles are sold
for £10,000.
Earlier this week the Met revealed that Ford and Mercedes
vans are the most commonly
stolen vehicle using keyless
methods, followed by BMWs
and Land Rover models, including Range Rovers.
In a week-long operation
800 officers from the Met,
Kent, Essex, Hampshire, Surrey and Thames Valley police
forces monitored 20 major
roads around London to check
for stolen vehicles.
Eighty-four people were arrested during “Operation Endeavour”, 16 of them for being
allegedly involved in keyless
vehicle thefts.
intelligence services to sweep up
content of a computer or smartphone, listen to their phonecalls,
track their locations or even
switch on the microphones or
cameras on mobile phones. The
last would allow them to record
conversations near the phone or
laptop and snap pictures of anyone nearby.
The code spells this out by
saying the new rules give the
security services the power to
use hacked computers to “enable and facilitate surveillance
Eric King of Privacy International, said: “They hack their way,
remove and substitute your hardware and software and enable intelligence collection by turning on
your webcams and microphones
and shipping the data back to
GCHQ at Cheltenham.”
James Brokenshire, said the
draft code, which is subject to
a six-week consultation ending on March 20, details the
safeguards applied to different surveillance techniques,
including “computer network
exploitation” to identify, track
and disrupt the most sophisticated targets.
Computer network exploitation, or mass hacking, is a technique through which computer
networks are used to infiltrate
target computers’ networks in
order to extract and gather intelligence data.
It enables intelligence services to penetrate and collect any
sensitive or confidential data
which is typically kept hidden
and protected from the public.
It may also be used to bypass
the end-to-end encryption increasingly used by the US Internet companies to protect their
in the aftermath of the Snowden disclosures of bulk Internet
surveillance. End-to-end encryption secures messages by
ensuring that only the recipient
of a message can decode it: not
any of the supplying companies
computers’ in between.
The publication for the first
time of the legal codes of practice under the Regulation of
Investigatory Powers Act 2000
surrounding “equipment interference” was timed to coincide
with the landmark ruling that
GCHQ had been operating a
bulk intelligence sharing operation with the Americans within
an unlawful framework for the
past seven years .
That ruling by the investigatory
powers tribunal required the internal GCHQ rules and safeguards
to be made public surrounding
their receipt of the bulk collection
of British citizens’ personal data
by the American National Security Agency.
Privacy campaigners say the
powers outlined in the draft code
were more intrusive than intercepting the content of phone
calls or e-mails or scooping up
communications data, because
they included sweeping up files
and material on the computer
that had never been shared with
anybody else.
The powers in the draft code
at 7.11 also appear to give the
security services wide-ranging
powers to “self-authorise” or
give “internal approval” for
particular operations once they
have the authorisation of a secretary of state for a “broad class
of operations”. This would mean
that, unlike an operation to put
a bug a particular house, they
would not necessarily need a
specific warrant to do the same
thing by hacking a computer.
Carly Nyst, legal director of
Privacy International, said they
believed any steps that made the
security services more transparent about and accountable
for their surveillance activities
should be welcomed.
She said: “However, GCHQ
cannot legitimise their unlawful
activities simply by publishing
codes of conduct with no legislative force. In particular, the
use by intelligence agencies of
hacking - an incredibly invasive
and intrusive form of surveillance - cannot be snuck in by
Hundreds fined as
spitting ban widens
London Evening Standard
Muslim demonstrators protest against the publication of
blasphemous cartoons in French satirical weekly Charlie
Hebdo, near Downing Street in central London.
the back door through the introduction of a code of conduct
that has undergone neither parliamentary nor judicial scrutiny.
It is surely no mistake that this
code of conduct comes only days
before GCHQ is due to argue the
lawfulness of its hacking activities in court.”
But the Home Office security
minister said that terrorists and
paedophiles were increasingly
sophisticated in their use of
technology and in their efforts to
evade detection.
“The abilities to read or listen to a suspect’s communications or to interfere with his or
her computer equipment are
amongst the most important,
sensitive, and closely scrutinised powers available to the
state,” said Brokenshire.
He added: “It is vital that the
police and their partners in the
security and intelligence agencies
are able to stop them. There are
limits on what can be said in public about this work. But it is imperative that the government is as
open as it can be about these capabilities and how they are used.”
He said the revised and updated codes provided more information than ever before on
the safeguards, including in the
use of computer network exploitation, and other techniques to
“identify, track and disrupt the
most sophisticated targets”.
lmost 700 people have
been forced to pay fines
totalling tens of thousands of pounds for spitting in
London’s streets, the Standard
Every borough now has the
power to fine people for spitting in public after Communities Secretary Eric Pickles last
month agreed to a fixed £80 penalty scheme drawn up by London
Following a Freedom of Information request, it can be revealed that the three boroughs
who have already introduced
bans have fined 689 people up to
Newham council was the first
to ban spitting, in April 2011,
and its wardens have issued 634
Waltham Forest council followed suit in February 2013, also
using the Environmental Protection Act 1990 by categorising
spit as “litter”, and has fined 42
people. In November that year,
Enfield council introduced bylaws under which it has issued
14 fines — although one person
successfully challenged the fine
in court.
All of London’s 33 boroughs can
now fine people £80 for spitting
after Pickles approved the penalties drawn up by London Councils’
transport and environment committee. He has previously branded
spitting a “deeply anti-social and
unpleasant practice”.
The fine can be cut to £50 if it
is paid within 14 days. A spokesman for London Councils said:
“Anti-social spitting impacts
people’s quality of life. This is
exactly the sort of measure boroughs can and should implement
to make their local areas more
pleasant places to live and work.”
Newham councillor Ian Corbett, who is the mayoral adviser
on environment and leisure,
said: “Spitting is an unhygienic
and anti-social act which our
residents should not have to witness or walk through.”
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Erdogan unhappy with spy chief’s resignation
Davutoglu: had the final say on
the matter.
‘Bling bishop’ gets
new job at Vatican
A German bishop who resigned
in disgrace last year for spending
millions of euros of believers’
money to renovate his home has
taken a new post at the Vatican,
sources told DPA.
Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, who
became known internationally
as the “bling bishop”, resigned
in March after months of
criticism for the €31mn ($43mn)
spent renovating his residence,
including the fitting of a €15,000
He had also came under fire for
lying under oath about flying
first class to visit slum dwellers
in India.
Tebartz-van Elst avoided
prosecution for perjury by
paying a €20,000 settlement to
Hamburg prosecutors.
Sources told DPA on Saturday
that Tebartz-van Elst, 55,
was appointed in December
to the Vatican’s Pontifical
Council for Promoting the New
Evangelisation. His job title and
role were not known.
Tebartz-van Elst had been bishop
of Limburg, a western German
city north of Frankfurt.
His lavish lifestyle was a public
embarrassment to the Catholic
Most Germans
happy with govt
More than half of German citizens
are happy with their coalition
government’s performance,
including its handling of Greek
bailout negotiations and the
conflict in eastern Ukraine, an
opinion poll showed.
The Infratest Dimap poll –
conducted on behalf of public
broadcaster ARD and newspaper
Die Welt – showed that 57% of
Germans are either “satisfied”
or “very satisfied” with the
work of Chancellor Angela
Merkel’s conservative Christian
Democratic Union (CDU) and her
Social Democrat (SPD) coalition
Over half of supporters of
Germany’s main opposition
Green Party are also satisfied
with the so-called GroKo – a
German abbreviation for Grand
Only 34% of respondents said
they were less satisfied with the
coalition government.
Seven per cent said they were
not at all satisfied.
urkish President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday that he was unhappy
with the decision by powerful intelligence chief Hakan Fidan to
resign from his post and stand for
parliament in June elections.
“I do not view Hakan Fidan’s
candidacy positively,” Erdogan said
in televised comments at Istanbul
airport before heading on a visit to
Latin America.
Erdogan said he had made his
opinion on the matter clear to
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
but that the premier had the final
“I cannot interfere,” Erdogan
Erdogan’s comments stunned
Turkish media which had assumed
Fidan’s departure was part of a
masterplan by the Turkish strongman ahead of the June 7 legislative
It also raised the prospect of a
public split between Erdogan and
Davutoglu, who have shown tight
unity since Erdogan moved to the
presidency in August after more
than a decade as prime minister.
Widely seen as one of Turkey’s most powerful figures, Fidan
served as head of the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) since 2010
and has always been regarded as
one of Erdogan’s closest allies.
Fidan, who rarely speaks in public, has made no comment on the
matter since his resignation was
first reported on Friday.
Davutoglu made no comment on
the resignation during a political
speech to a mass rally of AKP sup-
porters in Istanbul.
Erdogan however also criticised
the opposition for saying that Fidan had no right to stand as an MP
as a former head of the MIT.
“Any civil servant has the right
to run for parliament and so does
the head of the MIT. If the party
fields him, then he can run,” said
Turkish state officials have until
February 10 to resign from their
posts if they were to stand for parliament.
As head of the MIT, Fidan led negotiations with Kurdish rebels for
an end to a decades-long insurgency and has been a key player in Turkey’s policy on the Syria conflict.
He was also instrumental in
controversial talks that secured the
release in September of almost 50
Turkish diplomats, staff and their
families who were kidnapped by
Islamic State (IS) jihadists at the
Turkish consulate in Mosul in Iraq.
In a previous note of dissent
at his resignation, Deputy Prime
Minister Bulent Arinc questioned
the need for Fidan to leave the MIT,
saying that it was a “waste”.
“Personally, I think seeing a person, who was assigned the duty of
superman, entering the parliament
to become an MP is a waste,” he told
the CNN-Turk television channel.
There has been frenzied speculation in the Turkish press that Fidan could after the elections enter
government as foreign minister or
even replace Davutoglu as premier
and AKP chief.
But another Deputy Prime Minister, Yalcin Akdogan, ridiculed the
suggestion that Fidan could be premier.
“There is no such search. I cannot but laugh at this,” he said.
Erdogan: I do not view Hakan Fidan’s candidacy positively.
Hollande’s post-attacks
ratings surge faces test
Besançon, France
rench President Francois Hollande’s newfound
popularity after the Paris
attacks faced its first major
test yesterday as a member of
his ruling Socialist party battled against a far-right National
Front (FN) candidate in a tense
The first round of the poll on
February 1 in the eastern Doubs
district – called after Socialist
lawmaker Pierre Moscovici left
for Brussels to take office as economic affairs commissioner –
saw FN candidate Sophie Montel
come first with close to a third of
the vote.
The Socialist Frederic Barbier,
54, came second and the main
opposition UMP candidate was
knocked out of the race.
If she wins yesterday’s decisive second round, Montel, 45,
will be the third far-right lawmaker to sit in France’s lower
house National Assembly.
UMP leader and former president Nicolas Sarkozy warned
on Tuesday of a real risk of the
National Front taking power at a
national level in the future.
His party nevertheless called
on its supporters to abstain from
voting for either candidate, and
all eyes were on whether the
60.5% of voters who abstained
last weekend would turn out this
time round.
An hour before polling booths
closed yesterday, more than 43%
of voters had cast their ballots –
compared with some 34% at the
same time last week.
In Pont-de-Roide-Vermondans, Barbier’s town in Doubs,
voters streamed to the ballot
box, waiting in line in bitter cold
under a grey sky.
The result will be a test for
Hollande’s Socialist party and
for the president himself.
The ruling party has won none
of the 13 by-elections held since
Hollande came to power in May
2012, with voters becoming
steadily more exasperated with
record high unemployment and
near zero economic growth.
By the time of the deadly Paris
attacks last month, Hollande
had become the most unpopular
president in modern French history.
But his widely praised handling of the January 7-9 Islamist
killings that left 17 people dead
boosted his image, and he has
now shot back up in the ratings.
An opinion poll carried out
by the Ifop polling company 10
days after the attacks showed
Hollande’s ratings had doubled
to 40%.
Hollande: his popularity has
surged since the deadly Paris
attacks last month.
But official figures published
late last month showed unemployment hit a new record in
December, casting a cloud on
this popularity spike.
And a poll published in the
daily Le Parisien yesterday found
that two-thirds of French people
still think that Hollande is a “bad
president” – down from 77% in
The importance of the byelection was highlighted last
week when both Prime Minister
Manuel Valls and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve visited
Barbier to pledge their support.
The FN’s number two Florian Philippot, meanwhile, has
visited Montel, as has Steeve
Electoral campaign posters for the by-election in the 4th constituency of Doubs are seen in Audincourt.
Briois, the high-profile mayor
of the former coal-mining town
of Henin-Beaumont in northern
Marine Le Pen’s Eurosceptic FN, which she has skilfully
rebranded as more than just an
anti-immigrant party, has been
going from strength to strength
in France.
The FN won control of 11
towns and more than 1,200 municipal seats nationwide in local
elections last year in which the
Socialists suffered such a drubbing that Hollande reshuffled
the entire government.
The result was a huge success
for the FN, which in the last local
elections in 2008 had claimed
only around 60 seats.
The party’s rising popularity is widely seen as a result of
unhappiness with Hollande’s
government, as well as general
exasperation at mainstream parties which many believe are unable to resolve problems of unemployment, poor growth and
PEGIDA rally in
Austria dwarfed by
23,000 phones,
PCs monitored
German investigators monitored
telephones and Internet
communications in 22,917 cases
in attempts to convict criminals
during the course of 2013, a
media report said on Saturday.
A total of 19,670 mobile phones,
5,033 computers and 3,271
landlines were intercepted, the
Bild newspaper reported, citing
data from the justice ministry.
Most cases involved gang-related
theft (2,047 cases), murder (1,863
cases) and fraud (1,745 cases).
Authorities requested
telecommunications data, such
as location information, in a
further 20,923 cases.
No previous data were provided
to make comparisons.
Germans have become
increasingly concerned about
privacy and surveillance
following revelations that the US
National Security Agency (NSA)
was collecting German citizens’
private data.
Whistle-blower Edward
Snowden’s leaks of NSA files also
showed that Chancellor Angela
Merkel’s phone was monitored
by the US.
he first protest in the Austrian city of Linz by Germany’s “anti-Islamisation” movement PEGIDA drew
just 150 supporters yesterday and
was dwarfed by a counter-demo
by some 2,000 people, police
A planned PEGIDA march
through the centre of the northern city was abandoned after
several hundred counter-demonstrators blocked their way,
chanting “Auf Wiedersehen”
(“Goodbye”), the Austria Press
Agency reported.
During a stand-off lasting
around an hour a few snowballs
were thrown there were no incidents of violence.
“There were no arrests,” a police spokesman told AFP.
He also said that unlike at last
Monday’s PEGIDA march in Vienna, the first in Austria, police
did not see any raised-arm Hitler
salutes or “Sieg Heil” chants.
Unlike in Germany, Austria
has a strong far-right party in the
Freedom Party (FPOe), the thirdlargest in parliament with around
20% support and which has long
Austrian riot police face counter-marchers protesting against PEGIDA in Linz, Austria, yesterday.
Turkey detains 21 police officers
Turkish court ordered
the arrest of 21 police
officers yesterday as
part of an investigation into
the illegal wiretapping of
politicians, civil servants and
businessmen, the Dogan News
Agency reported.
Raids began in several cities as prosecutors enforced the
court order, privately owned
Dogan said, the latest step in
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s campaign against
supporters of his ally turned
arch-foe, US-based Muslim
cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment.
Scores of police officers
have already been detained as
part of the investigation since
the middle of last year.
Erdogan accuses Gulen of
setting up a “parallel state”
within the Turkish administration and of trying to topple
him, blaming Gulen’s supporters within the police and
judiciary for a corruption inquiry that rocked the government late in 2013.
In the course of the scandal,
wiretap recordings of senior
officials leaked onto the Internet.
Thousands of police officers, judges and prosecutors
have since been removed from
their posts.
In December, a Turkish
court issued an arrest warrant for Gulen on suspicion of
heading a criminal organisation and last week Turkey revoked his passport.
Gulen, who lives in selfimposed exile in the United
States, denies plotting against
the government.
campaigned against immigration
and “Islamisation”.
“In Austria the FPOe has always been the real PEGIDA. We
have always taken seriously the
problems to do with Islamism,”
the party’s leader Heinz-Christian Strache told NEWS magazine in a recent interview.
Meanwhile, a new German
movement that broke away from
PEGIDA drew just 500 people to
its first rally in the city of Dresden yesterday, highlighting the
obstacles they face in winning
further support and making a
national impact.
PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans
Against the Islamisation of the
Occident) marches began in the
German city of Dresden last year
with several hundred supporters
and snowballed to reach 25,000
people on January 12.
But numbers have fallen since
the movement’s founder stepped
down on January 21 after a picture surfaced of him posing as
Adolf Hitler.
Other senior figures have also
since resigned.
PEGIDA offshoot “Direct
Democracy for Europe”, led by
Kathrin Oertel who was a founding member of PEGIDA but quit
last month, wants tighter immi-
gration controls, more referendums to decide policies and more
money for the police.
Oertel and four other founding members broke from PEGIDA
last month following the resignation of figurehead Lutz Bachmann who quit after a photo
was published of him posing as
the Nazi leader and prosecutors
opened an investigation for inciting hatred.
“The goals were the same (as
those of PEGIDA) but the ways
and means of achieving these
goals are no longer the same,”
Oertel told the crowd in Dresden,
adding she wanted an immigration law and greater involvement
for ordinary people in political
They also cited the need to
distance themselves from a hardline PEGIDA offshoot in Leipzig.
Some 5,000 people had been
registered for yesterday’s demonstration in Dresden but only
about 500 turned up, said local
Small offshoots of PEGIDA
have sprung up in other German
cities and marches have taken
place in the Czech Republic,
Denmark and Norway, involving however only a few hundred
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Appeal for ‘urgency’
at UN climate talks
This picture taken yesterday shows the United Nations headquarters
in Geneva. UN climate negotiators gathered in Geneva were urged
yesterday to show urgency and compromise in crafting a draft by
next week for a global pact to be signed in December.
film event
10 trophies at the Goya
Awards, Spain’s version of the
Oscars, which honoured Antonio Banderas with a lifetime
achievement award.
Among others, the movie
about a police probe into the disappearance of two sisters after a
local fiesta in rural Spain in 1980,
won best film, best original
screenplay and best director for
Alberto Rodriguez at a ceremony
in Madrid late on Saturday.
Spanish actor Javier Gutierrez
won the best actor prize for his
role as a violent police officer in
the movie – Spanish title La Isla
Minima – while Barbara Lennie
was named best actress for her
role as an unstable housewife in
dark comedy Magical Girl.
Oscar-winning director Pedro
Almodovar praised Banderas as
he handed him with a lifetime
achievement award, an honorary
Goya, saying that the 54-yearold actor “lit fire to Spanish
movie screens in the 1980s” and
then went on to become the first
Spanish actor to achieve success
in Hollywood.
Banderas made his film debut
in Almodovar’s 1982 screwball
comedy Labyrinth of Passion.
He went on to star in dramas
such as Philadelphia, horror
films such as Interview with the
Vampire, the musical Evita and
was the voice of the animated
character Puss in Boots in the
Shrek films.
“If I look back I feel old, if I
look forward I feel young. The
second half of my life starts
now,” the actor said in his acceptance speech.
Banderas has been nominated
on four occasions for a Goya but
has never won before.
He dedicated the award to his
18-year-old daughter Stella del
Carmen, saying she is “the person who has suffered the most
from my professional commitments, my absences”.
“Forgive me my daughter,” he
added. Del Carmen is the actor’s
only child with US actress Melanie Griffith.
The couple who first worked
together on the set of the 1995
romantic comedy Two Much
filed for divorce last year, putting
an end to an 18-year marriage.
The awards ceremony comes
after the best year for Spanish
movies in terms of both box office and market share since the
country returned to democracy
following the death of dictator
General Francisco Franco in 1975.
around €130mn ($156mn) in
Spain in 2014. Their market
share was around 25%.
N climate negotiators in
Geneva were urged yesterday to show urgency
and compromise in crafting a
draft by next week for a global
pact to be signed in December.
“I ask you to work with efficiency and a sense of compromise,” Manuel Pulgar-Vidal,
Peru’s environment minister and
president of the negotiations told
the opening session of the sixday talks.
Pointing to scientific warnings
of a dangerous Earth-warming
trend, he appealed to country
representatives to “work with an
even higher sense of urgency”.
“This is not a competition
among us. We are just one team
for one planet,” Pulgar-Vidal
Negotiations resumed for the
first time since an annual ministerial-level meeting in Lima last
December yielded a sprawling
37-page blueprint for the agreement that countries had in 2011
agreed to finalise by the end of
this year.
To be inked in the French capital, the pact must enter into force
by 2020 to further the UN goal
of limiting global warming to
two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees
Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial
Revolution levels.
Scientists warn that on current
greenhouse gas emission trends,
Earth is on track for double
that – a recipe for catastrophic
droughts, storms, floods and rising seas.
Last Monday the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)
said that 2014 was the hottest
year on record – part of a “warming trend” set to continue.
But the 195 nations gathered
under the UN banner remain at
odds, broadly on rich-developing country lines, and the Lima
document is stuffed with options
that reflect conflicting interests
and demands on many fundamental points.
The goal of Geneva is to trim
the document down to a workable draft for an official “negotiating text” to guide the process
through to December.
Procedure requires that an official draft text must be submitted by the end of May this year
– six months before the next
Conference of Parties in Paris
that will adopt the final version.
“This session in Geneva is
the only session planned before
May 2015,” the meeting’s cochairman Daniel Reifsnyder of
the United States told delegates.
“The objective is to deliver ... on
Friday (February 13) at 6pm (1700
GMT) the negotiating text of the
Paris climate agreement.”
South Africa, on behalf of a
broad group of developing and
poor nations, called for a show
of good faith – including for rich
countries to show how they intend keeping a promise to scale
climate assistance up to $100bn
(€88bn) by 2020.
“As the primary bearers of the
impacts of climate change, we
have been asked to do so much
and have made so many concessions in these negotiations
throughout the years. The group
looks forward to seeing what our
partners are prepared to bring to
the table,” said ambassador Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko. “We...
need to see all country parties
bringing their positive intentions
into this process.”
A key disagreement is the issue of “differentiation” – how to
divide responsibility for curbing
greenhouse gas emissions between rich and poor nations.
Countries must submit carbon-cutting pledges in the
months leading up to the Paris
But they also disagree on how
to measure whether the pledges,
collectively, add up to meeting
the 2°C target, and how to ramp
them up if they don’t.
“We have to know how much
is on the table and what more
needs to be done,” European negotiator Elina Bardram said yesterday. “Like other parties we are
concerned that the target set in
Paris may fall short of what is required by science. We will need to
regularly set new targets that can
respond to the new science and
technological development.”
The February 8-13 meeting
is one of three special sessions
added to this year’s schedule of
the details of a case involving a
beautiful young woman whose
husband had asked Holmes to
track her movements.
Her fate has troubled him ever
since, and led him to give up detective work.
Condon said that the project
had been 11 years in the making
and he had persisted because he
wanted to work with McKellen
again and because he believed in
the script.
“It was such a delicate and
beautifully told story and I have
to say, too, secretly for 17 years
I’ve been reading scripts constantly imagining that I could
work with Ian McKellen and suddenly there is this script,” he said.
American actress Laura Lin-
ney, whom McKellen complimented on her English workingclass accent, said the setting in
1947, with part of the plot taking
Holmes to war-ravaged Japan in
search of a cure for his amnesia,
gave it an extra dimension.
“She’s a war widow from that
period of time and the impact
that the war has on everyone in
this film is the sort of unspoken
earthquake underneath the story,” Linney said.
Child actor Milo Parker said
that he had been thrilled by the
opportunity to work with McKellen.
“I learned a lot from Ian on the
basis that he’s a really nice man
and he’s also an amazing actor
and he’s Gandalf,” Parker said.
Hollywood odyssey
sets Berlin fest alight
By Deborah Cole, AFP
eclusive US director Terrence Malick drew cheers
yesterday with the mostanticipated competition contender of the Berlin film festival,
Knight of Cups starring Christian Bale as a crisis-racked Hollywood screenwriter.
Malick, true to form, did not
attend the event but Bale and
co-star Natalie Portman were
set to represent him on the red
carpet at the gala premiere in
the German capital.
They told reporters after a
packed press screening, which
met with lengthy applause
and cries of “bravo”, that the
71-year-old Texan filmmaker
had given them precious few
clues about the story before
turning on the camera.
“Our mantra throughout the
whole film was kind of like ‘let’s
start before we’re ready’ and so
you get a lot of happy accidents
and real responses,” he said.
Knight of Cups, whose title is
taken from a tarot card, tells the
story of Rick, a successful film
industry writer and compulsive
womaniser who is haunted by
failed relationships.
He sets out on an odyssey in
which Malick’s signature nonlinear storytelling, spectacular
cinematography and whispered
voiceovers take the place of
standard movie plot and dialogue.
Rick goes to see the loves of
his life – his estranged wife, a
doctor played by Cate Blanchett, and his former mistress
(Portman) as well as a revolving
cast of models, strippers and
“It’s about somebody whose
dreams and desires have been
fulfilled but who feels a great
void within himself,” Bale, 41,
said. “It’s somebody who’s seen
the peak of the mountain and
has all the acclaim and all of the
invitations to the right places
and knows all the right people
and all that. There’s a great deal
of laughter but there’s a great
deal of sorrow as well within it.”
Bale said that Malick’s insistence on improvisation extended
to the filming as well.
“They would just hand me a
GoPro (camera) and say, ‘shoot a
scene’,” he said.
Portman, 33, said she had
long hoped to work with Malick,
calling his 1978 drama Days of
Heaven “probably my favourite
film ever”.
“It was one of the rare experiences where the person exceeds
your expectations,” she said.
The actress said Malick gave
the cast “30 pages a day of suggested dialogue that we could
pick and choose from”.
“Just searching for the discoveries every day – there’s
no sense that you have a script
that you’re just executing while
you’re making the movie – everyday is a search for something
beautiful,” she said.
Answering a reporter’s question about the film’s portrayal of
women as either “seductresses
or saviours” and its lushly shot
nude scenes, Portman said Malick had captured part of Hollywood’s essence.
The film depicts “everything
from the superficiality that you
might find at a Hollywood party and the way women might
be treated there, as opposed to
Cate Blanchett’s character who
has great soul and generosity
and humanity,” she said. “The
city can encompass both those
extremes and he (Rick) is trying to find that path in a world
peopled by those extremes, both
male and female.”
Malick won Berlin’s prestigious Golden Bear top prize for
The Thin Red Line in 1999 and
Above: Bale poses for
photographers during a
photocall of the film Knight of
Right: Portman arriving for the
screening of the movie Knight
of Cups.
the Palme d’Or at Cannes in
2011 for The Tree of Life.
Knight of Cups is one of 19
films in the running for the 65th
Golden Bear, to be awarded on
Saturday by jury president Darren Aronofsky.
Ahead of yesterday’s premieres, critics polled by industry magazine Screen gave
the highest marks to Andrew
Haigh’s 45 Years, which drew
rave reviews for Charlotte Rampling’s performance as a woman
whose time-tested marriage begins to falter.
‘Gandalf’ turns into ‘Sherlock’
as McKellen plays detective
By Michael Roddy, Reuters
Sir Ian, Parker and Linney pose for photographers during a
photocall of the film Mr Holmes, presented in the competition of
the 65th Berlin International Film Festival.
an McKellen transformed
himself from Gandalf into a
nonagenarian Sherlock Holmes for Mr Holmes, shown in
Berlin yesterday, giving the veteran British actor a chance to
portray one of England’s most
treasured characters.
McKellen, making his second
movie with Bill Condon, said he
had leapt at the opportunity to
work with the American director,
with whom he last filmed in 1998
in Gods and Monsters, and at the
opportunity to portray Holmes.
“He’s one of the great Englishmen and he never lived – it’s
astonishing,” McKellen said at a
news conference after the movie
was shown at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Based on the Holmes spin-off
novel A Slight Trick of the Mind
by Mitch Cullin, the film, like
other new iterations of the detective stories, picks up where
Arthur Conan Doyle left off.
This one finds Holmes in retirement in the English countryside where he lives as a recluse,
tending bees and looked after by
a middle-aged woman, widowed
when her airman husband was
shot down during World War II,
and her son Roger.
Partly because of Roger’s curiosity, the aged detective, who is
losing his memory, tries to recall
Ingenious one-take heist film Victoria impresses critics
By Rollo Ross, Reuters
erman heist film Victoria, shot in one take in
more than 20 locations,
took the idea of single-take films
popularised by Birdman to a new
level at the Berlin International
Film Festival.
“To shoot a film in one take is
absolutely moronic but we did
it,” director Sebastian Schipper
said of his film, which had its
festival premiere on Saturday
The story follows all-night
Berlin clubber Victoria, played
by Laia Costa, who as she leaves
a nightclub becomes embroiled
in an armed robbery and its fallout.
“Everything is improvised,
everything,” Schipper said on
the day of the film’s premiere.
He added that he had courted
disaster on several occasions
while filming the movie, which
lasts two hours and 20 minutes.
“On the last take, there was
a Russian couple and they had
been partying – as they should
– and they saw one of my actors
having a panic attack ... and they
thought that poor guy is having
a panic attack or needs help,” he
“At first, I was yelling at them
‘No, go, step back’ and then the
guy was a little bit ‘What?’ ‘No,
sorry, sorry, sorry we’re shooting a film’ and then he was all
Actress Costa said making the
film had been a thrill.
Trade publication Variety
called the film “undeniably a
stunt, but one suffused with a
surprising degree of grace and
emotional authenticity”.
Victoria is one of the 19 films
in competition at the Berlin festival.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Ukraine conflict dominates Munich conference
By Nikolaus von Twickel, DPA
o many, this year’s Munich Security Conference
(MSC) was the toughest
since the event was first held in
“We discussed primarily bad
news,” conference organiser
Wolfgang Ischinger said in his
closing remarks yesterday.
And the bad news had mainly
to do with Russia and Ukraine.
The bloody conflict between
Russia-backed separatists and
government forces in eastern
Ukraine was discussed during
many panels.
German Chancellor Angela
Merkel captured the tense atmosphere when she remarked
after her speech that “we are all
exposed to the non-military aspects of hybrid war”.
A combination of intelligence,
propaganda and other non-conventional operations, “hybrid
war” and its covert use by Russia
against Ukraine and the West was
certainly the talk of the conference, which featured a special
panel on information warfare.
The conference’s famed discussion atmosphere descended
into a downright war of words,
when Russian Foreign Minister
Lavrov: baseless accusations and calls for punishment are a road to
Sergei Lavrov addressed it on
Lavrov accused the US and
its allies of destroying Europe’s
security architecture and of fomenting a coup in Ukraine.
The audience broke out into
undiplomatic laughter when he
claimed that Crimea’s joining
Russia happened in accordance
with the UN Charter, and then
again when he said that the Soviet Union had been against the
partitioning of Germany.
Lavrov only dryly remarked
“they say that laughter prolongs
The Russian top diplomat’s
speech, which he rattled down
as if he had a plane to catch (he
stayed another night), was lambasted as a “torrent of lies” by
conference participant Edward
Lucas, a senior editor at The
Henrik Ilves, the outspoken
president of Estonia, who was
also in the hall, tweeted: “I feel
badly for smart people forced to
say dumb things, to obfuscate
and lie to a room full of other very
smart people.”
German Foreign Minister
Frank Walter Steinmeier told the
conference yesterday that Lavrov’s speech was not helpful.
Unfazed, Lavrov told journalists later that he had a good
conference thanks to more than
15 bilateral meetings at the sidelines.
“I felt an understanding that
whipping up emotions in public,
making baseless accusations and
calls for punishment are a road to
nowhere,” he said.
However, there was one more
covert conflict present in Munich
– the US-European split over
military aid to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko launched another desperate call for weapons deliveries
at the conference, saying that
Ukraine needs to ramp up its defences.
Poroshenko looked downbeat,
almost close to tears, when he
presented the confiscated passports of what he claimed were
Russian soldiers who “lost their
way” inside Ukraine.
“This conflict must be resolved, not frozen,” he said.
But Merkel and EU foreign
policy chief Federica Mogherini
made it clear that there won’t be
arms deliveries from Europe, because most member states view
this as a path to total escalation.
“The number of arms is big in
the region and it has not led to a
situation in which I see a solution,” Merkel said.
Neither United States VicePresident Joe Biden nor Secretary
of State John Kerry mentioned
weapons deliveries, and Kerry
stressed that there is no division
and that Europe and America are
Kerry (centre) with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (left) and German Foreign Minister Steinmeier
during a panel discussion on the third day of the 51st Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich.
4-way summit planned
he leaders of Ukraine,
Germany and France are
pushing for a summit with
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in a frantic bid
to halt escalating bloodshed in
eastern Ukraine.
The four leaders discussed the
meeting in a phone call yesterday
as part of their efforts to achieve
a “comprehensive settlement” in
the conflict between Ukrainian
forces and pro-Russian rebels,
Berlin said.
Putin, however, warned that
the summit planned in the Belarussian capital Minsk would only
take place if the leaders agreed on
a “number of points” by then.
“We will be aiming for
Wednesday, if by that time we
manage to agree on a number
of points which we’ve been intensely discussing lately,” Putin
told Belarus President Alexander
Lukashenko yesterday in televised remarks.
German Chancellor Angela
Merkel and French President
Francois Hollande have ramped
up their push for peace in recent
days, jetting to Kiev first for talks
with Ukrainian President Petro
Poroshenko and then to Moscow to meet Putin, accused by
the West of masterminding the
10-month-old conflict.
Today foreign ministry officials from the four countries will
hold preparatory talks in Berlin
while Merkel briefs US President
Barack Obama on the latest peace
initiative during a visit to the
White House.
In their telephone conversation yesterday, Putin, Poroshenko, Merkel and Hollande
“continued to work on a package
of measures to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the conflict
in eastern Ukraine”, Merkel’s office said.
The Ukrainian government
said the leaders expected their
efforts to lead to “an immediate and unconditional bilateral
But German officials say Putin has shown little appetite for
compromise and they acknowledge in private that he has repeatedly broken promises in the
One senior official, speaking
on condition of anonymity, said
the Russian leader might have
little incentive to clinch a peace
deal now, while pro-Russian
rebels are making gains on the
ground in eastern Ukraine.
“He can sit back and wait as
the pressure steadily builds on
Ukraine and its leaders,” the official said.
Tomorrow mediators from
the Organisation for Security
and Co-operation in Europe
(OSCE) are expected to meet
with Ukrainian and Russian representatives as well as the rebels,
Ukraine’s presidency said.
Fresh fighting in the former
Soviet republic claimed 12 civilian lives, separatist and Kiev authorities said, with 12 Ukrainian
united in support of Ukraine.
But US Senator John McCain
asked: “how long can Putin sustain a war that he says is not happening?”
He added: “That’s why we
must provide defensive weapons
to Ukraine.”
after call
to dodge
the draft
Above: An elderly man has a free meal, with a girl looking at him, at a
public canteen yesterday near Donetsk.
Right: A Russian convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid is
parked yesterday, with a member of the Organisation for Security
and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) seen in the foreground, on the
outskirts of Donetsk.
Below: A pro-Russian rebel carries a cat as he walks past a dead
Ukrainian soldier in the eastern Ukrainian town of Vuglegirsk in the
Donetsk region.
troops also killed in the last 24
A previous peace deal agreed
in Minsk in September has been
largely ignored, with fighting
escalating in recent weeks as the
rebels push further into government-held territory.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the Munich Security Conference that “what
Germany and France are seeking
right now is not peace on paper,
but peace on the ground”.
European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels today
are to confirm the addition of 19
people to a list of EU sanctions
over the conflict in Ukraine.
Poroshenko has said he is ready
to take a hard line against Russia
and the separatists.
Speaking on the sidelines of
the Munich conference, he also
insisted that the idea of granting
greater autonomy to the separatist-controlled eastern districts
or making Ukraine a federation
would only be considered on the
basis of a nationwide referendum.
“And I know the result of that
referendum,” he said.
The Ukrainian leader did,
however, say that he was ready
for an unconditional ceasefire.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini has also weighed
in on the debate, saying in Munich that there is no alternative
to a diplomatic solution.
“It is our duty to try” and find
a diplomatic solution, Mogherini
said of the Merkel-Hollande initiative.
In Washington, momentum
has been building for the US to
arm Ukraine against the separatists.
Merkel came under sharp criticism from US senators Lyndsey
Graham and John McCain, both
Republican hawks, for opposing
the sending of defensive weapons to the Ukraine army to help it
fight the separatists.
“The Ukrainians are being
slaughtered and we’re sending
them blankets and meals,” McCain said in Munich. “Blankets
don’t do well against Russian
Speaking in Munich, US Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed talk of a rift with Europe
on the issue.
“Let me assure everybody,
there is no division, there is no
split,” Kerry said. “We all agree
that this challenge will not end
through military means (but) the
longer it takes, the more the off-
ramps are avoided, the more we
will be forced to raise the costs on
Russia and its proxies.”
“Will we remain united? The
answer is absolutely, positively,
unequivocally we are united, we
will remain united,” Kerry told
the conference yesterday, describing any differences as tactical rather than strategic.
Members of the Obama administration are also believed
to be sceptical about arming
Ukraine but the president faces
intense pressure from a Republican-led Congress to act.
The Germans believe sending
weapons to a depleted Ukraine
army would not improve its
armed with “unlimited” supplies
of Russian military equipment.
They also fear that delivering
arms would internationalise the
conflict, playing into the hands
of Putin, who has painted the
crisis as a western plot to weaken
German Foreign Minister
Frank-Walter Steinmeier said a
resolution of the conflict was still
far off.
“Europe can only have permanent security with, not against,
Russia,” said Steinmeier.
A senior US State Department
official has said that the new European peace plan is based on
September’s ceasefire deal.
Hollande told French TV station France 2 that the proposal
includes the creation of a 50km to
70km demilitarised zone around
the current demarcation line.
But this idea appeared to face
opposition from Ukraine’s president, who has lost territory to the
rebels since the Minsk accord.
“There is only one line, and
that’s the line from the Minsk
agreement,” Poroshenko said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Kremlin
was expecting “important decisions” to be taken if the leaders’
summit went ahead on Wednesday.
Moscow’s top diplomat played
up the reported divisions between the US and Europe on
arming Ukraine.
“An overwhelming majority if
not all European politicians think
this is a bad idea,” he said in Munich.
Some 5,400 people have been
killed since the start of the conflict in April.
Kiev accuses the rebels of
sending more tanks, armoured
vehicles and rocket launcher systems to the embattled Debaltseve
region and to Granitne, around
35km northeast of the city of
A Ukraine military spokesman said yesterday that intense
fighting was continuing around
the rail junction town of Debaltseve, with rebel fighters making
repeated attempts to storm lines
defended by government troops.
The town of Debaltseve – midway between the rebel centres
of Donetsk and Luhansk – has
been the focus of fierce fighting
for over a week as insurgents try
to encircle government troops
holding the strategic railway hub.
If there is no breakthrough
on Wednesday, European Union
leaders meeting in Brussels the
following day may signal their
readiness to ratchet up sanctions
against Russia, including targeting new sectors of the economy,
like the banking sector.
However officials said that a
final decision on tougher sanctions is not expected before the
next summit of EU leaders in
Describing Putin as a “tyrant”,
British Foreign Secretary Philip
Hammond told Sky News that
the Minsk talks were a last opportunity for the Russian leader
to avert crippling new sanctions
that would cause “significant
damage” to the Russian economy.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking on
French television, said he feared
a “dramatic spiral” in violence
if dialogue with Moscow did not
“It’s a matter of hours and
days. The moment that a break in
these discussions ends in an impasse, I fear the worst,” he said.
kraine’s security service
arrested a journalist on
treason charges yesterday after he posted a video online urging people to dodge the
country’s new military draft, his
wife and officials said.
Ruslan Kotsaba – a television
journalist from the western region of Ivano-Frankivsk – was
ordered held in custody for 60
days pending investigations, his
wife Uliana wrote on Facebook.
A senior official at Ukraine’s
SBU security agency, Markian
Lubkivskyi, wrote online that
Kotsaba was detained on suspicion of treason, an accusation
that carries a possible 15-year jail
Kotsaba published a video on
YouTube last month denouncing
a new round of military call-ups
by Kiev to boost its forces fighting pro-Russian rebels in the
“I would prefer to go to prison
than to participate in this fratricidal war,” Kotsaba said in the
footage, which was viewed more
than 300,000 times. “I refuse to
be drafted and call on everyone
who is called up to refuse.”
After 10 months of conflict,
opinion is split in war-weary
Ukraine over the latest government plan to mobilise around
50,000 men.
A senior official has admitted
that almost 40% of men called
up to serve in Kotsaba’s home
region have left Ukraine.
Britain says Putin is behaving like tyrant
Russian President Vladimir Putin is behaving like a “mid-20th century tyrant”, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said yesterday, urging him
to change track and save Russia’s economy from further decline.
He told Sky News television that supplying arms from Britain to Ukraine
would not be the right thing to do “at the moment”, but insisted London’s
position would be kept under review.
“This man has sent troops across an international border and occupied
another country’s territory in the 21st century acting like some mid-20th
century tyrant,” Hammond said of Putin.
“Civilised nations do not behave like that in the 21st century. We live in a
rules-based society. We want the Russian people to be part of that international community.
“We want Russia to enjoy the kind of economic growth and rising standards of living that people in the rest of Europe enjoy and we do not see any
reason to tolerate this kind of outrageous and outdated behaviour from
the Kremlin.”
