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Daily newspaper - Gulf times

QATAR | Page 8
SPORT | Page 3
Australia to
Test victory
2 – 10, 32, 33
12– 14
30, 31
1 – 5, 12 – 16
6 – 12
1 – 12
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah alSisi met a special envoy from Qatar
yesterday, the latest step in a Saudibrokered effort to end differences,
regional news agencies reported.
Differences emerged between
Cairo and Doha after then army
chief Sisi ousted Mohamed Mursi.
“Egypt looks forward to a new era
that ends past disagreements,”
Sisi’s office said after he met
with Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdel
Rahman al-Thani, a special envoy
of HH the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin
Hamad al-Thani. Sisi’s meeting
with the Qatari envoy was his first
with a Doha representative since
becoming president in June. The
Qatari envoy was accompanied by
a special representative of Saudi
King Abdullah.
AMERICA | Offbeat
ISS crew gets new
ratchet – over e-mail
There may be no corner hardware
store at the International Space
Station, but that doesn’t mean the
astronauts can’t get what they
need. In a first, the space station
crew was able to craft a new tool
in space, using their specially
designed Zero-G 3D printer and a
design e-mailed from the ground.
The tool, a ratchet, was designed
by Made in Space, the California
company that created the 3D
printer on board the orbiting space
lab. The 3D printer has been used
on the space station before, but
only for designs that were tested
and loaded before it left Earth.
This time, the tool was designed
and tested on the ground and
then e-mailed to the printer, which
spit it out in about four hours, the
company said in a statement.
Qatari LNG may account for 38%
export revenue earnings in 2014:
By Pratap John
Chief Business Reporter
atar, the world’s largest liquefied
natural gas exporter, will have
around 38% of its exports revenue earnings derived from LNG this year,
a new report has shown.
With crude oil production settling at
around 700,000 barrels per day (bpd)
with little scope for expansion, the emphasis is on the country’s natural gas
reserves (the third largest in the world)
to sustain revenues while the country
diversifies, points out Samba Financial
The global LNG market looks set to
change over the next decade, with Australia and the US harbouring ambitious
plans for expansion, Samba said in its latest economic monitor. The two countries
are likely to increase exports significantly
over the long-term, with BP estimating
that Australia will overtake Qatar as the
largest LNG exporter by 2019 followed by
the US in 2030.
“However, there are many unknowns,
which put a question mark over the viability of some projects still in the pipeline, particularly in Australia where
many were approved on the basis of a
much higher oil price,” Samba points out.
The last few years have also seen great
divergence in the regional price of natural gas, driven by factors including the US
shale boom, the European п¬Ѓnancial crisis, and the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Coupled with the recent emergence of
new suppliers, this has prompted cus-
tomers in Asia (the destination for two
thirds of Qatar’s LNG) to seek to modify
their long-standing relatively expensive
oil-indexed contracts.
The IMF has stated that although the
US shale gas boom and other factors
have not had a material effect on Qatar’s
hydrocarbon revenues thus far, there is
anecdotal evidence that it is effecting the
price negotiations for future LNG contracts.
With the increase in both the number
and the diversity of suppliers over the
coming decade, it seems likely that the
LNG market will eventually move to a
henry-hub indexed pricing norm rather
than the more expensive oil-linked contracts. In fact, some of the latest Australian export contracts have been configured on an oil/ henry-hub index hybrid,
Samba said.
The exact amount of LNG that will be
added to the market is uncertain, and the
complexities of pricing make it hard to
make accurate predictions.
“That said, we expect the changing
dynamics will likely lead to prices falling over the next ten years (current Japan
spot import price is around 14 mbtu),”
the report noted.
However, Samba emphasised Qatar
was well placed to adjust to the likely
change in the LNG market over the longrun. Any effects should be gradual and
manageable due to several factors; 90%
of its LNG exports up to 2020 are already
committed as part of supply purchase
agreements, its exports are well diversified geographically and it has the flexibility to balance regional sales according to
demand, it has built-in diversion clauses
designed to reduce risks and most importantly it has relatively low costs of
Vol. XXXV No. 9578
December 21, 2014
Safar 29, 1436 AH
www. 2 Riyals
N Korea denies hacking Sony,
US stands by its assertion
orth Korea said yesterday
US accusations that it was
involved in a cyberattack
on Sony Pictures were “groundless
slander” and that it wanted a joint
investigation into the incident with
the US.
An unnamed spokesman of the
North’s foreign ministry said there
would be serious consequences
if Washington refused to agree to
the probe and continued to accuse
Pyongyang, according to North Ko-
Doha West wastewater and recycling plant.
statement. It includes expansion
of the secondary biologic treatment and also that of the tertiary treatment, which implements
ultra-п¬Ѓltration membranes and
the �Smartrack’ system, allowing
re-use of the treated water to irrigate green spaces, market gardens
Qatar National Day celebrations at Katara – the Cultural Village on Friday saw the Emiri Guard’s 14 horses in national
costumes enthralling visitors at Katara’s Corniche and alleyways with an artful display. Page 32
cal challenges of population growth
and protection of resources,” said
Degremont CEO RГ©mi Lantier.
To deal with Doha’s increasing
population, Ashghal essentially
chose the same technologies that
have already been put in place and
proven effective, according to the
Horses for celebrations
QR890mn expansion works
at Doha West treatment plant
xpansion works worth around
QR890mn will be carried out
at the Doha West wastewater
and recycling plant.
The work will be executed by a
consortium consisting of Degremont, a subsidiary of Suez Environnement, and Marubeni Corporation, it is understood.
Construction works amounting
to nearly QR470mn will be executed
by Degremont, according to a company statement.
The expansion will help increase
the plant’s treatment capacity by
an additional 105,000cu m/day to
280,000cu m/day. Over the term of
the contract, the plant will be able to
manage wastewater from more than
1.04mn of the country’s population.
This project follows two contracts signed in 2005 for the design,
construction and 10-year operation
of a 135,000cu m/day plant, and
then in 2011 for its п¬Ѓrst expansion to
175,000cu m/day to serve an estimated population of 650,000.
Located 20km west of Doha, the
plant has been in operation since
March 2010. The expansion, started
in 2011, was completed in late 2012,
and Suez Environnement will oversee the plant’s operation until 2020.
“We are proud of Ashghal’s renewed trust for this Doha West
plant expansion after having built
the two prior ones. This new contract acknowledges our capacity to
offer, deliver and then operate efficient facilities tailored to the lo-
Egypt’s President Sisi
meets Qatari envoy
ARAB WORLD | Diplomacy
he R
bl TA 978
A 1
Q since
In brief
Latest Figures
LNG sales
to �sustain
Ashghal opens East
Industrial St to traffic
and replenish groundwater.
The contract strengthens the
presence of Suez Environnement in
the country where it also designed
and built wastewater treatment facilities for Barwa City (50,000 inhabitants) and Lusail (250,000 inhabitants).
rea’s UN mission and the official
KCNA news agency.
The US stands by its assertion that
Pyongyang was to blame, a White
House National Security Council
spokesman said yesterday, in response to the remarks.
On Friday, President Barack Obama
blamed North Korea for the devastating cyberattack, which had led to
the Hollywood studio cancelling the
imminent release of The Interview, a
comedy on the п¬Ѓctional assassination
of North Korean leader Kim Jong -Un.
In its п¬Ѓrst substantive response, the isolated North Korea
said it could prove it had nothing
to do with the hacking attack.
“We propose to conduct a joint investigation with the US in response to
groundless slander being perpetrated
by the US by mobilising public opinion,” the North Korean spokesman
was cited as saying by KCNA.
“If the US refuses to accept our
proposal for a joint investigation and
continues to talk about some kind of
response by dragging us into the case,
it must remember there will be grave
consequences,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman was quoted as
making similar remarks in a statement issued later by North Korea’s
UN mission. Pages 17 and 19
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Tanzanian PM arrives in Doha
HE the Minister of Environment Ahmed Amer Mohamed al-Humaidi receiving the Prime Minister of Tanzania Mizengo
Kayanza Peter Pinda at Hamad International Airport in Doha yesterday.
Commercial Bank launches mobile POS
has announced the
launch of mPOS
(mobile point of sale), a new
way of accepting payments
specifically designed to
support merchants’ growing use of mobile devices.
Commercial Bank EGM
and head of Retail and Enterprise Dean Proctor said,
“In today’s economic environment, retail businesses
are looking for secure, easy,
and portable ways to confidently accept payments beyond just cash and promote
their business to a broader
customer base. With Commercial Bank’s mobile Point
of Sale (mPOS) solution, we
are making it even easier for
business owners to accept
secure payments anywhere.”
Proctor explained that
the new mPOS solution was
designed specifically for
smaller businesses, allowing
merchants to use their mobile phones as a point of sale
device to accept debit and
credit card transactions.
mPOS transforms mobile
phones into a highly-secure
card acceptance device using a Commercial Bank
mPOS application and a
pocket-sized device that facilitates magnetic stripe and
“chip & pin” transactions.
Proctor also stressed that
Commercial Bank “continues to pioneer innovationled banking solutions.”
With mPOS, merchants of
all sizes can now accept and
process payments anytime,
anywhere, he added.
In addition to supporting all types of cards such
as magnetic stripe and chip
& pin cards, Commercial
Bank’s mPOS solution also
provides a merchant portal
for online control of payments and reporting.
mPOS is also a cost-effective way for merchants to
increase customer loyalty by
accepting a wider range of
payments, thereby lowering the cost of cash handling
and the cost of expanding
their terminal network.
“The launch of Commercial Bank’s mPOS solution
is set to transform the payments industry in Qatar and
coupled with Commercial
Bank’s unrivalled market
leading position in the retail and commercial acquiring space, we are confident
mPOS will be well received by
our partners,” Proctor said.
He added, “We are currently in our pilot phase and
delighted to confirm that a
number of our retail partners have already signed up
to launch this exciting new
product early in the new
year and we fully expect to
continue rolling this out
further in the coming years
to more of our existing merchant partners, as well as
new ones.”
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Qatar condemns violence in Bahrain
he State of Qatar has
strongly condemned
the “criminal” explosion that ripped through
the village of Bani Jamrah in
Bahrain leaving three policemen wounded.
In a statement released
yesterday Qatar’s Foreign
Ministry said acts of violence
and explosions contravene all
the ethical and humanitarian
principles and values. It underlined Qatar’s support for
Bahrain in face of acts of violence aimed at destabilising
security and stability.
The Foreign Ministry
also renewed its call for renunciation of violence in all
its forms.
to Katara
s part of ongoing
works on the Lusail
Expressway project,
the Public Works Authority
(Ashghal) has announced
the opening of a new entrance to Katara – the Cultural Village from Al Lusail
The new entrance will
provide a second entry into
Katara and help ease congestion in the area by enabling
northbound traffic to enter
the Cultural Village without
queuing up at the roundabout.
Tomorrow, the authority will close the existing entrance to Katara via
the Lagoon Roundabout to
complete vital construction
works between Lusail Street
and Katara.
The closure will allow a
work zone for the construction of the Lusail Expressway
and a metro station.
The existing exit from Katara at the roundabout will
remain open throughout.
Once the closure is in
place, vehicles travelling
south will be required to
make a U-turn at Al Gassar junction to access Katara.
Throughout the construction period, two lanes
will remain open to traffic
in both directions on Lusail
Additionally, the existing right-turn lane from
Legtaifiya Street onto
Lusail Street will remain
open. Commuters can use
a new slip road for travelling south and turning west along Legtaifiya
Stretch of Rayyan
Road to be closed
s part of construction works to develop Al Rayyan Road - Jassim Bin Mohamed Street, the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) has announced
that it will close a 700m stretch of Al Rayyan Road from
the Al Diwan intersection to Al Jasra intersection.
The section of the road will remain open in the
opposite direction (Al Jasra intersection to Al Diwan
The closure starts tomorrow and will continue for
two-and-a-half months. It will take place in order to
undertake some complementary construction works
and п¬Ѓnalise the project.
The authority has urged commuters travelling on Al
Rayyan Road towards Souq Waqif to use an alternative
route. Travellers can turn left at the Diwan intersection
and take Qalaat Al Askar Street leading to Corniche
Street, and then take a right at Jassim Bin Mohamed
Street to reach their desired destination (see map).
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Ashghal opens East Industrial Street to traffic
he Public Works Authority (Ashghal) has announced the opening of
East Industrial Street to traffic
after completion of the main
construction works.
East Industrial Street is one
of the major road projects undertaken in the Doha Industrial
In a statement, Ashghal has
said pavement works on some of
the service roads and pedestrian
and cycle pathways, as well as
hardscaping and complementary works, are currently being
completed without affecting
traffic flow in the area.
The project assumes significance as the road will serve vehi-
cles entering the Industrial Area
by creating a vital ring road that
links to Al Furousiya, Al Gharafa
and Al Khafji street projects.
Further, East Industrial Street
will increase the capacity for
heavy traffic flow in the area
through the widening of roads
and upgrade of interchanges. After the opening, the driving time
to cover the road – from one end
to the other - is only п¬Ѓve minutes
at the posted speed, Ashghal has
said in the statement.
The East Industrial Street
project included the construction and upgrade of the existing
street from the south of the Industrial interchange to the existing roundabout at the junction
The newly-opened East Industrial Street.
of East Industrial Street with
Industrial Area Road.
The completed works include a
3km mainline road comprising a
six-lane carriageway, with three
lanes in each direction, besides
a two-lane service road network
with a total length of 6km.
In addition, the project includes the construction of two
new multi-level interchanges at
intersections with Street 10 and
Street 23, pedestrian and cycle
pathways on both sides of the
road and four pedestrian crossings as well as the installation of
signals at crossroads and ramps
at the intersections.
The project also includes major upgrades for infrastructure
facilities such as relocating foul
sewage pipelines, upgrading the
electrical and water network,
installing intelligent transportation systems and improving
street lighting and traffic light
Upgrades have also been car-
ried out on potable water networks, surface water drainage
networks and foul sewage networks.
The statement notes that
the new interchanges on East
Industrial Street, designed to
the highest safety standards,
will now allow for free-flowing
traffic and reduce congestion.
Moreover, the new and improved
pedestrian and cycle pathways
will improve accessibility to the
Industrial Area and reduce reliance on vehicles, especially for
those living and working close to
the area.
It will provide more travel options and environmental benefits from reduced congestion,
the authority has stressed.
Pedestrian crossings will also
help people access businesses on
the western side of East Industrial Street.
The East Industrial Street
project is part of Ashghal’s Expressway Programme, which
aims at creating a long-term,
sustainable road network that
continues to support the country’s social and economic development.
This, along with other
projects of the programme, will
help improve road infrastructure
facilities, serving key industries,
businesses and residents in and
around the Industrial Area, the
statement adds.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Vodafone offers JBL speaker free with Lumia 830
odafone Qatar has announced an “exclusive” offer for the latest Lumia 830 smartphone,
recently introduced by Microsoft Devices in Qatar.
Customers of the Lumia
830, offered at QR1,499,
will get to take home a JBL
PowerUp wireless charging
speaker worth QR1,080 for
free, taking their smartphone experience to a whole
new level.
The JBL PowerUp wireless speakers are beautifully
designed speakers providing great quality sound.
The PowerUp uses NFC
and Bluetooth technology
to wirelessly stream music
and even charge your Lumia phone so you’re always
powered up.
Vodafone’s offer also
comes bundled with free
data allowances for Voda-
fone Qatar postpaid and
prepaid customers. Vodafone prepaid customers will
enjoy a 6GB data package
for 90 days while Vodafone
postpaid customers will be
entitled to 15GB per month
for three months.
customers can trade-in their old
handset with the brand
new Lumia 830 and will receive the value of the phone
they trade-in plus an extra
QR200 paying, basically,
the difference in price between both handsets.
The Lumia 830 offers
people free access to Microsoft Office, Skype, XBOX
games, and the best of social
apps, which allows users to
easily switch between work
and play mode.
It also comes powered with
free 15GB on OneDrive cloud
services, allowing people to
securely access and sync, all
their п¬Ѓles, photos, music, and
games across smartphones,
tablets, and PCs.
Vodafone Qatar chief
commercial officer Marc
Norris said, “We’re very
excited about this new offer which comes with the
much-wanted JBL PowerUp
wireless charging speaker
and a fabulous data plan
that allows both of our prepaid and postpaid customers to enjoy a great Internet
experience especially over
Vodafone 4G.”
Vithesh Reddy, general
manager – Lower Gulf, Microsoft Mobile Devices, said:
“We are very excited to be
partnering with Vodafone
Qatar and providing customers in Qatar a great offer
with the Lumia 830 device
alongside an integrated Microsoft experience. The Lumia 830 combines a slim,
vibrant style with powerful performance to create
an uncompromised smartphone experience whereby
people easily capture and
share more of what they
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Qatar Airways teams up
with CMUQ for project
atar Airways has partnered with Carnegie
Mellon University in
Qatar (CMUQ) on a project that
was designed to engage students in real-life situations and
help offer them a fresh angle on
learning and how it relates to
their degree major.
Qatar Airways presented a
digital marketing lecture and
challenge that was open to all
students at CMUQ, particularly
those studying business administration.
The students were given a
case study describing a digital
campaign for Qatar Airways as
material to work with, and were
tasked with п¬Ѓnding creative solutions and ideas for the project.
Each group was then given
just over one week to develop a
solution to the challenge. Two
weeks later, the groups had the
opportunity to present their
proposed solutions to CMUQ
faculty and a group of managers
from Qatar Airways.
Out of 60 students who competed, 15 students in three separate teams proceeded to the п¬Ѓnals. The teams participating in
the challenge included six Qataris along with other nationals.
The winning team consisted of
junior business administration
Students from the winning team of the Carnegie Mellon digital marketing challenge.
students Valerie Garcia, Narjis
Premjee, Sana Britto, Hessa alThani and Bilal Sheikh.
“This competition was a great
opportunity for Qatari youth to
demonstrate their talents and
skills to potential employers,”
said Dr Kholode al-Obaidli,
vice-president of National Talent Management in Qatar Air-
ways. “These types of challenges
truly engage students and help
expose them to real-life experiences, which in turn helps
prepare them for their future
careers. It is through such initiatives that we hope to encourage other Qatari students to
apply to the Qatar Airways Al
Darb Scholarship, Internship
and Graduate Development programmes.”
Tridas Mukhopadhyay, professor of e-Business at CMUQ,
added: “The Internet has become the medium of choice for
communication for people and
companies worldwide as the
number of users approaches
3bn by the end of this year. The
digital marketing competition
sponsored by Qatar Airways is,
therefore, a valuable and timely
opportunity for the students of
Carnegie Mellon University in
Qatar. Credit should be given to
the foresight and effort of both
the university faculty and Qatar
Airways executives involved in
this event.”
Qatar Airways provides an opportunity for all talented and enthusiastic young Qataris to apply
to its Qatarisation programme, Al
Darb. With nine programmes, Al
Darb offers applicants a wide range
of options to п¬Ѓnd the right position
and a chance to develop their skills
and discover their passion.
The Al Darb programme’s
main focus is to give an opportunity to young talented Qataris
to experience real-life work by
engaging them in one of its nine
programmes - Summer Internship, Graduate Development,
Cadet Pilot, National Scholarship, Jossor, Airport Operations,
Aviation Management, Aircraft
Maintenance Engineering and
Massey University MBA.
Now in its fourth year, Al Darb,
which means “the pathway”
in English, has continually invested in talented nationals who
have proudly and confidently
represented Qatar abroad.
Al Khaliji to host Open
Day for job seekers
l Khalij Commercial
Bank (Al Khaliji) is
hosting an Open Day
at the Ministry of Labour and
Social Affairs on December
23 with the aim of recruiting
Qatari nationals looking for
opportunities to work in the
banking sector.
Under the patronage of HE
the Minister of Labour and
Social Affairs Dr Abdullah
Saleh Mubarak al-Khulaifi and
in the presence of Al Khaliji’s
Group CEO Fahad al-Khalifa,
the event will offer positions
for Qataris and opportunities
to join Al Khaliji’s staff.
Commenting on the occasion, al-Khalifa said: “This
event is in line with Al Khaliji’s Qatarisation strategy. We
are committed to recruiting,
training and developing Qatari
nationals. The bank aims to
create a strongly qualified and
professional Qatari workforce
to support growth in the banking sector.
“We are thankful for the
Ministry of Labour and So-
cial Affairs for their support
and continued co-operation
to help us achieve our vision,
which is aligned to Qatar National Vision 2030 on human
Hamad al-Kubaisi, Group
head of Human Resources at
Al Khaliji, said: “Al Khaliji’s
growth relies on the extent
of our commitment to being the employer of choice,
especially for Qataris. We
aspire to п¬Ѓnd new talents
and offer them fantastic opportunities to tackle greater
responsibilities within different roles, while gaining a
wealth of experience to become Qatar’s future banking
“A group of department
heads will be present at the
event to interview potential
candidates and discuss with
them employment opportunities and positions available
that suit their skills and future
career goals.”
The event will take place
from 8am to 4pm.
Fahad al-Khalifa
Hamad al-Kubaisi
Qatar’s missions hold special National Day events
atar’s missions organised
special receptions to celebrate the country’s National Day.
Qatar’s Ambassador to Saudi
Arabia Sheikh Abdullah bin
Thamer al-Thani held a reception ceremony at The RitzCarlton hotel in Riyadh which
was attended by Governor of
Riyadh region Prince Turki bin
Abdullah bin Abdulaziz alSaud as a guest of honour along
with Saudi Foreign Ministry’s
Undersecretary for Protocol
Affairs Azzam bin Abdul-Kareem al-Gain.
Ambassadors of Arab, Islamic
and foreign countries accredited
to Saudi Arabia were also present
alongside a group of diplomats,
Saudi dignitaries and Qatari students.
In Washington, Qatar’s embassy in the United States celebrated the National Day at the
Andrew Mellon Hall which was
attended by more than a 1,000
Qatar’s Ambassador to the
US Mohamed Jaham al-Kuwari and embassy staff welcomed the guests including
several members of the US
Congress led by Republican
Jim Moran, Carolyn Maloney,
Nick Rahall, Andre Carson,
and Robin Kelly.
Several Arab ambassadors
and senior officials of the US
administration, in addition to a
number Qatari people in Washington DC also attended the
Ambassador al-Kuwari said
that the Qatar is keen to create
a bright future for the Qatari
HE Qatar’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Sheikha Alia Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani with
other dignitaries and guests on the occasion of National Day in New York.
people and people in the Arab
He highlighted the partnership between United States and
Qatar, describing it as great and
strong dating back to decades of
common interests and deep cooperation at several levels.
He also highlighted the enhanced partnership in trade and
investment. In the field of education the US-Qatar co-operation was reflected in the close
ties with six of the best American universities, noting that
Doha considers this partnership
as essential for the development
of Qatar which seeks to establish a modern knowledge-based
Meanwhile, Qatar’s Permanent Mission to the United
Nations in New York hosted a
reception on the occasion of
Qatar’s National Day.
HE Qatar’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Sheikha Alia Ahmed bin Saif alThani welcomed the guests.
Senior officials at the UN
General Secretariat and a large
gathering of members of the
diplomatic corps accredited to
the United Nations, led by representatives of the permanent
member states, attended the
American society, including
politicians and businessmen,
in addition to a number of media representatives accredited
to the United Nations in New
York and members of the Arab
and Muslim community in
New York were also present at
the ceremony.
In Ankara, Qatar’s Ambassador to Turkey Salem bin Mubarak al-Shafi has inaugurated a
street named after Qatar to mark
the country’s National Day. The
street, adjacent to the Presidential Republican Palace in Chanakaya area, is located in one of the
most vital and prestigious suburbs in Ankara.
Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek and Ali Ihsan Yilmaz, chairman of Greater Ankara Municipal Council, Yahya
Akman, Head President of
Qatari-Turkish Friendship Parliamentary Group and a number
of parliamentarians, senior officials of the foreign and finance
ministries and Greater Ankara
Municipal Council along with
Arab ambassadors and Charge
Qatar’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdullah bin Thamer al-Thani and other dignitaries at the
reception ceremony held at The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh.
d’Affaires attended the inauguration ceremony.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Yilmaz revealed that the
Municipal Council decision to
name a street after Qatar reflects
the good relations between the
two countries.
He pointed out that 2015 will
be a cultural year between the
two countries.
In Beijing, Qatar’s Ambassador to China Sultan bin Salmeen
al-Mansouri held a reception
ceremony at China World Summit Wing hotel on the occasion
of Qatar’s National Day.
Chinese Minister of Culture
Cai Wu attended the event along
with a group of senior officials
from the Foreign Ministry, the
Communist Party of China, the
National Development and Re-
form Commission (NDRC) and
the ministries of defence, commerce and culture.
Also among the attendees
were representatives of the Chinese People’s Association for
Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), the Islamic Association of China, and Chinese
oil and gas companies.
President and members of
Arab and foreign diplomatic
missions accredited to Beijing
were also present alongside representatives of Qatari organisations, offices and companies
operating in China, and Qatari
students in Beijing.
The ceremony featured some
documentaries reflecting the
Qatari heritage.
In Djibouti, Qatar’s Ambassador Jassim bin Jabir Jassim Surour
hosted a reception which was attended by a number of Djiboutian
officials including Minister of
Foreign Affairs and International
Co-operation Mahamoud Ali
Youssouf who is also the government’s spokesman, Speaker of the
National Assembly (Parliament)
Idriss Arnaoud Ali and several
political advisers, businessmen,
dignitaries, investors, ranking
military officers from Djibouti
and foreign countries as well as
representatives of regional and
international organisations.
A number of diplomats and
heads of diplomatic missions
accredited to Djibouti also attended.
Similar events were held in
Qatar’s embassies in India, Nepal, Ecuador, Swaziland and Myanmar.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
3 Bahrain
injured in
bomb blast
Israel aircraft
hit Gaza after
rocket strike
Gaza’s Hamas leader Ismail
Haniya condemns Israel’s
“dangerous violation of the
Gaza City
sraeli aircraft hit Gaza yesterday for the п¬Ѓrst time since
an August truce ended a 50day war after a rocket hit the
Jewish state, witnesses and the
army said.
A Palestinian health ministry spokesman in the Gaza Strip
said there were no casualties in
the air strike, which came just
hours after the rocket hit an open
п¬Ѓeld in southern Israel on Friday
without causing casualties or
It was the third time a rocket
п¬Ѓred from the Palestinian enclave struck within Israel since
the August 26 truce between
Israel and Hamas, the territory’s
de facto rulers.
The Israeli army said the air
strike in the southern Gaza Strip
had “targeted a Hamas terror infrastructure site”.
Defence Minister Moshe
Yaalon said the target was a
concrete factory being used
to repair tunnels in and out of
Gaza, dozens of which Israel
destroyed during the summer
The attack was “an unequivocal message to Hamas that we
will not tolerate a return to a
routine of sporadic п¬Ѓring at our
citizens”, Yaalon said, vowing
Israel would “act forcefully”
against Hamas “if it won’t prevent attacks”.
And Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu reiterated that Israel would not ignore “even one
rocket launch” at its territory.
“Hamas will bear the consequences of any escalation that
might take place,” he told soldiers at a ceremony in remarks
distributed by his office.
Hamas did not say it was behind the rocket attack, but Israel holds it accountable for any
rocket п¬Ѓre from Gaza.
Gaza’s Hamas leader Ismail
Haniya condemned Israel’s
“dangerous violation of the
ceasefire”, and in remarks to reporters urged Egypt to “move
with urgency” to ensure the Jewish state respects the agreement.
The summer war between
Israel and Hamas killed almost
2,200 Palestinians, most of
them civilians, and 73 people on
the Israeli side, nearly all of them
The Egypt-brokered ceasefire
was to have been followed by
talks on a more lasting truce, but
they were called off amid deteriorating ties between Cairo and
Also yesterday, the navy п¬Ѓred
warning shots after п¬Ѓshing boats
sailed beyond the six nautical
mile limit enforced by Israel off
Gaza’s coast.
A military spokeswoman said
the vessels returned to waters
where the navy allows them to
Egypt is to reopen the Rafah border crossing with Gaza
today for the second time in two
months to allow those stranded
in Egypt to enter the Palestinian
territory, officials said.
The Rafah crossing is the only
access point to the Gaza Strip
not controlled by Israel.
It was shut by Egypt in late
October following a deadly
bombing in the Sinai Peninsula,
reopening briefly at the end of
November to allow Palestinians
stuck in Egypt to return home.
Police official Ali al-Azazi
said a similar operation will take
place from today and only for
two days.
“Egypt will open the Rafah
crossing Sunday and Monday
to allow those stranded on the
Egyptian side to go to Gaza,” he
More than 3,500 Palestinians were stranded when Egypt
closed the crossing after a suicide attack killed 30 soldiers
in North Sinai on October 24,
the United Nations said last
It was not immediately clear
how many of them are still
Many Palestinians who travel through Rafah are students
heading to universities in Egypt
or beyond, or patients in need of
medical treatment not available
in Gaza.
Militants from the Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, Al Quds Brigades, stand on top of a look-out tower
yesterday in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip.
bomb blast in a Shia village in Bahrain, the scene
of simmering unrest since
anti-government protests were
quelled in 2011, has left three
policemen slightly wounded, officials said.
The three were on patrol in the
village of Bani Jamra when the
blast occurred, the kingdom’s interior ministry said in a statement
on Twitter posted late Friday.
It said that the three sustained
minor injuries, describing the
explosion as a “terrorist” blast
and adding that “necessary
steps are being taken”, without
Witnesses said that the blast
occurred late Friday and that
security forces swiftly sealed
off the village, which lies not far
from the capital Manama.
They added that a young protester was also injured in clashes
with police in another Shia village, Sanabes, late on Friday.
Attacks against security forces have intensified this year.
Two people, including a Jordanian policeman, were killed in
the area last week.
It was the п¬Ѓrst deadly attack
on security forces since parliamentary polls in November boycotted by the main Shia opposition group, which is calling for
democratic reforms.
The election was the п¬Ѓrst in
the kingdom since authorities
quelled the 2011 protests.
Bahrain remains deeply divided three years after the monthlong demonstrations.
Protests still frequently break
out in Shia villages, sometimes
sparking clashes with police.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Iraqi Kurds
deliver aid to
Mount Sinjar
Peshmerga troops reach the
flanks of Mount Sinjar with
food and other aid three
days after launching a vast
Mount Sinjar
urdish peshmerga forces
delivered aid on Mount
Sinjar and expanded a
major offensive against militant-held areas in northwestern
Iraq yesterday after breaking a
months-old siege.
The peshmerga closed in on
Sinjar town south of the mountain and Tal Afar to its east. If
successful, the move would significantly alter the map of the Islamic State (IS) group’s self-declared cross-border “caliphate”
and isolate its Mosul hub.
The autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region’s peshmerga troops
reached the flanks of Mount Sinjar with food and other aid three
days after launching a vast operation in the region backed by
US-led coalition air strikes.
As the convoy worked its way
up the mountain, a 60km-long
ridge where civilians and п¬Ѓghters
had been trapped since September, people swarmed vehicles to
get food.
“I haven’t seen an orange since
September,” said a 10-year-old
girl as the peshmerga distributed
fruit and other food.
The civilians, some of whom
had sought refuge on Sinjar after being displaced from nearby
villages by IS п¬Ѓghters, looked exhausted, their skin sunburnt and
clothes caked in dirt.
“We had barely received any
aid in 75 days. It stopped coming when the Islamic State cut
the road,” said Hassan Khalaf, a
gaunt 45-year-old.
“What we need now is aid. We
want them to save us,” he told an
AFP journalist travelling with
the peshmerga convoy.
Tens of thousands of members
of the Yazidi religious minority
were trapped on the mountain
for days in the searing August
heat in a п¬Ѓrst siege that sparked
fears of genocide and was one of
the reasons that led US President
Barack Obama to launch an air
war against IS.
Many were eventually evacuated when a coalition of Kurdish forces opened a corridor to
Syria, and yesterday the same
factions were trying to reopen
that route.
A statement from the Kurdish
president’s son, who also heads
the Kurdish Regional Security
Council (KRSC), said the peshmerga had cleared villages on
the northern side of the mountain.
The Syrian Kurdish YPG
group, which has been leading the battle against the militants in the town of Kobane on
the Syrian-Turkish border, was
moving south to join up with the
It said it recaptured several
villages from IS on the Iraqi border, which was confirmed by the
Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights monitoring group.
Securing that corridor will
make it possible to evacuate
some of the civilians on Sinjar to
Iraqi Kurdistan via Syria.
The peshmerga are also receiving crucial support from
Yazidi tribal п¬Ѓghters.
On Wednesday, the peshmerga launched what they have described as the largest operation
yet against the IS since it overran
major parts of Iraq in June.
One of the heaviest series of
coalition air strikes paved the
way for 8,000 peshmerga to advance.
They soon retook several villages and forced many IS fighters to flee west to Syria or east to
Mosul, Iraq’s second city and the
de facto IS capital in the country.
The KRSC said peshmerga
forces had used their momentum to move in on Sinjar town on
the mountain’s southern side.
The peshmerga “succeeded
in taking complete control of it
and nearby villages,” it said on
Twitter, although sources on
the ground said it was not yet
clear that the militants had been
ousted from the town.
Qassem Shasho, a Yazidi
Kurdish commander, said peshmerga forces had reached Sinjar
town but have not yet entered
as it has to be cleared of militant
Ahrar al-Sham Islamic fighters run for cover on Friday after a fellow fighter was injured in air strikes around Al Hamidiyeh base, one of two
military posts they took control of from Syrian regime forces in the southern Idlib countryside.
Militants demoralised by
losses from air strikes: US
Guardian News & Media
S officials claim Islamic
State extremists have
lost their momentum in
п¬Ѓghting in Iraq and Syria and
have been demoralised by heavy
casualties inflicted by American
air strikes.
The officials say air strikes
since mid-November have killed
senior and mid-level leaders as
well as about 1,000 п¬Ѓghters, particularly around the п¬Ѓercely contested Kurdish town of Kobane on
the Syrian-Turkish border.
The most significant IS figure to have been killed in recent
strikes was identified as Haji
Mutazz, also known as Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, a deputy to the
movement’s leader, Abu Bakr alBaghdadi. A Pentagon spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby,
said the deaths had degraded its
“command and control current
A senior US official said
IS had suffered particularly
high casualties as a result of
its determination to capture
Kobane, sending many п¬Ѓghters
to the border town, where they
could easily be targeted by US
planes. As a result, the official
claimed, IS п¬Ѓghters in the IS
Syrian stronghold of Raqa were
increasingly reluctant to go to
Kobane and were growing disillusioned with the leadership.
“It was presenting itself as
an unstoppable movement,” he
said. “That kind of unstoppable
momentum has been blunted, to
say the least. We have killed over
1,000 of their п¬Ѓghters, particularly in Kobane, and that gets to
Raqa because they wanted to take
Kobane and had been making the
biggest flag they had ever made
and they were going to put it up
there because to them this is a
war of flags.
“They were committed to this
and we could see fighters flooding in from Raqa and we saw that
as an opportunity to attrit their
manpower,” he said. “Fighters
now don’t want to go to Kobane.
There are similar accounts in Mosul, people not getting paid what
they thought they’d get paid, not
living the life they thought they’d
promised … So the mood has
The official said it was too
soon to tell whether the rate of
attrition among IS п¬Ѓghters had
stemmed the flow of militant volunteers from abroad. The US is
seeking to cut the flows from the
home countries of the volunteers
and at the main point of transit,
the Turkish border.
The US is using Turkish bases
for intelligence-gathering purposes but Ankara remains reluctant to allow its bases to be used
for launching bombing sorties.
However, Washington has persuaded the Turkish government
to help train and equip moderate
Syrian opposition groups, who
would п¬Ѓght IS as well as the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey’s foreign minister
said on Friday that the training
programme for Syrian opposition groups should begin before
Suit threatened over
Jordan-Israel gas deal
ordan’s main opposition Islamist
party threatened yesterday to take
legal action against anyone in the
kingdom who signs a controversial gas
deal with Israel.
Amman’s plans to buy gas from the
Jewish state have aroused п¬Ѓerce opposition at a time of mounting criticism of
Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.
The Islamic Action Front, political wing of the Jordanian branch of the
Muslim Brotherhood, said on its web-
UN asks Israel
to pay Lebanon
$856mn for spill
Israel was asked by the UN
General Assembly on Friday
to compensate Lebanon for
$856.4mn in oil spill damages
it caused during its 2006 war
with Hezbollah.
The non-binding vote, which
passed 170-6, asks Israel to
offer “prompt and adequate
compensation” to Lebanon
and other countries affected
by the oil spill’s pollution.
In a statement, Israel
condemned the resolution
as biased against the nation,
Israeli media reported.
The oil spill was caused
by Israel’s air force when
it bombed oil tanks near
a coastal Lebanese power
plant during the fierce
month-long war with
Hezbollah fighters.
The attack flooded the
Mediterranean coastline with
15,000 tonnes of oil, according
to the United Nations.
The oil slick made by the spill
“has had serious implications
for livelihoods and the
economy of Lebanon”, the
resolution said.
The UN asked Lebanon to
continue clean-up efforts and
the international community
to increase funding for its
environmental restoration.
The US, Australia, Canada and
Israel were among the six
states that voted against the
UN text.
site that it “strongly rejects the deal in
question, no matter what the pretext,
political or economic, and will prosecute
all those who agree to or sign such an
The IAF said it regretted that the government “has stubbornly ignored the
popular will to maintain suspect relations with the occupying power (Israel)
and to conclude such an agreement”.
The 20-year-old peace treaty between Jordan and Israel is deeply unpopular among Jordanians—almost half
of whom are of Palestinian origin.
Detractors of the September gas deal,
under which Israel would supply Jordan
with 45.4bn cubic metres) of natural gas
from its Leviathan offshore п¬Ѓeld over
15 years, reject any co-operation with a
country they regard as an enemy.
A source close to the deal, which
has yet to be approved by the Amman
government, said it would be worth
Parliament debated the deal on Tuesday after 79 lawmakers in the 150-seat
house п¬Ѓled a motion calling for it to be
Defending the project, Energy Minister Mohamed Hamed told parliament
buying gas from Israel “does not threaten the future of Jordan nor does it leave
Jordan’s economy hostage in the hands
of any country”.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Women п¬Ѓght for freedom, equality
The young female fighters
hope their frontline role
will help put women on an
equal footing with men
Til Kocher, Syria
very night before 27-yearold Arin goes to bed, she
hangs her Makarov, a Russian semi-automatic pistol, from
a steel coat rack by the entrance
to her one-bedroom apartment
in a small, dusty town on the
Syrian border with Iraq.
The pistol was an award for
her success on the frontline in
the battle to protect Kurdish areas of northeastern Syria and is
a far cry from her life a year ago
when she was working as a nurse
in Cologne in Germany.
“This is a bloody war,” Arin,
using only her combat name,
told Reuters at the almost deserted apartment block in Til
Kocher in northeastern Syria.
“But we need to fight it, we
need to protect our women and
children or nobody else will defend us.”
Arin is one of thousands of
young Kurdish women who have
taken up arms in the past two
years, with Kurds, Syria’s largest minority group, largely left to
their own devices by President
Bashar al-Assad’s forces battling
Islamic State militants who have
seized large areas of Iraq and
About 7,500 women are estimated to have joined the Women’s Protection Unit, or YPJ,
many as volunteers, which was
set up in 2012 as part of the People’s Defence Unit (YPG), the
Kurds’ dominant fighting unit
in the northern Syria region of
Their aim is to п¬Ѓght any group
that threatens Kurdish inhabited
areas of Rojava and the YPG has
taken de facto control over a sizable chunk of Syria’s predomi-
A Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighter hugs a fellow fighter at a YPG military base east of Qamishli, before heading to the Jezza and Til Kocher frontlines on Friday.
nantly Kurdish north.
The young female п¬Ѓghters
hope their frontline role will help
put women on an equal footing
with men.
“We want to set an example for (both) the Middle East
and the West. We want gender
equality for all,” said one of the
six other women in Arin’s unit
who all live in the same, small
When asked for their full
names, the women declined,
preferring to be known and addressed by their noms de guerre.
David L Phillips, director of a
programme on Peace-building
and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study
of Human Rights in New York,
said these women were making
a mark.
“(They) are some of the fierc-
est and most effective п¬Ѓghters.
Many of them are widowed, and
strongly motivated on the battlefield by their personal loss,”
he said.
Human Rights Watch has reported serious human rights
abuses by the Syrian government
and other opposition п¬Ѓghters
and also said Kurds in parts of
northern Syria have carried out
arbitrary arrests and failed to in-
vestigate the killings and disappearance of political opponents.
Arin, who was born and raised
in Germany, said she was awarded her pistol after she killed 20 IS
militants, earning her the reputation among her colleagues as
one of the most dangerous snipers in the group.
Born in Cologne of Kurdish parents, Arin graduated from nursing school and was working there
when the Syrian conflict started.
Some 200,000 people have
died during the four-year conflict, according to the United
“I had a good life, I liked living there,” Arin said, dressed in
a dark green camouflage uniform
with baggy trousers, but she felt
she had to do something as the
news became worse.
“I remember watching tel-
evision when I saw women and
children slaughtered by Daesh
(Islamic State), and I couldn’t
stand it anymore,” she added.
Last year she travelled to Syria
to join the YPJ and now heads
her unit, which originally had
20 members, mainly from Syria
and Turkey. Today only seven
She was reluctant to give too
many details about the group’s
combat operations or to comment on any links between the
YPJ and the Kurdistan Workers’
Party, or PKK, an organisation
п¬Ѓghting for Kurds in Turkey that
is designated a terrorist group by
the United States and European
When they’re not fighting, the
seven women try to avoid talking
about war. They cook and laugh
as if they were living an ordinary
life but their lives are far from
Arin hasn’t talked to her parents since she left Germany.
“I don’t call them, it’s better
this way,” she said, adding that
she might call them one day,
once the war is over. “My life is
here with these brave women.
They are my family.”
Nisan, a 24-year-old combatant, spread a gray plastic table
cloth on the floor. She lost her
right п¬Ѓnger while п¬Ѓghting in Rabia, the Iraqi town adjacent to Til
Kocher, in August.
Rangin, another sniper, came
in with breakfast: tomatoes,
olives, goat cheese, and homemade bread.
After breakfast, the unit’s
phone rang.
Orders were given and three
women grabbed their combat
gear, ready to jump in a car waiting for them outside to take them
to Jezza, a town close to Kobane
near the Turkish border and one
of the most violent flashpoints in
the war.
“We are going to fight the
Daesh, take care,” Arin said as
she closed the door behind her.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
New Libya
system for
oil buyers
Essebsi speaks during a rally at Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis on Friday.
Ex-regime woos Tunisia
voters with a makeover
The presidential election is
dominated by questions over
the return of those close to
Ben Ali
n the corner of his office,
Tunisian presidential candidate Beji Caid Essebsi keeps
a bust of Habib Bourguiba, who
led the country in 1957 after its
independence from France. It is
a symbol, he says, of the kind of
statesman Tunisia now needs.
The 88-year-old was a minister in Bourguiba’s government
and is now standing for president himself. To win however
he must convince voters to look
past his more recent job—speaker for the autocratic Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who rigged elections to rule for 24 years until the
country threw him out in 2011.
That revolt inspired “Arab
Spring” uprisings across the
Middle East. Where other nations struggle with post-revolt
upheaval, Tunisia’s presidential
elections today highlight its successful shift to democracy and a
new constitution.
But the race between Essebsi
and incumbent President Moncef Marzouki, the human rights
activist named president after
the п¬Ѓrst free election of 2011,
is also dominated by questions
over the return of those close to
Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia.
Some former regime officials
have already secured parliamentary positions after Essebsi’s
secular party Nidaa Tounes took
the most seats in an October
general election.
Following that, Essebsi secured 39% in the п¬Ѓrst presidential round in November against
33% for Marzouki.
The presidential candidate,
who was once Ben Ali’s parliamentary speaker, distances
himself from the corruption and
abuses associated with the past
regime. Instead he offers his experience as a statesman that he
says Tunisia needs after three
years of instability.
“Do people really think at my
age I will take over everything?
I will be the president for all
Tunisians,” Essebsi said during a campaign stop earlier this
month. “All I want is to return
the prestige of the state.”
Incorporating Ben Ali officials
into politics was part of the political compromise that salvaged
Tunisia’s transition and set it
apart from other countries, like
Libya and Egypt, that still struggle after the Arab Spring to deal
with past regime influence.
Ben Ali officials were not
hunted down and a law to ban
members of his party from politics never made it past initial
Now Essebsi, who regularly
deflects criticism about his age
with quips, refers to Bourguiba
in his appeal to Tunisians now
hoping for more stability.
The п¬Ѓrst president of Tunisia, Bourguiba ruled for 20 years
before being removed by Ben
Ali and kept under house arrest
until his death. Though he consolidated Tunisia’s one-party
system, many Tunisians still see
him as the founder of a secularleaning state with its emphasis
on education, women’s rights
and economic development.
Marzouki only talks of Essebsi
in the context of the Ben Ali era.
But he says a win for his opponent would undermine the legacy of the “Jasmine Revolution”
and risk consolidating power in
the hands of former regime men,
known as the “Remnants”.
“Essebsi is not a democrat. He
doesn’t know what democracy is,”
Marzouki said in a recent speech.
Yet should Essebsi win, victory would be tempered by the political and economic challenges
facing Tunisia: a low-intensity
Islamist militant insurgency and
a need for tough austerity measures to ease the budget deficit.
His party’s slim margin in
Congress also means it will be
forced to compromise when lawmakers choose a prime minister
and form a new government. It
is unclear whether Nidaa Tounes
would be able to work with the
leftist Popular Front or the Islamist Ennahda in a national
coalition—both strong movements.
Ennahda remains a powerful
political voice with 69 seats versus Nidaa Tounes’ 85 seats in the
217-member legislature.
“As a result, the next government will be largely ineffective
and unable to implement any
major economic reform,” said
Eurasia Group analyst Riccardo
Fabiani, referring to the challenges of forming a coalition
Many participants in the 2011
uprising say they too will be
warily watching the return of the
old regime.
This week marked the fourth
anniversary of the death of Mohamed Bouazizi, the street vendor who set himself alight in
protest and triggered the uprising against the abuses and poor
living conditions many suffered
under Ben Ali.
“We paid a high price for the
revolution and now just four
years later the old regime is back
with a new look and democratic
talk,” said Ali Makki, whose
brother was shot dead in protests.
“We’ll keep fighting for
freedoms we won.”
ibya’s internationally recognised government aims
to set up a new payment
system to receive oil revenues,
bypassing the central bank based
in Tripoli, the capital city that is
no longer under its control, its
top oil official said yesterday.
The Opec oil producer has
had two parallel governments
and parliaments since August
when a group called Libya
Dawn seized Tripoli, forcing
the recognised administration
of Prime Minister Abdullah alThinni to the east.
The central bank, which
books oil revenues, has sought
to stay out of the conflict, but
each side has appointed competing officials to run National
Oil Corp (NOC), the company
that sells Libyan oil.
Last month, Thinni named
al-Mabrook Abu Seif as head
of NOC after the rival government appointed its own oil
minister to work in the company’s headquarters in Tripoli.
The question of who owns
Libya’s oil is key for foreign
buyers. For decades, they have
paid for Libyan crude through
a state bank linked to the central bank in Tripoli.
In an attempt to prevent
oil revenues reaching the rival side, Thinni’s government
aims to set up a system for foreign oil buyers routed through
an eastern branch of the central bank, Abu Seif said in a
telephone interview.
“We’ve discussed this with
the prime minister and the
president of the House of Representatives and central bank
head ... (Ali Salem) Hibri,” he
said, referring to the man appointed by the Thinni-allied
parliament after it voted to п¬Ѓre
Sadiq al-Kabir who is still acting as governor, according to
the central bank’s website.
No п¬Ѓnal decision had yet
been taken, Abu Seif said.
Thinni’s government also
plans to make changes at the
top of NOC but will not set
up its own, separate oil п¬Ѓrm,
he said, even though officials
based in the east have difficulties maintaining contact with
NOC staff in Tripoli.
The central bank is currently keeping oil revenues in
its coffers, with the exception
of civil servants’ salaries and
food subsidies, in an attempt
to stay out of the fray.
Sudan postpones April
elections by 11 days
slated for April 2 will
now be held on April
13, the head of Sudan’s elections committee said yesterday, in a move seen as preventing legal confusion over a
constitutional amendment.
President Omar Hassan
al-Bashir proposed a constitutional change on November
3 to make state governors appointed positions rather than
elected ones, but the alteration only becomes legally valid
60 days from that date.
Postponing the election allows for the state governor positions to be removed from the
forthcoming poll before the
new nomination period starts
on January 11.
Mokhtar al-Assam, the
elections head, did not mention the constitutional issue in comments to Reuters,
but said: “The postponement
came for very important reasons that we will announce
Sudan’s ruling National
Congress party last month
chose Bashir, wanted on
charges of genocide by the
International Criminal Court,
as its candidate for the presidential vote, making it almost
certain that he will extend his
rule after 25 years in power.
The opposition Popular
Congress party has said it will
boycott the election because
of what it sees as a restrictive
political climate.
South Sudan: a year of war in a divided nation
hey came only for a night:
thousands fleeing gunshots in the darkness for
the safety of UN peacekeeping
bases in South Sudan’s capital
In the following days, gunfire and explosions continued to
shake the city, as troops loyal to
President Salva Kiir fought with
those allied to his ousted deputy,
Riek Machar, and terrified residents cowered where they could
п¬Ѓnd shelter.
One year later and with civil
war still raging, some 100,000
civilians remain trapped inside the UN camps ringed with
barbed wire, surviving off food
aid handouts in miserable conditions, but still too terrified
to venture out for fear of being
“How can we go out when
there is no peace?” asked Veronica Henry, a woman in her fifties
living in a crowded UN-guarded
camp in Juba, where thousands
live crammed into streets of
makeshift plastic tents.
Many are gloomy about the
prospects of the violence ending any time soon. South Sudan
is locked into conflict, with the
bloodshed in Juba having set
off a cycle of retaliatory killings
across swathes of the country.
“We’ve been one year here,
but we are alive,” said Thong Gai,
sitting outside his plastic tent
home under the blazing hot sun
in the UN camp in Juba.
Half the country’s 12mn people need aid, the UN says, including nearly 2mn who fled
their homes from the п¬Ѓghting.
“It is tough living here but
there is nothing we can do, nothing to do,” said Gai, who entered
the camp as п¬Ѓghting broke out
on December 15 last year. “We
just have to be patient, and we
shall have peace one day.”
Amid the continued threat of
international sanctions, warring forces have signed repeated
ceasefire deals, but all collapsed
within days.
“I am begging the international community, please, you
have to pressure the government
and the opposition,” Henry said.
Her optimism at South Sudan’s independence in 2011 - after people voted overwhelmingly
to split from north Sudan following decades of war - has long
“We have struggled for so long
in this country,” she said grimly.
Aid workers describe a desperate situation, with Oxfam country chief Zlatko Gegic warning
that millions are going “hungry
in a man-made disaster”.
International threats have
had little impact in forcing rival
leaders to strike a lasting deal,
even as the humanitarian crisis
remains dire.
UN reports killings
and rapes during
attack by rebels
Children play with a suitcase in a camp for displaced people of the Nuer ethnic group inside the UNMISS compound in Bor in this file photo.
Even if top leaders can agree
on terms for peace, their forces
have now fractured into over two
dozen different armed groups,
analysts say.
Hugely expensive UN food aid
airlifts have staved off famine for
now but the threat remains, said
Toby Lanzer, the UN aid chief in
South Sudan.
“We will be in a battle against
time and a battle against famine
once again in early 2015,” Lanzer said. “The situation remains
grave today. It could very well get
much, much worse.”
Thousands were killed in the
п¬Ѓrst weeks alone, before п¬Ѓghting
spread to other towns and regions across the poverty-stricken young country.
Group estimates that at least
50,000 people have been killed,
while some diplomats suggest it
could even be double that п¬Ѓgure.
Kan Gueh Kan, 28, fled to the
camp the day after п¬Ѓghting broke
out, after his two uncles were
hacked to death and shot in front
of him.
“I ran for my life,” said Kan,
married with a child. “Now fear
makes me stay here. I will only go
out when peace comes.”
Few are optimistic for peace
“We have to fear for the
worst,” said Skye Wheeler from
Human Rights Watch. “We have
to fear that we will continue to
see a really dangerous and really
frightening rift between the two
largest ethnic groups.”
South Sudan rebels killed,
raped and kidnapped civilians
during an attack in October,
leaving at least 11 dead, the
United Nations said in a report.
Fighters backing former
vice president Riek Machar
attacked the oil-rich town of
Bentiu near the border with
Sudan on October 29 and
“killed at least 11 civilians
and committed other serious
human rights abuses”, said
the report, received by AFP
The UN Mission in South Sudan also said it had “received
testimony from multiple sources alleging that opposition
forces abducted and raped
female residents of Bentiu
after government troops withdrew from some parts of the
city during the afternoon of 29
October 2014”.
“According to several witnesses, two women and a
six-month-old baby were killed
in their homes by opposition
forces,” said the report, compiled after an investigation by
the UN mission’s human rights
Bentiu has been hotly contested between the two sides
and its control has changed
hands several times.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
of child
soldiers in
CAR, says
Cape Town
housands of children were
used as child soldiers during the past two years of
ethno-sectarian conflict in Central African Republic, humanitarian organisation Save the
Children said on Thursday.
The nation rich in gold and
diamonds descended into civil
war after largely Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew president
Francois Bozize, a Christian, in
March 2013.
Since then, about 10,000 boys
and girls have been killed, raped
and recruited by armed groups
as combatants, porters and spies
and sexual slaves, according to
Save the Children.
One of them is 17-year-old
Maeva, who joined the largely
Christian anti-Balaka militia last year after Seleka rebels
gang-raped her and killed her
“That’s what pushed me
to join the rebellion, where I
learned to kill,” said Maeva.
Many other child soldiers were
younger than her, the girl said,
some as young as eight years.
Child soldiers are routinely
subjected to physical and mental
violence by adult combatants,
the organisation found.
Girls often seek the protection
of soldiers by becoming their
wives, while both girls and boys
are sexually exploited.
Grace Г Dieu was 15 when he
joined a Seleka training camp in
December 2012.
“They wanted to make us
mean, unforgiving. When we
fought, it was us, the children,
who were often sent to the frontline,” the teenager said. “Because
very often we are drugged or inebriated, it makes us do things we
would never do otherwise.”
Jean manned a Seleka checkpoint near the capital, Bangui,
when he was 16 years old.
