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Daily newspaper - Gulf Times

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Justin Rose
to star in
Bank Qatar
Oil up as US growth
beats expectations
US gross domestic product rose 5.0%
in the third quarter, up from the 3.9%
previously estimated and better than
the 4.3% of leading analysts.
The strong growth boosted expectations that US energy consumption will
Oil prices have fallen about 50%
since June on mounting supplies due
to increased production and lacklustre
global economic growth.
The drop in WTI to $55 a barrel last
week "brought in some bottom-feeders," said John Kilduff, founding partner at Again Capital.
“A lot of damage was done the last
couple of weeks.” Business Page 2
Qatar’s international workforce,
partners in a development saga
By Darwish
S Ahmed
v e r
won the bid to
host the 2022
FIFA World
Cup , the international media spotlight has been on
the “ small desert country” which was
until recently known for its exploits in
the natural gas п¬Ѓeld. Though a strong
contender from the beginning, the
2022 bid “victory” proved to be a gamechanger and certain sources, including
a section of the global media, found a
special delight in tarnishing the image of
Qatar by singling out unfortunate incidents and blowing them out of proportion to meet a particular agenda.
While doing so, they have totally ignored the overall picture. Just consider
this: Qatar, smaller in size than Connecticut – one of the smallest US states
– is home to people from more than
180 countries. Of the total population
of 2.26mn, only about 300,000 are locals, the rest coming to work or do business in the Arabian Gulf country from
all corners of the world. Foreigners have
lived in Qatar for decades and some of
the young professionals working in Qatar today belong to the second and third
generations of expatriates who arrived
here in search of work in the ’40s and
That there is a clear plan to п¬Ѓnd fault
with Qatar by any means is evident from
the usage of data in a biased and totally
unfair manner by a section of the international media. After configuring the
magical number of 4,000 Nepalis “who
would have to die to build the World Cup
stadiums” they were quick to grab the
death п¬Ѓgures released earlier this year
by the Indian embassy in Doha, which
said 455 Indians have died in Qatar in
two years (2012 and 2013). Without real-
ising the fact that most of these deaths
occurred due to natural causes the vilifiers were quick to trumpet the “large
number of Indian casualties in Qatar”
and tie it up with the 2022 World Cup’s
“poor victims”.
The campaign soon reached such
a crescendo that the Indian embassy
had to issue a statement trashing the
claims of some of the rights and media
organisations, stressing that the п¬Ѓgure
was normal given the presence of such
a large number of Indians - more than
500,000 - in the country.
Qatar has never denied that there had
been no cases of violation of workers’
rights in the country. On the other hand,
the government has shown its willing-
ness to correct any such behaviour by
introducing new laws and implementing strictly the rules to protect workers
from exploitation and abuse. Recently,
the government has announced its intention to abolish the sponsorship system and reform the Labour Law to ensure that workers’ rights are protected in
the country.
It has also been announced to increase
the number of labour inspectors to book
violators. In 2013, the inspectors of the
Labour Department made thousands of
visits to worksites and labour camps to
make sure that low-income workers, the
most vulnerable segment of the workforce, are not exploited or mistreated.
A large number of employers have been
penalised and several blacklisted for not
abiding by the rules.
Irrespective of the best efforts, there
are cases of violations as is the case with
any society in the world. In Qatar, the
logistics of looking after the interests
of foreign workers present formidable
challenges as the matter is of gigan-
HH the Deputy Emir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani awarding outgoing
Spanish Ambassador Maria Del Carmen De Labena the Sash of Merit in recognition
of her role in boosting relations between Qatar and Spain. Page 9
Essebsi says Tunisia
has �turned the page’
orld oil prices rose yesterday as strong US economic
data sparked a round of
buying in the beaten-down commodity.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for February delivery rose $1.86
to $57.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
European benchmark Brent oil for
February delivery advanced $1.58 to
$61.69 a barrel in London.