French, German and Ukrainian leaders are planning a summit with Putin
for Wednesday in a frantic attempt to halt the escalating bloodshed in east
The four leaders talked by phone yesterday as part of urgent efforts to
achieve a “comprehensive settlement” in the 10-month conflict between
Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels, Berlin said.
Hammond said Britain was not involved in the discussions as it was not
practical to have a “committee of 10” talking to Moscow.
He said the international talks were “one of the last opportunities that
Russia will have to avoid yet further significant damage to its economy
which is bound to happen if the intransigence of Vladimir Putin forces the
rest of the world to increase and tighten the sanctions from which Russia’s
economy is already reeling”.
Putin “will have to trim his behaviour to reflect the decline in the Russian
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Parrikar accused of poll
code violations in Goa
Man burnt alive as car
catches fire after collision
Journalist Majumdar
dies aged 56
President, PM pay
tributes to Zakir Hussain
Haryana demands other
states give Delhi water too
Ahead of the Panaji assembly bye-election, the
Congress has complained that Defence Minister
Manohar Parrikar has allegedly violated the
model code of conduct twice, which includes
announcing the possible setting up of a helicopter
manufacturing unit in Goa. The Congress has
alleged that the ex-chief minister has also violated
the code of conduct on February 5 by announcing
the inclusion of Panaji in the Light Emitting Diode
(LED) bulb distribution scheme launched by Prime
Minister Narendra Modi. The Panaji assembly byeelection was necessitated after Parrikar’s elevation
as the defence minister in November last year and
he quit his assembly seat in Goa.
A 32-year-old man was burnt alive inside his car
which caught fire after crashing into another car,
police said yesterday. The incident happened
in north Delhi’s Jahangirpuri area on Saturday
night where Sanjeev, a motor mechanic, was
returning home after work. “His Swift Dzire hit an
Alto car and toppled at Outer Ring Road. Before
he could come out of the car, it caught fire,” a
police officer said. People at the spot called up
police and also informed the fire department.
Two fire tenders were rushed to the spot which
took 30 minutes to douse the flame. Police said
the body of Sanjeev which was completely
charred was recovered from the car.
Journalist Diptosh Majumdar, who was national
affairs editor with NewsX news channel, died
yesterday, his colleagues said. He was 56.
Majumdar, who was born 1958, had worked in
senior positions both in the print and electronic
media. He was admitted to Apollo Hospital in
New Delhi with suspected blood cancer. His
colleagues said that his last rites will take place
today morning at Lodhi Road crematorium.
Majumdar had also worked as national affairs
editor with CNN-IBN news channel. He also
worked with The Telegraph and DNA dailies. He
is survived by his wife. Majumdar’s colleagues
and friends paid him tributes on Twitter.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister
Narendra Modi yesterday paid tributes to former
president Zakir Hussain on his birth anniversary.
“The president, officers and staff paid floral
tributes in front of a portrait of Zakir Hussain
in the Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan,”
said a statement from the president’s house.
Modi said in a statement: “I pay my tributes to
India’s former president, the illustrious scholar
and freedom fighter, Zakir Hussain on his birth
anniversary.” Zakir Hussain was the country’s
first Muslim president and the third president
from May 13, 1967, till his death May 3, 1969. He
was conferred the Bharat Ratna in 1963.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar
yesterday categorically said that his water-deficit
state alone should not be banked upon for
meeting the water needs of Delhi. “Other states
too should also come forward and pitch in with
their contribution in this regard,” he said in his
address at the meeting of the Governing Council
of Niti Aayog chaired by the Prime Minister
Narendra Modi in New Delhi yesterday. “Waters
of the inter-state rivers should be declared
national property and we should aim to achieve
the national goals by putting aside inter-state
disputes,” Khattar said. Delhi has been seeking
more water from Haryana for the last few years.
Modi eyes
of costly
BJP rejects
forecast of
defeat in
Delhi polls
New Delhi
rime Minister Narendra
Modi yesterday ordered
a review of dozens of national welfare schemes in the
first meeting of a new economic
planning body.
Modi, who stormed to power
at general elections in May, is
targeting the schemes designed
to help tens of millions of India’s
poor that were a hallmark of the
previous left-leaning Congress
party’s decade in power.
At the meeting, Modi asked
chief ministers of India’s states
to come up with suggestions for
the future of the schemes that
opponents say are inefficient,
prone to corruption and drain
public finances.
The group of ministers will
study the 66 schemes “and recommend which to continue,
which to transfer to states, and
which to cut down,” the government said in a statement.
They include guaranteed employment and access to health
schemes for tens of millions of
rural poor, along with a programme to provide free lunches
to school children.
It is unclear whether a multi-billion-dollar food welfare
programme, offering subsidised
grains to nearly 70% of the
population, is included in the
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
said new groups would “look
into skill development” and
enhance a clean-up India campaign, along with the “rationalisation of federal schemes”.
“We discussed the economic
direction the country must get,”
Jaitley also told reporters after
the meeting.
Two other “taskforces” would
be formed to better focus on alleviating poverty and improving
farm productivity, the government said.
The new economic body replaces India’s Soviet-style Planning Commission, which was
axed by Modi last year.
New Delhi
An Aam Aadmi Party delegation led by party leader Arvind Kejriwal leaves after meeting the election
commissioner in New Delhi yesterday.
No proposal to amend
civil N-liability law: govt
New Delhi
he government yesterday released details of
the breakthrough on the
civil nuclear agreement arrived
at last month during the visit
of US President Barack Obama,
including clarifying that there is
no proposal to amend the nuclear liability law and that it was on
par with international norms.
In a detailed “Frequently Asked
Questions” on the civil liability
law and related issues, the statement by the external affairs ministry also reveals that operators
of nuclear installation shall be
liable for damage caused by nuclear incident. It also states that
the liability of the operator shall
be strict and shall be based on the
principle of ‘no fault liability’.
The operator shall also take
out an insurance policy covering his liability. However, the
operator, after paying compensation for nuclear damage can
have right to recourse in cases
where the nuclear incident is
due to the supplier, including defective or sub-standard
services or where it is with an
intent to cause nuclear damage.
The statement adds that after discussions, both sides had
arrived at an understanding
that India’s Civil Liability for
Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act is
compatible with the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage
(CSC), which New Delhi has
signed and intends to ratify.
There is no proposal to amend
the civil liability act or the rules, it
said, adding: “India Nuclear Insurance Pool has been instituted
to facilitate negotiations between
the operator and the supplier
concerning a right of recourse
by providing a source of funds
through a market based mechanism to compensate third parties
for nuclear damage. It would enable the suppliers to seek insurance to cover the risk of invocation of recourse against them”.
On the India Nuclear Insurance
Pool, that statement says it is “a
risk transfer mechanism formed
by GIC Re and four other PSUs
who will together contribute a
capacity of Rs7.5bn out of a total
of Rs15bn.” The balance would be
contributed by the government.
Through this mechanism,
“operators and suppliers instead of seeing each other as
litigating adversaries will see
each other as partners managing a risk together. This is as
important for Indian suppliers
as it is for US or other suppliers.
“An international workshop
will be held in India to exchange
information on international
experience with the 26 insurance pools operating around
the world in countries such as
France, Russia, South Africa
and the US,” it said.
On the way forward it said it
is now “up to the companies to
follow up with their own negotiations and come up with viable techno-commercial offers
and contracts consistent with
our law and our practice so that
reactors built with international collaboration can start
contributing to strengthening
India’s energy security and India’s clean energy options”.
arendra Modi’s party
yesterday staunchly denied that the prime minister was facing his first election
defeat since storming to power
last year, even though exit polls
tipped an anti-corruption campaigner to win New Delhi’s state
Six exit polls released hours after voting ended on Saturday indicated the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)
of former Delhi chief minister
Arvind Kejriwal had comfortably
beaten Modi’s Hindu nationalist
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Although the polls have been
inaccurate in the past, a loss for
Modi would set back his plans to
consolidate power in the national parliament to push through
promised economic reforms.
Victory for Kejriwal would
mark a stunning comeback for
the anti-graft champion who
resigned following a chaotic 49day spell in charge of the Delhi
state government a year ago.
A win would also be particularly
sweet for the former tax official,
who was trounced by Modi when
they battled for the same seat in
May’s general election. The AAP
won only four seats nationally.
But a BJP leader refused to
throw in the towel yesterday, saying official results released tomorrow would show a different story.
“The results will defy the
exit poll predictions as BJP will
emerge victorious and will defi-
Art Festival
nitely form the next government,” Ramesh Bidhuri, general
secretary of the BJP’s Delhi party, predicted.
“(But) if BJP does lose the
elections, we cannot say Modi’s
popularity has dwindled or the
Modi wave is over,” he added.
Commerce Minister Nirmala
Sitharaman was less confident,
saying only that “we are hopeful
that we will win”.
Observers say a defeat will be
a significant setback for a prime
minister who has enjoyed an extended honeymoon with voters
since his landslide general election victory.
Modi needs to win state elections in coming years to gain
control of both houses of the
national parliament, where he
is attempting to push through
reforms on land acquisition, tax
and other issues to revive the
His efforts are being frustrated in the upper house where the
BJP lacks a majority. States are
Matter of concern if exit polls come true: Maken
Ajay Maken, who led the
Congress poll campaign for
the Delhi assembly election,
yesterday said the exit polls
cannot be dismissed and if
the forecast about the party’s
performance comes out correct,
it will be a matter of concern.
“We cannot dismiss the exit
polls. If these turn out to be true,
it will be a matter of concern
for us,” Maken said. Exit polls
released after Saturday’s voting
for the 70-member assembly
said the Congress could slide
further from the low it recorded
in the 2013 assembly elections
when it won only eight seats.
“From what the exit polls have
projected, you can imagine that
the mood in the party will not
be very optimistic,” said a party
leader, who did not want to be
H1N1 claims six
lives in Karnataka
Actress Juhi Babbar attends the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in
Mumbai yesterday.
allocated seats in the nation’s
upper house.
Modi headlined several major
rallies during the Delhi campaign, portraying his rival as a
“backstabber” for quitting so
early. He appeared in front-page
newspaper advertisements on
the eve of the poll to try to win
over last-minute voters.
BJP heavyweights including
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
were also ordered to campaign
in the final days. AAP senior
leader Yogendra Yadav said his
party was headed for a majority
of more than 50 seats in the 70seat assembly following Saturday’s record voter turnout.
“My own sense is that the
numbers should be much, much
bigger (than the exit poll numbers of around 43),” he told
NDTV late on Saturday.
All seven exit polls predicted
another humiliating loss for
the left-leaning Congress party
which has dominated Indian politics since independence in 1947.
he dreaded H1N1 influenza has claimed six lives in
Karnataka, including four
in Bengaluru and one each in Bidar and Raichur districts in the
northern region, a senior health
official said yesterday.
“Though 95 people, affected by
the H1N1 influenza over the last
two weeks, tested positive and
have been under treatment, six of
them succumbed to the disease
so far. We have stocked adequate
number of Tamiflu tablets for
distribution,” state health department director H C Ramesh said.
Asserting that the department
had taken steps to contain the
disease by educating the people
about its symptoms and creating
awareness to ensure they take
preventive measures, Ramesh
said district health officers were
directed to monitor the situation
in their respective areas and take
corrective steps.
“A woman patient, who died
Saturday at a private hospital in
the city, tested positive on Friday. About 20 fresh cases tested
positive on Saturday in Bengaluru urban and civic limits,”
Ramesh added.
Meanwhile, with the number
of suspected cases of H1N1 influenza in the city going up to 14,
the health department in Agra
has been put on high alert.
Four new patients with symptoms of the disease were admitted to the Sarojini Naidu (SN)
Medical College on Saturday and
their samples have been sent to
the National Centre for Disease
Control, New Delhi.
Divisional commissioner Pradip
Bhatnagar has directed health
workers and the SN Medical College to up the alertness and provide
prompt treatment to patients.
So far, four junior doctors, four
children, three youngsters and
three women are under observation, with preliminary reports
suggesting they have contracted
the flu. The samples have already
been sent to Delhi and the treatment in the isolation ward is
continuing, medical department
officials said yesterday.
Doctors at the SN Medical College held an emergency meeting
on Saturday evening to discuss
the state of preparedness.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Telugu news presenter,
son killed in road accident
Terror attack
averted in Assam
Christian convention
begins in Kerala
Over 70 monkeys
found dead in Agra
Haryana to launch IT
mass literacy scheme
A news reader of a Telugu news channel and
his son were killed and three others injured in a
road accident in Andhra Pradesh’s West Godavari
district yesterday, police said. K Veerabhadra
Rao, popular as Bhadri, died on the spot and
his wife, two sons and another family member
were injured when the car in which they were
travelling hit a tree near Lakshminagar in Dwarka
Tirumala mandal. Bhadri’s youngest son Sati
Satwik (eight) succumbed to injuries while
undergoing treatment at a hospital. Bhadri, a
popular face on Telugu news channel TV9, was
returning to his native village in the same district
after attending the marriage of his relative
Saturday night. He was 38.
A terror attack was yesterday averted in Assam’s
Chirang district, when the army recovered a 5kg
explosive device. A statement issued by the army said
its Red Horns Division found an improvised explosive
device (IED) weighing over 5kg as well as many
incriminating documents with details of extortion
carried out by the anti-talk faction of the National
Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). Lieutenant
Colonel Suneet Newton, a defence spokesman based
in Guwahati, said details about cadres and linkmen
of the outfit were also found during the operation.
Over 70 cadres of the NDFB have either been killed
or nabbed in the last one month after security forces
launched an operation following the December 23
massacre of tribals in three districts.
Asia’s biggest Christian convention got
underway in Maramon, Kerala, yesterday.
The 120th edition of the week-long meet
-- called Maramon Convention -- has become
the flagship programme of the Thiruvallaheadquartered Mar Thoma Syrian Church
of Malabar. The chief guests include Bishop
Sipho De Siva from South Africa, presiding
bishop of the Methodist Church, Patriarch
of Antioch Ignatius Mar Aphrem-II, and Rev
Dushantha Rodrigo from Sri Lanka. Maramon
is located in Pathanamthitta district and is
about 20km from Thiruvalla. The church runs
a number of institutions. The convention takes
place on the Pampa river banks.
Over 70 monkeys have been found dead in
three places in Agra district since February 5,
and preliminary reports say the animals were
poisoned, police said yesterday. Police said
13 monkeys were found buried on February
5 at Jheejhan Ki Puliya, while 14 bodies were
found on Sarendhi Road and 13 in Khairagarh
on Feburary 6. A total of 31 bodies were
found on Friday in Mohanpura village in
Saiyan. Many bodies were found by villagers.
The bodies have been sent for autopsy
examination. A farmer told police that in
some villages money was being collected by
people to catch the monkeys and shift them
To achieve the goal of ‘Digital Haryana’,
the Haryana government will launch an
Information Technology mass literacy
scheme (Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan),
to make the people of the state digitally
literate. A spokesman of the electronics
and information technology department
said yesterday that under the programme,
training would be imparted to 100,000
people in five selected blocks by selecting
one person from every household. The
programme will begin in March. “One block
each in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Karnal, Jind and
Panchkula districts has been selected for the
programme,” he said.
Helped by Love
couples escape
New Delhi
andna left everything behind when she fled her
parents’ home to be with
the man she loved, giving up family, friends and the studies she
hoped would help her become a
It is only thanks to the Love
Commandos, a New Delhi-based
organisation that helps desperate couples who have defied their
families, that the 22-year-old and
her new husband have a roof over
their heads.
The organisation is the brainchild of former journalist Sanjoy
Sachdev, who launched it in 2010
after coming to the aid of a young
man falsely accused of rape by the
family of the woman he wanted to
Since then, it has helped thousands of desperate couples in the
country, giving them sanctuary
in safe houses and access to legal
The organisation operates
seven apartments in the capital,
but can also call on 300 couples
to take in lovers fleeing relatives’
wrath for a short period.
“Some stay with us 14 months,
others 14 hours,” said Sachdev.
Like many young women in
India, Vandna was expected to
marry a man chosen by her parents, who were furious when they
discovered her relationship with
Dilip, whom she married in July.
They first stopped her from
going to college, where she was
studying business and accountancy, and then hastily arranged a
marriage to a male relative.
That was the final straw, and
she fled the family home a day before the marriage was due to take
“I haven’t called my parents or
my friends since I left,” Vandna
said, sitting beside her new husband in the modest apartment
provided to the couple by the
Love Commandos.
“I want to be a teacher and my
husband wants to set up his business, but we don’t know when
that is possible,” said the young
woman, who rarely leaves their
The country may be modernising rapidly, but Sachdev says that
violence against young people
who choose their partners against
their parents’ wishes is still a big
“Because of caste, religious, economic or social status issues, many
times parents still oppose their
children’s relationship,” he said.
“A lot of young people try to
convince their parents to accept
their marriages, but that often
ends with girls having their education stopped and being illegally
detained. It can even end with
honour killings.”
India has for centuries seen
killings that target young couples
whose families or communities
disapprove of their relationships.
The killings are carried out by
close relatives or village elders to
protect what is seen as the family’s reputation and pride.
That was the fate of 21-yearold Bhawna Yadav, whose parents
and uncle are accused of conspiring to kill her and dispose of her
body after she married in secret.
Her family had wanted her to
marry a man from the Yadav caste
to which her husband Abhishek
Seth did not belong.
When they learned of the secret
marriage, Bhawna’s parents asked
Seth to let her go back to the community for a celebration, which
he agreed to do on the advice of
friends. Shortly afterwards, he
received a call from Bhawna’s
cousin to say she had been killed
and her body burned.
“We had so many plans,” Seth
said. “She wanted to go to Goa
on holiday and for us to have our
arms tattooed with a heart and
our initials” - a promise that he
has kept despite his wife’s death.
Love Commandos founder
Sachdev says horrific incidents
like these often go unreported,
with even police sometimes happy to turn a blind eye.
He says the authorities need
to do better at protecting young
couples, and even calls on political parties to come up with an
“agenda for the protection of lovers’ rights”.
Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Majhi arrives at the Bihar Nivas in New Delhi yesterday.
Bihar CM refuses to step
aside for Nitish Kumar
Patna/New Delhi
he crisis in Bihar’s ruling
JD-U deepened further
yesterday, as a defiant
Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi
asserted he will not resign, while
the rival camp led by Nitish Kumar decided to parade legislators at Raj Bhavan today and
stake claim to power.
Manjhi, who was handpicked
by then chief minister Nitish
Kumar as his replacement last
year after the Janata Dal-United’s rout in the Lok Sabha polls,
has refused to quit.
In New Delhi to attend the
NITI Aayog meeting yesterday,
Manjhi also called on Prime
Minister Narendra Modi but said
no politics were discussed in the
meeting which lasted 40 minutes.
Addressing a press conference afterwards, he said: “I did
not discuss politics with him.
Modi has done some good work
for Bihar and we thanked him for
Manjhi said he will prove his
majority in the assembly on February 20, and step down only if
he fails.
“On the floor, whoever gives
us support we will take it. I will
not resign from the chief minister’s post,” he said, adding:
“They (JD-U) had this misunderstanding that they will make
me do whatever they want me to
He termed Nitish Kumar
“power hungry and said he
showed his real face when he
humiliated me.”
In response, JD-U spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said Manjhi
was speaking the language of
the Bharatiya Janata Party by
attacking Nitish Kumar, who
picked him for the top post.
“Manjhi has forgotten that he
was nominated by Nitish Kumar,” he said.
JD-U’s Bihar unit president
Vashsisht Narain Singh said his
party would form a new gov-
rotests erupted in Haryana’s Rohtak town yesterday
after details emerged of the
barbaric manner in which a mentally-challenged Nepali woman
was raped and murdered and how
the Haryana Police and the state
government failed to act.
Protesters yesterday took out
a march in Rohtak town, 75km
from Delhi. Reports said the Rohtak-Delhi highway was blocked
by protesters in the evening.
The woman’s body was found
in an agricultural field near Bahu
Akbarpur village on the RohtakHisar highway by villagers on
February 4. The post-mortem
report said objects had been
thrust into her body. Doctors said
the woman was gang-raped before being brutally killed.
The woman’s skull had a fracture and her body parts had been
eaten. She had gone missing on
February 1 and a relative had
filed a complaint with police in
Rohtak. However, police did not
register a case.
The woman had come to Rohtak from Nepal a couple of
months back for treatment at the
Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) in Rohtak.
The Haryana Police, under
fire from various quarters for
not taking action in the matter,
claimed it was conducting raids
to arrest the culprits.
Additional director general of
police (law and order) Mohamed
Akil yesterday said a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by
Rohtak deputy superintendent of
police Amit Bhatia had been constituted to investigate the case.
Over 10 officers were part of
the SIT and its sub-teams were
also investigating the incident.
Police have also announced a
reward of Rs100,000 for any credible information about the rape.
“A team of specialists from
Forensic Sciences Laboratory,
Madhuban, visited the scene of
crime and collected all physical
evidence, which has been sent to
the laboratory for further examination. Criminals who have been
involved in similar crimes are being interrogated,” Akil said.
Leader of the opposition Congress legislature party, Kiran
Chaudhary, condemned the
Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Chief Minister
Manohar Lal Khattar. She said
the law and order situation had
deteriorated under Khattar.
“The heinous crime has earned
Haryana the infamy of Nirbhayatype incident involving a helpless
and mentally challenged woman
and sent shockwaves across the
“Though the heinous and
gruesome crime was committed
a week ago, the SIT is yet to catch
the culprits who are still at large.
It is time the BJP government
woke up from its deep slumber
and acted to protect people’s life
and limbs,” she said.
over a dozen JD-U legislators.
He is banking on the support of
the BJP, which has openly come
out in his favour. The BJP has 88
legislators and it is supported by
three independents.
JD-U president Sharad Yadav,
in a letter in Manjhi, has asked
the chief minister to resign.
Yadav said that as Manjhi
no longer enjoyed the support
of majority of party legislators
and the legislature party has
re-elected Nitish Kumar as its
leader, he should resign. Earlier,
the JD-U legislators submitted letters of support for Nitish
Kumar to Governor Keshri Nath
Tripathi staking claim to form
the government.
Pak national rescued
by coastguards
Outrage at police apathy
over Nepal woman’s rape
ernment in the state under Nitish Kumar’s leadership with the
backing of the Congress and Lalu
Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal.
“We will parade 130 MLAs,
including those of the Congress
and the RJD, before the governor
today,” he said.
The JD-U has 115 legislators
in the 243-member assembly,
most of whom are reportedly
with Nitish Kumar.
The party is backed by 24 legislators of the RJD, five of the
Congress, one from the Communist Party of India and two
independents, making it a total
of 147 — more than the 122 needed for simple majority.
Manjhi enjoys the support of
By Ashraf Padanna
A medical officer attends to Khan Mohamed Riaz.
he coastguard unit stationed at Beypore port
in the southern state of
Kerala has saved the life of a Pak
national requiring emergency
medical aid.
“On receiving a message for
medical emergencies onboard
MT Bunga Angsana, the Coast
Guard operation team immediately co-ordinated medical evaluation at Beypore on February 7,”
a spokesperson said yesterday.
Khan Mohamed Riaz, 55, an
electrical officer onboard the vessel, complained of acute lower abdomen pain suspected to be from
appendicitis at mid-sea 57 nautical miles north off Beypore coast.
He was immediately evacuated
by the Coast Guard ship, C-404,
and shifted to the Malabar Institute of Medical Sciences (MIMS)
in the northern Kerala city of
Kozhikode for treatment.
The Malaysia-registered vessel was on its way to Singapore from Sohar in Oman with
a 29-member crew when the
emergency occurred.
The patient was examined by
onboard the Malaysian vessel by
the Indian medical team and provided first aid.
Despite the rough sea conditions, the patient was brought to
shore and on completion of immigration formalities at the Beypore port, he was shifted to the
MIMS hospital in an ambulance,
the spokesperson claimed.
The Malaysian vessel continued her voyage to the next port of
call on completion of evaluation,
the spokesperson added.
Meanwhile, reports claimed
the evacuation was delayed for
several hours due to the lack of
co-ordination among the Coast
Guard authorities, the state police
and the immigration department.
A local television quoted the
sailor as saying that he had to undergo a harrowing night spending several hours at sea without
clearance from the mainland. His
surgery was also delayed due to
the confusion.
He described it as “miserable
night” but felt better now.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Foreign experts slam Mexico
probe into missing students
60 bodies found in abandoned crematorium
Mexico City
rgentina-led forensic experts
strongly criticised Mexico’s investigation into the presumed
massacre of 43 missing students on Saturday, insisting the probe must remain
open as they listed a series of mishaps.
The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, with experts from 30 countries including the US, Canada and
France, joined international human
rights groups in questioning the conclusions of authorities about the fate of
the students.
Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam declared last month that he had
the “legal certainty” that the aspiring
teachers were murdered in the southern
state of Guerrero in September.
Murillo Karam said evidence proved
the 43 young men were abducted by
corrupt police and delivered to drug
gang members who killed them, incinerated their remains in a landfill in the
town of Cocula and dumped them in a
The Argentine team, which was hired
by the parents of the students and has
worked alongside federal investigators,
said it did “not exclude the possibility
that some of the students met the demise” described by prosecutors.
“However, in our opinion, there is no
scientific evidence to that effect at the
Cocula landfill,” the team said in a 16page statement.
People requesting information about the 60 bodies found in a crematorium
gather outside of the Guerrero State Attorney General building, in Acapulco,
Guerrero state.
Human rights groups have also criticized Murillo Karam’s conclusions, saying the investigation relied too much on
witnesses in a country where authorities often get coerced confessions.
The case has sparked angry protests,
engulfing President Enrique Pena Nieto
in the biggest crisis of his administration.
Parents of the students have refused
to believe their sons are dead, saying
they do not trust the authorities.
Officials sent 17 sets of charred bones
to Austria’s Innsbruck University, but
the world-renowned lab was only able
to confirm the identity of one student
and indicated that the rest of the remains were nearly impossible to identify.
The Argentine experts said they
found anomalies in 20 of the 134 genetic
profiles of relatives that were sent to the
university by the attorney general’s office.
The team also provided pictures
showing that several fires have burned
Carnival time!
Sixty bodies, including men, women and
children, were found in an abandoned
crematorium in Western Mexico, authorities said over the weekend, in a discovery
that the state attorney general said was
likely linked to negligence rather than
drug-related violence.
Authorities, who originally said 61
bodies were found, said the remains
at the crematorium, near the decaying
seaside resort of Acapulco, were clothed,
wrapped in sheets and sprinkled with
lime. Many of them were in a state of
“We are talking about a clear violation
of state sanitation laws,” Miguel Angel
Godinez, attorney general for the state of
Guerrero, told Reuters.
The crematorium had been abandoned for months, and local residents
had called police because of the smell,
Godinez said.
at the Cocula landfill since 2010, meaning physical evidence collected at the
site could belong to other events unrelated to the case.
Among the samples collected by
prosecutors was a denture with a tooth,
even though none of the students used
The Argentine investigators said they
found evidence “strongly suggesting
the possibility” that the area of the fire
contains human remains that do not
belong to the students.
Still, some of the bodies were
“perfectly embalmed” and prepared for
cremation, according to a statement
from the attorney general’s office in
Mexico City.
The discovery was made 211km from
the town of Iguala, where 43 student
teachers were abducted by corrupt
police and apparently massacred by drug
gang members.
Authorities are investigating how
and when the people died, and whether
those responsible were guilty of
disrespecting humans remains, the
statement said.
President Enrique Pena Nieto is facing
his deepest crisis over his government’s
handling of the students’ disappearance.
The case laid bare Mexico’s deep
problem of impunity and corruption and
it has overshadowed his efforts to focus
attention on economic reforms.
The experts complained that after the
discovery of the remains the landfill was
left open to the public for three weeks,
which could taint some of the evidence.
The forensic team said much of the
landfill still needs to be investigated and
the work will take several more months
to complete.
“The investigation cannot be concluded as long as an important quantity
of evidence still needs to be processed”
by prosecutors and the Argentine team,
the statement said.
Market chain rejects
‘hoarding’ charges
Revellers of Bloco Gigantes da Lira perform on a street during the pre-carnaval parade in Rio de Janeiro.
Drug ‘Queen
of Pacific’ out
of Mexico jail
Mexico City
Mexican woman whose links to drug
traffickers earned her the nickname
“Queen of the Pacific” and inspired a
soap opera was released from prison on Saturday after winning an appeal.
Sandra Avila Beltran, 54, was freed after a
judge ordered her immediate release, saying
she could not be put on trial twice for the same
crime, a federal official told AFP.
Avila Beltran, whose nickname comes from
a drug ballad written in her honour, had been
sentenced to five years in prison for money
laundering in September.
She was first arrested in Mexico City in 2007
along with her boyfriend, Juan Diego Espinosa,
also called “El Tigre,” who was a go-between
for Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel and Colombian
She was acquitted of charges of handling illicit funds in 2012, but authorities then extradited her to the US.
US officials accused her of conspiring to import 5kg of cocaine between 1999 and 2004.
But she struck a plea bargain that resulted
in a conviction on charges of helping Espinosa
avoid arrest, and a judge sentenced her to time
served and deported her back to Mexico in August 2013.
While she admits knowing famous drug kingpins, she has denied trafficking drugs herself,
insisting that she amassed her fortune through
real estate deals and her work in fashion.
chain taken over by the
Venezuelan government
denied on Saturday accusations of food hoarding, amid
huge lines and shortages in the
crisis-hit country.
President Nicolas Maduro
on Friday ordered the government takeover of the Dia a Dia
chain, accusing it of “waging
war against the population.”
The company, which has 35
stores across Venezuela, rejected the allegations.
“Dia a Dia has not engaged
in hoarding,” it insisted in a
statement, adding that it has
not engaged in any actions to
undermine the economy, contrary to the government’s allegations.
The takeover was Maduro’s
latest attempt to control what
he has called an “economic
war” waged by the private
sector and the opposition to
destabilize the recession-hit
He has accused the company
of hoarding goods to keep “the
population irritated, suffering” in order to fuel discontent
against the government.
Maduro earlier in the week
deployed soldiers and state
workers to supervise the sale of
products at the supermarket’s
A similar intervention was
made at the Farmatodo drugstore chain, whose understocked shelves and unstaffed
cash registers led to long lines,
which the government alleged
was designed to foment speculation and instability.
Two Farmatodo executives were detained earlier this
week, while Dia a Dia’s director, Manuel Morales, was jailed
on Friday.
Rousseff ’s
Sao Paulo
razilian President Dilma
Rousseff ’s popularity has
plunged by nearly half
since her recent re-election as
a severe government corruption
scandal, an economic slowdown
and surging prices for electricity,
gasoline and bus fares left voters
feeling misled.
The Datafolha poll of 4,000
people published on Saturday
showed those interviewed who
rated Rousseff ’s performance as
“excellent or good” fell to 23%
from 42% in December, just after she won her second term in a
tight race.
Over the same period the percentage of people who rated her
as a “bad or terrible” president
rose to 44% from 24%. It was
the first time since Rousseff took
office in 2011 that she received
more negative marks than positive ones.
The remainder of respondents, 33%, rated Rousseff’s
government as average, which
was unchanged since December.
Rousseff promised during
last year’s campaign that she
would not have to dramatically
raise utility prices or slash
government spending, but
since her October re-election
she has done both to try to regain investor confidence and
revive an economy that has
sputtered since she took office.
The economy is expected to
shrink in the first months of
the year, annualized inflation is
above 7% and rising, and many
Brazilians are facing the possibility of water and energy
shortages due to a prolonged
About 60% of respondents
said they believed Rousseff had
lied more than she told the truth
during the campaign.
And a whopping 77%
of respondents said they
about corruption in the staterun oil company Petrobras,
which she has controlled for
several years as president and
previously during the administration of Luiz Inacio Lula da
Silva, when she was chairwoman
of the board.
Rousseff has denied any
knowledge of the graft scheme,
which investigators say siphoned billions of dollars.
The worsening of Rousseff’s
image was consistent across
age groups, but the poorest socioeconomic groups, who benefited most from the policies of
Rousseff and her mentor Lula,
showed less disapproval than
higher income earners. The
rich showed the highest disapproval.
Farc rebels mull ‘political party’ avatar
Miss Universe
for peace talks?
eftist Farc guerrillas on Saturday vowed to lay
down their weapons and reinvent themselves
as a political party, if the Colombian government follows through with the reforms under discussion in peace talks.
The rebel group, whose full name is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, “is committed
to ensuring that the armed hostilities of the past
don’t get recur,” one of its negotiators Jesus Santrich said in a statement read to the media at the
start of another day of talks.
Among the changes the Farc hopes to see, Santrich said, is the group’s “transformation into a
political movement that can work to bring about
structural change” in Colombia.
The Farc as a political party would also endeavour to bring about reparations for victims, and to
preserve “the historical truth” about the country’s
decades-old civil conflict, he said.
Negotiations between the two sides resumed
this week in Havana after a year-end break, as
rebels and the Bogota government try to end the
half-century old insurgency.
Talks so far have yet to resolve key issues including disarmament and how any agreement should
be ratified.
The Farc said in its statement that it also is looking for reform of the government’s position on
communism, overhaul of the armed forces, greater
protection of minority rights, and other changes.
The government’s delegation, led by Humberto
de la Calle, has been meeting with negotiators from
the rebel group since November 2012.
So far, the two sides have agreed on three of the
six points of the agenda to end the conflict, which
is estimated to have claimed the lives of more than
220,000 people.
Miss Colombia Paulina Vega being crowned Miss Universe during the 63rd Annual Miss Universe Pageant at
the Florida International University on January 25 in Miami.
Colombia’s Marxist Farc
rebels have invited the
newly-crowned Miss
Universe Paulina Vega, a
native of the country’s Caribbean coast, to attend their
peace negotiations with the
government, a bid to end 50
years of fighting.
The 22-year-old Vega, a
business student and model
from the northern city of
Barranquilla, was named
Miss Universe in January
and has said in interviews
that she would be willing to
travel to the talks.
“We have read with interest your desire to contribute
with your good works to
reaching peace,” the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia, or Farc, said in a
statement on their website.
“We salute your willingness to travel to Havana,
at this time we invite you
to make a visit,” added the
Farc, which has been holding negotiations with the
government in Cuba since
late 2012.
The FARC did not say
how Vega’s visit would help
advance the peace talks. She
has yet to respond to the
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Four babies die in
famine-hit district
Pakistan’s mega power
project facing delay
Rights experts concerned
at digital surveillance
Pakistanis to start getting
imported LNG from March
Famine in Pakistan’s Hindu-majority district of
Tharparkar bordering India claimed four babies’
lives yesterday, raising the toll to 15 in the month
of February, a media report here said. The district,
located in Sindh province, has been facing
scarcity of water, food and facilities for three
years. But government authorities seem to be
unperturbed. A sluggish distribution of wheat,
blankets and dates has only added to the troubles
of the affected people. Most Hindus in Pakistan
live in Sindh province and a majority of them
are residents of Tharparkar. Most of them are
subsistence farmers who are facing famine due to
poor rainfall for almost five successive years.
Pakistan’s flagship $914mn Tarbela fourth
extension hydropower project, which planned
to add 1,410 megawatts by 2018 to the national
grid, is facing delays as the country could
spend only 17% of the contracted loan in the
first three years, underscoring the problems
at the implementation stage. The slow pace
of work has not only put an additional burden
on the exchequer in the shape of millions of
dollars that the government is paying to the
World Bank (WB) in commitment charges on
unspent amounts, but it has also blocked the
resources that could have been used in other
Two rights groups working on Internet freedom
in Pakistan - Bolo Bhi and Digital Rights
Foundation - have expressed reservations over
extensive digital surveillance powers given to
investigation agencies.
While discussing at a meeting over the
weekend on the draft of the Prevention
of Electronic Crimes Bill Pakistan 2015,
formulated last year by the Ministry of
Information Technology and pending before a
National Assembly sub-committee for review
within the next two weeks, the rights activists
said the law proposed harsh penalties for
The Bin Qasim Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
terminal in southern Pakistan will start supply of
imported gas to consumers by March 31, a senior
government official has said. Official sources
say that the agreement for LNG purchase from
Qatar, Malaysia, Brunei and China is expected by
March. He said the price of LNG will be less than
$8 per mmbtu in Asia which will bring down the
cost of power production from the independent
power producers by up to 20%. The official said
Pakistan will make an agreement for LNG import
for five to 15 years. Pakistan will purchase about
3mn tonnes LNG per year which will cost $1.5bn
according to current estimates.
Military courts
to begin terror
trials soon
The special military courts
set up to try terror cases
will start hearing cases
next week; They will deliver
verdicts in months
ilitary courts in Pakistan will next week
start trying some of the
10,000 suspects arrested since
the start of a massive anti-terrorism operation, officials said
The first “twelve cases will be
heard [by military courts] next
week,” military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said.
The government set up special
military courts in the wake of a
December 16 Taliban attack that
killed 136 children at an armyrun school in the north-western
city of Peshawar.
Security forces have since
arrested more than 10,600 on
suspicion of having links to militants, according to Interior Ministry data.
Bajwa did not give any further details about next week’s
trials, but an Interior Ministry
official said most cases were
from the north-western province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,
an area badly affected by decades of violence.
The courts will be established
for two years in four provinces,
according to the new legislation.
Officials say that the provincial
governments have prepared lists of
the cases to be referred to the military courts in the coming weeks.
The government of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
province has also decided to refer cases against the Pakistani
Taliban chief, Maulvi Fazalullah,
who has been charged with the
killings of many people. Fazalullah, in a video, had claimed responsibility for the attack on the
Army Public School.
“To prevent further
bloodshed and to stop
tensions between the two
countries from reaching a
boiling point, the Pakistan
government must crack
down on terrorism
as a whole and LeT in
Defence sources said the
courts will deliver verdicts in
The government says fasttrack military trials are needed
to ensure the terrorists are punished. Rights activists, however,
fear possible abuses as a result of
hasty legal proceedings.
Meanwhile, a leading newspaper said yesterday that the
Pakistan government must crack
down on terrorism “as a whole”
including the Lashkar-e-Taiba
(LeT) which carried out the
Mumbai terror attack.
Pakistan and India must also
cut down on rhetoric against
each other and realise that only a
peaceful solution can resolve the
decades old dispute over Jammu
and Kashmir, the Daily Times
said in an editorial.
“To the indignation of the Indian people and politicians, the
government of Pakistan has not
so far been able to bring the perpetrators (of Mumbai terror attack) to justice,” it said.
“Hafiz Saeed and other leaders of the LeT remain at large and
the group is still active.Zakiur
Rehman Lakhvi, the organiser
of the Mumbai attack, still has
his case pending in the Pakistani
“To prevent further bloodshed
and to stop tensions between the
two countries from reaching a
boiling point, the Pakistan government must crack down on
terrorism as a whole and LeT in
particular,” it said.
The Times said that bilateral
negotiations must be carried out
with the realisation that “only a
historic compromise on Kashmir” would resolve the dragging
“After three wars, massive
casualties and material damage on both sides of the Line of
Control, a peaceful resolution is
both long overdue and the only
way out.”
30,000 Afghans left Pakistan since start of the year: IOM
More than 30,000 Afghans living in Pakistan have
returned home since the start of the year after
coming under intense scrutiny following a Taliban
massacre at a Peshawar school in December, the
IOM said yesterday.
There are an estimated 3mn Afghan refugees
living in Pakistan either officially or unofficially,
most of whom left their country to escape conflict
in the 1980s and 1990s.
But they are viewed with deep suspicion inside
Pakistan and routinely accused by authorities of
harbouring militants.
Richard Danziger, head of the International
Organisation for Migration (IOM) mission in Kabul,
said that out of the 30,599 Afghans who had left
Pakistan since January, 1,817 had been deported
while the rest had left of their own accord.
“They are mostly Afghans without papers who
have been living in Pakistan for the past 20 to 25
years,” he said.
The figure, which eclipses the 25,000 Afghans
who returned from Pakistan over the entire
year in 2014, was a result of the breakdown in
relationships between the migrants and their host
communities following the Peshawar attack, added
“It all began after the attack on the school in
Peshawar. Their lives became intolerable,” he said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addresses during
the 51st Munich Security Conference at the
Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich yesterday.
Taliban surrender
Afghan former Taliban fighters are photographed holding weapons before they hand them over as part of a government peace and
reconciliation process at a ceremony in Jalalabad yesterday. Over 20 former Taliban fighters from Achin district of Nangarhar
province handed over weapons as part of a peace reconciliation programme.
India, Pakistan suspend
trade on Kashmir border
ndia and Pakistan have suspended trade across their de
facto border in the disputed
territory of Kashmir after Indian authorities detained a truck
driver accused of drug trafficking, Pakistan officials said yesterday.
Kashmir has been divided
between India and Pakistan
since the two countries won
independence from Britain
in 1947. Both claim the scenic
Himalayan territory in full.
Barter trade across the de
facto border began in 2008 as
part of peace efforts, but it is
frequently disrupted by disputes.
“We were informed by the
Indian authorities on Friday evening that they have
stopped 22 Pakistani trucks
which crossed the Line of Control (LOC) earlier that day,”
Basharat Iqbal, trade facilita-
tion officer on the Pakistani
side of the border, told AFP.
“They told us that they had
discovered 12 kilogrammes
of opium from a truck carrying oranges and were taking an
action against the driver. After the incident, we also held
50 Indian trucks on Pakistani
Kashmir side, because traffic
crosses the border simultaneously,” said Iqbal.