“I had an AK47 ... and I killed
with it. I killed a lot of people,” Jean told the researchers.
“I was scared of the leaders in
our group. I was also afraid of
enemy anti-Balaka п¬Ѓghters, as
they were known to come ... and
decapitate п¬Ѓghters like us. I have
friends who they decapitated.”
UN children’s fund Unicef
meanwhile warned that at least
one child was killed or maimed
every day this year in the CAR,
while two out of п¬Ѓve children are
in urgent need of humanitarian
“Children in the Central African Republic are no longer making headlines, but more than
over 2.5mn of them continue to
live in constant fear,” said Unicef
Regional Director for West and
Central Africa Manuel Fontaine.
Liberia holds elections
iberian voters were asked
to adhere to strict health
protocols while lining up
to elect a senate yesterday, to
prevent transmissions of the
Ebola virus that has killed more
than 3,300 people in the West
African country.
People queued at 2m distance from each other, had their
temperature taken and washed
their hands before entering the
Liberia’s Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyensuah said all
the voters would be tested and
those with high temperatures
would be asked to cast their ballots in a separate area.
Joey Kennedy, a spokesman
for the national election commission, had earlier said that all
voters would have to wash their
hands before entering polling
stations and maintain at least 1m
from each other.
A total of 139 candidates are
competing for 15 seats, in polls
that were postponed for two
months because of the Ebola
outbreak that infected more
than 7,800 Liberians, according
to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The top contenders are President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s son,
Robert Sirleaf, and former soccer star George Weah.
Weah, 48, ran unsuccessfully against Johnson Sirleaf for
president in the country’s 2005
After casting his vote in
northern Kendeja, Weah said he
was sure of victory.
“I am more than confident
that I will win. My victory was
stolen from me in previous presidential elections. This time I
will not allow it,” he said.
The senate has 30 seats, with
half of its members’ nine-yearseats up for re-election.
The government postponed
the elections twice since October, out of concern the Ebola vi-
rus might spread during political
campaigning events and in long
queues at polling stations.
Liberia’s infection rate meanwhile dropped to less than 100
new cases per week, the WHO
Provisional election results
are expected to be announced
today, while the electoral commission said it will release п¬Ѓnal
results within two weeks.
Balloting began at 7.30am
(0730 GMT) and was due to
end at 5pm. But polling stations
opened late in many places in the
seaside capital Monrovia and in
several locations in the interior
of the country.
Monrovia’s streets were deserted yesterday although there
were long queues outside polling
stations. Bars, offices and businesses were closed, an AFP journalist said.
The polls came as neighbouring Sierra Leone issued a clampdown on public gatherings and
New Year festivities following a
surge in new Ebola infections.
Polling station agents prepare a polling station in Monrovia during parliamentary elections yesterday.
UN chief in Guinea on п¬Ѓnal day of Ebola tour
N Secretary General Ban
Ki-Moon arrived in the
Guinean capital Conakry
yesterday on the last day of his
tour of west African countries
hit by the world’s worst outbreak
of Ebola.
The UN chief was greeted at
the airport by Guinea’s foreign
and health ministers Francois
Louceny Fall and Remy Lamah.
Several officials involved in
the drive to end the epidemic in
Guinea were also on hand at the
Ban, who did not speak to reporters, was to hold a news conference later after meeting with
Guinean President Alpha Conde.
He was to head next to the
Malian capital Bamako to wrap
up his tour.
With the United Nations having faced criticism for an allegedly slow response to the virus,
Ban started the tour in Liberia,
the worst-hit country, after flying in from Ghana, where the UN
Ebola mission is headquartered.
He pledged to help the Ebolaravaged countries rebuild their
health systems.
Ban is accompanied by Margaret Chan, head of the World
Health Organisation; David
Ebola death toll in three west African countries hits 7,373: WHO
The death toll from Ebola in the three worst-affected
countries in West Africa has risen to 7,373 among
19,031 cases known to date there, the World Health
Organisation (WHO) said yesterday.
The latest data, posted overnight on the WHO website,
reflected nearly 500 new deaths from the worst ever
outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever in Guinea, Liberia
and Sierra Leone since previous WHO figures were
issued on December 17.
Sierra Leone accounts for the most cases, 8,759,
against 7,819 for Liberia. But Sierra Leone’s death
toll of 2,477 is far less than 3,346 recorded in Liberia,
leading some experts to question the credibility of the
figures reported by Freetown.
Sierra Leone’s government this week launched a major
operation to contain the epidemic in West Africa’s
worst-hit country.
President Ernest Bai Koroma said on national television that travel between all parts of the country had
been restricted as part of “Operation Western Area
Surge”, and public gatherings would be strictly controlled in the run-up to Christmas.
Sierra Leone’s leading doctor, Victor Willoughby, died
of Ebola on Thursday, hours after the arrival in the
country of an experimental drug that could have been
used to treat him, the government’s chief medical
officer said.
On Friday UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon praised
healthcare workers fighting the Ebola virus as he paid
his first visit to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Nabarro, the UN co-ordinator
for the п¬Ѓght against Ebola; and
Anthony Banbury, the head of
the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response or UNMEER.
The п¬Ѓght to contain Ebola has
often come up against attitudinal obstacles.
On Friday, hundreds of angry
youths prevented the medical
aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) from setting up an
Ebola treatment unit in a southern town, saying they did not
want to be infected by the virus.
MSF, which has spearheaded
the п¬Ѓght against Ebola, was setting up the unit in Kissidougou,
a town in the southern forest
near where the outbreak began.
Police commissioner Alfred
Houlemou told AFP by telephone from the scene that the
youths “raided the facility, notably the MSF tents, and they
torched tarpaulins and broke
chairs to chase out the health
personnel and officials”.
Yesterday UN chief Ban urged
countries affected by the Ebola
virus to avoid discriminat-
Ban receiving a gift in Conakry yesterday during his tour of west
African countries hit by Ebola.
ing against healthcare workers
п¬Ѓghting to end the disease.
“There should be no discrimination for those who have been
working or helping with Ebola.
Those people are giving all of
themselves,” Ban told UN officials in Conakry.
His comments follow a meet-
ing on Friday in which Rebecca
Johnson, a Sierra Leonean nurse
who caught the virus, recounted
how she fell gravely ill, recovered
and is now back treating Ebola
Ban said he was moved by
Johnson’s story that she still
faced a stigma as a survivor.
Two men burnt alive in Congo after attack on army building: official
wo men were burnt alive
yesterday by civilians in
the Democratic Republic
of the Congo’s volatile east after
they attacked a military office, a
local official said.
The incident in the town of
Beni, about 250km north of the
North Kivu capital Goma, followed an attack on Friday night.
“The military prosecutor’s offices were attacked around 9pm
by men whose identities are not
yet clear,” Beni’s mayor Bwanakawa Nyonyi told AFP.
“They were repulsed by the
army,” he said, adding that two
of the attackers were found by
locals at a nearby plot early yesterday and “were burnt alive
while three others are in the
hands of the army”.
A military spokesman confirmed the attack on the office
but did not give details.
Beni, a major trade centre in
the area, has been wracked by
violence and unrest over the past
two decades with both local and
foreign armed groups operating
in the region.
(FARDC), the large UN mission
deployed in the troubled country (MONUSCO) and several
diplomats blame a recent wave
of attacks in the Beni region on a
mainly Muslim rebel movement
from neighbouring Uganda, the
Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Recent massacres in Beni have
claimed more than 260 lives
since October, according to local
Driven out of Uganda by the
army of President Yoweri Mu-
seveni, the ADF has maintained
bases in the eastern DRC since
1995 and is currently estimated
to number about 400 п¬Ѓghters.
The Congolese army tried to
wipe out the ADF this year, but
after initial successes in an offensive, the FARDC troops fell
back and the Ugandan rebels reasserted control.
Hero’s welcome for S Africa’s first Miss World in 40 years
Strauss with South African 1958 Miss World, Penny Coelen Rey after
the reigning Miss World’s arrival at OR Tambo International Airport.
esterday South Africa
welcomed back home its
п¬Ѓrst Miss World winner
in 40 years, Rolene Strauss, with
wild cheers and ululations.
Hundreds turned up at O R
Tambo International Airport to
greet Strauss after the 22-yearold medical student was crowned
Miss World 2014 at a glitzy п¬Ѓnal
in London last Sunday.
Dressed in the country’s national colours, South Africans
waved placards, flags and portraits of Strauss in a colourful
ceremony at the airport in Johannesburg.
She accepted a bouquet of
flowers from a young girl in a
wheelchair while one of her fans
held a placard reading “Marry me
Strauss, who is white, is the
п¬Ѓrst Miss World from South Africa since 1974 when the title was
won by Anneline Kriel.
Among those at the airport
was the п¬Ѓrst South African winner of the title in 1958, Penny
Coelen-Rey, now a 74-year-old
“We can be truly proud that
she has brought the title back to
South Africa,” she said.
Leading the welcome party,
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula
evoked the memory of the country’s first black president and
icon, Nelson Mandela, who died
a year ago.
“We are a proud nation today,”
said Mbalula. “Nelson Mandela
is smiling on us, that his idea of
a free democratic South Africa,
a united nation, a rainbow nation
is still alive today.”
Strauss stepped into the airport’s arrivals hall to deafening
cheers and chants for a ceremony
broadcast live by the three main
television channels.
“I have no words to describe
what I am feeling at this moment,” she said, adding that taking part in the Miss World 2014
contest made her realise how
“powerful” South Africa is.
“The words South Africa mean
unity, freedom, forgiveness, a
bright future,” she said.
Despite South Africa’s bitter
apartheid past, Strauss’s victory
received an overwhelmingly positive reaction back home.
Lebohang Nthongoa, a columnist with South African
newspaper The Times, chided
people who had tried to play the
race card over Strauss’s win by
suggesting she is not African.
“I do not see what race has
to do with her victory,” said
Nthongoa. “We need to move
beyond colour and treat every
Strauss (back facing the camera) holds a baby in front of fans, upon her arrival at OR Tambo International
Airport, in Johannesburg.
South African as equals.”
South Africa was barred from
Miss World pageant in 1978 because of apartheid and was only
re-admitted in 1991.
Miss World’s Steven Morley
urged South Africa to take advantage of the Miss World title to
“inspire the world” because it is
now in a “very privileged” position.
“This will be the channel for
South Africa going forward,” he
told a news conference.
Strauss promised to push the
message of “unity and forgiveness” during her reign as Miss
“We are also celebrating 20
years of democracy this year, so
we are an example for the rest of
the world,” she told reporters.
The Soweto Gospel Choir,
which featured at the FIFA World
Cup draw held in Cape Town in
December 2009, led the performance to welcome Strauss.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Four Gitmo detainees
repatriated: Pentagon
our detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay US military prison have been
repatriated to Afghanistan, the Pentagon said yesterday.
The department of defence said that the
Afghan men -- Shawali Khan, Khi Ali Gul,
Abdul Ghani, and Mohamad Zahir -- had
been moved from the prison after a comprehensive review of their case.
“As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, these men were unanimously
approved for transfer by the six departments and agencies comprising the task
force,” a Pentagon statement said.
The releases come hard on the heels of
the transfer of six Guantanamo detainees
to start new lives in Uruguay earlier this
President Barack Obama has vowed to
close the controversial jail on Cuba, set up
to house detainees scooped up during the
US “War on Terror” following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The latest transfers leave 132 detainees
at Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon said.
President Barack Obama signed into
law America’s annual defence policy bill,
but he blasted provisions that ensure the
Guantanamo Bay prison will stay open for
One of Obama’s first actions as president was to order the closure of the prison
facility in Cuba, set up 13 years ago under
president George W Bush, but he has been
thwarted by domestic and international
Obama said he signed the defence policy
bill, known as HR 3979, because it provides “vital benefits for military personnel
and their families, as well as critical con-
for capital
gains tax
Protesters demand the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.
tingency authorities needed to counter the
Islamic State” group and other emerging
But he criticised the law for including
provisions that bar the United States from
building or modifying any prison facilities
to house the Guantanamo inmates.
“As I have said many times, the continued operation of this detention facility
weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships
with key allies and partners and emboldening violent extremists. Closing the detention facility is a national imperative,”
Obama said in a statement.
“Instead of removing unwarranted and
burdensome restrictions that curtail the
executive branch’s options for managing
the detainee population, this bill continues them.”
Six years after Obama was elected
having made a campaign promise to
close the prison, 136 detainees still remain, 67 of whom have been cleared for
release by either the Bush or Obama administrations.
“The Guantanamo detention facility’s
continued operation undermines our national security. We must close it,” Obama
“I call on members from both sides
of the aisle to work with us to bring this
chapter of American history to a close.”
The Guantanamo Bay prison -- built to
house terror suspects after the September
11, 2001 attacks -- has long been controversial, both for the incarceration of uncharged and untried suspects and for the
brutal interrogations of some detainees.
Obama also suggested he could use his
powers to speed up the transfer of some
prisoners, even without Congress’s approval.
“The executive branch must have the
flexibility, with regard to those detainees
who remain, to determine when and where
to prosecute them,” he said.
“In the event that the restrictions on the
transfer of detainees operate in a manner
that violates constitutional separation of
powers principles, my administration will
implement them in a manner that avoids
the constitutional conflict.”
US defence chief Chuck Hagel also criticised the new act, saying it prevented the
Defense Department from pursuing many
cost-saving measures.
“The longer we defer tough choices, the
more difficult they will become down the
road,” Hagel said in a statement.
View from space
Governor Jay Inslee has proposed
a new tax on capital gains to
try to close a projected budget
shortfall of more than $2bn,
rolling back on a no-newtaxes campaign pledge.
The proposal, which Inslee
said would provide muchneeded funds for schools
and other programmes, is included in a $39bn 2015-2017
budget he unveiled in Olympia, where he told reporters
the tax would raise nearly
“We simply have not been
able to generate the revenue
necessary,” Inslee said, citing
economic growth and a failure by lawmakers to close
tax loopholes. “This is a fair
way to raise needed revenue.”
The levy appears to go
against Inslee’s 2012 campaign pledge to veto new tax
Inslee’s budget is likely to
usher in a protracted п¬Ѓght
when the state legislature
reconvenes in January, with
competing proposals expected out of the Republicancontrolled senate and from
Democrats who have a majority in the house.
achievement and providing
essential services should not
depend on risky tax schemes
that threaten our economy,”
said Republican state senator
Andy Hill.
Washington has been one
of nine US states that do not
tax capital gains from the
sale of stocks, bonds, and
other assets, Inslee said, and
the proposed levies are lower
than those in Idaho, Oregon
and California.
Washington state in 2016
would apply a 7% tax to capital gains above $25,000 for
individuals and $50,000 for
couples, which would affect
less than 1% of the state’s taxpayers, with exemptions for
retirement accounts, homes,
farms and forestry, he said.
Inslee’s budget calls for a
$5bn spending increase over
the 2013-2015 period, largely
going to his $2.3bn education plan aimed at bringing
the state in line with courtordered increases in K-12
schools funding.
The state supreme court in
September found the legislature in contempt for failing to
uphold a court order to come
up with a plan to infuse billions of dollars into public
Overall, Inslee’s budget
would raise about $1.4bn in
new revenues through taxes,
including raising the cigarette tax by 50 cents per pack,
closing loopholes, and other
sources. It still leaves the state
roughly $2.4bn short.
On Wednesday, Inslee laid
out a carbon cap-and-trade
programme in 2016 aimed at
raising $1bn per year, with
some $380mn earmarked for
Former councilman
loses bid for new trial
New York
A picture made available by NASA shows a view of the Gulf of Mexico and the US Gulf Coast taken from the International Space Station (ISS) by Expedition 42’s flight
engineer Terry W Virts. The space station and its crew orbit Earth from an altitude of 220 miles, travelling at a speed of approximately 28,164kph. Because the station
completes each trip around the globe in about 92 minutes, the crew experiences 16 sunrises and sunsets each day.
ormer New York City
councilman Larry Seabrook lost a bid for a new
trial on Friday after a federal
judge rejected his claim that
his brother and aide were excluded from watching jury
US district judge Kevin
Castel in Manhattan ruled
that no one was excluded and
said that a request by US district judge Deborah Batts and
her deputy clerk for members
of the public to vacate their
seats meant “make room for
the jurors”.
“An instruction to vacate
the seats is not tantamount
to an instruction to vacate the
courtroom,” he wrote.
Margaret Shalley, Seabrook’s lawyer, said she would
seek further review from the
2nd US circuit court of appeals.
Seabrook, 63, was sentenced in 2013 to п¬Ѓve years
in prison after being found
guilty on charges that he illegally steered funds intended
for community development
to his girlfriend and relatives.
An earlier trial in 2011
ended in a deadlocked jury.
Seabrook was retried in 2012
and found guilty in the trial
that prompted the 2nd Circuit
to seek a review of Batts’ instructions to spectators during jury selection.
At a hearing in November,
Batts, a rarity for judge, took
the stand, testifying that she
had not intended for spectators to vacate the courtroom,
only their seats while jury selection was underway.
Oliver Seabrook, the defendant’s brother, and Carl
Green, his former aide, both
testified that Batts’ deputy
approached them after they
moved in response to her request and repeated that they
had to make room.
Judge restores protections to Great Lakes wolves
federal judge on Friday restored
US Endangered Species Act protections to gray wolves in the
western Great Lakes in a decision hailed
by wildlife advocates for halting wolf
hunting and trapping planned in such
states as Minnesota and Wisconsin.
US wildlife managers in 2012 lifted
federal protections for wolves in the
western Great Lakes, including Michigan, after determining that the animals
had rebounded from near-extinction.
The decision opened the way for stateregulated hunting seasons.
A coalition led by the Humane Society of the United States sued, arguing
the decision was premature and would
subject the several thousand wolves in
the region to liberal hunting and trapping rules that would place their survival at risk.
Federal wildlife biologists counted
nearly 4,400 wolves in Michigan,
Minnesota and Wisconsin at the time
the animals were removed from the
federal endangered and threatened
species list. Government estimates
this year suggest the region is home to
3,748 wolves, a decline mostly due to
hunting and trapping.
US district judge Beryl A. Howell
ordered wolves in the western Great
Lakes to be re-listed after rejecting
claims by the US Fish and Wildlife
Service that states’ management of
wolves – including hunting practices
that in some cases allowed the use of
hounds and bait – would see them
Howell found that the Fish and
Wildlife Service wrongly interpreted
parts of the Endangered Species Act
by carving out certain populations of
wolves to be stripped of protections
rather than assessing the animals or
species as a whole.
The decision by federal wildlife managers to delist wolves in the
western Great Lakes was thus “fatally
flawed” since it was tied to “a scientific
п¬Ѓnding that turned out to be, at best,
premature, or, at worst, erroneous,”
making the agency’s final rule unlawfully “arbitrary and capricious,” she
A US judge in September restored
federal protections to wolves in Wyoming after п¬Ѓnding the Fish and Wildlife Service erred in 2012 in approving
a wolf-management plan by that state
that failed to ensure the animal’s longterm survival.
Agency spokesman Gavin Shire on
Friday called Howell’s relisting order
“a significant step backward”.
“The science clearly shows that
wolves are recovered in the Great Lakes
Region, and we believe the Great Lakes
states have clearly demonstrated their
ability to effectively manage their wolf
populations,” he said.
Great Lakes wolves.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Sony denies having �caved’, still planning film release
Los Angeles
ony Pictures boss Michael
Lynton has denied that
the Hollywood studio has
“caved” by cancelling the release
of The Interview, and said it still
hoped to release the controversial
He also hit back at President
Barack Obama’s claim that it had
made a “mistake” in pulling the
movie, three and a half weeks
after a massive cyber-attack
blamed on North Korea angered
by the п¬Ѓlm.
Probe into
he US Army has wrapped
up its investigation into
how an American soldier
was captured by Taliban insurgents in 2009, and now senior
officers will weigh the п¬Ѓndings,
Pentagon officials said on Friday.
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was
held by militants as a prisoner of
war after disappearing from his
base in eastern Afghanistan.
He was released in May in a
swap for Taliban inmates held at
the US-run prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
After questioning Bergdahl
and others, US Army investigators have п¬Ѓnished their inquiry
and now top commanders and
officials have to decide on the
next step, officials said.
US Defence Secretary Chuck
Hagel was due to be briefed on
the п¬Ѓndings, officials said.
“The secretary has not been
briefed on the results of the
Bergdahl investigation. I suspect he will be, perhaps as early
as this afternoon,” Pentagon
spokesman Rear Admiral John
Kirby said.
Army officers could conclude
that Bergdahl did nothing wrong
or order that he face a court
martial for alleged desertion charge that in theory carries the
death penalty, although execution would be highly unlikely.
The US Army appointed Major-General Kenneth Dahl to
question the 28-year-old after
President Barack Obama came
under п¬Ѓre for releasing п¬Ѓve Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo
Bay to Qatar in exchange for
Bergdahl’s release in May.
Obama has defended the deal,
saying that it was an iron-clad
principle for the United States to
secure the release of its prisoners
of war.
BlackBerry works
with Boeing on
secure phone
BlackBerry Limited is working
with Boeing Company on
Boeing’s high-security Androidbased smartphone, the Canadian
mobile technology company’s
chief executive said on Friday.
The Boeing Black phone being
developed by the Chicagobased aerospace and defence
contractor, which is best known
for jetliners and fighter planes,
can self-destruct if it is tampered
The Boeing Black device encrypts
calls and is aimed at government
agencies and others that need to
keep communications and data
“We’re pleased to announce
that Boeing is collaborating with
BlackBerry to provide a secure
mobile solution for Android
devices utilising our BES 12
platform,” BlackBerry chief
executive John Chen said on a
conference call held to discuss
its quarterly results. “That, by the
way, is all they allow me to say.”
The BlackBerry Enterprise
Service, or BES 12, will allow
clients such as corporations and
government agencies to manage
and secure not just BlackBerry
devices on internal networks, but
those that run on rival operating
systems such as Google’s Android
and Apple’s iOS.
The Boeing phone uses dual SIM
cards and can be configured to
connect with biometric sensors
and satellites.
“We have not caved, we have
not given in, we have persevered
and we have not backed down,”
Lynton told CNN, shortly after
Obama accused Sony of making
a “mistake”.
In a statement a short time
later, Sony said that after cancelling the release, “we immediately
began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the
movie on a different platform”.
“It is still our hope that anyone
who wants to see this movie will
get the opportunity to do so,” the
studio added.
The Sony п¬Ѓlm, a comedy parody that recounts a п¬Ѓctional CIA
plot to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, was
scheduled for release on December 25, Christmas Day.
Hackers launched a massive
cyber-attack on the studio on
November 24, followed by a series of threats, including earlier
this week invoking the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said it had evidence
that Pyongyang was behind the
attack, although North Korea’s
mission to the United Nations
almost immediately denied the
Within a couple of hours,
Obama used an end-of-year
press conference in Washington
to say Sony Pictures had erred
in cancelling the movie’s release
“I’m sympathetic to the concerns that they faced. Having
said all that, yes, I think they
made a mistake,” he told reporters. “We cannot have a society in
which some dictator some place
can start imposing censorship
here in the United States.”
But Lynton rejected Obama’s
“No. Actually the unfortunate
part is in this instance, the president, the press and the public
are mistaken as to what actually
happened,” he said.
Lynton explained how Sony
had made its decision after most
major US theatre chains announced that they would not
screen the movie.
He also rebuffed Obama’s suggestion that Sony should have
asked the US president what to
“We definitely spoke to a senior adviser in the White House,”
the Sony chief said. “The White
House was certainly aware of the
Lynton added that п¬Ѓnding
alternative ways to release the
movie was not straightforward,
basically because distributors,
whether online or retail, were still
apprehensive about the threat.
“Many people don’t want to
come near the movie because
they fear that, in some way shape
or form, their systems, their
servers might be infected with
the malware that came to us,” he
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) said that the online attack showed the chilling power of
cyber criminals – and vowed solidarity with the embattled studio
and its п¬Ѓlmmakers.
“We stand by our director
members Seth Rogen and Evan
Goldberg and hope that a way can
be found to distribute the п¬Ѓlm by
some means, to demonstrate that
our industry is not cowed by extremists of any type,” said DGA
chief Paris Barclay.
He also urged the US authorities to do more to п¬Ѓght cyber terrorism.
The hack illustrates “the
heightened need for the federal
government to increase its efforts
to protect our society against cyber crimes, terrorism and all of
its implications”, said Barclay.
В„ See also page 19
Obama paints picture
of a resurgent America
fter a tough year capped
by a bruising defeat for
his Democrats in last
month’s midterm elections,
no one would blame President
Barack Obama if he were a bit
On Friday at his year-end
press conference, he was anything but down.
“I’m energised. I’m excited
about the prospects for the next
couple of years,” Obama told reporters.
Far from a man beaten down
by partisan politics, Obama –
riding high on a stronger economy, his surprise opening to Cuba
and his unilateral overhaul of the
immigration system – seemed
more confident than ever.
“Pick any metric that you
want – America’s resurgence is
real. We are better off,” he said,
several hours before heading to
his home state of Hawaii for the
holidays with his family. “We are
better positioned than we have
been in a very long time.”
2014 was the best year for job
growth in two decades, Obama
said at a decidedly upbeat press
conference during which he did
not address ongoing thorny nuclear talks with Iran or the controversial report on the CIA’s
brutal treatment of terror suspects after the 9/11 attacks.
“In last year’s final press conference, I said that 2014 would
be a year of action and would be
a breakthrough year for America. And it has been,” Obama said.
The president added that
he was looking forward to the
“fourth quarter” of his presi-
Obama responding to a question during his end of the year press conference in the briefing room of the White House.
dency – a sports reference from
an avid basketball fan and player.
This year hasn’t always been
as sunny.
At the end of a campaign that
saw many candidates from his
own party keep their distance
from him, and his poll numbers
waning, Obama watched the
Democrats lose control of the
Senate in the mid-term elections.
For the last two years of his
presidency, Obama will not have
Parents of Colorado
theatre gunman
plead for son’s life
he parents of the man
charged in the fatal
shootings of 12 people at
a Colorado movie theatre broke
their silence over the 2012 killings on Friday, saying their son
is mentally ill, “not a monster”,
and should be spared the death
Arlene and Robert Holmes
urged prosecutors to accept
a guilty plea from their son,
James Holmes, and a life sentence without parole to avoid
the “additional trauma” that
a lengthy trial would inflict on
survivors and victims’ families.
“The quest for a death sentence for our mentally ill son
can stop today, and everyone would be spared needless pain,” the couple said in a
statement issued through their
attorney and published by the
Denver Post.
The couple said they spend
“every moment” thinking of
the victims. “We know the best
outcome for our severely mentally ill son would be treatment
for life in a psychiatric institution.”
Holmes, 27, has pleaded not
guilty by reason of insanity to
opening п¬Ѓre inside a Denverarea cinema in July 2012 during a midnight screening of the
Batman п¬Ѓlm The Dark Knight
Rises, killing 12 movie-goers
and wounding dozens more.
Prosecutors have charged
Holmes with multiple counts
of п¬Ѓrst-degree murder and attempted murder and said they
will seek the death penalty for
the California native if he is
Defence lawyers have conceded that Holmes was the
lone gunman but say he was
in the throes of a psychotic
episode, a claim his parents repeated in their statement.
“He is a human being
gripped by a severe mental illness,” they said of their son,
adding that before the mass
shooting, “he never harmed
anyone and ... had no criminal
Holmes’ public defenders
have said in a court п¬Ѓling that
their client would plead guilty
if the prosecutors would take
capital punishment off the table, an offer that District Attorney George Brauchler rejected.
it easy when dealing with a Congress run by rival Republicans.
Just a few months ago, Obama
seemed aloof, often hesitant – a
man who has lost the п¬Ѓre that
carried him to a historic election
victory in 2008.
That image was reinforced
by the pointed barbs launched
by former Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
chief Leon Panetta, who said his
former boss “relies on the logic
of a law professor rather than the
passion of a leader”.
For the past six weeks, however, Obama has been transformed.
He has come out swinging
– on Internet neutrality, on climate change, on immigration
and, most surprisingly, on a historic shift in Cuba policy.
On Friday, he was relaxed,
joking with reporters.
He vowed to “respond” to
North Korea’s hack of Sony Pictures, and offered a long defence
of his unexpected rapprochement with Havana after more
than 50 years of acrimony.
“What I know deep in my
bones is that if you’ve done
the same thing for 50 years and
nothing has changed, you should
try something different if you
want a different outcome,” he
Side-stepping the idea of a
quick trip to the communistruled island, Obama did say he
hoped to go at some point.
“I’m a fairly young man so I
imagine that at some point in my
life, I will have the opportunity
to visit Cuba and enjoy interacting with the Cuban people,” he
told reporters.
The 53-year-old president
described a scene that was almost unthinkable a week ago –
his telephone conversation with
Raul Castro, the 83-year-old
Cuban leader.
After explaining Washington’s position to Castro – “about
15 minutes, which on the phone
is a pretty long time” – Obama
said he apologised for speaking
at length.
He said that Castro jokingly
replied: “Don’t worry about it,
Mr President - you’re still a
young man and you have still the
chance to break Fidel’s record
– he once spoke seven hours
In a п¬Ѓrst, Obama opted to only
take questions from female journalists.
White House spokesman Josh
Earnest acknowledged that it
was a deliberate choice.
“There are many women from
a variety of news organisations
who day in and day out do the
hard work of covering the president of the United States,” Earnest said. “As the questioner
list started to come together, we
realised that we had a unique
opportunity to highlight that
fact at the president’s closelywatched, end of the year news
Obama ended on a cheery
note, saying that while American
institutions sometimes “don’t
work as well as they should...
things get better”.
“And now I’m going to go on
vacation,” he added.
Executions in US at 20-year low: report
mid growing concerns
about how executions are
carried out in the United
States, the number of prison inmates being put to death fell to
a 20-year low in 2014, the Death
Penalty Information Centre said
in a report issued on Thursday.
The 35 executions this year
was the lowest since 1994, said
the Washington-based nonprofit, which does not take a
position on whether the death
penalty should be abolished,
in its annual survey of national
The number of people sentenced to death is also falling,
the report said, reaching 72 by
mid-December of 2014 the lowest in 40 years.
The report said that highprofile botched executions in
Ohio, Arizona and especially the
execution of Clayton Lockett in
Oklahoma also led to what the
centre described as “outcry and
delays” that indicate increasing concerns among the public
about how the death penalty is
In all three of those states, executions by lethal injection using new drug combinations took
longer than expected, with witnesses in some cases indicating
that inmates appeared to be in
In the Oklahoma execution,
Lockett lifted his head 13 minutes after receiving the lethal
A doctor called a halt to the
procedure but Lockett died
minutes later.
Only seven of 32 states that
have the death penalty on the
books executed inmates in 2014,
with the bulk coming from just
three states: Texas, Missouri
and Florida, the report said.
Richard Dieter, the centre’s
executive director, said evidence
in recent years suggests “the
death penalty is becoming irrelevant as a criminal justice tool”.
Michael Rushford, president of the pro-death penalty
Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, said there is little evidence
that juries are less likely to impose death sentences or that the
public at large is opposed to the
death penalty.
The lower number of executions is, in part, a result of fewer
death penalty-eligible crimes
being committed in recent
years, he said.
The US had 39 executions in
2013, the п¬Ѓfth- highest total in
the world behind China, Iran,
Iraq and Saudi Arabia, according to a report released in May
by the human rights organisation Amnesty International.
Oklahoma to re-use lethal injection mix
Oklahoma City
klahoma plans to use
the same lethal injection drug combination it
employed during a botched execution in April, Department of
Corrections (DOC) officials told
a federal court hearing arguments on whether to halt death
sentences in the state from being carried out.
Lawyers for 21 death row in-
mates in Oklahoma, four of
whom are scheduled to die next
year, have asked the court to
suspend future executions following the lethal injection of
convicted murderer Clayton
DOC director Robert Patton
testified that the sedative midazolam would be used in the upcoming executions, adding that
Oklahoma chose the same drug
protocol as Florida, which has
won approval to use its combination from a court in that state.
In testimony for the plaintiffs
this week, David Lubarsky, an
anaesthesiologist at the University of Miami Miller School
of Medicine, said midazolam
cannot achieve the levels of unconsciousness needed for surgical procedures, and is therefore
problematic for executions.
Lockett appeared to be conscious for longer than expected
and probably was in pain when
the п¬Ѓnal drugs in the injection,
which were supposed to end his
life, were administered, medical
experts testified earlier.
Prison officials have said their
lethal injection combinations
are humane and appropriate.
After the botched execution,
they drew up new protocols they
said would remedy problems.
Several states, including
Oklahoma have struggled to obtain drugs for executions after
many pharmaceutical companies imposed sales bans because
they object to having medications made for other purposes
used in lethal injections.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Anniversary celebration
refugees emerge
from Cambodia
jungle hideout
Phnom Penh
People perform during celebrations to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Vietnam People’s Army at the National Convention Centre in Hanoi
yesterday. The Vietnam People’s Army was founded on December 22, 1944 and led by General Vo Nguyen Giap in Cao Bang province, initially with only 34 members.
China pledges $11.5bn to
Mekong region countries
ight hill tribe �Montagnards’ have emerged
from hiding in a remote Cambodian border area
where they crossed from Vietnam to flee persecution,
the UN Refugee Agency said
The group sought refuge
in the jungle in Cambodia’s
province for more than seven
Fears had mounted for
their health in the malariaridden jungle area where they
remained hidden — but in
contact with rights groups
and the UN — fearing arrest
and deportation by Cambodian authorities.
A UN official and a local
rights activist saud that eight
Montagnards, including a
woman, emerged from their
hiding and were met by a UN
team early yesterday.
“We are transporting them
out of the jungle,” the UN official saidby telephone.
Rights activists said another group of five remained
in the jungle and were considering contacting the UN
“Montagnards” is a French
term referring to the patchwork of mainly Christian
ethnic minority groups that
live in Vietnam’s mountainous Central Highlands region.
Many Montagnard groups
practise forms of evangelical
Protestantism, which puts
them at odds with Vietnam’s
communist rulers who tightly control religion.
Khieu Sopheak, a Cambodian interior ministry
spokesman, accused the UN
of violating the kingdom’s
sovereignty by rescuing the
Cambodian authorities.
“They can bring them to
Phnom Penh, but whether or
not they are considered as
refugees will be decided by
the host country,” he said.
The UN has said local
Cambodian authorities had
denied UN access to help the
Montagnards, who were from
the Jarai ethnic minority
group and reportedly suffering from various physical ailments including dengue fever
and malaria.
“Now, they are happy because they met with the UN
directly,” said Chhay Thi,
Rattanakiri co-ordinator for
the Cambodian rights group
“They hope they will not
be arrested and deported,” he
In 2001 Vietnamese troops
crushed protests in the Central Highlands, prompting an
exodus of Montagnards.
Vietnam routinely asks
Cambodia to return Montagnard people who flee.
In May 2011 thousands of
Hmong people -- one of the
Montagnard groups -- gathered in Vietnam’s remote
northwest apparently awaiting the arrival of a “messiah”.
The gathering was broken
up by authorities in circumstances which remain unclear.
Dozens of people have
been jailed over the incident,
which Vietnam has cast as a
separatist plot to overthrow
its communist government.
hina will provide more
than $11.5bn in loans
and aid to neighbouring Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar,
Thailand and Vietnam, mostly
for infrastructure and industrial
capacity building, state media
said yesterday.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang
pledged $1bn in funding for infrastructure, $490mn aid for
poverty reduction, and $10bn in
“special loans”, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Li announced the loans in
Bangkok at a summit of countries along the Mekong river, a
day after he vowed to help construct a railway through Thailand which Xinhua said will cost
Few details were given on
projects to be funded, but Xinhua said China will export production capacity in industries
such as electricity, telecommunication, steel and cement.
China also promised to invest
$16.4mn to dredge waterways
along the Mekong River and prevent natural disasters, Xinhua
cited Li as saying.
Four drown in floods in
north-eastern Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur
(From left) Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen,
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, China’s Premier Li Keqiang, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein and Asian Development Bank (ADB)
President Takehiko Nakao pose for photographers during the opening ceremony of the fifth Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Summit at a hotel in
Bangkok yesterday.
Beijing has previously come
under п¬Ѓre from environmentalists for building dams along the
upper-reaches of the Mekong in
southwestern China, which have
been blamed for flooding along
the river.
Dams and hydro-electric
power schemes were expected
to be high on the agenda of the
Greater Mekong Summit, despite mounting concerns over
environmental and social impacts.
China has in recent months
devoted diplomatic energy as
well as huge sums of money to
wooing Southeast Asia, where
its reputation as a regional
powerhouse is blighted by sea
disputes and fears over its longterm intentions.
In November, Beijing pledged
$20bn in soft loans and for infrastructure projects to the
10-members of the Association
of Southeast Asian nations dur-
ing a summit in Myanmar.
Experts say Beijing is determined to outmanoeuvre the
US, which has embarked on a
security “pivot” towards Asia,
as well bolster its trade routes
— and access to resources — as
China’s rapid economic
growth continues.
t least four people
drowned in floods that
have hit north-eastern
Malaysia during the past three
days and more than 25,000
people have fled to evacuation
centres, welfare and rescue officials said yesterday.
All four fatalities were from
the state of Kelantan where
more than 15,640 people have
left their homes and several
roads were impassable due
to floods brought about by
heavy rains, the Kelantan
state fire and rescue department said.
Among the fatalities was a
20-month-old baby girl who
fell into the floodwaters late
Thursday after she slipped
from her mother’s arms.
The infant’s body has not
been found. In the adjacent
state of Terengganu, 8,709
people were staying in 123
evacuation centres due to the
A total of more than 1,000
people have also abandoned
their homes in the states of
Johor and Pahang due to the
floods. The Malaysian Meteorological Department yesterday warned that intermittent and occasionally heavy
rains will persist in Kelantan
and Terengganu.
After tsunami, п¬Ѓshermen struggle against tide of tourism in Thailand
Thung Wa
fter the tsunami pounded
Thailand’s Andaman Sea
coast a decade ago, the
ethnic Moklen п¬Ѓshing communities that have lived here for
generations buried their dead,
fought off land grabs to rebuild
their homes, and — surprisingly
— sighed in relief.
The tsunami had destroyed
sprawling seafront luxury resorts that had blocked public access to the sea and had halted the
rampant tourism that threatened
to push the Moklen п¬Ѓshermen off
their ancestral lands in Phang
Nga province, north of the resort
island of Phuket.
In effect, the disaster gave
them unfettered access to the
shore again and time to pursue
their traditional way of life.
That post-tsunami reprieve
has ended, the Moklens say;
tourist arrivals have shot up
from 11.6mn in 2005 to 21.9mn
in January-November this year
-- not counting the end-of-year
peak holiday season -- while
land prices have risen tenfold.
The Moklens again fear their
way of life is close to extinction.
“I wish another tsunami
would hit, so the villagers could
have just a bit more time to
live our way of life,” said Hong
Klathalay, a 48-year-old community leader in the Moklen village of Thung Wa, as he walked
across low sand dunes to his
modest wooden boat parked in
a lagoon.
At the forested edge of the
lagoon stands the shell of an ornate traditional Thai ceramictiled building that withstood the
tsunami and is now overgrown
with weeds and creepers.
On the side fronting the sea,
construction machinery pounds
away on a plot of land with new
retaining walls and the foundation of a large hotel.
“They build a wall on this side,
and then the water will push in
on the other side. So they’ll build
another wall there and п¬Ѓll up
the land. Once it’s all walled in,
we’re finished,” Hong said angrily, pointing to the construction site.
The dark-skinned Moklens
-- an ethnic group linked to the
Moken sea gypsies of the Andaman Islands -- live and breathe
the sea, with intricately knotted
Hong Klathalay carries gear to his fishing boat as he walks past a tree
brought down by the 2004 tsunami in Khao Lak, Phang Nga province.
п¬Ѓshing traps and nets stowed
neatly in their yards.
Phang Nga and Phuket are
home to about 4,000 Moklens,
who have lived in the region
since long before the tourism
boom, but most do not legally
own the land they live on, according to Narumon Arunotai,
an anthropologist specialising
in the region’s sea gypsy ethnic
So when the tsunami — which
left 5,395 dead and 2,932 missing
in Thailand, including more than
2,000 foreign tourists — swept
away the Moklens’ bamboo
thatch bungalows, the landown-
ers who held the deeds tried to
evict them.
However, post-tsunami news
coverage and human rights research had raised awareness of
their land tenure woes, and help
from non-governmental organisations strengthened the Moklens’ determination to fight for
their rights.
“If it weren’t for the tsunami,
these people would all have been
driven out by now,” said Sakda
Phanrangsee, a community activist who has brought the Moklens
to the capital Bangkok to voice
their woes to government officials.
“The tsunami stopped real estate and tourism but now tourism
is making a comeback.”
One of the key problems to
emerge across tsunami-affected
countries was residents’ rights to
the land they lived on in.
In Thailand, where tourism accounts for about 10% of the economy, the property owners listed
on land deeds saw their prime
shorefront real estate -- including
the Moklen village of Tap Tawan,
north of the Khao Lak resort area
and Thung Wa - cleared of residents. Twenty people died in Tap
Tawan, 79 homes were destroyed
and only п¬Ѓve remained standing.
The survivors were evacuated
to nearby rubber plantations on
higher ground.
Within weeks of the disaster,
the landowner forbade villagers
from returning, but the government stepped in and allowed survivors to rebuild. A lengthy legal
battle ensued.
“We had to go to court two to
three times a month, and we were
stressed every single time. Once
or twice, we were at court until
1am,” said soft-spoken Moklen
community leader Thien Harntalay, 47.
“We were scared the investor
(landowner) would come shoot
us,” he said, sitting on the sandy
tiled floor of his cement bungalow
while his wife fried the evening’s
Four years ago, they reached an
out-of-court settlement with the
landowner, who agreed to sign
over half of his 3.84-hectare plot
to 28 villagers, Thien said, clutching a thick stack of photocopies of
the villagers’ new land deeds.
Now villagers worry about
their access to the sea and the
area where they park their п¬Ѓshing boats, as land prices have shot
up and investors often visit to eye
the shorefront properties, Thien
said, concerned that new owners
will be less forgiving of their trespasses.
“In the future, if they sell that
land, where will we villagers park
our boats?”
Local activist Maitree Jongkraijug argues the government has
focused only on tourist dollars and
neglected the needs of “their own
people walking on the land”.
According to the World Bank,
foreign tourists spent $13bn in
Thailand in 2004, with that п¬Ѓgure dropping the year after the
tsunami to $12.1bn. The Tourism
Authority of Thailand projects
international visitors will spend
$36.5bn in the country this year.
“They protect foreigners and
treat them like an endangered
species,” Maitree said, complaining that beaches once open to the
public have been cordoned off by
hotels and resorts. “They are protected for foreigners to swim, but
we’re not allowed to go in.”
Tourism officials in Phang Nga
declined comment on the issue.
According to anthropologist
Narumon, the solution is to ensure the Moklens have a say in the
area’s development, though she
acknowledges this is practically
unheard of.
Sakda says the Moklens do not
want land deeds, but clear written
agreements that no matter who
buys the shorefront properties,
they will be allowed to park their
boats and reach the sea.
Sitting next to him, sharing a
bowl of fried п¬Ѓsh, Thien carefully
put the stack of land documents
back in the plastic folder and onto
the shelf under the television.
“Before, if we got a threat, we
would up and move but there’s
nowhere left to go,” he said, shaking his head sadly. “This is our
land. This is where we were born.
This is where we’re from.”
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Grandfather defends petition to expel HIV-positive boy
he grandfather of a Chinese HIV-positive boy has
defended his support for a
petition to banish him from their
village, media reported yesterday, in a case that has sparked
intense soul-searching in China.
Some 200 residents — including the eight-year-old’s own
grandfather — signed a petition
to expel him from their village in
China’s southwestern Sichuan
province, in a bid to “protect villagers’ health”.
The case has prompted huge
debate on Chinese social media
and highlighted the stigma attached to the disease in a coun-
try where sufferers face widespread discrimination.
The child’s grandfather and
guardian Luo Wenhui told the
Beijing News daily that when he
signed the petition he “hoped
that it would make things better,” as the boy would receive
improved care elsewhere.
“We are getting too old, and
he is getting more naughty...we
don’t have the ability to look after him,” Luo said.
“If he didn’t live better outside the village, he could come
The boy, who has been given
the pseudonym Kunkun by media, was left in his grandfather’s
care when both his parents left
the impoverished village to seek
Kunkun remains under his
grandfather’s care in the village
for the present, the Beijing News
Luo, who is aged over 60, told
the paper that he “did not have
long to live” and that the petition
was suggested by a local journalist as a way of drawing attention
to his grandson’s plight.
Reports said Kunkun was born
Mother arrested for murder
of eight children in Australia
ustralian police said yesterday they had arrested
the mother of all but one
of eight children reportedly
stabbed to death in the northern
city of Cairns, as vigils were held
to mourn the tragedy.
Officers have not revealed the
cause of death of the children,
the youngest of which was a toddler and the oldest a teenager,
but said knives were found at
the house where the bodies were
discovered on Friday morning.
“The 37-year-old mother of
several of the children involved
in this incident has been arrested
for murder overnight and is currently under police guard at the
Cairns Base Hospital,” detective
inspector Bruno Asnicar told reporters.
Flowers and teddy bears were
laid near the crime scene and
church services were held overnight in Cairns, where police
said they are working closely
with the Torres Strait Islander
community to which the family
Police have confirmed the
dead as four girls -- aged two, 11,
12 and 14 and four boys aged п¬Ѓve,
six, eight and nine, but said they
would not name the family for
cultural reasons. In some indigenous cultures it is considered
disrespectful to say a deceased
person’s name.
The woman arrested is the
mother of the seven younger
children and the aunt of the
14-year-old girl. She has not
been charged, but Queensland
Police said she was assisting
them with their inquiries.
“She’s stable and being looked
after,” Asnicar said, adding
that the woman, who has stab
wounds to her upper body, was
“awake... lucid and speaking”.
He could not say whether her
wounds were self-inflicted.
The murders have rocked
Australia, which is still reeling
from a dramatic siege in a central Sydney cafe this week that
left two hostages and a gunman dead and prompted a huge
HIV-positive through transmission from his mother.
He was reportedly referred to
as a “time bomb” by villagers
worried about being infected,
while local children shunned
The Global Times said the
boy’s mother left the family
in 2006, while his father “lost
contact” after Kunkun’s con-
proposes joint
probe with US
into cyber attack
Children lay flowers yesterday at the scene where eight children ranging from babies to teenagers were found dead in a house in the northern
Australian city of Cairns.
outpouring of emotion. “This
is just an ordinary neighbourhood,” Asnicar said. “A lot of
good people, a lot of kids in the
area and this is just something
that has caught everybody by
surprise. It’s absolutely tragic.”
A makeshift memorial has
been established in a park near
the crime scene, with scores
of people visiting yesterday to
leave flowers, candles and toys
in remembrance of the children.
Torres Shire Council Mayor
Pedro Stephen told Australian
Associated Press that the entire
region was grieving.
“It’s like a bomb has gone
off,” he said. “Everyone is in
shock.” “There will be people
who have never, ever been to
Cairns who will be touched by
this tragedy,” added Acting Assistant Police Commissioner
Paul Taylor.
Queensland state minister Tim Nicholls, who laid a
wreath at the site, said police
had not yet explained the mo-
tive behind the killings.
“As a father myself with
three children under 15, I can
only imagine the grief this
community is feeling as they
come to grips with the events,”
he said.
The dead children were reportedly discovered by the
mother’s 20-year-old son when
he arrived at the house in the
Cairns suburb of Manoora on
Friday morning.
Reports said a woman was
heard screaming in the house on
Thursday night, with Brisbane’s
Courier-Mail saying she had
shouted: “Don’t let them take
away from us. God bless us. Forgive me for what I’ll do.”
A 13-year-old girl who walked
a friend who lived in the house
home on Thursday night said
she had met the mother, who
had given her money for a taxi
ride home. “She was saying stuff
about God and other stuff,” she
told Australian Associated Press.
“She said: �Papa God gave me the
power to do anything’.”
dition was diagnosed. Kunkun
told the Beijing News that he
could not remember what his
parents looked like, adding:
“Other children don’t play
with me.”
Asked if he would like to
leave the village, the newspaper reported that the boy shook
his head before running off to
chase a nearby duck.
orth Korea called yesterday for a joint investigation with the
US into a crippling cyber attack on Sony Pictures, denouncing Washington’s “slandering” after President Barack
Obama warned Pyongyang of
The US blames the isolated
state for the hacking which
prompted the cancellation of
the Christmas Day release of
“The Interview”, a madcap
romp about a CIA plot to kill
leader Kim Jong-Un which infuriated North Korea.
“As the US is spreading
groundless allegations and
slandering us, we propose a
joint investigation with it into
this incident,” a foreign ministry spokesman in Pyongyang
“Without resorting to such
tortures as were used by the
US CIA, we have means to
prove that this incident has
nothing to do with us,” the
spokesman was quoted as saying by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Pyongyang has repeatedly
denied the secretive state was
behind the hacking, which led
to the release of a trove of embarrassing emails, scripts and
other internal communications, including information
about salaries and employee
health records.
“The US must bear it mind
that grave consequences
would follow if it rejects our
proposal and continues blabbering about so-called retaliations against us”, the spokesman said.
Addressing reporters after
the FBI said Pyongyang was to
blame, Obama said Washington would never bow to “some
“We can confirm that North
Korea engaged in this attack,”
Obama said. “We will respond. We will respond proportionately and we’ll respond
in a place and time and manner that we choose.”
While the president said
he was sympathetic to Sony’s
plight, he also said the movie
giant had “made a mistake” in
cancelling the release.
Sony defended its decision,
made after anonymous hackers invoked the 9/11 attacks in
threatening cinemas screening the п¬Ѓlm, which prompted
theatre chains to say they
would not risk showing it.
North Korea said insults
against “our highest authority” would not be tolerated,
but it rebuffed the notion of
cinema attacks.
“But in case we have to retaliate, we would not carry out
terrorist attacks on innocent
viewers at movie theatres but
stage frontal attacks on those
who are responsible for the
hostile activities against the
DPRK (North Korea) and their
headquarters,” the spokesman
Just before Obama took the
podium, the Federal Bureau of
Investigation explained how it
had concluded that North Korea was to blame.
The attackers used malware
to break into the studio and
render thousands of Sony Pictures computers inoperable,
forcing the company to take
its entire network offline, the
FBI said. It said analysis of the
software tools used revealed
links to other malware known
to have been developed by
“North Korean actors”.
The FBI also cited “significant overlap” between the attack and other “malicious cyber-activity” with direct links
to Pyongyang, including an
attack on South Korean banks
carried out by North Korea.
“Such acts of intimidation
fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behaviour,” the
agency said in a statement.
North Korea slams
UN vote, vows to
bolster N-capacity
North Korea yesterday vowed to
bolster its nuclear capacity, slamming a UN resolution calling for
it to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over
its human rights record. The UN
General Assembly on Thursday
adopted a resolution by a strong
majority that asks the Security
Council to refer North Korea to
the ICC and to consider targeted
sanctions against the Pyongyang
leadership for the repression of its
citizens. North Korea will increase
“efforts to bolster up in every way
its capability for self-defence including nuclear force”, the foreign
ministry said in a statement carried on the official Korean Central
News Agency.
5.9 quake hits Japan’s
Honshu island
A 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan’s Honshu island yesterday, the US
Geological Survey said, shaking Fukushima where crippled nuclear power
plants are located, but local media
said there was no tsunami warning.
USGS said the quake’s epicentre
was located 68km east-northeast of
Iwaki on Honshu. It was measured at
a depth of 37km. A spokesman for
Tokyo Electric Power, which owns the
nuclear plants, said no irregularities
have been found at its Fukushima
Daiichi or Daini plants.
Xi warns HK, Macau in �one China’ message
hinese President Xi Jinping warned Hong Kong
and Macau yesterday to
remember they are part of “one
China”, as pro-democracy campaigners in both semi-autonomous territories call for free
leadership elections.
Dozens of protesters marched
through Macau’s historic centre yesterday afternoon as Xi
wrapped up his two-day visit
to mark the 15th anniversary of
the handover from Portugal —
just days after police cleared the
last remaining protest sites in
neighbouring Hong Kong.
Residents of all ages walked in
the middle of the road through
the historic district shouting:
“We want universal suffrage”
through megaphones, some
wrapped in banners and others with slogans painted across
their faces.
“I am uncertain about
Macau’s future, so we have to
come out to make noise for
ourselves,” said Mark Pang, a
15-year-old high school student
who held up an open yellow umbrella -- the symbol of the Hong
Kong democracy movement.
The protest march culminated in a public square where
Protesters march during a pro-democracy protest in Macau yesterday.
around 100 demonstrators remained in the early evening,
though some bystanders were
confused by the scene.
“Are these people from Hong
Kong?” asked one.
Xi warned both territories
against a “misguided approach”
in a speech yesterday.
“We must both adhere to the
�one China’ principle and respect the difference of the two
systems,” Xi said at the inauguration of Macau’s chief executive Fernando Chui, who was
selected for a second term by a
pro-Beijing committee in August.
“At no time should we focus
only on one side to the neglect
of the other. This is the only
way leading to sound and steady
progress. Otherwise a misguided approach from the beginning, just like putting one’s left
foot into the right shoe, would
lead us to nowhere,” Xi said.
He also warned against “external infiltration and interference” to safeguard the stability
of Macau. Beijing has accused
foreign forces of stirring up the
Hong Kong protests.
Security was tight during the
trip, with reporters on the airport tarmac waiting for Xi’s arrival Friday not allowed to hold
umbrellas and handed raincoats
There were also reports that
some visitors and journalists
from Hong Kong were denied
entry after being told their
names were on a blacklist.
Both Macau and Hong Kong
enjoy freedoms unseen on the
mainland -- but their leaders
are selected by a loyalist committee.
“In the light of Hong Kong’s
umbrella movement, I think
Macau people should escalate
our actions for democracy,” local protest leader Jason Chao
“We need a democratic political system in which the citizens
can hold the officials accountable,” Chao said, adding that
despite a huge economic boom
in the gambling enclave in the
past decade, the quality of life
for citizens has been on the decline, with government officials
seen as too close to big business.
Similar discontent over corruption and social inequality
partly underpins the Hong Kong
Though Macau’s democracy
movement is not on the scale of
Hong Kong’s, the territory saw
its largest ever protest in May
over proposed cash benefits for
retired Macau officials, with
20,000 people taking part.