The Commerce Department said
he R
bl TA 978
A 1
Q since
New York
Vol. XXXV No. 9581
December 24, 2014
Rabia I 2, 1436 AH
www. 2 Riyals
Stricter rules
urged to curb
use of shisha
In brief
Tunisia’s new leader Beji Caid Essebsi
said the country has turned the page
on dictatorship after a presidential
vote that European observers
hailed yesterday as “credible and
transparent”. But outgoing president
Moncef Marzouki, who lost the
election, said he was creating a new
movement to prevent the North
African nation sliding back into
authoritarian rule after the victory
by the veteran politician. Essebsi,
an 88-year-old who served under
previous Tunisian regimes, was on
Monday declared the winner of
a vote seen as a landmark for the
birthplace of the Arab Spring. Page 16
Latest Figures
Sash of Merit
QR6bn Doha Festival
City eyes top position
SPORT | Page 12
tic proportions. Qatar has about 1.5mn
low- and middle-income workers who
come from as diverse places as the highaltitude Himalayan mountains to the
hot plains of Africa. They are hosted by a
mix of employers ranging from excellent
paymasters to a small number of abhorrent crooks.
A few of the unsuspecting overseas
workers have been unfortunate to end
up with the wrong employers. There
are hundreds of thousands of workers who put in a day’s honest work, are
paid and looked after according to their
contracts, enjoy their stay in the country
and go home at the end of their tenure.
For some, things can go wrong from
the start of the recruiting process. After
paying a huge amount (often procured
from loan sharks) to the recruitment
agent in their home countries and arriving in Qatar with great expectations,
they may п¬Ѓnd they have been recruited
for a job they are not qualified for or
they have been promised pay and perks
beyond the salary structure of the local company. Huge debts back home
coupled with bloated expectations of
family add pressure on the worker who
finds it difficult to match the “demand
and supply” equation on all fronts. For
such folks the whole experience could
be unsavoury and for some among them
it may lead to grievous endings.
Gulf Times in its role as a catalyst for
all-round development in Qatar has
sent journalists to learn the ground realities in four countries – Nepal, India, Sri
Lanka and the Philippines – which send
the largest numbers of workers to Qatar.
In the coming days we will be publishing a series of reports comprising our
п¬Ѓndings in an effort to understand what
bearing the situation in the sourcing
countries has on the overall situation of
expatriate workers in Qatar.
In the meantime, Qatar continues to
welcome and receive workers from all
over the world as partners in materialising the massive infrastructure and development projects worth about $155bn
scheduled for the coming years.
By Joseph Varghese
Staff Reporter
rgent steps to curb shisha
smoking have to be taken to
save precious lives from going up in smoke, experts and activists
have said.
The recent decision of Katara, the
Cultural Village, to ban outdoor shisha smoking on its premises from
January 1 has given the much-needed
п¬Ѓllip to concerns raised from different quarters of the society to end the
practice, which has become a trendy
pursuit among various age groups
who are mostly unaware of the illeffects.
A recent study by Hamad Medical
Corporation (HMC), cited that shisha
smoking was 10 times more harmful than cigarette smoking. But many
people still consider shisha safe and
continue with the practice.
Dr Ahmed Abdul Kareem al-Mulla,
senior consultant at HMC and the
head of Smoking Cessation Clinic,
told Gulf Times yesterday that more
regulations should be introduced to
control the use of shisha, while welcoming Katara’s move.
“Some other places, such as leading
coffee houses, restaurants as well as
Smoking shisha in the open.
Souq Waqif, have to implement such
steps. These are places where a large
number of people, including women
and children, visit everyday.
“We need to have more regulations and statutory warnings about
the health hazards of shisha smoking. This will lead to more awareness
among people and make them stop
the practice. Unfortunately, people
think that shisha is less harmful and
the availability of different flavours,
makes it more attractive.”
Dr Abdul Rasheed, president of the
Indian Anti-Smoking Society, described shisha smoking as a major social problem.
“Many people fail to understand the
adverse impacts of shisha smoking.
Since several coffee houses and restaurants allow people to smoke shisha inside and outside their premises,
many others also become passive
Dr Rasheed also warned that the
chemicals mixed with tobacco to impart various flavours makes shisha
smoking more dangerous.