“We were informed by
the Indian authorities on
Friday evening that they
have stopped 22 Pakistani
trucks which crossed
the Line of Control (LOC)
earlier that day”
Imtiaz Wayen, directorgeneral of Pakistani Kashmir’s
trade and travel authority,
said India was not entitled to
stop Pakistani drivers on the
grounds of smuggling.
“According to our agreement, if they find any banned
item in our trucks they are
bound to hand over that item
and the relevant truck driver to
us for further action,” he said.
“We have informed the officials of the ministry of foreign
affairs about this matter and
have asked them to take up this
Wayen said Pakistan had also
temporarily suspended a special bus service ahead of talks
on Monday.
Families separated by the
de facto border can also usually apply for special passes to
visit their relatives on the service, which operates two days a
“The two sides will negotiate this issue during talks tomorrow. We have suspended
departure of a passenger bus,
which was scheduled to cross
into Indian part tomorrow, until the outcome of these talks,”
Wayen said.
“We will see what these talks
will bring for us tomorrow and
then will decide to resume the
bus and truck service or not.”
Training for
Afghan cadets
boosts ties
he arrival of six Afghan
army cadets in Islamabad this week serves as
welcome proof of enhanced
bilateralism and trust between Afghanistan and Pakistan, analysts here say.
In his welcome speech
Afghan Ambassador Janan
Mosazai billed the cadets
as the first group from the
Afghan National Army to
receive military training at
Pakistan Military Academy
(PMA) in Abbottabad.
According to Mosazai, the
induction of these cadets
is a step in the right direction which will strengthen
co-operation between the
military in Afghanistan and
Pakistan. More significantly,
the move coincides with a
six-day visit to Pakistan by a
five-member Afghan military
delegation led by Afghan National Army chief.
EU trade deal boosts Pakistan exports by $1bn: minister
akistani exports to the European Union increased by
more than a billion dollars
after a landmark trade deal last
year which made its products
more competitive, the commerce minister said.
The EU signed a law in late
2013 granting Pakistan so-called
“GSP-plus” status, which means
firms pay no tax on certain categories of goods exported to the
27-nation bloc for 10 years.
The EU makes GSP-plus conditional on implementing international conventions on human
and labour rights, and there have
been fears Pakistan’s decision to
end a moratorium on executions
could affect the deal.
Pakistan’s key textile industry in particular welcomed the
agreement, which came into
force in January 2014, and in an
interview with AFP commerce
minister Khurram Dastgir Khan
hailed its impact.
“As a result of GSP-plus, Pa-
kistan’s exports to the EU have
increased by $1.08bn during the
period January to October 2014
as compared to the same period
in 2013,” Khan said.
Exports to the EU in JanuaryOctober 2014 totalled $6.38bn,
up by just over 20% from the
$5.3bn recorded in the corresponding period in 2013, he
Before GSP-plus, textile exports faced customs tariffs of
between 6.4 and 12% and leather
goods and footwear up to 6%, he
The textile industry is the
backbone of Pakistan’s exports,
making up more than 50% of the
country’s total overseas shipments.
“Now these exports have duty-free access in EU and it has
helped Pakistani products to
become more competitive visa-vis its competitors, including
Bangladesh, India and Vietnam,”
he said.
Khan played down the possibility that resuming executions
could threaten GSP-plus status.
“There is no legal obligation
This photo taken on February 7, shows a Pakistani tailor making shirts at a factory in Karachi.
to EU regarding death penalty,
though they have expressed
concern over it,” Khan said.
“They understand our situation that GSP-plus would help
us create jobs and when we cre-
ate jobs, it keeps young men and
women away from terrorism.”
Pakistan has executed 22 con-
victs since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted a six-year death
penalty moratorium in the wake
of a Taliban massacre at a school.
Heavily-armed gunmen murdered 153 people, including 134
children, at the school in the
northwestern city of Peshawar
in Pakistan’s deadliest ever terror attack.
Opposition to the death penalty is a key EU policy and the
bloc’s mission in Islamabad condemned the resumption of executions in December.
But EU diplomats in Islamabad have said that while they are
concerned about the return to
hangings, the development was
unlikely to affect the GSP-plus
arrangement immediately.
Improving the economy after years of drift and sluggish
growth under the last Pakistan
People’s Party government was
a key pledge in Sharif’s election
campaign in 2013, when he was
swept to power for a third term.
Monetary Fund (IMF) said this week
the government’s reform programme — tied to a $6.6bn loan
from the Washington-based
lender — was on track.
“Economic activity and the
external position continue to
improve, driven by prudent
monetary and fiscal policies
and helped by lower oil prices
and robust remittances,” IMF
mission chief Jeffrey Franks
Growth for 2014-15 is expected to hit 4.3% and the budget
deficit for end-December was
below the target, the IMF said.
But the government has so
far struggled to improve a longrunning energy crisis, with
hours-long electricity blackouts
still a near-daily reality.
Power and gas shortages have
hampered industry and held
back GDP growth, which experts
say needs to hit 7% in order to
provide enough jobs for new entrants to the workforce.
Projects to boost electricity
production are in the pipeline,
including a 6,600-megawatt
coal-fired energy park along the
Arabian Sea coast west of Karachi, but these have yet to yield
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Military aids rebel
group despite bloody
clash with cops
hilippine soldiers rescued members of a
armed group from rival
extremists despite frayed ties
over the killing of 44 policemen last month, a military report said yesterday.
Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),
which is engaged in a peace
process with the government,
were besieged by the rival Abu
Sayyaf group in the troubled
island of Basilan on Saturday,
requiring military intervention, said a statement from the
regional military command.
“Three platoons... along
with armoured vehicles together with some members of
MILF in the area... proceeded
to the encounter site to reinforce the beleaguered MILF
members who were engaged
in the firefight,” the statement
One wounded MILF fighter
was evacuated by the soldiers
who later overran an Abu
Sayyaf camp and are believed
to have killed one Abu Sayyaf
leader, the report added.
MILF members and other
fighters ambushed and killed
44 police commandos while
they were on an anti-terror
operation in the southern island of Mindanao on January
The incident violated a
ceasefire between the government and the MILF and
threatened President Benigno
Aquino’s efforts to complete
a peace process which would
create an autonomous Muslim
area in the south.
The MILF have said they
were only acting in self-defence but the killings have led
many people to question their
Aquino has said the peace
process must continue to
avoid a return to decades of
fighting that claimed tens of
thousands of lives over previous decades.
It was unclear why the MILF
members were fighting guerrillas of the Abu Sayyaf, an extremist group with ties to the
Al Qaeda network who have
been blamed for the worst terror attacks in the country’s
Ombudsman probes
three linked to
senator in graft case
By Reina Tolentino
Manila Times
he Office of the Ombudsman is investigating individuals who
were identified by the AntiMoney Laundering Council
(AMLC) as alleged dummies
of Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.
Estrada is facing plunder
and graft charges at the Sandiganbayan for reportedly receiving P183mn in kickbacks
by pouring his pork barrel
funds to bogus projects.
“The office is conducting
the fact-finding investigation on these persons,” Assistant Ombudsman Asryman
Rafanan said, explaining that
the ombudsman would have
to follow the proper procedure and give these individuals the opportunity to clear
their names. State prosecutors
earlier moved for the seizure of
Estrada’s assets pending resolution of the P183mn plunder
case against him.
Citing an AMLC report,
prosecutors said the total commissions or rebates allegedly
pocketed by Estrada from his
pork barrel allocation were received “by himself or through
his dummies, namely, Pauline
Labayen, Carl Dominic Labayen, and Juan Tan Ng within a
period of 30 days from the dates
mentioned in the Luy ledger or
summary of rebates.”
“The remaining P86.875mn,
which were not included in the
Luy ledger, were reflected in the
fund transfers from Napoles to
Juan Tan Ng and Francis Yenko
who were considered by the
AMLC as dummies of Estrada,”
the report added.
Rafanan said at this stage, the
anti-graft office cannot say if
these alleged Jinggoy dummies
will be impleaded.
“If there are findings eventually, then the procedure also
states that the information
(charge sheet) may be amended,” he said.
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo walks with Philippine Lt General Jeffrey Delgado (right) upon his arrival at the airport for a state visit in Manila yesterday.
Widodo arrives as fate of
death row Filipina lingers
ew Indonesian President
Joko Widodo arrived on
his first state visit to the
Philippines yesterday, as the fate
of a Filipina facing execution for
drug smuggling in his country
hovers over planned talks.
Dressed in traditional batik
shirt, Widodo was met at a Manila airbase by Philippine officials before being whisked away
without making any statement.
Widodo, who is on the last
stop of a three-nation trip after
visiting Malaysia and Brunei,
will meet with Philippine President Benigno Aquino today with
the pair expected to sign several agreements, the presidential
palace in Manila said.
However, his visit comes as
the Philippines tries to prevent the execution of a female
national facing death by firing
squad in Indonesia after being
convicted of smuggling heroin.
A spokesman for Aquino, Edwin Lacierda, said the leaders
would discuss drug trafficking
but did not say if they would address the case of the woman, who
has not been publicly named.
“We are in discussions to further work out co-operation in
various areas of mutual interest
and concerns, such as migrant
workers, technical-vocational
skills upgrading, the combatting
of trafficking of narcotics, and
(for) educational visits,” Lacierda said.
Another Aquino spokesman,
Herminio Coloma, later said in
an interview on government radio that the two leaders would
also take up “maritime co-operation, defence, trade and investment.”
The Department of Foreign
Affairs said that the accords
would cover education, narcotics co-operation, a joint declaration on protecting migrant
workers and “research and
training in the field of defence
This could include the issue
of China, which regards Indonesia as having a potentially
pivotal role in calming rising
tensions between Manila and
Beijing over territorial disputes
in the South China Sea, according to analysts.
In August, then-president-
Bangsamoro bill ‘will allow killers
of soldiers to join police force’
By Jefferson Antiporda
Manila Times
he government has to go
after the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF)
members responsible for the
killing of 44 police commandos
and have them jailed, to prevent
them from possibly joining the
police force once the proposed
Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)
is passed by Congress, Senator
Ferdinand Marcos Jr said yesterday.
The chairman of the Senate
Committee on local government said there is a provision
in the pending measure that
allows MILF members to be
trained and converted into a
police force.
Marcos was referring to Article 11, section 2 of the BBL
which establishes the Bangsamoro police, which shall be
part of the Philippine National
Police (PNP).
The article provides that “the
Bangsamoro Police shall be professional, civilian in character,
regional in scope, effective and
efficient in law enforcement,
fair and impartial, free from
partisan political control, and
Indigenous students perform a ritual dance for peace in Manila near a display of photos of the 44 Special
Action Force commandos slain in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
accountable under the law for
its actions. It shall be responsible both to the Central Government and the Bangsamoro
Government, and to the communities it serves.”
This means that if the BBL is
enacted into law without first
identifying and charging the
MILF fighters behind the killing of the Special Action Force
commandos in Mamasapano,
Maguindanao, the chief of the
Bangsamoro Transitional Assembly (BTA) Mohagher Iqbal,
during the transitional phase of
the BBL, will have the power in
choosing the head of the Bangsamoro Police force.
“Where will Iqbal get his police force? Obviously, he will do
so from the ranks of the MILF.
So, members of this rebel group
will now be policemen under
the Bangsamoro Police. And
being members of the PNP,
these former MILF fighters will
be trained possibly even by the
SAF,” Marcos said in a radio interview aired over DZMM.
He also cited a provision in the
BBL which says that the head of
the BTA, during the transitional
phase, has the power of “selection, employment and deployment” of existing PNP forces in
areas considered within Bangsamoro claimed territories.
Furthermore, the proposed
BBL states that Bangsamoro police is restricted only to defend
the Bangsamoro Republic since
BBL members are not required
to take an oath or affirmation
to uphold and defend the 1987
Constitution of the Republic of
the Philippines.
Articles 16, section 5 and 11 of
Section 17 of the BBL contains
co-ordination protocols with
the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which are actually restrictions on the movement and
deployment of military personnel.
Marcos has suspended committee hearings on the BBL
while various bodies are investigating the Maguindanao
elect Widodo told Japan’s Asahi newspaper that Indonesia,
which has better bilateral ties
with China than the Philippines, stood ready to act as an
“Indonesia has the gravitas
to be the champion of peace
in the Asean (Association of
South East Asian Nations).
Widodo can also be our partner in our efforts to improve
relations with China,” Wilfrido
Villacorta, a former Philippine
ambassador to Asean, said.
“Even if Indonesia is not a
claimant country (in the South
China Sea dispute), it has always been playing the role of
a convener of important discussions on the issue since the
1980s,” said Villacorta, now an
international relations special-
ist at De la Salle University in
The Philippines signed a
maritime border accord with
neighbouring Indonesia in May
2014 that has been hailed as a
model for peacefully settling
territorial disputes.
Last month, Widodo, who
has disappointed rights activists by voicing support for
capital punishment, angered
several countries by allowing
the execution of six offenders
on drug charges last month, including five foreigners.
The Catholic-majority Philippines does not have the death
penalty, and the fate of Filipinos abroad is a political hot potato in a country where 10% of
the population is forced to seek
work overseas.
Five new malls to
open in Bicol this year
By Manny T Ugalde
Manila Times
ive new malls are set to
open in Bicol region within
the year.
Three of these malls will
come up in Naga City in Camarines Sur, while two will open
in Legazpi City in Albay. The
cities of Legazpi and Naga are
tightly competing as the centre
of trade and commerce in the
Naga City Mayor John Bongat identified the three malls
as the Gaisano, Robinson Place
and the Starmall shopping
Gaisano Naga is located at
the city commercial hub at
Panganiban Drive, Robinson
Place along the Roxas Avenue
and Starmall at Del Rosario
section, beside the Government Service Insurance System
regional office.
In Legazpi City, local giant
Liberty Commercial Centre
(LCC) has partnered with the
Ayala group to infuse P1bn to
build the Legazpi Modern LCC
mall located right at the very
centre of the city commercial
district and facing the LCC
Metro, the first mall in the city.
The new mall is expected to
be operational by the end of
this year. The Gregorian Mall
is being constructed at the
Penaranda Park facing the Albay Capitol and Legazpi City
Hall beside the Albay Cathedral
at the old Albay district, some
700 metres from the Legazpi
In Legazpi City, local giant
Liberty Commercial Centre
(LCC) has partnered with
the Ayala group to infuse
P1bn to build the Legazpi
Modern LCC mall located
at the centre of the city
commercial district
Mayor Noel Rosal confirmed
that LCC’s P1bn in fresh investment was reinforced by its
tie-up with the Ayala Group.
The Tan family of Tabaco City,
where the first LCC was built
some 40 years ago, owns LCC.
The Tan family is known as
the pioneer of malls in Albay. In
the late ’90s, LCC branched out
in Legazpi City with its LCC
Metro, followed by another
mall in Naga City.
Albay governor Joey Salceda said new investments
are now pouring in Albay with
the expected 2016 opening of
the P4bn Bicol International Airport located in Daraga
town overlooking the Mayon
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Return to
process, PM
tells Zia
By Mizan Rahman
Businessmen waving the national flag as they take part in a protest against an ongoing nationwide strike and blockade called by the BNP-led alliance in Dhaka yesterday.
Business leaders urge
end to strike by BNP
housands of business
leaders protested in the
Bangladesh capital yesterday against a month-long
campaign of anti-government
violence that they say has cost
the economy nearly $10bn.
Garment factory owners and
other business leaders joined
hands and waved national flags
in Dhaka and other major cities,
calling for an end to the opposition-led strikes and nationwide
transport blockade.
Protesters told the Dhaka rally
the economy suffered 750bn taka
($10bn) in losses in the 33 days
since opposition leader Khaleda
Zia called the protests to try to
topple the government.
“We’ve seen with great concern that non-stop blockade and
strikes since the beginning of the
year have crippled the economy,”
said Kazi Akram Uuddin Ahmed,
president of the Federation of
Chambers of Commerce and
“This situation can’t go on
any more. The businessmen’s
backs are now on the wall.”
The garment sector, the mainstay of the economy, has alone
lost nearly $4bn as the campaign
halts exports to Western retailers who are being forced to look
to other countries to fill orders,
he said.
On Saturday, Finance Minister
A M A Muhith said the blockade
was having a “severe” impact
on businesses outside the capital and the economy might not
reach 7.2% projected growth this
Zia called the indefinite blockade of roads, railways and waterways after police confined the
former two-time premier to her
office on January 3 as she tried to
mobilise protests.
Some 79 people have been
killed in the violence, as opposition activists firebomb trucks,
buses and cars to try to enforce
the blockade.
Zia denies her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) party is behind the violence, but has vowed
to continue the blockade until
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
agrees to new polls.
Zia leads a 20-party opposition alliance which boycotted a
general election last year on the
grounds it would be rigged.
Yesterday, one person died in
hospital in the northern city of
Bogra after the bus on which he
was travelling was firebombed.
Officers shot dead a protester
elsewhere, police said.
epal increased the health
check-up fees for overseas outbound workers.
The decision will come into effect from February 13, a media
report said.
Under the new medical fee
structure revised by the ministry
of health based on the recommendation of the Nepal foreign
employment medical association
(NeFMA), male workers will have
to pay Rs2,940 from the previous
Rs2,625. Women applicants will
have to pay Rs3,100, Rs200 more
from the earlier Rs2,900, news
portal ekantipur reported.
The ministry of labour and
employment (MoLE) has also endorsed the decision. A notice issued by the MoLE to the Nepal
Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) has mentioned that the decision was taken
by State Minister for Labour Tek
Bahadur Gurung on February 1.
Tirtha Raj KC, MoLE undersecretary, has said that the rates
were fixed as per the recommendation of NeFMA and a special
committee comprising health
experts and other stakeholders.
“The medical centres should
provide the required medical
services under the new rates
which cannot be revised for another two years,” reads the statement issued by NeFMA.
NeFMA has also called a
meeting of the stakeholders to
discuss the new decision and its
implementation. Kailash Khadka, chairman, NeFMA, said that
they had been requesting for revision of the fees, as they were
providing the service at the same
rates for a long time.
Meanwhile, NAFEA representatives have objected the decision,
saying that their views were not
sought finalising the fees.
They said the increase in
medical fees will add burden on
the workers who are already be-
“Zia, along with Jamaat-eIslami, is enforcing siege
and blockade programmes
with an intention to
multiply the sufferings of
the public”
ondary School Certificate examinations only on Friday and
Saturday as children cannot put
to risk. “We have prepared a new
timetable apprehending that the
opposition might call strikes
even on the weekends,” she said.
So far, at least 65 people have
been killed and more than 300
wounded during the ongoing nationwide blockade enforced by the BNP-led 20-party
Of those, a large number of arson attacks are being conducted
on highways. Hundreds of vehicles, including those belonging
to law enforcers, were burnt and
train attacked
Police stand guard in front of the Secretariat building during an ongoing nationwide strike and blockade
called by the BNP-led alliance in Dhaka yesterday.
Ten people were killed on
Saturday when protesters firebombed a bus and a truck in one
of the deadliest episodes of the
Authorities have deployed
Nepal hikes medical
fees for workers
he Bangladesh prime
minister yesterday called
upon the opposition BNP
to return to democratic process, saying the party can come to
power only under a democratic
process, not through violence.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
said: “The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) was in power
and they have dream to come
to power again. But they cannot come to power over the
burned bodies of bus and truck
drivers, children and innocent
people. They must follow the
democratic process.
She was addressing the officials of the ministry of religious
affairs at Bangladesh Secretariat
The PM came to the ministry
as part of her plan to visit every
ministry to exchange views with
the senior officials and give directives to them to bring dynamism in the activities of the
Hasina reiterated that BNP
chief Khaleda Zia made political mistake by taking decision to
boycott the January 5, 2014 general election. “Why the countrymen will pay for her wrong
decision?” she asked.
“Zia, along with Jamaat-eIslami, is enforcing siege and
blockade programmes at the
same time with an intention to
multiply the sufferings of the
public,” she said.
The PM said the government
has decided to hold the Sec-
ing charged high rates for poor
“We were informed about the
decision at the last hour. There
should be a guarantee of better
facilities with new rate,” Nefea
general secretary Kumud Khanal
said, adding that hundreds of
migrant workers are returning
after failing to pass medical examination in work destinations.
It is said that one out of 10
migrant workers return within
a month of their departure after
failing to pass medical test.
“NeFMA has stopped compensating such workers due to huge
outflow of workers who are sent
home due to their misreporting.
The defective medical check-up
has forced many workers to lose
time and money,” Khanal said.
Officials at the department of
foreign employment said many
medical centres are issuing certificate without proper check-ups.
They claimed that half of the medical centres in the capital Kathmandu fall short of standard.
thousands of troops and police
to guard vehicles and more than
10,000 protesters have been arrested, but the unrest shows no
sign of abating.
Bangladesh is the world’s sec-
ond largest garment exporter
after China. The sector provides
jobs for 4mn people, mostly
women, and has spurred economic growth to over 6% a year
in the last decade.
etrol bombs were hurled
yesterday at the DhakaKolkata Maitree Express
train in Bangladesh amid a violent BNP-sponsored countrywide blockade.
No casualty was reported in
the incident near the Iswardi
railway station in Pabna of Rajshahi
reported citing police.
Railway official Humayun
Kabir said three bombs were
lobbed at the Dhaka-bound train
as soon as it reached a loco shed
after leaving the Iswardi station.
The attack caused minor
Mass marriage ceremony
Grooms waiting for their brides during a mass marriage ceremony at Bankali in
Kathmandu yesterday. As many as 100 couples tied the knots during the function
organised by Sivashakti Rahuleshworananda Foundation.
damage as the bombs exploded
under the wheels of the train’s
engine, he said.
Earlier, BNP called a 72-hour
nationwide strike from yesterday morning against the “arrest
and killing” of its leaders and
Meanwhile, Shyamali Paribahan of Bangladesh has suspended its bus service between
Dhaka and Agartala, capital of
the Indian state of Tripura for an
indefinite period due to security
The decision has been informed to Tripura Road Transport Corporation (TRTC).
An official said the ongoing
violence in Bangladesh forced
them to suspend the service.
Lanka invites
UNHRC chief
Sri Lanka’s new government
yesterday invited the UNHRC chief
to visit the country, as the top UN
human rights body is set to submit
a report on alleged war crimes
committed during the final stages
of the brutal civil war in the country.
Foreign Minister Mangala
Samaraweera has extended a
formal invitation to UN Human
Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad
Zeid Al-Hussein, to visit the country,
the ministry sources said.
The report on Sri Lanka by the
investigation team of the Office
of the UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights (OHCHR) will be
taken up for discussion at the UN
Human Rights Council in Geneva,
in March.
Last year in March, UNHRC adopted
its third successive resolution
on Sri Lanka - commissioning an
international investigation into
alleged war crimes committed
during the military operations that
crushed the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam in 2009.
The former Mahinda Rajapakse
government had opposed the
investigation and did not allow the
UN investigators entry.
The new government led by
Maithripala Sirisena has also
pledged to continue with the same
policy of non-cooperation but
would engage UNHCR to set up a
domestic investigation.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Chairman: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Attiyah
Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed
Production Editor: C P Ravindran
P.O.Box 2888
Doha, Qatar
[email protected]
Telephone 44350478 (news),
44466404 (sport), 44466636 (home delivery)
Fax 44350474
Healthy goals as
Qatar marks yet
another Sport Day
The National Sport Day, launched in 2012 to be
observed annually on the second Tuesday in February,
with the main objective of promoting a healthy
lifestyle among Qatar’s population, has achieved a lot
within a brief span of three years.
Qatar is one of the few nations to dedicate a day
for sports. What began as an initiative to tackle
the country’s rising obesity and diabetes rates has
managed to create tremendous awareness among the
residents on the need to be physically active.
On the occasion of the fourth edition of the National
Sport Day, which is to be observed tomorrow, it is also
essential to do some stock taking and adopt changes in
the strategies, if required, to achieve the goals.
Qatar Biobank, which recently concluded its pilot
phase, has produced some highly relevant insights
into the current health of the residents. Nearly threequarters of the 1,209 participants were overweight or
obese and at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
More than a third had borderline or high levels
of total cholesterol, while more than two-thirds of
individuals had below-average levels of vitamin D,
which can lead to low
bone density. A more
alarming find was that
a substantial number of
the respondents were
not aware of the health
A survey conducted
ahead of last year’s National Sport Day revealed that
some 60% of respondents could not find time to
exercise more often. While those who do single shift
jobs which finish not later than 5pm could be blamed
for being lazy if they do not dedicate time to exercise,
the same cannot be said about their less fortunate
brethren who have to slog on split shifts or extended
single shifts that exceed 10 or 12 hours.
This is where employers have a say. The government
should insist that companies ought to provide
appropriate exercise facilities for their employees at
the workplace itself.
Companies, which provide a room for smokers
to get their regular nicotine fix, should also make
arrangements for a room with some units of cross
training equipment and shower and changing
facilities. There are companies which do more than
this, but legislation is required to make the concept
A good number of employees would jump at the
opportunity to burn off a few hundred calories after
finishing their work and before heading home, all in
the convenience of their workplace.
Unless one is obese, regular and moderate physical
activity for at least 30 minutes daily, five days a week,
could work wonders to maintain and nurture wellness.
Even for the obese, there is hope in the form of regular
exercise for a couple of hours, daily. Exercise should
not be confused with lifting weights. Brisk walking or
jogging is highly effective to maintain fitness, coupled
with a sensible and healthy diet.
The need to eat healthy has to be given more
emphasis in Qatar. There should be affordable “good
food” shops just like there are “junk food” shops.
The mall walking concept has to be popularised in
Qatar, considering the adverse weather conditions that
the country endures for at least six months a year. More
roads should become pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly
so that people could walk and bike when the weather
permits. May this year’s National Sport Day be a turning
point to boost the mission to have a healthy population.
The importance of investing
in fight against climate change
Global warming is now a
vital factor to consider when
planning any development
By Anne Paugam
limate change is already
wreaking havoc throughout
the developing world.
Vietnam, for example,
has reported that natural disasters,
some of them exacerbated by climate
change, have caused annual losses
equivalent to 2% of its GDP. In
agriculture-dependent countries like
Ethiopia, longer droughts and more
frequent flooding are threatening
livelihoods and food supplies.
As the international community
gears up for the UN Climate Change
Conference in Paris in December,
identifying and streamlining sources
of financing for the fight against
climate change must be a top priority.
Development banks like the French
Development Agency (AFD), where I
am CEO, are well placed to contribute.
For starters, development banks
can finance projects that benefit both
development and the environment.
Global warming is now a vital factor
to consider when planning any
development project.
For example, the effects of
climate change can pose critical
risks to infrastructure – agricultural
irrigation, public transportation, or
nearly anything else. Meanwhile,
rising incomes – a goal of any
development effort – nearly always
means increased consumption of
natural resources and energy, resulting
in more emissions and further
Such interlocking relationships
between global warming and
development explain why the French
government requires that at least
50% of the funding provided by the
AFD be directed toward development
projects that also have a positive
impact on the environment. Examples
include wind farms in Ethiopia, better
forest management in Madagascar,
nationwide climate plans in Indonesia
and Vietnam, and clean urban
transport in Colombia.
Development banks
can finance projects
that benefit both
development and the
Development banks can also
play an important role in designing
financial tools that allow private
investors to contribute to the fight
against climate change. But today’s
funding challenge is no longer just
about quantity.
Though potential sources for
climate-friendly development
financing now include pension funds,
insurance companies, foundations,
and sovereign wealth funds, what
is often missing are mechanisms to
ensure that investments are channeled
into well-targeted and effective
One solution is “green” (or
“climate”) bonds. These instruments
have all the characteristics of
conventional bonds, but they are
backed by investments that contribute
to sustainable development or the
fight against climate change.
Until recently, only a few
organisations or governments,
including the World Bank, the
American state of Massachusetts, and
the French region of Île de France,
issued green bonds, and generally the
amounts involved were modest. But in
the past two years, other players have
entered the market, and volumes have
skyrocketed. In 2014, emissions of
green bonds exceeded the total in all
previous years combined.
Indeed, demand is outstripping
supply. The latest bond offers were
all oversubscribed – and the trend
is likely to continue. The insurance
industry has committed to double
its green investments, to $84bn, by
the end of 2015. And in September,
three major pension funds from North
America and Europe announced plans
to increase their holdings in lowcarbon investments by more than
$31bn by 2020.
As the market for these bonds
expands, they must be better labeled
and certified.
Today, harmonised standards do
not exist. The quality of the assets
backing the bonds depends solely on
issuers’ goodwill and technical skills.
Specific guidelines and rating methods
need to be developed. In this context,
the recent decision by a coalition of
institutional investors to measure and
disclose the carbon footprint of at
least $500bn b in investments is a step
In September, the AFD issued
€1bn ($1.2bn) in climate bonds, with
one goal being to contribute to the
development of concrete quality
standards. With the help of a major
agency that rates corporate social
responsibility, we were able to provide
investors with solid information – and
an accountability process – about
the portfolio’s direct impact on
greenhouse-gas emissions.
Indeed, the projects financed by
these bonds were required to meet
stringent criteria, including a prior
analysis of their carbon footprint,
proof of a clear and significant impact
on climate change, and a design that
is aligned with the broader strategies
being pursued by local actors and
Climate bonds have the potential to
empower countries and institutions as
they move toward meeting enforceable
commitments to reduce CO2
However, if they are to be effective,
they will require clear guidelines and
a reliable framework for assessment.
As leaders from countries and
institutions from around the world
prepare to meet in Paris in December,
getting the financing right should be a
top priority. - Project Syndicate
zAnne Paugam is chief executive
officer of France’s development
financing institution Agence Française
de Développement. France will host
COP21 in December 2015 in Paris.
Qatar is one of
the few nations
to dedicate a day
for sports
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Demonstrators in front of the Greek parliament in Athens in support of the new anti-austerity government’s efforts to renegotiate Greece’s international loans. Recent
analysis shows that forgiveness of Greece’s official debt is unambiguously desirable, as another bogus deal will keep the Greek economy depressed, ensuring that the
problem soon recurs. If European sensitivities must be assuaged, Greece’s debt repayment could be drawn out over 100 years.
Obama joins the Greek chorus
By Ashoka Mody
S President Barack Obama’s
recent call to ease the
austerity imposed on
Greece is remarkable – and
not only for his endorsement of the
newly-elected Greek government’s
negotiating position in the face of its
official creditors. Obama’s comments
represent a break with the longstanding tradition of official American
silence on European monetary affairs.
While scholars in the US have
frequently denounced the policies
of Europe’s monetary union, their
government has looked the other way.
Those who criticise the euro or how
it is managed have long run the risk of
being dismissed as Anglo-Saxons or,
worse, anti-Europeans. British prime
minister Margaret Thatcher accurately
foresaw the folly of a European
monetary union. Gordon Brown, as
British chancellor of the exchequer,
followed in Thatcher’s footsteps.
When his staff presented carefully
researched reasons for not joining the
euro, many Europeans sneered.
And that is why Obama’s statement
was such a breath of fresh air. It came
a day after German Chancellor Angela
Merkel said that Greece should not
expect more debt relief and must
maintain austerity. Meanwhile, after
days of not-so-veiled threats, the
European Central Bank is on the verge
of cutting funding to Greek banks.
The guardians of financial stability are
amplifying a destabilising bank run.
Obama’s breach of Europe’s
intellectual insularity is all the
more remarkable because even the
International Monetary Fund has
acquiesced in German-imposed
orthodoxy. As IMF managing director
Christine Lagarde told the Irish Times:
“A debt is a debt, and it is a contract.
Defaulting, restructuring, changing
the terms has consequences.”
“You cannot keep on
squeezing countries
that are in the midst
of depression”
The Fund stood by in the 1990s,
when the eurozone misadventure was
concocted. In 2002, the director of the
IMF’s European Department described
the fiscal rules that institutionalised
the culture of persistent austerity as
a “sound framework”. And, in May
2010, the IMF endorsed the European
authorities’ decision not to impose
losses on Greece’s private creditors
– a move that was reversed only after
unprecedented fiscal belt-tightening
sent the Greek economy into a
The delays and errors in managing
the Greek crisis started early. In July
2010, Lagarde, who was France’s
finance minister at the time,
recognised the damage incurred by
those initial delays, “If we had been
able to address (Greece’s debt) right
from the start, say in February, I
think we would have been able to
prevent it from snowballing the way
that it did.”
Even the IMF acknowledged that
it had been a mistake not to impose
losses on private creditors preemptively; it finally did so only in June
2013, when the damage had already
been done.
There is plenty of blame to go
around. Former US Treasury secretary
Timothy Geithner championed
a hardline stance against debt
restructuring during a crisis. As a
result, despite warnings by several
IMF directors in May 2010 that
restructuring was inevitable, the US
supported the European position that
private creditors needed to be paid in
Lee Buchheit, a leading sovereigndebt attorney and the man who
managed the eventual Greek debt
restructuring in 2012, was harshly
critical of the authorities’ failure to
face up to reality.
Obama may have arrived late to the
right conclusion, but he expressed
what should be an obvious truth: “You
cannot keep on squeezing countries
that are in the midst of depression.”
If Obama’s words are to count, he
must continue to push for the kind of
deal Greece needs – one that errs on
the side of too much debt forgiveness,
rather than too little. Recent analysis
shows that forgiveness of Greece’s
official debt is unambiguously
desirable, as another bogus deal will
keep the Greek economy depressed,
ensuring that the problem soon recurs.
If European sensitivities must be
assuaged, Greece’s debt repayment
could be drawn out over 100 years.
At the end of the day, debt
forgiveness benefits creditors as much
as it helps debtors. Creditors have
known this since at least the sixteenth
century, when Spain’s King Philip II
became the world’s first known serial
sovereign defaulter.
European authorities must come
to understand that the next act of the
Greek tragedy will not be confined to
Greece. If relief fails to materialise,
political discontent will spread,
extremist forces will gain strength,
and the survival of the European
Union itself could be endangered. Project Syndicate
zAshoka Mody, a former mission
chief for Germany and Ireland at
the International Monetary Fund,
is currently visiting professor of
international economic policy at the
Woodrow Wilson School of Public
and International Affairs, Princeton
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Support education in emergencies
No child should be denied
opportunity simply because
adults are unable to work
By Gordon Brown
n an ideal world, whenever
children needed help, they
would get it. When girls and
boys were forced from their
homes or classrooms because of war,
natural disaster, or other crises, the
international community would,
within days, formulate a plan to ensure
their immediate wellbeing.
And such plans would include not
only life-saving interventions, but
also havens of psychological support
and learning that protect opportunity
and hope. Such places exist. They are
called schools.
Unfortunately, ours is far from an
ideal world. When children need help,
days turn into weeks and months.
Hundreds of desperate children
become thousands and eventually
millions. Hope gives way to prolonged
misery – not for a few months or even
a year, but on average for more than a
They are shut out of schools, locked
out of opportunity, and condemned to
live in unbearable conditions – subject
to child labour or forced begging, sold
into marriage, trafficked, conscripted
into gangs, or recruited by extremists.
What has happened in recent years
in South Sudan, northern Nigeria, and
Iraq – and in Jordan, and Lebanon,
where hundreds of thousands of
Syrian refugee children are being
denied the chance to return to school
– makes an overwhelming case for a
new humanitarian fund for education
in emergencies.
What has happened during the
Ebola crisis in Liberia, Guinea, and
Sierra Leone – where schools serving
fivemn children remain closed or have
not reopened quickly enough – makes
this case, too. Yemen and Chad are
likely to be next.
In all of these countries and
situations, children’s future depends
on whether we, the international
community, act. The Millennium
Development Goals commit the
international community to achieve
the target of universal primary
education by the end of 2015.
But the official out-of-school
figure currently stands at 58mn. And,
once out of school for a year or more,
children are unlikely to return.
There is a huge gap in our array of
solutions. In 2014, education received
just 1% of humanitarian funds –
leaving millions of children and young
people on the streets or idle in camps.
And there is no mechanism to pay for
the education of refugee children or
those affected by disaster.
To be sure, there are organisations
– the UN High Commission for
Refugees, Unicef, and many other
groups – that, working together,
perform heroically.
And organisations like the Global
Partnership for Education, Sheikha
Mozah’s Educate a Child foundation,
and the Global Business Coalition for
Education also contribute in times of
emergency. But that woefully small
1% figure means that the world simply
does not have enough to ensure that
more than a fraction of affected
children get help.
The solution must be based on a
simple humane principle: No child
should be denied opportunity simply
because adults are unable to work
together. That means establishing
an emergency education system
that enables adequate funding to
be released to UN agencies and
operational NGOs at the onset of a
crisis – not years later.
What has been happening in
Lebanon over the past two years
is a case in point. Today, there are
465,000 Syrian child refugees. The
Lebanese government has volunteered
to accept refugee children into the
country’s schools by introducing a
second afternoon session and enlisting
teachers and school directors to take
on the extra workload.
Complicating the situation,
officials have had to persuade a
divided country, already worried
about the influx of refugees (which
has added 20% to the country’s
population). But few refugee
children have enrolled.
Unicef and the UNHCR have
devised a plan with the Lebanese
government to implement this
programme, but the international
community has failed to help. Only
$100mn has been pledged, but $163mn
is still needed.
Though the Global Partnership for
Education and other organisations
want to do more, their mandate does
not permit them to provide assistance
to middle-income countries like
Something is very wrong with this
picture. Lebanon’s government has
a plan that requires no new schools
or infrastructure, making it one of
the most cost-effective solutions to
a refugee crisis imaginable. But, still,
the money is lacking.
The same thing is happening in
South Sudan. And in northern Nigeria,
countless attacks by the terrorist
group Boko Haram have underscored
the need for a full safe-schools
program; but the money to deliver it
simply is not there.
Similarly, in Pakistan, the Peshawar
massacre in December last year has
revealed how much more must be
done to protect schools and children’s
Given such crises, the world can
no longer afford to do without a
humanitarian fund for education
during emergencies.
In April, at the World Bank’s annual
meeting, I will call for action by the
assembled government ministers, and
I hope to announce the establishment
of such a fund at the Oslo Summit on
Education for Development on July
Education, it is said, cannot wait.
Passing the hat when a crisis erupts is
not the solution. In 2015, we must do
more. - Project Syndicate
zGordon Brown, former prime minister
and chancellor of the exchequer of the
United Kingdom, is UN special envoy
for global education.
Weather report
Three-day forecast
A welcome sign
for Indian banks
Dear Sir,
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
has advised public sector Indian banks
to constitute a committee to monitor
non-performing assets (NPA) and
appoint nodal officers to expedite their
recovery. He has further instructed
that write-offs should not be more
than recovery.
The steps initiated are a welcome
sign as they are expected to accelerate
the pace of progress being achieved
by Indian economy in the last few
Indian public sector banks’ NPAs
have been consistently registering
an alarming increase. To remove
bottlenecks in the recovery process,
an act of law has been passed by
Indian parliament which came into
force in 2013. While the finance
minister’s clarion call to Indian public
sector banks to “implement various
instructions and adopt adequate
safeguards in order to ensure that
the banking activities undertaken by
them are run on sound, prudent and
profitable lines” is a welcome signal,
it is for the government to extend a
helping hand to these banks to give
them a free hand, not to pressurise
them to extend finance and loans
under various schemes.
When a goal is set, the channels
and the strategies to achieve it must
be kept open by the finance ministry
to enable Indian public sector banks
to prove their mettle. Indian public
sector banks, unlike new entrant
players, have contributed in no small
measure to the growth of the Indian
economy and one wishes that this
trend will continue.
V Kalyanaraman
(e-mail address supplied)
Dear Sir,
The battle for the heart and soul
of the Syrian town of Kobane rages
on. People there have faced horrors
beyond belief in the last several
When blood is spilled, there are no
actual winners, only pain. The failure
to intervene at the right time is a
shocking indictment, not just of the
UN Security Council, but even more
so of governments and individuals
who could have prevented what was
happening but chose not to do so.
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Around the region
Live issues
Abu Dhabi
Should you choose your airline seatmates?
Kuwait City
By Barbara Brotman
Chicago Tribune/TNS
n impending vacation had
me set to board an airplane
with the universal question
along with my carry-on:
what kind of stranger will I be sitting
next to for several hours?
It could go well or horribly. You
never know.
However, it turns out that now, in a
few cases, you can know.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines offers
a programme called Meet & Seat. It
lets passengers share parts of their
Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn
profiles, see the profiles of other
participants on their flight and choose
seats next to someone who seems like
good in-flight company.
And the Quicket smartphone travel
app recently introduced a Facebook
check-in feature that lets users see
who will be sitting next to them and, if
those passengers have allowed it, link
to their Facebook profiles.
But is the thought of using social
media to see who is on a flight and
choose whom to sit with attractive? Or
When Meet & Seat was introduced
in 2012, commentators warned of the
intrusion of networking into a bastion
of quiet away from work; of hellish
flights trapped next to Facebook
stalkers; of cabins turned into the
social equivalent of high school
But the programme, which reveals
the social media profiles only of people
who opt into it, has fans. Last year, it
was used by 30,000 passengers.
Sharing of social media profiles is changing how some air travellers choose
their seats.
For me, the notion induces a twinge
of social anxiety.
Do I really want to open myself up
to an online vote on whether I am
interesting enough to be a worthwhile
Frankly, when I’m flying, I don’t
want to be interesting. I want to be
plugged into my headphones and
doing my knitting.