Xi gave his backing to Hong
Kong leader Leung Chun-ying,
who he met in Macau on Friday,
pledging “full trust” in him following the clearance of the protest camps which blocked major
highways for over two months.
Xi’s visit was also an opportunity to drive home the message that the territory needs to
diversify away from casinos,
which have seen revenues dive
owing to a national anti-corruption drive and a stuttering
He called on Macau to “promote appropriately diversified
and sustainable economic development” during his speech
yesterday, before leaving the
enclave in the late afternoon.
Macau is the only part of
China where casino gambling is
legal and has depended on highrollers from the mainland.
But Beijing has warned the
southern territory to reconsider
its dependence on gaming and is
reported to already be clamping
down on illicit funds channelled
from the mainland through
its casinos.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Prostitute killer is
sent to Broadmoor
Evening Standard
former bank worker who killed a
prostitute after hearing voices telling him that women are the devil
was sent to Broadmoor indefinitely.
Police mounted a major manhunt for
Robert Fraser after two attacks on escort
women in central London earlier this year.
The paranoid-schizophrenic was п¬Ѓnally
arrested after being spotted by a member
of the public in a Leicester Square shop.
He was found to have been treated for
his psychiatric condition since 2009 and
had told doctors he believed that God represented men and the devil represented
However he had been thrown out of a
mental hospital against his will in November 2013 because he was thought to have
been a malingerer, the Old Bailey heard.
Just weeks later in January he attacked
an escort girl in her home in Marylebone
tying her up and leaving her terrified she
was going to die.
She was a 27-year-old Belgian national
and Fraser stuffed her underwear in her
mouth and twisted her head “as if he was
trying to break her neck.”
She managed to beat him off but was so
terrified she could not contact the police
until the following day.
Ten weeks later he battered Maria Duque-Tunjano, a 48-year-old Columbian,
in her Earl’s Court flat so brutally that she
died of a heart attack.
Fraser, 40 had come to Britain from Jamaica and had lived “a stable and productive life” working in two banks.
However when his marriage broke up he
turned to drug taking and became increasingly unwell leading to “hearing voices on
an almost daily basis”.
Prosecutor Simon Denison QC told the
court that Fraser had told doctors that
“voices in his head had told him his enemies were to be found in sex workers disguised as women but were really men”.
Evening Standard
Robert Fraser murdered sex worker Maria Duque-Tunjano
He added: “The doctors agree that at the
time of the killing he was suffering from an
abnormality of mental function arising
from paranoid schizophrenia.”
Today Fraser pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter on the
grounds of diminished responsibility.
He also pleaded guilty to stealing ВЈ150
and a mobile phone from Duque-Tunjano.
He pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment, sexual assault and robbery of
ВЈ1,000 cash from the Belgian woman, who
cannot be named for legal reasons.
Prosecutor Simon Denison QC said that
in the light of the psychiatric reports the
pleas were acceptable and it was not in the
public interest to push for a trial.
Judge John Bevan QC ordered that he
be detained under the Mental Health Act
without limit of time.
Police have arrested two men in connection with the investigation into a nightclub shooting after a dramatic car chase
through north London.
Detectives from the Met’s Trident gun
crime unit pursued a white BMW before
blockading it in an Esso garage in Stamford
Hill on Wednesday night.
A man, wearing a green parka, blue jeans
and boots, was handcuffed and ordered to
sit on the forecourt as officers searched the
car before arresting him and an accomplice.
A number of bags were removed and
taken away by forensic teams for examination.
A witness said: “There were about 30
undercover police in 10 cars surrounding
the BMW.”
The operation followed a shooting outside The Garage in Highbury Crescent at
11.40pm on Monday during a concert by
rappers Southern Equilibrium.
The 25-year-old victim was shot in the
leg and made his way to a nearby hospital,
where he remains in a stable condition. His
injuries are not life-threatening.
A concert the following night by London-based Grime MC Wiley was postponed by promoters SJM because the venue was “a crime scene”.
Scotland Yard today said two men, aged
28 and 30, had been arrested at the garage
at around 8.30pm on suspicion of causing
grievous bodily harm and possession of a
Russian billionaire loses bid to lift
freeze order on ВЈ1bn in assets
Evening Standard
he billionaire partner of
a London socialite who
complains she cannot survive on ВЈ10,000 a week yesterday lost his high court bid to lift
a worldwide freezing order on
ВЈ1bn of his assets.
Sergei Pugachev, 51 once
known as the “Kremlin’s banker”,
is accused of embezzling $2.5bn
from Mezhprombank, the Russian bank he founded.
Court hearings are underway
in London and Moscow against
the oligarch, who was once
ranked by Forbes magazine at no
50 in the “Golden 100” of Russia’s wealthiest men.
His partner Alexandra Tolstoy,
a distant cousin of the War and
speaks out
Peace writer, has complained
about the court order which
limits the couple’s spending to
ВЈ10,000 per week.
It was imposed in July after an
application by DIA, the bank’s
liquidators, and the billionaire’s
attempt to have it lifted has now
been rejected by justice Mann.
Pugachev denies any wrongdoing and says he had no involvement in the Russian bank after
becoming a senator in his homeland in 2001.
But the judge said that the evidence that he had at least some
control was “of real weight”
while there was also strong evidence “to gainsay his interpretation of events”.
The judge also spoke about Pugachev’s “propensity to take personal benefit from the bank” and
“his desire to shield his assets”.
Tolstoy has hit out at the п¬Ѓnancial strictures when she has
to run a large London townhouse,
a three-bedroom cottage in Oxfordshire and a historic chateau
in 15 acres of grounds overlooking the bay at Nice.
The Belle Epoque chateau is
only one of three great houses of
that era on the Cote d’Azur – one
of the others is owned by Sir Elton John.
She has three nannies on rota
for her three children, numerous
housekeepers, security guards,
drivers, gardeners, a live-in doctor and a personal trainer.
The court order bans the couple from selling any of their assets but the ВЈ10,000 limit does
not include legal fees.
When the court imposed the
freeze Tolstoy, 41, complained
it was “a draconian order form a
corrupt country [Russia]”.
“We are just surviving at the
moment,” she said to the Daily
Mail while admitting she was “a
“Sergei tells me off for buying too much but he says we
shouldn’t be ashamed of our
lifestyle and, yes, I love shopping.”
Pugachev had been a close
ally of President Vladimir Putin
and is said to have fled Russia for
London in January 2011 using a
diplomatic passport.
He had founded the bank
in 1992 and was a member of
former president Boris Yeltsin’s
inner circle before becoming a
close confidante of Putin.
In December 2008 the Mezhprombank received $1.5bn worth
of emergency bailout funding
from the Russian government
but defaulted in 2010 with a loss
of ВЈ600mn.
The DIA, the bank liquidators,
claim Pugachev defrauded the
bank and used part of the money
to buy a Flacon 2000 private jet
and a luxury yacht for his personal use.
In a statement today they
welcomed the judgement and
stressed they would continue to
pursue him and recover his assets.
Pugachev has claimed that the
bank’s bankruptcy was due to a
Kremlin campaign to seize the
controlling stakes he held in Russia’s two biggest and most moderns shipyards at a knockdown
He says that the legal action
is politically motivated and that
he has had no involvement in the
bank’s affairs since 2001.
he man who killed his
former partner Valerie
Forde, 45, and their
22-month-old daughter RealJahzara was this week starting
a life sentence.
Roland McKoy attacked
them after being told to leave
the family home in Hackney
following the end of their 18year relationship.
After the verdict, the family of community worker Forde
said: “The pain will still continue for our family for the rest
of our lives. His actions have
destroyed the lives of Valerie
and Jahzara’s family, friends
and the wider community in
Forde’s daughter Carrise,
28, overheard the murders on
an open phone line.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, she
said: “Time will never heal the
hurt, the loss, the pain, the betrayal and the yearning to hear
their voices and laughter.”
There were cheers in the
public gallery of the Old Bailey as a jury took two and a half
hours to п¬Ѓnd McKoy guilty of
the two murders.
Jailing him for life with a
minimum of 35 years, judge
Charles Wide said: “You did
it out of spite and resentment
… You thought [Valerie] was
going to back down but she
didn’t and that was an affront
to your monstrous egotism.”
The handyman, 54, attacked
Forde, a mother of four, as she
got ready to leave for work on
March 31, the deadline she had
set for him to leave their home
in Hackney.
He inflicted 33 separate
blows on Forde’s head and
body before slashing the
baby’s neck with the machete.
Afterwards McKoy drank
bleach and pinned a bloodstained note to Forde’s face
blaming her for what had happened. Carrise called police,
who arrived to п¬Ѓnd McKoy
curled in a foetal position surrounded by weapons.
Inquiries revealed the couple’s relationship started to
deteriorate when Forde discovered McKoy was still married to another woman.
He was later jailed for drugs
and benefit offences and
Forde gave him an ultimatum
that either he contribute п¬Ѓnancially to the household or
leave. By December 2013 she
told him their relationship
was over and gave him three
months to go.
The court heard he had
made a series of threats to the
family. In January Forde texted
her sister saying: “I have to be
very very careful and pray for
my safety each day and night.”
The following month, she
reported him to police after he
told a neighbour he was going
to burn the house down with
everyone inside.
Swastikas daubed
on school sign
Evening Standard
olice have launched an
investigation after swastikas were daubed on a
primary school’s sign in north
London. The Nazi symbols
were seen at the entrance to a
school in Stoke Newington.
A neighbourhood watch
group said its volunteers removed the graffiti from outside Jubilee Primary School on
Thursday night.
Volunteer Michael Scher
told the Standard they
scrubbed out the marking before children could see it on
their way into school the following day.
He said Swastikas have
been painted on buildings on a
number of other occasions this
Scher added: “This was on
the school’s notice board by
the main entrance for the kids
coming in every day. “We’ve
never seen something like this
on a school before.”
It comes after a 20% surge
in hate crimes in London was
reported in the past 12 months
up to October, with a total of
1,048 faith-related offences.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime said the increase was due in part to international events such as Syria
and the conflict between Israel
and Palestine.
A Hackney Police spokeswoman confirmed an investigation has been launched.
Stoke Newington neighbourhood Sergeant Dan Window tweeted: “Local Officers
are providing reassurance patrols following anti-semitic
graffiti at a local primary
The Evening Standard has
approached Hackney Council
for a comment.
Dogs to sniff out drug users in nightclub
Evening Standard
ightclub Fabric has been saved
from the threat of closure after bosses agreed to hire seven
ВЈ300-a-night sniffer dogs to check
clubbers for drugs.
Top DJs including Annie Mac,
Chemical Brothers and Groove Armada joined a last-minute campaign
to save the Farringdon venue after the
Standard revealed it faced losing its licence after four drug-related deaths in
three years.
It will will now become the п¬Ѓrst club
in London to have drug dogs regularly
on patrol. Each dog and handler will
cost the club ВЈ300 for a four-hour
The club will also have to introduce
ID checks on all clubbers, improve
CCTV and increase drug searches at
the door as part of a package of conditions.
Paddy Whur, the club’s solicitor,
said: “They will need seven dogs per
night because they can only work for a
certain number of hours.
“The vast majority of private sector dog providers are not trained to the
level that police dogs are. So it’s been
difficult finding one to meet the criteria police want.”
Chief inspector Ian Howells said:
“The relationship between the club
and police has been good. There’s a
good level of support.
“With the two recent deaths we
have sought to engage to improve the
security and search regime to mitigate
further risks.”
Before the meeting, the club released a statement underlining its
“zero tolerance” policy towards drug
A grey haired clubber, in his late
thirties, said he had been to the club
“200 times in 15 years” and only once
been offered drugs.
He added: “I take exception to ID
scans. As a law abiding clubber, having
your data put on record just because
you choose to go clubbing seems like a
gross invasion of privacy.“
More than 30,000 people signed a petition in a show of support to Britain’s biggest club.
DJ Annie Mac said: “Fabric is one
of London nightlife’s most important
Club founders Cameron Leslie and
Keith Reilly say they will п¬Ѓght the decision.
He told the Standard: “We’ll be appealing. We need to see their written
reasons but we fundamentally disagree on a number of key points.”
Leslie told the meeting the club had
struggled to п¬Ѓnd a sniffer dog company that would п¬Ѓt the bill and had reservations about the ID scanner.
He added: “We are on the same page
in lots of ways, we just have fundamental differences on how to operate
Reilly said: “In 15 years we have had
6mn people come through the doors
and sadly there have been four deaths.
“We do everything we can to stop
people taking drugs in the club. What’s
happened recently is this country is
awash with drugs.
“There’s been a large batch of
MDMA that’s got more powerful and
has caught the kids out.”
The judgment means Fabric will
continue to operate as normal, with
the added conditions attached.
Fabric, which is renowned for house and techno nights.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
stabbed in
�row over
Evening Standard
Shoppers pass Shrek, a Chow Chow raising money for the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), on Oxford street during the final weekend of shopping
before Christmas in London.
Retailers in capital
brace for scramble
Evening Standard
etailers are preparing for one of the
biggest shopping days of the year as
high street spending is set to reach
£1.2bn in what is being called “Panic Saturday”.
Some of the biggest high street names
have slashed prices ahead of the Boxing
Day sales as they hope to avoid a repeat of
the violent scenes witnessed last month
on “Black Friday”.
According to the Centre for Retail Research (CRR), some 13mn shoppers will
shell out as much as ВЈ2.1mn for every
minute the shops are open today as many
scramble to pick up a bargain, get lastminute gifts and festive groceries.
Among the retailers offering discounts,
Debenhams is selling some Christmas
gifts at half-price, Boots is offering a 60%
discount of selected fragrances, while
Marks & Spencer has knocked 50% off the
price of some beauty products.
The CRR has predicted in-store sales
will reach ВЈ4.74bn over the п¬Ѓve days before
Christmas - a 21% increase on last year.
Its report, for,
found that delayed online orders, poor
weather in some areas and earlier sales
were expected to drive 60.9mn shoppers to the high street between today and
Christmas Eve - up 14% on last year.
Britain’s department stores can expect
to double their takings this weekend, with
outlets in the north of England set to benefit the most from Panic Saturday, according to data from payment processing company Worldpay.
Shoppers carry bags along Oxford street during the final weekend of shopping before
It said the number of card payments
processed by department stores in some
parts of the UK just prior to Christmas
rose by as much as 224% this time last
year, with even better п¬Ѓgures expected this
Worldpay UK managing director Dave
Hobday said: “Department stores are
magnets for shoppers who п¬Ѓnd themselves
in the last-chance saloon in the п¬Ѓnal few
days before Christmas.
“Many of these eleventh-hour shoppers will be breaking into a cold sweat at
the thought of heading to the high street
on the busiest shopping day of the year
and praying for someone to take the pain
But those averse to crowds are advised
to stay home on Tuesday next week for
what is expected to be the busiest single
high street shopping day ahead of Christmas.
Visa Europe predicts shoppers will
spend ВЈ1.3bn on Tuesday alone on the
high street, or ВЈ15,278 every second, on its
It estimates 34mn transactions will take
place, with numbers peaking in the lunch
hour break between 1pm and 2pm.
Despite the rise of Black Friday, which
saw high street spending of more than
ВЈ1bn this year, Visa predicts that the high
street will continue to see its busiest day
two days before Christmas.
Overall, the seven day period before
Christmas Day is predicted to see a 7%
increase in spending and an 8 per cent increase in transactions on the same period
last year.
Visa Europe managing director for the
UK and Ireland, Kevin Jenkins, said: “Black
Friday kick-started Christmas on the high
street and online this year but the busiest
bricks and mortar day will likely remain in
its traditional slot close to Christmas.
“Retailers’ multi-channel approach
should cause a surge in footfall from clickand-collect sales too, with the opportunity for further shopping in-store when
consumers arrive.
“Across Tuesday December 23 we are
likely to see ВЈ1.3bn spent in total. Lunch
hour should prove the most popular time
for a shopping trip, either for last minute
gifts or п¬Ѓnal ingredients for Christmas
Westfield director Myf Ryan said: “We
are expecting this Saturday to be the busiest day for shopping so far this year. Last
year our London centres attracted over
320,000 shoppers on the last Saturday before Christmas and we are again expecting
big numbers this year.
“Over 3mn shoppers each year leave
their Christmas shopping to the last 12
days. Promotions continue to be a key factor this year following the huge success of
Black Friday where we had over 20 per cent
growth year-on-year, but luxury brands
are also drawing shoppers who are looking
for that extra-special gift.”
he family of a woman
stabbed to death after
a bitter parking dispute
have paid tribute to a “wonderful mother” who was dedicated to reducing crime in her
Alison Morrison, 45, suffered
multiple stab wounds when she
was attacked less than half a
mile from her ВЈ410,000 home
in Harrow yesterday.
Her next-door neighbour,
satellite TV engineer Trevor
Gibbon, 48, was today being
questioned by police on suspicion of murder. Residents
claimed the pair had been
rowing over a shared driveway
between their end-of-terrace
Morrison’s brother-in-law
Lee Richards told the Standard
they were “devastated”. His
wife Julie has travelled from
Hampshire to London to be
with her sister’s family.
Richards said: “We are
just shocked and devastated.
She was a wonderful, caring
mother and top professional.
She was a great mum and did
good work for the community.
She was just the best person
and we are only just starting
to come to terms with our loss.
We cannot believe what has
Which? magazine executive Morrison, who lived with
her husband Cedric, 46, and
their 16-year-old son, was the
vice-chair of the Harrow Safer
Neighbourhood Board, which
is devoted to tackling crime in
the area.
Speaking from the family
home this morning, her niece,
Bianca Brathwaite, said: “She
was everything you could ask
for In a woman, she was strong
and always stood up for herself and her family and is loved
The dispute is said to have
begun more than a year ago
when Harrow Council re-paved
Windsor Crescent but did not
drop the kerb in front of the
shared driveway, leading the
neighbours to argue over access
and who could park where.
It escalated when Morrison,
who recently underwent a kidney transplant, put up a bright
security light. In response,
CCTV was apparently installed.
One resident told the Standard: “Everything kicked off
because they didn’t get a drop
kerb when the pavements were
re-done. Trevor got some
parking tickets because he
parked in front of the driveway.
“We knew they had argued.
She was a good, community
Neighbours in nearby Alexandra Avenue were woken to
Morrison’s screams as she was
reportedly ambushed on the
way to walk at 7.40am yesterday.
One eyewitness said: “She
was on the floor and a man was
on top of her, attacking her.
“He had a big knife in his
hands, I saw it flashing, it was
something big and shiny.”
Another resident, who asked
not to be named, said: “I was
in bed and I heard screaming
from outside. At п¬Ѓrst I thought
it was children п¬Ѓghting, but
the screams continued and I
looked out the window and
saw the commotion outside.
“I came out and saw the
woman on the floor, she was
breathing and conscious, but
she wasn’t moving. I phoned
for an ambulance and it came
within seconds.”
Councillor Susan Hall, leader of the local Conservative
group, said: “She really cared
about standing up for people in
the community. She wanted to
see how she could make things
“It’s absolutely devastating.
She was just magnificent. She
was so articulate, so thoughtful , so inspiring. This will send
shockwaves through our community.”
Cllr David Perry, Leader
of the Council, said: “Alison
Morrison was passionately
committed to creating a safer
Harrow through her work with
the Harrow Safer Neighbourhood Board and as a Community Champion, and it is terrible news that she has lost her
life in this violent way in a borough she cared so much about.
“Alison’s colleagues on the
Safer Neighbourhood Board
are absolutely shattered by this
news as are the staff of Harrow Council. Alison was a key
member of the Board and a
tireless advocate of its work.”
Alison Morrison (inset) and the driveway between her and a
neighbour’s houses.
Three teenagers jailed for axe murder of man
Evening Standard
teenager who stabbed a man 11
times in a horrific axe and knife
attack reminiscent of the Hollywood movie The Shining was sentenced
to a minimum of 17 years at the Old Bailey yesterday.
Handyman Paul Thrower died after
two youths hacked at him with a 4ft
long axe and stabbed him at flats in
Hayes, Middlesex in February.
Zakariya Subeir and Kiro Halliburton, both now 18, hit out when Thrower came at them in a rage, smashing
through a reinforced glass partition
they were hiding behind.
Halliburton, who delivered the fatal
knife wound, was found guilty of murder while Subeir, who hit the victim
twice with an axe, and Mahdi Osman,
also 18, were convicted of manslaughter.
Sentencing Judge John Bevan QC said
Thrower had been the victim of “10
seconds of extreme violence”.
Zakariya Subeir, Kiro Halliburton and
Mahdi Osman
He said Halliburton, who was only 17
at the time, could have had a far longer
sentence had he been born a month later making him 18 and in a higher sentencing bracket.
Imposing a sentence of detention at
Her Majesty’s pleasure, the juvenile
equivalent of a life term, the judge told
him: “You can consider yourself fortunate.
“The carrying of a knife has become
endemic among some teenagers in part
s of
“It is the resort of a coward. You are
a dangerous young man, repeatedly ag-
gressive when armed with a knife.”
Subeir was sentenced to eight
years in a young offenders’ institute
with an extended licence period of
four years. Osman received five and
a half years.
The court heard how the victim had
been drinking and became very angry
when his girlfriend Geraldine Roberts
told him the youths swore, spat and
threw a drink at her earlier that day.
When Thrower confronted them,
Subeir and Halliburton shut themselves into a bin chute on a first-floor
communal balcony at St Dunstan’s
As the furious 46-year-old hammered with his п¬Ѓsts on the glass partition, the 17-year-old found an axe in a
shed and Osman passed it up to Subeir,
who had managed to get onto the roof
of the adjoining porch.
But when Thrower smashed the reinforced glass and began to crawl through
the gap, Subeir hit him twice on the
head and once on the shoulder with the
axe and Halliburton stabbed him repeatedly in the back with a knife.
The victim emerged from the bin
chute covered in blood, staggering,
holding the axe before he collapsed and
died from a stab to the heart.
Said the judge: “This was a wicked
and unnecessary crime. A ranting inebriate is not match for a knife and
axe wielded by young and fit teenagers.”
As the defendants ran away, Roberts chased after them. She was one of
a number of residents who had called
999 to alert police who arrived within
Afterwards, all the defendants
scattered - according to them, because they thought they would not be
Halliburton shaved off his plaits and
fled to Leeds in Yorkshire. When he was
apprehended, he gave a false name.
Subeir flew to Somalia, via Dubai,
but came back about three weeks later
and was arrested on the plane at Heathrow airport.
Osman went to ground and was arrested п¬Ѓve days after the incident.
In the years leading up to the mur-
der, residents of St Dunstan’s Close
had complained about anti-social behaviour from groups of youths hanging
around even though they did not live
Subeir, of Uxbridge, and Halliburton
and Osman, both of Hayes, had all denied murder.
A man was today jailed for 12 years
over the “senseless killing” of a student
who was attacked in a п¬Ѓght as he tried
to protect his friend.
Rio Julienne-Clarke, 21, stabbed
Dwayne Simpson in the heart after he
intervened when he saw a friend being
chased along Brixton Road.
The Old Bailey heard Julienne-Clarke
and Simpson were involved in a “longrunning dispute”.
Simpson, 20, a former student at
Lambeth College, followed JulienneClarke in his car on the afternoon of
February 25 before getting out and confronting him.
Julienne-Clarke then stabbed him
multiple times in an alleyway, the court
Police and passers-by gave him CPR
as he lay on the ground in a pool of
blood in St John’s Crescent.
Paramedics arrived soon afterwards
and took him to hospital but he died
two days later from his injuries.
Julienne-Clarke, of no п¬Ѓxed address,
was yesterday jailed for manslaughter.
Rhianna Addison, 19, of Shakespear
Road, Brixton, was acquitted of assisting an offender and perverting the
course of justice.
Two other people - a 41-year-old
woman and an 18-year-old man - remain on bail after being arrested on
suspicion of assisting an offender.
Three other boys, all aged 16, were
released with no further action following Mr Simpson’s death.
Detective inspector Nathan Eason, who led the investigation, said:
“Dwayne senseless killing has caused
immense suffering to his family and
“This has been a difficult and complex investigation and officers wish to
pass on their gratitude to those members of the community that provided
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Erdogan praises �clean’
legal crackdown on foes
urkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has
praised the “clean” legal
process against his opponents
that has been sharply criticised
by the EU and included a warrant for arch-foe Fethullah Gulen as well as a wave of arrests.
The crackdown is seen by opponents as the latest act of authoritarian excess by Erdogan,
who in August moved to the post
of president after over a decade
as prime minister.
But in a speech in Istanbul, Erdogan denied there had been any
“lynching” of opponents and
said the arrests were linked to a
“coup plot” led by Gulen aimed
at ousting him from power.
“I have been watching this
process closely as president of
this country. Everything is lawful and in line with procedure ...
a really diligent and clean proc-
Most Catalans
would vote to stay
in Spain: poll
A majority of people in Catalonia
would vote to stay part of
Spain, a poll by the regional
government showed on Friday,
the first in years to show a
majority against independence.
The margin was very slim, with
45.3% saying that they would
vote “no” to an independent state
of Catalonia, and 44.5% “yes”.
It is the first time the “no” vote
has taken the lead since Catalan
head Artur Mas began his drive
for secession in 2012.
Catalans cast ballots on
November 9 in a symbolic vote
on independence after Madrid
blocked a formal referendum in
the courts on the grounds it was
against Spain’s constitution.
The new poll results showed
most Catalans want increased
powers on matters such as
determining their own taxes, with
64% saying they thought the
region had insufficient autonomy.
The regional government polling
unit surveyed 1,100 people in
Catalonia from December 9 to
December 13.
ess is going on at the moment,”
Erdogan said in the televised
speech. “The police and judiciary are not repeating the mistakes of the past.”
Erdogan defended the detention of journalists as part of the
probe, saying that some were
using the profession as a “mask”
for other activities.
He argued that the detention
of journalists was nothing unusual, referring to the arrests in
Britain over the phone-tapping
scandal that rocked the tabloid
press there.
His comments came a day after an Istanbul court issued an
arrest warrant for the US-based
Gulen, who Erdogan accuses of
running a “parallel state” from
his exile in the US state of Pennsylvania.
A court on Friday also remanded in custody on terrorism charges the head of the proGulen Samanyolu TV, Hidayet
Karaca, and three police officers,
although the editor-in-chief of
Erdogan: God willing, no one will remember the era of the
organisation of the assassins.
the equally pro-Gulen Zaman
newspaper Ekrem Dumanli was
Seven other suspects were
also released pending trial.
“God willing, no one will remember the era of the organisation of the assassins,” Erdogan
said, using one of his favoured
terms for Gulen’s group.
Dumanli – who is not allowed
to leave Turkey and is still set to
face trial – returned to his offices at the Zaman newspaper
headquarters to a hero’s welcome from hundreds of employ-
ees who shouted press freedom
slogans, Samanyolu television
pictures showed.
It remains doubtful that
Washington will show any inclination to extradite Gulen, who
has lived in the United States
since 1999, to face trial in Turkey.
Gulen’s movement, usually
known as Hizmet (Service), has
millions of followers and has
built up a lucrative and influential international network of private cramming schools.
Supporters see the Gulen
movement as a modern and forward-thinking Islamic-rooted
group although some critics
claim it has the makings of a
The detention of 30 people
last weekend on raids on journalists, scriptwriters and police deemed close to Gulen was
sharply criticised by the EU,
who in turn aroused Erdogan’s
own ire.
“Turkey is not the EU’s
doorman,” Erdogan said in the
speech, sarcastically noting that
the bloc had rushed to make its
criticism in the Christmas holiday period while it had “kept
Turkey waiting at the door for 50
He accused the international
press of “latching on” to the EU
campaign against Turkey, one
day after the New York Times in a
tough editorial accused Erdogan
of being an “authoritarian leader
living in a parallel universe”.
Erdogan’s heated rhetoric
against the EU adds to existing
problems for the long-stalled
membership bid of Turkey, already held up by disputes over
Cyprus and human rights.
He said that Turkey had taken
in 1.7mn Syrian refugees from
the conflict at a cost of $5.5bn
(€4.5bn) but bitterly complained
that Ankara had only received
$200mn in help from the EU.
“When it comes to money,
this is their god,” he said.
Harmful road traffic noise affects 25% of Europeans
armful levels of road
traffic noise affect one
in four people in Europe
and raise health risks ranging
from sleepless nights to heart
disease, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said.
In a п¬Ѓrst EEA assessment
of the impact of noise pollution in Europe, it said the din
undermines the ability of children to concentrate in some
schools and disrupts nature, for
instance by drowning out the
songs birds use to attract mates.
“Noise pollution is a major
environmental health problem
in Europe,” the EEA report said,
adding that what it called the
“European soundscape” is under threat.
EEA, a European Union agency,
said that traffic was the main
�Brain dead’ woman gives birth
Italian doctors on Friday delivered a baby boy from his brain dead
mother. The delicate caesarean operation was conducted in the San
Raffaele hospital in Milan, where the woman had arrived on October
21, 23 weeks into her pregnancy.
The Ansa news agency reported that the 36-year-old had suffered a
sudden brain haemorrhage.
She was kept on artificial life support until doctors judged that the
fetus she was carrying had a good chance of surviving on its own.
The newborn, weighing 1.8kg, was said to be in good condition.
After his birth, his mother’s organs were donated for transplant
source of noise above legal
guidelines and affected around
125mn people, a quarter of the
EU population. Railways, airports and industrial sites added
to the cacophony.
The EEA estimated that environmental noise caused up
to 10,000 premature deaths in
Europe every year.
More than 900,000 cases of
hypertension could be traced to
noise, which it said raises risks
of insomnia and heart disease.
While many people did not
report problems, almost 20mn
adults felt “annoyance” at
noise pollution and another
8mn suffered disturbed sleep,
the EEA said.
The World Health Organisation also says that noise is an
under-estimated threat.
The EEA п¬Ѓndings indicated
that Luxembourg, Bulgaria and
Belgium had urban areas with
the highest percentages of people exposed to high road noise
levels while Malta, Iceland and
Germany were the quietest.
The report called for better
planning ranging from preserving quiet areas in cities to less
noisy tyres on cars.
In another report in 2011, the
European Commission reckoned that noise from road and
rail traffic cost €40bn ($49bn)
a year in terms of depressed
prices for property beside noisy
roads, medical bills and lower
productivity at work.
Field interaction
laims of attempted bribery in a critical presidential vote have stirred
a political storm in debt-laden
Greece ahead of a parliamentary
ballot to elect a head of state.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said he would sue a popular comedian-turned-lawmaker
who claimed he was offered
money to help rig the presidential vote, allegedly on the premier’s orders.
Failure to elect a new president by the end of December will
usher in early general elections in
Greece, a prospect that could reverse п¬Ѓscal reforms.
This has sparked alarm in international markets and with the
country’s EU-IMF creditors.
The controversy erupted on
Friday when Pavlos Haikalis, a
comedian and lawmaker of the
small nationalist Independent
Greeks party, said a former bank
employee had offered him €23mn ($2.5-3.7mn) to vote for the
government’s candidate.
Events quickly snowballed
with Haikalis later telling Mega
TV station that the middleman
was allegedly “acting on behalf”
of Samaras and a banker, and the
prime minister hitting back with
a slander lawsuit.
Fuelling the turmoil, two independent lawmakers rumoured
to be close to radical leftist party
Syriza insinuated that other colleagues had been bribed.
“A shadow of bribery allegations ... hangs over the presidential vote,” they said in a statement.
Samaras: taking a lawmaker to
Yesterday parliament asked
the Supreme Court to hasten
the investigation into the case as
newspapers bemoaned the deteriorating state of the country’s
political scene.
“Political life in a deep morass,” lamented centre-left Ethnos daily, while liberal Kathimerini said the political climate
was “dangerously” heating up
ahead of the follow-up vote on
“The accusation ... could derail a looming pre-election period and rent apart political parties, fuelling insecurity,” argued
centre-left Ta Nea daily.
Former conservative prime
minister Constantine Mitsotakis
also warned on Friday that the
elections “risked being held in a
jungle atmosphere”.
In the п¬Ѓrst round of the presidential vote on Wednesday, the
government presidential candidate – former EU commissioner
Stavros Dimas – mustered 160
parliamentary votes out of the
required 200.
A total of 200 votes are again
required in a second vote on
The bar lowers to 180 votes in
a third and п¬Ѓnal vote on December 29.
European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF)
officials fear an early election –
which could be held as early as
January 25 – would be won by
radical leftist party Syriza and
undo the country’s ongoing fiscal
Syriza has declined to front a
candidate for president.
The leftists want to raise salaries and pensions, halt lay-offs
and freeze privatisation of state
assets – all of them key elements
of reforms demanded by Greece’s
The looming political stalemate has alarmed international
markets, pushing up the yield
of Greek bonds and prompting EU Commission chief JeanClaude Juncker to recently warn
the nation against delivering the
“wrong” election result.
In 2012, back-to-back elections were needed in May and
June to form a shaky coalition
government, stalling Greece’s
п¬Ѓscal reforms and sparking
speculation that the country was
about to be ejected from the eurozone.
The Independent Greeks party
recently claimed that another
of its deputies had been offered
money to help elect a president,
but an investigation found insufficient evidence to press charges.
founded by Saint Francis
of Assisi, who advocated
a life of poverty, is in deep п¬Ѓnancial trouble following the
discovery of massive fraud and is
appealing for help.
Italy’s Panorama magazine
said the 800-year-old order had
invested tens of millions of euros
in suspect п¬Ѓrms currently under
investigation in Switzerland for
dodgy practices.
The Italian press has also
questioned the order’s financial
wisdom in spending millions of
euros on renovating Il Cantico, a
luxury hotel it owns in Rome.
In a rare open letter, the American head of the order, Michael
Perry, admitted the situation
was “grave”.
“The General Curia finds itself
in grave, and I underscore �grave’
financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt,” he said.
“The matter involves our financial stability and the patrimony of the Order,” he wrote in
a rare open letter that appeals for
financial support from “all Provincials and Custodes”.
“While our first concern has
and remains verifying the nature, extent, and impact of what
has occurred, we also recognise
the significant role that external
actors, people who are not members of the Order, have played in
creating this grave situation,” he
The letter describes an investigation that was launched in
September into accounts dating
back to 2003.
A general treasurer has resigned since then.
Pope jokes
about the
Vatican City
Political storm stirs in Greece
over MP bribery allegations
order in
A handout picture made available by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Planck
Collaboration yesterday shows the interaction between interstellar dust in the Milky Way and
the structure of our galaxy’s magnetic field, as taken by ESA’s Planck satellite. Between 2009
and 2013, Planck scanned the sky to detect the most ancient light in the history of the universe
– the cosmic microwave background. It also detected significant foreground emission from
diffuse material in our Galaxy which, although a nuisance for cosmological studies, is
extremely important for studying the birth of stars and other phenomena in the Milky Way.
Scientists in the Planck collaboration are using the polarised emission of interstellar dust to
reconstruct the Galaxy’s magnetic field and study its role in the build-up of structure in the
Milky Way, leading to star formation. This image shows the intricate link between the magnetic
field and the structure of the interstellar medium along the plane of the Milky Way. In
particular, the arrangement of the magnetic field is more ordered along the Galactic plane,
where it follows the spiral structure of the Milky Way. Small clouds are seen just above and
below the plane, where the magnetic field structure becomes less regular.
ope Francis wished Rome
luck on Friday on its bid to
host the 2024 Olympics,
which may include some events
in the Vatican, but then joked
that he would not be around to
enjoy them.
Pope, who turned 78 on
Wednesday, improvised the
comment at the end of an address to members of Italy’s national Olympic committee.
After offering “best wishes for
your candidacy”, the Pope, an
avid soccer fan, paused, smiled
and added: “But I won’t be here”,
bringing laughter to the group in
a Vatican hall.
Italian media have reported
that Olympic organisers want
to hold some events, such as archery or badminton, in Saint Peter’s Square, which borders with
Rome but is on Vatican territory.
The Vatican has said it would
consider requests.
In August, the Pope, who appears to be in good health, told
reporters that he expected “to
return to the house of the father”
(God) in two or three years.
He has also said he would
not hesitate to resign for health
reasons, as did his predecessor,
former pope Benedict XVI.
Donkey dies after being crushed by fat man
n overweight man was on
Wednesday charged with
animal abuse in southern
Spain after a young donkey died
three days after he sat on it at an
outdoor Nativity scene.
The п¬Ѓve-month-old donkey
named Platero was on display
along with other animals in the
centre of the town of Lucena
in Spain’s Andalucia region, as
part of their annual Christmas
But on December 10 a man
weighing nearly 150kg climbed
into the donkey’s pen and sat
on the animal’s back to have his
picture taken, two animal rights
groups, Adebo and Circulo Animalista de Podemos Lucena,
said in a statement.
A photo widely circulating
on social media show the portly
man, who wore a blue shirt and
green pants, grinning as he poses on the donkey with one hand
on his hip and the other hanging
on to the wooden fence that was
meant to keep him out.
Two days later the donkey
was taken to a vet after local
residents contacted Lucena
town hall to say that the animal
was not able to stand, the animal rights groups said.
The donkey died the following day.
“Our Platero was literally
squashed by a man,” the statement said. “The man proudly
posed with his almost 150kg of
weight on the fragile body of the
animal, fatally injuring him.”
Police in Lucena detained a
38-year-old man over the incident and charged him with
animal abuse, a local police
spokesman said.
Don’t be an ass ... Show humanity and intelligence. Respect the
rules!” Spain’s national police
said in a Twitter message that
included a link to a story about
the case in El Mundo newspaper.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Putin warns Russia
won’t be intimidated
ussia will not be intimidated over its actions
in Ukraine and Crimea,
President Vladimir Putin said
yesterday as his foreign ministry
warned that it was preparing to
retaliate against fresh Western
Both the European Union and
United States adopted tighter
restrictions on investments in
Crimea this week, while Canada
ratcheted up its own sanctions
directed at Moscow.
Sanctions coupled with tumbling global oil prices have rattled
Russia’s economy, with the rouble losing over 40% of its value
year-to-date and a recession expected to take hold next year.
Putin has remained defiant in
the face of these setbacks, repeatedly defending Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine
in March and its subsequent support for pro-Russian separatists
battling Kiev forces in eastern
Speaking at a concert honouring past and present security
service staff, Putin said that he
had heard people calling for Russia to “pay dearly for its independent position backing compatriots and Crimea ... (and) just
for the mere fact that we exist”.
“Obviously, no one will succeed in intimidating us, to deter,
to isolate Russia,” he said in comments that were shown by staterun Rossiya 24 TV.
Separately, the Russian foreign ministry said yesterday that
new Western sanctions against
Ukraine’s Crimea region represented a “collective punishment”
against residents who had voted
overwhelmingly in a referendum
last March to join Russia.
“It is sad that the countries
which call themselves democratic resort to such methods in the
21st century,” the ministry said in
a statement.
Foreign ministry spokesman
Alexander Lukashevich said the
Putin: no one will succeed in intimidating us, to deter, to isolate
Putin urges spies to tackle �modern challenges’
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for improvement of Moscow’s
secret services to tackle “modern challenges and threats” amid his country’s stand-off with the West over the Ukrainian crisis.
The call came in a letter by Putin, himself a former KGB agent, to veterans
and current operatives of Russia’s security services on the day Moscow
traditionally honours them.
“I stress that modern challenges and threats and emergence of new
destabilising factors require an increase in the efficiency of the whole
system of domestic special services,” Putin said, according to the letter
released by the Kremlin.
The key tasks for Russia’s secret operatives are to fight international
terrorism and “any attempts of foreign special services to deal a blow to
Russia (and) her political and economic interests,” he said.
The European Union and the United States have imposed wide-ranging
economic sanctions and visa bans against Russian individuals and
companies over Moscow’s role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and its
annexation of the Crimea peninsula in March.
The Russian economy is expected to sink into recession next year
because of the sanctions and the falling price of oil, the country’s main
Locals queue to buy products at cheap prices at Donetsk’s Lenin Square. Efforts to restart peace talks between Kiev and separatists fell
through on Friday, according to the separatists, despite fresh mediation by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
sanctions undermined political
efforts to resolve the conflict in
eastern Ukraine.
“We advise Washington and
Ottawa to think about the consequences of such actions. Meanwhile, we will work on retaliatory
measures,” he said in comments
published on the ministry website.
Russia retaliated to earlier
sanctions by limiting food imports from a range of Western
Kiev and its Western backers
accuse Moscow of fanning violence in Ukraine and arming the
Moscow denies the accusa-
tions and says it annexed Crimea only after the referendum
showed most residents wanted it
to become part of Russia.
Earlier yesterday, in a letter
published by the Kremlin, Putin
called for Russia’s secret services
to be improved to tackle “modern
challenges and threats and the
emergence of new destabilising
The key tasks for Russia’s secret operatives were to fight international terrorism and “any
attempts of foreign special services to deal a blow to Russia (and)
her political and economic interests,” said Putin, himself a former
KGB agent.
A Ukrainian conference mediated by European and Russian
envoys in the Belarussian capital
Minsk had initially been set for
last week and meant to coincide
with a new truce in the eightmonth conflict.
The ceasefire appears to be
holding better than similar previous measures and the number
of daily rocket and mortar attacks across the Russian-speaking eastern regions of Luhansk
and Donetsk has gone down.
But Ukrainian forces still reported the loss of п¬Ѓve soldiers on
Friday and have seen 15 servicemen killed since the December 9
The sudden glimmer of hope
that the end of Europe’s worst
violence since the 1990s Balkans
conflicts was approaching has
seen Western allies step up their
pressure on Russia – already
reeling from its worst economic
crisis of Vladimir Putin’s 15-year
leader Sergei Aksyonov called
the European Union sanctions in
particular an attempt to “humiliate Russia”.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko was due
to convene his National Security
and Defence Council to discuss
ways of avoiding repeated dis-
ruptions of supplies to his forces
in the east.
The emergency meeting comes
a day before Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko pays
his п¬Ѓrst visit to Kiev since his
neighbour’s historic shift toward
the West.
The authoritarian leader has
emerged as the conflict’s unlikely
peacemaker – his own independence from Moscow undermined
by a heavy reliance on Russian
energy subsidies and beneficial
trade rules.
The timing of Lukashenko’s
visit signals that the peace talks
are unlikely to take place today as
both Poroshenko and his European supporters had hoped.
Several rebel commanders
have said they would not be ready
until at least tomorrow or Tuesday.
A Skype video conference between the sides on Friday failed
to resolve the dispute.
German Chancellor Angela
Merkel and – more recently –
French President Francois Hollande have been spearheading
Western efforts to get the sides
talking while Washington plays a
backseat role.
Both leaders are this weekend
expected to hold their third teleconference with Putin and Poroshenko in the space of a week.
The Minsk meeting appears to
be hung up over Poroshenko’s refusal to discuss one of the separatists’ main demands – that he
resume the social welfare payments to the war-torn region
that Kiev suspended last month.
Poroshenko argues that the
money is being stolen by the insurgents and used to pay guerrillas and foreign mercenaries.
The militias’ inability to improve life in the socially devastated region threatens to turn the
locals against them and undermine their claims of legitimacy.
Clock is ticking on Mistral
decision, Moscow tells Paris
ussia will gladly take back
the money it paid for
French Mistral-class warships whose handover has been
delayed by concerns over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis,
a deputy defence minister said
Yury Borisov also indicated
that Paris should make a decision
before the new year.
“It doesn’t matter if the calendar shows December 31, 2014 or
January 1, 2015, but we are waiting for France’s decision”, Interfax news agency quoted him as
saying. “We would be content
with either development – the
Mistrals or the return of all the
invested money.”
Given the currency crisis in
Russia, which saw the rouble
Germany toughens
child porn legislation
bill to toughen Germany’s laws against child
pornography completed
its legislative passage on Friday amid controversy over a
disgraced former politician
and his collection of images of
young males.
Previously, German law
banned images of sex with minors, but not all images of those
pictured in lewd poses.
The legislative change makes
the sale of the latter a criminal
Sebastian Edathy, 45, a
former government legislator,
told a Berlin news conference
on Thursday that his ownership of such images had been
legal at the time, adding that he
would not plead guilty at a trial
scheduled for next year.
He resigned his parliamentary seat in February, but
controversy continues over
whether he was tipped off by
high-ranking officials weeks in
advance of police searches of
his home and offices.
The legislative change aims
to end uncertainty about the
legality of lewd images of minors.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas
said: “If nude pictures of children and youths are manufactured for commercial purposes
or provided to other people,
that will be punishable in future.”
But he said “everyday” behaviour would remain legal,
alluding to a trend among teens
to take nude selfies and send
them digitally.
The bill – which was adopted
Friday by the Bundesrat, Germany’s upper house of parliament – sets penalties for the
procurement of child porn at
one to three years in prison.
The bill also extends the
statute of limitations for serious sexual abuse of a minor until the victim turns 50.
rapidly devalue by 50%, taking
the money from the euro-denominated deal “may actually be
preferable”, he added.
France, which is struggling
economically, is faced with a
tough decision: deliver the two
warships to Russia and face the
wrath of its Nato allies or end up
with two vessels equipped for the
Russian navy and pay the price
and possibly heavy п¬Ѓnes.
The agreement for the heli-
copter carriers worth €1.2bn
($1.5bn) was signed long before
Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
Paris has so far delayed delivery of the п¬Ѓrst warship, which
was set for fall of 2014, “until
further notice”.
This week Russian sailors
training to operate the Mistrals –
each of which can carry 16 helicopters, four landing crafts, 13
tanks and more than 400 soldiers
– left France.
This picture taken on Thursday shows Russian sailors waiting to board the training ship Smolny, near a
Mistral warship, prior to leaving Saint-Nazaire harbour. The sailors had been training to operate the
controversial Mistral-class warship built by France for Russia.
Abused in childhood, victims of
Swiss policy seek compensation
By David Courbet, AFP
eaten, forced to work,
even sterilised – victims
of a brutal policy that saw
thousands of Swiss children taken from their families and mistreated completed on Friday the
process to have their demand for
compensation put to a popular
“I was 18 and had become
pregnant when it happened,”
said Bernadette Gachter, unable
to hold back the tears as she described how she was forced by
her host family and doctors to
have an abortion and undergo
She was taken from her parents when she was very young
– and on Friday, 42 years later,
came to Bern with other victims
to present a petition to the government that will force a popu-
lar vote on whether Switzerland
should pay them reparations.
From the mid-19th century
until the early 1980s, hundreds
of thousands of people, mostly
children, were subjected to “coercion for the purposes of assistance”, effectively imprisoned,
interned or taken from their
Why? They fell short of “traditional social and moral values”,
or, like Gachter’s family, they
were simply poor, according to
Ueli Mader, a sociology professor
at the University of Bern.
Seized by the authorities, the
children were most commonly
placed in homes or in farms,
where they were forced to work
on the land or as servants. Abuse
was widespread, said Mader.
Wearing a bright red t-shirt
with the words “Wiedergutmachung” (compensation), 85-yearold Charles Probst recalled how
he was taken from his family and
placed on a farm north of Bern.
He was eight years old.
“I started to work on the farm
before I was even 10, from 4am
until sunset. I didn’t go to school
and I was beaten daily by the
farmer who did not see me as part
of his family,” he said.
The weakness of the
children’s lobby compared
to the farmers’ meant that
the policy was allowed to
endure for so long
Under Switzerland’s cherished
system of direct democracy, citizens can put a “popular initiative” on any subject to a national
public vote, provided it has the
support of 100,000 people.
The compensation proposal,
which would have the Swiss government put aside 500mn francs
($510mn, €415mn) for victims
of the coercion policies, has received more than 110,000 signa-
tures in eight months.
The text, which will now be
put to a vote within the next
two or three years, requests that
payments be made to the some
20,000 victims who are still
It also calls for an independent investigation into the subject
and a public debate into this dark
chapter of Switzerland’s history.
“We believe a woman who was
sterilised should receive compensation, whether she is rich or
poor,” Pascal Krauthammer, who
led the compensation campaign,
told AFP.
Last year, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga made a
formal apology to the victims on
behalf of the state of Switzerland,
but made no proposal of reparations.
There is an emergency fund
provided by regional authorities
and other organisations, worth
seven or eight million francs, but
it is available only to elderly people in a precarious п¬Ѓnancial situation.
Asked why the policy endured
so long, Mader blamed “the
weakness of the children’s lobby”
compared to that of the farmers.
There was also the fact that
“for a long time people were held
responsible for their own poverty. Their children had to atone
for that”, he said.
By the time the policy ended,
child labour on farms was also no
longer a necessity thanks to the
mechanisation of agriculture.
Whether the initiative for
compensation succeeds remains
to be seen. Some politicians, particularly on the right, are reticent.
“The majority of politicians
here are not concerned with the
have-nots, preferring to focus on
the economy and the rich,” said
socialist lawmaker Maria Bernasconi.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Sonia Gandhi’s health
improving, says hospital
Goa, Hawaii could be sister
states: US Congresswoman
Doctors seek arrest of BJP
lawmaker, boycott work
Chilly day in Delhi, fog
disrupts train movement
Bankers to strike work for
five days in January
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, admitted to
a hospital in New Delhi for an infection in the
lower respiratory tract, is feeling better, a hospital
statement said yesterday, adding that her
medication would continue. “Mrs (Sonia) Gandhi
is feeling better and her condition is improving.
Her medications will continue and she will remain
under observation,” Ajay Swaroop, chairman,
board of management, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital,
said in a statement. Swaroop also clarified that
speculations contrary to this, in certain sections
of media, are entirely false and unwarranted.
Gandhi was admitted under the care of Arup
Kumar Basu, senior consultant and chairman
of respiratory medicine and he is leading a
team of doctors who are closely monitoring
her. According to doctors, the problem is quite
common in the winter season.
India’s most popular beach tourism destination
Goa and America’s tropical island state of Hawaii
could be sister states as the two places had “a lot
of similarities”, first Hindu US Congresswoman
Tulsi Gabbard said yesterday. In a statement
issued by the Hawaii Congresswoman’s
office, Gabbard, who is in Goa to attend an
international conclave, said there were a lot of
similarities between the landscape and culture
of Goa and Hawaii. She said the �sister-state’
programme was “aimed at increasing relations
between the two states and promoting tourism”.
The statement said Chief Minister Laxmikant
Parsekar, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar
and Goa Governor Mridula Sinha were “excited
with the proposition and agreed to work
towards formalising such an initiative”. Gabbard
arrived in India on an official invite.
Doctors across Rajasthan boycotted work
yesterday for one hour demanding arrest of
Prahalad Gunjal, suspended BJP MLA from Kota
North constituency. “We boycotted work for
one hour today (Saturday) and from tomorrow
(Sunday) we have decided not to boycott
work but to protest in a way that patients
do not suffer,” Ajay Chaudhary, organising
secretary of the All Rajasthan In-Service
Doctors Association said. On Friday, doctors
in government hospitals across the state
had boycotted work for two hours. “We want
arrest of Gunjal and two of his friends who
had threatened the CMHO a few days ago,”
Chaudhary said. Earlier on Friday, the BJP had
suspended Gunjal for allegedly threatening
a chief medical and health officer (CMHO) to
force him to transfer a male nurse.
The national capital experienced a chilly
day yesterday with maximum temperature
five notches below the season’s average at
17.5 degrees Celsius while fog early morning
affected train movement. The weather is
likely to remain similar today, the Met Office
said. “The sky will be partly cloudy tomorrow
(Sunday). Moderate to dense fog may occur
in the morning,” said the Met Office. The
maximum and minimum temperatures are
likely to hover around 18 and 7 degrees Celsius.
The minimum temperature settled a notch
below the average at 7.2 degrees Celsius while
visibility at 8:30am was 800m. According to
a railway official, 55 trains coming to Delhi
were running late while 36 trains leaving the
national capital were rescheduled due to fog.
No train was cancelled.
Unions in the banking sector have announced
five-day strike next month to demand early
resolution of their wage hike negotiations, said
the All India Bank Employees’Association (AIBEA).
In a statement issued in Chennai yesterday,
AIBEA said the United Forum of Bank Unions
(UFBU) at their meeting in Mumbai on December
17 have decided to go on strike on January 7. It
will be followed by four days continuous strike
from January 21-24 and an in-definite strike
from March 16 onwards. The UFBU an umbrella
organisation of bank unions includes AIBEA,
National Confederation of Bank Employees, Bank
Employees Federation of India, Indian National
Bank Employees Federation, Indian National Bank
Officers Congress, National Organisation of Bank
Workers, All India Bank Officers Association, and
National Organisation of Bank Officers.
Reform or �miss the
bus’, warns Jaitley
New Delhi
Trinamool to oppose
insurance reform
inance Minister Arun Jaitley appealed to opposition
parties yesterday to cooperate in passage of economic
reform legislation, warning
otherwise Asia’s third-largest
economy “will miss the bus”
The traditionally fractious
parliament has been stalled
once more by political rows that
have hindered efforts by the new
right-wing government to enact reforms and revive the stuttering economy.
Stormy scenes in parliament
under the previous left-leaning
Congress government also hindered economic reform efforts.
“The clear choice before us
is — either we reform or we miss
the bus once again,” Jaitley told
a top-level corporate audience
in a speech in New Delhi.
“If the latter were to happen,
a whole generation will not pardon us,” Jaitley said.
He added there was a need
for “a shared national vision”
to get the country back to nineto-10% annual growth levels it
enjoyed until a few years ago to
lift hundreds of millions of Indians out of poverty.
India has been stuck in the
longest spell of below-п¬Ѓve-percent growth in a quarter-century, hit by high interest rates, an
investment slowdown and flagging consumer confidence.
Economic growth in the last
п¬Ѓnancial year to March 2014
was 4.7% after falling to 4.5%
the previous year.
This year, the government hopes growth will accelerate to 5.5% and next
Union Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs, and Information and Broadcasting Arun Jaitley addressing a
press conference in New Delhi.
year “we have to first cross the
six-percent-mark”, Jaitley said.
Growth downturns and uncertain investment landscapes
in other parts of the world mean
“investors are looking to come to
India”, Jaitley said.
But to capture this investment
opportunity, India needs to slash
red tape, liberalise the economy,
speed decision-making and become a more business-friendly
destination, analysts say.
“For the next decade we can
have a full reform agenda on our
table” if all sides get on board,
Jaitley said.
Overseas investors have
waited for years for India to
overhaul its economy “and are
confounded” by its failure.
“That is the challenge,” he said
and asked, “Can we allow this to
The minister’s comments
came a day after the government
introduced in parliament tax
changes which analysts hailed as
a “game changer” that will cut
the cost of doing business domestically and boost growth.
The government tabled the
long-awaited goods-and-services tax (GST) harmonising varying state levies to create a single
internal market.