In the Middle East and Arab world,
people smoke shisha as part of their
culture and traditions. According to
the British Heart Foundation, shisha
tobacco contains nicotine, tar, carbon
monoxide and heavy metals, such as
arsenic and lead. As a result, shisha
smokers are at risk of the same kinds
of diseases as cigarette smokers, such
as heart disease, cancer, respiratory
disease and problems during pregnancy.
“People smoke shisha for much
longer periods of time than they
smoke a cigarette, and in one puff of
shisha you inhale the same amount
of smoke as you’d get from smoking a
whole cigarette.
“The average shisha-smoking
session lasts an hour and research
has shown that in this time you can
inhale the same amount of smoke
as from more than 100 cigarettes,”
a study by the foundation says.
Page 36
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
PM offers condolences to Kuwaiti Emir
n behalf of HH the
Emir Sheikh Tamim
bin Hamad al -Thani, HE the Prime Minister
and Minister of Interior
Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser
bin Khalifa al-Thani has offered condolences and sympathy to the Emir of Kuwait
Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed
al-Sabah on the death of
Sheikha Sheikha Sabah alNasser al-Sabah.
The Prime Minister and
the Minister of the Interior
also offered condolences
to Kuwait’s Crown Prince
Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed alJaber al-Sabah and Sheikh
Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah.
The Prime Minister and
the Interior Minister also offered condolences and sym-
HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa
al-Thani meeting the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah in Kuwait yesterday.
pathy of HH the Deputy Emir
Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad
al-Thani to Emir of Ku-
wait, Kuwaiti Crown Prince
Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed
al-Jaber al-Sabah, Sheikh
Jaber Mubarak al-Hamad alSabah and the members of
the ruling family.
Qatar University honours top achievers
s many as 328 students named on the
Honour Roll of Qatar
University (QU) vice-president and chief academic
officer were honoured on
Monday at separate ceremonies for men and women.
In all, 265 female and 63
male students across QU
colleges were celebrated
for achieving GPA 3.5 and
above for the Fall and Spring
semesters in the academic
year 2013-14.
Vice-president and chief
academic officer Dr Mazen
Hasna applauded the students’ achievement, and
presented their certificates
in the presence of their parents, members of QU leadership, deans, heads of departments, and faculty.
The events also included
Dr Hasna speaking at the
Qatari writer al-Mahmoud
signing a copy of his book.
students’ meet-and-greet
with guest of honour Qatari
writer Abdul Aziz al-Mahmoud who signed copies of
his books, including his new
novel The Holy Sail.
“It is a great honour to celebrate our students for their
distinguished achievements,
their hard work and dedication
to succeed,” Dr Hasna said.
“This event highlights
Qatar University’s commitment to maximising its
students’ potential, and
giving them the opportunity to develop the skills and
knowledge to become future
leaders, and contribute to
Qatar’s outstanding growth
and development.”
Al-Mahmoud expressed
his pride in the students’
distinction, which he said
allows them to accomplish
their goals and aspirations,
and contribute to building Qatar’s growth and a
knowledge-based economy.
“If we do not make our own
history, somebody else will
make it for us,” he observed.
The Qatari writer also
gave the students a brief
about The Holy Sail, a п¬Ѓctional story which chronicles the medieval world of
Lisbon, Cairo, Jeddah and
Istanbul. The novel uses
historical research methods
while engaging readers in a
tale of love and honour. He
also noted the importance
of reading which he said will
serve to contribute to the
country’s cultural development and growth.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
QOC to hold Fitness & Health Programme
he Qatar Olympic
will launch the “Fitness and Health Programme
2014” set on December 25
and 26 as part of its Qatar
Active Campaign (QAC).
Mohamed Issa al-Fadala,
director of public relations
and marketing, said that the
event aims “to promote the
culture of sport.”
The programme will start
on December 25 from 4pm
to 8pm on the Doha Corniche near the Sheraton
Park while the activities on
the following day will be
staged in Aspire Park.
Al-Fadala, also the QAC
director, stressed the importance of the role of sports
in building and bringing up
sound and healthy generations.