This social matching feels like it could
turn flying into some kind of dating
game, a cross between LinkedIn and
OKCupid. Maybe we’ll end up writing
seatmate-enticing personal ads:
Me: Petite, headphone-using
knitter with mild fear of flying. I enjoy
listening to music and looking out the
You: Off-duty airline pilot, 40
years-plus experience and military
veteran preferred, willing to hold my
hand in turbulence and explain why
plane will not fall down. Knitting
knowledge a plus.
And what about hurt feelings?
KLM’s Meet & Seat lets passengers
switch seats as many times as they
like. What if some fascinating
personage reserves the seat next to
me but then changes it for someone
better? Or if I choose a seat next to a
prime candidate and the object of my
seat affection promptly moves?
It’s enough to make me want to stay
home from high school.
Most of us have simple seatmate
wishes. We would like to avoid the
discomforts caused by small seats and
large passengers.
Some of us would like to travel in
silence and hope for a seatmate who
feels the same. Some of us wish planes
had family sections, which I would
have loved when I travelled with young
children and I would love now that I
travel with grown ones.
More basically, we don’t want to sit
next to people who are smelly, barefoot,
clipping their nails or eating gross food.
Even more basically, a friend of
mine doesn’t want to sit next to
someone who gets drunk and barfs
on her, which once happened to her
Networking is the least of our
As for interesting conversations
with seatmates - sometimes they just
happen, without any planning.
I’ve had some great
conversations with seatmates.
There was the guy who had just
bought a beachfront hotel to run in
Florida. The young woman heading
off to start her first post-college
job. The man on a long transAtlantic flight who talked about
being divorced with children on
another continent.
And I’ll never forget the beefy,
kindly ex-football player who let me
clutch his arm when a flight turned
bumpy and talked to me to distract me
the rest of the way home.
I hadn’t chosen to sit with any of
They were random strangers. I
got to sit next to them through luck
of the draw. If I had been given the
opportunity to choose a seatmate
through social media profiles, I might
not have picked any of them.
Chance picked them for me.
I’m going to stick with chance as my
seat assignment programme, at least
in the future.
Because for a recent trip, at the
last minute, I moved someone I’m
connected with on LinkedIn and
Instagram from a seat in another row
to a newly-open seat next to me.
And I’m pretty sure my daughter
and I will get along just fine.
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Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Maserati launches Q4 all-wheel-drive models
aserati Qatar, represented by Alfardan
Sports Motors, has announced the launch of its first
ever all-wheel-drive system, Q4,
at Qatar Motor Show 2015.
The system will be available
on Maserati’s four-door sedan
models, the Quattroporte and
Ghibli, as the top-of-the-line S
Q4 variant.
The S Q4 accelerates the Quattroporte and Ghibli from 0-100
km/h in just 4.9 and 4.8 seconds
- faster than their rear-wheel
drive counterparts - up to a top
speed of 283 km/h and 284 km/h.
The Q4 system has been designed to maximise traction and
further amplify Maserati’s highperformance, grand touring
qualities and rear-wheel driving
experience while offering absolute safety whatever the road
The system acts by transferring traction to the front wheels
on demand and with an immediate response.
“With the Quattroporte and
Ghibli S Q4, we are now able to
offer our clients all-wheel-drive
models that drive like a real Maserati,” explained Charly Dagher,
general manager of Alfardan
Sports Motors. “The sole objective of Q4 is optimising the balance between increased driving
pleasure and safety.”
Maserati’s first ever all-wheel-drive system, Q4, will be available on four-door sedan models.
The launch comes ahead of the
2016 launch of the luxury manufacturer’s first SUV, the Levante.
In normal driving conditions,
the system provides 100% of the
engine torque to the rear wheels;
this is also to optimise fuel consumption and emissions.
In low grip driving conditions
such as slippery or loose road
surfaces, or in case of loss of grip
at the rear axle, for example, dur-
ing acceleration from zero or at
very high cornering speeds, the
system reacts instantaneously,
transferring the necessary traction to the front wheels.
In a mere 150 milliseconds, the
Q4 system is capable of altering
the torque split from 100% rear
wheel drive to an equal 50%-50%
distribution between the front
and rear wheels. When conditions require, the Q4 all-wheeldrive system, with its variable
torque control, activates constantly and continuously.
The Ghibli is Maserati’s latest
addition to its model range and
the first four-door sports executive sedan by the Italian luxury
brand. By combining breathtaking design with exceptional handling qualities and outstanding
performance, the Ghibli appeals
to the head and the heart, making
the dream of owning a Maserati
more accessible.
In addition to the top-of-therange Ghibli S Q4, Maserati also
offers the Ghibli and Ghibli S,
all featuring a new-generation
twin turbo-charged 3.0-litre V6
engine and an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission.
With its power output of 410
hp, the Ghibli S races to 100
km/h in 5.0 seconds and reaches
a top speed of 285 km/h. The
Ghibli delivers 330 hp, a top
speed of 263 km/h and accel-
eration of 0 to 100 km/h in 5.6
With the original 1963 Quattroporte, Maserati invented the
concept of the luxury sports
sedan and the sixth generation
Quattroporte continues to be the
benchmark for high-quality engineering, supercar performance
and limousine comfort.
In addition to the Quattroporte S Q4, Maserati also offers the GTS, S and the Quattroporte with 330 hp as part of
its Quattroporte range with two
state-of-the-art, high performance direct-injection engines: a
3.8-litre V8 (Quattroporte GTS)
and a 3.0-litre V6 (Quattroporte
S Q4, S and Quattroporte). Both
engines are twin turbo-charged,
developed by Maserati Powertrain in partnership with Ferrari
Powertrain, and built by Ferrari
at its world-leading engine construction facility in Maranello.
The engine of the Quattroporte
GTS reaches 100km/h in just 4.7
seconds and achieves a 307km/h
top speed. The Quattroporte S
engine doesn’t lack in performance, either, reaching 100km/h
in 5.1 seconds and achieving a
285km/h top speed. The 330hp
Quattroporte retains its sporty
Maserati character with an acceleration of 5.6 seconds from
zero to 100km/h and a top speed
of 263 km/h.
New Mercedes-AMG
GT S unveiled by
NBK Automobiles
he Mercedes-AMG GT S
2015 has been revealed by
Nasser Bin Khaled (NBK)
Automobiles at Qatar Motor
Show 2015, currently taking
place at Qatar National Convention Centre.
“The GT is the second sports
car developed entirely in-house
by Mercedes-AMG,” it was explained in a statement issued
yesterday. Its front mid-engine
concept with transaxle and the
intelligent aluminium lightweight construction form the
basis of a highly dynamic driving
The vehicle’s newly developed
AMG 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine
underscores the hallmark AMG
driving performance. The first
sports car engine with internally
mounted turbochargers (“hot
inside V”) and dry sump lubrication is configured in two output
ratings: as a GT with 340 kW
(462 hp) and as a GT S with 375
kW (510 hp).
The new GT combines driving
dynamics and first-class racetrack performance with superb
everyday practicality and efficiency that sets new standards in
the segment.
The two-seater is a straightforward, comfortable and reliable companion for everyday
motoring, thanks to its practical
tailgate, easily accessible luggage compartment, high level
of comfort on long journeys and
the extensive range of MercedesBenz Intelligent Drive assistance
The new Mercedes-AMG GT
S embodies sportiness and emotion as an expression of sensual
purity. The long bonnet with
its pronounced powerdomes,
the greenhouse which has been
moved far back, the large wheels
and broad tail end make up the
distinctive looks.
The trimmed cabin results in
muscular shoulders – the hallmark Mercedes “Coke bottle”
shape – which lends the car its
extremely powerful stance.
All modern Mercedes feature
this “Coke bottle” theme, the GT
being the most extreme example.
Positively arched surfaces give
the Mercedes-AMG GT its sensuous character and the appearance of a sculpture.
The interior design also embodies maximum emotion and
sensual purity. Radically low,
sporty proportions create a
unique sense of spaciousness.
Clearly drawn components
and their authentic materials underscore the dynamic character
and create instant excitement:
anyone opening the door discovers an exciting interplay between
the deep, sloping dashboard and
a dominant, arched high centre console, a design that evokes
emotions and impresses with its
The new high-performance
engine springs to life at the push
of a button: even the sound as the
The new Mercedes-AMG GT S, which has been revealed at Qatar Motor Show 2015.
engine starts up brings you out
in goose pimples. The 4.0-litre
V8 biturbo engine was developed
specifically for the GT.
The innovative eight-cylinder
engine as the newest member
of the BlueDIRECT engine family boasts of outstanding power
delivery, performance figures on
a par with motor racing, light-
weight construction as well as
high efficiency and environmental compatibility.
The GT sets new benchmarks
in terms of efficiency, too. With
its 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine,
it already meets the Euro 6 emissions standard, including the
maximum particulate emissions
level that takes effect in 2016.
QIC reveals new products,
services at motor show
Teyseer Motors officials at the Suzuki stand. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Suzuki displays line-up
of latest vehicles
uzuki Motors is showcasing
some of its latest vehicles
at Qatar Motor Show 2015,
currently under way at Qatar National Convention Centre.
The new models are the Ciaz,
Ertiga and the new Alto K10.
Adel al-Mannai, president of
Teyseer Motors, the sole distributors of Suzuki Motors in Qatar,
said: “The Suzuki range of vehicles is well-equipped with safety
features and ABS. They are economical and fuel-efficient.”
The new Suzuki Ciaz is a 1.4-litre vehicle with 92hp. It is packed
with advanced features like camera-assisted reverse parking, keyless push start system, smart key,
rear AC vents, personal reading
lamps and rear sunshade.
Ertiga is a seven-seat compact
MPV with 92hp. Powered by a
1.4-litre engine, the Ertiga is a
true combination of power and
comfort and is capable of overcoming the toughest terrains and
harshest weathers.
The new Alto K10 is an upgraded version of an already
successful car with a full model
change that makes it taller, wider
and roomier. The New Alto K10 is
15% more fuel efficient, delivering
best-in-class 24.07km per litre.
The Suzuki motorcycle product range on display at the
motor show includes super
sport and sport bikes (Hayabusa, GSXR1000, GSXR750,
GSXR600), sport ATVs, utility
ATVs and scooters.
atar Insurance Company
(QIC), official insurer for
this year’s Qatar Motor
Show, has revealed its new products and services at the event
– all aimed at making car, travel
and home insurance purchasing
easier and exciting.
QIC introduced its recently
launched “U-Club”, the nation’s-first loyalty programme
for policyholders of comprehensive car insurances, to tell visitors
about the series of new services
and benefits.
U-Club offers special services on regular car maintenance,
value-added packages to existing
insurance and privilege offers for
the car owner and his family.
The programme also includes
offers and discounts from a variety of different partners, ranging
from selected workshops in the
Industrial Area, home and travel
insurance discounts to special
offers on home appliances and
personal items – all centred on
the car and the people owning or
using the car.
“To protect the driver, his car
and add more excitement, we
were delighted to be the official
insurer of the motor show and
showcase our product offerings,
which are synonymous with
safety, security, special services
and benefits,” said Ali al-Fadala,
senior deputy group president
and CEO of QIC.
QIC’s new offerings have been revealed at Qatar Motor Show.
As part of its channel strategy
to reach out to customers and be
accessible at their convenience,
QIC has also enhanced its online retail platform by offering
quotes for personal insurance
products (car, home and travel)
in just 10 seconds.
“Most people see insurance as
something they need to purchase
to protect themselves and their
car from untoward incidents,”
said P E Alexander, CEO of QIC
Qatar. “We, therefore, introduced a series of services and
benefits that make our custom-
ers benefit from insurance, even
without having to file a claim.”
He noted that they want to
change the general perception
towards insurance. “To reinforce this, we designed U-Club
to add an element of excitement
and fun.”
US natural gas
shale drillers
Sluggish growth,
chaotic markets
concerns for G20
Monday, February 9, 2015
Rabia II 20, 1436 AH
Tasweeq hosts Japan
delegation on learning
and development MoU
QIIB posts QR826mn ’14 profit
egistering growth across all portfolios of
its business, QIIB has posted a net profit of
QR826mn in 2014, up 10.1% on the previous year.
The bank’s total revenues stood at QR1.52bn
in 2014, QIIB chairman and managing director Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Thani bin Abdullah alThani said yesterday.
QIIB’s board of directors yesterday proposed
to the bank’s general assembly to distribute a
cash dividend of 40% of its capital, which translates into QR4 a share.
This is subject to the Qatar Central Bank approval.
Earnings per share (EPS) reached QR5.45 in
Sheikh Dr Khalid said, “The results strongly
confirm the bank has made good growth across
all portfolios of its business and succeeded in realising its strategy, which is commensurate with
the rich opportunities available in the Qatari
economy. The national economy is seeing a renaissance and has become prosperous under the
wise leadership of HH the Emir, Sheikh Tamim
bin Hamad al-Thani.”
He said QIIB would continue to focus on the
domestic market, which has many mega projects
under implementation. QIIB believes it is the
bank’s responsibility to fully engage in nation
Sheikh Dr Khalid (left) and al-Shaibei: Good growth across all portfolios.
building and support the national economy, he
said. Sheikh Dr Khalid emphasised QIIB’s commitment to various kinds of project financing; be
it large projects related to infrastructure, other
major development plans or small and medium
This will help QIIB realise its strategy of actively getting engaged in national economic
development and realise the expectations of its
shareholders and customers.
QIIB chief executive officer Abdulbasit A alShaibei said operating income earned by the
bank in 2014 stood at QR1.51bn compared with
QR1.46bn in 2013. Customer deposits totalled
QR26.6bn at end-2014, compared with QR24.4bn
in 2013, representing a growth rate of 8.9%.
Al-Shaibei said the bank’s total assets stood at
QR38.4bn in December, 2014; a growth of 12.8%
compared with 2013. Total shareholder equity
stood at QR5.4bn in December, 2014 compared
with QR5.1bn in 2013. Capital adequacy ratio
under Basel II stood at 16.27% at 2014-end compared with 18.86% at 2013-end.
Al-Shaibei said 2014 represented another year
of success and growth for QIIB as the bank was
able to take full advantage of various opportunities available within the banking system and the
overall Qatari economy.
The bank continued to participate in financing
various projects in Qatar, he said, and noted that
QIIB did not spare any effort in getting involved
or supporting the national economy.
While focusing on the national economy, the
CEO said, “QIIB studied foreign markets carefully. We will look for safe opportunities abroad
that provide good returns for the bank and its
shareholders alike, in compliance with the bank’s
investment policies.”
Al-Shaibei said 2014 saw a steady increase in
the bank’s customer base, reflecting the demand
for QIIB’s quality service and products. The bank
continued to open many new branches and ATMs
and strengthened the bank’s electronic delivery
channels in line with its strategy of reaching out
to the customers.
MPHC reports
QR1.8bn 2014
net profit;
suggests 11%
cash dividend
Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding
Company (MPHC) - an umbrella
entity for Q Chem, Q Chem II and
Qatar Vinyl Company (QVC) - has
reported net profit of QR1.8bn in
2014 and suggested 11% dividend to
The proposed QR1.1 cash dividend
is equivalent to 77% of the group’s
QVC registered full-year revenue
of QR0.8bn. Results for 2014 were
impacted by planned shut-downs
of the company’s EDC (ethylene
dichloride), VCM (vinyl chloride
monomer) and caustic soda
facilities, principally during the first
half of the year.
(Gulf Times had erroneously
mentioned 11% cash dividend
as 110% and EDC as endocrine
disruptive chemicals on February 2
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
QGIRC profit drops
to QR920mn in 2014
The Japanese delegation with al-Kuwari and other senior company executives in Doha.
Tasweeq hosts Japan
delegation on learning
and development MoU
asweeq (Qatar International Petroleum Marketing Company)
recently hosted a Japanese delegation that comprised executives representing many Japanese oil and gas companies and the Japan Cooperation Centre
Petroleum (JCCP).
The JCCP delegation visited Qatar
based on a memorandum of understanding signed between Tasweeq and JCCP in
November 2013.
The MoU was put in place for exchange
of programmes related to learning and
development. One specific objective is
to have access to the various technical
and non-technical courses organised by
Another major component of the MoU
is the implementation of the “Exchange
Programme for Young Generations”,
which allows young employees on both
sides to share knowledge and best practices, and to discuss future marketing
challenges in the oil and gas industry.
The Japanese delegation was headed by Fumihiro Tone, master lecturer,
Training Department at JCCP. The eight
delegates consisted of Japanese employees working for prominent oil and gas
companies in Japan.
The reception was attended by Saad
A al-Kuwari, Tasweeq CEO; Abdulla
al-Abdulmalek, executive director (Administration); Dr Majid Ibrahim, head
(Learning, Development & Qatarisation)
along with other Tasweeq directors.
During the reception, Abdulaziz alMeer, Tasweeq planning and performance director, gave a presentation on the
company and its unique model of operations. This was followed by a presentation on Japan’s energy outlook delivered
by Tone.
“This was an excellent opportunity
to introduce the young Japanese to the
marketing infrastructure of petroleum
products in Qatar, and to show them major educational, cultural and economic
landmarks,” Tasweeq said.
Tasweeq also arranged technical tours
to Ras Laffan, Mesaieed and Dukhan Industrial cities and cultural tours to Katara, The Pearl and The Museum of Islamic Art.
The first Qatari delegation as part of
the exchange programme visited Japan
in December 2014. The team comprised
some seven Tasweeq Qatari employees
who benefited from the programme on
both technical and personal levels.
Qatar General Insurance and
Reinsurance Company (QGIRC)
has reported 57% plunge in
net profit to QR920mn in 2014
on higher premium ceded to
reinsurers and lower fair value
The company has, however,
recommended 20% cash
dividend and 15% bonus shares,
which will have to be approved
by general assembly scheduled
to be meet on March 15.
Gross earned premium,
otherwise, rose 8% to
QR560.4mn; even as premium
ceded to reinsurers grew faster
at 16% to QR362.4mn; resulting
in a 4% fall in net earned
premium to QR198.01mn,
according to its financial
statement filed with the Qatar
Stock Exchange.
Although fee and commission
income grew 15% to QR17.93mn,
other operating revenue by
18% to QR14.36mn, investment
income more than doubled
to QR192.45mn and net
realised gain almost tripled
to QR64.98mn; the insurer
reported a 49% decline in total
revenue to QR1.21mn as fair
value gains plummeted 64% to
Net claims were higher by 2% to
Total expenses rose 20% to
QR310.86mn with finance
costs more than doubling
to QR39.87mn and other
operating and administrative
costs growing 25% to
Total assets were valued
at QR8.55bn, comprising
investment properties of
QR5.01bn and available-for-sale
financial assets of QR1.18bn.
Total equity stood at QR5.68bn
on capital base of QR691.75mn
and earnings-per-share was
QR13.3 at the end of December
31, 2014.
Salam International’s 2014
profit falls to QR78.28mn
Salam International Investment
has reported 31% decline in
net profit to QR78.28mn in
2014 despite higher operating
The company has suggested 6%
cash dividend, which will have
to be approved by shareholders
at the annual general assembly
slated to be held on February
Operating income grew 16%
to QR2.37bn, but operating
cost rose faster at 20% to
QR1.77bn, resulting in a 6% rise
in gross profit to QR599.44mn,
according to its financial
Other income more than tripled
to QR28.71mn, investment
income soared 27% to
QR148.92mn, share of results
in joint ventures by 12% to
QR7.71mn and other operating
income by 6% to QR5.25mn;
even as service and consultancy
income fell 40% to QR1.71mn.
Salaries and other staff benefits
expanded 7% to QR297.86mn
and general and administrative
costs by 12% to QR216.11mn;
while finance costs were down
15% to QR76.68mn.
Total assets were valued at
QR4.64bn, comprising current
assets of QR2.15bn and noncurrent assets of QR2.49bn.
Total equity stood at QR5.68bn
on a capital base of QR691.75mn
and earnings-per-share was
QR0.68 at the end of December
31, 2014.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Ministry of Municipal Affairs, ExxonMobil Research sign MoU
Gulf institutional funds favour
‘Japan, Asia; shun Europe’
Gulf institutional investors are putting
their money into Asian equities, in
particular Japanese stocks, but are
shunning European shares after years of
underperformance, the Middle East head of
Pictet Asset Management said yesterday.
Many of these Middle Eastern entities,
including some of the world’s largest
sovereign wealth funds, have traditionally
been regarded as significant investors into
European developed markets.
Qatar for example, through the Qatar
Investment Authority and its subsidiaries,
has in recent years embarked on an
aggressive expansion spree which has seen
it buy up stakes in major companies such
as Volkswagen and Siemens, as well as real
estate and infrastructure on the continent.
The eyes of many institutional funds are
now turning east, according to Francesco
Genovese, regional head of Middle East,
Dr Jennifer Dupont, research director, ExxonMobil Research Qatar, and Abdulla Ahmed al-Karrani, acting director, Urban Planning Department at the
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning, recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for ExxonMobil Research Qatar to assist
with the ministry’s Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan. The signing was attended by Dr Mohamed al-Sulaiti, Technical Interface co-ordinator at
ExxonMobil Research Qatar, and Said Ahmed Salim al-Muqaddam, Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan Project co-ordinator.
Saudi Kayan gets more gas for making ethylene
audi Arabia’s Oil Ministry has
allocated more natural gas to
Saudi Kayan Petrochemical
Co for it to expand ethylene production at its petrochemical complex in Jubail, the company said
The ministry has allocated the
affiliate of Saudi Basic Industries
Corp (Sabic) an extra 10mn cubic
feed a day of ethane from July 1,
Kayan said in a bourse statement.
The extra gas will allow it to raise
ethylene production capacity by
at least 93,000 tonnes a year and
ethylene oxide capacity by 61,000
tonnes a year by the second quarter
of 2017, it said.
The additional ethane supply will
also allow the company to reduce its
consumption of butane gas, it said.
As part of the same deal, SABIC
will also reduce the marketing fees
it charges Saudi Kayan, which will
save the company 280mn riyals
($74.6mn) this year and 600mn riyals a year once its projects are completed, it said.
Africa and Central Asia at Pictet Asset
“There’s lots of traction for Japanese
equities, Asian equities and global
emerging markets (equities), as well
as emerging (market) debt in local
currencies,” he told reporters at a media
event. “They were really keen to invest
in European equities four or five years
ago, but they have been so disappointing
(for returns) that, now, they look at other
Europe’s economy, especially in the
eurozone, has struggled in recent years due
to repeated fears over sovereign debt levels
and weak growth indicators.
The euro traded at its lowest level against
the dollar in 11 years on January 26, and
a poll conducted by Reuters last month
forecast a median average GDP growth rate
for the eurozone of 1.1% this year and 1.5%
in 2016.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index has gained
around 54% in the last two years, aided by
government stimulus measures.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Gulf markets rise after oil gains
QSE extends rally to 6th day
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
he Qatar Stock Exchange yesterday opened the week on a stronger
note, gaining for the sixth consecutive day, to surpass the 12,600 level,
mainly on the back of mid cap stocks.
Real estate, telecom, insurance and
transport stocks were seen gaining faster
as the 20-stock Qatar Index (based on
price data) rose 0.82% to 12,623.93 points
with trade volumes also on the rise.
Islamic stocks were seen gaining faster
in the bourse, which is up 2.75% year-todate.
Both local and non-Qatari retail investors turned bullish in the market, where
realty and telecom stocks cornered more
than 58% of the total trading volume.
Market capitalisation expanded 0.78%,
or more than QR5bn, to QR681.34bn with
mid, small and micro cap equities gaining 1.89%, 0.78% and 0.26% respectively.
Large caps were down 0.03%.
The Total Return Index rose 0.82% to
18,948.1 points, the All Share Index by
0.86% to 3,263.76 points and the Al Rayan
The 20-stock Qatar Index rose 0.82% to
12,623.93 points yesterday amid rising
trade volumes.
Islamic Index by 1.8% to 4,471.13 points.
Real estate stocks appreciated 2.8%,
followed by telecom (1.89%), insurance
(1.46%), transport (1.08%), industrials (1%) and banks and financial services (0.02%), while consumer goods fell
0.24%. About 71% of the stocks extended
gains with major movers being Barwa,
Ezdan Real Estate, Mazaya Qatar, Vodafone Qatar, Nakilat, Aamal Company,
Alijarah Holding, QNB, Doha Bank and
Qatari Investors Group; even as United
Development Company, Qatar Islamic
Bank and Salam International Investment
bucked the trend.
Qatari retail investors turned net buyers to the tune of QR12.69mn against net
sellers of QR36.42mn the previous trading
also turned net buyers to the extent of
QR48.05mn compared with net sellers of
QR29.08mn last Thursday.
Foreign institutions’ net buying sunk to
QR3.07mn against QR31.02mn on February 5.
However, domestic institutions turned
net profit-takers to the tune of QR64.71mn
against net buyers of QR34.47mn the previous trading day.
Total trade volume rose 43% to 40.25mn
shares, value by 28% to QR1.13bn and
transactions by 6% to 11,302.
The telecom sector’s trade volume more
than doubled to 10.18mn stocks and value
more than doubled to QR191.36mn on a
22% jump in deals to 1,560.
The consumer goods sector’s trade
volume more than doubled to 2.91mn
equities and value almost doubled to
QR69.51mn on an 89% rise in transactions to 1,107.
The transport sector’s trade volume
more than doubled to 1.47mn shares,
while value surged 48% to QR46.41mn
and deals by 33% to 334.
The industrials sector witnessed morethan-doubling of trade volume to 6.15mn
stocks, value soared 64% to QR230.19mn
and transactions by 45% to 2,337.
The market witnessed a 33% expansion in the insurance sector’s trade volume to 0.2mn equities, 34% in value to
QR12.47mn and 4% in deals to 152.
Although the banks and financial services’ trade volume rose 16% to 6.04mn
shares; vale fell 10% to QR233.88mn and
transactions by 2% to 2,608.
However, the real estate’s trade volume
was down 7% to 13.3mn stocks but value
rose 8% to QR349.43mn. Deals shrank
22% to 3,204.
In the debt market, there was no trading
of treasury bills and government bonds.
Basci besieged
with investors
adding to
Erdogan jabs
ith President Recep Tayyip Erdogan bearing down
on him over interest rates, Turkish central bank
Governor Erdem Basci is now at risk of alienating
investors who want to see evidence of greater autonomy on
Basci’s decision to tie holding an emergency interestrate meeting last week to the outcome of an inflation report
caused “tremendous damage” to the central bank’s credibility, according to Societe Generale’s Benoit Anne. The
move made “everyone uneasy,” said Commerzbank’s Simon
While the “interim” policy meeting, as it was later rebranded by Basci, was cancelled last Tuesday after consumer prices didn’t fall the required amount, some analysts
saw his willingness to hold a special review as bending to
government pressure to cut borrowing costs. Yields on twoyear notes jumped the most in 19 months the next day, with
the lira falling to a record, after Erdogan questioned the wisdom of maintaining the central bank’s independence.
“Governor Basci has a tough job, he’s stuck between the
market and President Erdogan,” Anne, head of emergingmarket strategy at Societe Generale, said Thursday by
e-mail. “Investors don’t like political pressure on central
banks and they blame Basci for coming across as excessively
Yazar declined to
comment for this
story when he was
contacted on Thursday by phone.
inflation slowed to
7.24% in January,
missing by seven
basis points the 1
reduction Basci re- Basci’s decision to tie holding
quired to convene an emergency interest-rate
the meeting. The meeting last week to the
median estimate in outcome of an inflation report
a Bloomberg survey caused “tremendous damage”
of economists was to the central bank’s credibility
While core-inflation indicators continued to show improvement and the effect of oil-price declines on producer
costs were sustained, the downward move was limited by
exchange- rate developments, the central bank said in an
assessment posted on its website Wednesday.
“This is a time when it is very important for central banks
to be able to decide on their own,” said Quijano-Evans,
Commerzbank’s head of emerging-market research. “Otherwise, the risk of currency overshooting increases, again
blurring the picture for policy.”
Erdogan has repeatedly called for lower borrowing costs
to support economic growth even as the central bank cut
the benchmark rate by 50 basis points to 7.75% last month.
He said last Wednesday making lower rates dependent on
slowing inflation is the result of the “wrong mentality.”
“Unfortunately, this is the point we come to when the institution is independent,” Erdogan said.
The benchmark one-week repurchase rate has been lowered by 225 basis points since Basci last held an emergency
meeting in January 2014, when it was more than doubled to
10% to arrest the lira’s slide. The next scheduled meeting of
the bank’s monetary policy committee is on February 24.
“Basci has been quite smart, linking his decision to the inflation data,” Guillaume Tresca, an emerging-market strategist at Credit Agricole in Paris, said by e-mail on Thursday.
“For two decimals, he decided not to cut. It gives a little bit
more credibility to the” central bank, he said.
Erdogan’s call last week for a cut in central bank rates isn’t
leading to lower bond yields. Two-year government note
yields climbed 115 basis points last week, the biggest weekly
increase since July 2013. They fell to 6.69% on January 28, a
19-month low, as investors anticipated a reduction in rates.
Turkish local-currency bonds returned 8.9% last year, the
most in Eastern Europe, according to the Bloomberg Emerging Market Local Currency Sovereign Index. They have lost
2.1% this year, in line with the regional average.
Gulf stock markets rose yesterday after oil made further gains
and local companies reported
mostly upbeat earnings and
other positive news.
Brent crude jumped 2.2% to
$57.80 per barrel on Friday, posting its largest two-week gain in
17 years because of falling oil rig
counts and violence in producer
Saudi Arabia’s stock index rose
1.8% to its highest close since
November 24 in heavy trade.
Shares in Saudi Kayan Petrochemicals Co surged their daily
10% limit and its bigger affiliate
Saudi Basic Industries (Sabic)
jumped 3.0%.
The kingdom’s oil ministry has
allocated more natural gas to
Saudi Kayan for it to expand
ethylene production at its petrochemical complex in Jubail, the
company said yesterday.
In a sign that some money is
flowing back into Saudi stocks
from abroad after pulling out
during the oil price plunge in December, the US dollar/Saudi riyal
spot rate dropped back to 3.7510
yesterday, very close to its peg.
The exchange rate had climbed
in recent weeks as high as 3.7605
- its highest level since January
2010, when markets were in the
grip of the global financial crisis
- because of outflows from Saudi
Dubai’s index edged up 0.2% and
property developer DAMAC was
one of the top gainers, surging 5.8%. The stock originally
listed in London, but it joined the
emirate’s bourse last month and
its Dubai shares subsequently
plunged by more than a third. It
recovered those losses last week
and its sharp rise may have attracted more investors.
Abu Dhabi’s bourse edged up
0.3% as National Bank of Abu
Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank rose 1.8 and 2.1%
respectively. Food and beverage
firm Agthia Group gained 2.5%
after it reported a 22% increase
in 2014 profit.
Egypt’s market slipped 0.1% as
property companies pulled back
further after gaining strongly in
the last few weeks.
Elsewhere in the Gulf, Kuwait’s
index climbed 0.8% to 6,755
points; Oman’s index edged
up 0.6% to 6,725 points, while
Bahrain’s index edged up 0.2% to
1,438 points.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Natural gas shale drillers in US
undaunted by 32% price plunge
New York
S natural gas production is
poised to reach a record for a
fifth year as shale drillers boost
efficiency, driving prices toward a low
of more than a decade.
Output will rise 3.2% in 2015, led by
gains at the Marcellus formation, the
nation’s biggest shale deposit, according to the Energy Information Administration. Marcellus production will
increase 2.8% through February after
a 21% gain in 2014, a year when prices
tumbled 32%. Producers in Pennsylvania and West Virginia have cut breakeven costs by half since 2008, according to Oppenheimer & Co.
Drilling more wells at one site and
extending the length of horizontal
wells are among the efficiencies that
have helped gas companies cope with
falling prices. The EIA expects Marcellus to climb to about 20% of production
in the lower 48 states from about 2% in
2007. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp, the biggest
Marcellus producer, plans to increase
output by at least 20% this year.
“The Marcellus has been a game
changer in terms of production, reserve potential, everything,” said Fadel
Gheit, a senior energy analyst for Oppenheimer & Co in New York. “They
are not waiting for higher gas prices to
bail them out.”
Natural gas futures fell 2.1 cents to
$2.579 per million British thermal units
on Friday on the New York Mercantile
Exchange, the lowest settlement since
June 2012. Gas has declined 81% from a
high in 2008 as production from shale
formations increased, touching $1.907
in April 2012, the lowest since 2002.
Break-even prices for Marcellus
producers have dropped below $2 per
thousand cubic feet ($1.95 per million
Btu) from around $4 in 2008, Gheit said
in a February 3 interview.
US gas production growth was projected to slow to 1.4% last year, the
least since a decline in 2005, the EIA
said in December 2013. Instead, output jumped 5.6%. Efficiency gains at
Marcellus producer Range Resources
include plans to increase the length of
underground horizontal wells by 36%
to 6,200ft (1,890m), with a third of
the total topping 7,000ft, according
to a January 15 company presentation.
Range used drilling efficiencies to cut
costs to $2.64 per thousand cubic feet
in 2014 from $3.01 in 2012.
The company said it’s targeting 20%
to 25% production growth “for many
Southwestern Energy Corp’s output
Trees stand beyond a drill rig as a shale-gas well is drilled in Mannington, West Virginia (file). The well was being drilled into the Marcellus Shale, a formation that may hold
262tn cu ft of recoverable natural gas, making it the largest known deposit according to a US Energy Department estimate.
may rise 28% this year as it drills longer
wells, increases pipeline capacity and
after spending $5.4bn to acquire shale
fields, according to a December 30
company conference call.
Output is also rising at other shale
plays. Gas production at the Eagle Ford
deposit in Texas has climbed more than
fourfold since January 2007, while output at the Utica shale, much of which
lies below the Marcellus, has increased
Proved US gas reserves, supplies that
can be recovered based on economic
and operating conditions, jumped 9.7%
in 2013 to 354tn cubic feet, equal to
about 13 years of demand, a December
EIA report showed.
“Just the magnitude of the buildout in shale and the pace at which it
gained momentum is surprising,” Jason Schenker, president of Prestige
Economics in Austin, Texas, who was
ranked by Bloomberg in the fourth
quarter as the top gas price forecaster,
said on January 29. “Supplies will remain high. We could test the 2012 lows
this spring in natural gas prices.”
While they save money at the wellhead, Marcellus producers have been
able to bolster sales of the fuel as new
interstate pipelines give them access to
more lucrative markets priced at Henry
Hub in Erath, Louisiana, the US gas
“The Northeast has been at a discount to Henry Hub and more pipelines
that come on will narrow this to the
cost of transport,” Moses Rahnama, an
analyst at London-based consultants
Energy Aspects Ltd, said by phone on
January 5. “That will be more of an incentive to drill.”
New pipelines near the Marcellus deposit will allow Range to ship 63% of its
Oil company CEOs likely to avoid
big hit to compensation, for now
These are nervous times at the top of North
America’s oil companies. Executives are trying to cope with the plunge in oil prices and
are slashing costs as they watch earnings
and revenue drop. Their own compensation,
though, may not yet be on the chopping
According to compensation consultants and
some investors, the mostly generous packages executives were receiving when the oil
price was much higher, and the US shale oil
boom was roaring away, are in most cases
going to survive - at least for awards based
on their performance in 2014. Those will be
announced in the next few months.
“2014 is going to look like a pretty good year
for most,” said Mike Halloran, senior partner
and executive compensation specialist at the
Dallas office of consulting firm Mercer.
This is largely because the oil price decline
did not push down company profits until well
into the second half of 2014 and some shares
finished the year around where they began.
Given the substantial increases many of them
received in 2013, compensation that is little
changed should not be much of a hardship.
The median increase in total compensation
packages for oil and gas company CEOs
was 11% for 2013, according to Institutional
Shareholder Services, compared with a 7%
median increase for all Russell 3000 CEOs. In
dollar terms, energy company CEOs made an
average of $7.3mn in 2013 compared with an
average of $5.3mn among all Russell 3000
CEOs, ISS found.
Still, the C-suite won’t be altogether unscarred. Some CEOs and other top executives
have already seen the value of the stocks and
options they hold in their companies drop in
the past few months.
And Halloran warned that in a year’s time
total compensation - which mainly consists
of base pay, bonus and long-term incentive
payments - may be a different story. If oil
prices stay low throughout the year then
executive packages could shrink by 30% as
bonus goals become harder to reach, while
stocks and options may not keep their value
if shares fail to recover or sink further.
There are signs that investor pressure to rein
in excessive compensation may be having an
impact at a handful of oil and gas companies.
Drilling contractor Nabors Industries Ltd,
which faced a shareholder backlash last
spring over its high level of executive
compensation, said in a December securities
filing that it reduced the annual base salary
of chairman and CEO Anthony Petrello to
$1.53mn from $1.7mn for the first six months
of 2015, which would be a decline of $85,000.
Nabors spokesman Denny Smith said via
e-mail that Petrello initiated the cut and that
his direct reports also took voluntary 10%
salary reductions. “This was done in light of a
weaker industry outlook precipitated by the
decline in crude oil prices which are a significant driver of our business,” Smith said.
Oil and other resource companies traditionally tend to buffer executives from being
directly affected by commodity prices that
are out of their control. Incentive pay tends
to be linked to metrics - like share price
performance - that are pegged against peers
who would also be affected by oil prices.
A few boards may even compensate for
depreciation in stock and option awards
earned in previous years by providing bigger
bonuses or even by repricing stock options
that have gone underwater - meaning that
they will expire worthless unless the share
price recovers. Most companies, though,
will be wary of the optics of such moves as
perceived by employees and shareholders
who have seen jobs cut and share prices fall,
the consultants said.
The CEOs with most at stake could be from
the exploration and production companies
who don’t have operations such as refining
and pipelines that are affected less by moves
in the oil price.
Take for instance Houston oil producer
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. In a November
securities filing the company said its board’s
compensation committee decided in its
annual pay review that “targeted total compensation should remain flat year-over-year
as compared to 2013.”
Anadarko CEO and chairman Al Walker may,
though, feel the impact of a decline in the
company’s share price.
Walker’s 2013 compensation totalling
$16.9mn included stock and options
together estimated to be worth $11mn
when the awards were made in November
that year. The company’s share price was
at $92 then but closed on Friday at $82.70,
meaning the options, which expire in 2020,
are currently underwater. The lower share
price would cut the value of the restricted
shares Walker received to $2.48mn from
In addition, the share price decline likely puts
at risk at least some of the estimated value
of stock that Walker could earn as the final
amount he will receive is tied to performance
targets, according to an analysis by Houston
executive pay consulting firm Longnecker &
Associates. Anadarko declined to comment
on the analysis.
The oil industry does not seem to be headed
for a major showdown with activist investors
over compensation just yet.
Boards are unlikely to make up for the lower
value of stock awards by boosting bonuses
or sweetening packages in other major ways,
said Chris Crawford, president of Longnecker.
“That would be tone deaf” at a time when the
industry is already cutting capital expenditures and laying off workers, he said.
David Winters, the Wintergreen Advisers
fund manager known for raising concerns
about whether executive compensation
at Coca-Cola Co was too high, said he is
satisfied with executive compensation plans
at two Canadian oil companies he holds,
Birchcliff Energy Ltd and Canadian Natural
Resources, whose share prices through
Friday had fallen 49% and 21% respectively
off their highs from last summer.
Winters said via email: “We like the way their
pay is structured. It rewards them for adding
value for shareholders, not riding the swings
in oil prices.”
production outside of Appalachia, the
company said on January 15.
Cabot plans to increase output by
20% to 30% in 2015, and will “re-accelerate activity” once the new Constitution pipeline from Pennsylvania
to upstate New York comes into service
later this year or in 2016, the company
said in November.
“All these companies tell us the
growth rate will be maintained,” Gheit
said. “Gas prices continue to be lower
because people are convinced no matter how low gas prices go, these guys are
not going to stop growing.”
Oil price fall
by hedging,
energy firms’
debt, says BIS
Oil’s dramatic price fall since
mid-2014 cannot be explained
by changes in production and
consumption alone, with hedging and energy firms’ high debt
levels also playing a part, the
Bank for International Settlements (BIS) said on Saturday.
The BIS compared oil’s recent
fall, which saw prices collapse
to below $50 a barrel from
levels of above $100, with
declines in 1996 and 2006
and concluded that unlike on
previous occasions, this time
oil production has been close
to expectations and consumption was only slightly below
“The steepness of the price decline and very large day-to-day
price changes are reminiscent
of a financial asset,” said the
organisation, representing central banks around the world.
While the recent Opec decision
not to cut production “has
been key to the fall”, other
factors could have exacerbated
it, the BIS said. These included
increased indebtedness in the
oil sector in recent years.
The Basel-based organisation
said this greater debt burden
may have had an influence on
the oil market itself.
“Against this background of
high debt, a fall in the price of
oil weakens the balance sheets
of producers and tightens
credit conditions, potentially
exacerbating the price drop as
a result of sales of oil assets,”
it said.
The BIS said reduced cash
flows as a result of a lower oil
price heightened the risk of
firms being unable to meet
interest payments and this
could lead them to continue
pumping oil to maintain cash
flows, delaying a reduction in
This may be a particular factor
in emerging markets where a
stronger dollar would hit indebted companies even harder.
An increased reliance by oil
producers on swap dealers as
counterparties for their hedging since 2010 may also have
played a part. Dealers may “at
times of heightened volatility
and balance sheet strain for
leveraged entities... become
less willing to sell protection to
oil producers,” the BIS said.