The legislation will be debated
in the next session of parliament
and the government aims to implement the new tax in April 2016.
The government, led by Prime
Minister Narendra Modi which
was elected in May, is seeking
to step up the pace of reforms
after criticism from business it
was not moving ahead swiftly
Spelling out plans for the
year ahead, Jaitley added
the government “is determined” to go ahead with liberalising the coal and insurance sectors to draw more
He will present his п¬Ѓrst full
budget in February.
The government is “absolutely
clear about one fact — the (reform) course we’ve adopted is
unalterable”, he said.
Affirming its opposition to
insurance sector reforms, the
Trinamool Congress yesterday hit
out at union Finance Minister Arun
Jaitley who has charged the West
Bengal’s ruling party of obstructing the upper house of parliament.
Trinamool Rajya Sabha chief whip
Derek O’Brien accused Jaitley of
“falsehood” and “putting spins
to things” and asserted seven to
eight parties were united in opposing the “so called reforms”.
“Two days of parliament are still
left. If Jaitley thinks he has seen
the best of Trinamool, he is wrong.
Don’t bulldoze us, we will fight you
in the parliamentary democracy.
Insurance Bill is not a reform. It
is only being touted as a reform.
We do not need these so-called
reforms,” he said.
“Jaitley cannot use weekend
bytes to try and put spin to
things,” said O’Brien referring
to the senior Bharatiya Janata
Party leader’s comments wherein
he had charged the Trinamool
of obstructing proceedings in
Asserting that the government
was “extremely determined” to
push for insurance sector reforms,
Jaitley, without naming the
Trinamool, Saturday said: “One
political party finds itself involved
in something which is unsavoury,
and are therefore trying to divert
attention by creating obstruction
in the upper house.”
Dubbing him as “frustrated minister” and “falsehood minister”,
O’Brien warned Jaitley against
indulging in “mudslinging” and
called for making public the workings of the Board of Control for
Cricket in India (BCCI).
Konkan rail route to
be electrified: Prabhu
aking a slew of announcements in Goa
yesterday, Railway
Minister Suresh Prabhu said
the Konkan Railway (KR) track
will soon be fully electrified
and double-lined.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) would also
be inked with the Goa government to promote tourism
along the KR route in the state,
Prabhu said at a function
organised by KR at the Karmali railway station, a short
distance from Panaji.
“I have instructed the
Railway Board that once the
Konkan Railway sends across
a proposal KR double-lining
will start,” Prabhu said.
He added that his office has
also issued instructions to
the Railway Board to clear the
proposal for complete electrification of the KR route, where
Rajnath: govt to boost
healthcare sector
nion Home Minister
Rajnath Singh yesterday stressed upon the
need of improving conditions
of the primary health centres
(PHCs) as he asserted the NDA
government was committed to
improving India’s medical infrastructure.
Speaking at the convocation
ceremony of the King George
Medical University (KGMU),
Singh said that it was the eneadvour of the Narendra Modi
government to ensure that
facilities at the PHCs and the
�External forces’
Devyani Khobragade
blamed for dilution of stripped of duty
Kerala liquor policy
New Delhi
eferring to the now diluted liquor policy in
Kerala that initially
aimed to implement total prohibition in a phased manner, a
Congress leader yesterday said
that at times, “external forces”
set the government agenda.
“The biggest flaw in democracy is when �external forces’
set the agenda for governance.
I am just airing the feelings of
the people,” state Congress
president V M Sudheeran told
reporters in Thrissur.
He dismissed leader of opposition V S Achuthanandan’s
demand for his resignation as
president after changes in the
state liquor policy.
However, party vice president M M Hassan termed Sudheeran’s statement an embarrassment for the government.
“The liquor policy was
tweaked to make it a practical
one. The chief minister had
in detail explained the reason
V M Sudheeran: “I am just airing
the feelings of the people.”
for tweaking it and people by
and large had understood it.
It’s Sudheeran’s responsibility
also to ensure that the government functions smoothly,” said
Bowing to pressure from
various quarters, the Kerala
government has decided that
Sundays will no longer be dry
days and the 418 closed bars
can serve wine and beer.
The Congress-led United
Democratic Front allowed the
Oommen Chandy cabinet to
make the necessary changes,
but demanded that the fundamentals of the policy - to implement prohibition in Kerala
in a phased manner by October 2, 2024 - should not be
Minister for Culture and Diaspora K C Joseph, a close aide
of Chandy, dismissed Sudheeran’s statement that the
government has succumbed to
external pressure.
“The tweaking was done
as part of correcting certain
flaws. The government did not
succumb to any lobby,” said
Joseph to reporters in Kannur.
Ever since Sudheeran took
over as president, there has
been a realignment of factions
within the party in Kerala with
a huge majority in the party
rallying behind Chandy and
very few left with Sudheeran.
The matter is expected to
clear up tomorrow when the
parliamentary party of the
Congress meets.
diplomat at the centre
of a bitter row with the
United States has been
stripped of her duties over unauthorised statements to media, a government source and
reports said yesterday.
Devyani Khobragade was arrested and strip-searched in
New York last December while
serving as India’s deputy consul-general on charges of mistreating her servant.
She had denied the charge
and subsequently returned
to India, but the incident
triggered fury in New Delhi and led to the resignation of then US ambassador
Nancy Powell.
Reports yesterday said Khobragade has been removed
from her current post in the
foreign ministry for an unauthorised media interview
and for not disclosing that her
children held US passports.
“The reports are not incorrect. It is true that she has been
placed on compulsory wait,” a
source in the ministry said on
condition of anonymity, adding that Khobragade now faces
Devyani Khobragade
an administrative inquiry.
Compulsory wait implies
that Khobragade remains in
ministerial service but without
a specific job.
The action comes a week after the mother-of-two spoke
to NDTV news channel about
her arrest and strip search in
New York.
During the interview, Khobragade said that her “kids were
born in the US and are considered US citizens”, a state-
trains normally run on diesel.
Besides, the minister said
in a bid to engage the local
community in the four coastal
states of Maharashtra, Goa,
Karnataka and Kerala, through
which the KR route passes,
a formal arrangement could
be worked out with the state
governments to train local
residents in tourism activity.
“We should try to do that by
engaging the community. We
should develop win-win ideas
like this,” Prabhu said, adding that an MoU would soon be
signed with the Goa government.
“The Goa government will
provide input and Konkan
Railway will provide funds and
we can train people in tourism
activity,” Prabhu said.
Elaborating, Prabhu said
rickshaw and auto-drivers
who operate near Konkan Railway stations could be trained
as tourist guides so that they
could ferry around railway
passengers and also help them
as part-time guides.
ment that reportedly took the
ministry by surprise.
Khobragade returned to India
under a deal a month after her
December 2013 arrest for allegedly paying a domestic worker
a fraction of the minimum wage
and for lying about the employee’s
salary in a visa application.
The row between the two
countries saw weeks of feisty
exchanges that strained bilateral ties and left resentment on
both sides.
Community Health Centres
(CHCs) were enhanced.
“Our government is also
working towards providing
health care and health cover to
the people,” said Rajnath Singh,
who represents Lucknow in
parliament and is a former Uttar Pradesh chief minister.
Stressing on the need for an
integrated healthcare system
“instead of the existing fragmented healthcare system”,
he noted that by doing so, the
pressure on the super-speciality institutes like the All India
Institute of Medical Sciences
and the Sanjay Gandhi PostGraduate Institute of Medical
Sciences would be reduced.
2tn units power
output by 2020
The government has set a
target of doubling electricity
generation from 1tn units to 2tn
units, Power Minister Piyush
Goyal said yesterday, a day after
the government tabled in the
Lok Sabha amendments to the
Electricity Act, 2003, initiating the
second phase of reforms in the
power sector.
“The government is aiming at 2tn
units of electricity generation by
2020,” Goyal told the Federation
of Indian Chambers of Commerce
and Industry’s (Ficci) annual
general meeting in New Delhi.
“There will be a renewed focus on
renewables, with generation going
up from the current 53bn units
to 300bn units in five years,” said
Goyal, who is also minister for coal
and new and renewable energy.
The share of renewable energy
is currently just over 5% of the
total base made up of 1tn units of
Through the Electricity
(Amendment) Bill, 2014 tabled
Friday, the government proposes
to introduce stricter penalties
for failing to meet renewable
purchase obligation (RPO) targets.
Under the RPO system, the state
power distribution companies
have to mandatorily purchase
electricity generated through
renewable energy sources during
the year.
The proposed changes will
also introduce the renewable
generation obligation (RGO),
which will make it compulsory
for thermal power producers
to generate electricity through
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Advantage BJP in
Jharkhand, PDP in
J&K: exit polls
New Delhi
he BJP has a clear advantage in Jharkhand and the
PDP is projected to lead in
Jammu and Kashmir, exit polls
said after the п¬Ѓve phase assembly polls in both states ended
The AXIS-APM exit poll has
projected that Bharatiya Janata
Party-All Jharkhand Student
Union alliance in Jharkhand is
likely to get 43% votes that may
translate into the alliance winning 37 to 43 seats. The state has
an 81-member assembly.
It projected that Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas
Morcha-Prajatantrik is likely to
improve its vote share to 16%
and may get 12-16 seats while
the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha,
which headed the outgoing government, will emerge third and
expected to get 10-14 seats, with
a projected vote share of 19%.
The Congress, and ally Rashtriya Janata Dal is likely to get 7
to 11 seats with a projected vote
share of 12%.
Today’s Chanakya in its exit
poll has predicted a “landslide
sweep” for the BJP-AJSU alliance as it projected the alliance
to get 61 seats (plus/minus 8
seats) with a vote share of 36%
(plus/minus 3%).
It has projected 12 seats (plus/
Relatives help 102-year-old Raj Kumari, centre, reach the polling station to cast her vote in R S Pura border
village, about 25km from Jammu, the winter capital of Kashmir, yesterday.
minus 4 seats) to JMM with a
likely vote share of 21% (plus/
minus 3%).
It has given four seats to Congress (plus/minus two seats)
with a projected vote share of
19% (plus/minus 3%).
JVM is likely to get two seats
(plus/minus two seats) with a
projected voter share of 12%
(plus/minus 3%).
The exit poll by the AXIS-APM
places the Peoples’ Democratic
Party in a leading position in Jammu and Kashmir but short of a majority in the 87-member assembly.
“In Jammu and Kashmir, PDP
is likely to fall short of halfway
mark and is projected to win 36 41 seats,” it predicted.
BJP, the exit poll says, is likely
to emerge as the second largest
party with projected seats being
in the range of 16-22 seats. The
ruling National Conference is
projected to only win 9-13 seats.
Earlier, braving the winter
chill, an astounding over 1.3mn
people, or 76% of the electorate, turned out to vote in the п¬Ѓfth
and п¬Ѓnal round of the Jammu and
Kashmir assembly elections. Officials termed the turnout “historic and unprecedented” and
the highest in the last 25 years.
This brought down the curtains
on the staggered п¬Ѓve-phase elections that were largely peaceful,
barring a major terror attack on
December 5 in which 21 people, including eight soldiers, were killed.
State chief electoral officer
Umang Narula said that balloting was “peaceful and incidentfree”, and there was no firing
from across the border to disrupt
the polling process.
He said the п¬Ѓfth phase saw
76% turnout, the highest among
all the rounds.
Narula said the overall turnout
was 66%, while it was 56% in the
2008 elections. The tenure of the
Jammu and Kashmir assembly is six
years. Of the 20 constituencies in
Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts,
11 saw turnouts of 80% or more.
Bani constituency in Kathua
recorded the highest turnout
of 83.2%, while Gandhinagar in
Jammu saw the lowest of 60%.
In Jharkhand, more than
2.5mn people - more than 70%
of the electorate – yesterday
exercised their franchise in the
п¬Ѓfth and last round of the assembly election in Jharkhand,
officials said.
Sixteen constituencies voted
Saturday in the п¬Ѓnal phase. Of
the 16 seats, seven were reserved
for Scheduled Tribes.
In New Delhi, the Election
Commission said that the turnout for the п¬Ѓfth and п¬Ѓnal phase in
Jharkhand was 71.25%, while the
overall percentage was 66.03%.
Ruling party
chief urges
law against
New Delhi
uling BJP chief yesterday called for a law to
ban “forced religious
conversions” amid increasing
uproar over the right-wing
government’s perceived proHindu tilt.
India’s parliament has been
paralysed by opposition lawmakers protesting mass conversions to Hinduism which is
the country’s majority religion.
They have demanded Prime
Minister Narendra Modi, whose
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is
in power, make a statement on
reports of poor Muslims being
coerced into converting.
“The BJP is against forced conversions and that is why we want
to bring in a law,” the party’s leader Amit Shah was quoted by the
Press Trust of India as saying.
“So-called secular parties
should support BJP’s move,”
Shah added.
“Forced conversion” is a
phrase used in India to cover a
wide range of methods of gaining religious converts from offers of free food and education
to threats and violence.
The world’s most-populous
democracy, while 80% Hindu
according to census п¬Ѓgures,
is a secular country under
the constitution and religious freedom is considered a
fundamental right.
Shah, a key confidante of
Modi, was credited for helping
engineer the BJP’s landslide
victory in May elections but
faces many criminal charges,
including inciting religious
tensions that he has denied.
A hardline group linked to the
BJP was accused of converting
some 50 slum-dwelling Muslim
families about a week ago in the
Taj Mahal city of Agra.
One of the converts said
they were promised ration
cards and other п¬Ѓnancial incentives if they converted.
A BJP lawmaker subsequently announced plans for an even
bigger Hindu conversion event
of Christians and Muslims on
Christmas Day in the northern
town of Aligarh. It was later
called off by Hindu groups.
Critics say Hindu hardline
groups have become more emboldened since the BJP was elected, stoking religious tensions.
Modi, who spent his early
years in a Hindu hardline nationalist group, has made no
public comment on religious
issues since becoming premier.
He was himself accused
of failing to curb 2002 antiMuslim riots that claimed at
least 1,000 lives when he was
chief minister of Gujarat state.
He has always rejected the
accusations, and India’s Supreme Court found no evidence to prosecute him.
Alongside the 80% Hindu
majority, Muslims make up
13.4% of India’s 1.2bn population, with Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs and other religions
accounting for the rest.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Cuban president hails
thaw in ties with US
uban President Raul Castro said yesterday he was
ready to discuss any topic
with Washington after the historic bilateral rapprochement,
but warned not to expect any
major political change as a result
of the detente.
And while the leader of the
Americas’ only communist nation hailed the agreement for
removing of an “obstacle” in
US-Cuba relations, he reiterated that “the most important
thing, the end of the embargo”
remained unresolved.
Castro spoke at the close of
the twice-yearly meeting of
parliament, which unanimously
ratified the deal between Havana
and Washington, in a session
largely focused on the communist island’s historic renewal of
ties with Washington.
“The Cuban people cheer this
correct decision of US President
Barack Obama. It represents the
removal of an obstacle in relations between our countries,” he
“We reiterate our willingness
for respectful and reciprocal
dialogue concerning disagreements,” Castro said, adding that
Cuba “accepted dialogue... on
any topic about all things here
but also in the United States.”
But he emphasised Cuba was
a “sovereign state” that would
not bow to pressure to change its
political or economic system.
“In the same way that we
have never suggested the United
States change its political system, we will demand respect for
ours,” Castro said.
The United States and Cuba
made the breakthrough in their
Cold War stand-off on Wednesday, launching measures to ease
a п¬Ѓve-decade US trade embargo
as well as a prisoner exchange.
First official talks are scheduled
for January.
Castro repeated yesterday his
stance that “the most important
thing, the end of the economic,
trade, and п¬Ѓnacial embargo
against Cuba, still needs to be
resolved.” However, much of the
embargo is codified in US law,
which can only be changed with
congressional approval.
That will likely prove difficult,
with a number of US lawmakers, led by Cuban-American
Senator Marco Rubio, protesting
Obama’s shift in Cuba policy.
For now, Castro said he counted
on Obama using his executive powers to change the aspects of the
embargo “for which the approval of
Congress is not necessary.”
Similarly, he urged his US
counterpart to review Cuba’s
“unjustifiable” inclusion on the
list of countries that sponsor
terrorism, an issue Obama has
pledged to look into.
Dissident groups in Cuba this
week had expressed regret that
Obama did not wait for “a gesture from Havana on human
rights” before announcing the
On Friday, Obama insisted he
shared the concerns of Cuban
dissidents and human rights activist “that this is still a regime
that represses it people.”
“Through engagement, we
have a better chance of bringing about change than we would
have otherwise.”
But the US president said he
didn’t “anticipate overnight
The parliamentary session
rebels begin
eftist rebels in Colombia
began a unilateral ceasefire yesterday hailed as a
key step in peace negotiations
— but uncertainty marred the
truce, which the guerrillas
threatened to break if attacked
by the army.
“An indefinite, unilateral
ceasefire from the FARC has
begun. It’s a positive gesture that goes in the right
direction,” said President
Juan Manuel Santos, who
consistently refused to
“I hope there will be other
gestures that would permit a
de-escalation of the conflict
and an acceleration in results from negotiations,” the
president added.
In a message published
shortly before the ceasefire
took effect just after midnight, the FARC welcomed
Santos’ remarks on the truce,
and asked him “not to stand
in the way of the people’s desire to know their country
without the roar of bombs and
machine guns.”
Under the ceasefire, the
Revolutionary Armed Forces
of Colombia (FARC) says its
п¬Ѓghters will only engage in
hostilities if they come under
attack п¬Ѓrst.
The FARC had declared
Christmas ceasefires in each
of the past two years, but
this is the п¬Ѓrst without an
expiration date.
was also attended by the “Cuban
Five,” the group of intelligence
agents jailed in the United States
whose last three members were
released in a prisoner exchange
that paved the way for Wednesday’s landmark rapprochement.
The men are hailed as national
heroes in Havana, which says
they were not spying on Washington but rather on Cuban exile groups determined to attack
the island.
The session was extended
from Friday to п¬Ѓnish discussions
on the Cuban economy, the originally scheduled topic, reported
state news agency AIN.
Despite Castro’s tentative
steps toward reform since taking
over from his older brother Fidel
in 2006, the Cuban economy
will achieve just 1.3% growth for
2014, the council of ministers
said earlier this month.
President Raul Castro addressing the audience during the National
Assembly in Havana yesterday.
The so-called “Cuban Five”, from left, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio
Guerrero and Gerardo Hernandez, who had been jailed in the United States for spying on anti-Castro
exiles in Florida, stand before members of the National Assembly before a speech by Cuba’s President
Raul Castro in Havana yesterday.
59 held in Panama drug ring bust
Panama City
anama said it had arrested
59 people as part of an
investigation into a drug
trafficking ring with links to Colombia’s Marxist FARC rebels
and Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel.
The 18-month investigation
into the organisation, which
used Panama as the base for
its smuggling operations, led
Relatives of
US spy in dark
after news
of release
to the seizure of drugs, cars,
speed-boats and cash, and the
discovery of various bank accounts used to launder drug
money, Javier Caraballo, Panama’s anti-drug investigator,
said in a press conference.
The majority of those arrested
were either Mexican or Colombian, and many had entered the
country as tourists, some with
fake names, Caraballo said.
He added that Colombia,
Costa Rica, Guatemala and
Mexico collaborated in the
The FARC was founded in
1964 to п¬Ѓght for rural land reform but has been deeply involved in the narcotics trade.
The rebels are currently in the
midst of peace negotiations with
Colombia to end a decades-long
conflict that has killed more
than 220,000 people.
As part of the negotiations, the
FARC has already agreed to put an
end to the illegal drugs trade.
is release from a Cuban prison has been as
cloak-and-dagger as his
spying career ever was.
Not even the family of Rolando Sarraff Trujillo appears to
know what has happened to the
Cuban man believed by some
to be the US informant secretly
freed in a prisoner swap between
Cuba and the United States that
was announced on Wednesday.
“All I can say is that ... my
brother has disappeared,” his
sister, Vilma Sarraff Trujillo,
said by telephone from Spain
on Friday, noting that Sarraff ’s
family in Cuba has not heard
from him in days and has not
been able to pry any information
from Cuban officials. “We don’t
know anything.”
Unlike the televised homecoming of Alan Gross, the
former U.S. aid worker who
became a household name in
diplomatic circles, the United
States and Cuba have declined to
publicly disclose the identity of
the freed spy.
The White House and US intelligence agencies on Friday
declined to confirm or deny
media reports that Sarraff, who
had been in a Cuban prison since
1995, was indeed the freed spy.
There’s good reason why he
might be out of sight.
“He’s probably in some very
quiet place being debriefed.
They want to know exactly what
happened,” a former senior US
intelligence official said. “It
would be a standard thing.”
The US director of National
Intelligence’s office credited the
unnamed freed spy as having
been “instrumental in the identification and disruption of several Cuban intelligence operatives in the United States.”
Chris Simmons, a former
senior counter-intelligence official at the Defense Intelligence
Agency, described Sarraff - familiarly known as “Roly” - as a
cryptographer who worked for
Cuba’s director of intelligence,
citing accounts from Cuban
He said Cuba communicated
with its spies through shortwave radio, using groups of
numbers to send coded messag-
Argentina goes
ahead with $1.84bn
dam project
Ceremony in remembrance
Santos, who has made
the peace talks his top political priority, has rejected
any bilateral ceasefire, saying the guerrillas could take
advantage of a truce to regroup, dragging out the
On the eve of the ceasefire
Friday, FARC п¬Ѓghters ambushed a patrol in western
Colombia, killing п¬Ѓve soldiers.
“I hope there will
be other gestures
that would permit
a de-escalation of
the conflict and
an acceleration
in results from
The day-before attack had a
familiar ring for Colombians.
The rebels had also staged
attacks just before their 2012
and 2013 ceasefires, showing
their strength before putting
down their guns.
But officials said the attack didn’t threaten the
peace talks aiming to end
Latin America’s longestrunning conflict, which over
the past 50 years has killed
some 220,000 people and
displaced 5.3mn more.
The talks only just re-started after being suspended when
the FARC captured an army
general who headed an antirebel task force in the junglecovered region of Choco, their
highest-ranking captive ever.
The FARC released the general on November 30 in order
to revive the stalled talks.
es. Sarraff would have been able
to help the United States break
that code.
“Roly was arrested in 1995.
Almost immediately the FBI
can read Cuban communications,” Simmons said, saying he
believed Sarraff was the one released based on the US government’s description of the spy’s
Simmons said Sarraff worked
in a three-man CIA team that
included Jose Cohen, who told
Reuters he escaped from Cuba
in a raft in 1994. Cohen, who
now lives in Miami, declined to
discuss Sarraff ’s case in depth,
though he offered a different account of Sarraff.
“It’s very dangerous to talk
about this. The press has got it
wrong. Rolando and I studied
together. He studied journalism.
I am the cryptologist. I studied
mathematical cryptology,” he
said in an interview.
Sarraff ’s family in Cuba declined to speak to Reuters and his
sister did not discuss her brother’s past - much less confirm any
espionage work.
President Barack Obama
hailed the unnamed spy as “one
of the most important intelligence agents that the United
States has ever had in Cuba.”
The US director of National
Intelligence’s office said the informant also provided information that led to the identification of a Florida-based cell of
п¬Ѓve Cuban spies as well as Ana
Belen Montes, a Defense Intelligence Agency official and one
of the highest-ranking U.S. officials ever proven to have spied
for Cuba.
Still, Obama acknowledged
that the spy’s sacrifice had been
a closely held secret “known to
only a few.”
Even former US officials
closely engaged on Cuba policy acknowledged that they
never heard of the case before
Bill Richardson, a former US
ambassador to the United Nations, said he knew nothing of
it when he visited the island in
2011 to try to win the release of
Alan Gross.
“That was a real surprise to
me,” Richardson said. “I never
heard of this. ... I even think a
lot of people in the government
didn’t know about it either.”
A family member of a victim of the invasion of Panama places flowers on a grave at the Jardin de Paz cemetery, during a ceremony
in remembrance of the 25th anniversary of the US invasion of Panama, in Panama City yesterday. The US invaded Panama and
installed a new government, but initially failed in its key objective of seizing the country’s leader, General Manuel Antonio Noriega
on December 20, 1989.
Argentina has held a preliminary
auction to award the contract
to build a $1.84bn hydroelectric
dam in the southern province of
Neuquen, the country’s planning
ministry said yesterday.
A Russian state bank will
finance 85% of the investment,
with a 20-year loan at a fixed
6.5% annual interest rate and
a 66-month grace period, the
ministry said in a statement.
Construction of the dam
called Chihuido, in Argentina’s
Patagonia region, will be
managed by a consortium
of the following Argentine
companies: Helport, Chediack,
Panedile, Eleprint, Hidroelectrica
Ameghino and Spain’s Isolux.
The Chihuido dam will
add 637 megawatts to the
electricity market, provide
water for human and industrial
consumption, as well as help
control water levels of the
Neuquen River, the statement
Ecuador halts deals with Germany over rainforest visit
cuador halted environmental cooperation deals
with Germany worth some
43mn euros ($55.55mn) to the
Latin American country after
German lawmakers tried to visit
an Amazon rainforest recently
opened for oil production, the
foreign minister said yesterday.
President Rafael Correa in
2007 asked wealthy countries
to donate $3.6bn to help protect the environmentally sensitive rainforest known as Yasuni
in exchange for promises not to
drill for the oil beneath it.
In 2013, he scrapped the plan
and authorized drilling after the
proposal brought in a fraction of
what he had sought.
The group of German legislators earlier this month had at-
tempted to visit the Yasuni to
observe oil operations, talk to activists opposing the drilling, and
see how German funds were being
used. Correa blocked their trip.
“If they think they had the right
to doubt the word of Ecuador’s
government on the issue of Yasuni
because they were providing funds,
we’ll give them their money back
with interest,” Foreign Minister
Ricardo Patino told reporters.
“Ecuador unilaterally ends all
cooperation with Germany on
environmental issues.”
The German embassy in Quito
did not respond to telephone
calls seeking comment.
Germany and Ecuador had
signed cooperation deals for 36mn
euros ($44mn) to protect the Yasuni and another 7mn euros ($9mn)
in other environment projects.
The funds for Yasuni had
not yet been disbursed, and the
money for the other projects
will be returned in coming days,
Patino said.
The Yasuni jungle area boasts
some of the planet’s most diverse wildlife, which Correa has
promised would not be harmed
by oil production. The п¬Ѓrst oil
production is expected in 2016.
Ecuador in recent years has
halted a number of international
cooperation agreements, particularly with the US, citing the
need to defend its sovereignty.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Pakistan PM,
president vow
to end terror
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
and President Mamnoon
Hussain have said that
the whole nation is united
against terrorism and the
government is determined to
eradicate it
akistan Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif yesterday
emphasised that Pakistan
will be rid of the menace of terrorism.
Meeting with a delegation
from the United Arab Emirates
(UAE) at his Raiwind residence
in Punjab, the prime minister,
while referring to the all-party
meeting held on Wednesday
after the barbaric attack on an
army-run school in Peshawar,
said the unity demonstrated by
political and national parties
was the п¬Ѓrst step in eliminating
terrorism from Pakistan, The
News International reported.
The UAE delegation expressed
their sorrow over Tuesday’s
massacre at the Army Public
School in Peshawar, which left
more than 140 students and
teachers dead.
The prime minister stressed
that the government was working on development and relief
projects at a speedy pace.
Meanwhile, Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain yesterday said that the whole nation is
united against terrorism which
Pakistani children arrive at their school in Peshawar yesterday, after three days of mourning for the children and staff killed by Taliban
militants in an attack on an army-run school. A Taliban massacre at a school is ”Pakistan’s 9/11”, the country’s top foreign policy official told AFP,
saying the assault that left 148 people dead would change the country’s approach to fighting terror.
Nawaz Sharif
Mamnoon Hussain
will be eliminated from the
country at all costs.
He said this while on a visit to
Peshawar where over 140 students and teachers were killed
during a barbaric attack by the
Taliban on the Army Public
School on Tuesday.
Talking to the media, he said
the Peshawar tragedy united the
nation and those who had any
soft corner for the terrorists in
the past were also now stressing the need for their complete
elimination to make the country
safe, Radio Pakistan reported.
The international community has also acknowledged
the sacrifices of Pakistan in
its war against terrorism and
expressed their full support,
Hussain said.
He said Pakistan is the only
country in the world which
suffered heavy losses in the
war against terrorism.
He said the ongoing Operation
Zarb-e-Azb is proceeding successfully and would eliminate
terrorists completely.
While responding to a question, the president said new laws
were being framed to dispose of
terrorism cases quickly.
Hussain said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has expressed
the desire for mutual co-operation in the п¬Ѓght against terrorism. He said both the countries
have agreed not to allow their
soil to be used against the other.
Earlier, after arriving in Peshawar, the president visited the
Combined Military Hospital and
inquired about the health of the
students injured in Tuesday’s
attack, according to the Radio
Pakistan report. He was accompanied by his wife.
The president spoke to the
students and lauded their courage. He expressed satisfaction
over the treatment being given
to them.
Meanwhile, Christians in Pakistan’s Chakwal district have
decided not to celebrate Christmas this year to pay homage to
the 148 people, including 132
children, who were massacred
by terrorists in Peshawar on
They also held a reference for
the victims of the deadly attack.
District Co-ordination Officer
Asif Bilal Lodhi was the chief
guest at the reference, Dawn online reported.
“Today we are gathered here
to pay tribute to those who
were ruthlessly killed by the
terrorists,” said Samina Sofia
one of the organisers of the
Nation put on red alert
The whole of Pakistan was
yesterday put on red alert and
educational institutions of
security forces closed down
following the initiation of
process of hanging terrorists
and radio intercepts of top
Taliban terrorist leaders
hinting at activation of suicide
Official sources here say big
cities of the Punjab province,
including Lahore, Rawalpindi,
Faisalabad and Multan are said
to be the target of terrorists.
Security forces have been
directed to beef up security as
a backlash of sending several
convicted terrorists to the
gallows is expected.
Two were executed Friday
night and their pictures
showing them hanged
published in newspapers
After different intelligence
information and interception
of a call to another terrorist
leader, security has been
put on red alert in the
major cities of the country,
especially in Punjab, the
sources said.
The decoding of the intercept
suggests that some suicide
bombers may have been
assigned to carry out terrorist
acts. Security arrangements
have been made and general
precautions taken.
Seven dead as
military hits
rebel hideouts
Pakistan, Afghanistan to carry
out co-ordinated operations
even people including a
policeman and paramilitary soldier were killed in
two separate incidents when
Pakistani security forces hit
militant hideouts in the restive
northwest yesterday morning,
officials said.
In the п¬Ѓrst incident, police and
paramilitary soldiers raided suspected hideouts in Shabqadar, a
town around 30km north of Peshawar.
“A soldier of the Frontier
Corps and a policeman embraced
martyrdom in an exchange of
п¬Ѓre with militants in Mechani
neighbourhood of Shabqadar
Saturday morning,” local police
official Wilayat Khan said.
He said two militants belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the militant organisation that carried out Tuesday’s
massacre at a military-run
school in Peshawar — the deadliest ever attack in Pakistan —
were also killed.
Spokesman of the Jamatul
Ahrar faction of the Tehreeke-Taliban Pakistan, Ehsanullah
Ehsan, claimed responsibility
for the attack. “We will continue
to target security forces and the
police,” he told AFP.
akistan’s top security adviser yesterday ruled out
joint operations with Afghanistan against militants,
saying both counties will coordinate operations on their own
side of border.
Comments by Adviser to the
Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz came after Pakistani forces stepped up actions
against the militants in the border region and killed nearly 50
militants in two days.
“Pakistan and Afghanistan
have agreed to carry out coordinated actions against terrorists in their respective areas,”
Xinhua quoted Aziz as telling
reporters in Islamabad.
“The two countries have also
agreed not to let anyone use their
soil against each other,” he said.
Pakistan and Afghanistan
share a nearly 2,600-km-long
porous border and both countries
are discussing options to put in
ivilian casualties in Afghanistan hit a record
high this year, a UN report said, highlighting worsening violence as US-led troops
leave after more than a decade of
п¬Ѓghting the Taliban.
Casualties jumped 19 percent
by the end of November compared to the year before, with
3,188 civilians killed and 6,429
injured, the United Nation’s
Mission’s for Afghanistan (UN-
AMA) said in a report.
It warned that civilian casualties were expected to exceed
10,000 by the end of the year,
making it the deadliest year for
noncombatants since the organisation began issuing its authoritative reports in 2009.
Compared to 2013, this year also
saw a 33% rise in casualties among
children and a 12 percent increase
among women, according to the
report released on Friday.
“Civilian casualties are particularly tragic and very prominent part, even benchmark, of
the horror of the violence that
ordinary Afghans face,” said Nicholas Haysom, the top UN envoy in Afghanistan.
“Civilian casualties are
particularly tragic and
very prominent part, even
benchmark, of the horror of
the violence that ordinary
Afghans face”
While ground п¬Ѓghting between troops and insurgent
groups and Improvised explosive
devices (IEDs) remained leading
causes of deaths and injuries,
the Taliban were accountable for
75% of all civilian casualties, the
report said.
As US-led Nato troops prepare to wrap up its 13-year combat mission, casualties among
Afghan security forces have also
suffered soaring casualties, with
more than 4,600 killed in the
п¬Ѓrst 10 months of this year.
After Nato’s combat operations end on December 31, a follow-up mission of about 12,500
US-led Nato troops will stay on
in Afghanistan to train and support the local security forces
now responsible for п¬Ѓghting the
Even as the Pakistani Army
intensified its anti-terrorism
operations in the wake of
Tuesday’s Taliban attack on a
Peshawar school that left 148
students and teachers dead,
unconfirmed reports said that
Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) chief
Mulla Fazalullah was killed in
an airstrike inside Afghanistan
early yesterday.
An unverified Twitter account of
the Pakistan defence ministry
stated early yesterday: “News of
Fazlullah’s killing is being confirmed by Ministry of Defence.”
However, according to sources,
place a mechanism to check illegal movement of militants.
Pakistan army chief, General
Raheel Sharif, rushed to Afghanistan Wednesday a day after a
group of Taliban militants killed
nearly over 140 people, mostly
children, in an attack on a military-run school in Peshawar.
The army said that the army
chief had shared “vital intelligence” with Afghan officials
concerned with regard to the Peshawar attack.
Some sources said Pakistani
security officials had intercepted
telephonic conversation of the
who were giving instructions to
the school attackers.
Security officials said that
senior Pakistani Taliban commanders, including their chief
Maulvi Fazallulah, operate from
the Afghan side of the border.
Kabul has never admitted Pakistani Taliban have taken shelter
in Afghanistan.
Aziz said Afghan President
Ashraf Ghani had pledged during his visit last month to Pakistan that he would not let his
country’s border be used for terrorism.
He said Pakistani and Afghan
officials would meet within two
weeks to discuss measures for
effective border control, adding
that Pakistan was the country
worst affected by terrorism in
the world.
Mumbai attack mastermind
must not be set free: Dawn
Afghan civilian casualties hit record high: UN
Taliban chief killed?
umbai terror attack
Rahman Lakhvi cannot
be allowed to simply walk away
free, an editorial said and added
that in the Mumbai trials, “Pakistan’s overall record in the fight
against militancy is also on trial”.
Pakistan’s leading daily Dawn
said in an editorial that both the
political and military leadership
of the country has stated repeatedly that there is no longer such
a thing as a good militant. “For
that to be true, individuals like
Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi cannot
be allowed to simply walk away
free men.”
An anti-terrorism court in
Islamabad on Thursday had
granted bail to Lakhvi, one of
the seven people charged with
planning and helping to carry out the Nov 26-29, 2008,
Mumbai terror attack that
killed 166 people.
The acceptance of his bail
plea had come as Pakistan was
mourning the deaths of 148 people, including 132 school children, in Tuesday’s Taliban massacre in a Peshawar school.
“While the court may have
acted according to the rules and
within the letter of the law, there
is also a context here that cannot
be overlooked,” Dawn online said
in an editorial.
“For five years the trial has
remained in limbo, hearings repeatedly adjourned on one pretext or another - so why pick
this week of all possible weeks to
grant bail to Lakhvi?”
The decision to grant bail to
Lakhvi, “suggests a tone deafness at this sensitive, possibly
pivotal, moment in Pakistan’s
history”, the editorial said.
“On the Mumbai-related trials Pakistan itself had acknowledged that the attacks were
planned and masterminded by
individuals based in the country.
“During the course of the Indian investigation, the state had
provided a great deal of evidence
to help piece together how the
attacks were carried out,” it
It went on to say that “the Pakistan government has rightly
acted to keep him (Lakhvi) in
custody for now, but that is only
a fire-fighting measure”.
“What is really needed is for
the trials of Lakhvi and his coaccused to be taken up again
with a seriousness of purpose
and sound legal strategy.
“For in these Mumbai trials,
Pakistan’s overall record in the
п¬Ѓght against militancy is also on
Activists slam Pakistan for resuming executions
ights groups yesterday
decision to hang two convicted militants in its п¬Ѓrst executions for six years, as leaders vowed decisive action in the
wake of a Taliban school massacre that left 149 people dead.
The bloody rampage in the
northwestern city of Peshawar
on Tuesday sparked international outrage and Pakistan described it as its own “mini 9/11”
and a game changer in its п¬Ѓght
against terror.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
relinquished the six-year ban
on the death penalty in terrorrelated cases two days after the
school attack, with two militants
convicted of separate terrorism offences the п¬Ѓrst to face the
The Human Rights Watch
termed the executions “a craven politicised reaction to the
Peshawar killings”, demanding
that the executions be stopped
“Pakistan’s government has
chosen to indulge in vengeful
blood-lust instead of п¬Ѓnding
and prosecuting those responsible for the horrific Peshawar
attack,” the group said in a statement yesterday.
The two militants hanged on
Friday in central Punjab province
were Aqil, who was convicted
for an attack on the army headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009,
and Arshad Mehmood who was
convicted for his involvement
in a 2003 assassination attempt
on former military ruler General
Pervez Musharraf.
Officials have said there would
be up to ten more executions in
the coming days.
Rights campaign group Amnesty International estimates
that Pakistan has more than
8,000 prisoners on death row,
with more than 500 of them convicted on terror-related charges,
according to the government.
“This is a cynical reaction
from the government. It masks a
failure to deal with the core issue
highlighted by the Peshawar attack, namely the lack of effective
protection for civilians in northwest Pakistan,” Amnesty said
about Friday’s executions.
The United Nations called for
Pakistan to reconsider executing
terror suspects, saying that “the
death penalty has no measurable deterrent effect on levels of
insurgent and terrorist violence”
and “may even be counter-productive”.
“We urge the government
not to succumb to wide-spread
calls for revenge,” said UN Human Rights Office spokesper-
son Rupert Colville.
The military has also intensified its operations against militants in the country’s lawless
tribal areas.
Seven militants were killed
yesterday morning in two separate incidents as security forces
hit their hideouts in the restive
A US drone strike in the lawless tribal area also hit a militant
compound killing п¬Ѓve militants
early Saturday.
The army has been waging a
major offensive against longstanding Taliban and other militant strongholds in the restive
tribal areas on the Afghan border
for the last six months.
But a series of fresh strikes after the Peshawar attack, which
wrought devastation at an armyrun school, suggest the military
is stepping up its campaign.
As the Peshawar tragedy unfolded, army chief General Raheel Sharif said the attack had
renewed the forces’ determination to push for the militants’
“final elimination”.
The atrocity was already the
deadliest terror attack in Pakistan’s troubled history, surpassing the 139 killed in bomb blasts
targeting former prime minister
Benazir Bhutto in 2007.
But the head of the hardline
Islamabad Red Mosque slammed
the army operation in North
Waziristan as “un-Islamic” and
said the TTP slaughter in Peshawar was understandable.
“O rulers, O people in power, if
you will commit such acts, there
will be a reaction,” Maulana Abdul Aziz told worshippers in his
Friday sermon.
Around 250 people protested
outside the Red Mosque in Friday evening, denouncing hardliners like Abdul Aziz as Taliban
Later, the Islamabad police
registered a case against the
cleric for threatening the protesters after they staged a sit-in
protest outside a local police station demanding a case against
the cleric.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Govt orders crackdown
on privileged jailbirds
hilippine authorities have
given privileged inmates in
the country’s main prison
until Christmas Eve to turn over
their hidden guns, drugs and
other contraband or the notorious facility will face a major
Justice Secretary Leila de
Lima issued the ultimatum after
two surprise searches of the Bilibid prison this week uncovered
a horde of prohibited items including п¬Ѓrearms, drugs, stashes
of US dollars — and even a jacuzzi and a stripper bar.
Revelations that drug lords
have been “living like kings” in
luxury cells have shocked the
Philippines, a nation used to
tales of official corruption.
“Before Christmas, they
should produce the contraband
because we believe there are still
illegal drugs and items kept hidden,” de Lima said after leading
the second search on Friday.
“I told them to produce that,
otherwise I will really... turn the
facility upside down,” she told
Flanked by heavily-armed
troops, de Lima led the searches
of the luxurious special apartments of convicted drug lords
in a sprawling suburban Manila
complex built for 8,900 inmates
but currently housing 23,000.
“I am disgusted, even beyond disgusted,” she said after
the raids, which uncovered secret panels leading to hidden
Three officials connected
with Bilibid were relieved of
their posts in preparation for
an investigation over the apparent complicity of jail officials in allowing the items to be
smuggled in, she said.
Philippine President Benigno
Aquino has ordered de Lima
to reform the prison system,
which has long been known
for corruption with wealthy
inmates enjoying special privileges.
“You can’t be in prison and
live like you are enjoying life
in a condominium,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a radio interview yesterday.
“The president told Secretary
Leila de Lima that the national
prison needs to be straightened
out. What has been ongoing for
several years, Secretary Leila de
Lima is putting a stop (to) right
now,” he said.
Members of the raiding team
have said that some of the
privileged convicts — who were
allowed to live in special apartments with marble-tiled bathrooms and hot showers in the
infamously crowded prison —
had apparently been tipped off
about the raids and were able to
hide some of their contraband.
Investigators also said they
are looking into reports that
the firearms seized from the
convicts appear to be registered under the names of provincial politicians.
Santa in clean-up campaign!
A street sweeper dressed as a robot Santa Claus cleans a street in Manila. The Philippines is the largest Christian country in Asia and has one of the longest Christmas
seasons in the world.
over China
he Philippines is alarmed
by reports that China is
planning to construct an
observation network by 2020 to
protect its maritime interests.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said yesterday that
such a move might heighten
tensions in the South China Sea
where China and its South-East
Asian neighbours, including the
Philippines, have overlapping
territorial claims.
The China Daily reported on
Friday that China plans to set
up an offshore observation network, including satellite and radar stations.
An official of the State Oceanic
Administration was quoted as
saying that the network is “fundamental” to protecting China’s
maritime interests and promoting
disaster risk reduction. Lacierda
told government radio station
DZRB that the Foreign Affairs
Department was looking into the
matter. But he also said that “our
policy is we do not want to escalate tensions in the area.”
The South China Sea that
is claimed almost entirely by
China. Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims
to the area.
Light rail,
metro fares
to go up in
By Rosalie C Periabras
Manila Times
ares for the Light Rail
Transit (LRT) 1 and 2
and Metro Rail Transit
3 (MRT) will go up starting
January 4, 2015.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has п¬Ѓnally
decided to raise the fares for
the three rail lines. “It’s a
tough decision, but it had to
be made,” DOTC Secretary
Joseph Emilio Abaya said yesterday.
Abaya said the fare increase
had long been proposed. “We
delayed its implementation
one last time until after the
Christmas season. While 2015
will see increased fares, it will
also see marked improvements
in our LRT and MRT services.”
A base fare of P11 will be implemented. An additional P1
will be charged per kilometre.
The increase is in line with
the 2011-2016 Medium-Term
Philippine Development Plan
(PDP), which directs the adoption of the “user-pays” principle in the pricing of transportation services.
Currently, the government
allocates P12bn a year to subsidise LRT and MRT operations.
Under the “user-pays”
principle, riders will shoulder
more of the cost for their own
trips. The fare hike entails a
shift from the current zonal
fare scheme to a distancebased system, meaning that
commuters will be charged
based on the distance they
Since government subsidises around 60% of the cost
for each LRT passenger and
around 75% of each MRT-3
passenger, an estimated P2bn
will be freed up to be used for
development projects and relief operations.
“We must emphasise that
around P10bn will still go to
subsidising LRT and MRT
passengers. But the premise
of the user-pays principle is
this: if what each rider pays is
closer to the actual cost of his
or her own trip, the P2bn savings can be used for development projects and relief op-
erations to benefit those who
never even get to use the LRT
or MRT,” Abaya said.
“I’m referring to the vast
majority of Filipinos outside of
Metro Manila—those in other
parts of Luzon, in the Visayas,
and in Mindanao, most especially those whose lives have
been severely affected by typhoons and calamities. They
will be the real beneficiaries of
a more equitable distribution
of these savings,” he added.
The last fare increase for
LRT-1 was in 2003. LRT-2’s
fares, on the other hand, have
never been increased. As for
MRT-3, fares were lowered:
the minimum rate of P17 to
a maximum of P34 in 1999
were decreased to P12 to P20
in 2000. At present, fares are
even lower at a range of P10 to
The failure to match fare adjustments with increasing operating costs resulted in practically break-even п¬Ѓnances for
all three lines, crippling their
ability to invest in large-scale
improvements for their facilities because revenues have
only been enough for day-today operational requirements.
The DOTC, Light Rail Transit Authority and MRT-3 have
pushed for improvement
projects at the train facilities.
A number of rehabilitation
and upgrading works are set in
For instance, new light rail
vehicles (LRVs) are already being manufactured to address
long queues at MRT-3. The
prototype unit will be delivered
in August 2015, and after one
month of testing, three to four
additional LRVs will be delivered until all 48 units are operational. The headway or gap
between train arrivals will also
be faster, from the current three
minutes to 2.5 minutes.
Also, six kilometres of MRT rail
line will also be replaced, while
the line’s signaling system and
radio communications system
will be upgraded. A new threeyear maintenance contract is
also being procured and will be
awarded in the п¬Ѓrst quarter of
2015, and the new tap-and-go
ticketing system for all three
lines will be operational by September 2015 at the latest.
Lives of danger, poverty on typhoon coast
ife is a constant throw of
the dice for farmer Nilo
Dilao and other residents
of the Philippine island of Samar, the ground zero for many
of East Asia’s deadliest storms.
Homes, boats, crops, livestock and jobs are all on the line
each time the monster winds
roar in from the Pacific Ocean,
leaving survivors to mourn their
dead and pick up the broken
pieces, year in and year out.
“Life is a struggle here,” Dilao, 43, said a few days after
Typhoon Hagupit destroyed his
shanty and killed more than 20
people this month.
He likened the plight of local
people to those of stray chickens.
“We’re scratching at the soil
non-stop in hopes of п¬Ѓnding a
scrap to eat,” he said.
Hagupit came a year after
Super Typhoon Haiyan, the
strongest ever storm recorded
on land, killed 7,350 people on
Samar and neighbouring islands.
Samar, about half the size of
Belgium, is often the п¬Ѓrst major
Asian landmass hit by the more
than 20 tropical storms or typhoons that are born in the Pacific Ocean each year.
With much of the mountainous island stripped by deforestation, most of its 1.8mn
residents live on narrow, sealevel strips along the coast, at
the mercy of the storms’ ferocious winds and tsunami-like
Benjie Baldenero (right) and a colleague prepare coconuts to be made for copra, at his coconut farm just
next to the seashore in Hernani town, eastern Samar province, central Philippines.
ocean surges. Living in the
town of Taft on Samar’s east
coast, the Dilao family survived
both the storm surges of both
Hagupit and Haiyan by fleeing
to a nearby hill, waiting them
out under a raggedy tent made
of bamboo frames and a tarpaulin sheet.
In nearby San Julian, smallscale farmer Benjie Baldenero
was also struggling to cope with
having lost his home in Haiyan when it happened again in
The 40-year-old spoke of
pledging the next harvest as
collateral so he could borrow
money to rebuild his grass hut
again and replace flooded rice
“We have not even repaid
last year’s debts and here we are
needing to take out more loans,”
Baldenero said. The vicious
cycle ensures Samar and the
neighbouring island of Leyte are
among the poorest regions of
the Philippines, accounting for
just 2.2% of national economic
“Bad weather plays a major
role in shaping our economy because typhoons destroy practically everything in their path,”
said Ben Evardone, a congress-
man and former governor of
Eastern Samar province.
Six in 10 people on Samar’s
east coast are poor, according
to government data, fuelling a
decades-old insurgency that
has largely petered out across
the rest of the Philippines.
Samar is one of only п¬Ѓve regions of the country where New
People’s Army rebels are still
active, Philippine Army spokesman Colonel Noel Detoyato
“They continue to attract followers due to the poverty,” he
Typhoons and guerrillas also
mean the island attracts few
outside investors, Evardone
There are few jobs available except farming and п¬Ѓshing, which are among those
most vulnerable to the extreme
Those in the few other industries also suffer during the
Jaime Caballa, 53, saw his
restaurant in the university
town of Can-avid ripped apart
by Hagupit, then ransacked by
With banks unwilling to
lend without collateral and his
modest savings gutted by Haiyan, the father-of-four now
has to deal with loansharks to
finance repairs.
“The restaurant was shuttered for a week after Haiyan.
This time, we’ll likely be out of
business for months,” he said.
The extreme weather leaves
the island with coconuts, also
the Philippines’ principal ex-
port crop, as the main source
of income.
Farmers also plant much less
valuable sweet potatoes, cassava and taro to supplement
their rice-based diet.
But even coconuts are no
match for the strongest winds.
Haiyan destroyed most of
the island’s coconut industry last year, felling more than
33mn trees across the central
Philippines according to official estimates, while Hagupit
took care of much of what was
“It takes seven years for coconut trees to bear fruit. In the
meantime, what will our people do? The impact of these typhoons will be felt over a long
time,” Evardone said.
Many Samar residents leave
the island if they can.
Samar and Leyte are wellknown sources of unskilled
domestic workers and labourers for Manila, 500 kilometres
to the northwest, as well as the
central port city of Cebu.
Many educated residents
also eventually move out, said
Cristina Colico, 36, a lawyer
and San Julian native who now
works at the Philippine central
bank in Manila.
“Samar residents can endure
the storms, that’s not why they
leave,” she said.
“They just want to look for
better jobs elsewhere.”
But this option is not always
open to unskilled workers.
“I wish we could move elsewhere, but in reality we know
we have nowhere else to go,”
said Dilao the coconut farmer.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Lanka opposition vows to
cancel casino tax breaks
ri Lanka’s main opposition has said it would
withdraw generous tax
concessions for controversial
foreign-funded resorts aiming
to make Colombo a gambling
hotspot in South Asia if it wins
next month’s elections.
Rajapakse’s government is facing
an unexpectedly tough challenge
in the national elections from
Maithripala Sirisena, who has
united opposition forces.
In his manifesto unveiled on
Friday, Sirisena said the special tax status granted to three
planned casino resorts would
be withdrawn — a promise that
targets the Buddhist vote bank in
an attempt to erode Rajapakse’s
rural support base.
“I will withdraw the concessions given to the casino
projects,” he said in his manifesto which also vowed to
launch a major offensive against
Sri Lanka’s influential Buddhist clergy had opposed al-
Maldives in
talks with
China for
oil search
lowing three casino resorts, including one with investments
from Australia’s gambling mogul
James Packer.
But Colombo gave them tax
holidays in December 2013.
Then in April, the government
said they will not issue casino licences to the three mega resorts,
yet made it clear that existing
local gambling operations could
move into them.
The palm-fringed island nation legalised casinos in December 2010, but the legislation has
never been implemented.
Tourism suffered during the
decades-long combat with separatist Tamil Tiger rebels. But
with the end of п¬Ѓghting in 2009,
the hospitality trade has grown
steadily and the authorities had
banked on casinos to lift the
None of the proposed gambling resorts have opened in
Colombo yet, but several local
casinos have been in operation
for decades, exploiting legal
Packer’s proposed 450-room
Crown Sri Lanka resort — which
once promised on its website
to offer “world-class gam-
ing facilities” — is yet to begin
The other two resorts are a
$650mn development from local conglomerate John Keells
Holdings and a $300mn
project by local businessman
Dhammika Perera.
The country’s main party
of Buddhist monks is backing
Sirisena who defected from the
government last month to challenge Rajapakse at the January 8
presidential election.
Western nations have piled
pressure on Rajapakse and his
brothers - also in government
- over allegations of war crimes
as the army crushed the Tamil
Tiger separatists, as well as
ongoing rights abuses.
Sirisena’s party said he would
establish independent commissions to secure the impartiality
of the judiciary, police and other
public services, and crack down
on corruption to boost growth.
“The extent of corruption in
Sri Lanka in the last few years is
unprecedented and unheard of,”
Sirisena said in the manifesto.
“I would achieve for the country 10 times the development
that actually occurred during
By Mizan Rahman
Maithripala Sirisena: “I will withdraw the concessions given to the
casino projects.”
the past six years,” he wrote.
Sirisena has gained support in urban areas as well as
from ethnic minority Tamils,
Muslims and Christians. The
main opposition United Na-
tional Party supports him.
Rajapakse was expected to
glide easily to a third term.
But Sirisena, who served as
health minister in his cabinet, is
proving to be a tough opponent.
Jumbo load
aldives has said it was
in talks with two Chinese companies for oil
exploration in the Indian Ocean
island nation.
Maldives Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Mohamed
Shainee said that discussions
would be held with two companies in China regarding the
search for oil, Xinhua reported.
Opportunity will be provided
to neighbouring countries to join
the search, the agency quoted
him as saying.
This is п¬Ѓrst time Maldives has
announced plans for oil exploration.
Shainee, however, did not
disclose location where the proposed exploration would take
Maldives Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed
said that with projects such as oil
exploration and bridge construction in the agenda for discussion,
the China-Maldives joint commission meeting will benefit
economies of both countries.
“This is a great achievement to
us as well,” he said.
Maldives will officially join
China’s Maritime Silk Road
project during the п¬Ѓrst ever
China-Maldives joint commission on economy and trade, the
agency said.
A high level delegation of cabinet ministers will participate in
the discussions with the Chinese
Maldives will also officially
join the trade route during the
A memorandum of understanding establishing a joint
committee on trade and economic cooperation was one of a
raft of agreements signed during
the visit of President Xi Jinping
to Maldives in September.
China has already agreed to
construct a bridge connecting
the airport island with capital
Male and upgrade the international airport.
After a team of Chinese surveyors carried out a feasibility study into the bridge project
last month, ministers said that
they would seek to expedite the
project while in Beijing.
China also accounts for one
third of all tourists visiting the
Maldives President Abdulla
Yameen last week laid the foundations for 704 housing units in
the island of Hulhumale, part of
an arrangement for 1,500 units to
be built in the country as part of
one of the Chinese government’s
mega projects.
Two elephants stand on a flatbed truck before being taken to Colombo, in Paraliya yesterday.
Govt modernising border force, says Hasina
By Mizan Rahman
rime Minister Sheikh
Hasina called upon the
Border Guard Bangladesh
(BGB) to uphold discipline, humanity, respect and honour and
above all mutual sympathy to
enrich the force.
The prime minister was addressing a special assembly of
the BGB organised at its headquarters in Pilkhana in Dhaka
Hasina expressed п¬Ѓrm opti-
mism that the BGB would become
an international standard peacekeeping force saying they should
not do anything damaging for the
force and the country as well.
“Now, the loyalty and confidence of the BGB members are
out of question and the force is
now working with dignity and
goodwill,” she said.
She said people of the country want peace and BGB members are the part of the people.
She called upon BGB members
to let the government know
about their demands and problems. “All problems would be
ties to grow
further, says
outgoing envoy
resolved through discussion,”
she said.
Referring to various steps in
reformation of BGB, she said
massive programmes have
been undertaken and implemented for modernisation and
expansion of the force.
Besides, nearly 20,000 additional manpower including
priority manpower of the BGB
has been recruited since 2009
following the new organisational structure, she said, adding the government is committed to developing the �ever
vigilant sentinels force’ to make
it more capable in safeguarding
country’s borders.
Talking about 479km-long
unprotected border with India,
the prime minister said, her
government already approved
two sectors, п¬Ѓve battalions and
92 border outposts for the BGB.
implementation of the projects, the entire
Chittagong Hill Tracts would
be much more protected and
safeguarded, she said.
She hoped members of
the BGB would continue accomplishing their duty with
honesty and patriotism.
utgoing US ambassador Dan W Mozena
yesterday said his
country backs no particular
political force in Bangladesh
as it focuses on deepening
partnership between the two
“I don’t know what to say
about that. America backs
no force in the political race.
That’s for you, the people of
Bangladesh to sort out,” the
ambassador who failed to call
on Prime Minister Sheikh
Hasina in the last two years.
The US diplomat made the
remark at a pre-departure
press conference at the American Club in the capital when
a questioner wanted to know
his comment on the public
perception that he (Mozena)
wanted to bring Bangladesh
Nationalist Party headed by
Khaleda Zia and its alliance to
Asked about the most significant achievement during
his three-year tenure, Mozena
said it would definitely be �institutionalising’ the partnership if someone looks at it
from the US’ perspective.
“Because, it’s now bigger
than any individual person …
it has its own structure. We’ve
four forums working to keep
on pushing this partnership.
That’s a huge accomplishment,” he said.
Asked whether it is true he
is not going to have a farewell
meeting with Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina, Mozena said,
“I’ve no idea”.
“I’ve not finished my appointments yet. I’m still doing appointments today and
continuing tomorrow,” he responded to another question.
Talking about immediate
challenges ahead of Bangladesh, Mozena said the most
immediately is the challenge
of manifesting the commitment and will to transform
apparel industry. “That’s a
big challenge because it’s a big
deal but if that commitment
and will are there, I believe,
it’ll be the largest apparel export industry.”
Apparently parrying the
question on political relations
between the two countries, the
US diplomat said his eyes were
always on the prize which is
�partnership’ between the two
“The prize is our partnership. Our partnership is today
broader, deeper and stronger
than ever,” he said adding that
they are promoting Bangladesh that is peaceful, secure,
prosperous, healthy and democratic.
Responding to a question
on January-5 elections, he said
the positions remained unchanged and advised the reporters to visit Google to check
the January-6 statements and
February-11 testimony in the
US Senate Committee given
by the US Assistant Secretary
of State Nisha Desai Biswal.
US ambassador Dan W Mozena
Mozena who was looking
very gloomy said he has no
complaint and left the issues
being discussed in the public
domain to them as he had a
mission of building a partnership. “Even I didn’t imagine
that this partnership would be
what it is today. Partnership is
advancing on all fronts.”
over his stay in Bangladesh,
he said, “I’m so satisfied with
the quality and strength of
the partnership. There’s no
person in this room or anyone
in Washington and I include
myself, whoever thought the
partnership would be as rich
as it is right now.”
The US envoy listed the
lack of infrastructure, the rule
of law and possible political
instability as challenges but
mentioned that all these are
Mozena described Bangladesh’s potentials referring to
four legs of tigers – readymade
garment sector’s transformation, environment-friendly
leather industry in Savar, generic pharmaceutical products and information technology -- which can bring about
significant changes in the
country’s economic growth.
Laying emphasis on education, the US envoy said Bangladesh needs education revolution with quality teachers
with better salaries and adequate training facilities. “The
children and young people
deserve the best and highest
quality education.”
Depicting a beautiful Bangladesh, Mozena said he does
not know any poor Bangladesh. “I only know rich
Bangladesh. This is a land of
He reiterated his desire to
stay engaged with Bangladesh
and continue telling stories
about Bangladesh among the
Asked how he wants to stay
engaged with Bangladesh,
Mozena said, “Many opportunities are opening up. They’re
very attractive and exciting
to me but they don’t relate to
Bangladesh. I haven’t taken
those, I put them aside.”
He said he really wants to
do something that is fun and
rewarding and specially linked
to Bangladesh.
Mozena leaves Dhaka today
as he goes on retirement. New
ambassador Marcia Stephens
Bloom Bernicat will soon arrive in Dhaka to take over.
Direct Dhaka-Kathmandu bus service likely
direct bus service between Dhaka and Kathmandu might start next
year as Nepal has agreed in
principle with a proposal made
by Bangladesh to that end.
The government made the
proposal last year considering
the huge potential of the service, as a significant number of
tourists visit Nepal and many
students from the Himalayan
country come to Bangladesh for
higher studies every year, The
Daily Star reported.
A number of bus operators
have already shown their interest
to launch services on the route.
“We have already submitted
a draft proposal to the Nepalese
government. They are also interested in the direct bus service. It is under consideration of
the Nepalese government,” said
Mashfee Binte Shams, Bangladesh high commissioner to
government had agreed in principle
to launch the bus service and
things would move faster after
the Saarc summit, she had said
last month.
There were a number of issues
needed to be п¬Ѓnalised through
discussion at a joint technical
committee level meeting before
signing the protocol, she added.
Bangladesh has also submitted a proposed route map pre-
pared by geographical information system experts of the
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
According to the proposed
route, distance between Dhaka
and Kathmandu is 1,184km and
the journey would take around
22 hours by bus.
The proposed route map
shows 510km from Dhaka
to Banglabandh that would
take around nine hours, 56km
from Banglabandh to Kakarvita through Panitanki border in Shiliguri in India that
would take around one hour
and 618km from Kakarvita to
Kathmandu which would take
around 11 hours.
Currently, there are three
trans-boundary bus services
between Bangladesh and India
- Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka, Dhaka-Agartala-Dhaka and DhakaShiliguri-Dhaka.
“Passengers have to travel
as much as 80km more to obtain immigration clearance at
the Burimari Port due to the
lack of immigration facilities at
Banglabandh Port. But it would
be better if the government took
an initiative to set up an immigration office at Banglabandh,”
said the high commissioner.
Asked what the process
would be and how long it might
take to launch the bus service,
she said the process would start
with a joint secretary level bilateral meeting.
The launch of the bus serv-
ice was possible within a few
months once the process started, she observed.
Bangladesh submitted the
proposal to Nepal in 2013 and
the issue of duty-free access of
goods was also discussed at a
joint secretary level meeting of
the commerce ministries of the
two countries.
Bangladesh has proposed
duty free access of 108 categories of goods, while Nepal
sought duty free access for 146
types of goods at that meeting.
Currently, around 4,500 students from Nepal are studying
in Bangladesh and the number
is increasing every year. Last
year, more than 700 students
came to Bangladesh from Nepal to pursue higher educa-
tion, mostly in medicine and
engineering, and most of them
travelled by bus.
As many as 862 Nepalese
students have submitted applications this year, the high
commissioner said, adding, 22
of them have got government
At the same time, every year
several thousand Bangladeshi
tourists visit Nepal, a popular
destination for people around
the globe.
Around 26,000 tourists went
to Nepal only from Bangladesh
last year. The direct bus service is likely to be very popular
among the tourists as it would
be through Eastern Nepal where
many popular tourist spots are
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
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
Private sector key to
Qatar’s economic
Qatar’s ample natural resources and returns from
the country’s well deployed investments will help the
government п¬Ѓnance its investment programme amid a
drop in lower oil prices.
Diversifying the economy away from oil and gas
is central to Qatar’s strategic plan and the country’s
sizeable investment programme should continue to drive
non-hydrocarbon growth and lead to further economic
diversification going forward.
Recently, the Ministry of Development Planning and
Statistics (MDP&S) said in its Qatar Economic Outlook
2014-16 update that Qatar’s economy was estimated to grow
7.7% in 2015 and 7.5% in 2016 mainly powered by the nonhydrocarbon sector; services and construction in particular.
Vigorous investment spending, an expansionary п¬Ѓscal
stance and a rising population will continue to spur
robust broad-based growth in the non-hydrocarbon
Services will
be the largest
contributor to
growth, followed
by construction,
which will
continue to
benefit from the
rollout of planned
public investment
projects, including local roads and expressways, Doha
Metro and rail, drains and sanitation, and construction of
new health centres and education facilities.
After sluggish out-turns in 2013 and 2014,
manufacturing growth will rebound somewhat in 2015
and continue to pick up in 2016, it said, adding this revival
will be driven mainly by planned capacity expansion
in downstream activities, supported by availability of
feedstock from the Barzan Gas Project.
Non-hydrocarbon real GDP growth is expected to
continue accelerating as the government implements
its ambitious investment programme ahead of the 2022
World Cup, a recent QNB report showed.
Qatar remains well positioned to undertake long-term
investment plans. The key drivers of long-term growth
are Qatar National Vision 2030 (the country’s long-term
development plan) and the FIFA 2022 World Cup.
Infrastructure investment is taking centre stage. Qatar has
awarded numerous infrastructure projects in 2014 to prepare
to host FIFA 2022 and to address long-term infrastructure
needs arising from rapid population growth.
Standard Chartered bank expects Qatar’s spending to
increase further in 2015. Population growth is one driver
of long-term investment.
The government forecasts that the population could
rise to 3.8mn by 2030 from around 2mn currently.
Under Qatar’s national development strategy, an
estimated $183bn of investment is planned between 2011
and 2016, bank data show. It also estimates that almost
$27bn of key infrastructure projects have been awarded in
2014 and expects project spending to reach $34bn in 2015.
But to sustain Qatar’s non-hydrocarbon growth the
country’s private sector will have to play an even greater
role in the national economy.
HE the Minister of Development Planning & Statistics,
Dr Saleh Mohamed Salem al-Nabit, emphasised this
in a recent statement. He said: “To support long-term
deepening of the economic base, more needs to be done
to boost private sector participation in the economy and
the upgrading of skills, technology and productivity.”
“In 2015, with momentum still gathering in nonhydrocarbons, the sector’s share of GDP (gross domestic
product) will overtake that of oil and gas, and continue
rising in 2016 and beyond. This diversification of output
and the broadening of the economic base are very
welcome,” al-Nabit said.
Diversifying the
economy away from
oil and gas is central
to Qatar’s strategic
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Where has global
warming gone?
Monitoring surface
temperatures does not
give us an accurate enough
representation of humaninduced global warming
By Ka-Kit Tung
or the last quarter of the
20th century, the average
temperature at the surface of
the earth edged inexorably
upward. Then, to the surprise even of
scientists, it stopped. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth’s
atmosphere continued to rise; indeed,
it is higher today than it has been
for centuries. And yet, for the last 15
years, according to the conventional
way of measuring global warming, the
planet does not seem to have become
any hotter.
What explains this unexpected turn
of events, and what does it mean for
future climate policy?
The pause in the rise of surface temperatures is real. It can be observed
in surveys of the surface of the sea
and in satellite measurements of the
troposphere. But the reason it has occurred is not that our greenhouse-gas
emissions are no longer changing the
earth’s climate; it is that surface temperature is a poor metric for humaninduced warming. Indeed, what scientists have figured out is that, instead of
warming the surface, the excess heat
that is being generated has gone to the
deeper oceans.
This calls into question some of the
international strategies for combating climate change that are currently
being negotiated, such as those aimed
at preventing the global temperature
at the earth’s surface from rising more
than 2Вє Celsius above the pre-industrial average.
Scientists probably did not adequately convey to the public that
their projections for future warming
are based on models that account only
for the so-called “forced response”
in global mean surface temperatures – that is, the change caused by
greenhouse-gas emissions. But what
is observed at the surface includes
unforced, or natural, variations, such
as the El Nino and La Niña fluctuations from year to year, and the 60-70
year cycle from the fluctuations of
the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt in the
In fact, this cycle is now thought
to bury heat deep in the oceans
periodically. And, because it existed
even before humans put significant
carbon into the atmosphere, it is likely
Given the oceans’ massive heatstorage capacity, determining how
much of the warming remains at the
surface over the course of decades is
a very difficult task. Though the challenge is beginning to be appreciated,
current projections of the dreaded
two-degree warming have yet to take
into account variable ocean cycles.
To be sure, surface temperatures
remain important. They are a better measure of the threats posed by
climate change than heat sequestered
underwater. But some of the threats
that scientists (and economists)
deduce from the surface temperature
also reflect natural climate change,
and thus cannot be mitigated through
the reduction of CO2 emissions.
The total amount of heat contained
in oceans responds to changes in
emissions, and is therefore a better
metric for measuring such responses.
Indeed, it has continued to warm as
expected, even as the surface temperature has stopped rising.
The oceans’ heat content is measured by a network of more than 3,000
free-drifting robotic floats spread out
across the world’s waters, where they
routinely dive 2,000 meters beneath
the surface. The temperature they
measure is transmitted to orbiting
satellites and made available online
to anyone in near-real time. For ease
of interpretation, the oceans’ heat
content can easily be converted to a
mean temperature after dividing by a
constant. In time, models could demonstrate how to relate this new global
metric to emissions’ regional climate
The intensive scientific search for
an explanation for the pause in global
warming at the earth’s surface has
led to a better understanding of the
complex functioning of the climate.
It confirms the long-held theory that
the earth has an energy budget that
is affected by radiative perturbations
at the top of the atmosphere, though
partitioning that energy between the
surface and the deeper oceans has
been difficult.
Nobody knows how long the current pause will last. Nonetheless, at
some point, the natural cycles will
shift; the oceans will cease to absorb
the bulk of the planet’s warming;
and surface temperatures will begin
to climb again. When they do, we
can expect the increase to resume
the rapid pace observed during the
late twentieth century, when surface
temperature rose by about 0.17C
every 10 years.
In the meantime, whether the overall risk to our environment has been
reduced by the pause remains an open
question. Some argue that what went
down will eventually come back up.
The sloshing back and forth of warm
and cold waters – El Nino and La Nina
– in the shallow layer of the equatorial
Pacific Ocean will continue to produce
fluctuations in surface temperatures
every year. Over longer periods, however, the risk that the heat currently
stored in the deep ocean will resurface
is remote.
One thing is clear. Monitoring
surface temperatures does not give us
an accurate enough representation of
human-induced global warming. As
long as we lack a clear understanding
of the relationship between our cumulative greenhouse-gas emissions and
the temperature of the earth, it will
remain difficult to assess the potential
for damage related to climate change
caused by humans – or develop the
right strategies to minimise it. Project Syndicate
z Ka-Kit Tung, a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, is Professor
of Applied Mathematics and an adjunct
professor of Atmospheric Sciences at
the University of Washington.
Refugees must be protected, even at sea
By Mark Hetfield
New York
ow can we possibly protect
someone who, having lost
everything else, risks his
life by fleeing on an unseaworthy boat? Refugees take to rough
waters because there are no alternative
migration channels on land - and they
prefer the risk at sea over the violence
and despair they are fleeing.
I have just returned from a meeting convened by the UN Refugee
Agency (UNHCR) in Geneva of
government officials, advocates and
experts from around the world to
confront one of the most “wicked
problems” of the global refugee
landscape - migration by sea. Faced
with a staggering loss of life of
migrants who escape by boat despite
huge risks, one goal of the dialogue
was to deter governments who
“rescue” boat people by returning
them to their persecutors. While
harrowing accounts of perilous,
overcrowded maritime escapes from
the Middle East and North Africa
are making headlines in Australia
and Europe, they have gotten little
attention in the US. Yet we too have
“boat people,” mostly Haitians and
From 2010 through the п¬Ѓrst half of
2014, 15,190 people in 440 recorded
maritime incidents sought safety via
boats carrying migrants in the Caribbean Sea. During this time, some 240
migrants drowned, and 176 were missing at sea. The US Coast Guard picked
up the rest. The victims of these
incidents were men, women and child
migrants from Haiti, Cuba, Dominican
Republic and other countries of the
Caribbean and South America.
All migrants intercepted in the
Caribbean must be given meaningful
access to asylum in accordance with
the Refugee Convention of 1951 and
its 1967 Protocol. Currently, Cubans
and Chinese interdicted by the US
are advised of their right to apply for
asylum in their own language. It is
unclear whether Dominicans, South
Americans and other migrants are
treated the same.
A distressed vessel with 90 people on board, including women and children.
What is clear is that the US government treats Haitians differently and
In 2002, President George W Bush
signed an Executive Order authorising the Attorney General to return
individuals to Haiti without an obligation to screen for a fear of persecution.
This order, similar to orders issues by
previous Administrations, remains in
effect and is in direct violation of US
obligations under international law.
During the last three decades, US
Coast Guard has returned all Haitians
who do not demonstrate a “physical manifestation” of a fear or return.
Those that pass this “shout test” or
“sweat test” may be referred for an
asylum screening.
The shout test does not pass the
smell test. It is ineffective as a refugee
screening tool and makes a mockery
of international legal standards. No
Haitian has been granted asylum
after having been “screened” in this
careless and arbitrary fashion. The US
Coast Guard has subsequently identified one Haitian as having a manifestation of fear, and that person did
not pass the credible fear screening.
In contrast, in 2010, 55% of Haitians
who applied for asylum in the US after
arriving by air or land were granted
All US Coast Guard rescue efforts
should include procedures that advise
migrants of their right to seek asylum
if they fear return. The US should not
return an intercepted person until he
or she has an opportunity to be individually screened, preferably on land,
for a fear of persecution.
Also concerning are the bilateral
agreements on interdiction in the
region. For example, the US engages in
joint interdiction operations with the
Bahamas. Pursuant to these agreements, migrants are disembarked in
the Bahamas, where there is no meaningful process to identify those with
a fear of return. This is unacceptable.
The US should review the practice of
sending intercepted migrants to countries that are not known to respect
their international obligations. Such
obligations are enshrined in the 1951
Refugee Convention and other international human rights instruments.
The US should provide alternative
channels for safe and legal migration
that would reduce the need for refugees to risk their lives at sea, including
development assistance in the region,
humanitarian visas, and opportunities
for legal migration.
The recent announcement by the
US government of a Haitian Family Reunification programme, which
permits certain Haitians to join family
members in the US, is a good step.
Such legal avenues provide an alternative to migration by sea - and more
importantly, to the potential loss of
life. As the High Commissioner said
at the Geneva dialogue, “Protection at
sea starts with protection on land.”
There are no easy answers to the
dilemma posed by migrants who flee
danger by sailing into danger. But even
at sea, all individuals have the right
to seek protection from persecution
without having to “shout” or “sweat.”
Motivated by refugee protection, we
hope the US and other governments
not only spoke during the dialogue,
but also listened. That might save
lives. - Tribune News Service
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Socrates in Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley is still
admired as a source of
invention and creative
destruction; but it is also
widely viewed as having
lost its ethical compass
By Lucy P Marcus
f Socrates’ gadfly was in Silicon
Valley, it would have a lot of lazy
horses to sting. The citizens of
the techno-polis appear oblivious
to how the outside world’s perception
of them has changed, and radically so.
Once universally revered as a hotbed
of innovation, the world’s premier
technology hub is increasingly viewed
with suspicion and resentment.
Yes, Silicon Valley is still admired
as a source of invention and creative
destruction; but it is also widely
viewed as having lost its ethical
compass. With proliferating reports
of lax attitudes toward data privacy,
wanton disregard for the dignity of
the less fortunate, and a growing
sense that technology companies are
pushing their preferred policy agenda
on the rest of the world, discontent
and disillusion are rising.
Viewed from outside, the world
sees companies that exude a sense of
entitlement – for example, by flouting
local regulations as they expand into
cities around the world, from Berlin to
Rio de Janeiro. Supremely confident
in the power of their knowledge and
skills, they are convinced that they
will guide the world onto the Path of
Truth. This overweening certitude is
not new – the United States, after all,
was founded on missionary zeal – but
the ethical arrogance is.
Of course, not all technology
companies should be tarred with the
same brush as the main offenders.
But the recent spate of high-profile
cases harms the reputation of the
sector as a whole. As the world looks
to Silicon Valley and sees an echo
chamber of self-righteous conceit,
mature and law-abiding technology
companies are assumed to be inside
it, too.
The cases are becoming legion.
Uber, the data-abusing car-sharing
app that spikes prices during peak
demand and threatens journalists who
write negatively about it, has been
banned in Spain, the Netherlands,
Thailand, and two Indian cities so far,
including New Delhi (after a driver
allegedly raped a passenger). These
reports follow the revelation that
pictures shared on Snapchat may not
be deleted, as promised. In August,
Brazilian authorities banned the
social-networking app Secret after
the company failed to respond to
cyberbullying concerns, with Israel
considering a similar move. The list
goes on.
Silicon Valley is risking a backlash
that will not do anyone any good. Its
leaders are increasingly out of step
with the public’s expectation of ethical
and conscientious behaviour. If they
fail to generate new ideas and devise
novel approaches, their problems will
only multiply further.
One thing that would help is fresh
blood. Much of Silicon Valley’s success
stems from its tight networks – people
who have been successful and support
one another. But history shows that
the same structures can also choke
off innovation. Organisations, like
species, become inbred and weak, and
eventually perish, when they fail to
embrace diversity.
Indeed, one of the most revealing
facts to come to light about
Silicon Valley in recent months
is the extreme ethnic and gender
imbalance at large technology
companies, including Apple, Google,
Facebook, and Twitter. No one is
shocked, but clearly something
needs to change. Somehow a place
that prides itself on innovation and
doing things differently should be
doing this differently as well.
Is the ECB doing enough?
By Peter Praet
onrad Adenauer, Germany’s
п¬Ѓrst chancellor after World
War II, famously said: “Why
should I care about the things
I said yesterday?” What he meant was
that events can sometimes unfold at
a speed that outpaces our ability to
understand them. So, as 2014 winds
down, it is worth asking ourselves, with
the benefit of hindsight: Have we at the
European Central Bank reacted swiftly
enough to maintain price stability in the
face of threats, as our mandate requires?
I think the answer is yes.
We noticed that our monetary policy
was no longer having the effect on
private borrowing costs to which we
were accustomed. It was obvious that
the lending channels in the banking
system had become dysfunctional;
excessively restrictive borrowing
conditions were suppressing demand.
In response, the ECB did precisely what
any central bank would have done: we
acted to restore the relationship between
our monetary policy and the cost of
borrowing, aiming to bring down the
average rate that households and п¬Ѓrms
have to pay.
In June, we introduced a series of
targeted longer-term refinancing
operations (known as TLTROs) to
provide funding for banks at very low
п¬Ѓxed rates for a period of up to four
years. The TLTROs were designed to
maximise the chances that banks would
pass on the funding relief to borrowers.
Our programs to purchase asset-backed
securities and covered bonds were
tailored to help lubricate further the
transmission of lower funding costs
from banks to customers.
Together, these measures offer a
powerful response that addresses
the root causes of impaired bank
lending, thereby facilitating new
credit flows to the real economy. And
tentative evidence suggests that they
are delivering some initial tangible
benefits to the euro area’s economy.
At the same time, inflation has
continued trending down. In November,
annual inflation in the euro area fell to a
cyclical low of 0.3%, largely owing to the
sharp fall in oil prices since the end of the
summer. But falling core inflation (which
excludes volatile energy and food prices)
also points to weak aggregate demand.
And, indeed, the ECB’s latest staff
projections entail a notable downgrading
of the macroeconomic outlook.
Falling oil prices and the prospect
of a prolonged period of low inflation
also seem to have affected inflation
expectations. Given the potency of
the recent oil-price shock, the risk
is that inflation may temporarily slip
into negative territory in the coming
months. Normally, any central bank
would welcome a positive supply
shock. After all, lower oil prices boost
real incomes and may lead to higher
output in the future. But we may not
be able to celebrate. After all, because
well-anchored inflation expectations
are indispensable for medium-term
price stability, monetary policy must
respond to a risk of de-anchoring.
That is why the ECB Governing
Council has reiterated its unanimous
commitment to use additional
unconventional instruments within
its mandate should it need to address
a prolonged period of low inflation,
or should monetary stimulus fail
to move our balance sheet toward
its size in early 2012. This would
imply altering the scope, pace, and
composition of our measures early
next year, and staff from the ECB and
national central banks have stepped
up technical preparations, so that
further measures, if needed, can be
implemented in a timely manner.
If we were to judge that the
economy is in need of further
stimulus, one option could be to
extend the ECB’s outright asset
purchases to other asset classes. But
it is important to remember that
asset purchases are not an end in
themselves. They are an instrument,
not a target, of monetary policy.
An important criterion for the
choice of additional measures should
be the extent of their influence
over broad п¬Ѓnancing conditions in
the private economy. For example,
purchases of bonds issued by euroarea non-п¬Ѓnancial corporations
(NFCs) would probably have some
direct pass-through effect on firms’
п¬Ѓnancing costs. But, compared to
other asset classes, the market for
NFC bonds is relatively thin.
It would be a different matter if we
were to decide to buy bonds issued by
euro-area sovereigns – the only market
where size would generally not be an
issue. Interventions in this market
would likely entail a stronger signal that
the ECB is committed to maintaining an
accommodative monetary policy for an
extended period of time.
The effectiveness of interventions
in the sovereign-bond market –
that is, their ability to lower the
borrowing costs of households and
firms further – will also rest on the
state of the banking sector. Higher
capital ratios, lower exposure to bad
loans, and more transparent balance
sheets increase the chances that the
ECB’s quantitative impulses will be
transmitted to the wider economy.
That is why the completion of the
ECB’s comprehensive assessment of
banks’ balance sheets and the start
of Europe-wide banking supervision
will help revitalise sluggish lending in
the euro area. In particular, increased
clarity and transparency about banks’
balance sheets, together with a bettercapitalised banking sector, will create a
more supportive lending environment.
But a decision to purchase sovereign
bonds would also need to build on and
factor in the institutional specificities
of the euro area, including the limits
set by the EU Treaty. We take these
limits very seriously. - Project
Above all, there is value in
questioning and challenging the
status quo. Independence in thought
and deed is vital for any company to
function and to build things that last
and contribute to economic growth
and prosperity. In Plato’s Apology,
Socrates advocates for the examined
life – the habit of rigorous selfreflection and posing hard, heterodox,
and possibly upsetting questions.
The tech sector needs to embrace that
Ironically, questioning prevailing
wisdom – and thereby inventing
radically new solutions – has been
Silicon Valley’s modus operandi from
the outset. But it has followed this
approach on a macro level and for
problems elsewhere in the economy,
without examining itself.
Silicon Valley’s citizens must start
applying their skill at innovation
– and their pride in “breaking
things” – to themselves. The only
way to evolve is by adapting to new
environmental pressures, and now
Silicon Valley – owing in large part
to its own behaviour – is facing
plenty of them. Unless it changes, it
will be overtaken.
The good news is that if any
place has proved that it can
innovate, it is Silicon Valley.
Now, however, its citizens must
recognise that they do not have
all the answers; unfortunately, so
far at least, there seems to be no
awareness among them that there
is even a problem. Like the “skilled
craftsmen” described by Socrates,
“on the strength of their technical
proficiency, they claimed a perfect
understanding of every other
subject, however important.”
As Plato’s teacher knew – and
as every fresh report of the tech
sector’s abusive behaviour should
remind us – a little knowledge can
be a dangerous thing. - Project
Lucy P. Marcus is CEO of Marcus
Venture Consulting.
Weather report
Three-day forecast
High: 26 C
Low: 16 C
Misty to Foggy at places at first
with some clouds and relatively
cold by night
High: 25 C
Low : 16 C
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High: 26 C
Low : 18 C
P Cloudy
Fishermen’s forecast
Wind:SE-SW’LY 5-15/18 KT
Waves: 2-4/5 & 5-7/8 Feet
Waves: 1-2/3 Feet
Around the region
Abu Dhabi
Kuwait City
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Peter Praet is Chief Economist of the
European Central Bank and a member
of its executive board.
Live issue
FDA approves new ovarian cancer drug
By Melissa Healy
Los Angeles
pening a new chapter in the
use of genomic science to
п¬Ѓght cancer, the US Food
and Drug Administration
has approved olaparib, a medication
for advanced ovarian cancer associated with a defective BRCA gene.
The new drug, to be marketed under
the commercial name Lynparza, was
found in a preliminary clinical trial to
shrink or eliminate ovarian tumors in
women whose cancers bore a specific
genetic п¬Ѓngerprint and who had
undergone at least three prior lines of
Based on Lynparza’s “existing
objective response rate and duration
of response data,” the drug safety
agency granted the medication’s
maker, Astra-Zeneca, an “accelerated”
approval. Roughly a third of women
with the genetic mutation targeted
by Lynparza saw partial shrinkage
or complete disappearance of their
ovarian tumors over an average of
eight months.
At the same time, the FDA granted
marketing approval for a “companion
diagnostic” that will help identify
women whose advanced ovarian
cancer is likely to respond to the
drug. That test, BRACAnalysis CDx,
is made by Myriad Genetics Inc To be
a candidate for Lynparza, a patient
must take the test and show positive
for a specific mutation of the BRCA
gene, which confers a high risk of both
breast and ovarian cancer.
“Today’s approval constitutes the
п¬Ѓrst of a new class of drugs for treating
ovarian cancer,” Dr. Richard Pazdur,
director of the Office of Hematology
and Oncology Products in the FDA’s
Center for Drug Evaluation and
Research, said in the news release.
Pazdur called Lynparza “an example
of how a greater understanding of the
underlying mechanisms of disease can
lead to targeted, more personalised
Lynparza is the п¬Ѓrst of a new class
of drugs called poly ADP-ribose
polymerase (PARP) inhibitors, which
work by blocking the action of an
enzyme that helps repair DNA. In
certain tumour cells, such as those seen
in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers,
blocking this enzyme can lead to cell
“It’s really opening a whole new
avenue of therapy,” said Dr. M. William
Audeh, a medical oncologist and
geneticist at Cedars-Sinai Medical
Center’s Samuel Oschin Cancer
Institute in Los Angeles. “This drug is
working in a fundamentally different
way than chemotherapy: This is a
cancer treatment that’s been designed
to hit this kind of inherited genetic
weakness in the cancer itself.”
Because PARP inhibitors such as
Lynparza target a cancer’s genetic
Achilles’ heel, they appear to hold
out the particular promise of driving
some patients’ cancer into remission
entirely, said Audeh, an investigator
on the Astra-Zeneca-sponsored trial
assessed by the FDA.
“All of us who’ve done these trials
over seven years have some patients
who’ve been in long-term remission.
That’s not something you see very
often with chemotherapy,” he added.
Audeh said at least seven other
PARP inhibitors are in development
and testing for cancers associated with
BRCA gene mutations, and for others
that may stem from similar mutations.
Around the world
Cape Town
Hong Kong
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Sao Paulo
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Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Katara events enthral visitors
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
atar National Day celebrations continued at
Katara – the Cultural Village on Friday with numerous
events and activities, attracting a
large number of people.
A wide range of attractions had
been lined up at the Cultural Village to mark the special occasion.
The celebrations saw the Qatar
Emiri Guard’s 14 horses in national costumes enthral visitors
for two consecutive days, touring
Katara’s Corniche and alleyways
with an artful display.
Lt Col Mohamed al-Kaabi,
chairman of the organising committee for the Emiri Guard’s National Day celebrations, said they
were participating in Katara’s
festivity for the third consecutive year.
He noted that their horses
and knights had trained for two
months to prepare for the shows.
The Childhood Cultural Centre’s traditional tent and poetry
house also attracted many visitors.
It showcased innovative school
projects made by students in line
with Qatar National Vision 2030.
Rawdat Rashid Preparatory
School for Boys showcased a
speed-hump detector aimed at
helping reduce the number of accidents on the Shahaniya-Salwa
road. Al Aqsa Independent Preparatory School for Girls presented a 3D model of a mosque
where footsteps can be converted
into electrical energy that will
power the building.
Another school, Musaab bin
Omair Preparatory School for
Boys, presented an environmentfriendly project that transforms
waste into natural gas that can be
used for electric power generation.
A huge autograph book known
as “Loyalty Book” gave people of
all ages the opportunity to sign
and write their heartfelt felicitations about the country.
Some messages in English said,
“I am not a Qatari but I really love
Qatar” and “Qatar! You deserve
the best and we love to be here
always”. Another message read,
“Happy National Day for Qatar. All
day, every day, I will ride with you”.
For some visitors, the “Tale of
a homeland” activity and the Katara Cultural Market were among
the key activities. Others were
interested in listening to Dr Abdul Qader al-Qahtani’s lecture
about the biography of Qatar’s
founder – Sheikh Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani.
“The festivities are fun and
suitable for all families. The
swords show, children’s shows
and tents along the Corniche allowed families to have a unique
experience of the country’s culture and national heritage,” said
Dennis Anthony, accompanied
by his wife.
Some 22 artworks painted with
sand and oil colours highlighted the
“Spirit of the desert” exhibition.
In a press statement, Bosnian
artist Sanita Lisica, who also
serves as the п¬Ѓrst secretary and
deputy head of mission of BosniaHerzegovina in Qatar, said she has
been influenced by the Arab civilisation since her childhood days.
“I was encouraged to learn the Arabic language and that was when I
fell in love with the desert through
poetry,” she stressed. The exhibition will continue at Katara’s
Building 18 until December 31.
Visitors were also fascinated
by marine activities such as a
sailboat show and beautifullydecorated dhows with Qatari flags
roving around the Katara seas.
Also in the esplanade area,
dozens of children participated
in a number of fun-п¬Ѓlled games
on a stage.
Many visitors, local and international, lauded this year’s celebration at Katara, saying the numerous events and activities were
suitable for all ages and segments.
An exhibition of classic cars
and Harley Davidson motorbikes
was also a crowd-puller, especially for those who are passionate about vehicles.
Some 11,000 LED and heliumfilled balloons were also released on
Katara’s Corniche over two days.
An exhibition of classic cars. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
A range of fun-filled games for children on stage at the esplanade.
A special musical band leads a parade. PICTURES: Katara
Balloons in the colours of the national flag.
Maersk Oil staff celebrate Qatar Rail programme
marks National Day
with open-air festival
ore than 600 Maersk Oil
employees celebrated
Qatar National Day with
an open-air festival featuring
traditional Qatari dancing, food
and cultural activities outside the
company’s West Bay office.
They were joined by Fahed,
mascot of the 2015 World Handball Championship that will be
held in Qatar next year, as part
of Maersk’s sponsorship of the
sporting event.
Sheikh Faisal bin Fahad alThani, deputy managing director
of Maersk Oil Qatar, said: “Qatar
National Day is a time for us all to
celebrate the enormous strides
we have made towards fulfilling
our country’s National Vision
2030 under the wise leadership
of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim
bin Hamad al-Thani and HH the
Father Emir before him.
“Sport has been identified as
an integral part of the country’s
social and economic development, so I am delighted that
Maersk Group, through Maersk
Oil in Qatar, is a prestige sponsor
of the World Handball Championship 2015 - and that we were
joined at our National Day celebration by representatives from
the handball championship.”
During the event, Maersk Oil
employees celebrated National
Day and got a glimpse of what’s in
store during the handball cham-
Mascot Fahed with Maersk Oil Qatar officials and employees.
pionship, which will be held in
Qatar from January 15 to February
1, involving 24 teams and broadcast to TV viewers worldwide.
Pop-up games featuring handball
goals allowed employees to test
and compare their skill, accuracy
and throwing speed against results from leading handball players coming to Qatar.
With a global audience of up
to 1.5bn viewers, sponsoring
the 24th Men’s World Handball
Championship is a good platform
to promote the Maersk brand both
locally and internationally, the
company has said in a statement.
As part of its sponsorship,
Maersk Oil Qatar will activate a
number of its local social investment partnership programmes
to raise awareness and encourage positive behaviour change,
particularly around public health
challenges facing Qatar.
For example, the Action on
Diabetes screening bus – funded
by Maersk Oil Qatar – will be positioned outside the main Lusail
handball arena and staffed by
healthcare professionals during
the championship.
The Students for Road Safety driving simulator, which is
funded by Maersk Oil Qatar in
support of the Ministry of Interior’s One Second national road
safety brand and campaigns, will
also be present.
The championship organisers are also activating a number
of local outreach programmes
designed to engage the broader community and society
in Qatar, including the One
Hand, One School programme,
which is designed to encourage
healthier lifestyles.
atar Railways Company
(Qatar Rail) has held its
annual celebrations at the
company headquarters to mark
Qatar National Day and in honour of the State’s achievements.
The celebration was held in the
presence of Abdullah Abdulaziz
Subaie, managing director and
chairman of the Executive Committee of Qatar Rail, and Saad
Ahmed al-Muhannadi, CEO of
the company.
Qatar Rail’s celebration included the cutting of a cake
specially designed for the occasion, to the rhythm of traditional music.
A few weeks earlier, the company’s staff had launched a National Day contest on Instagram,
which gave everyone the opportunity to publish attractive
images of Qatar and heritage
landmarks on the social media
platform. During the ceremony,
Qatar Rail honoured winners of
the contest, who had the most
inspiring photographs.
Addressing a large audience
of employees, Subaie said: “On
the occasion of the National Day
of Qatar, we extend our heartfelt
congratulations and best wishes
to HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin
Hamad al-Thani, HH the Father
Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa
al-Thani, HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh
Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa
The Qatar Rail team celebrating National Day.
al-Thani and to all the honourable
people of the State of Qatar.
“Qatar, under the wise leadership of HH the Emir, is achieving
remarkable progress in implementing good governance practices, rational management of
national resources, improving
the productivity and efficiency
of the public and private sector
institutions in the country and
ensuring a sustainable and competitive economy for the current
and future generations. This is
why at Qatar Rail, National Day
is not just another celebration
but is the occasion to renew our
commitment and determination
in delivering on our promises to
the nation and its leadership.”
On his part, al-Muhannadi
said: “On the occasion of the
National Day of the country, I
would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to HH the
Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad
al-Thani, and HH the Father
Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa
al-Thani and the esteemed government and Qatari people, and
all those who have worked and
are working to achieve our vision
and national aspirations.
“At Qatar Rail, we are proud
of the role we play in the growth
and success of Qatar and look
forward to continuing the path to
prosperity and growth thanks to
our daily efforts, both nationals
and residents.”
Qatar Foundation academies participate in festivities
atar Foundation for Education, Science and Community
(QF)’s academies have taken part
in National Day celebrations by
hosting traditional and educational activities to commemorate
Qatar’s culture and legacy.
QF members Qatar Academy
Doha, Qatar Academy Sidra, Qatar Academy Al Wakrah, Qatar
Academy Al Khor, Qatar Academy
Msheireb, Awsaj Academy, Qatar
Leadership Academy (QLA) and
Qatar Music Academy (QMA) organised a diverse range of activities to mark the occasion.
Students and staff at the п¬Ѓve
Qatar Academies went to school
dressed in their п¬Ѓnest traditional
Qatari apparel to add to the festive
mood. Activities included henna
decoration, face painting, pearl
making and traditional art and
crafts for students and families.
The traditional sword celebration, Arda, was performed by students who also recited patriotic poems to express their love for Qatar.
The events were aligned with
QF’s mission to preserve the nation’s heritage and instil a sense
of pride among the young by enhancing their knowledge about
Qatar’s cultural life.
Students at Qatar Academy Doha performing a patriotic song during the National Day celebrations.
In order for students to learn
more about Qatar’s heritage, history teachers organised a presentation in both English and Arabic,
explaining the country’s past and
how it has been shaped to today’s
dynamic environment.
Dr Eric Sands, Qatar Academy Doha director, said: “From
the student sword presenta-
tion (Arda) in the high school to
the variety of activities on offer throughout the campus, our
community has embraced the
wonderful spirit of friendship,
tradition and culture on display.”
Qatar Academy Msheireb, a
new QF member, hosted its п¬Ѓrst
Qatar National Day celebration.
Its director, Suad Abdulla al-Kin-
di, said: “Every year on December
18, I renew my commitment to
providing a quality education that
celebrates authenticity and modernism in total synergy. Qatar National Day beholds the meaning of
love, solidarity and loyalty among
its people and towards Qatar’s
QLA students participated in
Qatar Leadership Academy students at a military parade.
Darb Al Saai festivities in addition
to the Qatar National Day military parade on December 18. QLA
director Brigadier Ali al-Kuwari
added, “Qatar is full of traditions
and a rich culture of Islamic values. Our flag honours those who
have fought to protect Qatar and
is a reminder of the sacrifice of
our nation’s founders and heroes.
For more than 100 years, we have
been proud of our heroes and their
achievements. This is why I live
for and love Qatar.”
To celebrate Qatari culture,
QMA’s Arab and Western music
departments held a short concert
featuring these two kinds of music. QMA also offered workshops
in rhythm and percussion, as
well as an interactive lecture by
the Arab music department discussing Arab music origins and
“Qatar has given me more opportunities than I could ever ask
for. Although Qatar is small in
size, it makes up for it in its goals
and ambition,” said Fatima alJefairi, a QMA student.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Recognition for
QP scholarship
scheme graduates
The QP-sponsored graduates
were enrolled in colleges and
universities within
Qatar or in various
educational institutions
abroad, including France,
the UK, US and
took up various courses
atar Petroleum (QP)
president and CEO Saad
Sherida al-Kaabi has
led the recognition rites for 140
Qatari nationals who have completed their academic studies
and training under QP’s scholarship programme.
The QP Graduates Recognition Ceremony 2014 honoured
one master’s degree holder, 99
bachelor’s degree holders, 16
diploma holders, 11 others who
completed a Clerical Preparation Programme, and 13 graduates of a Technician Preparation
Programme (TPP).
Al-Kaabi said: “Qatar Petroleum attaches a great deal of importance to developing and attracting Qatari youth and seeks
through its strategic plans for
education in prestigious universities, higher institutes, colleges
and specialised training centres
in Qatar and abroad to empower
and employ well-qualified and
competent Qatari cadre of both
genders in various disciplines,
particularly in the oil and gas
“We are extremely proud
to have a new group of capable Qatari youth, who, with
their willing and enthusiastic
spirit, will play an active role
in realising Qatar Petroleum’s
vision and mission and will
contribute to the development
efforts geared towards achieving progress for our beloved
country under the wise lead-
Qatari achievers of this year’s QP Graduates Recognition Ceremony pose with officials.
ership of His Highness Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani,
Emir of the State of Qatar,” he
The QP-sponsored graduates were enrolled in colleges
and universities within Qatar or
in various educational institutions abroad, including France,
the UK and the US.
They took up various courses mainly in engineering,
information technology (IT)
and similar specialties.
In his welcome speech, QP
executive vice president for
Human Capital Abdulaziz Mohamed al-Mannai, stressed on
the significance of the event as
it concludes a year full of dis-
tinguished events held to celebrate QP’s 40th anniversary.
“Investing in people, who
are Qatar’s most valuable asset
and providing the best technical
and university education, combined with the best professional
training programmes needed to
build the capacity of the new
Qatari generations to meet the
requirements of growth and
prosperity, are the best means
to achieve this goal,” al-Mannai
During the event, which
was held at the Qatar National Convention Centre, the
graduates also received certificates of appreciation for their
RasGas honours local talent at annual gathering
asGas has honoured 161
Qatari employees who
have completed significant milestones in their careers
at its second Annual Qatarisation Celebration.
More than 750 employees and
high-profile guests attended the
event, including Qatar University
president Dr Sheikha Abdulla alMisnad, Qatar Petroleum managing director Saad Sherida al-Kaabi
and Qatar Tourism Authority
chairman Issa Mohamed al-Mohannadi.
RasGas CEO Hamad Rashid
al-Mohannadi said: “In RasGas,
we focus on sustainable development through creating a comprehensive learning organisation. We
provide a structured system of
recruitment, on-the-job training,
coaching, mentoring and career
RasGas employees and distinguished guests pose after the recognition ceremony.
development, with the aim of attracting, retaining, and developing quality nationals.”
Guest speaker and former
RasGas employee of 10 years,
al-Mohannadi shared his “in-
spirational journey” within the
company and encouraged young
graduates “to take ownership
and be part of Qatar’s legacy for
generations to come.”
In line with the Qatar National
Vison 2030, RasGas’ Qatarisation strategy provides Qatari
graduates with an opportunity
to join an organisation that offers
competitive employment packages, focused learning, training
opportunities, and a clear career
development path.”
RasGas’ Qatarisation strategy
has resulted in more than 1,200
national employees out of its
3,800-strong employee base.
RasGas is a nationwide leader
in Qatarisation following the
guidance of its majority shareholder, Qatar Petroleum. Its
Qatarisation strategy has been
repeatedly recognised by the
Ministry of Energy and Industry’s crystal award, for its commitment to attracting and retaining the “highest calibre” of
national employees.
Since 2009, RasGas has been
awarded four prestigious Qatarisation Crystal Awards.
Hedge funds’
bullish bets
defy outlook
sees negative
inflation rate
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Safar 29, 1436 AH
Ooredoo is leading
SMBs into smart
technology with
�Cloud Marketplace’
Domestic credit growth of Qatari
banks may average 17% up to 2017
By Pratap John
Chief Business Reporter
atari banks’ domestic credit
growth may average 17% up
to 2017, propelled by the main
beneficiaries of the government’s ongoing investment drive, shows a new
The country’s total domestic credit
growth ticked up to 12.4% in the 12
months to September, while deposit
growth reached 12.6%, said Samba
Financial Group in its latest economic
The loan/deposit ratio remained below 1, but climbed to 96% from 93.4%
in August. NPLs remain low, at just
under 2% in September.
The pace of credit growth continued
its upward trend after a month-on-
month contraction in July, in part due
to the disruptions caused by Ramadan.
Following this summer hiatus, Samba
expects faster expansion of the loan
book, propelled by the main beneficiaries of the government’s ongoing investment drive.
The composition of credit was still
dominated by lending to the public
sector, which represented 42% of the
total. The next biggest recipient was
consumption at 16% and then real estate at 15%, Samba said.
Lending to contractors was the fastest growing sector, up 42% year-onyear (albeit from a small base).
Deposit growth has been strong and
provides a solid foundation for the
banking sector to take advantage of a
host of lending opportunities over the
next few years, Samba said.
The report also noted the recent
drop in oil prices has further validated
Qatar’s long-term vision for a diversified economy. The fall still leaves prices well above the estimated breakeven
for the twin surpluses ($58 a barrel for
п¬Ѓscal and $56 for external).
Although hydrocarbon receipts continue to churn out both external and
п¬Ѓscal surpluses, the softness in the oil
price has clipped Samba’s projections
through to 2016.
The current account continued to
post a healthy surplus in the п¬Ѓrst half
2014, amounting to 30.4% of the GDP.
“We foresee stronger import growth
due to increasing investment, and a
weaker oil price reducing the size of the
surplus in the second half of this year
and throughout next. To this end, we
forecast an external surplus of 25.9%
this year, and 21.3% in 2015,” Samba
“It is a similar story for public finances”, the report said and noted that
with an expansionary п¬Ѓscal policy and
anticipated weaker hydrocarbons prices cutting the surplus to 7.7% of GDP
in 2014 and 4.7% in 2015. The International Monetary Fund’s article IV noted that Qatar’s government spending
policies were “consistent with intergenerational equity”, meaning that it
is saving the appropriate amount for
future generations.
However, if hydrocarbon prices were
to surprise on the downside, additional
measures to contain current spending
and prioritise capital should be taken.
This could present a task for the authorities as Samba forecasts current
spending to increase by 22% both this
year and in 2015.
A more quantitative metric for a
diversified economy, as outlined by
Qatar’s General Secretariat for Development Planning, is to fully finance
the budget through non-hydrocarbon
revenues. The non-hydrocarbon п¬Ѓscal
balance as a percentage of non-hydrocarbon GDP is expected to decline from
46% of GDP at present to 29% in 2019.
The IMF cites that they are happy
with the progress in this regard and
warn against reaching the target too
hastily as it may limit growth capacity,
Samba noted. Page 3
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Sodic plans
growth in
Traders stand near electronic boards displaying stock information at the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. The Abu Dhabi bourse has been the first in the region to experiment with automatic circuit breakers; it announced on December 14 it would temporarily suspend trading in stocks that fell more than 5%.
Gulf markets sell-off fuelled
by credit and lax regulation
he sudden fall of Gulf share prices as the price of oil slides has
given new impetus to governments in the region to improve п¬Ѓnancial
regulation to reduce the credit-fuelled
volatility that has afflicted their stock
The stock markets of the Gulf were
among the best performers in the world
earlier this year, but panicked selling
in recent weeks has wiped out most of
the year’s gains in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi
Arabia and the UAE.
Experts say the volatility is driven in
part by weak regulation, which allows
too much leverage when prices are going up, and too few brakes when prices
start to fall.
The worst-hit has been Dubai’s
benchmark, which has lost around a
third of its value since November 25, the
day before Opec began a meeting which
held oil production at current levels despite an expected glut of supply in 2015.
The plunge has turned attention
to the region’s easy rules on leverage,
which allow investors to increase their
returns with borrowed cash when prices are rising, but speeds the fall when
prices turn south.
Much of this year’s surge on UAE
stocks had been funded by lending, either from banks or through brokerage
houses, which can force investors to sell
shares to cover losses in a falling market, driving prices further down.
“The speed by which we see these
daily drops can only be explained by
banks liquidating big portfolios that
were collateral for margin trading,” said
Mohammed Ali Yasin, managing director of NBAD Securities, adding there
was no way to tell how much of the
market was being traded on margin.
The UAE authorities have noted the
negative impact, with a senior central
bank official saying on December 9 it
was studying proposals for new rules
on bank lending against shares.
However, the path to implementing
regulation in the Gulf region has traditionally been slow. UAE officials said
India imports
38% more
Iranian oil in
Jan-Nov trade
New Delhi
ndia imported about 38%
more oil from Iran in the eleven
months to November as an
easing of Western sanctions earlier in the year over Tehran’s disputed nuclear activities helped boost
shipments, trade sources said.
India, Iran’s top client after
China, imported 250,600 bpd
crude last month, tanker arrival
data obtained from trade sources
show, a growth of 14% from a year
ago and a decline of 19% from October.
Private refiner Essar Oil was
the biggest buyer of Iranian oil in
November followed by state-run
Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemical Ltd. The two are India’s
only regular monthly importers of
Iranian crude.
Arrivals from Iran over the п¬Ѓrst
11 months of the year stood at
270,100 bpd, up 37.7% on year.
The growth in Iranian oil imports
this year was also due to the low
base in 2013, when shipments
were hit over April to August due
to insurance problems triggered
by the sanctions.
In the п¬Ѓrst eight months of
the current contract year beginning April, India shipped in 35%
more oil from Iran from a year ago
at about 174,000 bpd, the data
India’s overall imports for November totalled 3.86mn bpd, a
growth of about 6.8% from a year
ago, the data showed. India’s total
crude imports for the JanuaryNovember period fell 2.3%.
Iran’s share of Indian oil imports was about 7.1% in the first
eleven months of the year, compared with 5% last year.
in July they planned to tighten bourse
rules after problems at Dubai contractor Arabtec, whose share price surged
on leveraged trading, crashed and
dragged the wider market with it.
Gulf stock markets still provide few
of the automatic brakes found in other
countries, which can slow a sudden
slide and give market participants time
to respond.
The Abu Dhabi bourse has been
the п¬Ѓrst in the region to experiment
with automatic circuit breakers: it announced on December 14 it would temporarily suspend trading in stocks that
fell more than 5%. The bourse’s CEO
told Reuters that a study period for the
implementation had been sped up due
to the current slump.
Kuwait has intervened to prop up its
market by aggressively buying stocks
through the National Portfolio Fund, a
state fund set up during the 2008 market crash to help stabilise prices.
“The National Portfolio is the missing element now and can be the trigger to end the selling spree and narrow
year-to-date losses,” said Fouad Dar-
wish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House.
Such intervention is thought to be
rare in the Gulf.
Kuwait has discussed other action to
improve market conditions but has not
set any timeframe for changes to take
effect, Finance Minister Anas al-Saleh
said on December 14.
In the UAE, National Bank of Abu
Dhabi is the country’s sole licensed
market maker, and is authorised to provide liquidity and sustain trading volumes.
Otherwise, there have been few interventions to shore up markets.
Gulf countries generally do not have
mechanisms to allow short selling of
borrowed shares, which allow investors
to profit when prices are falling.
While short selling is sometimes
blamed for worsening panicked selloffs
in other countries, some market participants in the Gulf say restrictions on
the practice make volatility worse.
Without short selling, investors, especially the retail investors who dominate the indexes, have no way to make
gyptian luxury-home developer Six of October
Development & Investment Co is in “advanced” talks
with the government to buy land
it will use to expand outside of
The builder of suburbs to the
east and west of Cairo plans to
construct office and retail developments as well as resorts
that include hotels, homes and
leisure facilities, Managing Director Ahmed Badrawi said in
an interview at his office in the
capital. The developer, known
as Sodic, expects sales to reach
a record 3bn Egyptian pounds
($420mn) this year, he said.
“The key message going forward for the next few years is
diversifying out of pure residential,” Badrawi said. “Once you
have a stable recurring revenue
stream, it helps you a lot for future bumps in the road.”
Like other Egyptian developers, Sodic has spent the last several years embroiled in legal disputes over land it obtained under
the regime of President Hosni
Mubarak, who was overthrown
in 2011. The last settlement, involving its Eastown project, was
completed on April 6 and the
stock has risen 84% since.
money in a bear market, so when prices
fall, trading volumes dry up.