Libya’s Hariga oil
port shut by strike
Benghazi, Libya
ibya’s eastern oil export
port Hariga shut down
due to a strike of security
guards, a port official said yesterday, closing the country’s last
functioning export port apart
from two offshore fields.
The closure will lower oil output to less than 300,000 bpd, a
fraction of the 1.6mn Libya used
to pump before the 2011 uprising
that toppled Muammar Gaddafi.
Libya is in the middle of a
power struggle between two
governments and parliaments
allied to armed factions fighting
for legitimacy, territory and oil
facilities .
Hariga in Tobruk, an eastern
city near the Egyptian border,
used to export around 120,000
Only Brega port is still open
but it is used to supply the
120,000 bpd-Zawiya refinery
with crude. All other ports and
most oilfields have shut down
due to fighting nearby or pipeline blockages by rival factions.
The guards at Hariga complained their salaries had not
been paid, preventing Greekregistered Minerva Zoe from
loading 725,000 barrels of oil,
the official said. The port closed
on Saturday morning.
The fall of oil exports to a
trickle has led to a budget crisis,
delaying salary payments and
halting development projects
and hampering the supply hospitals with drugs.
Hariga has closed several
times due to strikes over payment demands from security
guards, which have been resolved within a week or two.
Libya’s two biggest oil export ports, Es Sider and Ras
Lanuf, shut in December when
an armed faction allied to a selfdeclared Tripoli government
moved east trying to seize them.
internationally-recognised government of Prime
Minister Abdullah al-Thinni has
been forced to work from the
east since August when a faction
called Libya Dawn seized Tripoli,
reinstating the old parliament
and setting up a rival administration.
A general view of the Hariga oil port and loading installation in Tobruk, Libya (file). The closure of Hariga
will lower oil output to less than 300,000 bpd, a fraction of the 1.6mn Libya used to pump before the 2011
uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Company Name
Company Name
Zad Holding Co
Widam Food Co
Vodafone Qatar
United Development Co
Salam International Investme
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Qatar Navigation
Qatar National Cement Co
Qatar National Bank
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Dlala Holding
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Saudi Hollandi Bank
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Fitaihi Holding Group
Arabia Insurance Cooperative
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Bank Albilad
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Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & C
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Abdullah A.M. Al-Khodari Son
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Methanol Chemicals Co
City Cement Co
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Etihad Atheeb Telecommunicat
Etihad Etisalat Co
Emaar Economic City
Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insu
United Electronics Co
Falcom Saudi Equity Etf
Filing & Packing Materials M
Wafrah For Industry And Deve
Falcom Petrochemical Etf
Gulf General Cooperative Ins
Jazan Development Co
Gulf Union Cooperative Insur
Halwani Bros Co
Hail Cement
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Al Jouf Agriculture Developm
Jarir Marketing Co
Jabal Omar Development Co
Al Jouf Cement
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Knowledge Economic City
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Malath Cooperative & Reinsur
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Mohammad Al Mojil Group Co
Mouwasat Medical Services Co
The National Agriculture Dev
Najran Cement Co
Nama Chemicals Co
National Gypsum
National Gas & Industrializa
National Industrialization C
National Shipping Co Of/The
National Petrochemical Co
Rabigh Refining And Petroche
Al Qassim Agricultural Co
Qassim Cement/The
Red Sea Housing Services Co
Saudi Research And Marketing
Riyad Bank
Al Rajhi Bank
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Saudi British Bank
Sabb Takaful
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Al Sagr Co-Operative Insuran
Saudi Advanced Industries
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Salama Cooperative Insurance
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Hsbc Amanah Saudi 20 Etf
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Saudi Cable Co
Saudi Chemical Company
Saudi Ceramic
Saudi Electricity Co
Saudi Fisheries
Al-Hassan G.I. Shaker Co
Dur Hospitality Co
Arabian Shield Cooperative
Saudi Investment Bank/The
Saudi Industrial Development
Saudi Industrial Export Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Securities Group Co
Viva Kuwait Telecom Co
Sultan Center Food Products
Kuwait Foundry Co Sak
Kuwait Financial Centre Sak
Ajial Real Estate Entmt
Gulf Glass Manuf Co -Kscc
Kuwait Finance & Investment
National Industries Co
Kuwait Real Estate Holding C
Securities House/The
Boubyan Petrochemicals Co
Al Ahli Bank Of Kuwait
Ahli United Bank (Almutahed)
National Bank Of Kuwait
Commercial Bank Of Kuwait
Kuwait International Bank
Gulf Bank
Al-Massaleh Real Estate Co
Al Arabiya Real Estate Co
Kuwait Remal Real Estate Co
Alkout Industrial Projects C
A’ayan Real Estate Co
Investors Holding Group Co.K
Markaz Real Estate Fund
Al-Mazaya Holding Co
Al-Madar Finance & Invt Co
Gulf Petroleum Investment
Mabanee Co Sakc
City Group
Inovest Co Bsc
Kuwait Gypsum Manufacturing
Al-Deera Holding Co
Alshamel International Hold
Mena Real Estate Co
National Slaughter House
Amar Finance & Leasing Co
United Projects Group Kscc
National Consumer Holding Co
Amwal International Investme
Jeeran Holdings
Equipment Holding Co K.S.C.C
Nafais Holding
Safwan Trading & Contracting
Arkan Al Kuwait Real Estate
Gulf Finance House Ec
Energy House Holding Co Kscc
Kuwait Slaughter House Co
Kuwait Co For Process Plant
Al Maidan Dental Clinic Co K
National Ranges Company
Kuwait Pipes Indus & Oil Ser
Al-Themar Real International
Al Ahleia Insurance Co Sak
Wethaq Takaful Insurance Co
Salbookh Trading Co K.S.C.C
Aqar Real Estate Investments
Hayat Communications
Kuwait Packing Materials Mfg
Soor Fuel Marketing Co Ksc
Alargan International Real
Burgan Co For Well Drilling
Kuwait Resorts Co Kscc
Oula Fuel Marketing Co
Palms Agro Production Co
Ikarus Petroleum Industries
Mubarrad Transport Co
Al Mowasat Health Care Co
Shuaiba Industrial Co
Kuwait Invest Co Holding
Hits Telecom Holding
First Takaful Insurance Co
Kuwaiti Syrian Holding Co
National Cleaning Company
Eyas For High & Technical Ed
United Real Estate Company
Kuwait & Middle East Fin Inv
Fujairah Cement Industries
Livestock Transport & Tradng
International Resorts Co
National Industries Grp Hold
Marine Services Co
Warba Insurance Co
Kuwait United Poultry Co
First Dubai Real Estate Deve
Al Arabi Group Holding Co
Kuwait Hotels Co
Mobile Telecommunications Co
Al Safat Real Estate Co
Tamdeen Real Estate Co Ksc
Al Mudon Intl Real Estate Co
Kuwait Cement Co Ksc
Sharjah Cement & Indus Devel
Kuwait Portland Cement Co
Educational Holding Group
Bahrain Kuwait Insurance
Kuwait China Investment Co
Kuwait Investment Co
Burgan Bank
Kuwait Projects Co Holdings
Al Madina For Finance And In
Kuwait Insurance Co
Al Masaken Intl Real Estate
Intl Financial Advisors
First Investment Co Kscc
Al Mal Investment Company
Bayan Investment Co Kscc
Egypt Kuwait Holding Co Sae
Coast Investment Development
Privatization Holding Compan
Kuwait Medical Services Co
Injazzat Real State Company
Kuwait Cable Vision Sak
Sanam Real Estate Co Kscc
Ithmaar Bank Bsc
Aviation Lease And Finance C
Arzan Financial Group For Fi
Ajwan Gulf Real Estate Co
Manafae Investment Co
Kuwait Business Town Real Es
Future Kid Entertainment And
Specialities Group Holding C
Abyaar Real Eastate Developm
Dar Al Thuraya Real Estate C
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Al-Dar National Real Estate
Kgl Logistics Company Kscc
Combined Group Contracting
Zima Holding Co Ksc
Qurain Holding Co
Boubyan Intl Industries Hold
Gulf Investment House
Boubyan Bank K.S.C
Ahli United Bank B.S.C
Al-Safat Tec Holding Co
Al-Eid Food Co
Al-Qurain Petrochemicals Co
Advanced Technology Co
Ekttitab Holding Co S.A.K.C
Kout Food Group Ksc
Real Estate Trade Centers Co
Acico Industries Co Kscc
Kipco Asset Management Co
National Petroleum Services
Alimtiaz Investment Co Kscc
Ras Al Khaimah White Cement
Kuwait Reinsurance Co Ksc
Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport
Human Soft Holding Co Ksc
Automated Systems Co
Metal & Recycling Co
Gulf Franchising Holding Co
Al-Enma’a Real Estate Co
National Mobile Telecommuni
Al Bareeq Holding Co Kscc
Union Real Estate Co
Housing Finance Co Sak
Al Salam Group Holding Co
United Foodstuff Industries
Al Aman Investment Company
Mashaer Holdings Co Ksc
Manazel Holding
Mushrif Trading & Contractin
Tijara And Real Estate Inves
Kuwait Building Materials
Jazeera Airways
Commercial Real Estate Co
Future Communications Co
National International Co
Taameer Real Estate Invest C
Gulf Cement Co
Heavy Engineering And Ship B
Refrigeration Industries & S
National Real Estate Co
Al Safat Energy Holding Comp
Kuwait National Cinema Co
Danah Alsafat Foodstuff Co
Independent Petroleum Group
Kuwait Real Estate Co Ksc
Salhia Real Estate Co Ksc
Gulf Cable & Electrical Ind
Al Nawadi Holding Co Ksc
Kuwait Finance House
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Company Name
Voltamp Energy Saog
United Finance Co
United Power Co
United Power/Energy Co- Pref
Al Madina Investment Co
Taageer Finance
Salalah Port Services
A’saffa Foods Saog
Sohar Poultry
Shell Oman Marketing
Shell Oman Marketing - Pref
Smn Power Holding Saog
Al Shurooq Inv Ser
Al Sharqiya Invest Holding
Sohar Power Co
Salalah Beach Resort Saog
Salalah Mills Co
Sahara Hospitality
Renaissance Services Saog
Raysut Cement Co
Port Service Corporation
Packaging Co Ltd
Oman United Insurance Co
Oman Textile Holding Co Saog
Oman Telecommunications Co
Sweets Of Oman
Oman Orix Leasing Co.
Oman Refreshment Co
Oman Packaging
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0Man Oil Marketing Co-Pref
Oman National Investment Co
Oman National Engineering An
Oman National Dairy Products
Oman Medical Projects
Oman Ceramic Com
Oman Intl Marketing
Oman Investment & Finance
Hsbc Bank Oman
Oman Hotels & Tourism Co
Oman Holding International
Oman Fiber Optics
Oman Flour Mills
Oman Filters Industry
Oman Fisheries Co
Oman Education & Training In
Oman & Emirates Inv(Om)50%
Oman & Emirates Inv(Emir)50%
Oman Europe Foods Industries
Oman Cement Co
Oman Chlorine
Oman Chromite
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Oman Agricultural Dev
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National Securities
Oman Foods International Soa
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National Gas Co
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National Detergents/The
National Carpet Factory
National Bank Of Oman Saog
National Biscuit Industries
National Real Estate Develop
Natl Aluminium Products
Muscat Thread Mills Co
Muscat Insurance Company
Modern Poultry Farms
Muscat National Holding
Musandam Marketing & Invest
Al Maha Petroleum Products M
Muscat Gases Company Saog
Majan Glass Company
Muscat Finance
Al Kamil Power Co
Interior Hotels
Hotels Management Co Interna
Al-Hassan Engineering Co
Gulf Stone
Gulf Mushroom Company
Gulf Invest. Serv. Pref-Shar
Gulf Investments Services
Gulf International Chemicals
Gulf Hotels (Oman) Co Ltd
Global Fin Investment
Galfar Engineering&Contract
Galfar Engineering -Prefer
Financial Services Co.
Flexible Ind Packages
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Financial Corp/The
Dhofar Tourism
Dhofar Poultry
Aloula Co
Dhofar Intl Development
Dhofar Insurance
Dhofar University
Dhofar Power Co
Dhofar Power Co-Pfd
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Computer Stationery Inds
Construction Materials Ind
Cement & Gypsum Pro
Marine Bander Al-Rowdha
Bank Sohar
Bankmuscat Saog
Bank Dhofar Saog
Al Batinah Hotels
Majan College
Areej Vegetable Oils
Al Jazeera Steel Products Co
Al Sallan Food Industry
Acwa Power Barka Saog
Al-Omaniya Financial Service
Taghleef Industries Saog
Gulf Plastic Industries Co
Al Jazeera Services
Al Jazerah Services -Pfd
Al-Fajar Al-Alamia Co
Ahli Bank
Abrasives Manufacturing Co S
Al-Batinah Intl Saog
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
National Takaful Company
Waha Capital Pjsc
Union Insurance Co
Union National Bank/Abu Dhab
United Insurance Company
Union Cement Co
United Arab Bank
Abu Dhabi National Takaful C
Abu Dhabi National Energy Co
#N/A Invalid Security
Sorouh Real Estate Company
Sharjah Insurance Company
Sharjah Cement & Indus Devel
Ras Al Khaima Poultry
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Rak Properties
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Ras Al Khaimah Ceramics
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National Bank Of Ras Al-Khai
Ooredoo Qsc
Umm Al Qaiwain Cement Indust
Oman & Emirates Inv(Emir)50%
National Marine Dredging Co
National Corp Tourism & Hote
Sharjah Islamic Bank
National Bank Of Umm Al Qaiw
National Bank Of Fujairah
National Bank Of Abu Dhabi
Methaq Takaful Insurance
#N/A Invalid Security
Gulf Pharmaceutical Ind-Julp
Invest Bank
Insurance House
Gulf Medical Projects
Gulf Livestock Co
Green Crescent Insurance Co
Gulf Cement Co
Foodco Holding
Finance House
First Gulf Bank
Fujairah Cement Industries
Fujairah Building Industries
Emirates Telecom Corporation
Eshraq Properties Co Pjsc
Emirates Insurance Co. (Psc)
Emirates Driving Company
Al Dhafra Insurance Co. P.S.
Dana Gas
Commercial Bank Internationa
Bank Of Sharjah
Abu Dhabi Natl Co For Buildi
Al Wathba National Insurance
Intl Fish Farming Co Pjsc
Arkan Building Materials Co
Aldar Properties Pjsc
Al Ain Ahlia Ins. Co.
Al Khazna Insurance Co
Agthia Group Pjsc
Al Fujairah National Insuran
Abu Dhabi Ship Building Co
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Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
United Paper Industries Bsc
United Gulf Investment Corp
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United Finance Co
Trafco Group Bsc
Takaful International Co
Taib Bank -$Us
Securities & Investment Co
Seef Properties
#N/A Invalid Security
Al-Salam Bank
Delmon Poultry Co
National Hotels Co
National Bank Of Bahrain
Nass Corp Bsc
Khaleeji Commercial Bank
Ithmaar Bank Bsc
Investcorp Bank -$Us
Inovest Co Bsc
Intl Investment Group-Kuwait
Gulf Monetary Group
Global Investment House Kpsc
Gulf Finance House Ec
Bahrain Family Leisure Co
Esterad Investment Co B.S.C.
Bahrain Duty Free Complex
Bahrain Car Park Co
Bahrain Cinema Co
Bahrain Tourism Co
Bahraini Saudi Bank/The
Bahrain National Holding
Bankmuscat Saog
Bmmi Bsc
Bmb Investment Bank
Bahrain Kuwait Insurance
Bahrain Islamic Bank
Gulf Hotel Group B.S.C
Bahrain Flour Mills Co
Bahrain Commercial Facilitie
Bbk Bsc
Bahrain Telecom Co
Bahrain Ship Repair & Engin
Albaraka Banking Group
Banader Hotels Co
Ahli United Bank B.S.C
Lt Price
% Chg
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
China’s record trade surplus
highlights weak demand
slumped in January, with exports falling 3.3% from year-ago
levels while imports tumbled 19.9%, far
worse than analysts had expected and
highlighting deepening weakness in the
Chinese economy.
Largely as a result of the sharply lower
imports – particularly of coal, oil and
commodities - China posted a record
monthly trade surplus of $60bn.
The data contrasted sharply with
a Reuters poll which showed analysts
expected exports to gain 6.3% and the
slowdown in imports to slow to 3%, following a better-than-expected showing
in December. The poll had also forecast
a trade surplus of $48.9bn.
The slide in imports is the sharpest
since May 2009, when Chinese factories were still slashing inventories in
reaction to the global financial crisis.
Exports have not produced a negative
annual reading since March 2014.
The dismal trade performance will
increase concerns that an economic
slowdown in China - originally considered a desirable adjustment away from
an investment-intensive export model
toward one based on domestic consumption – is at risk of derailing.
The government is expected to lower
its GDP target to around 7% this year,
after posting 7.4% in 2014 - the slowest
pace in 24 years.
Chinese economic indicators in January and February are typically viewed
with caution given the distortions
caused by the shifting week-long Lunar
New Year holiday, and while the analyst
median estimate was for a rise, the range
of estimates was extremely wide.
However the data - in particular the
import data – is worrisome even after
accounting for cyclical factors; last year
the new year holiday idled factories and
financial markets for a week in January,
but this year the holiday comes in late
February and January was a full month
of business as usual.
“It’s a very strange data print,” said
Andrew Polk, economist at the Conference Board in Beijing, noting that exports tended to be less effected by the
holiday than other indicators, but added
he was more concerned by the implications of the startlingly negative import
“The import data suggests a substantial slowdown in the industrial sector.
The first quarter looks to be pretty horrible.”
Investors had hoped that the announcement of domestic stimulus
spending plans, combined with moves
to ease monetary policy, including a re-
A truck drives past shipping containers at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province. China’s trade performance slumped in January, with exports falling 3.3% from a year-ago
levels while imports tumbled 19.9%, customs data showed yesterday.
duction in banks’ reserve requirement
ratios on Wednesday, would restore
confidence and boost demand in China’s struggling manufacturing sector.
However, many analysts believe
measures taken so far to boost yuan liquidity are insufficient to do much more
than offset surging capital outflows. Advocates of more aggressive action will
seize on the weak January trade data to
support their case.
Chinese imports have fallen every
Australia central bank
cuts growth forecast
Australia’s central bank cut its
forecasts for economic growth
and inflation this year and warned
unemployment would likely rise
as the economy transitions away
from a mining investment boom.
The Reserve Bank of Australia
(RBA) said gross domestic product
would expand 2.25-3.25% in 2015,
compared with a November estimate of 2.50-3.50%.
“Growth overall is now forecast
to remain at a below-trend pace
somewhat longer than had earlier
been expected,” the RBA said in a
quarterly economic update.
The bank had hinted at lower
growth rates last week when it
cut interest rates to a record low
of 2.25% in a bid to kickstart the
Friday’s update said the economy
had grown at about 2.5% on
average in the past two years but
non-mining business investment was subdued. The RBA said
growth in the year to June 2015
was expected to come in at 2.25%,
the lower end of its November
forecast of 2.0-3.0%.
“GDP growth is forecast to remain
a bit below trend over the course
of this year, before picking up to an
above-trend pace in the latter part
of the forecast period as consumption growth improves, non-mining
business investment lifts and LNG
exports increase,” it said.
The bank also lowered its inflation
outlook to 2.0-3.0% this year, from
the 2.25-3.25% forecast previously.
The RBA said lower interest rates
and the further depreciation of the
Australian dollar, which has fallen
about 9.0% against the US dollar
since November, were expected to
support demand.
But unemployment, currently
6.1%, was likely to remain above
6.0% until mid-2017.
“While leading indicators of labour
demand have picked up since late
2013, at this stage they point to
only modest employment growth
and a slight rise in the unemployment rate in the near term,” it said.
Pedestrians walk past the Reserve Bank of Australia headquarters
in the central business district of Sydney. The RBA cut its forecasts
for economic growth and inflation this year and warned
unemployment would likely rise.
month since October, seen as reflecting
weak domestic demand, and the scale
of January’s drop was mostly due to an
across-the-board fall in import volumes
of major commodities.
For example, coal imports dropped
nearly 40% to 16.78mn tonnes, down
from December’s 27.22mn tonnes, and
China also appeared to cut back on its
strategic stocking of crude oil imports,
which slid by 7.9% in volume terms.
Imports from Australia and the Rus-
sian Federation, both major fuel and
commodity suppliers, slid by 35.3% and
28.7%, respectively.
Chinese officials had predicted that
monetary easing measures in Europe
would boost demand for Chinese goods,
and analysts polled by Reuters had also
been optimistic that signs of economic
strengthening in the US would support
exports. However, the data showed that
while exports to the US rose by 4.8%
year-on-year to $35bn, exports to the
European Union slid 4.6% to $33bn in
the same period.
Exports to Hong Kong, South Korea
and Japan were also down, with exports
to Japan slumping over 20%.
During 2014, China’s total trade value
increased by 3.4% from a year earlier,
short of the official target of 7.5%, and
some analysts have raised questions
about whether export data was inflated
by fake invoicing as firms speculated in
the currency and commodities markets.
Commodity imports
slow in January after
record December
China’s imports of key commodities eased in January after the
record high set in December, as
expected as the earlier heavy
purchases to take advantage of
weak prices had swollen inventories, preliminary customs data
released yesterday showed.
China’s slowing economy – 7.4%
growth in 2014 was the weakest in 24 years – has weighed
on global markets as it is the
world’s biggest buyer of iron
ore, coal, copper and soy, and
the second-largest crude oil
importer after the US.
The sharp falls in commodity
imports helped result a record
monthly trade surplus of $60bn.
But analysts urged caution
interpreting the trade data, as it
would be distorted by the Lunar
New Year holiday, which fell in
January last year, and will fall in
February this year.
Customs data showed imports
of iron ore at 78.57mn tonnes
in January, down 9.5% from
December. It recorded a similar
decline over January 2014.
“Steel demand in northern
China has slowed as cold
temperatures hampered
construction activity along
with the continued weakness
in the property sector, forcing
mills to hold back buying of
raw material from Australia and
Brazil,” said Hu Xiaodong, an
analyst with Nanhua Futures in
Domestic iron ore prices fell 13%
in January, suffering the biggest
monthly fall since May 2013
due to oversupply and high
Some Chinese steel mills have
scheduled maintenance in a
move to curb production.
Imports of crude oil totalled
27.98mn tonnes, or 6.59mn barrels per day, in January, 0.6% below year ago levels and nearly
8% below December’s total.
China’s crude imports had
risen nearly 10% in 2014, as the
government and state oil firms
took advantage of steep falls in
global prices to build stockpile.
Imports of copper, at 410,000
tonnes in January, eased slightly from December but were
down by nearly a quarter from a
year earlier, as tight bank credit
continued to deter smaller
buyers even though domestic
prices were high compared with
those posted on the London
Metal Exchange.
Coal posted the steepest fall,
with last month’s imports 38%
below December at 16.78mn
tonnes, and less than half the
level imported in January last
China’s coal mining was among
the worst hit by the economic
slowdown with many small
mines closed due to the government’s campaign for clean air
and efficiency.
Mystery cloaks Disney’s future
Magic Kingdom in Shanghai
he towers of Disney’s planned
Magic Kingdom in Shanghai
are wreathed in scaffolding and
mystery after the US entertainment giant pushed back the opening of its first
mainland China theme park to 2016.
On a tightly-guarded, 3.9-squarekilometre site east of China’s commercial hub, a grey turret of the unfinished
“Enchanted Storybook Castle” rises into
the sky.
There is no Disney branding at the
main entrance, only a sign reading:
“Shanghai International Tourism and
Resort Zone”.
It was originally due to be transformed
in time to open this year, but Disney
chairman and chief executive Bob Iger
last week announced a delay, pushing the
opening back to next spring.
He attributed the change to an expansion in the park’s size and number of attractions.
“The artistry, complexity, the magnitude and the detail, it’s all quite astonishing,” Iger said, calling the facility
But Shanghai authorities have not
confirmed any plans to expand the
project, and people familiar with it point
to it following stricter environmental and
labour standards than normal in China.
The studios of Hollywood are competing not just for screen eyeballs in China—whose 1.37bn people generate the
second-largest annual box office in the
world—but also theme park visitors.
The Shanghai Disney Resort will be the
company’s third in Asia after Tokyo and
Hong Kong. But its park in the former
British colony can only partly serve the
The castle under construction of the Shanghai Disney Resort’s in Pudong area. The
towers of Disney’s planned Magic Kingdom in Shanghai are wreathed in scaffolding
and mystery after the US entertainment giant pushed back the opening of its first
mainland China theme park to 2016.
Chinese market, while Universal Studios
and DreamWorks Animation are planning rival attractions on the mainland.
For Shanghai, the park represents the
city’s tourism future following the World
Expo in 2010.
One Chinese academic estimates it
will contribute $3.3bn to Shanghai’s
economy every year and account for
one% of the city’s annual gross domestic
product. Disney and its Chinese partner,
state-backed Shanghai Shendi Group,
broke ground on the park in April 2011.
Chinese construction is normally
staggeringly fast, with towering skyscrapers and multi-lane highways
changing urban landscapes at extraordinary pace. But a Shanghai official told
AFP that said one delay arose after con-
taminated soil on the site failed to meet
environmental standards, prompting
Disney to bring in a foreign contractor to
remedy the problem. Workers removed
topsoil up to a metre deep.
A worker said that the builders were
insisting on a standard eight-hour work
day, preventing faster construction—unlike many other sites in China where labour laws are loosely enforced and routinely violated. Disney did not respond to
a request for comment on the delay.
As well as its Asian properties, the firm
also has parks in the US states of California and Florida and near the French capital Paris—where there was outrage over
the prospect of American cultural invasion when it was first proposed.
The Shanghai government is promis-
ing to finish a metro line extension linking to the park and other infrastructure
this year. But city fathers also have another issue in mind after 36 people were
killed in a stampede during New Year’s
Eve celebrations.
“Management of the Disney Resort’s
huge flow of people is an extremely important issue,” Shanghai mayor Yang
Xiong told reporters last month. “We believe Disney has a lot of experience, but
we should also do our part to make full
With the opening of its first resort in
mainland China, Disney is banking on
Chinese parents willing to spend lavishly
on their children and a rising middle
class intent on travel.
It has not announced prices for
Shanghai, but an adult one-day ticket at
the Hong Kong park costs $65, nearly a
quarter of China’s average monthly disposable income last year.
When the $5.5bn Shanghai facility
opens, it will boast the biggest Disney
castle in the world, a production of “The
Lion King” in Chinese and a piratethemed zone based on the movie franchise Pirates of the Caribbean.
An artificial mountain will loom over
the park, becoming the highest hill in
Shanghai’s Pudong district, and a 420room Disneyland Hotel is planned in an
“elegant Art Nouveau style”, with another based on the Toy Story films.
On a commercial level, an adjacent
“Disneytown” will have 46,000 square
metres (495,000 square feet) of shops,
restaurants and a 1,200-seat theatre.
He Jianmin of the Shanghai University
of Finance and Economics, who has consulted for the city on the tourism zone,
forecast the park will initially attract
sevenmn visitors a year, eventually rising
to 16mn.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Fed official says rate-rise confidence needs higher inflation
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
President Dennis Lockhart said he
wants to see inflation move closer to
the central bank’s 2% target before
raising interest rates from near zero
around mid-year or later.
“I’d like to see some evidence that
what we believe to be transient factors
driving recent weak inflation readings
are, in fact, passing,” Lockhart said in
Naples, Florida. “I would like to see
firming of inflation readings. This will
give me confidence that the outlook on
which important decisions will swing
remains realistic and likely to play out.”
The Federal Open Market Committee
said last week it would be “patient”
with its plans to raise interest rates.
Chair Janet Yellen said in December
that meant no tightening “for at least
the next couple of meetings.” The
central bank described the expansion
as “solid,” while cautioning that inflation
could decline further “in the near term.”
Lockhart said last week’s jobs report
was part of an improvement showing
“that the economy is on a path to a
satisfactory and desirable state of
health.” With the unemployment rate
falling over the past several years,
“we would seem to be approaching
an acceptable steady-state level of
Employers in the US added 257,000
jobs in January, capping the biggest
three-month jobs gain in 17 years,
and wages increased the most since
2008, Labor Department data showed
today. The unemployment rate rose to
5.7% from 5.6% as more than a million
Americans streamed into the labour
force seeking work.
Even as the Fed approaches its goal of
full employment, it is far from lifting
inflation toward its target.
“There are worrisome aspects of the
current inflation picture, and reading
underlying trends is problematic at
present,” Lockhart said.
The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge,
based on personal consumption
expenditures, rose 0.7% in December
from a year earlier and has lingered
below the central bank’s 2% goal for 32
months. Market-based expectations for
inflation in the five years starting five
years from now tumbled last month to
1.75%, the lowest since 1999.
“As of today, I remain comfortable with
the assumption that circumstances
will come together around mid-year, or
a little later, that will deliver sufficient
confidence to begin normalization
with the liftoff decision,” Lockhart
said. “I won’t be more definitive than
that. I think all possibilities from
June on should remain open. I don’t
at this juncture have a prediction or
preference. Timing will depend on what
the data tell us.”
A former Georgetown University
professor, Lockhart, 68, has led the
Atlanta Fed since 2007. The Atlanta
Fed district includes Alabama, Florida,
Georgia, and portions of Louisiana,
Lockhart: For new measures to boost growth.
Mississippi, and Tennessee.
Twitter chief allays concern
with user growth forecast
Mexico City
San Francisco
ick Costolo is getting a temporary reprieve from Wall Street
criticism after Twitter posted
quarterly revenue that topped estimates and forecast that the number of
new users will pick up.
The shares soared 16% after Twitter said that fourth-quarter revenue
increased 97% to $479.1mn, with the
net loss narrowing to $125.4mn. The
San Francisco-based company also
projected adding 13mn to 16mn users in
the first quarter, up 4.5% sequentially faster than the 1.4% growth in the prior
The stock increase added to gains so
far this year that are reversing a 44%
drop in 2014. Chief Executive Officer
Costolo, who has been under fire for
slowing user growth and management
turbulence, is working to recover investors’ trust with new features to attract people to the microblogging site
and to rev up advertising revenue.
“We know they have the monetization tools to significantly grow the
business,” said James Cakmak, an
analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt &
Co, adding that investors may forgive
Twitter for slow user growth because of
moves to distribute tweets more widely. “They get a pass this time.”
In an interview, Costolo said user
growth remains a top priority and
added that he is confident Wall Street
is gaining “an increasingly solid understanding of the strategy that we’ve laid
out, the way we’re pursuing that strategy and how we think about evaluating
ourselves as we exercise that strategy.”
Twitter climbed to $48.01 at the
close in New York, the biggest gain
since July. The stock plunge last year
compared with an 11% gain in the
Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
Twitter isn’t out of the woods with
investors. Membership growth continues to decelerate year-over-year,
even with the forecast for user growth
to pick up sequentially in the current
For the fourth quarter, monthly active users increased 20% from a year
ago to 288mn, compared with 23%
growth in the prior period. The company said the introduction of a new
Mexico sees
Pacific trade
pact in first
half of 2015
Costolo: Working to recover investors’ trust with new features.
mobile operating system from Apple
and integration issues cost it 4mn new
For the first quarter, Twitter projected revenue of $440mn to $450mn,
compared with the average analyst estimate of $449.9mn.
“He did a great job taking some fairly
negative results and putting them in a
positive light,” Nate Elliott, an analyst
at Forrester Research Inc, said of Costolo. “But the fact is, every quarter they
make a big deal about how important
it is to grow their user base, and every
quarter they fail.”
Costolo said on a conference call on
Thursday that the slowdown of new
monthly active users is already turning around. He added that the pace of
product introductions has quickened.
“You’ve already seen evidence of this
improvement in our cadence of prod-
uct launches,” he said. Costolo last year
ousted his chief operating officer and
switched his heads of finance, product
and engineering.
In November, Twitter held an analyst meeting where the CEO made a list
of promises about how the company
would accelerate the release of new features to retain and recruit users, such as
tools to shoot and edit video, or send
messages between groups of people.
Twitter has sought to show it is
making good on the promises, recently
unveiling group chat and more video
capabilities. The company on Thursday said it is testing a new homepage
to draw people in, as well as “instant
timelines” so new users can more easily
get started on the service.
“We launched or have public experiments out for nearly all of the features
we talked about at the analyst day in
November,” Costolo said on the call.
The changes are intended to keep people glued to Twitter’s product for longer. In the fourth quarter, the company
said its members viewed their timelines
more often, with 182bn views, compared with 181bn in the prior quarter.
Mobile advertising was 88% of total
ad revenue in the fourth quarter, Twitter said. International revenue more
than doubled.
Costolo said on CNBC Friday that
more needs to be done to help users
grapple with nasty and abusive posts
on the service.
He said the company is working on
algorithms to deal with the issue so
that “the onus and the burden isn’t on
the person being abused to report it,”
adding that the company is making
“aggressive efforts” to reduce trolls on
Twitter has addressed slowing
user growth in the past by saying
that a wider audience of people see
tweets on news websites and television sets than they do on the company’s own site.
Bloomberg News reported on
Wednesday that Twitter has also
struck a deal with Google to make
tweets easier to find on the search engine, which Costolo confirmed on the
conference call.
The company is also extending advertising beyond its main site. This
week, Twitter said it would push ads
known as Promoted Tweets onto websites and apps from Flipboard and Yahoo Japan Corp Twitter is also working
to convince outside developers to use
its mobile-advertising marketplace,
MoPub, to run ads on their games and
exico expects negotiations toward a 12-nation Asia-Pacific trade
pact to be finalised during the
first half of this year, Foreign
Minister Jose Antonio Meade
Mexico had previously said a
deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could be concluded in mid-March, though
negotiators are still going over
several issues including wrangling between the US and Japan
over agriculture.
A deal would still need to
be approved by the US Senate, where President Barack
Obama is likely to face resistance from some of his fellow
“We feel there are windows
of opportunity for the treaty to
reach its final stage during the
first half of the year,” Meade said
in an interview before a visit to
London ahead of state visit by
President Enrique Pena Nieto
next month.
“Mexico is ... ready and willing for an early conclusion, but
is not in a position to determine
the timeline,” he added.
Late last month, US Trade
Representative Michael Froman
told lawmakers the pact could be
wrapped up within months.
Froman said sticking points
included a lack of consensus on
how long to protect the exclusivity of biologic drugs and gaps on
other intellectual property protections, environmental protection rules, investment and stateowned enterprises.
The TPP would link up a dozen
Asia-Pacific economies by eliminating trade barriers and harmonising regulations in a pact
covering two-fifths of the world
economy and a third of all global
During the state visit to the
United Kingdom, Meade said the
Mexican delegation expected to
hold talks with a host of companies, including oil majors as
Mexico prepares to open up its
oil fields to private and foreign
Anthem attack seen bearing signature of China-backed hackers
nvestigators of Anthem’s data
breach are pursuing evidence that
points to Chinese state-sponsored
hackers who are stealing personal information from healthcare companies
for purposes other than pure profit,
according to three people familiar with
the probe.
The breach, which exposed Social
Security numbers and other sensitive
details of 80mn customers, is one of
the biggest thefts of medical-related
customer data in US history.
The attack appears to follow a pattern of thefts of medical data by foreigners seeking a pathway into the personal lives and computers of a select
group – defence contractors, government workers and others, according to
a US government official familiar with
a more than year-long investigation
into the evidence of a broader campaign.
The Anthem theft follows breaches
of companies including Target Corp,
Home Depot and JPMorgan Chase &
Co that have touched the private data
of hundreds of millions of Americans and increased pressure on the US
government to respond more forcefully. Though President Barack Obama
promised action against North Korea
after the destruction of property at
Sony Pictures Entertainment, Corps
and the government have struggled to
come up with appropriate responses
to attacks that fall into a gray area between espionage and crime.
Technical details of the attack include “fingerprints” of a nation-state,
according to two people familiar with
the investigation, who said China is the
early suspect.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation
is leading the investigation, according
to Anthem, which has hired FireEye,
a Milpitas, California-based security
company, to assist.
China has said in the past that it
doesn’t conduct espionage through
hacking. The Chinese embassy in
Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hackers could use stolen information – which Anthem said in its case
included birthdates and e-mail addresses – to conduct “phishing” attacks on customers who unwittingly
The Anthem website is displayed on a laptop computer in Washington. Anthem
said hackers obtained data on tens of millions of current and former
customers and employees in a sophisticated attack that has led to a Federal
Bureau of Investigation probe.
provide access to their companies’
networks. Government officials have
been investigating whether foreign interests are using personal, financial or
medical information as leverage to gain
intelligence from people who want
their information to stay private, according to the US official.
Michael Daniel, President Obama’s
chief adviser on cybersecurity, is an an
Anthem customer who would be resetting his password, he said in a Bloomberg Web seminar early Thursday.
Among those insured by Anthem
have been employees of Northrop
Grumman Corp, according to the insurer’s website, while the company has
processed claims for workers at The
Boeing Company in Missouri. Boeing
has about 15,000 workers in Missouri,
where the company’s defense unit is
based. Those and other defence contractors could be of interest to foreign
intelligence organizations.
Anthem spokeswoman Kristin Binns
declined to comment.
John Dern, a spokesman for Boeing, and Mark Root, a spokesman for
Northrop Grumman, didn’t immediately comment. Jenny Shearer, a
spokeswoman for the FBI, declined to
In the past year, Chinese-sponsored
hackers have taken prescription drug
and health records and other information that could be used to create
profiles of possible spy targets, according to Adam Meyers, vice president of
intelligence at Crowdstrike, an Irvine,
Califorinia-based cybersecurity firm.
He declined to name any of the com-
panies affected.“This goes well beyond
trying to access health-care records,”
Meyers said. “If you have a rich database of proclivities, health concerns
and other personal information, it
looks, from a Chinese intelligence perspective, as a way to augment human
That doesn’t mean that personal
information wouldn’t make its way
to criminals, he cautioned, pointing
to the possibility of moonlighting by
hackers who work by day for China.
A different major US health insurer
was breached recently by Chinese
hackers, according to a person involved
in that investigation, who asked not
to be identified because the matter is
confidential. In that case, investigators
concluded that the goal of the hack was
to obtain information on the employees of a defence contractor that makes
advanced avionics and other weaponry, said the person, who declined to
identify the insurer.
The hackers first hijacked a translation website that the insurer’s customer representatives used when dealing
with foreign clients, using it to implant
malware on the company’s computers,
the person said.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Harris buying
Exelis signals
amid cuts
New York
Pump attendants work at a BP petrol station in Moscow. Oil majors BP and Shell, which have the biggest trading operations among international energy firms, have both
reported improved results from trading divisions over the past week as part of their fourth quarter results.
Global oil traders set
to celebrate their
best market for years
he oil price crash has meant
slashed budgets, staff layoffs and
mothballed projects for big producers, but oil traders will celebrate their
best market for years this week.
As hundreds of dealers flock to London
for the annual International Petroleum
Week, cocktail circuit talk will be of the
chance of huge returns after years of low
For them the market presents near
perfect conditions, mimicking the year
after the 2008 oil crash when some
booked their best profits in history.
Then, those with the know-how and
storage were able to lock-up millions
of barrels of crude until prices eventually recovered.
The bumper profits on offer are reflected in the long list of IP Week parties, with no firms cancelling their
events this year, even as they make cuts
in other areas. “I haven’t been more
positive about trading conditions since
2009,” said Torbjorn Tornqvist, head
of trading house Gunvor, one of the
world’s largest independent oil dealers,
told Reuters.
“I see contango in the market, I see
the cost of funding going down, I see the
dollar strengthening, I see strong refining margins.”
Contango – industry jargon for when
prices for delivery months in the future
are higher than in the spot market - is key
to much of the trading boom.
Any trader with access to storage,
on land or at sea, can buy a barrel of
oil today for $58 and sell it 10 months
down the line for $65, based on current
Volatility has also jumped in recent
After posting a 60% crash from above
$115 a barrel June to near $45 in January,
Brent crude oil has rallied by as much as
30%, touching $59 a barrel this week.
Prices have swung wildly, gaining as
much as 9% in one session only to fall
5% the next, as traders wrestle over
whether a price floor has really been hit,
even as supplies look to continue outstripping demand in the first half of this
Gunvor and its rivals Glencore, Vitol, Mercuria and Trafigura have seen
profits falling in the past five years
versus the peak of 2009, although the
amount of oil, coal, and gas they move
has grown rapidly.
While revenues can amount to more
than $300bn a year for the biggest trader Vitol, profit-margins are razor thin,
shrinking to less than 1% even in the better years.
“Whoever has storage this year will
win,” the head of Mercuria, Marco
Dunand, told Reuters last month. “Not
necessarily traders - but oil companies
too and even refiners.”
Oil majors BP and Shell, which have
the biggest trading operations among
international energy firms, have both reported improved results from trading divisions over the past week as part of their
fourth quarter results.
“Since 2009, when a lot of oil was
stored onshore and offshore, a lot of new
storage capacity has been built and a lot
of refineries were turned into storage,”
said Dunand.
Dunand estimates that by the end of
the first quarter of 2015 some 400mn
barrels of oil worth $22bn will be stored
onshore and offshore as global production volumes are still massively exceeding demand.