Trading volumes in Dubai took more
than four years to recover after the
2008 market crash wiped off nearly
80% of the bourse’s value.
Regulators have been lukewarm to
the idea of allowing short sales, partly
as the practice depends on borrowing
shares which runs contrary to some interpretations of Islamic principles, and
partly because short sales could push
down share prices further.
The UAE market regulator last year
created a vague framework for shortselling by market makers on the local
exchanges. It also allowed local banks
and local units of international banks
to conduct securities lending and borrowing, but only under tight restrictions.
Restrictions can be circumvented by
some investors through international
banks that offer off-shore securities
lending to a limited number of clients, but the practice is limited due to
strict foreign ownership limits on Gulf
Bank of Israel ready
for �unconventional
monetary tools’
The Bank of Israel is
prepared for the possibility
that it will have to resort to
unconventional monetary tools
in the coming year, according
to a plan released this week,
Bloomberg reported.
The delay in the recovery of
the global economy and the
slowdown in domestic growth
in the last two years, together
with an inflation rate that has
fallen below the government’s
target, require the central
bank to continue its “very
expansionary” monetary
policy, the bank said in its plan
for 2015.
“Since the Bank of Israel
interest rate is nearing its
lowest border, around zero, the
Bank of Israel must prepare
for the possibility that there
will be a need to continue
the expansion through
unconventional tools,” it said.
Many central bank have used
so-called unconventional tools
in recent years alongside low
interest rates, the Bank of
Israel said in a research report
released on Tuesday.
DP World shareholders back EZW buy, London delisting
The Cap San Lorenzo container ship, operated by Hamburg Sud, is moored to the dock beneath ship to shore cranes during loading operations at DP World’s London
Gateway deep-sea port in Stanford-le-Hope, UK. Shareholders of DP World have approved buying Economic Zones World from its majority shareholder and also backed
the port operator’s delisting from the London Stock Exchange, the Dubai-based company has said. The assent was granted at a meeting on Thursday, as the proposals
received near-unanimous support from independent shareholders, DP World said in a London bourse filing. DP World last month said it would pay $2.6bn to Dubai World
for its EZW logistics infrastructure firm and would delist from the London bourse due to thin trading volumes. Dubai World owns 80.45% of DP World.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Ooredoo offers SMBs smart technology with �Cloud Marketplace’
Ooredoo has launched the Ooredoo
�Smart Cloud Marketplace’, enabling
small and medium-sized businesses
(SMBs) to enter Qatar’s smart
technology market.
On the marketplace’s online portal,
business customers can rent virtual
cloud-based business software
and applications, which were
previously only available for large
enterprises and required significant
investment. The applications can be
used from any location and on any
mobile device, delivering incredible
flexibility and value-for-money,
according to a statement.
The marketplace is launching with
six application across the fields
of security, video collaboration,
marketing, storage, backup, and
homepage builder. These virtual
applications are more affordable,
secure, and flexible than physical IT
infrastructure, and will enable more
businesses in Qatar to compete in
the knowledge-based economy,
Ooredoo said.
The Ooredoo Cloud Marketplace
is hosted at the Qatar Data
Centre, which provides an ideal
environment for businesses in
Qatar to host their critical business
Ooredoo Qatar chief new business
officer Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad bin
Nasser al-Thani said, “Smart Cloud
Marketplace is a major step forward
for our SMB customers, with cloud
services enabling them to perform
at the level of large enterprises. As
Qatar’s smart technology market
continues to grow, SMBs can
leverage our secure broadband
network to innovate processes,
support a more mobile workforce,
and enhance competitiveness.”
Demonstrating the high potential
for Qatar’s smart IT sector, the
country’s software market is set
to grow from QR1.3bn in 2014
to QR2.1bn in 2018, while the IT
services market - including cloud,
smart, and security – is set to grow
from QR2.3bn this year to QR3.8bn
in 2018, according to Business
The launch of the marketplace is
the next step in Ooredoo’s “Better
for Business” strategy, which
provides a wide range of ICT
solutions for Qatar’s key industry
As urban areas across Qatar
become “smart cities”, they will
have broadband networks at their
core to support smart government,
business, and citizen services.
To use the marketplace, Ooredoo
customers can register online for
free on the website www.oscm.
qa, and then can check the online
catalogue and purchase the
applications. The customer service
team helps with software ordering,
technical support, and billing,
Ooredoo said.
In the coming months, the
marketplace will also offer dozens
of new applications across
fields such as human resources,
finance, project management, and
In order to encourage take-up
of smart business applications,
Ooredoo Qatar is offering all
business customers a 30-day free
trial of all applications.
The Ooredoo Cloud Marketplace is hosted at the Qatar Data Centre, which provides an ideal environment for
businesses in Qatar to host their critical business applications
Public sector pulls down Qatar
banks’ November credit growth
Mashreq Qatar
as country head
ulled down by the public
sector, the local banks’ total credit growth declined
0.1% month-on-month (MoM) in
November, QNB Financial Services has said in an update.
On the other hand, deposits
increased by 1.2% MoM (+9.3%
year-to-date - YTD) in November, QNBFS said in its monthly
banking sector update.
Public sector pulled total
credit growth down (down 2.4%
MoM in November), as private
sector posted a healthy growth of
1.5% month-on-month.
Moreover, deposits gained by
1.2% month-on-month (deposits were flat MoM in October).
Thus, the loans-to-deposit ratio
(LDR) declined to 104% in November compared with 105% in
The public sector deposits increased by 0.1% MoM (+6.4%
YTD) in November.
Delving into segment details,
the government institutions segment (representing nearly 58% of
public sector deposits) improved
by 1.8% MoM (+13.4% YTD).
Moreover, the semi-government
institutions segment posted a
growth of 5.7% MoM (up 5.8%
However, the government segment decreased by 6.3% MoM
(down 6.0% YTD).
Private sector deposits, however, increased by 0.4% MoM
(+9.6% YTD). On the private
sector front, the companies and
institutions segment increased
by 1% MoM (+9.1% YTD 2014),
while the consumer segment
posted a decline of 0.1% MoM
(up 10.0% YTD). Non-resident
deposits drove the growth MoM
(+15.1% MoM and +26.8% YTD).
The overall loan book posted a
flat performance. Total domestic
public sector loans decreased by
2.4% MoM (down 7.9% YTD).
The government segments loan
book went down by 10.7% MoM
(also down 9.3% YTD 2014).
Moreover, the government institutions segment (representing nearly 60% of public sector
loans) declined by 1.1% MoM
and is down 12.8% YTD. However, the semi-government institutions segment grew by 6.6%
MoM (+18.8% YTD).
Hence, the government and
government institutions pulled
the overall loan book down for
the month of November 2014.
Private sector loans gained by
1.5% MoM and are up 15.5% YTD.
General trade followed by services and contractors positively
contributed toward the loan
growth. On the other hand, the
real estate sector pulled credit
growth down in the month of
November 2014.
General trade (contributing
14% to private sector loans) increased by 4.9% MoM. Services
(contributing nearly 18% to private sector loans) increased by
3.4% MoM (+15.6% YTD). Contractors (contributing 9% to private sector loans) increased by
2.1% MoM.
However, the real estate segment (contributing 26% to private sector loans) declined by
0.5% MoM (+5.2% YTD).
Overall, the segments representing general trade (+33.3%
YTD) and contractors (+25.6%
YTD) are the best performing in
the private sector YTD. On the
other hand, the Industry segment is flattish YTD, QNBFS
ashreq Qatar has appointed
Henk Jan Hoogendoorn (pictured) as its new country head.
He will be responsible for leading
Mashreq Qatar in providing customers
with “the most rewarding financial relationships” and will oversee the bank’s
development and lead strategy for growth
initiatives in line with the Qatar National
Vision 2030.
A l s o ,
H o o g endoorn
will look
on the recent successes for
Q a t a r,
which include winning
coveted “Best Customer Service Bank”
from Global Banking and Finance Awards,
“Best Regional Retail Bank” honour by
the Banker Middle East Industry Awards
2014, and retaining “Best Consumer Internet Bank in Qatar” for six consecutive years by Global Finance Magazine
and “Best Corporate Bank 2014” by Global Banking and Finance Review Awards
2014, the bank said in a statement.
Mashreq’s head of international banking John Iossifidis said, “Hoogendoorn
brings more than 20 years of experience
in corporate banking to his new role. This
is a significant appointment and we look
forward to him facilitating our continued
progress. We are confident of his capabilities to steer the bank’s performance to
the next level with his professional, managerial, and financial skills.”
Hoogendoorn said, “It is with great
pride that I join the Mashreq family. I
look forward to leading this world-class
team as we further establish and live out
Mashreq’s commitment to providing cutting-edge banking services in the region.”
Oil plunge, nuke uncertainty weigh on Iran rial
A vendor is inspecting Iranian rials at a currency exchange shop in Baghdad (file). The currency, which had hovered around 32,000 per dollar in unregulated
markets since April, has lost 8% since November 24.
ran’s rial is weakening after months of
stability over declining oil prices and
uncertainty whether the country will
clinch a nuclear deal lifting international
The currency, which had hovered
around 32,000 per dollar in unregulated
markets since April, has lost 8% since November 24, when world powers and Iran
extended nuclear talks by seven months
after failing to reach a breakthrough.
The rial depreciated to 35,200 per dollar in unregulated trading on Thursday,
compared with 32,560 on November
24, according to rates compiled by Daily
Rates For Gold Coins and Foreign Currencies, a Facebook page used by traders and
companies in Iran and abroad.
“The two factors seem to be the lack
of a comprehensive nuclear agreement,
therefore the continuation of the п¬Ѓnancial and energy sanctions, combined with
the rather dramatic slide in the oil price,
which is a worrying scenario for Iran,”
Toby Iles, a senior Middle East analyst
at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said
in a phone interview from Singapore on
Thursday. “Perception definitely plays
into this.”
Crude prices have fallen more than 50%
from a June peak amid overproduction
and slower demand growth. The plunge
comes as international sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear programme
curtail crude exports, the Arabian Gulf
nation’s main income source.
Presenting the nation’s budget for the
Iranian year starting March 21 to lawmakers, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on December 7 that he expected
oil prices at п¬Ѓve-year lows would place
“short-term pressure” on state revenue.
The government, which assumed a price
of $100 for a barrel in the п¬Ѓscal year
through March, is basing its 2015 spending plan on an average of $72.
Iran will lose about $8bn in oil revenue
from June to the end of this Iranian year,
the Tasnim news agency reported on December 16.
The government has adjusted the official exchange rate to the dollar in this
year’s budget, which “sends a signal to
the market,” Kamal Seyed-Ali, a former
deputy for foreign exchange affairs at the
Central Bank of Iran, said in comments
published in the Tehran-based newspaper Shargh. The government can offset
some of the lost revenue through that adjustment, he said.
The draft budget being reviewed by
parliament is based on an official exchange rate of 28,500 rial to the dollar
compared with 26,500 last year, local
media including the Iran newspaper have
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
army of
oil traders
a crash
Crude oil’s worst slump since
the financial crisis means profits
for Geneva’s army of traders.
After years of steady prices,
the crash has brought back
the volatility on which traders
thrive. While the fall in benchmark Brent to five-year lows
has rocked economies from
Russia to Venezuela, the world’s
biggest commodity trading
houses, which buy and sell
about a third or world’s oil from
the Swiss city, are relishing the
return to a bear market.
Lower prices have cut financing
costs, provided an opportunity to
lock in profits by storing fuels and
heralded the return of big price
swings that can help firms from
Vitol Group to Trafigura Beheer
BV generate higher returns.
“Commodity traders are in a
much more optimistic mood
these days,” Roland Rechtsteiner, a Zurich-based partner
at Oliver Wyman, an industry
consultant. “They all hold a lot
of inventory, they hold a lot
of infrastructure and this can
only be monetised when there
is volatility. So these are good
times for them.”
As banks including JP Morgan
Chase & Co, Deutsche Bank AG
and Barclays have exited or
pulled back their physical commodity activities, trading houses
have purchased assets such as
storage tanks, pipelines and refineries. These holdings give traders
more options to take advantage
of the sudden shift in prices.
The oil market has moved into
contango since July, a situation
where spot prices are lower
than those for delivery at a later
date. That has improved the
outlook for trading profits, Alex
Beard, global head of oil at Baar,
Switzerland-based Glencore
Plc, said at an investor day in
London on December 10.
A market in contango allows
traders who control or have
access to storage tanks to make
money if the cost of storing oil
or petroleum products is less
than the difference between
current and future prices.
“There is no doubt that a
contango market is a more
interesting trading environment
than a backwardated one,” said
Beard. Glencore, the secondlargest independent oil trader, is
more exposed to the contango
in oil-products trading rather
than in crude, he said.
Oil slide exposes weakness
in shale drillers’ insurance
New York
umbling oil prices have exposed
a weakness in the insurance that
some US shale drillers bought to
protect themselves against a crash.
At least six companies, including
Pioneer Natural Resources Co and Noble Energy Inc, used a strategy known
as a three-way collar that doesn’t
guarantee a minimum price if crude
falls below a certain level, according to
company п¬Ѓlings. While three-ways can
be cheaper than other hedges, they can
leave drillers exposed to steep declines.
“Producers are inherently bullish,”
said Mike Corley, the founder of Mercatus Energy Advisors, a Houstonbased п¬Ѓrm that advises companies on
hedging strategies. “It’s just the nature
of the business. You’re not going to go
drill holes in the ground if you think
prices are going down.”
The three-way hedges risk exacerbating a cash squeeze for companies
trying to cope with the biggest plunge
in oil prices this decade. West Texas Intermediate crude, the US benchmark,
dropped about 50% since June amid a
worldwide glut. The Organisation of
Petroleum Exporting Countries decided on November 27 to hold production steady as the 12-member group
competes for market share against US
shale drillers that have pushed domestic output to the highest since at least
Shares of oil companies are also
dropping, with a 49% decline in the
76-member Bloomberg Intelligence
North America E&P Valuation Peers
index from this year’s peak in June.
The drilling had been driven by high oil
prices and low-cost п¬Ѓnancing. Companies spent $1.30 for every dollar earned
selling oil and gas in the third quarter,
according to data compiled by Bloomberg on 56 of the US-listed companies in
the E&P index.
Financing costs are now rising as
prices sink. The average borrowing cost
for energy companies in the US highyield debt market has almost doubled
to 10.43% from an all-time low of
5.68% in June, Bank of America Merrill
Lynch data show.
Locking in a minimum price for
crude reassures investors that companies will have the cash to keep expanding and lenders that debt can be repaid.
While several companies such as Anadarko Petroleum Corp, Bonanza Creek
Energy Inc, Callon Petroleum Co, Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc and Parsley Energy
Inc, use three-way collars, Pioneer
uses more than its competitors, company records show.
Scott Sheffield, Pioneer’s chairman
and chief executive officer, said during a November 5 earnings call that his
company has “probably the best hedges in place among the industry.” Having pumped 89,000 bpd in the third
Natural gas is flared at the Handy Gas Unit 1, a Pioneer Natural Resources well, in Karnes County, Texas. Having pumped 89,000 bpd in the third quarter, Pioneer is one
of the biggest oil producers in US shale.
quarter, Pioneer is one of the biggest oil
producers in US shale.
Pioneer used three-ways to cover
85% of its projected 2015 output, the
company’s December investor presentation shows. The strategy capped
the upside price at $99.36 a barrel and
guaranteed a minimum, or floor, of
$87.98. By themselves, those positions
would ensure almost $34 a barrel more
than yesterday’s price.
However, Pioneer added a third element by selling a put option, sometimes called a subfloor, at $73.54. That
gives the buyer the right to sell oil at
that price by a specific date.
Below that threshold, Pioneer is no
longer entitled to the floor of $87.98,
only the difference between the floor
and the subfloor, or $14.44 on top of
the market price. So at the price of
$54.11, Pioneer would realise $68.55 a
David Leaverton, a spokesman for
Irving, Texas-based Pioneer, declined
to comment on the company’s hedging strategy. The company said in its
December investor presentation that
“three-way collars protect downside
while providing better upside exposure
than traditional collars or swaps.”
The company hedged 95,767 bpd
next year using the three-ways. If
Thursday’s prices persist through the
п¬Ѓrst quarter, Pioneer would realise
$1.86mn less every day than it would
have using the collar with the floor of
$87.98. That would add up to more than
$167mn in the п¬Ѓrst quarter, equal to
about 14% of Pioneer’s third-quarter
The strategy ensures that the bulk
of Pioneer’s production will earn more
than Thursday’s market price. The
three-ways will also prove valuable if
oil rises above the subfloor.
“What they have is much better than
nothing,” said Tim Revzan, an analyst
with Sterne Agee Group Inc in New
York. “But they left some money on the
table that they could have locked in at a
better price.”
Noble Energy used three-ways to
hedge 33,000 bpd, according to third-
quarter SEC filings. Assuming Thursday’s prices persist, Houston-based
Noble will bring in $50mn less in the
first quarter than it would have by locking in the floor prices.
Bonanza Creek, based in Denver,
Colorado, set up three-ways with a
floor of $84.32 and a subfloor of $68.08,
SEC records show. If prices stay where
they are, the company will realise
$8.1mn less in the п¬Ѓrst quarter than it
would have by just using the floor.
Ryan Zorn, Bonanza Creek’s senior
vice president of п¬Ѓnance, said that the
comparison doesn’t take into account
the advantages of the strategy. The
proceeds from selling the $68.08 puts
helped pay for the protection at $84.32,
without which Bonanza Creek would
likely have purchased cheaper options
with a lower floor.
“The other comparison is if we’d
done nothing,” Zorn said. “I view it
as being much better than being unhedged.”
Representatives for Anadarko, Noble, Carrizo and Parsley didn’t return
e-mails and phone calls seeking comment.
“Because we’ve had high energy
prices for so long, it could have given
them a false sense of confidence,” said
Ray Carbone, president of Paramount
Options Inc in New York. “They picked
a price they thought it wouldn’t go below. It has turned out to be very expensive.”
Callon’s first-quarter three-ways
cover 158,000 barrels with a floor of
$90 and a subfloor of $75, company
п¬Ѓlings show. Callon, based in Natchez,
Mississippi, will get $3.3mn less that it
would have realized by using the $90
floor, assuming prices stay where they
“Certainly, if we’d had the foresight
to know prices were going to crater,
you’d want to be in the swap instead
of the three-way,” said Eric Williams,
a spokesman for Callon. “Swaps make
more sense if you knew prices were
going to go down the way they did, but
a few months ago everyone was bullish.”
BP oil spill pollution п¬Ѓne up
to $18bn sought by the US
he government wants BP to pay $16bn
to $18bn in water-pollution п¬Ѓnes for the
worst offshore oil spill in US history while
seeking more than $1bn from the co-owner of
the blown-out well that caused the 2010 Gulf of
Mexico disaster.
The federal government said BP deserves the
maximum п¬Ѓne, which BP said would be the biggest Clean Water Act penalty ever and called it a
“gross outlier” compared to other cases.
US District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans
ruled in September that London-based BP acted
with gross negligence in drilling the well, a п¬Ѓnding that quadruples the per-barrel penalty. As of
October 28, the company had set aside $3.51bn for
the penalties, saying that’s a reliable estimate of
its liability if it wins an appeal of the judge’s ruling.
Barbier will conduct a non-jury trial next
month to set pollution п¬Ѓnes for BP and its well
partner, Anadarko Petroleum Corp, after weighing multiple factors including the spill’s size and
the level of responsibility each company bears for
the disaster.
“APC’s culpability is minimal compared to that
of BPXP,” the government said in Friday’s filing,
referring to Anadarko and BP’s exploration unit.
While Anadarko doesn’t deserve the maximum
п¬Ѓne, the government said, a substantial penalty is
warranted because it provided virtually no assistance after the spill and a small fine wouldn’t be
sufficient punishment for a multibillion-dollar
oil company, the government said in the п¬Ѓling.
BP said it deserved a fine “at the lower end of
the statutory range” because it already has incurred $42bn in liabilities from the spill, includ-
An offshore platform and wells are silhouetted
by the setting sun in the Gulf of Mexico off the
coast of Louisiana. The government wants BP
to pay $16bn to $18bn in water-pollution fines
for the worst offshore oil spill in US history.
ing more than $14bn spent to stop and clean up
the damage. The company said a smaller п¬Ѓne is
also appropriate because the spill caused less environmental and economic harm than had been
“Despite initially dire predictions, more than
four years of data show that the impact was far
less than feared and that the Gulf has largely recovered, due in significant part to this massive
cleanup and response effort,” Geoff Morrell, a
BP spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.
“The US seeks to dismiss BPXP’s extraordinary
response efforts,” which would “disincentivise companies involved in future accidents from
pursuing the best possible response without regard to cost.”
Ed Hirs, a professor of economics at the University of Houston, said the government’s proposed fine “is a penalty for bad behaviour.”
“It hurts and it certainly is not immaterial but
it doesn’t cripple the company,” said Hirs, who is
also managing director of Hillhouse Resources, a
Houston-based oil and gas company. “The company goes forward.”
The maximum $18bn п¬Ѓne is less than the
$23.5bn in net income that BP booked last year,
Hirs said. As for Anadarko, they are “guilty by association,” he said. “They didn’t have a say how
the well was drilled.”
BP, the parent of the exploration unit, helped
fund the clean-up and response effort, although
it wasn’t legally obligated to pay for them, the
company said in a court filing on Friday. The parent company shouldn’t be expected to voluntarily shoulder additional billions in penalties, its
lawyers said, particularly in light of the 45% fall
in crude oil prices since mid-August.
BP said a high enough pollution penalty would
“exhaust” the exploration unit’s “available funds
in 2015 and result in a funding shortfall,” according to company lawyers. They blacked out the
specific level of fine that would trigger that result.
“If ever there was a case that merits the statutory maximum, this is it,” government lawyers
said in their court п¬Ѓling. BP might deserve some
credit for what it’s paid so far, they said, but “no
amount smaller than $16bn suffices for this disastrous violation of law.”
Anadarko argued it should pay no water-pollution п¬Ѓnes because it was a passive investor in the
“No Clean Water Act penalty is warranted
against Anadarko because it bears no fault for the
discharge, it has already paid more than $4bn in
damages, and there is no reasonable justification
for any punishment,” Anadarko’s said in its filing.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Opaque middlemen demand high
price in Russia’s deals with West
ussia pays hugely inflated prices for vital medical equipment
made by Western companies,
in part because some manufacturers
channel sales through obscure intermediary companies, a Reuters examination has found.
These middlemen п¬Ѓrms, which have
no easily traceable owners or offices,
add mark-ups that mean Russian state
hospitals frequently pay two or three
times more than hospitals in the West
for the same equipment. A Reuters examination of Russian customs data and
state procurement records shows the
price differences can be hundreds of
thousands of dollars on a single item.
An analysis of 20,000 transactions
dated between January 2006 and July
2013 found that international companies sold Russia medical devices worth
more than $2.8bn through more than
150 obscure companies and partnerships. These offshore intermediaries give addresses that are letterboxes
at law and accounting п¬Ѓrms. Their
ownership is hidden behind nominees
or held in jurisdictions where public
shareholder registers are not available.
The transactions illustrate how
Western companies play a part in the
brand of capitalism that has developed
under Russian President Vladimir Putin. As Reuters has documented this
year, in Putin’s Russia intermediaries
are sometimes inserted into deals to
exploit state spending.
The use of opaque intermediaries
signals a risk that the hidden owners may inflate profits, siphon off
funds or facilitate bribery, according
to lawyers and corporate governance
specialists. By agreeing to deal with
such middlemen, Western firms help
sustain the system that has flourished under Putin.
Belarus steps
up capital
controls to
stem ex-Soviet
currency rot
elarus imposed capital
controls that include a fee
on all foreign-exchange
purchases, as the fallout from
Russia’s biggest currency crisis since 1998 spread across the
former Soviet Union.
The measures announced by
the central bank in Minsk range
from an increase to 50% of the
share of mandatory sales of foreign revenue for companies to
a 30% charge on currency purchases by individuals and legal
entities, according to a statement. The regulator also raised
interest rates on its liquidity operations to 50% and instructed
banks to halt issuing local-currency loans until Feb. 1.
The central bank said it was reacting to the situation in neighbouring countries, primarily in
Russia, and sought to “prevent
the development of negative
tendencies on the currency and
п¬Ѓnancial markets of Belarus and
raise the attractiveness of savings
in Belarusian roubles.”
Belarus is the п¬Ѓrst ex-Soviet
republic to fence off its economy
as Russia’s financial crisis ripples through the region. President Aleksandr Lukashenko
yesterday said his government
had no plans to follow the devaluation of the Russian rouble,
which has lost more than 44%
against the dollar this year.
“This is clearly driven by
strong pressure on the Belarusian rouble,” Vladimir Osakovskiy, the chief economist
for Russia at Bank of America
Corp in Moscow, said by e-mail.
“Such drastic measures will
likely stabilise the currency, at
least for now.”
The Belarusian currency has
slid 7.9% this week against the
dollar, the worst performance
among all currencies tracked by
“For importers and people,
this basically means a 30% devaluation,” Kateryna Bornukova,
senior analyst with BEROC research centre in Minsk, said on
the group’s website.
Moscow itself has recognised the
issue. In 2010, then President Dmitry
Medvedev ordered an investigation
into how state hospitals overpaid for
equipment. After the probe, some
manufacturers, including America’s General Electric Co and Japan’s
Toshiba Corp, stopped doing business
with Russia through obscure intermediaries. GE and Toshiba had no comment on the change.
But Reuters found that other big
international п¬Ѓrms, including the
Dutch electronics company Philips
and Germany’s Siemens, continued to
use non-transparent intermediaries.
Between January 2011 and July 2013,
Philips and Siemens combined sold
$120mn of equipment through such
go-betweens - in each case about 35%
of their Russian sales during that time.
Overall, sales of medical equipment
by Western and other international
п¬Ѓrms that went through obscure intermediaries amounted to more than
$600mn between January 2011 and
July 2013, according to the most recent
Russian data available. That accounts
for about 18% of foreign manufacturers’ equipment sales to Russia that Reuters could identify during that period.
Officials at several multinationals
that still regularly use offshore intermediaries said they screen partners by
searching publicly available information and data. These people said manufacturers should not be blamed for using
intermediaries if such searches reveal
nothing wrong with the companies.
A spokesman for Siemens said the
company conducted “thorough due
diligence” on intermediaries, including resellers of medical equipment.
Stephen Klink, a spokesman for
Philips, said: “We have dedicated governance programmes in place relating
to our business partners. This programme consists among other things
of a company-wide mandatory due
diligence process that screens the use
of third parties, such as distributors.”
There is nothing intrinsically unlawful about doing business with
little-known intermediaries. Still,
US and European anti-bribery laws
require п¬Ѓrms to make checks on all
business partners. The International
Chamber of Commerce’s guidelines on
combating corruption say companies
should look out for “red flags.”
These include transactions involving countries with a high reputation for
bribery; situations where a third party
does not reside in the country where
the п¬Ѓnal customer is located; and cases
where due diligence reveals that the
third party “is a shell company or has
some other non-transparent corporate
Michael Hershman, president of the
Fairfax Group, which advises multinational companies and governments
on tackling corruption, said: “There is
absolutely no good business reason to
Russia rate rise
fails to break
rouble-oil link
ussia’s rouble has tumbled to
successive record lows against
the dollar, shrugging off central
bank interventions and interest rate
rises, and paying heed to only one factor – the oil price.
Brent crude futures have chalked
up losses of 45% since the start of this
year, touching п¬Ѓve-year lows near $60
per barrel on Monday amid oversupply
and weak demand.
The rouble too has fallen almost 45%
against the dollar this year, moving in
lock-step to the price of oil.
To defend the currency, Russia’s
central bank cranked up its main lending rate by 100 basis points last week
to 10.5% – the fifth increase so far this
year. It has also spent around $75bn in
currency interventions.
The size of last week’s rate rise was
not nearly enough to break the rouble’s
fall because it was based on an assump-
tion that oil prices had stabilised, said
Per Hammarlund, head of emerging
market strategy at SEB in Stockholm.
“To change momentum they would
need to hike by 200 basis points as a
minimum to change the correlation
with the oil price,” Hammarlund said.
The fall in oil prices is a bad omen for
the Russian economy at a time when it
is also being hurt by Western sanctions
imposed over the Ukraine crisis. Energy
provides roughly half of Russia’s export
revenue and is its main source of hard
Already, the World Bank estimates
the economy will shrink 0.7% next
year, assuming an average oil price of
$78 per barrel.
Moscow is predicting a contraction
of 0.8% in 2015, basing this on an average of $80.
Analysts polled by Reuters in early
December predicted Brent crude would
average $82.50 per barrel in 2015 but
some are expected to cut forecasts further. Barclays for instance predicts oil
at $67 a barrel in the п¬Ѓrst half of 2015.
use these cut-out companies in these
offshore locations ... It’s an absolute,
100% red flag. Western companies
know this is a risky area of activity.”
Asked why intermediaries are used,
Alexei Levchenko, spokesman for Olga
Golodets, the Russian deputy prime
minister in charge of healthcare, said:
“The state is interested in buying the
best product for the most favourable
price ... It is not important who is the
seller – a subsidiary of an importer, a
distributor or any other company.”
He said that if there was evidence of
hospitals being overcharged, it should
be investigated by anti-monopoly and
law enforcement bodies.
Russia’s healthcare system deteriorated in the last days of the Soviet
Union and grew even worse in the chaotic 1990s. The country has high incidences of AIDS, tuberculosis, cancer
and cardiovascular disease compared
with Europe. In the Putin era, health
standards have improved, but problems remain. Public health officials say
many patients suffer from poor and
late diagnosis of their ailments. Medical scanners can help doctors detect
illnesses before they become untreatable – but such equipment is expensive. The average cost of an ultrasound
machine in the US is around $110,000,
according to the Modern Healthcare/
ECRI Institute Technology Price Index.
In Russia, prices are much higher.
In May 2011, the Centre of Cardiovascular Surgery in Astrakhan, in
south-west Russia, bought a Philips
iE33 ultrasound scanner, which is used
to diagnose heart disease. Under the
exchange rate prevailing at the time,
the hospital paid $580,000 for the
machine, public procurement records
show. In December that year the Almazov Medical Research Centre in St
Petersburg bought the same model
scanner for $490,000, according to
procurement records.
At that time, hospitals in Europe and
North America were paying around
$145,000 for the iE33, according to information from dealers in the US, Europe
and Africa and a database of public procurement in European Union countries.
The large difference between prices
in Russia and the West wasn’t just an
anomaly with one particular machine.
In another case, the Endocrinology
Research Centre in Moscow bought a
Philips iU22 scanner, a device used to
identify breast and other cancers, for
$360,000, according to Russian state
procurement п¬Ѓlings. That was about
three times the price hospitals in the
US and Europe were paying at the time
for the same scanner.
Reuters studied 22 cases where Russian hospitals purchased Philips’ iE33
and iU22 ultrasound machines between January 2011 and July 2013, according to procurement records. On
average, the prices were more than
double those paid by hospitals outside
Russia for the same machines. Neither
Philips nor the dealers involved in the
sales would comment on why the machines were so expensive in Russia.
The high prices in Russia arise from
mark-ups added by intermediaries, said Felix Lam, senior analyst at
healthcare research provider Decision
Resources Group, who has studied the
Russian medical scanner market. That
conclusion is supported by Russian
data seen by Reuters. Customs records
show that when companies such as
Philips and Siemens sell directly to importers in Russia, they charge prices in
line with what they charge in the West.
When Philips sold an iU22 direct to a
Russian distributor in December 2012,
for instance, it charged just $106,000.
The convoluted trail behind the sale
of another Philip’s iU22 scanner to
Russia in 2012 produced a very different result. The device was sold through
a British п¬Ѓrm, Rainham, which sold
it to a Russian п¬Ѓrm called Tierbach,
which is one of Philips’ official distributors in Russia. Tierbach then sold it to
the Endocrinology Research Centre in
Moscow. The п¬Ѓnal price: $360,000.
Rainham is a partnership registered
at the offices of Carey Group, a financial and tax planning firm in the English town of Milton Keynes. “We’re
just a postbox for them,” said Carey
Group’s office manager, Christine Hallett. The partners of Rainham are two
companies in the Caribbean island of
Anguilla, which does not require companies to reveal their owners.
It’s not clear how much Rainham
paid Philips for the iU22 scanner. But
if it bought the scanner at the normal
wholesale price in the West of around
$110,000, Rainham stood to make
a large profit. Customs documents
show Rainham sold the machine for
$325,000 to Tierbach; procurement
records show that Tierbach then sold
the machine on to the Endocrinology
Center for $360,000.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Wall St п¬Ѓrms endure lost decade
after Goldman Peak in 2007
New York
all Street п¬Ѓrms have
failed to keep up with
a stock market that
has boomed for more than п¬Ѓve
years, losing ground to industries including technology and
health care.
There were just 32 US financial firms among the world’s
largest 500 companies by market capitalisation when trading
closed on Friday in New York.
That compares with 41 at the
end of 2006, the last full year
before the credit crisis. Some
companies that remain on the
list, like Citigroup Inc and
American International Group
Inc, have shrunk to a fraction of
the size of tech giants like Apple
Inc and Google Inc.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc has
a lower market value than its
peak in 2007. While Google and
Apple have been adding new
products and customers since
then, Wall Street lost trading
revenue and spent much of that
time repaying bailouts, settling
government probes or divesting
assets under pressure from federal watchdogs.
“The culture in the large
banks needed to be corrected,”
Charles Peabody, a banking analyst at Portales Partners in New
York, said in a phone interview.
“That is a good thing. The extent of this adjustment process
has been a lot more drawn out
than any of us anticipated, and
that’s not been a good thing.”
Goldman Sachs went public in 1999, the same year that
President Bill Clinton signed
into law the repeal of barriers between commercial and
investment banking. Market
capitalisation as of December
18 dropped about 21% from the
peak in October 2007 of more
than $105bn.
Financial п¬Ѓrms that fell off
the list include Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc, which п¬Ѓled for
bankruptcy protection in 2008,
and Merrill Lynch & Co, which
struck a deal the same year to
sell itself to Bank of America
Corp. The US group now makes
up about 8.1% of the market
value of the world’s largest 500
companies, compared with
9.7% at the end of 2006.
US healthcare’s share climbed
to 7.6% as Johnson & Johnson
and Amgen Inc expanded. US
technology advanced to 7.5%
from 5.3%. Apple is the world’s
largest company, up from No 98
at the end of 2006.
Goldman Sachs dropped to
94 from 63 in that span. David
Wells, a spokesman for the New
York-based bank, declined to
Citigroup, which was the п¬Ѓrst
US lender to adopt the universal
banking model, has plunged to
No 35 from fourth. Wells Fargo
& Co, which derives most of its
revenue from consumer, corporate and real estate lending, is
now the most valuable bank in
the world.
“Wells is one of those organisations that show their ability to
execute” and produce a higher
return on equity than competitors, Peabody said. “Revenue
growth has been lacking as a
generality in the banking industry. Wells has been doing a better job, in part because it’s not as
exposed to the capital markets.”
A sign at the Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (file). Goldman has a lower market value than its peak in 2007.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
he Qatar Stock Exchange
(QSE) Index lost 623.67 points,
or 5.28%, during the week, to
close at 11,181.65 points. Market capitalisation decreased by 5.2% to reach
QR618.6bn compared to QR652.2bn at
the end of the previous week. Of the
43 listed companies, 2 companies ended the week higher, while 41 fell. QNB
Group (QNBK) was the best performing stock for the week, with a gain of
4.9% on 1.3mn shares traded; the stock
is up 22.1% year-to-date (YTD). On the
other hand Islamic Holding Group
(IHGS) was the worst performing with
a decline of 34.3% on 1.1mn shares
traded; the stock is still up 218.0% YTD.
On the back of weak international
oil prices, regional equity markets
witnessed continued selling pressure.
Qatari market also felt the brunt with
only two stocks in the QSE Index closing in positive territory during the
week. Ezdan Holding Group (ERES), Industries Qatar (IQCD) and Barwa Real
Estate Company (BRES) were the biggest contributors to the weekly index
decline. ERES contributed 158.7 points
to the index’s weekly decline of 623.7
points. IQCD contributed 109.5 points
to the weekly index decline. BRES was
the third biggest contributor, contributing 71.8 points. On the other hand,
QNBK positively contributed 99.5
points to the index.
Trading value during the week increased by 47.7% to reach QR3.5bn vs
QR2.4bn in the prior week. The banks
and financial services sector led the
trading value during the week, accounting for 35.2% of the total equity
trading value. The Industrials sector
was the second biggest contributor,
accounting for 22.6% of the total trading value. GISS was the top value traded stock during the week with total
traded value of QR301.0mn.
Trading volume increased by 83.2%
to reach 82.1mn shares vs 44.8mn
shares in the prior week. The number
of transactions rose by 31.5% to reach
36,876 versus 28,038 transactions in
the prior week. The real estate sector
led the trading volume, accounting
for 30.4%, followed by the banks and
financial services sector, which accounted for 24.5% of the overall trading volume. Vodafone Qatar (VFQS)
was the top volume traded stock
during the week with total of 10.0mn
Foreign institutions remained bearish during the week with net selling of QR219.0mn vs net selling of
QR213.4mn in the prior week. Qatari
institutions remained bullish with net
buying of QR142.2mn vs net buying of
QR67.5mn the week before. Foreign
retail investors turned bearish for the
week with net selling of QR86.7mn
vs net buying of QR14.1mn in the
prior week. Qatari retail investors remained bullish with net purchases
of QR163.4mn vs net purchases of
QR131.7mn the week before.
Thus far in 2014, the QSE has already
witnessed net foreign portfolio investment inflow of $2.4bn.
QSE Index and Volume
Weekly Market Report
Source: Qatar Exchange (QE)
Weekly Index Performance
Source: Qatar Exchange (QE)
Source: Bloomberg
Source: Qatar Exchange (QE)
This report expresses the views and opinions of Qatar National Bank Financial Services SPC (“QNBFS”)
at a given time only. It is not an offer, promotion or recommendation to buy or sell securities or other
investments, nor is it intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. We therefore strongly
advise potential investors to seek independent professional advice before making any investment decision.
Although the information in this report has been obtained from sources that QNBFS believes to be reliable,
we have not independently verified such information and it may not be accurate or complete. Gulf Times and
QNBFS hereby disclaim any responsibility or any direct or indirect claim resulting from using this report.
Qatar Stock Exchange
Top Five Gainers
Top Five Decliners
Most Active Shares by Value (QR Million)
Most Active Shares by Volume (Million)
Investor Trading Percentage to Total Value Traded
Net Traded Value by Nationality (QR Million)
Source: Bloomberg
Technical analysis of the QSE index
he Index stabilised above the critical long-term trend line (denoted
in green dashed line). The Index is
trading below its 21SMA and 55SMA. The
RSI is pointing down and coming close to
the oversold area. In addition, the MACD
is also in a bearish correction mode. The
good news is the Doji candlestick created
on the week with high volumes. This indicates indecision among traders specifically after the sharp drop experienced
over the past month. Thus, we expect a
rebound from the current levels, keeping a close eye for any breach below the
10,900. A break below that level portends
further significant weakness to the Index.
Definitions of key terms used in technical analysis
andlestick chart – A candlestick
chart is a price chart that displays
the high, low, open, and close for a
security. The �body’ of the chart is portion
between the open and close price, while
the high and low intraday movements
form the �shadow’. The candlestick may
represent any time frame. We use a oneday candlestick chart (every candlestick
represents one trading day) in our analysis.
Doji candlestick pattern – A Doji candlestick is formed when a security’s open and
close are practically equal. The pattern
indicates indecisiveness, and based on
preceding price actions and future confirmation, may indicate a bullish or bearish
trend reversal.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
China bank stocks jump most
since 2009 despite loan risks
hina’s bank shares are on track
to end their best year since 2009
as investors brush aside an economic slowdown and bad-loan risks.
Industrial & Commercial Bank of
China and 15 peers have rallied an average of 48% this year in China, after
losing about one-third over the previous four years. Chinese banks listed in
Hong Kong have gained 13%.
“The stocks were just too cheap, especially in a global context,” said Sandy
Mehta, chief executive officer of Hong
Kong-based Value Investment Principals. “Valuations are still very attractive, and many investors feel the overall economy is also bottoming out and
reviving with the recent government
stimulus.” He wouldn’t disclose holdings.
Chinese banks remain the cheapest in the world at 6.2 times estimated
earnings, the lowest for lenders with a
market value of more than $10bn, data
compiled by Bloomberg show. In 2009,
China’s bad loans were falling and the
economy grew 9.2%. Analysts surveyed
by Bloomberg expect this year’s expansion to be 7.4%, the smallest since
The surge in China’s banks this year
has outstripped the 4.1% gain in the
KBW Bank Index made up of 24 US
bank stocks and the 6.4% decline in the
45-member Bloomberg Europe Banks
and Financial Services Index.
“It’s amazing to see investors, who
seemed to have given up on bank stocks
back in 2010, turning positive at this
point,” said Jim Antos, a Hong Kongbased analyst at Mizuho Securities
The nation’s build-up of debt from
record borrowing has prompted analysts to draw comparisons with Japan
before its “lost decade” of economic
stagnation and with Asian nations
tipped into crisis in the late 1990s. China also faces risks from government efforts to boost the role of markets in the
economy, including by fuelling banks’
competition for deposits.
For now, investors may be more focused on officials’ efforts to support
growth, with the central bank last
month cutting interest rates for the
п¬Ѓrst time in two years.
A gauge of п¬Ѓnancial shares climbed
to a six-year high yesterday. The
Shanghai Composite Index was at a
four-year high.
Restructuring of state-owned enterprises such as China Citic Bank Corp
and China Everbright Bank Co, plans
for bank employee stock incentives
and an easing of mortgage restrictions
for borrowers in September are positive for lenders, according to Antos and
analysts at China International Capital
In addition, investors are speculating that the central bank will cut
the amount of deposits that lenders
must set aside as reserves, while the
government may ease bank loan-todeposit ratios, another constraint on
“Investors don’t want to be left
out,” said Elke Schoeppl-Jost, AsiaPacific chief investment officer for
Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management, which globally oversees about
€1tn ($1.2tn). “The beginning of the
China easing cycle coupled with market rumours of reserve-ratio requirement cuts and possible bank liquidity
injections prior to the Chinese New
Year will keep bank equities well bid,”
said Schoeppl-Jost, who’s based in
Hong Kong. She wouldn’t discuss
specific holdings.
Profit growth at China’s biggest
banks this year will be 7.5%, the lowest in more than a decade, according
to analysts’ estimates. Bad loans have
climbed 30% this year to the highest
level since 2008, according to the government.
The central bank last month raised
a ceiling on deposit rates, intensifying competition between lenders. It
also announced plans for deposit insurance, which would be a move toward scrapping interest-rate controls
deals in
Hong Kong
The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China logo is seen outside its branch in Beijing. The ICBC and 15 peers have rallied an
average of 48% this year in China, after losing about one-third over the previous four years.
and allowing lenders to fail in a more
market-driven economy. Banks listed
on the mainland are trading at about
1.2 times estimated book value. Rainy
Yuan, an analyst at Masterlink Securities Corp in Shanghai, said that may
be the ceiling in what she describes
as “an insane bull run.” The Shanghai
Composite Index climbed 25% in four
weeks, partly fuelled by expanded margin trading. ICBC fell 2.7% in Shanghai
today to close at 4.35 yuan while Chi-
na Construction Bank Corp declined
3%.Investors encouraged by monetary
easing may be missing the point that
“the economy is in pretty lousy shape,”
Antos said. “What we have in the past
month is a stock market bubble.”
China home prices decline threatens economic growth
hina’s new home prices fell
again in November and a business survey showed a deep drop
in real estate investment plans, adding
gloom to a slumping property market
that has so far defied government efforts to revive it.
Average home prices in 70 major
Chinese cities fell by an annual 3.7%
last month following a 2.6% fall in October, the biggest drop since 2011 and a
threat to economic growth.
Yu Liang, president of leading residential developer China Vanke Co said
at the weekend that China now faced a
housing glut that would take 13 months
to clear.
Researcher China Beige Book said
last week its survey of 2,000 companies
showed an eye-watering 26 percentage
point fall in intentions to invest in real
estate in the fourth quarter.
China’s real estate market has been
plagued by falling prices and high inventories in recent months, crimping demand in 40 economic sectors
ranging from steel to cement to furniture.
The property price news followed
data last week that showed factory
growth and investment expansion
slowing, leading to calls for more government stimulus measures and a cut
in banks’ reserve requirements – allowing them to lend more.
But Tao Wang, China economist at
UBS, said property-related headwinds
would offset any benefit from increased
Chinese government support or the
pickup in US economic growth.
“We see GDP growth cooling further to 7% in fourth quarter 2014, and
to 6.8% in 2015 from 2014’s anticipated
7.3%,” she said.
The price fall came in spite of the
government relaxing its lending rules
in October and cutting interest rates in
late November.
Vanke’s Yu said the rate cut and regulatory easing had helped the market,
but “it’s hard to say the industry is recovering at this stage”.
The National Bureau of Statistics
data showed new home prices fell yearon-year in 68 of the 70 major cities it
monitors, up from 67 in October.
On a month-on-month basis, home
prices fell 0.5% in November, the seventh consecutive monthly fall, but at a
slower pace than the 0.8% dip in Oc-
tober. While the housing market is expected to remain weak well into next
year, it is showing some tentative signs
of bottoming out.
Official data last week showed property sales hit 132.2mn square metres
in November, the highest level in 11
months, though still down 11% from a
year earlier.
“The recovery momentum is still
weak,” said a senior executive at a
mid-sized listed developer in Beijing,
noting the market may have already
found the bottom of the cycle. “The
property market should not get worse
in future,” he said.
t is particularly difficult to
monitor smaller offshore
investments in high risk
oil and gas exploration, say
current and former officials
at China National Petroleum
Corp (CNPC). Deals where
managers engineer kickbacks
can be disguised as misjudgments or blamed on faulty
data, they say.
Alongside the investigation
into the Limau deal, CNPC officials are also probing two other
suspect oil deals in Indonesia
in which the group paid a combined $350mn.
“Basically, they are worthless,” says an oil industry official
who also investigated the Limau
deal. “It has caused heavy losses
for the state.”
In the п¬Ѓrst of these suspect
deals, CNPC’s flagship listed unit, PetroChina Co , announced in 2009 that it had
acquired an 80% stake in the
Madura block in East Java without providing any details of the
vendor, price or description of
the asset.
records, senior Chinese oil industry officials say the purchase
price for exploration and development rights for this п¬Ѓeld was
“We don’t even know if there
are any reserves there,” says a
veteran Chinese oil industry official who visited Indonesia last
Madura has also failed to deliver for Hong Kong-listed United Energy Group, a company
with close ties to CNPC.
In June 2009, it took a 10%
exploration stake in the п¬Ѓeld for
$21.505mn. In a stock exchange
п¬Ѓling, United Energy said it had
bought its stake from a BVI registered company, Madura Petroleum.
United Energy has made
scant mention of the deal in its
п¬Ѓlings. A spokesman for United
Energy, Zhao Pingshun, said
there had been no output from
the п¬Ѓeld because it was still in
the exploration stage.
“We haven’t made any major
progress in the project so there
is not much information we can
share with you,” he said.
In an undisclosed transaction last year, PetroChina paid
about $230mn for an exploration contract for a field in
Sumatra, according to an oil
industry official who has examined the deal.
For base metals trade, a year of twists, turns and surprises
By Andy Home
This year has brought plenty of reminders
of just how contrary and difficult markets
can be.
A year that was supposed to be characterised by supply divergence among the
base metals traded on the London Metal
Exchange (LME) is ending with all of them
falling in tandem in response to growing
concerns about demand.
There is plenty to be concerned about.
Take your pick from collapsing oil prices,
stagnation in Europe and the still-unfolding Russian crisis.
But for industrial metals the persistent
underlying worry throughout the year
has been slowdown in China, a drag on
demand growth that shows no sign of
ending any time soon.
It’s not that there have been no supply
stories for investment money to chase. It’s
just that either they’ve not been the ones
expected or they have not turned out as
Indeed, among the core LME base
metals only copper and, to a lesser extent,
zinc have performed anywhere close to
script but even that statement comes with
plenty of caveats.
No wonder many investment funds and
banks have been departing the sector.
Even Hermes Investment Management,
one of the trailblazers for commodities
investment, has thrown in the towel after
finding it “increasingly challenging to
deliver sustained, active returns”.
And looking at some of the developments in base metals this year, who’s to
disagree with them?
Nickel looks set to be the best performer of the year, up 12% as of Friday
morning relative to the start of January.
But few analysts thought much of its
prospects back then. The median forecast
in a Reuters poll that month was for the
nickel price to fall marginally over the
course of 2014.
That all changed when Indonesia
sprang a surprise by enacting its longpromised but still largely unexpected ban
on the export of nickel ore, cutting off a
key raw material supply for China’s massive nickel pig iron (NPI) sector.
So began a spectacular rally that
peaked in May, at which stage the price
had risen by close to 50%.
Analysts were vying to outdo each
other with increasingly bullish price
forecasts and hot money poured into
the market, particularly the options
segment, with ever more bullish bets on
the upside.
What everyone underestimated was
just how much replacement ore could be
supplied by the Philippines. Not as good
quality as Indonesian ore, true, but Chinese NPI producers have been blending
it with their stocks of Indonesian material
to eke out their raw materials lifeline. The
much-touted mass closure of NPI capacity
simply didn’t happen.
What really killed off the nickel rally,
however, was another surprise, this one
coming in the form of the Qingdao port
scandal at the end of May.
The resulting surge of stockpiled nickel
out of Chinese ports to safe-haven LME
storage elsewhere in Asia has propelled
visible inventory to previously unheard-of
levels, crushing bullish exuberance.
Remember those layers of December
call options, stretching all the way up to
$30,000 per tonne?
The cash price of nickel on December
3, LME options declaration day, was just
above $16,300, leaving all that bullish
hubris lying shattered in barren out-of-themoney ground.
As nickel’s apparently compelling storyline started to unravel, bulls transferred
their deficit dreams onto zinc and its narrative of accumulating mine closures.
The galvanising metal surged in the
second quarter, a rally that peaked in July,
when it was up more than 16% on the start
of the year.
That rally too, though, was undermined
by Qingdao and the subsequent relocation
of collateral stocks from China back out
to the rest of the world. The country, a
consistent net importer of refined zinc for
many years, switched to net exporter in
October for the first time since December
Zinc bulls could, at least, take heart
from lower visible exchange stocks and
the monthly deficit headlines generated
by the International Lead and Zinc Study
Group, even though both signals are
highly ambivalent.
More problematic for the market is the
simple fact that tangible evidence of deficit is still conspicuous by its absence.
Physical premiums for refined metal
remain weak and, more importantly for a
market supposedly facing raw materials
crunch, there is no sign of any supply
stress coming from the concentrates
Still, at least zinc is on course to end the
year in positive territory, fulfilling analysts’
expectations, although on current form it’s
going to be a close thing.
Sister metal lead, by contrast, is
competing with copper and tin for worst
performer of 2014, even though analysts
back in January picked it as likely secondbest performer after zinc for the same
mine-supply-crunch reasons.
In truth, lead has been out of favour all
year, a market defined more than anything
else by collective indifference.
Ah yes. Tin, the perennial bull pick for its
combination of structural mine shortfall
and Indonesian supply volatility.
Here too, though, deficit remains curiously elusive. China has been destocking
tin. It’s not the first time this has happened
in recent history but there has been a new,
surprise factor in the mix this year.
Against a backdrop of chronic underinvestment in new tin mines, Chinese
smelters seem to have tapped a previously unknown source of raw materials in
Industry body ITRI recently said it
expected the country to supply around
26,000 tonnes of contained tin this year.
That may not sound like a lot but in a
350,000-tonne global market it is, enough
to postpone (again) tangible evidence of
underlying supply deficit.
Copper, on the other hand, has largely
performed in line with its anticipated
The metal was expected to fall in price
this year in the face of accelerating mine
production, and that’s what happened.
It’s just strange that the supposed resulting surplus is still so difficult to locate.
LME stocks are chronically low and
spreads across the front part of the LME
curve remain chronically tight. The benchmark cash-to-three-months period has
been in almost constant backwardation
over the course of the year and it remains
so, valued at $47 back as of Thursday’s
So, where’s all the copper?
Mostly, it seems, in China. Not only was
there no post-Qingdao mass movement of
copper out of the country, but the government stockpile agency, the State Reserves
Bureau, has been scooping up metal.
Exactly how much, nobody knows, but
it’s sufficient to help prevent raw materials
surplus travelling down the supply chain
into the refined metal market.
So far at least.
Outright price weakness says more
surplus is coming. Spreads say it’s not
here yet.
That divergence has been the defining
feature of this market all year and 2014
looks set to close without any resolution
of the conundrum.
Talking of divergence and conundrum,
aluminium remains as enigmatic a market
as ever.
The LME price is up almost 7% so far
this year as the market shifts from years
of surplus to deficit thanks to smelter
Well, deficit outside China at least. The
world’s largest producer is still expanding output and shipping ever-increasing
amounts of domestic surplus to the
international market in the form of semimanufactured products.
That blurs the global supply-usage picture to the point there is still fundamental
disagreement among analysts about this
market’s fundamentals.
And, of course, LME price is only one,
diminishing, part of the overall picture.
The “all-in” price remains fractured
between LME basis and physical premium.
Indeed, it’s increasingly questionable
whether the yawning gap will ever be fully
closed again.
If you’re looking for the ultimate bull
market in the industrial metals space, forget nickel and zInc Aluminium premiums
started the year by going supernova and
they’ve not come down since.
The only problem for most investors
and fund managers is that trading in
physical premiums is out of bounds and
for the few that have dipped their toes in
the water, it’s been a perilous experience.
Andy Home is a columnist for Reuters. The
opinions expressed are his own.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Hedge funds’ bullish gold
bets defy price outlook
New York
New York
edge funds are the most bullish on
gold since August, defying Goldman Sachs Group’s prediction
that the rally in prices will fade.
The net-long position in New York
futures and options climbed for a fourth
week, the longest stretch of increases
since July, government data show. Futures
jumped 2.7% last week, the most since
June, as a plunge in global equities erased
about $2tn from the value of stocks.
Holdings in exchange-traded funds
backed by gold rose for the п¬Ѓrst time since
October as investors sought protection
from the rout. While prices are heading
for a second consecutive month of gains,
Jeffrey Currie, Goldman’s head of commodity research, says bullion will drop as
the US economy improves.