However, as storage is being gradually filled in Europe more and more barrels will be sent to the US where storage
capacity is still abundant, meaning potentially record profits for traders with a
large presence there.
“There is a lot of spare capacity in the
US and some geographical rebalancing
still remains to be done,” said Dunand.
arris Corp’s purchase of
Exelis in a transaction
valued at $4.75bn could
signal further consolidation
among mid-size defence companies as they search for growth
while government spending
The deal brings together two
of the largest government contractors. Together they would
generate about three-fourths
of their revenue from the US
government and become the
11th- biggest federal contractor,
according to data compiled by
“The last couple of years,
the defence primes have been
focused on returning cash to
shareholders and at some point
when the budgets turn, that is
going to move back into M&A
and this is one of the larger deals
from an existing prime that suggest that it’s being explored,”
Josh Sullivan, an analyst at
Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc, said in
a phone interview.
The tie-up between military-radio maker Harris and
Exelis, which makes surveillance equipment among other
communications systems for
aerospace and defence markets,
is the fourth among top federal
contractors since the beginning
of 2014, according to Bloomberg
Among transactions announced, Aecom Technology
Corp bought URS Corp last year
for $4bn and Orbital Sciences
Corp plans to combine with the
aerospace and defence business
of Alliant Techsystems Inc in a
$5bn deal projected to close this
“There’s been talk for a while
that we would start seeing mergers among the top contractors
because if there’s limited organic growth opportunities then
you look to inorganic growth
or to consolidation so you can
cut costs,” said Brian Friel, a
Bloomberg Intelligence analyst
in Washington.
“I think it’s a continuation of
a trend that’s already begun and
it’s a trend that will likely continue,” Friel said.
Harris Chief Executive Of-
ficer William Brown said on a
conference call the timing of the
purchase was excellent because
of what he sees as a bottoming
of the US government spending
cycle and an indication that the
Department of Defense’s budget
might increase.
Some base-funding line items
and continued support for Afghan and Iraqi security forces
could help drive demand for
Harris’s products, Brown said in
a phone interview.
“We do see, both in the overall
shape of the budget but also in
some of the specific line items,
opportunities for us,” he said in
the interview yesterday.
Defence spending has declined 17% since hitting a peak
in 2010. Of the US military programs, the Air Force is likely to
have the best budget picture in
the future, Friel said.
Exelis’s strong ties with the
National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, the US Navy,
Air Force, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will
help open up new opportunities for Harris, Brown said. With
networks of customers in the
U K and North Asia, Exelis also
brings an extended geographical
reach to Harris.
“There’s an opportunity to
leverage existing channels where
they’ve got a presence and we
don’t or vice versa,” Brown said
in the interview. “And when you
have that, you’re able to now sort
of drive more products through
those existing channels.”
Exelis will generate $1bn in
free cash flow in the fourth
year after the acquisition, Melbourne, Florida-based Harris
predicted Friday on a conference call. Harris jumped 9.6% to
$76.18 in New York, the biggest
increase since October 2009.
Exelis surged 36% to $24.13.
The $23.75-a-share offer for
McLean, Virginia-based Exelis
includes almost $16.63 in cash
and 0.1025 share in Harris stock,
the companies said in a statement. Harris will own 85% of the
combined company and Exelis
holders will own the rest. The
closing is targeted for June, the
companies said.
Exelis was the defence business of White Plains, New Yorkbased ITT Corp until a spinoff in
late 2011.
Petrobras fresh start is more of same with state bank lifer
Sao Paulo/Rio de Janeiro
There’s a new face at the top of
Petrobras, but little else has changed.
Aldemir Bendine, the former Banco
do Brasil head, is a ruling party
collaborator like his predecessor and
has some ethics questions of his own.
While Bendine, 51, helped build
Banco do Brasil into Latin America’s
biggest lender by assets, Petrobras’s
plunging share price when his new job
was announced suggests he’s seen
by investors as more government
loyalist than champion for needed
change. Under Bendine, Banco do
Brasil - like Petrobras, controlled by the
government - responded quickly to
pressure from the country’s president,
Dilma Rousseff, to boost lending to
stimulate the economy, and profits
The choice “was a disaster,” Adriano
Pires, head of Rio-based energy
consulting firm CBIE, said. “The market
expected a name that represented
change and independence, instead
Bendine is more of the same.”
Rousseff “apparently didn’t realise how
serious the Petrobras situation is,” Pires
said by telephone.
Bendine, who joined state-run Banco do
Brasil at age 15 and worked his way up
to chief executive officer, quit on Friday
to replace Maria das Gracas Foster at
Petroleo Brasileiro, the oil company
embroiled in the nation’s largest-ever
graft scandal. What was supposed
to be a chance for Petrobras to start
distancing itself from scandals, turned
into a market rout with a new round
of unwelcome headlines. Shares fell as
much as 9.5%.
Roughly 82% of Brazilians say
corruption is damaging Petrobras,
according to a Datafolha poll published
on February 7 on the website of Folha
de S. Paulo. Seventy-seven percent
of respondents said Rousseff was
aware of corruption at the company,
according to the poll, which surveyed
4,000 people on February 3-5 and has
a margin of error of plus or minus two
percentage points.
As Petrobras’s government-controlled
board was approving Bendine’s
appointment, federal prosecutors
requested police to investigate an
“irregular loan” that Banco do Brasil
allegedly made during his tenure.
Prosecutors in Sao Paulo allege the
2.79mn-real ($1mn) loan was granted
to an unnamed businesswoman with
terms to which she should not have had
access given her record at the bank.
The woman is a friend of Bendine’s who
participated in a reality television show
called “Rich Women” and accompanied
him on two official bank trips,
newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported
on Friday.
The loan is normal, payments have
been made on time and the bank
will cooperate with authorities when
requests are made, Banco do Brasil said
in an e-mailed statement.
Petrobras shares fell the most among
major drillers on Friday on concern
Bendine lacks the independence
needed to lead a turnaround. Mauro
Cunha, who represents international
funds on the company’s board, issued
a statement after the board meeting
criticising the appointment.
The government “once again imposes
its will on the company’s interest and
ignores the appeals from long-term
investors,” said Cunha, who has long
Bendine: Tough task ahead.
been critical of the government’s
intervention in the company.
Bendine is a name recognised for
experience in banking and in the
public sector, which satisfies both the
politicians of Rousseff ’s party and some
demand for market experience, said
Joao Paulo Peixoto, a political science
professor at the University of Brasilia.
It will be harder for Bendine to make
the sweeping changes that might
be implemented by someone more
neutral, he said.
“We’re more likely to see a continuation
of the policies the government
demands from Petrobras that aren’t
necessarily in the company’s best
interest,” Peixoto said. “He won’t
have the same independence as
someone who was chosen specifically
for professional qualifications.”One
of the first tasks awaiting Bendine
and his team is gaining approval of
the board and independent auditors
for writedowns from the contractor
kickback scheme. A lack of consensus
has delayed the release of earnings and
shut out Petrobras from international
debt markets at a time of slumping
oil prices, threatening the company’s
spending plans.
“The main problem now will be to
get enough credibility to resume
negotiations with the auditors,” said
Joao Augusto de Castro Neves, Latin
America analyst at Eurasia Group. “He’s
far from bringing this kind of credibility
punch right from the start to his tenure
at Petrobras.”
The government didn’t help with an
appearance of independence in having
one of its spokesmen announce the
appointment before it was disclosed in
a regulatory filing.
On January 28, the company
announced at least 4.1bn reais in graft
losses - as part of a total potential
writedown of 89bn reais - related to the
scheme, in which company executives
allegedly took bribes from a cartel of
construction companies and shared the
proceeds with politicians.
“Bendine has the right experience and
qualities to lead the company in this
moment,” said Rui Falcao, the president
of Rousseff ’s Workers’ Party. “He’s a
good manager who was a good leader
of Banco do Brasil for many years.”
The former banker, who doesn’t hold a
position in the party, “without a doubt”
will continue policy initiatives Rousseff
supports such as requiring national
content for projects and having
Petrobras control operations at fields
in the so-called pre-salt region, Falcao
said. Local press reported last month
that Bendine had been invited to head
Brazil’s state development bank BNDES.
With a master’s degree in finance from
Rio de Janeiro’s Pontificia Universidade
Catolica, Bendine helped build Banco
do Brasil into Latin America’s biggest
bank by assets during his 36 years at
the institution. He requested employees
call him by his nickname “Dida” when
he became chief executive in 2009.
As CEO he responded to pressure from
President Dilma Rousseff to boost
lending as a way to stimulate the
economy. Profits suffered. While Banco
do Brasil’s loan book rose 2.7 times
through the third quarter of last year,
Itau’s lending doubled. Return on equity
for Banco do Brasil declined to 15.2%
from 19.1% in the period, compared to
an unchanged 23.1% rate for Itau.
Foster, like Bendine, rose through the
ranks to claim the top job of a staterun company. She announced her
resignation on February 4 after failing
to get a consensus on writedowns of
assets under corruption allegations
investigation by federal police and
prosecutors. As the probe escalated
and oil prices tumbled, Petrobras’
market value shrank by $100bn since
September. The driller also named
Banco do Brasil chief financial officer
Ivan Monteiro to the same position on
Then-finance minister Guido Mantega
named Bendine CEO when Luiz Inacio
Lula da Silva was Brazil’s president,
saying the executive had a mission to
increase banking clients, boost credit
and compete with other lenders.
As part of the plan to boost lending,
Bendine led the acquisition of a
50% stake in Banco Votorantim in
September 2009. It posted nine
straight quarterly losses after the deal.
Despite the declining profitability,
Banco do Brasil held the world’s largest
initial public offering in 2013. The
sale of insurance unit BB Seguridade
Participacoes SA raised 10.2bn reais
Apart from the loan under investigation,
Bendine paid a 122,000-real fine to
Brazil’s tax agency in 2012, according
to two people with direct knowledge
of the matter. He wasn’t investigated
after paying the fine, the people said
in August, asking not to be identified
discussing a personal financial matter.
Banco do Brasil said at that time the
matter was dismissed and Bendine
had no outstanding tax issues. The
statement didn’t give details about
what the case involved.
Monday, February 9, 2015
IPad era is wreaking havoc in airlines’ seat-back pockets
New York
With fliers no longer always required
to turn off phones and tablets during
takeoff and landing, they’re glued to
electronic devices for longer than
ever, leaving little downtime for leafing
through a magazine.
As carriers from American Airlines
Group to Air France-KLM Group vie for
fleeting attention spans of hundreds of
millions of passengers, they’re turning
to writers like novelist Dana Vachon and
New Yorker music critic Sasha FrereJones to pen articles, producing glossy
photo spreads and introducing digital
editions. Whatever the format, the
magazines are a way to connect with
passengers and build an airline’s brand and the advertising revenue helps, too.
“Onboard magazines are living printdinosaurs,” said René Steinhaus,
an aviation expert at consultant AT
Kearney in Berlin. “While a lot of printed
media disappeared in the last few years,
onboard magazines are still ‘alive.’ They
are a phenomenon.”
Weidmann: Talking tough.
chief warns
Greece against
for banks
he head of Germany’s
warned Greece against
using emergency funding to
prop up its banks long-term and
said countries must bear the impact of their decisions, further
isolating Athens after it all but
ditched a reform-for-aid deal.
Jens Weidmann’s remarks
follow the European Central
Bank’s statement that it would
no longer accept Greek government bonds as collateral for
funding, shifting the burden
onto Athens’ central bank to finance its lenders.
The ECB’s move means the
Greek central bank will have to
provide its banks with tens of
billions of euros of additional
emergency liquidity in the coming weeks.
However, Weidmann’s remarks call into question Athens’
freedom to use this emergency
liquidity assistance (ELA). The
ECB Governing Council can
restrict such funding if a twothirds majority agrees.
“ELA should only be awarded
for the short term and to solvent
banks,” Weidmann, who also sits
on the ECB’s Governing Council
of decision makers, told business
daily Boersen Zeitung.
“As the banks and the state
are closely bound in Greece,
the economic and fiscal policy
course that the Greek government follows plays an important role in this assessment,” he
“Governments and parliaments must take decisions about
whether and how to keep banks
afloat, or wind them up.”
Speaking later in Venice,
Weidmann upped the ante, demanding that countries bear the
consequences of their own fiscal
decisions and warning that any
move to bail out a eurozone peer
could lead to the spread of solvency doubts.
Singling out Greece’s refusal
to cooperate with the troika of
inspectors from international
lenders, he said there could be no
sharing of fiscal responsibility
without first ceding sovereignty.
“Member states remain fully
responsible for the consequences of their own autonomous fiscal decisions,” Weidmann said in
“If market participants tend
to see the monetary union as a
system of mutual financial assistance in the event of serious
trouble, doubts about a country’s solvency could spread more
quickly to the other member
The challenge is to make the
publications attractive and entertaining
enough that passengers will actually
open them. That means wooing the
likes of Paige Wilson.
On her twice-weekly flights from
New York to Boston for work over the
past four months, Wilson, 23, said she
occasionally skims the pages of in-flight
magazines, usually while eating a
bagel before turning on her personal
electronic device so she can chip away
at work for her consulting firm.
“When I’m flying on the actual plane
itself, I’m usually on my tablet or my
laptop,” Wilson said in a telephone
interview. “That’s been my main
In theory, airline passengers trapped
on planes for hours at a time represent
a lucrative audience for advertisers,
Steinhaus said.
“If a large carrier has 100mn customers
per year, and if just 10% of that read
the magazine, that’s 10mn clients
for an advertiser. That’s huge reach,”
Steinhaus said in a telephone interview.
Emirates relaunched its magazine,
Open Skies, in January and plans to
increase the print run by 5% to keep up
with a fleet expansion. Changes include
a focus on strong photography, a mix
of short stories and long articles, and
allowing readers to download a digital
copy in addition to the print version.
“You can read an article in the
magazine about a hotel then get
online and make a hotel booking,”
said Patrick Brannelly, vice president
of passenger communications for the
Dubai-based carrier. “They complement
each other.” Brannelly said Emirates’
onboard magazine has “healthy sales”
and “more than covers itself” in terms
of costs. The profit it generates is “not
inconsiderable,” he said. “We think it
has many years ahead of it and will
evolve further.”
The new platforms are helping to
attract advertisers who want to
be promoted digitally and in print,
according to Raymond Girard, president
of content marketing for Spafax. The
London- based agency produces
AirCanada’s enRoute and Royal
Jordanian’s Royal Wings, among others.
Publishers of print editions must
balance between editorial content
that interests travellers while still
showcasing the airline and its
advertisers, according to Girard.
Passengers need to feel more like
readers, not just customers, he said.
“If they feel they’re being oversold to,
if they feel they’re reading a 160-page
catalogue for the airline’s products
and services, I think you’re losing an
opportunity to really connect with
them,” Girard said in a telephone
interview from Toronto.
Air France uses its two in-flight
magazines to focus on luxury as a
way to distinguish its brand from
upstarts. Air France Madame, started
in 1986 as a women’s addition to Air
France Magazine, taps into a rich vein
of advertising from high- end fashion
houses and sees itself among peers
like Vogue and Elle. In 2013 Air France
overhauled its publications, tapping
into the literary industry for prizewinning writers like David Foenkinos
and Daniel Picouly to write short novels
specifically for the flagship magazine,
which also focuses on food and sports.
“We put a lot of energy into our inflight magazine,” said Jean Charles
Tréhan, vice president of corporate
communications, who oversees
the publications. “It’s a good way of
supporting the brand image of Air
The airline has never considered giving
up the glossy paper versions even as it’s
making them available online.
“Studies show that people enjoy the
experience on paper. There will always
be a paper magazine. We’re in the
business of providing luxury,” Tréhan
said in an interview.
American Airlines recently revamped
its four-decade-old magazine, which
reaches 193mn people annually, by
hiring London-based media company
Ink Global.
The overhauled American Way
appeared last month with a new layout,
features and a redesigned cover
featuring rock band Foo Fighters.
“It continues to be an important
part of our marketing strategy,”
Fernand Fernandez, vice president for
American’s global marketing, said in an
e-mailed statement.
United Airlines, whose two publications
Hemispheres and Rhapsody reach
140mn passengers a year, has also used
Ink to help spiff up its product. Since
2009, Ink has hired writers like New
York Times columnist David Carr and
essayist Sloan Crosley to lend some heft
to Hemispheres and started chasing
luxury advertisers.
Even as in-flight magazines go upscale,
they also serve an important basic
function for many people.
“The unsung hero of the in-flight
magazine is that fleet page and the
route map,” Spafax’s Girard said.
While some travelers might lament the
disappearance of SkyMall, the quirky,
in-flight shopping catalog that shared
seat-pocket real estate with airline
magazines and filed for bankruptcy
protection last month, they can rest
easy that the crossword puzzle will still
be there.
“Magazines will stay around for quite
some time and electronic onboard
platforms will come on top,” AT
Kearney’s Steinhaus said. “We may
see a point in time when a printed
magazine may actually become
something special, just like a personal
letter on paper.”
Sluggish growth, turbulent
markets concerns for G20
inance ministers and central
bankers face a tough task coordinating action to spur global
growth at G20 meetings this week,
with major economies running at different speeds and monetary policies
Concern over the ability of the US
to sustain the global economy as most
of the world slows will be high on the
agenda as the Group of 20 leading
economies hold talks in Istanbul today
and tomorrow.
The meetings come as Greece casts
a new shadow over Europe, cheap oil
plays havoc with inflation and growth
forecasts and a strengthening dollar
threatens emerging economies.
“There is a lot at stake,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a
blog post on Friday. “Without action,
we could see the global economic supertanker continuing to be stuck in the
shallow waters of sub-par growth and
meagre job creation.”
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Ali
Babacan told an Institute of International Finance (IIF) meeting yesterday
that tackling sluggish global growth
and giving low income nations more
voice will be among the priorities for
Turkey’s G20 presidency.
The former will be easier said than
US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said
last week the US could not be “the sole
engine of growth” and a senior US official said Washington’s message going
into the meetings would again be that
Europe is not doing enough.
“Kick-starting global growth will be
front and centre” at the G20 meetings,
Canadian Finance Minister Joe Oliver
said last week, citing the stalled euro
zone, slowdowns in China and India
and geopolitical crises in Ukraine, Iraq
and Syria as key risks.
“Though America is carrying the
world economy at the moment, that is
Lagarde: For creating millions of new jobs over the next four years.
simply not sustainable,” he added.
Germany is likely to argue that its
rising domestic demand and plans to
increase public spending show Europe’s largest economy is doing what
it can, according to European sources
familiar with the G20 agenda.
Babacan said pushing G20 members
to meet previous reform commitments
would be key, a strategy he has dubbed:
“Keep your word, or explain”.
“It has a lot to do with leadership ... Doing the necessary but difficult things,” he said. Coming good on
pledges made at November’s G20 summit in Brisbane could add more than
$2tn to the global economy and create
millions of new jobs over the next four
years, Lagarde said in her blog post.
UBS Chairman Axel Weber said enabling the private sector to help close
the financing gap for an estimated
$60-70tn in infrastructure spending
needed by 2030 would fuel growth.
Higher capital requirements are limiting banks’ ability to invest and regulators should “revisit whether they
got that calibration right”, the former
Bundesbank president told the IIF
“My key message to policymakers
would be very easy - don’t work against
the private sector, work with it,” he
The G20 put together a global stimulus package during the 2007-09 financial crisis but today’s challenge is more
delicate, with diverging monetary policies a cause of global turbulence.
The US Federal Reserve looks set
to raise interest rates this year, a stark
contrast to impromptu cuts from India to Australia, Canada to Denmark,
as well as China’s cut in bank reserve
requirements and the abrupt end to the
Swiss franc cap.
A senior Canadian official said the
G20 communique would probably emphasise the importance of central bank
actions in sustaining demand and said
the Fed and Bank of England had voiced
support for other central banks’ actions
to lift growth.
Turkey’s own monetary policy may
also be in the spotlight. Its central
bank is under government pressure to
cut interest rates ahead of a June election despite stubborn inflation, with
critical comments by President Tayyip
Erdogan last week sending the lira to a
record low.
A source close to French Finance
Minister Michel Sapin said Greece
would be discussed, although the situation was very different to a few years
ago, with protection mechanisms in
place and European markets less sensitive to its woes.
France has also asked to discuss the
fight against terrorist financing, an important topic for Turkey given fighting with Islamic State militants taking
place just over its southern borders in
Syria and Iraq.
QE also means free lunch for multinationals
ermany and France have been
able to borrow at negative rates
for some time, meaning investors are paying to loan Berlin and Paris
money, but with interest rates falling
further as the ECB gears up to launch
quantitative easing, multinationals are
also now getting paid to borrow.
The phenomenon is a result of investors seeking a safe place to park their
money in debt markets where interest
rates have been dragged down to ultralow levels.
The need for low-risk instruments,
and with little concern about inflation,
has seen investors actually push the
interest rate into negative territory for
short-term German and French government bonds.
Swiss food giant Nestle was the first
to see the interest rates on its euro-denominated debt fall into negative territory when the yields on bonds that expire in nearly two years fell below zero.
“It is sort of a domino effect. If sovereign bonds are paying less, then this
ricochets and those of Corps will pay
less and finally investors will enter
uncharted territory,” said Christophe
Quesnel, a trader at Oddo Securities,
which specialises in corporate debt.
“Among the distortions caused by
low interest rates and QE is that some
governments, corporates and households are now getting paid to increase
debt,” said analysts at Royal Bank of
“For the first time, high-rated corporate bonds are also trading at negative yields (Nestle), and many are
near-zero (Shell, Novartis, Air Liquide,
BASF, Sanofi, etc),” added RBS.
The ECB has brought its main interest rate to just 0.5% as it seeks to boost
growth in the eurozone by lowering
borrowing costs.
With the eurozone now hit by a bout
of deflation thanks to falling oil prices,
the ECB is about to launch quantitative easing (QE) in which it will buy up
€60bn ($68bn) of sovereign and corporate bonds per month.
This will have the effect of pushing
down yields, or the rate of return to
investors, even further. But why would
investors accept paying to loan money
The new headquarters of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. The ECB is about
to launch quantitative easing (QE) in which it will buy up €60bn of sovereign and
corporate bonds per month.
to someone? “It’s the effect of fear”
about the delicate situation in Europe,
said Juan Valencia, a credit specialist at
Societe Generale CIB.
“Investors are putting their money
in the safest instruments, as they aren’t
sure about getting their money back
with other investments. Thus they are
paying for the ‘privilege’ to loan to the
most solid states and Corps,” he said.
The ECB’s QE programme, which
will buy up over 1€tn in bonds, will
have a massive impact on the eurodenominated debt market which totals
just €1.5tn. Valencia said €900bn of
that debt already yields under 1%, and
€400bn less than 0.50%.
Some investors, such as pension
funds and insurance firms, are required
to place a certain percentage of their
funds into bonds issued by countries
and companies with secure credit ratings.
With the ECB entering the market,
finding good returns in safe investments will get even harder.
“There is a compression process underway and everything is heading for
zero,” said Valencia.
“Investors are thus being pushed to
choose bonds of companies a little less
safe or frankly to change assets to get a
better return,” said Quesnel.
For companies “it is excellent news”,
said Valencia, although he warned
“just because money is practically free
doesn’t mean that some companies
won’t find themselves in complicated
Quesnel said the drop in borrowing costs shows “the ECB has done its
job” and now “we need growth to pick
up and unemployment fall so people
NBA | Page 7
GOLF | Page 6
CRICKET | Page 4
Parsons rally
Mavericks past
Trail Blazers
India’s Anirban
Lahiri wins
first European
Tour title
Maxwell blasts
ton as Aussies
expose India’s
bowling woes
Monday, February 9, 2015
Rabia II 20, 1436 AH
Admirable Aspire
undone by Arsenal
in Al Kass Cup
Page 8
Azarenka for Qatar Total Open
By Sports Reporter
wo-time former champion Victoria Azarenka has been confirmed as a singles wildcard for
the 2015 Qatar Total Open.
The winner of the 2012 and 2013 titles in Doha is keen to return to the city
where she has gained so much success
and a tournament she always states that
she loves.
Azarenka intended to play last year
but she had 12 months of numerous injuries. It appears she is well and truly over
her injuries having put in a quality performance at the recent Australian Open.
She reached the fourth round at the
first Grand Slam of the year with classy
wins over Sloane Stephens, Caroline
Wozniacki and Barbora Zhalavova Strycova before being beaten by Dominkia
She has two Grand Slam titles to her
credit; the Australian Open 2012 and
2013 and was a finalist at the US Open
the same years.
She reached the fourth round at
the first Grand Slam of the year
with classy wins over Sloane
Stephens, Caroline Wozniacki
and Barbora Zhalavova
Strycova before being beaten by
Dominkia Cibulkova
Azarenka enters the tournament
with a ranking of 41, however she
reached the position of world No.1 in
January 2012.
“Victoria Azarenka is extremely popular with fans in Qatar. She is a two-time
winner on the court and a winner off the
court with her wonderful personality,”
said Qatar Total Open Tournament Director Saad al-Mohannadi.
“Even with major injuries in 2014
she still made an impact around the
world, particularly at Grand Slams and
so far this year she has shown her form
by beating top players at the Australian Open. The Qatar Tennis Federation
knows Victoria Azarenaka will be an asset to the tournament and knows spectators will appreciate her skill when she
Despite her injuries last year she still
managed to make the final at Brisbane
and the quarters at the 2014 Australian
Open as well as the US Open.
Already confirmed for the Qatar Total Open are six top 10 ranked players;
world No.3 and defending champion,
Simona Halep, current Wimbledon
champion and No.4 ranked Petra Kvitova. Joining them are Agnieszka Radwanska from Poland at No.6, Caroline
Wozniacki ranked No.8, Germany’s
Angelique Kerber at No.9 and Russia’s
Ekaterina Makarova the world No.10.
Also in the player acceptance list are
seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus
Williams, former US Open winner Sam
Stosur from Australia and two-time
Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. The tournament will be held at the
Khalifa International Tennis & Squash
Complex from February 23-28 with
qualifying taking place 21-22 February.
Tickets are available online at www. and at City Center,
Landmark, Lagoona, Villaggio and onsite at the Khalifa International Tennis &
Squash Complex.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Rojas edges Boonen,
Demare to take stage 1
‘I was determined to do well and was not scared of the big names here’
By Yash Mudgal
ovistar’s Jose Joaquin Rojas won the
wind-swept opening stage of the Tour
of Qatar 2015 with a well-timed sprint
at Sealine Beach Resort that saw him
fend off challenges from four-time Qatar champion Tom Boonen of Etixx-QuickStep and Arnaud
Démare of FDJ.
It was a reduced peloton that sprint it out at
Sealine Beach with Rojas claiming the 136km
stage, which started from Dukhan, on his debut
in Qatar.
The Spaniard admitted that he was not expecting a win on day one of the tour.
“We didn’t expect that. It is a very good win at
the beginning of the tour and we want to enjoy the
victory and we’ll see what we have to do tomorrow,” Rojas said.
“I was very nervous during the race as the wind
was quite hard. But I was determined to do well
and was not scared of the big names here. We took
the opportunities that came our way today. I first
jumped on Terpstra and then I moved to the other
side for my sprint to beat Boonen,” the 2011 Spanish road race champion said.
Talking about the wind, the 29-year-old Movistar rider said: “We expected the wind to be
strong here in Doha, the condition is always like
that. So we came here prepared for this.”
Peter Sagan of Tinkoff-Saxo claimed fourth
place in the group finish at the end of the day that
saw the peloton fractured by crosswinds as the
race navigated Qatar’s interior. Bradley Wiggins
of Team Sky and Marcel Kittel of Giant-Alpecin
was among the riders who lost contact with the
51-man leading group on the run-in to the finish.
The finale was marked by a breakaway attempt
from the Astana pair of Lars Boom and Lieuwe
Westra, along with Matti Breschel of TinkoffSaxo, but they were pegged back by the combined
efforts of Etixx-QuickStep and Trek Factory Racing teams.
Boonen survived a scare after crashing with
rival Sagan around the second intermediate
sprint of the day, however, the Belgian was unhurt and managed to finish second on a day that
was marked by consistent headwinds and fraught
“It was a messy day with the headwind and
everyone had the nerves even though they knew
the headwind conditions would keep it together,”
Boonen said.
“When Sagan crashed I was on his wheel, and
I stumbled over him but I was going about five
kilometres per hour when it happened so there’s
nothing bad.
“As for the finish sprint, I was behind Rojas but
then lost some ground on him. When I made it
back to his wheel it was already over,” he said.
World Time Trial champion Wiggins, who
has not ridden on the track since the Commonwealth Games last August, finished the stage in
Qatar in the second group, 33 seconds behind
leader group.
He said: “I didn’t necessarily come for an overall win, it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. In
this type of race I feel like I need a day or two to
find my legs, to get used to fighting and taking
risks. But I was happy with the way I felt, that’s
the main thing.
“Whatever group you’re in here, it’s a hard
race. You’re always fighting hard, from that
point of view it’s pretty good preparation for
the season.”
Rojas will wear the leader’s jersey in today’s
1945km second stage which will run from Al
Wakrah to Al Khor Corniche. Rojas also leads the
points’ classification, while Démare has the Pearl
White Jersey for the best young rider.
Movistar rider Jose Joaquin Rojas celebrates his first stage win as he crosses the finish line at Sealine Beach Resort yesterday. PICTURES: Anas Khalid
1. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar
2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx-Quick Step
3. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
5. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18
6. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
7. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
8. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
9. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
10. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
1. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar
2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx-Quick Step
3. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
4. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx-Quick Step
5. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
6. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
7. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18
8. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
9. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
10. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
1. Jarl Salomein (Bel) Vlaanderen-Baloise
2. Luca Sterbini (Ita) Bardiani CSF
3. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
1. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
2. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step
3. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
1. Arnaud Demare (Fra)
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
3. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18
4. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
Australian Rohan
Dennis breaks one
hour world record
Granges, Switzerland: Australian
cyclist Rohan Dennis (pictured)
became the latest rider to break the
world hour record completing 52.491
kilometres on the track in Granges,
Switzerland, yesterday.
The 24-year-old—who recently won
the Tour Down Under—broke the
previous mark of 51.852km set by
Austrian Mathias Brandle last October in Aigle, Switzerland.
Dennis, world track pursuit champion in 2011, was always on target
to break the record and was at one
point in line for completing 52.739km
but he slowed down in the final 10
His success, at a track close to his
team BMC’s headquarters, comes a
week after his compatriot Jack Bobridge failed in his bid in Melbourne.
“I feel pretty proud, also happy. I’ve
prepared myself for a long time, it’s a
huge relief,” Dennis said.
“I’m really proud to take the chance.
2015 starts better than expected,
with the victory in the Tour Down
Under and now this record. It’s absolutely amazing. We set 52.5 km as the
goal, above this it would have been
a bonus.”
Dennis said that he believed he could
improve on the record.
“Yes I can improve this record. There
are some things I didn’t do perfectly,
my pacing could be better, I could
have more control,” he said.
“As I’m getting older, I’m getting
Dennis, Olympic team pursuit silver
medallist in 2012, may not have
the record for long as several other
formidable cyclists have pledged to
tackle the mark this year including
British legend Olympic and world
time-trial champion as well as the
2012 Tour de France winner Bradley
“Wiggins is the main rider to be able
to beat me,” admitted Dennis.
“There’s also (Thomas) Dekker, we
have to see what the altitude in
Mexico can bring.”
49.441km: Chris Boardman (GBR),
October 27, 2000, Manchester (GBR)
49.700km: Ondrej Sosenka (CZE),
July 19, 2005, Moscow
51.115km: Jens Voigt (GER), September 18, 2014, Granges (SUI)
51.852km: Matthias Brandle (AUT),
October 30, 2014, Aigle (SUI)
52.491km: Rohan Dennis (AUS),
February 8, 2015, Granges (SUI)
FDJ rider Arnaud Demare grabbed the Pearl White Jersey for the best young rider.
6. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN – Qhubeka
7. Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha
8. Jef Van Meirhaeghe (Bel) Vlaanderen–Baloise
9. Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
10. Marcel Aregger (Swi) IAM Cycling
1. Astana Pro Team 11:29:30
2. FDJ
3. Etixx-Quick Step
4. Team Katusha
5. Trek Factory Racing
6. Tinkoff-Saxo
7. BMC Racing Team
8. IAM Cycling
9. Bora-Argon 18
10. Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:00:13
Save the dream, ICSS’ Hanzab recognised by Aston Villa
CSS president Mohamed
Hanzab was welcomed as a
special guest by Aston Villa
FC yesterday as part of the
club’s acknowledgement of save
the dream’s involvement in the recent Delhi Dreams project.
The celebrations, which took
place during Saturday’s Premier
League match at Villa Park between Aston Villa and Chelsea, included a programme of activities
that acknowledge save the dream’s
partnership with the Delhi Dreams
project – a special football tournament with Villa in the Community, the club’s official charity, and
CEQUIN (Center for Equity and
Inclusion) that aims to improve
the lives of young girls living in
slum areas of New Delhi, India.
The highlight was a half-time
presentation on the field of play
where Aston Villa legend Ian Taylor presented Hanzab with an official club jersey and a video featuring Delhi Dream was shown to the
sold-out crowd on the big screen.
Speaking of save the dream’s
involvement in the programme,
Ravinder Masih, Director of Villa
in the Community, said: “Save the
dream played an essential role in the
success of the Delhi Dreams project
and on behalf of Aston Villa Football
Club, I would like to thank Mohammed and the ICSS for their involvement in the programme, as well as
their ongoing commitment to educating and encouraging young people through sport.
“Delhi Dreams has given many
young girls from poorer areas of
Delhi an opportunity to play sport
and make new friends. I would like
to thank all partners involved with
this project, especially Mohamed
and the team at save the dream, and
I look forward to continuing our
work at Villa in the Community,
which hopes to make a positive impact on people through football.”
ICSS president, said, “I would
like to thank all those at Aston Villa
Football Club, as well as the fans,
who made this day truly special.
“However, it is worth highlighting that today is not about the ICSS
or save the dream. Today is about
recognising the value of sport to
society and how it can enhance the
lives of young people.
“The Delhi Dreams project with
CEQUIN and Aston Villa Football
Club is just part of save the dreams
ongoing efforts to promote and
protect the values of sport and its
integrity, as well as encouraging
organisations to use sport to educate and inspire young people.
“As part of the ICSS’s commitment to safeguarding sport, I
would encourage other clubs and
organisations to develop programmes for young people that
protect sports future for a new
As part project’s objective to
support CEQUIN’s work and in
line with save the dream’s to promote and protect the core values of
sport in young people, two young
girls who participated in the Delhi
Dreams tournament will come to
England to train with the Aston
Villa girls development team, as
well as being given the opportunity to watch the Villa Ladies first
team in action.
Aston Villa legend Ian Taylor
presents ICSS president
Mohamed Hanzab with an
official club jersey.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Josoor and Leaders
deliver workshop for
senior sports figures
SC secretary general Hassan al-Thawadi delivered the opening note
By Sports Reporter
ome of the most senior figures
from the sports and events industries in Qatar and across the region yesterday participated in the
first day of a professional development
workshop titled Leadership: Lessons for
Sport. The two-day workshop has been
organised by Josoor Institute and Leaders, a global event, publishing and consultancy business.
A mix of secretary generals, CEOs, executive directors and other senior level
executives from organisations including
the Supreme Committee for Delivery &
Legacy (SC), Qatar Olympic Committee
(QOC), the Qatar Football Association
(QFA) and the Qatar Stars League (QSL)
joined representatives from sports clubs,
sports authorities and football associations from Iran, Jordan and Saudi Arabia
in attending the event at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC).
Josoor Institute have partnered with
Leaders for delivering the workshop, given its enviable reputation for organising
premium gatherings of world leaders to
inspire learning across the business and
performance side of sport. This is the first
time that Leaders has organised a summit
for senior executives in the Middle East.
During the two days, participants will
benefit from sessions that focus on sharing
best practices in organisational leadership
and management as well as valuable leadership lessons based on the experience of
influential global figures from across government, the sports and events industries
and its related fields. Speakers from some
of the world’s best-known sports, business and academic organisations including
The Football Association, Abu Issa Holding, Salford University’s Centre for Sports,
Atlanta MLS Franchise, the United States
Olympic Committee and the Norwegian
Centre of Football Excellence are joining
experts from Leaders Consulting for the
SC secretary general Hassan al-Thawadi delivered the opening note at the
workshop and said, “We have an amazing
opportunity to host the first FIFA World
Cup in the Middle East. It is an opportunity to create a positive change. A step
towards bringing this change was the establishment of Josoor Institute.”
He further elaborated, “To have a renowned sports organisation such as
Leaders host their first event in the region, showcases both Josoor Institute’s
rising stature and its commitment towards developing capabilities from
grassroots to senior leadership.”
The workshop has been designed to
support senior executives in enhancing
their strategic oversight and overall operational management to ensure peak performance in their organisations. Topics
will also focus on nurturing and developing innovation, building high performing
teams and managing talent effectively.
“Working with our partners such as
Leaders is the ideal way to continue the
momentum that we established this past
year. Our workshop will help develop the
knowledge and skills that the region needs
as well as equip existing and future leaders
with world-class education and training,”
highlighted Mushtaq al-Waeli, executive
director (acting) of Josoor Institute.
The professional development workshop will also provide unique opportunities for senior executives to share their
knowledge, ideas and their experiences
with one another.
Commenting on the workshop, Clive
Reeves, Managing Director from Leaders
Consulting said: “Working with Josoor Institute provided the ideal introduction for
our first major event in the Middle East.
With this high calibre audience, we had
the ideal blend of skills, experience and expertise to really explore in depth how high
performance principles from sport and beyond can support the leadership, strategy,
culture, and talent management of successful organisations. We’re delighted to be
working with Josoor Institute, the centre of
sporting excellence for the region, and look
forward in continuing collaboration and
partnership in the future.”
The workshop builds on Josoor Institute’s progress to date in catalysing the
growth of a sustainable sports and events
industry in Qatar and across the region.
In 2014, Josoor Institute equipped more
than 1,100 junior and mid-level sports and
events professionals with practical skills
and techniques on topics such as the running of major events, marketing and PR,
and venue and stadium Management.
The workshop takes place during the
same week that Qatar celebrates its National Sports Day, designed to encourage
sport and activities for everyone to enjoy
regardless of their age, ability or fitness
level. Promoting healthy living through
sport and other physical exercise supports
the objectives of the Qatar National Vision
2030’s Human Development pillar.
New-look Ha’il
Rally in March
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
t will be 10 years this year
since the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia stepped out of the
motorsport wilderness and
ran the Ha’il International Rally
for the first time as a small club
event in 2006 and then as a larger
national rally in 2007.
In that time, the Saudi Arabian
Motor Federation (SAMF) has
seen the event grow into a top
class international cross-country rally. The Ha’il-based event
was a candidate round for the
FIA International Cross-Country Cup for Bajas in 2007 and
took its place as a round of the
prestigious FIA series in 2008
and 2010.
The 10th Ha’il International
Cross-Country Rally will take
place across the north-central
region of the Kingdom on March
19-22 this year.
The FIA-sanctioned event is
being staged under the patronage of Prince Saud bin Abdul
Mohsen bin Abdul Aziz, Governor of Ha’il, President of the
Supreme Commission for Ha’il
Development and the Head of
the Supreme Commission of the
Ha’il Rally. The SAMF runs under the chairmanship of Prince
Sultan bin Bandar al-Faisal and
the event is being organised in
conjunction with the High Authority for the Development of
“We are delighted to be hosting the rally in Ha’il on its 10th
anniversary,” said Nayef al-Hejelan, the general secretary of
the SAMF. “The Ha’il Rally has
been the flagship off-road rally in
the Saudi Arabian motor sporting calendar since car sports
were given the go-ahead in the
Kingdom. The 10th Ha’il International Rally will be a four-day
event, with a super special stage
and three demanding selective
sections in the desert.”
Officials at the SAMF have
now finalised the Ha’il route and
confirmed that the opening super special stage will be held after the ceremonial start in Ha’il
on Thursday, March 19, before
three desert stages take place on
March 20, 21 and 22. The rally
offices and media centre will be
located at the Maghwat Conference Centre on the outskirts of
One stage will be similar to the
one that was used across the An
Nafud desert in 2014, a second has
around 85 percent of new tracks
and the third is completely new.
Race officials are planning around
1,200km of competition over a
wide variety of terrain, including
gravel trails, sand dunes, wadis,
areas of tricky navigation and the
passing of small oasis farms.
Mshawish wins Gulfstream
Park Turf Handicap
Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy secretary general Hassan al-Thawadi
makes opening remarks for the workshop titled Leadership: Lessons for Sport.
Speakers at the professional development workshop titled Leadership: Lessons for Sport.
Al Shaqab Racing’s Mshawish won his first Group 1 on Saturday,
at Gulfstream Park, in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. After
being boxed in while going easily, Mshawish found a gap 100m
from home and got up to win by a nose. This was also a first
Group 1 success in the USA for Al Shaqab Racing.
Todd Pletcher, who trains Mshawish, said: “He needs to be
covered up and we were able to do that. When you have to cover
one up in turf races, you have to roll the dice that you get a gap
at some point. He was lucky to find one when he did, and he
finished like a good horse. It was a very determined effort. He’s a
really nice horse.”