“We are seeing safety trade toward
gold,” Peter Sorrentino, a senior vice
president who helps oversee $1.8bn at
Huntington Asset Advisors in Cincinnati,
said. “Investors have begun to see that the
equity market is priced for a scenario that
may not come to pass. That’s led some to
flee the market and use gold as a storehouse.”
The net-long position in gold rose 31%
to 104,532 futures and options contracts
in the week ended December 9, according
to US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data. Short holdings tumbled
22%, the most since August 12.
Holdings in global bullion ETPs increased by 2 metric tons, snapping seven
weeks of losses. Assets in the SPDR Gold
Trust, the biggest such fund, jumped the
most since July.
Gold climbed about 7.7% since reaching
a four-year low of $1,130.40 on November
7 on signs that central banks in China, Europe and Japan will add to stimulus efforts
in a bid to boost growth.
More evidence of slowing global economies would further support gold as investors seek a haven, said Frances Hudson, an
Edinburgh-based global thematic strategist at Standard Life Investments, which
oversees $334bn.
Gold surged 70% from December 2008
to June 2011 as central banks increased
money supplies on an unprecedented
scale, spurring concerns that inflation
will accelerate. The metal tumbled 28%
in 2013, the biggest drop in three dec-
Investors exiting
commodities at
fastest pace
in six years
Hedge funds are the most bullish on gold since August, defying Goldman Sachs Group’s prediction that the rally in prices will fade.
ades, amid gains for the US economy. The
Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan
preliminary December index of consumer
sentiment increased to the highest since
January 2007, п¬Ѓgures showed December
12. Federal Reserve policy makers will
meet this week as officials debate the timing of the п¬Ѓrst interest-rate increase in
eight years.
“The stronger US economy and the
ability for the Fed to be able to begin to
pursue a less accommodative monetary
policy are the real drivers of gold,” Goldman’s Currie said.
“Gold will likely continue to slowly
grind lower next year,” he said, reiterating a forecast for prices to drop to $1,050
in 12 months.Rising interest rates reduce
gold’s allure because the metal generally
offers investors returns only through price
US inflation expectations, measured
by the п¬Ѓve-year Treasury break-even
rate, fell 38% this year, set for the biggest
slump since 2008.
Bets on higher oil prices climbed
3.7% to 191,268 contracts before futures
tumbled to a five-year low, CFTC data
show. West Texas Intermediate, the US
benchmark, slumped 41% this year, signalling stable consumer costs and cutting demand for gold as a hedge against
A measure of net-long positions across
11 agricultural commodities jumped 13%
to 499,354 contracts, the biggest gain in
п¬Ѓve weeks.
Investors are betting on gains for wheat
prices for the п¬Ѓrst time since June. Netbullish wagers on corn climbed 17% to
230,194 contracts, the highest since May.
US production of ethanol, a gasoline additive made from the grain, has reached a
record, government п¬Ѓgures show.
“We have seen strong export numbers,
and then on the ethanol side another
record week of production,” Chris Narayanan, the head of agricultural research at
Societe Generale in New York, said. “Demand continues, and that’s keeping prices
nvestors are exiting commodities at the fastest
pace in six years, betting
a slump in prices isn’t over as
corn, oil and gold drop close to
their cost of production.
Open interest in raw-material futures and options is
down 5.9% since June, heading for the biggest second-half
slump since 2008, exchange
data show. US exchange-traded products tracking metals,
energy and agriculture saw
net withdrawals of $563.9mn
in 2014, marking the п¬Ѓrst twoyear slump since the funds
were created a decade ago.
Commodities are under
pressure from many sides.
Collapsing oil prices are driving bearish sentiment because
energy is used to produce or
deliver almost everything, according to Societe Generale.
Low inflation and higher interest rates create an “ugly
scenario” for gold, says Bank
of America Corp And weaker
currencies in countries that
produce everything from soybeans to iron ore mean supplies
will continue to climb, Goldman Sachs Group predicts.
“Now is not a time to be
overweighting commodities,”
Sameer Samana, a senior international strategist at Wells
Fargo Advisors in St Louis,
which oversees $1.4tn, said.
“For now, the outlook is still
It wouldn’t surprise us to
see prices go down even further. We wouldn’t be taking
any tactical positions.”
The Bloomberg Commodity
Index of 22 products slumped
13% this year, heading for a
fourth straight annual drop
that will be the longest since
the gauge’s inception in 1991.
Crude, gasoline and heating
oil led this year’s declines as an
increase in US drilling sparked
a surge in output and a price
war with producers in Opec.
About 65% of the $20bn withdrawn from passive-commodities investment this year
was driven by energy losses,
Aakash Doshi, Citigroup vice
president said.
Cheaper oil is reducing the
cost of producing food and
metals, increasing the likelihood for falling commodity
prices, according to analysts at
Societe Generale.
At US pumps, retail gasoline is down 32% since the end
of June to an average of $2.505
a gallon, a п¬Ѓve-year low, AAA
data show. Global food costs
tracked by the UN are the lowest since 2010.
Reduced pressure on consumer prices is eroding the
appeal of gold as an inflation
hedge. Holdings in exchangetraded products backed by the
metal fell 8.8% this year as
$6.89bn was wiped from the
value of the funds.
Gold will slide to $1,100 an
ounce next year, Francisco
Blanch, Bank of America’s
head of global commodity research, said.
Nickel will have the most
upside, after Indonesia, the
largest source of the metal
from mines, imposed a ban
on shipments of unprocessed
ore earlier this year, said Jeffrey Currie, the head of commodity research at Goldman.
Advances in industrial metals
will more than make up for
losses in agriculture and gold,
helping commodities to generate “boring” returns of 2.5%
in 2015, he said.
Increased stimulus can
help to stabilise economies in
Europe and China and sustain commodity demand,
said Quincy Krosby, a market
strategist based in Newark,
New Jersey, at Prudential Financial, which oversees $1tn
in assets.
Brent oil prices plummet to 5-year lows in volatile trade
Brent oil prices plummeted last week
to five-year lows underneath $60
per barrel as markets were rocked
by shrinking Chinese manufacturing
output, economic turmoil in Russia and
ample crude supplies.
Oil has now halved in value since June,
due also to the stronger dollar and
weak demand as the global economy
Investors closely watched the situation
in crude producer Russia, as the rouble
crashed to a series of record lows,
despite a drastic interest rate hike.
“The combined effects of slumping oil,
the Russian Central Bank’s interest rate
hike and falling output from China have
all come together to deliver a triple
blow to the markets,” said ETX Capital
analyst Daniel Sugarman.
“Lower output from China means less
of a need for oil, while as a primary oil
producer Russia really feels the pain of
lower oil prices, compounded by the
sanctions imposed earlier this year.”
Many commodities fell in line with
oil, but sentiment was subdued on
Friday with many traders away for an
extended Christmas and New Year
OIL: Brent prices plunged late Tuesday
to $58.50 – a low last seen on May 26,
2009 – and New York crude hit a similar
low at $53.60 after Opec signalled it
has no plans to intervene to shore up
plunging prices.
Brent had already breached
the psychological $60 barrier
earlier Tuesday as weak Chinese
manufacturing data stoked global
demand concerns.
The market however rebounded on
Friday, in line with gains on global
stock markets, as investors snapped up
bargain crude.
“Until the issue of low global demand
and oversupply is resolved, we will
continue to see this type of market
volatility as investors test the waters,”
Phillip Futures analyst Daniel Ang told
“There are two camps in the market at
the moment. Some who believe prices
can fall further, and others who are
betting that it should be above $60.”
Oil has now halved in value since June, due also to the stronger dollar and weak demand as the global economy struggles
The Organisation of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries (Opec), the oil
producers group that supplies about a
third of global oil, has so far declined to
cut output to curb the price plunge.
Top Opec producer Saudi Arabia said
Thursday that competitive pressures
prevent it from reducing output, and
the kingdom can weather falling prices.
“It is difficult, or even impossible, for
Saudi Arabia or Opec to undertake any
measure that would lead to a reduction
in (their) share of the market and an
increase in that of others” who do not
belong to the cartel, said Oil Minister Ali
The latest selloffs came after Opec
opted last month to maintain its
collective output ceiling at 30mn
barrels per day, where it has stood for
three years.
“At Opec’s meeting in November, we
took two decisions,” added Kuwaiti oil
minister Ali al-Omair on Tuesday.
“The first was to keep the production
ceiling unchanged and the second to
hold the next meeting in June. So far,
nothing has changed and there are
no calls for holding an emergency
By Friday on London’s Intercontinental
Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for
delivery in February sank to $60.69
per barrel compared with $62.11 for the
January contract one week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange,
West Texas Intermediate or light sweet
crude for January dived to $56.23 per
barrel from $58.15 a week earlier.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold and other
precious metals fell on the back of
the strong dollar after the US Federal
Reserve signalled an interest rate
increase was not imminent.
The gold price was “hindered by the
Fed statement confirming small steps
towards rising rates which has kept
the dollar strong and made the metal
more expensive to buy,” said Accendo
Markets analysts.
By late Friday on the London Bullion
Market, the price of gold fell to
$1,195.50 an ounce from $1,217 a week
Silver slid to $15.86 an ounce from
On the London Platinum and Palladium
Market, platinum stood at $1,197 an
ounce, from $1,231 the previous week.
Palladium decreased to $795 an ounce
from $818.
BASE METALS: Base or industrial
metals dived on fresh evidence of
economic troubles in key consumer
China’s manufacturing activity
worsened in December with HSBC’s
purchasing managers’ index (PMI)
hitting a seven-month low at 49.5%,
below the break-even point dividing
expansion and contraction.
That signalled fresh weakness in the
world’s second-largest economy and
major consumer of oil and base metals,
according to analysts.
“Since the beginning of the week,
the majority of prices on the London
Metal Exchange (LME) have found
themselves under pressure,” said
Commerzbank analysts.
“HSBC’s disappointing flash PMI
for Chinese industry appears to be
having a greater impact than initially
By Friday on the London Metal
Exchange, copper for delivery in three
months dropped to $6,368 a tonne
from $6,467 a week earlier.
Three-month aluminium declined to
$1,911.50 a tonne from $1,942.
Three-month lead slid to $1,885.75 a
tonne from $1,989.50.
Three-month tin sank to $19,386 a
tonne from $20,400.
Three-month nickel dipped to $15,426 a
tonne from $16,471.
Three-month zinc decreased to
$2,162.50 a tonne from $2,187.
COCOA: Prices gained ground, having
won strength in recent months on fears
that the Ebola outbreak would impact
output from key producers Ghana and
Ivory Coast.
“Cocoa is ... one of the few commodities
likely to end 2014 in the black, its price
having been driven up for a time by the
Ebola epidemic in West Africa,” noted
Commerzbank analysts.
By Friday on LIFFE, London’s futures
exchange, cocoa for delivery in March
rose to ВЈ1,986 a tonne from ВЈ1,887 a
week earlier.
On the ICE Futures US exchange, cocoa
for March gained to $2,981 a tonne
from $2,861 a week earlier.
SUGAR: Sugar tumbled to their lowest
level since April 2009 at $383 per tonne
in London, hit once again by abundant
“Sugar and cotton are trading at or
near multi-year lows just before the
year is out—plentiful supply being to
blame here,” noted Commerzbank
By Friday on LIFFE, the price of a tonne
of white sugar for delivery in March
dipped to $391.50 from $394.30 a week
On ICE Futures US, the price of
unrefined sugar for March rose to 15.34
US cents a pound from 15.18 US cents a
week earlier.
COFFEE: Coffee futures also registered
fresh declines.
By Friday on ICE Futures US, Arabica for
delivery in March dropped to 175.55 US
cents a pound from 175.95 cents one
week earlier.
On LIFFE, Robusta for March slid to
$1,955 a tonne from $1,973 a week
RUBBER: Kuala Lumpur rubber prices
rose due to the weaker ringgit making
it attractive for overseas buyers. The
market was also buoyed after the Thai
government said it would buy $180mn
worth of rubber.
The Malaysian Rubber Board’s
benchmark SMR20 rose 148.10 US
cents a kilo from 143.65 US cents the
previous week.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Spanish bonds beating Germany’s as Pimco sees ECB buying
The prospect of European Central
Bank (ECB) starting sovereign-debt
purchases in 2015 pushed Spain’s 10year yields down by the most in three
months last week, with record- low
rates proving no deterrent to investors.
They outperformed their German
peers, reducing the premium that
investors get for holding the Spanish
10-year debt down by the most
since September this week. Pacific
Investment Management Co said it
expects the ECB to begin governmentbond purchases at the start of next
year. Greece’s three-year notes rose for
a third day before the second round of
a presidential vote next week.
“We don’t think the spread-narrowing
trade is done yet,” said Richard
McGuire, head of European rates
strategy at Rabobank International in
London. “We are, however, approaching
year-end and the momentum is going
to be limited. The bias could be toward
some widening from here given the
scope for upset” from Greece, he said.
Spain’s 10-year yield fell three basis
points, or 0.03 percentage point, to
1.71% and reached 1.698%, the lowest
since Bloomberg began compiling the
data in 1993. The rate has dropped 17
basis points last week, the steepest
decline since the period ended
September 5.
The 2.75% bond due in October 2024
rose 0.26, or €2.60 per €1,000 ($1,228)
face amount, to 109.335.
The yield difference, or spread, between
Spanish 10-year bonds and benchmark
German securities shrank 15 basis
points this week to 111 basis points, the
biggest narrowing since the period
through September 5.
Germany’s 10-year yield fell two basis
points in the week-end to 0.59%,
approaching a record 0.565% set on
December 17.
Yields across the euro area fell to new
lows this week after Federal Reserve
policy makers signalled they were in no
rush to raise US interest rates.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on
December 17 that the US central bank
is unlikely to raise interest rates before
the end of April and borrowing costs
will remain low for a “long time” after
Pimco, manager of the world’s largest
bond mutual fund, said it predicts the
ECB will start euro-area sovereign-debt
purchases to boost the region’s inflation
outlook. “This would be supportive
for spreads, especially in eurozone
peripheral sovereign issuers, so we
continue to maintain an overweight
position in Italian and Spanish
government bonds,” Lorenzo Pagani,
head of Pimco’s European sovereign
bond and rates desk in Munich, wrote in
an e-mailed report.
An overweight position is one in which
an investor holds a bigger percentage
of a security than is contained in the
indexes used to monitor performance.
Spain’s debt returned 16% this year
and Italy’s gained 15%, outperforming
Eurozone inflation rate to
turn negative: ECB official
the 9.8% increase in German securities,
according to Bloomberg World Bond
The ECB could require central banks in
countries such as Greece or Portugal to
set aside extra money or provisions to
cover potential losses from any bondbuying, reflecting the riskiness of their
debt, Reuters reported today, citing
unidentified officials.
Greece’s three-year yield fell 30 basis
points to 9.55%. The rate dropped 98
basis points over the previous two days
after climbing to 11.127% on December
12, the highest level since the notes
were sold via banks in July.
sees energy
sales of
in 2014
ockheed Martin Corp’s
fledgling energy business
will reach about $700mn in
revenue in 2014 and should provide steady growth for the Pentagon’s No 1 supplier in coming
years, a company official said.
Lockheed Chief Technology Officer Ray Johnson said
the company was already seeing
strong growth in some key areas
– technologies for creating energy from waste, digitising public utilities, energy management
services, and better protections
for nuclear power plants - and
expected that trend to continue.
In the longer term, several initiatives such as the company’s
work on a compact fusion energy
reactor and a patented molecular
п¬Ѓltration material, could literally
“change the world,” Johnson told
Reuters in an interview.
Lockheed generates most of
its revenues in traditional arms
programs, including the multinational F-35 п¬Ѓghter jet, but
starting in 2008, the company
began using its technology expertise to address increasing demand for energy and the threat
of conflict over scarce resources.
With revenues declining 3.9%
to $45.4bn in 2013, Lockheed
is looking to non-core markets
such as energy, and bigger foreign sales to help offset declines
in US military spending.
The company gave no comparison for energy revenues in
2013. Johnson also declined to
provide a target for the unit’s
growth or contribution to total
revenues, noting that Lockheed
did not provide detailed outlook
for individual divisions.
He said energy orders were far
from overtaking core work on
п¬Ѓghter jets, Navy ships or missile
defence equipment, but various
initiatives – including a venture
with a Chinese company to build
a power plant fuelled by ocean
thermal energy – would generate
growing revenues in coming years.
Johnson said he did not expect
a sharp drop in world oil prices to
dampen the outlook, citing concerns about longer-term challenges.
uropean Central Bank Vice President Vitor Constancio said in a
magazine interview he expected
the eurozone inflation rate to turn negative in the coming months but that if
this was just a temporary phenomenon,
he did not see a risk of deflation.
Annual inflation in the eurozone
slowed to 0.3% in November as energy
prices fell, putting it well below the
ECB’s target for inflation close to but
just below 2%.
In early December the ECB had
forecast 0.7% inflation for 2015 but
Constancio told Germany’s WirtschaftsWoche oil prices had fallen
by an extra 15% since then and that,
while this should support growth and
so drive up inflation in the longer
term, it created a tricky situation in
the short-term.
“We now expect a negative inflation
rate in the coming months and that is
something that every central bank has
to look at very closely,” Constancio was
quoted as saying in an interview due to
be published tomorrow.
But he said that several months of
negative inflation would not translate
into deflation: “You’d need negative
inflation rates over a longer period for
that. If it’s just a temporary phenomenon, I don’t see a danger.”
Constancio said the eurozone was
not in deflation and there was also not a
risk of this for every country in the single currency bloc.
He added that rising productivity in
countries like Ireland and Spain could,
for example, create scope for wage
rises, which would counter deflation
He said forecasts from the International Monetary Fund, the European
Commission and OECD that the eurozone’s economic weakness would continue until 2018 meant there would be
downward pressure on inflation until
By buying asset-backed securities
(ABS), or bundled loans, which the ECB
began doing on November 21, as well as
purchasing covered bonds and offering
new loans to banks, the ECB aims to increase the size of its balance sheet back
to levels seen in early 2012.
Constancio said there had been no
decision on what extra measures the
ECB would take to bring about monetary easing next year, adding that the
bank would, in early 2015, assess the
Constancio: Allaying fears of deflation.
effectiveness of measures it had taken
this year.
He said the ECB needed to employ all
monetary policy tools at its disposal,
adding that the bank must act if inflation was too low to maintain its credibility and so would need to use channels it had not touched before.
He said quantitative easing was “to-
tally legal” and the ECB did not rule
out what was legal. There is currently
a stand-off between the ECB and Germany’s Bundesbank over ECB preparations to buy sovereign bonds to prop up
the weak eurozone economy.
On Friday Reuters reported that
ECB officials were considering ways
to ensure weak countries that stand to
gain most from a fresh round of money
printing bear more of the risk and cost.
German newspaper Sueddeutsche
Zeitung yesterday said the ECB was
discussing how to avoid or reduce
possible collective losses for the bank
from its planned government bond
“That is an issue,” the newspaper
cited ECB policymaker Ardo Hansson
as saying. “It is a question of how much
of the risk should be shouldered by individual countries in the eurozone.”
Constancio told WirtschaftsWoche
the ECB did not have an exchange rate
target and did not measure the success
of its monetary policy measures on the
basis of their impact on the euro.
Oil, stocks to go their separate ways on Wall Street
New York
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Investors have wrung their hands over the last several weeks over
the effect of lower oil prices on the broader S&P 500, but the relationship between the two is actually starting to break down.
nvestors have wrung their hands
over the last several weeks over
the effect of lower oil prices on the
broader S&P 500, but the relationship
between the two is actually starting to
break down.
Crude prices had dropped more than
10% in the trading week ended December 12.
That was largely responsible for a
3.5% drop in the S&P 500, as investors
fled stocks over concerns about energy-sector bonds, corporate earnings,
and expectations for world economic
That seemed to change Thursday.
The S&P 500 surged while oil fell, a
potential change in sentiment among
investors looking to focus on sectors
that may benefit from an accelerating
US economy.
“The proof is that oil turned down
and the market said, �Oh, that was
yesterday’s news, today we’re moving ahead,’” said Quincy Krosby,
market strategist at Prudential Fi-
nancial in Newark, New Jersey. Bank
of America Merrill Lynch credit
strategist Hans Mikkelsen credited
the decoupling partly to Fed Chair
Janet Yellen’s Wednesday news conference.
“She explained how declining oil
prices are expected to be a net positive for the US economy. Furthermore,
she went out of her way to dismiss any
downward pressure on inflation as
Investors may have already priced
in the effect of cheaper oil on energysector earnings and are now starting
to weigh the positives for other sectors also.
In its 2015 global outlook, fund manager Pimco said the fall in energy costs,
because it is largely supply-driven,
should ultimately help growth in major
economies, including the US, Japan,
and the euro zone.
Fourth-quarter energy-sector earnings are expected to decline 19.2%
from a year ago; on October 1, growth
of 6.6% was expected.
“You will see some pain in the short
term because of fourth quarter earnings,” said James Liu, global market
strategist at JPMorgan Funds in Chicago. “So the broad S&P 500 will take
a hit based on that, but over the next
several quarters it is clearly going to be
a good thing.”
As recently as Tuesday, the 10-day
correlation between the S&P 500 and
Brent crude stood at 0.97, meaning
each moved in almost perfect sync
with the other.
The correlation has been breaking
down and last stood at 0.42, with Brent
stumbling 3.1%, while the S&P 500
surged 2.4%, on Thursday.
According to data from S&P, energy has fallen to a market share
representation of 8.31%, from 9.7%
at the end of the third quarter, as
names such as Denbury Resources,
Nabors Industries and Halliburton
have each tumbled more than expected 35%.
With investors hoping oil prices have at least stabilised as Brent
hovers around the $60 mark, selling pressure could resume on equity prices if the downward march
for oil begins again, weighing on the
broader S&P index and tightening
the correlation.
NBA | Page 8
City reel
Chelsea in,
Falcao ends
United wait
Spurs lose
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Safar 29, 1436 AH
Fiery Steyn sends
Windies crashing
to innings defeat
Page 2
Mirza wins stage three to take White jersey, David gets Blue jersey for best young rider
Overall winner Azzedine Lagab (centre) of Algeria National Team, stage three winner Yousef Mohammed Mirza (left) and blue jersey owner Per David of Adria Mobil pose on the podium after the 2014 Tour of Al Zubarah yesterday. PICTURES: Jayaram
By Yash Mudgal
Adria Mobil which won the team title yesterday.
efending champion Yousef Mohammed Mirza clinched the
second stage victory in as many
days to п¬Ѓnish the second edition
of Tour of Zubarah with point leader’s
white jersey. However, it was Algerian
National team rider Azzedine Lagab, who
emerged as the overall leader, yesterday at
Al Zubarah.
Team Giant rider Mirza clocked 2:44.46
to outsprint Adria Mobil’s Primoz Roglic
and Uzbekistan National team’s Vadim
Shaekhov for the 122.6km stage victory.
Mirza was superb in his back-to-back
wins. But his campaign was marred by a
poor show in the Stage One due to a bad
fall during the time trial on the opening
“It was a great race again. I was eager to
defend the title, but I am happy to п¬Ѓnish
the tour on a winning note as I have still
not fully recovered from a fall on the day
one,” said Mirza, who finished 10th in
the general classification after clinching
back-to-back stage victories.
With this performance during the tour,
Mirza earned 28 points for the Olympics
qualification. “It was my first tour with
the new team Giant and I have managed
to earn some important points for Olympic qualification with two stage victories
and one third-place finish,” the 28-yearold UAE rider, who earned 40 points for
his exploits in the recently concluded
Tour of Sharjah, said.
On an another windy day, Lagab, who
won the Stage One, managed to п¬Ѓnish 14
seconds ahead of Adria Mobil’s Krijstjan
Fajt to emerge as the overall leader.
“I am very pleased with my team’s performance here. I was competing for the
п¬Ѓrst time in the race and was honestly
not expecting to win it,” said Lagab, who
has been nominated for the best African
Rider Award.
“I knew I will be racing here amidst the
crosswind. It was a very good preparation
for my Algerian team, as we are preparing
for the African championship which will
be held in February,” he said.
Mohamed Bader al-Hamadi of UAE
won the 37.1km intermittent sprint at Al
Dorsai ahead of Qatar’s Abdullah Afif,
who finished 28th in general classification, and Uzbekistan’s Denis Shaymanov.
The second 62.6km intermittent sprint
at Al-Jumayliyah was also won by alHamadi.
David Per of Adria Mobil retained
the Blue Jersey of best young riders and
helped his team win the team title. Aus-
tria National team came second, while
Algeria National team п¬Ѓnished third.
“I am very happy with my show and
it was very good tour for our team as we
finished at the top. We will return to Slovenia tomorrow and continued our preparations with new vigour for the new season,” Per said.
Fajt, who п¬Ѓnished overall second, said:
“With a little bit of luck I could have won
the title. In the prologue, I had problems
with the bike and lost some seconds but
overall I am happy that my team won the
team title.”
1. Yousif Mohamed Mirza TGG Team
Giant-GMS 2:44.46 +10’’
2. Primoz Roglic ADR Adria Mobil
2:44.46 +0 -6’’
3. Vadim Shaekhov UZB Uzbekistan
National Team 2:44.46 +0 -4’’
4. Gabor Kasa TKT Racing CyclesKastro Team 2:44.46 +0 0’’
5. Sebastian Schonberger AUT Austria National Team 2:44.46 +0 0’’
6. Mohamed Mansoor BRN Bahrain
National Team 2:44.46 +0 0’’
7. Steve Lampier SIG Sigmasport. 2:44.46 +0 0’’
8. Mario Schoibl AUT Austria National Team 2:44.56 +10 0’’
9. Martin Weiss AUT Austria National
Team 2:44.56 +10 0’’
10. Kristjan Fajt ADR Adria Mobil
2:44.56 +10
1. Azzedine Lagab ALG Algeria National Team 8:20.52
2. Kristjan Fajt ADR Adria Mobil
8:21:06 14’’
3. Martin Weiss AUT Austria National
Team 8:21.17 25’’
4. Mario Schoibl AUT Austria National Team 8:21:21 29’’
5. David Per ADR Adria Mobil 8:21.24 32
6. Wauter Sybrandy SIG Sigmasport. 8:21.35 43’’
7. Roman van Uden CAR Carbon
Wheels 8:22.34 1:42
8. Radoslav Rogina ADR Adria Mobil
8:23.20 2:28
9. Primoz Roglic ADR Adria Mobil
8:23.32 2:40
10. Gabor Kasa TKT Racing CyclesKastro Team 8:23.37 2:45
Yellow: Azzedine Lagab of Algerian
National team
White: Yousef Mohammed Mirza of
Giant Team
Blue: Per David of Adria Mobil
1. Adria Mobil
2. Austria National Team
3. Algeria National Team.
5. Team Giant-GMS
6. Bahrain National Team
7. CNN-Metalac Serbia
8. Carbon Weheels
9. Uzbekistan National Team
10. Racing Cycles-Kastro Team
11. Qatar National Team
12. UAE National Team
13. Team Biketempel
14. Al Ahli Club
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Steyn’s love of Test arena fuels lust for wickets
here are few more fearsome sights in
cricket than a п¬Ѓred-up Dale Steyn
(pictured right)—even a wounded one.
When the South African speedster
limped off the п¬Ѓeld with a groin problem on the
third day of the opening Test against the West
Indies, there would have been relief in the tourists’ dressing room.
It would be short-lived, however, as he returned yesterday morning, much to the surprise
of the visitors, to decimate their batting line-up
and take the Proteas to a massive innings and
220-run victory in Pretoria.
Having gone wicketless in the п¬Ѓrst innings,
a rarity for the world’s top-ranked Test bowler,
Steyn hit back with a п¬Ѓerce spell to record п¬Ѓgures of six for 34 in 8.2 overs and lift his career
tally to 389 wickets in 76 Tests.
“I love taking wickets, I love getting into
players’ heads. Give me a red ball, I am just going to bowl,” Steyn told reporters.
“I like to get the people out, it doesn’t matter
whose batting on the other side just give me the
ball. I love playing Test cricket,” he added.
The 31-year-old admits he was below par in the
п¬Ѓrst innings, which only fuelled his lust for wickets yesterday as he upped his pace and aggression.
“Sometimes you go past the edge, sometimes you
п¬Ѓnd it and when you do п¬Ѓnd it, you are making
batters play a little bit more,” Steyn said.
“Yesterday I felt I was okay but the ball found
the bat and went into the gaps. Today, I was a
little bit more consistent. I didn’t deserve the
wickets yesterday, I deserved them today.”
Steyn has built a reputation of being a taker
of �big’ wickets and so it proved again when he
removed the two most experienced players in
the West Indian line-up, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels.
After they were gone, it was only a matter of time
before the rest followed. “Chanderpaul and Samuels are two of the big players for them,” Steyn said.
“That’s not to say the rest of the guys can’t contribute but we know those are the two big wickets
and once we get that there is a feeling of ease.”
The next Test is in Port Elizabeth starting on
Boxing Day, where Steyn produced one of the
great spells of fast bowing in recent Test history
to win the game against Australia in February.
It promises to be a not very merry Christmas
for the West Indies batsman as they contemplate that reunion.
Waqar seeks
Williamson hails
Fiery Steyn sends
Windies crashing
to innings defeat P
Abu Dhabi
�We didn’t expect it to finish so early, but Dale bowled exceptionally well to get us started’
South African fast bowler Dale
Steyn (left) celebrates after
dismissing West Indies batsman
Shivnarine Chandepaul during the
fourth day’s play of the first Test
at Supersport Park in Centurion
yesterday. Steyn took six wickets
for 34 runs as South Africa won by
an innings and 220 runs. (AFP)
ale Steyn ripped through the
West Indies top order to claim
his 25th п¬Ѓve-wicket haul in Test
cricket and give South Africa
an innings and 220-run victory on the
fourth morning of the п¬Ѓrst Test yesterday.
The West Indies’ frailties with the
bat were cruelly exposed by the topranked South Africans, with Steyn
leading the charge as he п¬Ѓnished with
six for 34 having gone wicketless in the
п¬Ѓrst innings.
The visitors resumed in the morning
session on 76 for two in their second
innings, still trailing by 275 runs, with
hopes of batting deep into the day to
save the test.
But a п¬Ѓred-up Steyn sparked a precession of wickets as the West Indies
were bowled out for 131, unable to cope
with the hostility of the home quicks.
“We didn’t expect it to finish so
early, but Dale bowled exceptionally
well to get us started and the wicket
got difficult to bat on,” Proteas captain Hashim Amla, who was adjudged
Man-of-the-Match for his 208, said at
the post-match presentation.
He also gave credit to AB de Villiers,
his partner in a South African record
fourth-wicket partnership of 308 and
the player who also donned the gloves
with regular wicketkeeper Quinton de
Kock injured on day three.
“Having AB in the team is a great
blessing, he is a wonderful п¬Ѓelder, a
great batsman and he even bowls a bit
these days. He is also our spare keeper
and he showed his class with the gloves
on,” Amla said.
Steyn had limped off on the third
afternoon with a groin problem but
showed no signs of discomfort as he
steamed in to skittle the West Indies top
order in a spell that lasted 90 minutes.
The loss of Leon Johnson (39) and
Shivnarine Chanderpaul (four) early
left the West Indies in trouble, but their
situation became a hopeless one when
Marlon Samuels looped up a catch for
Dean Elgar off a rampant Steyn with his
score on 17.
Captain Denesh Ramdin (four), who
had called for greater grit and application from the batsmen in the lead-up to
the test, lasted just two balls as Steyn
claimed his fourth by inducing an edge
off the shoulder of the bat to a leaping
De Villiers.
The game was up for the tourists and
Steyn picked up the п¬Ѓnal two wickets,
with Kyle Abbott taking an easy catch
off Sheldon Cottrell at mid-wicket
to end the match with bowler Kemar
Roach not batting in the innings as he
South Africa (1st innings) 552-5 decl
West Indies (1st innings)....................201
West Indies (2nd inngs; overnight 76-2)
K Brathwaite c Petersen b Morkel .20
D Smith c (sub) b Philander ..............5
L Johnson c De Villiers b Steyn .......39
M Samuels c Elgar b Steyn ................17
S C’paul c De Villiers b Steyn ............4
J Blackwood c (sub) b Morkel ..........15
D Ramdin c De Villiers b Steyn ........4
J Taylor c Amla b Steyn .......................9
rests his injured ankle.
“In the first innings when we batted we
showed some signs of partnerships with
our guys getting starts but we couldn’t
carry them on,” Ramdin said. “We need
to show a lot of character to give them
a п¬Ѓght and hopefully we can take some
S Benn (not out) ......................................6
S Cottrell c Morkel b Steyn ................4
K Roach (absent injured)
Extras (lb3, nb1, w4) .............................8
Total (all out, 42.3 overs) ...................131
Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-52, 3-87, 4-91,
5-101, 6-105, 7-117, 8-121, 9-131
Bowling: Steyn 8.2-2-34-6, Morkel
11.1-1-43-2 (1w), Philander 7-4-6-1 (1nb),
Abbott 3-0-11-0 (1w), Van Zyl 10-2-22-0
(2w), Elgar 3-0-12-0
positives out of this match and do something special in the other games.”
The West Indies were bowled out
twice in the test in just under 103 overs,
leaving them with much to contemplate ahead of the second test in Port
Elizabeth that starts on Boxing day.
akistan coach Waqar
Younis warned his team
needed to improve before
the World Cup while Kane
Williamson hailed a “great achievement” after New Zealand won the
one-day series 3-2 on Friday.
Pakistan fell 68 runs short
in their 276-run chase which
prompted Waqar to call for extra
hard work in fielding and batting
against the short ball.
“We need to improve our fielding,” said Waqar, after his team
lost the fifth and final match in
Abu Dhabi. “It (fielding) is not up
to the mark and must improve a
lot and we also need to work hard
on short balls as we have to go to
Australia and both these things
need to be spot on if you want to
compete in the World Cup.”
Australia and New Zealand cohost the World Cup from February 14 to March 29.
Pakistan now have just two
one-day internationals in New
Zealand, on January 31 and February 3, before the World Cup gets
underway. “I think we must keep
hope, we are trying our best. I
have full hope in this team for
the World Cup, we will do well,”
added Waqar.
The Pakistan coach said he had
achieved some of his objectives
from the five-game series against
New Zealand.
“We did achieve what we
needed but not 100 percent.
Now we have a one-day cup back
home and hope that things will be
clearer after that,” said Waqar.
Pakistan’s problems were
compounded by injury to regular
captain Misbah-ul Haq who
missed the last three games due
to a hamstring problem.
They were already without ace
spinner Saeed Ajmal who was
suspended in September due to
an illegal bowling action while
all-rounder Mohamed Hafeez was
also banned from bowling for the
same reason last month.
New Zealand stand-in skipper
Williamson described the series
win as a “big achievement”.
“There is still time for the World
Cup, it’s good it will be in our conditions and this series win is a big
achievement,” said Williamson.
New Zealand’s win was more
significant as they rested regular
captain Brendon McCullum and
pace spearheads Tim Southee
and Trent Boult.
Williamson, whose team
levelled the series 1-1 and then 2-2,
said they had learned from mistakes. “We learned from our mistakes, beat a strong Pakistan side
and have shown improvement. In
a series that went up and down,
it was fantastic to learn from the
Pakistan side and to win in such
an evenly fought series has been
great,” the Kiwi skipper said.
Williamson termed the rotation
of players as important.
“It was important to keep
adapting our plans, the personnel
changed quite a lot, we had a lot
of injuries,” he said. “It has been a
great series, an emotional series
for many reasons and both teams
put on some fantastic cricket.”
New Zealand host Sri Lanka for
two Tests and seven ODIs next.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Magic Johnson rips
India apart as Aussies
win by four wickets
�Mitch certainly turned it on for us in that little spell, that really cracked the game open for us’
De Kock in
race against
time to be fit
for World Cup
icketkeeper-batsman Quinton de
Kock is in a race
against time to be
fit for the World Cup, Cricket
South Africa said yesterday.
De Kock tore ankle ligaments
on the third morning of the first
Test against the West Indies in
Pretoria. The usual recovery
period for such an injury is six
to 12 weeks, putting in doubt his
participation in the global event
in Australia and New Zealand
starting on February 14.
The Proteas had hoped to
have him fit for the second Test
against West Indies starting on
Boxing Day, but the severity of
his injury, sustained in the warmup before the day’s play, became
clear following MRI scans.
The team have a readymade
replacement in AB de Villiers to
keep wickets, but De Kock has
formed a successful opening
partnership with Hashim Amla in
one-day cricket and it is there his
loss would be most keenly felt.
The 22-year-old, who has
made six centuries and four fifties in 35 innings at an average
of 43.58, has the ability to score
quick runs with his swashbuckling style.
With De Villiers to take the
gloves for the second Test in
Port Elizabeth, the Proteas
selectors must now decide
whether to hand a debut to the
reserve batsman in the squad,
Temba Bavuma, or play an extra bowler, likely to be spinner
Robin Peterson.
South Africa won the first
Test by an innings and 220 runs
Trott to lead
England Lions
Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson (second from right) celebrates after dismissing India’s Virat Kohli (left) on Day 4 of the second Test at the Gabba in Brisbane yesterday. Australia won by four wickets. (EPA)
itchell Johnson’s brilliance
with both bat and ball inspired Australia to a fourwicket second Test victory
over India and an unassailable 2-0 series
lead at the Gabba in Brisbane yesterday.
Mitch Marsh hit the winning runs
as Australia survived a few wobbles to
chase down their target of 128 after tea
on the fourth day of the contest but
there was little doubt that two interventions from Johnson set up the victory.
On Friday, Australia were 247-6
chasing India’s first innings 408 when
Johnson came out and smashed 88 runs
from 93 balls in a Gabba record seventhwicket stand of 148 with skipper Steve
Smith that turned the match on its head.
Yesterday, India had resumed their
second innings on 71-1 looking to
quickly make up the 26-run deficit on
Australia’s total of 505 and build another imposing score.
Half an hour later, their hopes were
shattered as Johnson (4-61), ably assisted by debutant paceman Josh
Hazlewood (2-74), ripped through the
batting to leave India pondering yet
another collapse at 87 for п¬Ѓve.
In one dizzying 11-ball spell, Johnson
took three for 10 by removing Virat Kohli
(1), Ajinkya Rahane (10) and Rohit Sharma
(0). Hazlewood, who took 5-68 in the п¬Ѓrst
innings, removed India skipper Mahendra
Singh Dhoni for a duck in the next over.
“Mitch certainly turned it on for us
in that little spell this morning, that really cracked the game open for us,” said
Smith after tasting victory in his п¬Ѓrst
match as captain in place of the injured
Michael Clarke.
“All the bowlers, to be fair, produced
the goods for us. I thought Joshy Hazlewood was outstanding and Nathan Lyon
came on and did a job here and there.”
It was another disappointing day
on the road for the tourists, who had
dominated the п¬Ѓrst day on the back of
Murali Vijay’s 144 as Australia’s bowlers wilted in the sweltering heat.
They were still in the contest at the
start of play on Saturday and Dhoni
blamed the confusion after Shikhar
Dhawan declaring himself unfit to
resume his innings for creating “unrest” in the dressing room.
“It is disappointing but what is more
important is to reason out why it happened,” he told reporters.
“The first session today was crucial
and we didn’t handle it very well. If we
had been able to got a decent partnership together and pushed it into a п¬Ѓfth
day, then we could have exploited the
conditions more.”
Dhawan, who injured his right wrist
in the nets, was later forced to cancel
his trip to the hospital for scans and
resume his innings, providing some resistance in an innings of 81 before India
were dismissed for 224.
Australia’s run chase was far from
perfectly handled either and question
marks will be raised over the batting of
Shane Watson, Shaun Marsh and Brad
Haddin who were among the six wickets to fall.
Smith, who was also run out with six
runs still required, was fairly relaxed
about the high casualty rate before
Mitch Marsh’s cover drive for four got
them over the line.
“I would have liked to have been
there in the end but I guess that’s cricket and I’m just happy we got there,” he
said. “The wicket was still pretty good
and the boys were going after them to
try and get the runs pretty quickly tonight, so no real hiccup there.”
Smith was “extremely satisfied” with
the victory to take a 2-0 lead into the п¬Ѓnal
two matches in Melbourne and Sydney,
India (1st innings) ................................. 408
Australia (1st innings) ........................ 505
India (2nd innings; overnight 71-1)
M Vijay b Starc ........................................ 27
S Dhawan lbw Lyon .............................. 81
C Pujara c Lyon b Hazlewood ......... 43
V Kohli b Johnson ................................. 1
A Rahane c Lyon b Johnson ............ 10
R Sharma c Haddin b Johnson ....... 0
M Dhoni lbw Hazlewood ................... 0
R Ashwin c Haddin b Starc ............... 19
U Yadav c Haddin b Johnson .......... 30
V Aaron c Hazlewood b Lyon .......... 3
I Sharma (not out)................................. 1
Extras (lb-2, nb-2, w-5) ....................... 9
Total (all out, 64.3 overs) .................. 224
Fall of wickets: 1-41, 2-76, 3-86, 4-86,
5-87, 6-117, 7-143, 8-203, 9-211
Bowling: M Johnson 17.3-4-61-4 (nb-1,
especially after a day one when Australia
were under the cosh with bowlers, as he
put it, “dropping like flies”.
Taking the man of the match award
for his superbly controlled 133 in the
п¬Ѓrst innings, Smith was happy to pay
credit to Johnson for his role in turning
the match around.
w-1); J Hazlewood 16-0-74-2 (nb-1); M
Starc 8-1-27-2; S Watson 13-6-27-0; N
Lyon 10-1-33-2
Australia (2nd inngs; target 128 runs)
C Rogers c Dhawan b I Sharma ...... 55
D Warner c Dhoni b I Sharma .......... 6
S Watson c Dhoni b I Sharma .......... 0
S Smith (run out) ................................... 28
S Marsh c Dhoni b U Yadav .............. 17
B Haddin c Kohli b U Yadav .............. 1
M Marsh (not out) ................................. 6
M Johnson (not out) ............................ 2
Extras (b-4, lb-4, nb-6, w-1) ............... 15
Total (6 wickets, 23.1 overs) ............. 130
Fall of wickets: 1-18, 2-22, 3-85, 4-114,
5-122, 6-122
Bowling: I Sharma 9-2-38-3 (nb-5); U
Yadav 9-0-46-2; V Aaron 5.1-0-38-0
(nb-1, w-1)
“I think it was a big turning point
in the game to get that partnership
there with Mitch. To get 500 runs in
the first innings was just crucial for
us,” he said.
“It was just amazing the way Mitch
came out and took on the bowlers on
from ball one. It was outstanding.”
Jonathan Trott will captain the
second-string England Lions in
South Africa next month as he
makes his international comeback,
the England and Wales Cricket
Board (ECB) said yesterday.
The 33-year-old South Africaborn batsman has not played
international cricket since he withdrew from England’s Ashes tour of
Australia in November 2013 due
to a stress-related condition. But
after a successful county season
with Warwickshire he was named
in the provisional Lions squad in
October and yesterday the ECB
revealed that he would lead the
team on their tour of South Africa.
Speaking in October, Trott
told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I still
have aspirations to play for
England. If I do want to play for
England again, I have to earn my
place back. I had that mentality
playing for Warwickshire this
year and thoroughly enjoyed my
season with them.”
Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance
drops out of the Lions squad
after being called up by England
for the World Cup, while Ben
Stokes and Harry Gurney are
included after missing out on a
place in the senior squad.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni
said confusion over opener Shikhar
Dhawan’s injury had unsettled the
dressing room in the crucial first hour
of play on the fourth morning of the
second Test against Australia yesterday.
The tourists never really recovered
after losing four second innings wickets
in the opening half an hour in Brisbane
and went down by four wickets in the
second Test to trail 2-0 in the fourmatch series.
The India team issued a statement
complaining about the uneven bounce
on the practice pitches in the Gabba
nets after Dhawan and Virat Kohli were
injured while warming up during a net
session yesterday.
Dhoni said he had aborted his own
net session because of the conditions
but said he was unaware of the extent
of the injury to Dhawan’s right wrist,
which ultimately forced India to send
Kohli out to replace him.
“It was quite late when we got back
and saw Shikhar was not 100 percent
fit to bat so we could only give five to
10 minutes notice to Virat,” Dhoni said.
“So that was something we could have
handled better.”
Kohli, who stood in for the injured
Dhoni as skipper for the first Test defeat
in Adelaide, looked less than comfortable taking to the field and scored one
run off 11 balls before becoming the
first of paceman Mitchell Johnson’s
four victims.
“That kind of scenario can create a
bit of unrest, not like a typhoon coming
sort of unrest, but the calmness of the
dressing room goes for a toss,”
Dhoni added.
“It was a bit late to verbally resolve
the situation, what we needed was
some kind of partnership to go for 25
minutes and it would have gone back
to normal,” he added.
As the Indian wickets tumbled,
Dhawan was forced to cancel a trip to
hospital for X-Rays on the injury and
returned to the middle to resume his
innings, scoring a team-high 81.
India’s dissatisfaction with the Gabba
nets was clear from the statement.
“Indian team has been asking for
fresh net practice wickets several times
for the last two days which not been
provided. Instead of that, they have
asked us to practice on worn-out wickets which has uneven bounce,” it read.
Queensland Cricket later tweeted:
“Australians say no problems with them
and curator says they mirror exact
state of the Test pitch in middle”.
MS Dhoni
scored a
duck in
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Cook pays price
for England team’s
downward spiral
�I have not scored the runs I would have liked and we have not won the number of games I
would have liked. My performances in the one-day game this year have not been good enough’
“Teams have worked out not
to bowl short at Cook. They
also bowl spin in one-day
cricket. He plants his front
foot, using a big forward press,
which is fine in Test cricket
because it helps you defend,
but in one-day cricket it makes
you static. He is stationary so
it is easy to bowl at him and set
fields meaning he will always
chew up balls”
lastair Cook will turn 30 on
Christmas Day, but having
been dropped as England’s
one-day captain yesterday,
he may not be in much of a mood to
Officials had remained steadfast
in their support of Cook during an
ongoing poor run of form that he
halted temporarily with an innings of
95 against India in the third Test at
Southampton in July.
But the orthodox and obstinate
opener could not turn the tide in oneday internationals.
His best score this year was 56, while
the recent 5-2 loss away to Sri Lanka
represented England’s fifth successive
ODI series loss under Cook’s captaincy.
Cook’s form in Sri Lanka—119 runs
in six innings, at an average of 19.83—
was dire and afterwards he was clearly
preparing himself for being dropped
from the World Cup squad.
“I have not scored the runs I would
have liked and we have not won the
number of games I would have liked,”
said Cook, who has now gone 59 innings without an England hundred in
any format.
“If it happens, I could have no complaints... My performances in the
one-day game this year have not been
good enough,” he added.
There have long been calls for Cook
to be spared white-ball cricket, with
former England captain Michael
Vaughan among those arguing it
would leave the Essex left-hander
fresh for the 2015 home Ashes series
and improve England’s World Cup
prospects at the same time.
“Teams have worked out not to
bowl short at Cook,” wrote Vaughan in
the Daily Telegraph this week. “They
also bowl spin in one-day cricket. He
plants his front foot, using a big forward press, which is п¬Ѓne in Test cricket because it helps you defend, but in
one-day cricket it makes you static.
He is stationary so it is easy to bowl
at him and set п¬Ѓelds meaning he will
always chew up balls.”
But the one defect in England’s recent and unprecedented focus on 50over cricket is that the spin-friendly
conditions in Sri Lanka are likely to be
the total opposite of those in Australia
and New Zealand.
After Cook returned from leading England to a 5-0 Ashes defeat
in Australia at the start of this year,
England’s freshly-installed managing director Paul Downton and newlook selection panel insisted he was
the right man to lead the team in both
п¬Ѓve-day and 50-over cricket.
It was a theme echoed by Peter
Moores, recalled as coach following
Andy Flower’s resignation.
Indeed, in the midst of a convoluted explanation as to why Kevin
Pietersen had been effectively
sacked, the England and Wales
Cricket Board cited the need to support Cook’s captaincy.
So a U-turn at this relatively late
stage represents something of an embarrassment for the ECB hierarchy,
especially with Pietersen blasting a
rapid 66 for the Melbourne Stars in
the opening match of this season’s Big
Bash League on Thursday.
Yet, such have been England’s fundamental problems, including a lack
of penetration with the ball and a
habit of losing wickets too quickly, in
a 2014 where they have lost 16 ODIS
and won nine, there is little to suggest
a change of captain and/or opening
batsman would make that much difference.
However, Alex Hales offers the
prospect of a more dynamic approach
at the top of the order and England
have not been markedly worse off as
a one-day side when Eoin Morgan has
captained the team in Cook’s absence.
England have never won the World
Cup and the last of their three losing
appearances in the п¬Ѓnal was in 1992.
At the moment, the only reason for
believing those records might improve is that it is so outlandish it just
might happen.
But it remains hard to see how, even
if pacemen James Anderson and Stuart Broad return from injury, England
can become a World Cup-winning
side in a matter of months—even with
the misfiring Cook out of the picture.
Fifty-fifty calls not
going India’s way in
series, says Dhoni
aptain Mahendra Singh Dhoni says the 50-50 decisions
are not going India’s way
after his team fell behind 2-0
in the series against Australia at the
Gabba yesterday.
The tourists, who are against using
the decision referral system (DRS) in
the four-match series, had another
contentious umpire’s call with the
dismissal of Ravichandran Ashwin in
India’s second innings.
Ashwin was given out caught
behind off Mitchell Starc for 19 even
though replays showed the ball hitting the top of his pads.
India were blown away by Mitchell
Johnson’s morning spell of three for
10 off 11 balls as they went down by
four wickets to the Australians in the
second Gabba Test.
Dhoni stoutly defended India’s
reluctance to use technology to aid
in umpire’s decision-making, but said
that his team were getting more bad
calls than Australia in the series.
“There’s a lot of 50-50 decisions
that are not going in our favour,” he
said. “We’re on the receiving end
more often than not.
“What happens in DRS, even if the
DRS is around, those (contentious)
decisions won’t go in our favour.
“DRS is used often to justify the
decision that’s given by the umpire.
“What’s important is to use DRS as
a way of giving the right decision irrespective of if the umpire has given
it out or not out.
“There are a lot of ways to use
DRS. This is something that needs to
be put in a specific way. You’re adding too many variables to the game.”
Dhoni said the level of umpiring in
the series, with South African Marais
Erasmus and Englishman Ian Gould
officiating in the first two Tests, could
be better.
“It can improve. There have been
quite a few 50-50 calls where we
have been on the receiving end,” he
said, while pointing out the difficulties the umpires are under during a
five-day Test match.
Australian pacer Mitchell Starc
celebrates after dismissing India’s
Ravichandran Ashwin for 19 in India’s
second innings in the second Test
at the Gabba yesterday. Ashwin was
given out caught behind even though
replays showed the ball hitting the top
of his pads. But as India are against
using the decision referral system
(DRS), they had no opportunity to
contest the contentious call. (EPA)
Morgan says it’s a �huge honour’ to lead England
oin Morgan has replaced the
out-of-form Alastair Cook as
England’s World Cup captain,
the England and Wales Cricket
Board (ECB) announced yesterrday.
Cook has scored just one п¬Ѓfty in his
last 22 one-day innings for England
and has paid the price for failing to stop
the rot during his country’s recent 5-2
series defeat in Sri Lanka.
Morgan will lead the side for the triseries in Australia after Christmas and
then the World Cup in Australia and
New Zealand in February and March,
with Cook playing no part but staying
on as Test captain.
An ECB statement read: “ECB today (Saturday) announced that Eoin
Morgan has replaced Alastair Cook as
England one-day captain with imme-
diate effect. Selectors recommended
to managing director England cricket
Paul Downton a change in captaincy,
which has now been approved by the
ECB chairman. Cook will continue as
England Test captain.”
After England’s series-ending defeat in Colombo on Tuesday, Cook,
who has not scored a one-day century
since June 2012, conceded he could
have “no complaints” if he lost the
one-day captaincy.
But the decision to remove him from
the role with the World Cup looming is
still a major reversal by Downton and
head coach Peter Moores, who have
given Cook absolute backing this year.
Cook, who turns 30 on Thursday,
said: “I am gutted to be left out of the
World Cup squad, and it is likely to take
me a while to get over the disappointment. That said, I wish Peter, Eoin and
the lads all the best for the World Cup.
I would also like to thank all the players
and fans who have supported me during my time as one-day captain.”
Morgan described being handed the
captaincy as “a huge honour”.
The 28-year-old Irishman added:
“I firmly believe that with the players
currently involved in the one-day setup we have the makings of a very good
one-day side, a young side that can
surprise people at the World Cup.”
Downton said he had “complete
confidence” in the decision made by
the selectors. “Having spent time with
Alastair yesterday (Friday), he accepts
that it has been made in the best interests of the one-day side,” he said.
“Eoin has held a senior role in our
limited-overs teams for some time and
has impressed on the occasions he has
led the side.”
Downton added: “Alastair remains
an integral part of England cricket and
continues to have a vital role in developing our emerging Test side.
“I would like to thank him for his
leadership of the one-day side since
2011, a period which saw the team reach
number one in the world, Alastair lead
the team to more wins than any previous England captain and also make the
final of the ICC Champions Trophy.”
Cook led England in six of their seven matches in Sri Lanka, making just
119 runs at an average of 19.83.
Morgan made 90 at 12.85. He also led
the team in the other п¬Ѓxture, a defeat
for which Cook was banned because of
an over-rate offence.
Cook’s omission was one of three
changes to the squad that toured Sri
Lanka, with Yorkshire batsman Gary
Ballance coming in and seamers James
Anderson and Stuart Broad returning
from injury.
Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes and
Nottinghamshire bowler Harry Gurney
were the other players to make way.
England will travel to Australia on
January 6 for the tri-series, which also
features India. They open their World
Cup campaign against Australia in
Melbourne on February 14.
England World Cup squad
Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary
Ballance, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart
Broad, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Alex
Hales, Chris Jordan, Eoin Morgan
(capt), Joe Root, James Taylor, James
Tredwell, Chris Woakes
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Loew sets sights
on Euro 2016 with
new-look Germany
�It would be wrong to be satisfied with what we have achieved so far’
orld Cup winners Germany
have suffered something of a
hangover since their triumph
in Brazil, but coach Joachim
Loew is hoping a new-look side can go on
to claim more glory at Euro 2016.
After claiming their fourth World Cup
in July, retirements and injuries took their
toll as Germany struggled for form at the
start of their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign in the second half of the year.