Winning jockey Javier Castellano added: “It was a tough trip all
the way in the race. It was very tight from the beginning all the
way to the end. I never had a place to go. I had to stay patient
and go from there. At some point in the race I got a little bit frustrated turning for home because I never saw any hole. Finally by
the eighth pole, when I saw the hole, he went through a tiny gap
and he made a big effort today. I give all the credit to the horse
because the way he did it today, it was amazing. Not too many
horses can do it the way he did it today.”
Mshawish is entered in the Dubai Turf, on the Saturday of the
Dubai World Cup. He was fourth in this Group 1 in 2014.
Al Shaqab Racing’s Sandiva
wins Suwannee River Stakes
Al-Boenain chairs IFAHR meeting in Dubai
ami Jassim al-Boenain, Qatar Racing &
Equestrian Club (QREC) General Manager
and International Federation of Arabian
Horseracing Authorities (IFAHR) Chairman,
chaired the meeting of IFAHR Executive Committee,
which was hosted by the Emirates Racing Authority
in Dubai on 5 February 2014.
IFAHR works to enhance co-operation among
all Arabian horseracing authorities worldwide and
is concerned with considering matters related to
purebred Arabian horseracing and movement between countries. Chaired by Sami Jassim al-Boenain,
IFAHR General Assembly was held on the sidelines of
the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris in October 2014. IFAHR has in its membership many countries organising purebred Arabian races worldwide.
IFAHR has 30 member states representing the
world’s six continents and the most recent members
are Iran and Portugal. IFAHR Executive Committee
consists of eight members from Qatar, the UAE, the
UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Turkey and
Arabian horseracing has been growing all over
the world. IFAHR is considered the driving force
for improving pure Arabian breeds and developing
the guiding principles of this discipline with a view
to expand its portfolio to include larger sectors of
the international community. IFAHR was created as
a non-profit organisation according to the French
law following the adoption of IFAHR Statutes by its
founding members and these are Qatar, France, Germany, Belgium, the UAE, Switzerland, the UK, Austria, the Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the USA,
Turkey, Egypt, Spain, Sweden, Morocco and Poland.
Al Shaqab Racing’s Sandiva, won the Suwannee River Stakes, a
Group 3, on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. This was a first Group
success in the States for the Todd Pletcher trained filly. Having
sat in the middle of the pack, in fourth position, Sandiva made up
ground on the last bend three wide. She found herself besides
the leader Skylander Girl turning into the straight. She kept up
her acceleration and won easily by a length.
Javier Castellano, who rode Sandiva, explained: “I had a beautiful trip. My concern was that I had to save some ground from
the outside post. You want to get covered up so you can save
some ground. It worked out perfect today. I covered up three,
four lengths behind the other horses, I kept track of the speed. I
covered her up the best I could around the first turn, and around
the last turn I lost a lot of ground but my concern was on the first
turn. It worked out beautifully; perfect.”
Already a dual Group 3 winner in Europe, Sandiva will no doubt
continue to step up in class.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Warner, Maxwell
tons expose India’s
bowling frailties
Australia peaking at
the right time for WC
‘Early wickets tonight would have been nice, just to blow the game out of the
water. As great as our batting was, we were probably one wicket down too many’
Australia’s David Warner (left) raises his bat after scoring a century
as India’s Ravichandran Ashwin looks on during the ICC one-day
international warm up cricket match between Australia and India.
Australia’s Glenn Maxwell plays a shot during the bowling of India’s Mohammed Shami during the ICC ODI warm up match between Australia and India in Adelaide.
avid Warner and Glenn Maxwell struck blistering centuries
as Australia flexed their batting
muscles to expose defending
champion India’s bowling limitations in
a World Cup warmup match in Adelaide
Opting to bat first, Australia piled up
371 in 48.2 overs and bowled out India for
265 in a dominant display to explain why
they are considered favourites for the
World Cup beginning on Saturday.
They dominated India in all three departments even though the tournament
co-hosts did not last a full 50 overs in
what was possibly the only blemish in
their 106-run win.
Left-handed Warner (104) played his
natural game, racing to his century in
80 balls. Maxwell (122) did even better,
needing 53 balls to reach the 100-mark,
his second 50 coming in just 19 balls.
There was momentary discomfort
India pick Mohit Sharma in place of injured Ishant
World Cup organisers yesterday
accepted India’s request to include
seamer Mohit Sharma in place of pace
spearhead Ishant Sharma, who was
ruled out of the tournament due to a
knee injury.
The World Cup’s technical committee
had agreed to make the change in the
defending champions’ 15-man squad
led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the
International Cricket Council said in a
The lanky Ishant, the most experienced
seamer in India’s current squad with 106
wickets from 76 one-day internationals,
has not played since being injured
during the Boxing Day Test against
Australia in Melbourne in December.
Mohit, 26, who has played 12 one-dayers
and taken 10 wickets, is already in
Australia as an additional member of the
team that played in the recent tri-series
that also featured England.
India open their World Cup campaign
against arch-rivals Pakistan in Adelaide
on February 15.
for Maxwell, whose attempted hook off
Umesh Yadav resulted in an inside edge
that crashed onto his helmet and he also
needed medical attention on his lower
back after reaching 50.
Maxwell retired to allow his teammates
to get some batting practice but not before plundering 27 runs from a Yadav
over and hitting three sixes in a row.
India, having lost paceman Ishant
Sharma to a knee injury earlier in the day,
had a scare when Mohammad Shami (383) left the field with a split webbing but
returned soon after to resume bowling.
Their batting on a good track could
not offer much relief, however, with only
Shikhar Dhawan (59), Ajinkya Rahane
(66) and Ambati Rayudu (53) managing
to impress.
Batting mainstay Virat Kohli dragged
a Mitchell Starc delivery onto his stumps
and the Australian nonchalantly took a
one-handed blinder on the edge of the
boundary to dismiss India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for a golden duck.
“It was a very good performance,” said
Australia stand-in skipper George Bailey
before pointing out areas his team could
still improve.
“Early wickets tonight would have
been nice, just to blow the game out of
the water. As great as our batting was, we
were probably one wicket down too many
and you’d like to see Mitchell Starc catch
with both hands,” he quipped.
Dhoni said he was still looking for the
final 11 players for next Sunday’s tournament opener against Pakistan.
“It’s a very long tournament and what
we have seen is the team that does well is
the one that comes from the bottom and
slowly picks up momentum,” he added.
Brief Scores:
Australia 371 (Maxwell 122, Warner
104, Shami 3-83) beat India 265 (Rahane
66, Dhawan 59, Rayudu 53) by 106 runs
ustralia are peaking
at the right time for
a crack at their fifth
World Cup triumph and
will go into this month’s tournament at home on top of the rankings.
Under the attacking coaching
of Darren Lehmann, the Australians have registered some
impressive results and have only
lost one of their last 12 ODIs.
Australia accounted for the
third-ranked South Africans 4-1
in a series at home last November
and comfortably beat England
and India in a tri-series in the final weeks before the World Cup.
Lehmann and fellow selectors
have assembled a strong playing
group around a core of key players—David Warner, Steve Smith,
Mitchell Johnson and possibly
skipper Michael Clarke, fitness
issues depending.
Clarke has been troubled by
hamstring and back problems
throughout the southern summer and he is already a doubt for
the opening game against England on February 14.
Smith’s phenomenal form with
the bat this season—three ODI
centuries since October—there
are those who say Australia may
not even miss Clarke’s leadership
and batting.
Australia’s biggest challenge
will be how the team handles the
external pressures as the host
nation that will decide its winning chances.
The Australians didn’t cope
in 1992 when they last hosted
the sport’s showpiece and they
missed out on the semi-finals.
The home team have traditional rivals England first up on
February 14 at the Melbourne
Cricket Ground, the venue for
the March 29 final.
The Australians also have Sri
Lanka, New Zealand Bangladesh
and associate teams Afghanistan
and Scotland in their pool and
will have home advantage for
all but their pool game with the
Black Caps in Auckland on February 28.
Much will depend on Australia’s ability to get quick runs at the
top of the innings and they have
the right ammunition with adventurous opening pair of Aaron
Finch and Warner.
Warner has three ODI centuries, including a recent 127 off 115
balls against England in the triseries, while Finch has five tons,
four of them last year.
Throw in Smith, the experienced Shane Watson, possibly George Bailey depending on
Clarke’s availability, batting allrounders Glenn Maxwell, James
Faulkner and Mitchell Marsh and
Australia have plenty of runs in
their ranks.
Mitchell Johnson, the ICC
Cricketer of 2014, leads the attack with fellow left-armer
Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood
and Pat Cummins offering pace
and venom.
Given stand-in skipper
Smith’s phenomenal form
with the bat this season—
three ODI centuries since
October—there are those
who say Australia may
not even miss Clarke’s
leadership and batting
While the Australians are well
stocked with fast bowlers, there
is some concern over the selection of Xavier Doherty as the
specialist attacking spinner.
The Australians relish playing aggressive cricket under Lehmann and Warner has already
been told by Cricket Australia
to “stop looking for trouble” after his recent clash with Indian
batsman Rohit Sharma.
The explosive opener was fined
half his one-day match fee by the
ICC for confronting Sharma and
demanding he “speak English”
during Australia’s four-wicket
win in Melbourne this month.
New Zealand cricket great Martin Crowe called Warner’s behaviour “thuggish” and slammed him
as being the most juvenile cricketer he had ever seen.
But it’s like water off a duck’s
back for coach Lehmann, who
said: “David’s an aggressive
character and we support that.
It’s just making sure he does the
right thing on the ground.”
Veterans set for key role in this World Cup
he belief that “old is gold” will
once again be put to the test in
this World Cup, with several
players bolstering teams with
their experience and guile.
Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene,
Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi and New Zealand’s Daniel Vettori are the most experienced players as each of the trio will
be featuring in their fifth World Cup.
Jayawardene, 37, retired from Test
cricket last year after a glittering career
and he will hang up his one-day international kit after the World Cup.
With a 33-match tally in the tournament, Jayawardene will be the most
experienced player when it comes to
World Cups.
After a miserable first round exit as
defending champions in 1999 the next
three editions were memorable, with
Sri Lanka the losing semi-finalists in
2003 and runners-up in the next two
World Cups.
He led the team from the front with a
scintillating century in the 2007 semifinal against New Zealand and then
Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi (left) and Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene are two of the most experienced players at this World Cup.
notched another ton in the final of 2011
World Cup, albeit in a losing cause as
hosts India won in Mumbai.
Jayawardene still holds a key position
in Sri Lanka’s batting order, along with
Kumar Sangakkara who will be featuring in his fourth World Cup.
Sangakkara has played 30 World
Cup matches and just like old wine has
embellished his batting, with the lefthander the highest run-getter in oneday internationals last year.
Afridi was a relative newcomer when
Pakistan finished runners-up to Australia in the 1999 World Cup but the
next two World Cups weren’t memorable for the aggressive all-rounder.
Pakistan crashed out in the first
round in 2003 and 2007. Afridi played
just one game in the 2007 event after
being suspended for the first two.
He was Pakistan’s captain in the 2011
World Cup and led them to the semifinals, where they were beaten by India.
Pakistan will rely heavily on Afridi’s
late-over slogs to give their innings
much-needed impetus.
Moreover, Afridi, also a handy legspinner, will want to shine at this World
Cup after announcing he will quit oneday cricket following the tournament.
Matching Afridi in the spin department will be New Zealand’s Daniel Vettori, with the 36-year-old left-armer
having featured in the 1999, 2003, 2007
and 2011 editions of the World Cup.
A skilled spinner, Vettori still holds
the trump card when it comes to slow
bowling, being able to put a brake on
batsmen’s run-scoring besides taking
wickets at crucial stages.
Vettori’s captain, Brendon McCul-
lum, will also be featuring in his fourth
World Cup.
McCullum will be the key to co-hosts
New Zealand’s hopes of posting big totals in the World Cup.
His blistering form in all three formats of the game augurs well for the
Black Caps, who for the first time are
amongst the top three favourites.
Like McCullum, Chris Gayle is a danger for bowlers.
Gayle can hit any bowler on his day,
hitting big shots at will and has performed well for the West Indies in the
2003, 2007 and 2011 World Cups.
Trading his best swing bowling
against the best batsmen of the world
will be England’s James Anderson,
playing his fourth World Cup.
Besides Steven Finn and Stuart
Broad, Anderson will form a solid pace
attack for England, who can be the dark
horses of the event.
Also playing in his fourth World Cup
will be Pakistan’s Younis Khan. At 37,
Younis will be the second-oldest Pakistani in the World Cup behind 40-yearold captain Misbah-ul Haq.
Despite his age, it will be only a second World Cup for Misbah, who featured in the 2011 edition.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Wounded Pakistan
hard pressed to
repeat 1992 victory
‘Despite the problems this team has the spirit of cornered tigers’
Pakistan’s Hafeez
ruled out of WC
File picture of Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Hafeez (centre).
akistan allrounder Mohammad Hafeez has
been ruled out of the
World Cup with a calf
muscle injury, an official of the
country’s cricket board told Reuters yesterday.
“He has been advised two to
three weeks rest by the doctors
so he is out of the World Cup,”
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)
spokesman Raza Kitchlew said.
He said the tour selection
committee has sought to replace
Hafeez with 25-year-old opener
Nasir Jamshed who has played 45
“A request with medical reports has been sent to the ICC
technical committee for induct-
ing Jamshed into the squad,”
Kitchlew said.
Hafeez, 34, has been one of Pakistan’s key player, having scored
4542 runs and taken 122 wickets
in 155 One-day internationals.
He became the second Pakistan player to miss the World
Cup through injury after leftarm paceman Junaid Khan pulled
out with a hamstring injury and
was replaced by Rahat Ali.
Hafeez, who is not allowed to
bowl because of his illegal action,
was due to undergo an official
bowling assessment on Feb 16 in
Brisbane but another PCB official said it was unlikely that the
player would undergo the test on
that day.
Pakistan begin their World
Cup campaign against archrivals India next Sunday at Adelaide.
Afghanistan look to
repeat Ireland shock
factor this time
Pakistan cricket captain Misbah-ul-Haq (left) arrives at a press conference in Sydney yesterday, ahead of the Cricket World Cup.
f there is one team among the top
eight at the World Cup which could
either crash out embarrassingly in
the first round or romp to the title,
it’s Pakistan.
The talented yet unpredictable side are
haunted by injuries to their fast bowlers, the suspension of match-winning
spinner Saeed Ajmal and a tussle for the
captaincy between Misbah-ul Haq and
Shahid Afridi.
Frontline paceman Umar Gul was not
selceted in the 15-man squad after failing
to recover from a knee injury while another new-ball bowler Junaid Khan had
to withdraw.
Twin defeats in the warm-up matches
to second string sides followed by two
one-day internationals routs by New
Zealand multiplied the enormity of the
task for Misbah’s men to match Imran
Khan’s World Cup triumph—Pakistan’s
only win—in Australia some 23 years ago.
“Despite the problems, this team has
the spirit of cornered tigers,” said chief
selector and former captain Moin Khan, a
key member of 1992 winning team.
“If they play to their potential this
team can surprise the world.”
Captain Misbah, who has recovered
from a hamstring injury, is also confident of the best results. “The format of
this World Cup is such that teams have
a lot of opportunities,” said Misbah, who
will retire from one-day cricket after the
World Cup.
“It would be the icing on the cake if I
end my one-day career with the trophy.”
But Misbah knows his bowling will
miss Ajmal, who has single-handedly
won matches for Pakistan before being
suspended for an illegal bowling action
last September.
Spinning all-rounder Mohammad Ha-
feez—suspended in November last year
also over an illegal bowling action—needs
to clear a reassessment test to allow the
right combination to Misbah.
“It will be important that Hafeez clears
the test because he is two-in-one and his
bowling gives us the right combination,”
said the captain.
Lanky paceman Mohammad Irfan—the
tallest man to ever play international
cricket at 7 feet, one inch—is expected to
be the X-factor in an otherwise inexperienced pace attack.
“To me the X-factor in our team is
Irfan. With his height I think he can be
dangerous,” said coach Waqar Younis,
who missed Pakistan’s World Cup win in
1992 with a back problem.
In Ajmal’s absence, leg-spinner Yasir
Shah, along with all-rounder Afridi, will
handle the spin department.
Afridi, who will also quit one-day
cricket after the World Cup, will be important too as a batsman in the slog overs
as will be Umar Akmal, Misbah and Sohaib Maqsood.
Pakistan’s top-order problem persists as Hafeez opening the innings with
Ahmed Shehzad doesn’t always guarantee a trouble-free start.
They will hope experienced the Younis
Khan and Misbah provide stability to the
batting, for which the main problem lies
in playing too many dot balls.
Pakistan has the worst run-rate among
the top ten teams in playing dot balls
from over 11 to 40.
Pakistan must win one of their first
two matches—against arch-rivals India
and the West Indies—in order to have an
easier passage into the last eight.
If not, their qualification will rely on
their last group B match against a dangerous Ireland team, the same opponents
who ousted them in the first round of the
2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.
Skipper Misbah unsure reinstated
Ajmal will make the World Cup
akistan captain Misbahul Haq said yesterday
he was unsure whether
Saeed Ajmal would participate in the World Cup after
the off-spinner’s bowling action
was cleared.
The 37-year-old had originally withdrawn from the World
Cup, which begins on Saturday,
after he failed to correct his action in time for the 15-man squad
announcement last month.
Ajmal was reported during the
Galle Test in Sri Lanka in August
last year and he was subsequently
suspended by the governing body
ICC from bowling at international
level after his action was assessed
a month later.
His withdrawal left Pakistan’s
World Cup plans in tatters as they
lost four one-day matches—two
warm-up and two one-day internationals—in New Zealand.
Ajmal was on Saturday cleared
Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal.
by the ICC (International Cricket Council) to play again, sparking talk of a surprise call-up for
the World Cup.
“You never know, there are a
lot of ifs and buts,” Misbah told a
press conference when asked of
Ajmal’s chances of appearing in
the showpiece event.
“The main concern is that he
hasn’t played any cricket yet,
let’s see how it goes in the next
week because the team is already
announced and everybody is
here so I can’t just say anything
about that,” he added.
Ajmal played two unofficial
one-day matches for Pakistan’s
second string against Kenya in
Lahore in December, bowling
only 12.1 overs.
Misbah said that Ajmal himself had doubts whether he
would be ready to play.
“I can say he is not sure about
that because you need some
cricket behind you before such a
big event,” said Misbah.
Pakistani media have reported
that the team’s management
were not in favour of reinstating Ajmal, and the rules state a
player can only be added when
injury rules out a member of the
original squad.
Misbah admitted his team’s
poor form was a concern, having lost three one-day series last
year and going down 2-0 against
New Zealand this month.
“I think we are not having
good times in the ODIs... but
I think this team is capable of
turning that around.
“I am excited about this team.
This is a bunch of youngsters
and a few senior and we are a
team which can surprise anybody at any stage.
“I am really hopeful that we
are going to improve our performance but we can do that in
the World Cup.”
Pakistan open their campaign
against arch-rivals and defending champions India in Adelaide
on February 15, a day after the
tournament begins in Australia
and New Zealand.
Misbah said loss of key paceman Junaid Khan to injury was
another setback.
“Definitely, Junaid’s loss is a
big blow,” said Misbah. Junaid
failed to recover from a leg injury and was replaced by Rahat
Ali last week. “Junaid had been
our key bowler, especially in the
one-days and it’s big blow to
lose our best bowler but other
bowlers need to stand up and
play to their best.
File picture of Afghan cricketers practicing at the Kabul Cricket
Academy training centre in Kabul.
fghanistan hope to follow the World Cup
giant-killing blueprint
drawn up by fellow outsiders Ireland when they make
their debut at the game’s showpiece tournament.
Ireland defeated mighty Pakistan to reach the Super Eights
stage at the 2007 World Cup in
the Caribbean before defeating
England in a high-scoring match
in the 2011 tournament in India.
“My wish would be to emulate
what Ireland have done in the
last couple of World Cups. They
have caused shocks by playing
positive, entertaining cricket,”
said Andy Moles, who replaced
former Pakistan paceman Kabir
Khan as Afghanistan coach in
September last year.
It was Kabir who lifted the
nascent cricket nation from division five in 2008 to narrowly
missing out on a berth in the 2011
World Cup.
Another former Pakistani international, Rashid Latif, then
helped Afghanistan reach the
the 2010 World Twenty20 and
take the silver medal at the 2010
Asian Games in China.
Latif believes Afghanistan
should not worry about results
in the World Cup in Australia
and New Zealand where they will
face both co-hosts as well as Sri
Lanka, England, Bangladesh and
Scotland in the group stages.
“I have faith in them. The way
they are investing money, the
Afghanistan team will beat top
teams in the next five years,” said
Latif. But he also cautioned: “I
don’t want them to go down like
The African nation reached the
semi-finals of the 2003 World
Cup but their fall from grace led
them to losing their one-day international credentials.
“For me they should gain more
and more experience and with
“My wish would be to
emulate what Ireland have
done in the last couple of
World Cups. They have
caused shocks by playing
positive, entertaining
cricket,” said Andy Moles,
who replaced former
Pakistan paceman Kabir
Khan as Afghanistan coach
last September
that learn to play better after the
World Cup.
“I want them to play in a manner that if the kids are watching
on television back home they will
feel proud of them.”
With two channels pledging
live coverage, Afghanistan will
begin their maiden World Cup
campaign against Bangladesh in
Canberra on February 18.
Afghanistan will take heart
from their shock win over Bangladesh in the Asia Cup in Dhaka
last year.
It was their first win in 10
one-day internationals against a
Test-playing nation.
But like most of the Asian and
Associates teams, batting on
bouncy Australian pitches and
coping with swing in New Zealand will be the main challenge.
Afghanistan’s batsmen know
one way of batting—to attack.
“The biggest challenge is going
to be how the batsmen handle the
quicker bowlers. Playing in Australia is going to be quite brutal for
some of these guys who aren’t used
to those conditions,” said Moles.
“I will work hard to get them
as much confidence as possible,
to play without fear of failure
and, if they see an opportunity
at any stage in a game, to take it.
“I’d like them to enjoy the
challenge that lies ahead of
With experienced players like
Nowroz Mangal, Mohammad
Nabi, Samiullah Shinwari, Najibullah Zadran, Shapoor Zadran
and Hamid Hasan, Afghanistan
will hope they can show their
talent in the big league.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
India’s Lahiri fends
off Wiesberger to
win in Malaysia
‘I don’t think it has sunk in yet but I’m pretty sure when it does I’ll be pretty happy’
Schmidt wants
improvement as
Irish target England
reland coach Joe Schmidt has
warned the defending Six
Nations champions they will
have to up their game if they
are to impress against France
next week before the arguably
tougher assignment of facing cofavourites England.
Ireland took the first step towards defending their crown with
a 26-3 win over long-suffering Italy with Conor Murray and Tommy O’Donnell scoring secondhalf tries and fly-half Ian Keatley
added 14 points with the boot.
Yet it was a largely disjointed
performance from both sides at
the Stadio Olimpico until Murray
touched over just after the hour
when the hosts were reduced to
14 men following Leonardo Ghiraldini’s trip to the sin bin.
Having watched England’s
stirring second-half fightback
to claim a 21-16 win over Wales
on Friday, Schmidt said he was
impressed with how both sides
went about their business at the
Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
But the New Zealander believes England “have set the
benchmark” for this year’s tournament, and already given his
side a fair idea of what might be
required if they are to emerge
victorious in Dublin in three
weeks’ time.
“The benchmark was set by
England last night in that second half... England just kept the
pressure right on them,” Schmidt
“The physical nature of that
battle... it certainly means we’ve
got a lot to do. We’ll have to roll
our sleeves up early on next week
and hopefully put together a
sufficiently improved performance to be competitive against
He added: “For us, we certainly need to up our game. I do
think that part of it was the pressure Italy put on us, but at the
same time I know we can do better than that, and we’re going to
have to.”
Ireland were shorn of several
regulars who helped them secure
last year’s title as they travelled
to the Italian capital intent on
making amends for their 22-15
defeat to the Italians two years
But any worries Schmidt had
about his young side were dispelled just after the hour mark
when Murray, then O’Donnell—
a late replacement for Sean
O’Brien after he suffered a
twinge to his hamstring in the
warm-up—touched down to put
the match beyond the reach of
the hosts 14 minutes from the final whistle.
Schmidt admitted O’Brien’s
absence had partly led to a “disjointed” first-half but he was
quick to praise the new faces in
his side, in particular fly-half
Keatley, centre Robbie Henshaw
and flanker Jordi Murphy.
“It’s the first small step for
them. They get a little bit of
confidence from having played
at the level, played in the pressure cooker that is the Six Nations championship,” added
Italy captain Sergio Parisse
had pledged the Azzurri would
“spit blood” in a bid to hand the
Irish their second consecutive
Stadio Olimpico defeat, but the
challenge from the hosts fell resoundingly flat.
The Italians looked clumsy
from the outset and were soon
left focusing all their efforts
on defence as Ireland steadily
worked their way towards a more
creative, attacking game in the
second half having taken a 9-3
lead at the break.
Anirban Lahiri of India poses with the trophy
after winning the 2015 Maybank Malaysian
Open in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Kuala Lumpur
ndia’s Anirban Lahiri reeled off four
birdies in his first five holes and held
on down the stretch for a one-stroke
victory over Bernd Wiesberger to
take his first European Tour title by winning the Malaysian Open yesterday.
Lahiri had vaulted into contention the
day before with a tournament-low tenunder 62, and followed up with a finalround 68 for the win.
“I don’t think it has sunk in just yet
but I’m pretty sure when it does, I’ll be
pretty happy,” said the 27-year-old.
“I’ve got a bad habit of making it hard
for myself, but I’m happy I managed to
get it over the line.”
The Malaysian Open is co-sanctioned
by the European and Asian Tours, and
the win was Lahiri’s sixth on the Asian
Lahiri began the day five strokes behind third-round leader Wiesberger,
who had shot to the top of the boards
Saturday with a European Tour personal-best nine-under 63 at the tricky Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
But on the par-five fifth hole Sunday,
Wiesberger chunked his third shot into
a water hazard for a costly double bogey,
opening the door for Lahiri.
The Indian charged through with his
early birdie blitz. Despite a couple of
later bogeys, he fended off the faltering
Wiesberger, who suffered three bogeys
on the back nine to card a two-over 74
for the day.
“It hasn’t quite finished the way I intended to,” Wiesberger said.
“After the hiccup on five, I didn’t hit
it anywhere near as good as the last 15
rounds. It’s tough to say, but it is what it
is and unfortunately I beat myself out of
it today.”
England’s Paul Waring and the second round co-leader Spain’s Alejandro
Canizares finished two strokes behind
Wiesberger in a tie for third on a breezy
yet scorching day.
England’s Lee Westwood had held the
co-lead after each of the first two days
and remained in the hunt when the final
round started.
But his chances of defending the title
he won last year crumbled as he posted a
disappointing 75 to end in a four-way tie
for fifth, five strokes back of Lahiri.
Westwood, who has won the tournament twice and seems to play some of his
best golf in Asia, is notably comfortable
with the Malaysian Open course’s undulating fairways.
But after a strong start, his birdie
count dropped each day while several
other golfers seemed to get hotter.
The European Tour said Lahiri’s performance could move him to within the
top 40 in the world golf rankings—from
73rd before the tournament—putting
him in line to play the upcoming Masters, golf’s most sought-after individual
“The Masters is definitely one of my
targets. I don’t know how far I moved up
but I’m pretty confident now that with
this win, I should have a good chance,”
he said.
Germany’s Andrea Petkovic (C, background) celebrates with
teammates (R-L) Angelique Kerber, Sabine Lisicki and Julia Goerges
after Petkovic defeated Australia’s Jarmila Gajdosova in the FedCup
to lead
Paradise Island, Bahamas
merican Gerina Piller
clung to a one-stroke
lead when darkness
halted Saturday’s third
round of the Bahamas LPGA
Classic while a dozen rivals
lurked within two strokes of the
Only six of 74 players who
made the cut earlier in the day
managed to finish before sunset
at the event, fighting to finish
as planned Sunday in windy
conditions after heavy rain
washed out much of Thursday’s
Piller, seeking her first LPGA
title, was three-under for nine
holes to stand on 10-under
overall, but a pack on nineunder included Americans Lexi
Thompson, Brooke Pancake
and Kelly Shon, Germany’s
Sandra Gal, South Korean Kim
Sei-Young and France’s Perrine
South Koreans Park In-Bee,
Yoo Sun-Young and Park HeeYoung were on eight-under
along with Thailand’s Ariya
Jutanugarn and Americans
Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lincicome.
Holmes, English ahead at Torrey Pines
La Jolla, California
rain surgery survivor J.B. Holmes
joined overnight leader Harris
English atop the Farmers Insurance Open leaderboard following
the third round at Torrey Pines on Saturday.
Holmes put together a four-under 68 on
the tough South course to move to nineunder 207 for the tournament while English finished with a 73.
Former US Open winner Lucas Glover
(70), recent Sony Open winner Jimmy
Walker (70) and fellow Americans Spencer
Levin (70), Chad Campbell (70) and Nick
Watney (72) shared third at eight-under.
Holmes, who underwent brain surgery
for Chiari malformations in 2011, managed
seven birdies with three bogeys leaving
him in great shape to chase down a fourth
win on tour.
“I hit it really well all day and putted
well, so it was nice to get out there on
this beautiful golf course and make some
putts,” Holmes said.
“Started out pretty good and was able to
chip one in on four to kind of get me going.”
English began the day with a two-shot
lead and extended it to three with an opening-hole birdie but a costly double-bogey
on his fourth hole created a tight leaderboard.
After driving the ball in the fairway bunker of the picturesque par four that hugs
the Pacific Ocean coastline, English sent
his approach into the left rough short of
the green.
His chip shot flew over the putting surface and his par save attempt from the
fringe rolled six feet by the hole.
When he missed the bogey putt the
25-year-old dropped back to nine under
and while he was back in double digits
under par through 13 holes an bogey on 16
dropped him back into a share of the lead.
Campbell made a silky hole-in-one on
the postcard third hole on the way to his
Five players are just two shots off the
lead including Australian world number
eight Jason Day, who holed out for an eagle
on the 17th from 147 yards just two holes
after felling a young boy with an errant tee
Golfing great Billy Casper dead at 83
S golfing great Billy
Casper, who had the
seventh most PGA
Tour wins but was
still considered one of the
game’s most underrated players, died of a heart attack Saturday at the age of 83, ESPN
Casper, described as an underdog, was often overlooked
for some of his better-known
peers despite a long roster
of accomplishments on the
He was a two-time US Open
winner, including an impressive come-from-behind triumph in 1966 when he rallied
from a seven-shot deficit to
take the trophy.
He also won the US Open in
1959 at Winged Foot and the
1970 Masters.
He had a total of 51 PGA Tour
wins to his name, but the “Big
Three”—Arnold Palmer, Jack
Nicklaus and Gary Player—of-
ten dominated headlines and
basked in golf glory, despite
Casper’s feats.
From 1964 to 1970, Casper
won 27 US events, six more
than Palmer and Player combined. Casper was remembered as a skilled competitor
and a dedicated family man by
his peers, and in 1978 he was
inducted into the World Golf
Hall of Fame.
“Billy Casper was one of the
greatest family men—be it inside the game of golf or out—I
have had the fortunate blessing
to meet,” Nicklaus said on his
Facebook page.
“There was always much
more to Billy Casper than golf.
But as a golfer, Billy was a fantastic player, and I don’t think
he gets enough credit for being one.” Nicklaus said Casper
often didn’t get the praise he
“I think it is fair to say that
Billy was probably underrated by those who didn’t play
against him. Those who did
compete against him, knew
how special he was.”
Petkovic fires
Germany into
Fed Cup semis
ndrea Petkovic endured another gruelling
three-set marathon to
seal Germany’s 3-1 win
over Australia yesterday and put
the hosts in the Fed Cup semifinals.
Germany, the 2014 finalists,
will face Russia in the semi-finals
on April 18-19 after Petkovic
again dug deep to seal a 6-3, 3-6,
8-6 win over Jarmila Gajdosova
with the third set taking nearly
an hour.
It was the second time in 24
hours Petkovic was carried to victory by the vocal 4,000-strong
crowd in a gruelling tie after
Saturday’s victory over Samantha Stosur came down to a 12-10
battle in the third-set after three
hours, 13 minutes of tennis.
Having been 4-2 down in the
crucial third, Petkovic showed
her composure by converting her
second match point to seal Germany’s win and keep them bidding for a second straight final
“I was a bit tired from yesterday, but I always just played it
one point at a time,” said a jaded
Petkovic at Stuttgart’s Porsche
“I hope there is Champagne,
but beer is also okay.
“We’ll mix in with the fans
anyway, the atmosphere was incredible.”
Angelique Kerber had earlier
put Germany on the brink of the
semi-finals with a straight-sets
win over Stosur, who has lost
both of her singles rubbers in
Also yesterday, former world
number one Maria Sharapova
sent Russia into the semi-finals
as she defeated Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 7-5 to give her
country an unassailable 3-0 lead.
The doubles pairing of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Vitaliya
Diatchenko later made it 4-0 as
they beat Klaudia Jans-Ignacik
and Alicja Rosolska 6-4, 6-4.
Following Sharapova’s victory over Urszula Radwanska in
straight sets on Saturday, combined with a three set win for
veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova over
Urszula’s sister Agnieszka, Russia
cruised into the last four.
French Open champion Sharapova is playing just her fourth Fed
Cup tie since her 2008 debut but
in order to make the Olympics
next year all players have to make
themselves available for the annual women’s team tournament.
“It is a very important win for
me,” said Sharapova, who has often been criticised for not playing
enough Fed Cup matches.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Nowitzki, Parsons rally
Mavs past Trail Blazers
‘It was a game we should’ve had. We did a lot of things to give it away’
Los Angeles
he Dallas Mavericks appeared headed
for another loss to a Western Conference playoff team when German superstar Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons took them on a delightful detour.
Nowitzki scored 25 points - including a threepointer that forced overtime - and Parsons had
10 of his 20 in the extra session as the host Mavericks staged a frenetic comeback to a 111-101
victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.
Monta Ellis also scored 20 points for Dallas,
which never led in the second half but never
trailed in the extra session. The Mavericks improved to 5-0 in overtime games this season.
“This was a game we needed,” Parsons said.
“We hadn’t really beaten a top-tier team yet.
Portland’s a really good team. We’re just glad we
got out of here with a win.”
“That one’s a tough one to take,” Portland
coach Terry Stotts said. “It was a game we
should’ve had. We did a lot of things to give it
It was the fifth win in six games for the Mavs
(35-18), who are fifth in the West but came in
just 2-10 against the other top seven teams in
the conference. They lost their only previous
meeting with the Trail Blazers by 21 points.
Portland (34-17) held a 16-point lead late in
the third quarter and still owned a 94-83 advantage with under three minutes left in regulation. But Devin Harris and Parsons made threepointers to trigger the comeback.
Portland’s Damian Lillard made two free
throws, but Nowitzki made a jumper and Harris scored again before Nowitzki drilled his tying three-pointer with 20 seconds left. Lillard
missed a three-pointer at the regulation buzzer.
“A lot of things had to go right for us,” Dallas
coach Rick Carlisle said. “There had to be a lot of
belief that we could still win to keep fighting like
that, and our guys deserve credit for that.”
With Dallas riding the momentum, Parsons
opened overtime with two free throws and
Nowitzki made a jumper before Parsons snared
an offensive rebound and fed Ellis for a threepointer that gave Dallas a 103-96 lead with 2:49
Parsons took over from there, added a driving layup, jumper, two free throws and a tip-in
to seal the win.
“I was more than comfortable doing it (taking
over),” said Parsons, who made 7-of-16 shots
and grabbed nine rebounds. “I struggled early.
I missed a lot of bunnies, missed some open
shots. But I was just glad to come through when
my team needed me.”
Harris scored 16 points and Tyson Chandler
added 11 and 13 rebounds for the Mavs, who
made 14-of-36 three-pointers.
Lillard scored 26 points and LaMarcus
Aldridge added 25 and 14 boards for the Trail
Blazers, who were 10-of-32 from the arc and
committed 24 turnovers. Portland fell to 3-1 in
overtime and has lost seven straight road games.
“This is as dead of a locker room as I have
ever been around and everybody is pretty much
(ticked),” said Blazers guard Wesley Matthews,
who scored 17 points. “Rightfully so. I mean,
we’re just shocked.”
Chicago Bulls 107, New Orleans Pelicans
72: Spanish star Pau Gasol had 20 points and
15 rebounds for the visiting Bulls, who stopped
a three-game slide. Pelicans All-Star forward
Anthony Davis left the game and did not return
after landing hard on his right shoulder follow-
Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard (right) fouls Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki during their NBA game in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday. (USA TODAY Sports)
ing an alley-oop dunk.
Golden State Warriors 106, New York
Knicks 92: Stephen Curry scored 22 points and
Draymond Green added 20 and 13 rebounds for
the visiting Warriors, who have won four of five.
All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony was rested
by the Knicks, who fell to a league-worst 10-41.
Washington Wizards 114, Brooklyn Nets
77: John Wall scored 17 points to lead six players
in double figures as the host Wizards stopped a
season-high five-game losing streak. The Nets
had their three-game winning streak stopped.
Milwaukee Bucks 96, Boston Celtics 93:
Brandon Knight scored 26 points for the host
Bucks, who won for the sixth time in seven
games. The Celtics saw their three-game winning streak come to an end.
Philadelphia 76ers 89, Charlotte Hornets
81: Robert Covington scored 22 points as the
76ers won their fourth straight home game.
The Hornets had a three-game winning streak
Utah Jazz 102, Sacramento Kings 90: Gordon Hayward scored 30 points and Turkey’s
Enes Kanter added 17 and 13 boards for the host
Jazz, who stopped a three-game skid. DeMarcus Cousins scored 27 points for the Kings, who
have lost 11 of 12 and reportedly are pursuing
George Karl as their next coach.
US college coaching legend Smith dead at 83
ean Smith, a US college
basketball coaching legend
who mentored Michael
Jordan and dozens of other NBA
stars, has died at 83, his family
announced yesterday.
The iconic former University of
North Carolina coach, who guided
the 1976 US Olympic team to
gold at Montreal, died in Chapel
Hill, the home city of his Tar
Heel teams that became iconic
in American college basketball
during his run as coach at the
school from 1961 to 1997.
Smith coached the Tar Heels to US
national championships in 1982 and
1993 and 11 trips to the “Final Four”
of the National Collegiate Athletic
Association (NCAA) tournament.
Jordan, who won six NBA crowns
for the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s,
was on Smith’s 1982 college
championship squad and said
Dean Smith (right) had mentored Michael Jordan (left) and dozens of
other NBA stars.
Smith had a major impact upon
him on and off the court.
“Other than my parents, no one
had a bigger influence on my life
than coach Smith,” Jordan said in
a statement.
“He was more than a coach—he
was my mentor, my teacher, my
second father. Coach was always
there for me whenever I needed
him and I loved him for it.
“In teaching me the game of
basketball, he taught me about
life. We’ve lost a great man who
had an incredible impact on his
players, his staff and the entire
UNC family.”
In 1967, Smith recruited Charlie
Scott to North Carolina, making
the state prep star the first
African-American athlete to
receive a scholarship to the
college and helping push
Scott became a 1970s NBA star
but was far from the last player
Smith guided to make an impact
at the professional level, a list
notably including Jordan, James
Worthy, Sam Perkins, Antawn
Jamison, Vince Carter and
Rasheed Wallace.
Smith earned praise as an
innovator, including using the
four-corner offense that forced
basketball to adopt a shot clock.
Rangers hold their own but fall to Predators
By Steve Zipay
Newsday (TNS)
ife without injured Henrik Lundqvist for the next three weeks
began with a solid effort on the
road against one of the NHL’s
top teams.
But after a 3-2 loss to the Predators
Saturday, the Rangers left Music City
without a point and with a three-game
winning streak in the dust.
Mike Ribeiro snapped a 2-2 tie at
12:46 of the third period with a rising
shot from the left circle that Cam Talbot
saw too late to lift the Predators over the
Rangers (30-16-4), who held their own
for most of the matinee in a building in
which the Predators are 21-3-1.
“A lot of times I’m thinking about
passing,” said Ribeiro, whose point was
his 700th. “That was the end of my
shift, so I was thinking shot before I got
the puck.”
The Rangers lamented a lost opportunity.
“That’s just what happens against
good teams, but we have to find a way to
win that one, especially coming back in
the third,” said Rick Nash, who scored
his 33rd goal of the season to give the
Rangers a 1-0 lead in the second period.
“Their defense boxes out pretty well,
but once we kind of worked a little bit
harder to get in front, we had some good
Nash was referring to forging a 2-2
tie on Ryan McDonagh’s first goal since
New Year’s Eve. He beat Pekka Rinne
through traffic at 1:37 of the third period.
But the Rangers, who surrendered
two goals in a 41-second span during the
final two minutes of the second period
on blasts by defensemen Roman Josi
and Shea Weber, couldn’t solve Rinne
(30 saves) the rest of the way. Derick
Brassard, who had two assists, missed
an open net on a two-on-one with Mats
Zuccarello with less than three minutes
to play.
“I really liked the way we played on
the road,” coach Alain Vigneault said.
“We didn’t give them too many opportunities. A couple of the goals, the puck
had eyes and found the holes. In the
second, we played a great period until
Weber’s go-ahead goal was unstoppable, Marc Staal said: “It sets up on a tee for
a guy with the hardest shot in the world.”