A shock п¬Ѓrst-ever defeat to neighbours
Poland in Warsaw followed by a 1-1 draw
with Ireland in October leaves Germany
third in their qualifying group for the 2016
п¬Ѓnals in France.
But the world champions will still start
2015 on top of FIFA’s world rankings.
Germany will tackle six qualifiers next
year, including hosting Poland next September followed by away matches to Ireland and Scotland.
With the top two qualifying automatically and third place enough for a play-off,
there is margin for error, but Loew is looking for strong performances to qualify for
Euro 2016 as group winners.
“It would be wrong to be satisfied with
what we have achieved so far,” said Germany’s head coach, who took charge in
2006 and has a contract until after Euro
2016. “It is important for us now to put
some distance between ourselves and our
previous success and bring in new ideas.
“We have to introduce new players and
set new goals to keep the players motivated.”
Paris success to follow Rio triumph
The 54-year-old Loew is clear on what
he wants Germany to achieve in 2015,
which starts with a friendly against Australia at the end of March.
“I hope that we are able to confirm our
(World Cup) success,” Loew said. “That
we can characterise an era in which we not
only won the (World Cup) title, but we can
recapture the feeling (of success).
“And that in 2016 we can win the (European Championship) final in Paris and
then focus on defending our title at the
2018 World Cup.”
There are several areas which need
Loew’s urgent attention, though, especially the defence, with right-back and
captain Philipp Lahm and centre-back
Per Mertesacker having retired after the
World Cup. Loew played a three-man defence in November’s 1-0 friendly victory
in Spain, with Benedikt Hoewedes, Shkodran Mustafi and Antonio Ruediger keeping European champions Spain at bay.
World Cup-winners Mats Hummels
and Jerome Boateng are to come back in,
but at the other end, that win failed to
mask deficiencies in Germany’s ability
to turn chances into goals, just as their
finishing let them down badly against
Celtic braced for
Dundee United
eltic take on Dundee
United at Tannadice
today and captain
Scott Brown expects a
tougher test than the last time
the two teams met back in August.
Brown was a spectator for
the match at Parkhead due to
injury but marvelled at the way
his teammates tore United to
shreds in a 6-1 thrashing.
The Hoops head to Tannadice full of confidence and
hoping to make it nine wins in
a row in the league.
bounced back well from their
defeat at Parkhead and sit in
third place in the league, just
seven points behind leaders
Celtic, and Brown thinks the
Glasgow giants will meet an
improved side on Sunday.
“Dundee United have had
their ups and downs but they
have some great individual
players and Tannadice is always a hard place to go to. So it
should be an interesting game
and we’re looking forward to
it,” said the Celtic captain, who
is set to make his 300th appearance for the club.
“I was watching from the
stands the last time we played
them but it’s probably the best
we’ve played the whole season.
Our passing and movement
was unbelievable and I think
our formation and theirs suited
us, but they still attacked.
“We had a few chances early
doors and that’s the difference
between us scoring п¬Ѓve or six
goals in games rather than
not—we took our chances,
which we’ve not done recently
although we are still creating
Celtic will have to do without Aleksandar Tonev as the
Bulgarian starts a seven-match
ban for racially abusing Aberdeen’s Shay Logan.
United п¬Ѓrst team coach Darren Jackson knows the danger the Hoops, who moved
six points clear at the top last
weekend, will pose.
But he urged his players to
banish the memory of the 6-1
thrashing and believe in themselves more. “We have bounced
back from disappointments in
the past because we have good
players at this club,” Jackson
“They have to keep believing
that’s the case because we, the
coaching staff, believe in them.
“We have confidence in
them. Maybe they need to believe in themselves a wee bit
more. Sometimes their heads
will go down a bit, but you have
to handle that if you go behind
in a match.”
Paul Paton will miss out for
United after he was handed a
two-match ban by the Scottish
FA for spitting on Aberdeen’s
Jonny Hayes during last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to the Dons.
Scott Brown
Poland and Ireland. Responsibility for
improving in that regard will fall upon
Thomas Mueller and Maracana hero
Mario Goetze, who are poised to spearhead Germany’s attack through to the
next World Cup.
Meanwhile, the retirement of Lahm left
a leadership void on the pitch, and Bastian Schweinsteiger has yet to appear for
Loew’s side since being named as the new
However, the 30-year-old proved his
п¬Ѓtness after a knee injury with a stunning
free-kick for run-away Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich at Mainz on Friday.
Loew needs his midfield general back in
the famous white shirt alongside Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos, who
scored the winner in the friendly against
Elsewhere, Loew has unearthed some
exciting young talent in Bayer Leverkusen
winger Karim Bellarabi and Hoffenheim’s
powerful forward Kevin Volland, while
Borussia Moechengladbach midfielder
Christoph Kramer and Schalke’s Julian
Draxler need to make good on the potential they showed as part of the World Cup
Germany will be looking to avenge their
shock 2011 defeat to the Socceroos when
they host Australia in Kaiserslautern in a
friendly on March 23 before a Euro 2016
qualifier away to Georgia.
Then follows a friendly against the USA
in June and a reunion with Loew’s predecessor Jurgen Klinsmann, who coached
Germany to third at the 2006 World Cup
with Loew as his assistant.
Chappuis, Thai Messi break Malaysian hearts
Kuala Lumpur
ate strikes from Swiss-born
Charyl Chappuis and Chanathip
�Messi Jay’ Songkrasin broke
Malaysian hearts as Thailand
won their fourth Southeast Asian title in
a dramatic AFF Suzuki Cup п¬Ѓnal yesterday.
Hosts Malaysia fought back from a
2-0 first-leg deficit to lead 3-0 on the
night, but the goals from Chappuis and
Chanathip gave Thailand a 4-3 aggregate
win and ended their 12-year drought in
the competition.
It was a stunning finish from Thailand, who seemed to have run out of ideas after Safiq Rahim’s double and Indra
Putra’s header put Malaysia in control.
Chappuis scored a rebound from
a free-kick on 82 minutes before
Chanathip, dubbed “Messi Jay” because of his stature and dribbling skill,
smashed home Thailand’s second five
minutes later.
Malaysia had got the start they wanted when striker Norshahrul Talaha went
down too easily in the box and the referee pointed to the spot for a soft penalty. Safiq coolly sent goalkeeper Kawin
Thamsatchanan the wrong way to reduce the arrears to 2-1 on aggregate after Thailand’s 2-0 win in Bangkok on
Thailand’s Perapat Notechaiya hit the
woodwork in an open п¬Ѓrst half before
Indra Putra grabbed Malaysia’s second
with a downwards, far-post header on
the stroke of half-time.
The momentum was п¬Ѓrmly with the
hosts at a packed Bukit Jalil stadium and
Safiq put them ahead 3-2 on aggregate
with a sumptuous, dipping free-kick on
58 minutes.
But Chappuis got the crucial away goal
for Thailand when Malaysian �keeper
Farizal Marlias palmed a free-kick into
his path and he buried the rebound.
And “Messi Jay” lived up to his nickname with an thumping left-footed
strike from outside the area to make sure
of Thailand’s win.
Defeat was cruel for Malaysia, who
appeared to have pulled off another great
escape after they overturned a 2-1 firstleg deficit in the semi-final against Vietnam by winning 4-2 in Hanoi.
It also brings a sour end to the tournament for the 2010 winners after the
semi-п¬Ѓnal п¬Ѓrst leg was marred by violence towards Vietnamese fans at Shah
Alam stadium.
Thailand’s players celebrate after winning the AFF Suzuki Cup 2014 at Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, yesterday. (EPA)
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
PSG held at home,
Marseille on course
to end year on top
Paris Saint-Germain miss out on top spot after Montpellier draw
Paris Saint-Germain’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic
(C) vies with Montpellier’s Brazilian defender Vitorino Hilton
(L) during the French L1 match at the Parc des Princes
stadium in Paris, yesterday. (AFP)
Dortmund second
from bottom after
10th defeat of season
Bundesliga crisis deepened yesterday after
suffering their tenth
defeat of the season in losing
2-1 at fellow strugglers Werder
Bremen to drop to second from
Having started December at
the foot of the table, Dortmund
can п¬Ѓnish 2014 back at the bottom if Freiburg score and pick up
a point against Hanover 96 on
Dortmund continue to have
the most defeats in Germany’s
top flight at the season’s halfway
stage with just 15 points from 17
games as Bremen claimed only
their fourth win of the season to
climb off the foot of the table.
Borussia coach Jurgen Klopp
insists they are not relegation
candidates, despite their league
“I wouldn’t write us off yet,”
Klopp insisted with the Bundesliga to resume at the end of January following the winter break.
“We have three weeks to prepare ourselves for the second
half of the season.
“We must, and we will, improve, we have shown a lot of
weaknesses in the п¬Ѓrst half of the
season, but we’re not as weak as
that. We need to charge our batteries and п¬Ѓght back in the new
Borussia, who face Juventus in the last 16 of the Champions League, fell behind with
just three minutes gone when
Bremen’s 19-year-old striker
Davie Selke curled in a superb
goal from 15 metres out.
Selkie then turned provider
by outsprinting Dortmund captain Mats Hummels to put in a
great cross which Bremen midfielder Fin Bartels converted on
62 minutes. Hummels pulled a
goal back when he headed home
unmarked a corner from fellow
Germany international Ilkay
Gundogan on 69 minutes, but it
was no more than a consolation.
Huntelaar extends
Schalke stay
host mid-table Cologne later on
Saturday hoping for the three
points which would trim Bayern
(PSG) failed to п¬Ѓnd the
killer punch in a drab
goalless draw at home
to Montpellier yesterday, handing arch-rivals Marseille the
chance to end the year on top of
the Ligue 1 table.
Marseille stay top on goal
difference before they take on
Lille at home today while thirdplaced Lyon, who could theoretically upset the apple cart if
Marseille came unstuck, travel
to Bordeaux. But for the Parisians, it was another case of failing to live up to the pressure,
following defeats to Barcelona
in the Champions League and
then Guingamp in the league,
before an unconvincing 3-1 victory at second-tier AC Ajaccio
in the League Cup in midweek.
An error-strewn п¬Ѓrst-half
at the Parc des Princes saw the
mid-table visitors knock the
Parisians out of their normally
fluid style and frustrated them
throughout the п¬Ѓrst 45 minutes.
Montpellier could even claim
the best chance of the п¬Ѓrst 45
minutes when Morgan Sanson
had the the ball in the net with
an acrobatic volley from Antony Mounier’s cross from the
left, but Mounier was harshly
ruled offside and the goal did
not count.
PSG had to wait until п¬Ѓve
minutes from half-time before
carving out a creditable chance
of their own but failed to take
advantage as Edinson Cavani
needed one touch too many on
Marco Verratti’s through pass
and the ball ran away from him,
allowing Montpellier �keeper
Jonathan Ligali to smother it
at his feet. The home side were
looking anything like reign-
ing champions even after upping the tempo at the start of
the second half, as Montpellier
managed to soak up everything
PSG could throw at them.
But PSG gave notice that it
might not be long before they
took the lead as they moved up a
gear in the 63rd minute.
First Lucas had a penalty appeal waved away after tangling
with Abdelhamid El Kaoutari in
the area and from the resulting
corner, taken by Thiago Motta,
Thiago Silva rose unchallenged
to head goalwards only for Mounier to scramble it off the line.
However, it was not be as the
clock ran down with neither
side looking likely to break the
Montpellier had scored seven goals in their previous two
matches, but seemed mostly
content to play a containing
game and manager Rolland
Courbis looked the happier at
the п¬Ѓnal whistle as counterpart
Laurent Blanc reflected on what
might have been.
Ironically, the two will meet
again in their very next next
competitive match, having been
drawn together in the French
Cup, with the tie to be played in
early January.
Munich’s huge lead at the top of
the table back to 11 points.
Bayer Leverkusen stay third
after coming from behind for a
1-1 draw at home to Eintracht
Eintracht captain Alexander
Meier converted a penalty to
make him the league’s top scorer
with 13 goals in 16 games before
Leverkusen’s Germany winger
Karim Bellarabi equalised seven
minutes from time.
Roberto di Matteo’s Schalke
04, who have drawn Real Madrid
in the last 16 of the Champions
League, stay п¬Ѓfth in the table after being held to a goalless draw
at home to Hamburg in a poor
There was some good news for
Royal Blues fans before kick-off
as Netherlands striker Klaas-Jan
Huntelaar extended his contract until 2017 having scored 66
goals in 116 Bundesliga matches.
Stuttgart remain above the
bottom three places after their
goalless draw at home to Paderborn.
Augsburg fought back for
a 2-1 win at home to Borussia
Moenchengladbach, who took
the lead after only two minutes when Max Kruse converted a penalty before midfielder
Markus Feulner and striker Raul
Bobadilla scored either side of
half-time. The result leaves
Augsburg sixth while Gladbach
drop to fourth.
On Friday, Pep Guardiola’s Bayern broke more league
records as Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben scored
in their 2-1 comeback win at
Mainz after Colombia midfielder
Elkin Soto had given the hosts’ a
shock п¬Ѓrst-half lead.
The Mainz result saw Bayern
claim a new record for the fewest
goals conceded in the п¬Ѓrst-half
of the season as their defence
have leaked just four goals.
At the season’s halfway stage,
Bayern will п¬Ѓnish the weekend
at least 11 points ahead, claiming a new record for the league’s
biggest advantage at the halfway
stage, beating their own joint
best mark of 10.
Bayern have also equalled
their own record for the highest
goal difference at the halfway
point of plus 37, the same they
managed in 2012/13, the season
they last won the Champions
Dortmund’s defender Mats Hummels (C) is congratulated by
Dortmund’s Polish defender Lukasz Piszczek (2nd L) after scoring
during the Bundesliga match against SV Werder Bremen in Bremen
yesterday. Bremen won the match 2-1. (AFP)
Guardiola’s delight as Bayern claim more records
ven perfectionist Pep Guardiola could not fail to be impressed with Bayern Munich’s
spectacular performance in
the п¬Ѓrst half of the Bundesliga season to п¬Ѓnish 2014 with more league
Arjen Robben’s last-minute winner
sealed Bayern’s 2-1 comeback victory
at Mainz as Friday’s battling display
further extended Bayern’s huge lead.
Regardless of the weekend’s results,
Bayern will go into the Bundesliga’s
winter break, which starts on Sunday,
with at least an 11-point advantage.
The Mainz result saw Bayern claim a
new record for the least goals conceded
in the п¬Ѓrst-half of the season as their
defence have leaked just four goals.
At the season’s halfway stage, they
will set a new record for the league’s
biggest lead after 17 games, beating
their own best mark of 10, which had
matched Borussia Dortmund’s effort
from the 2010/11 season.
Bayern have equalled their own
record for the highest goal difference
at the halfway point of plus 37, the
same they managed in 2012/13, the
season they last won the Champions
The Bavarians are unbeaten in Germany this campaign, dropping just
six league points, and are on course to
claim a third straight Bundesliga title.
“When we analyse the whole firsthalf of the season, then I am very, very
happy,” said renowned perfectionist
Guardiola, who takes his side to Qatar
for a training camp in January.
“Regardless of where we go, we always play with passion.
“We have to stay calm and get ready
for the second-half of the season, but
it’s a good way to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a good new year.”
Mainz took a shock, but deserved
21st-minute lead at home through
Colombia midfielder Elkin Soto, but
the advantage lasted just three minutes before Schweinsteiger curled in a
stunning free-kick.
“It was a pleasant evening up until the last minute,” bemoaned Mainz
manager Christian Heidel.
The mid-table hosts were heading
to a deserved point before Robben’s
winner just before the whistle following a superb run by France winger
Franck Ribery.
“I am happy we won, but I feel sorry
for Mainz, they gave everything and
deserved at least a point, but that’s
football,” said Robben, who scored his
101st goal for Bayern.
“We weren’t good in the first-half,
we left too many holes and didn’t find
our game. But fair play to the team, we
came back and won again.
“We can all go into the holidays
proud and happy.”
Schweinsteiger, Germany’s captain
and Bayern’s skipper for the night,
proved the knee injury which kept him
out until late October is behind him.
His curling п¬Ѓrst-half free-kick gave
the Mainz goalkeeper no chance.
“I can honestly say I haven’t practised free-kicks since the World Cup,”
revealed Schweinsteiger.
“Franck (Ribery) was a gentleman,
he let me take it and said �score a goal’.
“It’s nice that we have a break now.”
Bayern will open the 2015 п¬Ѓxtures
when they play second-placed VfL
Wolfsburg away on Friday January 30.
Bayern Munich’s coach Pep Guardiola
during the Bundesliga against FSV
Mainz 05 at the Coface Arena in Mainz,
Germany, on Friday. (AFP)
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
�A very good performance. I enjoyed the way the team worked the whole week—to work in a different way without strikers’
anchester City beat
Crystal Palace 3-0
yesterday to move
level with Premier
League leaders Chelsea, while
Radamel Falco earned Manchester United a 1-1 draw at Aston
City were missing Sergio
Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan
Jovetic due to injury, but they
secured an eighth consecutive
win in all competitions thanks to
David Silva’s second-half brace
and a late Yaya Toure strike.
Victory left City level on 39
points with Chelsea, who remain
top by virtue of a superior goal
difference (+23 to +22) ahead of
their trip to Stoke City tomorrow.
“It was a very good win. A very
good performance. I enjoyed the
way the team worked the whole
week—to work in a different way
without strikers,” said City manager Manuel Pellegrini.
“I did think December is a key
month to be in the п¬Ѓght for the
title, and if you want to be involved you must be very near the
top of the table. I hope we continue playing like this.”
United spurned a chance to
close on Chelsea after dropping
points for the п¬Ѓrst time in seven
matches at Villa, who had Gabriel Agbonlahor sent off in the
65th minute for a foul on former
team-mate Ashley Young.
The draw ended United’s run
of six straight wins and left Louis van Gaal’s side seven points
off the pace in third place, while
West Ham United, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur all
closed on them.
At the Etihad Stadium, City
started with James Milner as an
auxiliary striker and after growing into the game, the champions went ahead four minutes
into the second half.
From Fernandinho’s pass, Pablo Zabaleta scuttled into the
area before cutting the ball back
for Silva, who beat Julian Speroni
with the aid of a deflection off
Scott Dann.
Silva claimed his second goal
in the 61st minute, neatly steering home at the near post from
Aleksandar Kolarov’s left-wing
James McArthur thought he
had replied for Palace moments
better team and when that’s the
you have&
Manchester United’s Radamel Falcao celebrates
after scoring a goal during their English Premier
League match against Aston Villa at Villa Park in
Birmingham yesterday. (Reuters)
later when he headed Yannick
Bolasie’s cross past Hart, but although Fernandinho appeared to
have played him onside, the assistant referee’s flag went up.
Palace manager Neil Warnock
called it “a disgraceful decision”.
Toure made the game safe for
City in the 81st minute, collecting a square pass from Milner
and slamming home left-footed
at the near post.
Austin hat-trick
Christian Benteke put Villa
1-0 up in the 18th minute at
Aston Villa
Hull City
Manchester City
Queens Park
Tottenham Hotsr
West Ham United
home against United by chesting
down a deep free-kick, stepping
inside Jonny Evans and curling
a п¬Ѓne left-foot shot inside the
left-hand post.
David de Gea produced a
stunning save to tip a header
from Benteke over the bar early
in the second half, before Falcao
met Young’s cross with a powerful 53rd-minute header to claim
his п¬Ѓrst goal since October.
United’s record signing Angel
di Maria made his return from
a hamstring injury as a replacement for Robin van Persie, but
despite Agbonlahor being shown
a straight red card for catching
Young late, Villa held on.
“Very frustrating. I think we
gave two points away,” United
manager Van Gaal told the BBC.
“I’m disappointed because
also in the п¬Ѓrst half we were the
Manchester Untd 1
Swansea City
Crystal Palace
West Brom Albion 2
Leicester City
Manctr City
Manctr United
West Ham Utd
Tottem Hotspur
Swansea City
Newcastle Utd
Aston Villa
Stoke City
West Bwich An
Queens P Rrs
Crystal Palace
18 Burnley
Hull City
Leicester City
16 12
17 12
17 9
17 9
17 9
17 8
16 7
17 7
16 6
17 5
16 6
17 5
16 5
17 4
17 5
16 2
17 3
17 3
17 2
17 2
3 1
3 2
5 3
4 4
2 6
3 6
5 4
4 6
5 5
6 6
3 7
5 7
4 7
5 8
2 10
10 4
6 8
6 8
7 8
4 11
F A Pts
36 13
36 14
30 18
29 19
28 13
22 23
28 19
22 19
18 22
27 27
19 22
11 21
18 21
17 23
20 32
14 24
19 27
12 26
15 24
15 29
Fourth-place West Ham are
now just a point behind United after beating bottom club
Leicester City 2-0 at Upton Park.
Andy Carroll seized on West
Ham old boy Paul Konchesky’s
disastrous back-pass to put the
hosts ahead in the 24th minute
and Stewart Downing made it
2-0 11 minutes after the interval
with an stunning 25-yard effort.
Southampton are two points
further back after ending a п¬Ѓvegame losing streak by beating
Everton 3-0 thanks to a Romelu
Lukaku own goal and secondhalf efforts from Graziano Pelle
and Maya Yoshida.
Tottenham leapfrogged Arsenal, who host Liverpool on Sunday, by beating Burnley 2-1.
Ashley Barnes cancelled out
Harry Kane’s headed opener for
Spurs with a blistering shot from
20 yards, but Erik Lamela gave
the hosts victory with a swerving long-range effort 10 minutes
before half-time.
Charlie Austin took his tally
for the season to 11 goals with a
hat-trick as Queens Park Rangers came from 2-0 down to win
3-2 at home to West Bromwich
Albion, who scored through Joleon Lescott and Silvestre Varela.
The win took QPR out of the
relegation zone, but Hull City
remain in the bottom three after
Jonjo Shelvey’s shot deflected in
off Ki Sung-yueng to earn Swansea City a 1-0 victory at the KC
Messi double, Suarez goal fire Barcelona rout
ionel Messi scored twice
and Luis Suarez struck
his п¬Ѓrst La Liga goal
as Barcelona crushed
struggling Cordoba 5-0 yesterday to п¬Ѓnish the year a point
behind Real Madrid at the top of
the table.
In-form Pedro put Barca
ahead after just 71 seconds, the
second quickest in La Liga this
season, with a clinical п¬Ѓnish
from a ball over the top of the
defence by Ivan Rakitic.
The signs were ominous for
Cordoba as they found themselves encamped in their own
half, although Barca did not add
to their lead until the start of the
second half through Suarez.
The Uruguayan returned from
a four-month ban for biting at
the end of October and claimed
his п¬Ѓrst goal in La Liga when
he slotted the ball home from a
Pedro pass.
“I am more relaxed now having got the goal. Perhaps we
had something to prove going
into the match as the draw (last
weekend) against Getafe was a
blow,” Suarez told reporters.
“We are candidates for La
Liga and we want to turn things
around at the top. For me personally to get a goal in the league
is important but I knew with all
the support I was getting that it
would come soon.”
With the Cordoba players’
heads going down, Gerard Pique
nodded in Barca’s third and then
Messi п¬Ѓred in a late double.
Xavi came on as a second-half
substitute in his 741st match
for Barca, equalling the record
of Real’s Raul for the number of
games for a single club in Spanish football.
Barca have moved on to the
shoulders of Real who are playing the Club World Cup п¬Ѓnal on
Saturday against San Lorenzo
and have played a game less then
their arch-rivals.
Suarez went close to adding to
Pedro’s opener as his strike from
a Jordi Alba pull-back narrowly
went the wrong side of the post.
Barca have looked susceptible at the back this season and
there were warning signs when
Nabil Ghilas was able to run unopposed down the right wing
but he п¬Ѓred into the side netting
from a tight angle.
Luis Enrique’s side were still
clearly in control with Rakitic
and Pedro having further chances before Suarez struck after 52
minutes. From there the game
opened up as Cordoba began to
lose concentration.
Pique headed in a cross from
Xavi and Messi came to life having had a quiet game with two
well-struck drives from inside
the area to complete the rout.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (C), Luis Suarez (L) and Jordi Alba
celebrate a goal against Cordoba during their La Liga match at
Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona yesterday. (Reuters)
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Spurs lose another
OT heartbreaker
�Niko was terrific throughout. I give him a lot of credit for being ready’
San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili
(second from right) shoots against Portland
Trail Blazers centre Chris Kaman (third
from left) during the first half of their NBA
game in San Antonio on Friday.
Los Angeles
amian Lillard scored a
career high 43 points
as Portland beat San
Antonio 129-119 in
triple overtime Friday, sending the Spurs to their secondstraight heartbreaking triple
overtime loss.
The reigning NBA champion
Spurs also lost in multiple overtimes 117-116 to the Memphis
Grizzlies on Wednesday.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored
32 and the Trail Blazers pulled
away in the third overtime to
top the Spurs by 10 points in
front of a crowd of 18,581 at the
AT&T Center arena.
“I just kept attacking. That
has always been my favorite
time of the game when everything is on the line,” Lillard said.
Lillard hit game-tying threepointers in regulation and the
п¬Ѓrst overtime and scored nine
of Portland’s 17 points in the
third overtime as the Blazers
crafted their fourth-straight
“I was really proud of the way
we kept competing,” said Portland coach Terry Stotts.
“Obviously it helps to make
some big shots, but there was a
lot of trust in moving the ball.”
Cory Joseph hit a game-tying
shot in the second overtime for
San Antonio, which became
the п¬Ѓrst NBA team in 63 years
to play in consecutive threeovertime games. The 1951-52
Baltimore Bullets split their
San Antonio was missing
NBA п¬Ѓnals MVP Kawhi Leonard
and guard Tony Parker with injuries.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
said his team tried to tough it
out but couldn’t keep up in the
п¬Ѓnal overtime.
“We are wearing some guys
down. They did a great job under tough circumstances,” Popovich said.
The Spurs have now lost
three straight games, their
longest slide since they lost
three in a row in January.
Tim Duncan had a seasonhigh 32 points and Danny Green
added 27 for the Spurs, who lost
Charlotte .....109
Boston ............. 114
Cleveland ......95
Toronto ...........110
Chicago........ 103
Portland ........129
Denver ..........109
Oklahoma .104
Orlando .............94
Philadelphia ...91
Minnesota...... 98
Brooklyn ............91
Detroit .............100
MIAMI ............... 103
Memphis ..........97
S Antonio...119 (OT)
LA Clippers .106
LA Lakers ..... 103
despite starting the п¬Ѓrst two
overtimes on 6-0 runs.
In the п¬Ѓrst overtime, they
scored just one more point over
the next two and a half minutes.
Lillard’s tying three-pointer
came after Wesley Matthews
missed a shot from beyond the
arc and Aldridge got the rebound and passed it back to Lillard at the point.
Red-hot Jimmy Butler continued his scoring spree and the
Chicago Bulls received a big lift
off the bench from Nikola Mirotic.
Butler had 31 points while
Mirotic made all six triples en
route to season-best 27 Friday,
and the visiting Bulls snapped
the Memphis Grizzlies’ sixgame winning streak 103-97.
Butler put up another top
notch effort after a careerhigh 35-point performance in
Thursday’s 103-97 win over
hapless New York.
“Jimmy Butler was phenomenal again,” Bulls coach Tom
Thibodeau said.
“Niko was terrific throughout. I give him a lot of credit for
being ready.
Mirotec entered the contest
averaging 7.4 points per game
and 34 per cent from behind
the arc before the former Real
Madrid Spanish league star
forward broke out with a 10-13
shooting effort in 30 minutes.
“We had a huge contribution
from him,” said fellow Spaniard Pau Gasol, who had just six
points and 10 rebounds.
“He was a key to winning this
game. I’m happy to see him play
Aaron Brooks netted 17
points off the bench, Joakim
Noah contributed 10 with 13
rebounds for Chicago (17-9),
which again played without
All-Star guard Derrick Rose
(illness) and top reserve Taj
Gibson (right ankle injury).
Mike Conley had 21 points,
Slovenian Beno Udrih added
15 but exited with a right hand
injury in the fourth quarter for
Memphis (21-5), which shot a
frigid 39 per cent from the floor
to fall to 12-2 at home.
“We weren’t making shots
that we normally make, they
took away the paint and we
didn’t make many threes either,” said Spanish centre Marc
Gasol following a 13-point,
10-rebound outing. “That’s a
bad combination to win games.”
The defensive-minded Bulls
led 51-43 at halftime behind 15
points by Mirotic and 12 more
from Butler.
The Grizzlies chipped away
and pulled within three a few
times in the fourth quarter before Conley’s 3-pointer made it
99-97 with 13.8 seconds left.
Reserve E’Twaun Moore
made his п¬Ѓrst two free throws
of the season and Butler added
two more as the Bulls improved
to 12-4 on the road.
Accolades pour in for Bryant
Los Angeles
os Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant
has often been a polarising п¬Ѓgure during his illustrious NBA career, criticised
by some for being too selfish and
not doing enough as a facilitator
for his teammates.
For his peers, however, Bryant
is simply a winner and will do
whatever it takes to instil a winning mindset, even though this
season has been especially challenging for an injury-hit team
decidedly low in overall quality.
While the Lakers have stuttered to a dismal 8-17 record
and languish 13th in the 15-team
Western Conference standings,
Bryant has flourished and averages 25.2 points, five rebounds
and 4.8 assists per game.
Five days ago against the
Minnesota Timberwolves, Bryant eclipsed basketball great
Michael Jordan as he moved into
third place in the all-time NBA
scoring list and the accolades
have since poured in from all
Reigning NBA Most Valuable
Player Kevin Durant described
Bryant as a quintessential winner and 12-time All-Star Dirk
Nowitzki rated the veteran Lakers guard as “probably” the
greatest player of his generation.
“It means everything because
those are my peers so to have the
respect from them is really what
the game is all about,” Bryant, 36,
told reporters while preparing
for Friday’s home game against
Durant and the Oklahoma City
“As players, we play for each
other. We play to have respect
from one another so to hear
those comments from your
peers, it means a lot.”
Bryant, who has made a living by making the seemingly
impossible possible for the Lakers, scored 26 points against
Minnesota to lift his career total
to 32,310. Only Kareem AbdulJabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone
(36,928) are ahead of him.
Jordan himself paid tribute
to Bryant for reaching the milestone and pondered what his
long-time protege might achieve
before he retires from the game.
“He’s obviously a great player,
with a strong work ethic and has
an equally strong passion for the
game of basketball,” Jordan said
of Bryant.
Bryant, who has won п¬Ѓve NBA
championship rings during his
Lakers career, acknowledged his
debt to Jordan.
“He’s helped me out a great
deal,” said Bryant. “I’d reach out
to him, he’d hit me right back.
He continues to be helpful to me
Dallas Stars
Past Calgary
Flames 2-1
amie Benn provided the
Dallas Stars with all the
offense they would need
Friday night.
Benn had a goal and an assist
as the Dallas Stars edged Calgary
2-1 on Friday night, the Flames’
seventh straight loss.
“We wanted to play good team
defense and take advantage of
their mistakes. I don’t think we
wanted to go run-and-gun with
them,” Benn said. “They’re kind
of a desperate team right now
and that’s a dangerous team. I
thought we did a pretty good job.”
Trevor Daley also scored for
the Stars (15-10-4), while Kari
Lehtonen, starting his п¬Ѓfth game
in a row, made 21 saves.
After being held without a
point Wednesday in the Stars’
2-0 win over Vancouver, Tyler
Seguin had an assist to take over
the NHL scoring lead with 39
points (23 goals, 16 assists). He
is one point up on Evgeni Malkin
and Jakub Voracek.
“I just kind of pick-pocketed
him there. It was kind of a lucky
break,” said Benn, who moved
into the top 20 in NHL scoring
with 28 points.
Mark Giordano scored for
Calgary (17-15-2), which has lost
seven consecutive games for the
п¬Ѓrst time since its team-record
11-game skid in 1985-86. Jonas
Hiller stopped 19 shots.
Dallas has won three in a row
to move within seven points of
the Los Angeles Kings, who hold
the п¬Ѓnal wild-card spot in the
Western Conference.
After a scoreless п¬Ѓrst period,
the Stars took the lead for good
four minutes into the second.
Calgary rookie Markus Granlund
won a face-off in the Flames end
but Kris Russell missed the puck
in front of Calgary’s net, allowing Benn to reel it in and beat
Hiller on a backhand.
Dallas scored when Daley took
a pass from Benn and burst down
the right side, ripping a shot over
Hiller’s shoulder as the Flames
goaltender dropped to the ice.
The Stars will attempt to complete a perfect three-game road
sweep through Western Canada
when they play in Edmonton on
The Flames started off the
season an impressive 17-8-2. But
they haven’t picked up a point
since beating Colorado on Dec.
4. “We had such a great start to
the year, we don’t want to just
waste it in just this one stretch
here,” Calgary center Joe Colborne said. “We trust our leadership, we trust our systems
right now and it’s just a matter of
going out and doing it.”
The Flames closed the gap to
2-1 with 1:15 left in the second
period on a weird goal.
After intercepting Daley’s
clearing attempt at the blue line,
Giordano wristed a knuckler toward the net that appeared to dip
on the way and eluded Lehtonen.
“Our guys played very well
in front of me,” said Lehtonen,
who was tested only 22 times in
improving to 13-7-5 this season.
“It’s been a long time coming.
It’s been such an up-and-down
season so far. It’s been nice to be
able to play a few good games in
a row now.”
Despite only being down one
goal, Calgary failed to generate
any sustained pressure in the
third period. The Flames’ best
chance came with 28 seconds
left when they got a power play
and had an opportunity to tie it
with Hiller pulled.
Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn (R) celebrates after scoring a goal
in the second period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank
Saddledome in Calgary. PICTURE: USA TODAY Sports
Howe shows steady progress
following stem cell treatment
Detroit Red Wings legend Gordie Howe has made an �astonishing’
recovery after receiving stem cell treatment earlier this month from
a Mexico-based medical firm, the Howe family said on Friday.
The 86-year-old Hall of Famer, who suffers from severe dementia,
has gone from being bedridden in a semi-comatose state to walking on his own and doing daily chores as he “shuffles” around his
daughter’s Texas home, the family said in a statement.
“We are thrilled that Dad’s quality of life has greatly improved, and
his progress has exceeded our greatest expectations,” the family
wrote. Howe underwent two days of a stem cell clinical trial from
Tijuana-based firm Novastem. Two days after the start of treatment
Howe was talking to the nurses, the family said.
After three days he left the hospital and walked on his own to the
airplane, and after five days he was “taking part in helping out with
household chores.” The family said his treatment included injecting neural stem cells into the spinal canal. “His response was truly
miraculous. His short-term memory, strength, endurance and coordination have plenty of room for improvement. We are hopeful that
he will continue to improve in the months to come.” Howe suffered
a serious stroke on October 26 and because of his deteriorating
condition he had to be hospitalised at the beginning of December.
Confined to his bed and unable to speak or communicate,
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Vonn claims 61st World
Cup win in Val d’Isere
Vonn is just one win behind the all-time World Cup record of 62 held by Annemarie
Val d’Isere, Paris
indsey Vonn notched up her 61st
World Cup win with success in the
women’s downhill at Val d’Isere
yesterday. The four-time overall
World Cup champion claimed her latest
race by clocking a time of 1min 44.47 sec
to edge Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg
and Austria’s Elisabeth Goergl, who shared
second at 19 hundredths of a second behind the American.
This was 30-year-old Vonn’s second downhill win of the season after this
month’s win in Lake Louise, her first victory since a high speed crash in early 2013.
It put the girlfriend of 14-time golf major
champion Tiger Woods just one win behind the all-time World Cup record of 62
held by Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proell.
She can draw level with Moser-Proell
with success in today’s super-G. “It’s incredible, I was a little nervous today because I’d been making some mistakes in
training,” said the American. “It’s hard
when there’s only one training run. I skied
in an aggressive manner, even if I made a
mistake I kept fighting and it paid off.”
She added: “I knew that I could win here.
It was for others to realise that I’m back
to where I was. It’s special for me and my
team. After two difficult years I’ve waited
for this for a long time and I’m just really
The third downhill of the season was not
so kind on Slovenia skier Tina Maze, who
leads the overall World Cup standings but
who had to settle for fourth. It was at this
corresponding French leg of the World
Cup calendar 12 months ago that downhill
queen Vonn’s bid to compete in the Sochi
Olympics were dashed.
A fall exacerbated the anterior cruciate
ligament right knee injury she suffered at
the 2013 world championships. Her road
back from reconstructive surgery last season was dogged by setbacks but with this
latest triumph her injury woes appear to
п¬Ѓnally be behind her.
Finishing in a lowly 11th place behind
Vonn at Val d’Isere meanwhile was the defending overall World Cup champion Anna
Fenninger of Austria.
orway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen shot clean in a
pursuit race yesterday
to claim his second
season victory in the biathlon
World Cup.
Darya Domracheva of Belarus
also topped the podium for the
second time in 2014-15, after like
Svendsen winning the seasonopening distance race two weeks
Svendsen, a multiple world
and Olympic champion, hit all
20 targets in the shooting range
and cruised to his 38th career
success in 30 minutes 43.3 seconds for the 12.5 kilometres.
Friday’s sprint winner Anton
Shipulin of Russia had to settle
for second with two missed targets, 17.8 seconds off the pace.
World Cup holder Martin Fourcade of France was third, 52.2
seconds off the pace with one
penalty lap, and lost the overall
lead to Svendsen.
In the women’s 10km race, the
three-time Sochi Games champion Domracheva rebounded
from sixth in the sprint for her
21st career success in 29:55.9
World Cup holder and leader
Kaisa Makarainen of Finland
moved from 15th in the sprint
to second, 10.0 seconds off the
pace. Valj Semerenko of Ukraine
won a sprint for third place
against Italy’s Dorothea Wierer,
36.8 seconds behind the winner.
The top three had one penalty lap each while sprint winner Gabriela Soukalova missed
three targets in the п¬Ѓrst round
of shooting and two more later
in the race to п¬Ѓnish 20th, 2:42.6
behind Domracheva.
Lindsey Vonn of the USA speeds down the slope during the Women’s Downhill race at the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Val d’Isere,
France yesterday. (EPA)
and Heidi Weng was third for Norway in
25:24.4. Bjoergen’s success gave Norway
a 10th straight win in the women’s World
Cup, moving ahead of Russia whose athletes won nine races in a row in 1995.
“I had a very good race today. I am
very happy for the first distance World
Cup victory this season,” said Bjoergen.
Another German, 37-year-old two-time
Olympic champion Claudia Nystad, was
also strong, and her fifth-place finish
earned her a ticket for the world championships in February in Falun, Sweden,
along with Fessel.
Gloeersen topped the men’s 15-kilometres freestyle race in Davos for his
fifth career victory in 34:27.9 seconds
from the team’s biggest name skier
Petter Northug (34:32.7) and Chris Andre
Jespersen (34:38:3).
World Cup leader Martin Johnsrud
Sundby, also of Norway, was sixth.
“I knew I had a very good final part
of the competition. I have been training
for 15 km free technique. This is my first
victory in a distance competition and it
means a lot for me,” Gloeersen said.
The Davos events conclude today with
men’s and women’s sprints. The weekend
races were originally to be held in La
Clusaz, France, but lack of snow there
prompted the move to Davos which had
also held races last weekend.
In Ramsau, two-time Sochi gold medallist Jorgen Graabak anchored Norway to
victory in the Nordic combined event,
topping the handicap start 4x5km crosscountry relay after they had placed third
in the morning jumping portion behind
Germany and Austria.
Mikko Kokslien, Haavard Klemetsen,
Jan Schmid and Graabak clocked 45:41.1
minutes, pipping Germany by one tenth
of a second and France finishing third.
The Germans were luckier on the
Engelberg jumping hill where Freitag
got his first season victory and fourth
overall with 128.5 and 135.5 metres for
277.7 points.
Czech Roman Koudelka was a close
second with 277.1, and third place on
276.2 points was shared by Austrian
first-round leader Michael Hayboeck and
Jernej Damjan of Slovenia.
Kenya’s marathon
queen Jeptoo fails
second doping test
enyan Rita Jeptoo, winner of the Boston and
Chicago marathons for
the last two years, has
tested positive for a banned substance in a B sample taken after
she failed an out-of-competition check in September.
“The results of the analysis
of the B sample which was conducted on 17th to 19th December
2014 at the WADA (World AntiDoping Agency) accredited laboratory of Lausanne confirmed
the finding of the A sample,”
Athletics Kenya said in a statement on Friday.
Jeptoo, provisionally suspended from athletics after the
A sample tested positive, had
asked for a B check.
She told reporters at the time
that the accusation was false.
Dozens of Kenyan athletes have
failed doping tests in the past
two years. Government officials have blamed the growing amount of cases on foreign
agents and Athletics Kenya’s
failure to educate its sportsmen
and women properly.
The country’s triple world
3,000 metres steeplechase
has called for tough sanctions
against those who fail doping
tests, saying “big money” was
behind the cheating.
Stevenson knocks
out Sukhotsky
Quebec City, Canada
Relief for Galthie as Montpellier win
donis Stevenson of
Canada easily retained
his World Boxing
Council light heavyweight title on Friday, knocking out challenger Dmitry Sukhotsky in the п¬Ѓfth round at the
Colisee arena. The 37-year-old
southpaw Stevenson (25-1, 21
KOs) dropped Sukhotsky with
a straight left hand on the chin
near the end of the round. “I
know with my power I don’t
need to force it,” Stevenson
said. “The knockout will come. I
waited and bang, I caught him.”
It was one of three knockdowns by Stevenson in the п¬Ѓfth
round of the lop-sided п¬Ѓght.
The п¬Ѓrst knockdown was a devastating left hand to the head.
The second was an overhand
right that glanced off the left
side of Sukhotsky’s face.
Sukhotsky was knocked down
four times in total in the п¬Ѓght
that was scheduled for 12 rounds.
It was the fourth title defence for
Stevenson since he grabbed the
Pokljuka, Slovenia
Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway celebrates his victory in the World
Cup Biathlon men’s 12.5 km Pursuit event in Pokljuka, Slovenia. (EPA)
Davos, Switzerland: Norway maintained
their big dominance in cross-country
skiing yesterday with mighty Marit
Bjoergen topping the women’s race for a
World Cup record and Anders Gloeersen
leading a men’s race podium sweep.
Norway also won a Nordic combined
team event in Ramsau, Austria, but their
ski-jumping World Cup leader Anders
Fannemel had to settle for 21st in a skijumping large hill event in Engelberg,
Switzerland, where German Richard
Freitag soared to victory.
Bjoergen, the best decorated women’s
Winter Olympian, got her 84th career
success in the women’s 10km in 24 minutes 57.7 seconds. German Nicole Fessel
impressed with second place in 25.17.6
Svendsen and
Domracheva win
pursuit races
belt with a п¬Ѓrst-round knockout
of Chad Dawson in June 2013.
Stevenson has won 12 п¬Ѓghts
in a row, including four times in
2013. The 33-year-old Russian
Sukhotsky (22-3) had a fourbout winning streak ended. Stevenson is expected to next face
the winner of a March п¬Ѓght between Sergey Kovalev and Jean
Pascal. Asked about a possible
п¬Ѓght with Kovalev, Stevenson
said: “You have to come to me.”
slightly on coach Fabien
Galthie as Montpellier ended a run of seven
successive defeats with a thrilling 23-20 victory over Toulouse
in their Top 14 clash yesterday.
A penalty with less than two
minutes remaining by Teddy
Iribaren sealed victory for the
hosts and gave them their п¬Ѓrst
victory since October 11. For
Toulouse—who had their own
blip earlier in the season with
five successive defeats—it was
only their second loss in the last
10 matches.
Benoit Paillaugue opened the
scoring for Montpellier with a
well-struck penalty in the п¬Ѓfth
minute. Paillaugue added a second penalty for 6-0 in the 18th
minute but the visitors reduced
the deficit through former All
Black Luke McAlister with a
penalty in the 25th minute.
was not reflected in converting
it into points and were denied
a try when Alex Tulou went to
touch down but the ball con-
Montpellier’s French head coach Fabien Galthie’s job has been under threat after a poor run.
nected fortuitously for Toulouse with McAlister’s boot and
did not make full contact with
the ground.
Toulouse head coach Guy
Noves attempted to rectify the
problem in his front row as they
came under increasing pressure
in a succession of scrums close
to their try line by sending on
Vasil Kakovin for Kisi Pulu, who
had had a torrid time, with only
29 minutes on the clock.
However, it made not a jot of
difference as Montpellier won
the next scrum and Paillaugue
this time decided to spread the
ball with Pelissie feeding Wyn-
and Olivier. The 31-year-old
South African centre made no
mistake stretching out his arm
to touch down when he was
tackled short of the line—Paillaugue converted for 13-3.
Kakovin’s introduction as a
saviour for the front row wasn’t
a success. He was sin-binned
in the 37th minute as the scrum
collapsed under Montpellier
pressure—Paillaugue failed to
convert the penalty as it came
back off a post.
However, it was Toulouse who
struck the п¬Ѓnal blow of the п¬Ѓrsthalf. A superb run by Maxime
Medard from a penalty awarded
in the п¬Ѓnal minute ended up with
Vincent Clerc going over for the
88th try of his Top 14 career—
McAlister converted to send
Toulouse only 13-10 down.
Unbelievably despite the
man down Clerc struck again a
minute into the second-half—
McAlister converted for 17-13.
However, the Toulouse scrum
was still creaking and Pulu,
who had had to come back on
when Kakovin was sin-binned,
was yellow-carded in the 50th
minute but shortly afterwards
Montpellier were awarded a
penalty try as the referee’s patience gave way.
Paillaugue converted for 2017. However, McAlister levelled
with a penalty but Iribaren
with a few deep breaths held his
nerve to give the hosts a much
needed confidence boost ahead
of games with Castres and defending champions Toulon.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Of legendary Serena, Nadal’s
teen trauma and Swiss success
Roger Federer (left) and Stanislas Wawrinka
of Switzerland in action against Richard
Gasquet and Julien Benneteau of France in
the doubles during the Davis Cup final. The
duo led Switzerland’s first triumph in the
competition after 85 previous attempts.
By Kevin Mitchell
The Guardian
champagne. “I’m drunk,” he said, shaking his head when
Roger deflected a difficult question towards him. Stan led
the team celebrations deep into the night.
1) Serena bounces back
5) Wawrinka wrestles with the Big Four
t had been a long time between drinks for Wawrinka –
metaphorically, at least. When he beat Nadal to win the
Australian Open in January for his breakthrough major title,
the beginning of the end for the Big Four looked more likely.
The evidence gathered as four different players won the
majors. Unfortunately another slump slowed Wawrinka’s
progress. But even Federer would concede Stan’s singlehanded backhand is as good as his own. Mirka might demur.
2) Murray’s clay magic
y favourite “extended moment” of 2014 is Andy Murray’s first set against Rafael Nadal in Rome. For about
40 minutes Murray recaptured the magic diluted by his
back surgery the previous September. “Andy Murray playing
the best clay court tennis I’ve ever seen him play,” Chris
Evert tweeted. For the п¬Ѓrst time since winning Wimbledon
the previous summer, he felt comfortable on court, hitting
without fear. It did not last. Nadal came back at him to win
from 2-4 in the third, after which Murray struggled until
making a late charge to reach the ATP World Tour Finals in
November, only to collapse spectacularly in the last group
match against Roger Federer.
3) Cry baby call
ederer surrendered to injury for only the third time in
his career after hanging on to beat Stanislas Wawrinka
in a gripping ATP Tour Finals semi-п¬Ѓnal remembered for
Serena Williams celebrates her US Open victory which took
her tally of Grand Slam titles to 18.
what occurred at 5-5 and deuce in the third when Stan (who
blew four match points) stopped to complain to the umpire
that he had been interrupted by a call of “cry baby” from
Federer’s box. The finger was pointed sharply at Mirka, his
friend’s uber-loyal wife
4) Swiss success
week later Federer dragged himself to the starting line
in Lille, where Gaël Monfils played perhaps the match
of his life to beat him in the second rubber of the Davis Cup
п¬Ѓnal. Federer and Wawrinka, friends again, combined to
level the tie in the doubles on the Saturday before Federer
sealed Switzerland’s first triumph in the competition after
85 previous attempts by beating Richard Gasquet in the п¬Ѓrst
reverse singles – allowing Stan to get an early start on the
8) Bidding farewell to Na
6) Nadal’s teen trauma
i Na left the sport in 2014 and her quirky presence will be
missed, as well as her patient husband and her excellent tennis. So, as with Marion Bartoli – who retired after
winning Wimbledon in 2013 – China’s best ever player
will not be in Melbourne to defend her Australian title in
January. But I will remember her, sadly, for her п¬Ѓnal shot
in big-time tennis: a double fault on match point to lose to
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova on No1 Court in the third round
at Wimbledon. How curious she should end her major career
at the same tournament as Bartoli? Wimbledon really is the
pinnacle for players, still.
9) Wozniacki endures pain
or Serena Williams 2014 should have been a year to savour but Garbiñe Muguruza inflicted her heaviest defeat
in a major, allowing her only four games in the second round
at Roland Garros. Then AlizГ© Cornet put her out in the third
round at Wimbledon, her earliest exit there in nine years.
That was followed by her early retirement in the doubles
when, hit by a mystery virus, she was led away after serving
more double faults than a drunk in the park. And then she
killed it in New York: the moment of the year, for me. On
the eve of winning her 18th major she was asked, witlessly,
what that number meant to her. “It means legal to do some
things,” she said. “It also means legendary.” And so it does.
And so she is, enigmatic too, powerful and back on top.
the world.” Could Coric-Kyrgios be the game’s next great
rivalry? Bet Murray wants a piece of him.
ho is the only world No1 to lose to two teenagers in
one season? Nadal, amazingly. The moment that
lingered most vividly was the frontal hot-dog winner that
Australia’s precocious Nick Kyrgios, ranked 144 at the time
and a п¬Ѓrst-time wild card at Wimbledon, hit from the baseline in the fourth game of the second set on his way to beating Nadal (with an ace) in the fourth round. The previous
teenager to beat a No1 in a major? Nadal, at Roland Garros in
2005 against Federer. Kyrgios, still only 19, is 50-1 to win the
Australian Open.
7) Cocky Coric shows cheeky side
ore crazy numbers for the other kid to embarrass
Nadal. The Croat Borna Coric beat the great man in
straight sets in the Basel quarters in October and showed a
game to match his mouth. “When I play my best, yes, I’m
more a Djokovic game-wise,” he said later. “When I’m not
at my best I’m more like Murray.” Cheeky. Even though Rafa
was suffering from appendicitis, Coric bridged an enormous
gap with power and smarts. Coric is the п¬Ѓrst 17-year-old to
crash the top-100 since 2004 – when Gasquet and Nadal
announced their arrival. And his ambition? “To be No 1 in
aroline Wozniacki had a year not dissimilar to that of
her best friend Serena, although losing to the American in the US Open п¬Ѓnal only partially soothed the pain of
her break-up with Rory McIlroy in February. The Northern
Irishman was in town, playing golf across the state line in
Jersey but not sighted at Flushing Meadows. The Dane kept
smiling all the way to the final and got back in the top 10 –
and had enough energy left to run the New York Marathon in
three hours and 26 minutes at her п¬Ѓrst attempt. Not so much
one moment as a lot of painful ones strung together – although Serena was there to give her a hug on the finish line.
10) And finally …
sad moment: discovering that Neil Harman, the tennis
correspondent of the Times, had been sacked for plagiarism. Whatever anyone thinks of his serial transgressions
in the Wimbledon Annual – and there is no defending the
scale or seriousness of them – he deserves at least the sort of
Christian sympathy he would extend to others – especially
at this time of year.
Antony West clinches pole at Qatar Superbike Championship
By Sports Reporter
ustralian Antony West took the pole position in
Race 1 and 2 at the third round of Qatar SuperBike
and Losail Asia Road Racing Series at Losail International Circuit.
Meshal al-Naimi was in second position after a hard battle
with Nasser al-Malki. “In the first race I had problem with
the breaks in the п¬Ѓrst laps and guys behind me were putting
so much pressure on me. Nasser really was strong and closing in rapidly, so I had to push more to retain my pole position. In the second race I had some adjustments made on the
bike and it was easier than the first one,” said West.
The defending champion Alex Cudlin encountered problems with his engine and п¬Ѓnished 13th. Cudlin is leading the
championship with 91 points, only 6 points ahead of Mishal
al-Naimi, who is second with 85 points.
“My mechanics were doing their best to get my bike up
and running but unfortunately I was not be able to take part
in the race 2 of round 3. The mechanical problems will take
some time to be solved. I hope to get back on track in round
4,” Cudlin said.
In the Supersport category, Abdulaziz Binladen grabbed
the pole position in both races. Victoria Kis, who is in the
Losail Asian Road Racing Series won both the races. The
Next round of the QSBK AND LARRS will be on 16th and
17th January 2015.
Antony West and Meshal al-Naimi in action yesterday.
Top three podium finishers at Losail International Circuit.
Gulf Times
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Sunday, December 21, 2014
By Sports Reporter
atar Prime Minister
and Minister of the
Interior HE Sheikh
Abdullah bin Nasser
bin Khalifa al-Thani yesterday
visited the Al Sadd Stadium,
the venue for this week’s Italian
Super Cup п¬Ѓnal.
The Prime Minister was
joined by QFA President Sheikh
Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed
al-Thani and other senior
football officials. Juventus and
Napoli will clash in the Italian
Super Cup п¬Ѓnal tomorrow.
QFA President gave details
to the Prime Minister of the
arrangements made by the
organisers to host the game in a
professional manner. A packed
house is expected to witness
the game, he said.
It will be the п¬Ѓrst time that
two Italian giants will clash
in the Middle East. Khalid
al-Kuwari, COO of QFA, was
also present during the Prime
Minister’s visit.
Qatar SC edged Al Ahli 4-3 in a Qatar Stars League match yesterday. H Harbaoui scored a brace in the
second half, while Yousef M and Cho Young-Cheol found the net once each for the winners. For the
hosts Al Ahli, Abdullah M scored two goals and Kaluyituka one. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil
Yousef Mohammed Mirza (centre) celebrates after winning the Stage Three on the final day of the second edition of Tour of Zubarah
in yesterday. Below: Winners along with officials on the podium. PICTURES: Jayaram
In another Qatar Stars League match last night, P Hernandez converted a penalty in the 90th minute
to give Al Arabi a 2-1 win over Al Gharafa. Dejagah had scored the first goal for Al Arabi in the second
minute, while L Lopez found the equaliser for Al Gharafa.
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