But Talbot, who made 20 saves and
will start against Dallas Sunday -- the
first time he will start three games in five
days -- called Ribeiro’s goal “a backbreaker.”
“I think the puck went right between
two of them [in front],” he said. “Saw it
at the last second. I was a little late.”
The Predators came closest to scoring in the first period. Just before the
seven-minute mark, Talbot, Staal and
Kevin Klein combined to clog the crease
and deny a couple of shot attempts. In
the final minute, Filip Forsberg’s wrister
flew past Talbot’s glove but dinged the
left post.
Talbot did make several key saves in
front. “He gave us a chance,” Vigneault
said, “and that’s all you can ask.”
Vigneault will be asking more of Talbot, who prevailed in a 3-2 win over
Boston on Wednesday, because Lundqvist will be out an extended time with
a neck injury. To win consistently, the
Rangers will need to find ways to continue scoring at a pace of close to three
goals a game.
“There’s not many positives when
you lose,” said Nash, who took over the
league lead in goals, “but at least we get
right back at it.”
New York Rangers goalie Cam Talbot (centre) makes a save during the NHL game against Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (USA TODAY Sports)
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Admirable Aspire
undone by Arsenal
Qatar Stars League
gives fans chance to
win Qmiles by
attending matches
Arsenal put in a professional performance to defeat a plucky Aspire Academy team
By Sports Reporter
he Qatar Stars League
(QSL), the highest professional league in Qatari football, gives fans
across the country the opportunity to win ten prizes of 1 million
Qmiles, as well as the chance to
win two return Qatar Airways
flights* to a FC Barcelona match.
The initiative is part of Qatar
Stars League Football Rewards
loyalty programme which recognises and rewards people in Qatar for supporting their favourite
Qatar Stars League team.
From today, anyone purchasing a ticket online at tickets.qsl. and attends a match between February and March will
be in with a chance to win one
of ten prizes of 1 million Qmiles.
Also up for grabs is the opportunity to fly out with a friend on
Qatar Airways to a FC Barcelona
match at Camp Nou in Barcelona.
Khalifa al-Haroon, Executive
Director Marketing and Communications, Qatar Stars League
commented on the opportunity,
“We’re delighted to launch these
exciting promotions for both our
current and future fans. We’re
giving people a chance to win
1 million Qmiles so that they
can visit their dream destination, and hopefully also watch a
match in the country they visit
too. Having said that, we’re also
pleased to give fans the opportunity to go and see FC Barcelona
play in their home stadium. All
you need to do is simply buy a
ticket online and attend one of
our matches! The more matches you attend, the greater your
chance of winning!”
The FC Barcelona competition will end on 7 March and the
Qmiles competition will end on
22 March. The winners will be
announced soon after.
Khalifa al-Haroon went on to
explain that the Football Rewards
campaign is part of Qatar Stars
League’s commitment to excite
even more people in Qatar about
football and encourage everyone
to go and watch their favourite
football club play.
Qatar Stars League Football
Rewards is one of the first football loyalty programmes in the
region and is open to Qatar residents aged 14 years old and over;
enabling members to earn points
by attending matches which provides access to appealing discounts and rewards across Qatar. Members are automatically
registered for Football Rewards
when purchasing tickets online.
Action during the match between Aspire Academy team and Arsenal during the Al Kass International Cup yesterday. PICTURE: Fadi al-Assaad
By Sports Reporter
rsenal put in a highly professional performance to defeat a
plucky Aspire Academy team
by three goals to null on Sunday
evening. Going into the game, hopes were
high for Aspire after they had recorded
the biggest victory of the group stages, a
6-1 mauling of Vissel Kobe. Although Arsenal had only beaten the Japanese by the
odd goal in five, it was obvious that the
Gunners would provide the Qataris with
a far sterner test than they had encountered in their opener, and so it proved.
The London side dominated the early
proceedings and almost went ahead
within two minutes, when captain
Kaylen Hinds latched on to a left-sided
corner and flicked a back-heeled volley
narrowly over. It proved a temporary reprieve for the Qataris as Arsenal took the
lead after five minutes. Stephy Mavididi,
a hat-trick hero against Kobe, continued
his hot streak by turning his man and
firing hard and low into the right corner
from 12 yards out.
Aspire struggled to get a foothold in
the game, and on 14 minutes they fell
further behind when Christopher Willock pulled the ball back from the left,
with Donovan firing into the top left corner from distance after three successive
shots had been blocked by the valiant
Aspire defence.
Left-winger Willock was in inspired
form, and on 25 minutes he put the visitors three goals in front, cutting in from
the left and expertly curling a low ball
into the far corner.
Aspire found themselves chasing shadows as a ruthless Arsenal side
bossed possession, seemingly able to cut
open the opposition defence at will. To
the enormous credit of the young Qatari players, they stuck to their task and
maintained a disciplined shape despite
the Gunners’ dominance. And, as the
Sao Paulo
Aspire Academy 0 Arsenal
first half wore on the home side gradually
settled, competing for every ball and attempting to disrupt Arsenal’s crisp passing moves.
The vocal home crowd cheered upped
the volume as the second half began,
and their support seemed to have an instant impact as Aspire almost reduced
the deficit. Amro Surag made a great run
down the left only for his progress to be
curtailed by Marcus Tabi, who received a
yellow card for his aggressive challenge.
Khalid Mazeed’s beautifully flighted ball
from the resultant free kick picked out
Mohammed Abushahab at the far post,
but he just failed to connect.
Tabi was joined in the referee’s notebook two minutes later by teammate Kostas Pilias for a foul on Abu Shahab. This
time Majeed went straight for goal and
keeper Oliver Keto could not hold on to
the ball, recovering just in time to gather
under pressure from captain Khalid AlNaimi.
Aspire were growing into the game and
created another fine chance on 55 minutes. Abushahab fed Hazem Shahata on
the right of the area, and he skillfully beat
his man before crossing for Surag, who
just failed to get his head on the ball as a
goal beckoned.
Arsenal almost increased their advantage around the 70-minute mark when
three of their newly introduced substitutes combined well. Owen Moore broke
down the right and fed Edward Nketiah
on the left of the area, cutting back into
the path of the advancing Savvas Mourgos who fluffed his lines from 12 yards
out, the ball rolling to safety past the
left-hand post. It said much for Aspire’s
improved performance that this was the
closest the Gunners came to scoring in
the second period.
Aspire International
look real deal after
downing Madrid
Action during the match between Aspire International (in white) and
Real Madrid (in black) during the 2015 Al Kass International Cup.
Al Kass talents warned about
danger of corruption in football A
By Sports Reporter
By Sports Reporter
uring a joint event of Al
Kass International Cup
and ICSS on Friday
morning at “La Cigale
Hotel” that featured former
Dutch international Edgar Davids, coaching legend Bora Milutinovic and ICSS Head of Anti-Corruption & International
Werner Schuller, the players
were warned about the dangers
of corruption in football such
as match-fixing and were also
made aware of the importance to
be careful with the personal use
of social media.
According to the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), many criminals and
match-fixers are now utilising
sites like Twitter and Instagram
to approach and groom young
footballers. “Criminals are very
clever about the way they infiltrate and corrupt players and it
is important that young athletes
are educated about the dangers
Coaching legend Bora Milutinovic (second right) talks to the players.
of social media and the amount
of personal information they
make public,” stated Schuller,
who also told the young players
how important it is to support
the integrity of the game. “As
part of our commitment to safeguarding and educating young
athletes, we would encourage
any young player to recognise,
resist and report any approaches
by suspicious individuals immediately to their club or governing
As social media usage has rapidly expanded in recent years, it
forms an increasingly colourful
addition to the excited chatter
around the Al Kass International
Cup. For the young, web-savvy
players, platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
present fantastic opportunities
to share their experiences in
Doha with fans, followers and
friends alike.
This year a record level of
‘selfies’ are predicted as more
and more participants utilise
social media to publicise their
footballing feats, perhaps with
the long-term aim of building up personal online ‘brands’.
With the tournament just a couple of days in, the photography
phenomenon has already been
embraced by the AC Milan team
who celebrated their 4-3 victory
over River Plate with a joyful
victory selfie at the side of the
However, while such activity
is generally nothing more than
harmless fun, some experts are
warning of the growing dangers
that social media can present
to young footballers. “Through
our investigations at the ICSS,
we have come across numerous cases where criminals have
contacted young players at clubs
through Facebook, Twitter or
Instagram with a view to compromising them,” said Schuller.
In an effort to encourage
greater awareness of these risks,
Al Kass and the ICSS hosted a
joint event on Friday to highlight
these hazards to the tournament’s young players.
The lessons form part of a
wider legacy initiative by the Al
Kass International Organising
Committee to ensure that players leave Qatar with more than
just a footballing education.
Commenting on the social
media classes, Essa al-Hitmi,
Chairman of the tournament’s
Organising Committee said:
“We hope that players who
compete in the Al Kass International Cup will leave Qatar with
positive memories of this country and its relationship with the
beautiful game. This is a tournament that seeks to open minds
and inspire the next generation
of football stars. Furthermore,
we believe these practical lessons on such a contemporary
topic can help protect the players and ensure they reach their
full potential.”
produced a clinical performance to defeat Real
Madrid 1-0 in Day 3’s
final game. In a repeat of the 2014
final, both Aspire and Real came
into this match off the back of
convincing victories over Schalke 04, making this tie a contest
for first place in Group B.
This year’s Aspire squad contains 16 changes from the 2014
vintage. In contrast, the Real
side has maintained continuity,
and their familiarity with one
another was quickly apparent as
they established a smooth passing groove.
Aspire’s physical approach occasional strayed into dangerous
territory, with Alasana Manneh
receiving a yellow card on 27 minutes after crudely hacking down
Ousama Siddiki. Meanwhile, Jean
Myondo was extremely fortunate
not to receive a caution after two
high challenges.
Oscar Rodriguez was proving
integral to his side’s chances, and
in added time at the end of the
first half he almost succeeded in
lobbing Uzoho from at least 40
yards, only to see his effort drop
just wide of the left post.
Aspire international began to
show more attacking intent as
the second half progressed, and
on 53 minutes the Spanish defence did not clear its lines and
Ramazan Orazov struck a fierce
drive that Marino only just managed to keep out. Aspire were
increasingly threatening Real’s
backline, with left-winger Ishmael Baidoo in particular asking
questions of Achraf Mouh.
Aspire made Real pay for this
profligacy with a piece of stunning individual brilliance. Jean
Amani showed supreme skill to
wriggle past several challenges
as he advanced through the inside right channel, before exchanging passes with Rogerson
and smashing the ball hard and
low into the bottom left corner.
In the 80th minute Real had
a golden opportunity to level,
when Martin had a free header
but directed his effort wide. Real
began to pile on the pressure but
Aspire defence held firm.
And, on 84 minutes Washington Becerra had a chance to put the
result beyond doubt but a heavy
touch allowed the keeper to save.
Aspire International saw out
the remaining moments with
ease, and found the net for a second time in the dying moments
only for Oralkhan Omirtayev’s
goal to be ruled out for offside.
They now head into the
knockout stages as group winners, without having conceded
a goal in their first two games.
Already, their defence of the Al
Kass trophy appears formidable.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Frank Lampard’s New
York City FC: A team
no one has seen play
NYCFC will wear the same colours as their Manchester counterparts, be known as ‘City’ and their supporters have already set
about establishing east coast rivalry by photographing Rocky Balboa’s statue in Philadelphia wearing one of their scarves
By Daniel Taylor
The Observer
t hasn’t exactly been a smooth
journey. Shambolic was how one
of America’s sports writers described the embryonic stages of
New York City FC’s operation, complaining that it has been “operating in
a virtual vacuum” in advance of the
club’s first game, to be staged at Manchester City’s new academy stadium
tomorrow, against St Mirren.
Then again, has any club been set
up without encountering some kind of
difficulties in their early years? Not in
Manchester, certainly. St Mark’s, the
club that eventually spawned Manchester City, won one game in their
first season and, wading through the
history books, it became apparent that
was largely because the opposition,
Stalybridge Clarence, had eight players
and made up the numbers with three
volunteers from the crowd.
The club accrued so much debt when
they were known as Ardwick FC that
the director who bailed them out had
to put back his wedding by three years.
It was hardly straightforward either for
Manchester United’s predecessors at
Newton Heath, bearing in mind they
finished bottom in their first two seasons and, in a move Sir Alex Ferguson
would undoubtedly approve of, took
one newspaper to court for complaining their style was “not football but
simple brutality”.
The Birmingham Daily Gazette had
concluded that the tactics in one game
would “perhaps create an extra run of
business for undertakers”. The libel
case was won and the newspaper was
ordered to pay one farthing in damages.
Nothing, though, feels stranger than
the story of the royal family from the
Middle East who bought a football club
from a criminal ex-prime minister of
Thailand, turned them into the champions of England, then introduced us
to a series of Mini-Me offsprings.
New York, or NYCFC, will wear
the same colours as their Manchester
counterparts, be commonly known
as “City” and their supporters have already set about establishing some kind
of east coast rivalry by photographing
Rocky Balboa’s statue in Philadelphia
wearing one of their scarves.
It must be slightly weird supporting a team nobody has seen play but
the club has more than 13,000 seasonticket holders, four weeks before the
new MLS season, and a series of events
has been organised by the “Third Rail”
fans’ group, named after the method
of running New York’s subway system
and promising “to be the electricity
that powers NYCFC”.
Looking at the work that has been
undertaken in Manchester, and knowing the expertise of some of the people
involved in the two projects, I would
probably back them to get it right.
Take away the Frank Lampard farrago and there is plenty to admire.
Their data states they are in the top
three clubs in MLS for season-ticket
sales and, again, when it comes to the
interest generated by their Twitter
and Facebook accounts. Momentum is
gathering even without, lest it be forgotten, a ball being kicked.
Yet, it certainly requires some modern thinking and an open mind to feel
immediately at ease with the new
“franchise” (never a word that fits
snugly into the football lexicon), the
back-scratching agreement that exists
between Manhattan and Manchester
and the lingering sense of awkwardness surrounding what happened with
Lampard, a long story involving what
the MLS commissioner described as
the truth being “mischaracterised”
and eventually coming down to one
key fact: City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour
bin Zayed al-Nahyan, kept Lampard in
Manchester after some delicate negotiations with—well, fancy this—NYCFC’s owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
Lampard will not be in New York until
June but it is not easy trying to predict
when he will make his debut given that
it is normal practice for any Premier
League footballer, let alone one who will
be close to 37, to have a month off at the
end of the season, followed by around
five weeks of pre-season training.
Lampard has the people skills to explain that the backdrop to his story is
maybe not quite as cynical as has been
portrayed but it will be interesting to
see what reception he gets and my bet is
he will have to forego his summer break
and throw himself straight into it.
Almost 300 people asked for refunds
on their season tickets because they felt
misled about his contract situation and
he might also be aware of what happened at the MLS super-draft in the
Pennsylvania Convention Center.
The event had barely started when
the first chant of “Where’s Frank
Lampard?” echoed through the grand
NYCFC’s only other run-out was a
practice ground match against Jacksonville Armada and the supporters
who have spent from $306 to $2,975
on season tickets have largely had to
make do with snippets from the club’s
social-media feeds.
One cross from David Villa drew acclaim because of the way he “puts it on
a platter”. Another player scored with a
“snap shot bar and down finish”.
It must be slightly weird
supporting a team nobody
has seen play but the club has
more than 13,000 season-ticket
holders, four weeks before the
new MLS season, and a series
of events has been organised
by the “Third Rail” fans’ group,
named after the method of
running New York’s subway
system and promising “to be the
electricity that powers NYCFC”
The match was played in four quarters of 24 minutes and, if that sounds
slightly odd, it’s nothing compared
with the story about the Phoenix Fire’s
first game in 1979 and the sudden panic, 10 minutes before kick-off, when
the kit turned up and the president,
Len Lesser, bounded into the dressing
room to announce why there was no
goalkeeper’s jersey: “We’re going to be
the smartest team in the league. None
of this bullshit with players wearing
different uniforms. I want us all to have
the same uniform.”
Lampard should ask his uncle, Harry
Redknapp, about that one. Redknapp
was in the team and had persuaded the
goalkeeper, Kieron Baker, he should leave
Ipswich Town to join him in Arizona.
NYCFC, one imagines, will be able
to rustle up a goalkeeper’s shirt. As you
can imagine, it has not been easy locating somewhere for a stadium in New
York and they had to give up on the
site MLS proposed on Queens parkland because of the kind of problems
David Beckham ran into when he suggested putting a 20,000-seat arena in
Miami’s Museum Park—to which the
local residents’ association posed the
question, quite reasonably, in the Miami Herald whether he would “go to
the mayor of London and ask to put a
soccer stadium in Hyde Park”.
The New York Times made it clear
what it felt about “inserting a soccer
stadium into the green lungs of Queens
The search will continue but Yankee Stadium is not a bad temporary
home, leased for the next three years,
and when you analyse the sheer scale
of work is it realistic that so many people take the view it is all a cunning plan
driven by financial fair play manoeuvring on behalf of the Manchester side
of the operation?
For some, that appears to be the
default setting every time the club’s
owners are rich enough, or clever
enough, to do something that is beyond their rivals.
But just think about it for a second:
would they really go through years
of political pain, moving heaven and
earth to try to squeeze a stadium on to
the New York skyline, creating a new
club at immense cost with 25 players and more than 100 full-time staff,
simply because City found it difficult
to get beneath the break-even line in
their last FFP accounts?
Arsène Wenger might be suspicious
about the number of players who will
be loaned from one City to the other but
maybe Arsenal should be doing something similar bearing in mind their majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, is the
owner of the MLS team Colorado Rapids.
Chelsea have an agreement in place
whereby they load players on to Vitesse
Arnhem. Manchester United have
made all sorts of tie-ups over the years
and it strikes me, overall, as smart
business from the CFG (City Football
Group) empire.
Not hugely sensational, I know, but
maybe the relevant people have just
seen an opportunity for MLS to flourish with New York and, indirectly, Abu
Dhabi at the forefront of it. CFG has
other ventures with Melbourne City
FC and Yokohama Marinos. It does feel
like their ultimate aim is some form of
global domination.
That is going to be a long process. On
Friday, someone in City’s ticket office
told me there were 100 tickets left for
tomorrow’s game.
It sounded like wishful thinking
and, as it turns out, the 7,000-capacity
ground will be a small fraction full, as you
might expect for a midweek game in February against the team third from bottom
of the Scottish Premier League. But there
is momentum.
The people behind this operation are
here for the long haul, and they generally
get what they want.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Congo beat hosts
on penalties in
third-place playoff
‘I knew we would win. I don’t take penalties for my club, nor in training. Today I did it in such a highprofile match. I didn’t really feel the pressure, it helped that Equatorial Guinea missed two penalties’
Monaco’s unbeaten
run ends at Guingamp
charge up the
Ligue 1 standings
came to a shuddering halt yesterday when
they conceded their first goal
in over 800 minutes to fall 1-0
at ten-man Guingamp.
The result leaves Monaco fifth on 40 points while
Saint Etienne, who drew 3-3
with Lens on Friday, have 41
in fourth, but only the top
three in France qualify for the
Champions League.
Croatian international ‘keeper Daniel Subasic had not let in
a league goal for Monaco in 842
minutes when Dorian Leveque
tapped in at the far post for Guingamp after Claudio Beavue
beat the backline with a searching pass in the 52nd minute.
And this came despite the
numerical advantage enjoyed
by the visitors after Guingamp
midfielder Moustapha Diallo
was red-carded on 21 minutes
for a studs up challenge.
Monaco lost a League Cup
semi-final to Bastia in midweek after a penalty shoot-out
and had been unbeaten in the
league since November.
They were runners-up in
Ligue 1 last season and are
looking forward to facing Arsenal in a Champions League
last-16 two-legged affair.
Monaco were on an eight
match unbeaten run in the
league, with five straight wins
on the road, while Guingamp
extended their winning streak
at home to six straight wins.
France’s top three teams
went into the weekend separated by two points with leaders Lyon on 49 hosting Paris
Saint Germain, on 47 and who
can go top if they win.
Marseille also went into the
weekend on 47 but drew 1-1
at Rennes to pull within one
point of Lyon.
Swedish striker Ola Toivonen gave Rennes the lead after
26 minutes, smartly chesting
down a loose ball to score past
Steve Mandanda in the Marseille goal.
Marseille were saved when
Lucas Ocampos, the Argentine
signed on loan from Monaco in
the last moments of the transfer window, found the net in
the 59th minute after coming
on as a half-time substitute.
Werder Bremen stun
Bayer Leverkusen
Democratic Republic of the Congo players celebrate after winning the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations third place play-off against hosts Equatorial Guinea in Malabo on Saturday. (AFP)
frican Nations Cup hosts Equatorial Guinea ended their tournament on a low note as they lost
the third-place playoff 4-2 on
penalties after drawing 0-0 with Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday.
Javier Balboa and Raul Fabiani both
missed with poor spot kicks, while all four
DR Congo penalty takers found the net,
with Cedric Mongongu firing home the
decisive kick.
Although supporters largely stayed
away from the playoff after the fan violence that marked Equatorial Guinea’s
semi-final defeat to Ghana on Thursday,
those in attendance created a fitting atmosphere for the hosts’ final match.
The two defeated semi-finalists played
out a low-key but well-tempered 0-0
draw and had to be separated by the first
penalty shootout of the 2015 event.
Equatorial Guinea looked lively and creative during the first half and the joy they
elicited from the several hundred fans in
attendance was a reminder of the positive
impact they had earlier in the tournament.
However, the circling police helicopter
betrayed the previous troubles at the Estadio de Malabo that made the playoff a
subdued occasion.
Both attacking units were encouraged
Democratic Republic of Congo goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba Muteba stops a penalty.
Congo won the shootout 4-2 after 120 minutes failed to break the deadlock. (AFP)
by unconvincing goalkeeping during the
opening stages.
DR Congo’s Robert Kidiaba, playing
his last international match, flapped at a
number of chances prompting uncertainty among his defenders but recovered well
to save his team.
The game opened up after the break,
with both sides keen to take the initiative
and claim the bronze medal.
Dieumerci Mbokani was introduced
at half-time for the visitors but wasted a
good opening with a scuffed finish after 52
minutes. Equatorial Guinea forced a lastgasp diving tackle from Cedric Mongongu
after an hour as Emilio Nsue attempted to
break through on goal, while Ruben Belima wasted a good opportunity for them
after 77 minutes.
The contest ambled towards penalties,
where Equatorial Guinea never recovered
from opening misses by Javier Balboa,
who blazed wide, and Raul Fabiani, whose
weak shot was saved by Kidiaba.
Cedric Mabwati, Lema Mabidi, Chancel
Mbemba and Mongongu converted for DR
Congo, who received their bronze medals
after the match.
Mbemba later said he knew his side
would win the shootout. “I knew we would
win,” Mbemba said. “I don’t take penalties
for my club, nor in training, I rarely shoot
in a match so this was something new.
“Today I did it in such a high-profile
match for my family because my family
have supported me 100 percent. I didn’t
really feel the pressure, it helped that
Equatorial Guinea missed two penalties.”
The Anderlecht defender heaped praise
on coach Florent Ibenge. “We are a young
team working with a local coach,” he said.
“Not many local coaches get the chance in
Africa but Florent Ibenge gave me and my
team mates confidence.”
Despite playing out of position in central midfield, Mbemba has been one of the
standout players at the tournament.
“I was here to do anything necessary
for the team,” he said. “The coach is the
teacher, he wants to use every student,
every player. If he says play right, I’ll do it,
play left, I’ll do it.
“That was the first Nations Cup I played
in. Back in South Africa in 2013 I didn’t
play, I was on the bench and then-coach
Claude Le Roy said I was too young.
“I have shown at Anderlecht that I am
very capable, everyone knows me there,
but coach Ibenge has shown me what I can
do, that I can flourish as a defensive midfielder.”
erder Bremen’s
meteoric rise up
table continued
yesterday as their 2-1 win over
Bayer Leverkusen means they
have gone from 18th to eighth
in just four games.
Leverkusen, who face last
year’s beaten finalists Atletico
Madrid in the last 16 of the
Champions League, found
themselves 2-0 down with half
an hour gone as hosts Bremen
produced some dazzling firsthalf football.
A superb lofted cross from
attacking midfielder Fin Bartels
allowed 20-year-old striker
Davie Selke to put Bremen
ahead with 17 minutes gone.
Bremen’s Austrian midfielder Zlatko Junuzovic then
drilled home a stunning free
kick just inside the near post to
double Werder’s lead after 29
Bayer pulled a goal back
headed home after Gonzalo
Castro had hit the post just
before half time.
But Leverkusen boss Roger
Schmidt lost his cool with
tough-tackling Bremen and
was banished to the stands
by referee Peter Sippel on 65
minutes for using offensive
language to the fourth official.
Having been bottom of the
table just before their last
game of 2014, Bremen have
shot up the table to eighth
under caretaker coach Viktor
Skripnik while Leverkusen
stay sixth.
Argentina seal Rio spot with U-20 triumph
Sao Paulo: Argentina will return to Olympic football next
year after sealing victory in
the South American under-20
qualifying tournament in
Uruguay on Saturday.
The Argentines, winners of
the Olympic gold in 2004 and
2008, missed out on London
but will be in Rio de Janeiro
in 2016 after beating hosts
Uruguay 2-1 in Montevideo.
Uruguay took the lead in
the seventh minute with a
goal from Gaston Pereiro,
but Argentina levelled before
half time through Sebastian
Driussi. Angel Correa got the
winner for the visitors nine
minutes from time.
The result means that
Argentina are under-20 South
American champions and
grab the one guaranteed
qualification spot for next
year’s Olympics.
Second-placed side Colombia will play off against a team
from the Concacaf region for
a place in the Games.
The Colombians beat Brazil
3-0 on Saturday to secure
second place in the competition.
Brazil, who finished fourth
in the 10-team tournament
behind Uruguay, qualify
automatically as hosts.
The top four sides all qualified for the under-20 World
Cup, which takes place in New
Zealand in May.
The tournament threw
up a number of noteworthy
performances, especially
from Argentina, the topscoring team with 24 goals in
10 games.
Barca scout blames power games for sacking
ormer Barcelona technical
secretary Alberto Valentin has
blamed power games for his
dismissal and that of sporting
director Andoni Zubizarreta and is now
looking for a new challenge away from
the pressure cooker of La Liga.
Zubizarreta and assistant Valentin, who oversaw scouting, were both
sacked last month in the aftermath of a
FIFA transfer ban for the following two
windows over the breaching of rules on
the signing of foreign under-18 players.
Fan criticism had also been building over failures in the transfer market
and their perceived involvement in the
scandal over Neymar’s real cost.
“I haven’t given any interviews to
the media here (in Spain) as I don’t
think they have treated us correctly.
I want to now continue my work in a
different atmosphere than in Spain,”
Valentin said.
“I’ve read the stories about me going
to Liverpool but I haven’t spoken with
anyone. The problem at Barcelona is
that there is always a power struggle.
“Often the sports director is the one
who is given the job of putting out fires
and he is the first person people look at
when there are problems,” he said. “Zubizarreta was always looking to conciliate but got tired of the situation.”
Valentin felt Zubizarreta was hung
out to dry over the transfer ban.
“The error over the signing of youth
players was huge. I would add, though,
these mistakes happen when you are
dealing with hundreds of kids and it is
happening at other clubs as well,” he
said. “It is true that FIFA has thrown
a dart at the club which has set the
standard for youth development.”
Valentin denied Zubizarreta and
those working in the technical department were at fault in the Neymar
transfer which was first investigated
after a fan took legal action seeking
clarity over the price.
The club said they spent 57.1 million
euros ($64.64 million) on the Brazil
forward when he signed ahead of last
season and former president Sandro
Rosell steadfastly repeated the figure.
However, when Rosell was asked to
give evidence after a judge decided to
investigate possible tax evasion, he
stood down last January but denied
Court proceedings are ongoing but
now the prosecution say Neymar’s real
cost was 94.9 million euros.
“I did my report on Neymar after the
U-20 South American championships
in Peru, 2011. Neither Zubizarreta nor
I were involved (in trying to sign the
player),” he said. “I would discuss players with Zubizarreta, the coach and directors and a decision would be made.
“I don’t think you would have a situation anywhere else where a fan takes
the club to court in this way.”
Valentin arrived at Barcelona, having previously been technical secretary
at Espanyol, along with Zubizarreta
at the start of the Rosell presidency
in 2010. He said they had to deal with
a particularly turbulent spell in the
club’s history.
“I think in time our jobs will be
evaluated differently. We had to deal
with the decline of a team which was
possibly the best side ever,” Valentin
“We had continual changes of coach,
there was the illness for (coach) Tito
(Vilanova) and then Tata (Martino)
came in for one year. There were external problems that had nothing to do
with our job like the Neymar case, Messi’s tax case and the FIFA transfer ban.
“I didn’t speak to (former coach Pep)
Guardiola about why he left but he was
aware of the problems that were facing
the club and the restructuring that was
Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and technical secretary
Alberto Valentin were both sacked last month over the breaching of rules on
the signing of foreign under-18 players and their perceived involvement in the
scandal over Brazilian striker Neymar’s (pictured above) real cost.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 9, 2015
Mourinho warns team against title complacency
ose Mourinho insists the Premier League title race is not over
even though Chelsea extended
their lead at the top to seven
points with a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa.
Branislav Ivanovic’s second-half
winner enabled the league leaders to
take advantage of Manchester City’s
1-1 draw against Hull and strengthen
their grip on pole position on Saturday.
It also meant Blues boss Mourinho
finally claimed a first win at Villa Park
at what was the sixth attempt.
But Mourinho was keen to play down
the significance of his side’s advantage
over City and he claimed he will take
nothing for granted until another title
is mathematically guaranteed.
“In another country I would say it’s
fantastic, in this country I would say
it’s nothing,” Mourinho said.
“Every game is difficult, anything
can happen. It’s very, very difficult.
“Seven points means seven points,
we have 14 matches to go. We are
speaking about 42 points to play for
and in 42 we have a lead of seven. I
think it’s nothing.
“I’m surprised by nothing. In this
country every team can take points so
I am not surprised.
“I didn’t care about it. Somebody
told me after the game and that was it.
“When you are top of the league you
don’t need other teams to lose points.
If they lose, good, but if they don’t it’s
not a problem.
“We have to focus on ourselves. If
we win the next game we have a seven
point lead with 13 matches to go. Let’s
try to go step by step.”
Villa’s goal drought had finally end-
ed at precisely the 11-hour mark after
Jores Okore had cancelled out Eden
Hazard’s opener, yet Ivanovic had
the final say with his winner midway
through the second half.
Paul Lambert’s side are now just
two points clear of the relegation zone
ahead of Tuesday’s crucial clash at fellow strugglers Hull.
“There’s a lot of good things to come
out of the game for us, we’re disappointed to lose. I didn’t think we deserved to lose,” Lambert said.
“Football-wise we played well. I
thought the front three were excellent.
The performance was very good.
“We’re coming into a run of games
that, if we play like that, we’ll pick
up points. It’s not just about 17th, we
want to go as high as possible. That’s
the standard they have set themselves.”
The corresponding fixture between
these sides last term was a tempestuous affair—two Chelsea players, Willian and Ramires, as well as Mourinho
all dismissed—and this contest was
much the same both on the pitch and
in the dugout.
Lambert, who has had a series of
spats with Mourinho in the past, was
incensed in the first half by a comment from the Chelsea bench which
prompted him to angrily gesticulate in
their direction and remove and throw
down his coat in disgust.
“I went to shake Jose’s hand (at
the end) but he was halfway down
the pitch so I didn’t get a chance,” he
“He is a great manager, it’s fantastic
what the guy has done. I’d love to learn
from him as a football manager.
“But I wouldn’t like to learn things
off the pitch by someone in his dugout,
that’s for sure.”
Blind rescues point
for United, Crouch
header saves Stoke
‘I made two fouls all game so I wasn’t repeat offending but if I had of been sent off I
wouldn’t have had much argument. You get that bit of luck in the game sometimes’
Manchester United’s Colombian
striker Radamel Falcao misses
this great chance, shooting wide
as West Ham United’s Spanish
goalkeeper Adrian attempts to
block during their English Premier
League match yesterday. (AFP)
aley Blind’s injury-time equaliser rescued a 1-1 draw for Manchester United against West
Ham United yesterday but a
point was not enough to regain third spot
in the Premier League.
West Ham created the better chances
in a goalless first half as Enner Valencia
forced two neat saves from David De Gea
before James Tomkins had a shot blocked
by the Spanish stopper.
The Hammers’ perseverance paid off at
the start of the second half when Cheikhou
Kouyate scored a neat volley after juggling
the ball in the box.
United struggled to break West Ham
down but Radamel Falcao squandered an
opportunity when through on goal and
Robin van Persie had a shot well-saved by
Adrian. But with time running out West
Ham failed to clear their lines and Blind
was on hand to guide the ball home from
the edge of the box. A draw for United
keeps them fourth on 44 points from 24
matches, one behind Southampton, while
West Ham remain eighth with 37 points.
Earlier yesterday, West Bromwich Albion came from two goals behind to draw
2-2 with struggling Burnley, while Peter
Crouch’s late equaliser for Stoke City was
enough to rescue a 1-1 draw against Newcastle United.
Burnley were 2-0 in front after just over
half an hour thanks to goals Ashley Barnes
and Danny Ings. But Chris Brunt pulled a goal
back for West Brom in first-half stoppage
time with a header from a corner before, in a
similar scenario, Nigeria striker Brown Ideye
headed the Baggies level in the 67th minute,
with this result seeing the Midlands club remain two points in front of their hosts.
However, Burnley’s longstanding weakness in defending corners once more
proved their undoing, both of the Baggies’
goals coming from the set-piece.
But Burnley at least came away with a
draw, having lost 3-2 to Crystal Palace after going 2-0 up in their last home match.
Elsewhere, Crouch’s late equaliser ensured Stoke gained a 1-1 draw away to
Newcastle that kept them in 10th place.
A mediocre match belatedly burst into
life in the final 16 minutes when Jack Colback, who moments earlier might have
been sent off for a second bookable offence following a poor challenge on Victor
Moses, fired Newcastle into the lead to the
delight of the St James’ Park faithful.
But much-travelled former England
striker Crouch made sure Newcastle did
not leapfrog Stoke when the beanpole forward’s trademark header at the back post
gave the visitors a share of the spoils.
“I thought we controlled the game and
deserved to win,” Crouch told Sky Sports.
“I was pleased to get the goal and the point
was the least we deserved.”
Meanwhile midfielder Colback admitted he had been fortunate to still be on the
pitch when he scored.
“I made two fouls all game so I wasn’t
Roma post
a win after
four draws
late strike by Leandro
Paredes ended Roma’s run of four successive league draws
to reduce the gap on leaders
Juventus to seven points and
keep Rudi Garcia’s men in the
Serie A title hunt yesterday.
Elsewhere, Napoli tightened their grip on third place
with a dominant 3-1 home win
over Udinese at the San Paolo
where Dries Mertens opened
the scoring and prompted an
own goal by Frenchman Cryril
Thereau in the second half.
Samuel Eto’o came off the
bench for Sampdoria in Genoa
but failed to make the difference as Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men
saw their push for a Champions
League place stall after being
held 1-1 by Sassuolo.
Juventus sit top on 53 points,
with Roma second on 46. Napoli are a further four points
adrfit in third and Fiorentina,
who dominated a five-goal
thriller with Atalanta earlier,
moved up to fourth on 35 points.
Sampdoria are fifth, also on
35 points, while Lazio, in sixth,
can move up to fourth if they
account for Genoa on Monday.
Juventus had taken their
lead over Roma to 10 points on
Saturday with a commanding
3-1 win over Milan in Turin,
where Carlos Tevez took his
league-leading goals tally to 14
for the season.
Roma’s title push stalled
due to four consecutive league
draws and with several key
players missing, their trip to
Sardinia was set to be anything
but plain sailing.
Alessandro Florenzi, Kostas Manolas, Daniele De Rossi,
Kevin Strootman, Juan Iturbe,
Gervinho and Seydou Doumbia
were all unavailable against a
Cagliari team that has enjoyed
a minor resurgence under the
guidance of Gianfranco Zola.
Captain Francesco Totti
shook off ‘flu symptoms to
spearhead a three-pronged attack with 18-year-old Daniele
Verde to his right and Adem
Ljajic out on the left.
Cagliari had the brighter
start and Roma ‘keeper Morgan De Sanctis had to use his
legs to save from Duje Cop at
the near post.
Verde, however, made the
most of his Serie A debut for
the Giallorossi and was Roma’s
most dangerous player in the
opening half.
He first hit the side-netting
from a Seydou Keita assist
before sending a lob into the
path of Ljajic for the Bosnian
to beat Zeljko Brkic in the 18th
Roma survived a secondhalf onslaught by Cagliari
before virtually sealing the
points when Paredes fired a
superb first-timer from the
edge of the area to beat Zeljko
at the keeper’s far post.
Cagliari reduced arrears in
the fifth minute of injury time
when Paul-Jose M’Poku rose
to send a looping header over
De Sanctis. However the Sardinians’ 11th reverse of the
campaign means they remain
just one place and one point
above the drop zone.
Parma’s match with fellow-strugglers Chievo was
postponed until Wednesday
after heavy snowfall in recent
days had left Parma’s pitch
Man City
Man United
West Ham
Stoke City
repeat offending but if I had of been sent
off I wouldn’t have had much argument,”
he said. “You get that bit of luck in the
game sometimes and it has paid off.”
West Ham
2 West Brom
1 Stoke City
1 Manchester United
AS Roma’s Leandro Paredes celebrates with Miralem Pjanic after scoring
against Cagliari during their Italian Serie A match yesterday. (Reuters)
Monday, February 9, 2015
Athletes encourage public to come down
and learn more about Paralympic sport
By Sports Reporter
atar’s Para Champions Abdulrahman Abdulkader, Sara
Hamdi Masoud and Mohamed al-Khubazi, have hailed
the Paralympic activity that is taking
place in the National Sport Day Sports
Village. The Qatar Paralympic Committee have set up an athletics track in
the Village and the athletes encourage
the public to come down, join in and
learn more about Paralympic sport and
the activities available in Qatar for people with a disability.
Adbulrahman, Sara and Mohamed
between them won five medals - three
gold and two bronze - at the 2014 Asian
Para Games in Incheon, South Korea. With the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World
Championships taking place in Doha
in October this year, they believe that
this is an ideal opportunity to raise the
profile of Paralympic sport in Qatar and
across the region.
Speaking from the Sports Village,
Sara said: “Winning two gold medals at
the 2014 Asian Para Games was one of
the best moments of my life. This came
after many years of hard work and dedication and I was so pleased that all the
hard work paid off. Para-athletics has
changed my life and I am so glad that I
made the decision to get involved.
“I encourage everyone with a disability to try paralympic sports and National Sport Day is a fantastic opportunity
to come down to the Sports Village and
find out more about what is on offer. I
want more people with a disability to
realise that sport is for them and that it
is the perfect way to raise self-esteem,
increase confidence, learn new skills
and stay fit and active.”
Doha will host the IPC Athletics
World Championships from 22-31 October 2015 in the 12,000 capacity Qatar Sports Club’s Suhaim Bin Hamam
Stadium. The competition will feature
around 1,300 athletes from 90 countries and will be one of the last major
Mohamed al-Khubazi
competitions before the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Qatar aims to use its
hosting of the event to increase opportunities for people with a disability to
participate in sport, to raise the profile
of disability sport and to spread awareness across Qatar and the whole of the
Middle East.
Speaking ahead of the IPC Athletics
World Championships, Adbulrahman
said: “I cannot wait to compete in the
IPC Athletics World Championships
in Doha in October. Winning two gold
medals for Qatar at the 2014 Asian Para
Games was an amazing experience but
competing in one of the biggest para
sports events in the world in front of a
home crowd will be a dream come true.
“The World Championships will be
a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness about para-athletics and disability
sport in Qatar and across the whole of
our region. I really hope that I will inspire others to realise that being disabled is not a negative thing and that you
can strive and achieve so many things in
spite of your disability.”
Since its inception in 2012, National
Sport Day sees innumerable activities
across Qatar for all ages and aims to give
the people of Qatar an opportunity to
take part in new activities and kick start
a future of healthy living. The Sports
Village is once again the main hub of
activity in Doha, ensuring the whole of
Qatar can celebrate sport together in an
electric, festival atmosphere. It is open
every day from 3pm to 10pm daily until National Sport Day on 10th February
when it will be open from 8am-10pm.
In addition to the Paralympic Committee, over 10 National Federations
are offering free activities and entertainment for every age and fitness level.
The public are encouraged to pass by
the Sports Village on National Sport
day and try as many activities as possible. Some of Qatar’s sporting stars, including Sara and Adbulrahman, will be
on hand to demonstrate their skills and
pass on training tips.
Speaking about National Sport Day,
Sheikh Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Thani,
Head of Media at the QOC, said: “The
Qatar Olympic Committee Sport Vil-
Mohamed al-Khubazi, Sara Hamdi
Masoud and Abdulrahman Abdulkader
are all excited about their participation
in the National Sport Day.
lage is bigger and better than ever with
entertainment and exciting sporting
activities for everyone. Our aim is to
introduce as many people as possible
to a whole range of sports with dem-
onstrations and skill sessions. This way
we hope to get all of Qatar trying new
sports, meeting new people and taking steps towards leading an active and
healthy lifestyle.”
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