“Enjoying a high level of
п¬Ѓtness enables them to contribute to the development
of their community and
country,” he said.
This year, the programme
will see a wider co-operation from various parties
in connection with health
and п¬Ѓtness such as Weill
Cornell University. It will
present two new equipment
measuring the heartbeat, as
well as another innovative
equipment for the measurement of the vital body functions.
Also, there will be cooperation with the nutrition
centre “About Nutrition”
and Aspire, which will be
hosting the activities.
Tests and measurements
will be conducted by health
specialists. The programme
includes physical measurements relating to п¬Ѓtness and
aimed at highlighting their
importance as indicators for
the level of п¬Ѓtness and as an
incentive to having a regular
and moderate physical activity.
Measurements are based
on the correlation between
height and weight, using the
body mass indicator setting the overweight average.
Other tests are related to
the fist strength reflecting
muscle strength; flexibility measuring the scope of
movements and joints flexibility as well as breathing
п¬Ѓtness; and a 1600m walking distance. All these add
to the usual heartbeat, blood
pressure and diabetes tests.
The QOC Committee has
urged residents to join and
participate in the two-day
sport programme.
QAC also offers a number
of programmes serving the
community. The campaign
will also launch health, environment and cultural initiatives within its mission
and general policy.
Some of these activities
will include the Fun Day
for women and girls, World
Walking Day, the QOC
Water Games contest, the
Rowing Race of traditional
boats (Al Shawaheef) and
the Olympic Day.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
HMC doctor
as professor
Defence Minister meets envoys
amad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Dr Ibrahim Janahi has been
appointed to the position of
professor of clinical paediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical
College in Qatar (WCMC-Q).
Dr Ibrahim, who becomes
the п¬Ѓrst Qatari to have a full
professorial rank at WCMC-Q,
will combine this new position
with his current roles at HMC.
He will play a leading role
in the teaching and research
programmes at the college,
including supervising new research projects and working to
develop research partnerships,
locally and internationally.
Hanan al-Kuwari, managing director of HMC said: “As
the п¬Ѓrst Qatari to be appointed in this position, Dr Ibrahim
is leading the way and setting
an example for young Qatari
Dr Ibrahim has been working at HMC since 1992 and
holds a number of senior positions within HMC and other
organisations. He is American
Board Certified in Paediatric
Pulmonology and Paediatrics
and is a fellow at the United
Kingdom’s Royal College of
Paediatrics and Child Health.
Dr Ibrahim said: “I’m honoured to have been appointed
as professor of clinical paediatrics at WCMC-Q. I look
forward to helping advance
teaching and research programmes at WCMC-Q and
ensuring the college continues to provide the п¬Ѓnest education possible for medical
students, as well as conducting cutting edge research.”
Dr Javaid Sheikh, dean of
WCMC-Q, said: “I would like
to offer my sincerest congratulations to Dr Ibrahim. He has
extensive clinical and research
experience in paediatrics.”
HE the Minister of State for Defence held
separate meetings with the outgoing
ambassador of Tunisia, and the
ambassadors of Indonesia and
Belgium - Mohamed Mundhir Zarif, Didi
Saif al-Hadi and Christophe Payot,
respectively, in Doha, yesterday. Talks
covered issues of joint interest.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Deputy Emir receives outgoing envoys
Inspectors register 26
commercial violations
HH the Deputy Emir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani met the Tunisian Ambassador Mohamed Mundhir Zarif, Ambassador of El Salvador Victor M Lagos and the Ambassador of
Spain Maria Del Carmen De Labena in Doha yesterday. The Deputy Emir awarded the three outgoing ambassadors the Sash of Merit in recognition of their efforts in boosting relations
between Qatar and their countries. The Deputy Emir also wished them success in their future postings and relations between Qatar and their countries further development.
Date for submitting entries for
State Award extended
The date for submitting
entries for the sixth
round of the State Award
for Children’s Literature
has been extended to
mid-January, the award
committee secretariat has
Aisha Jassim al-Kuwari,
the award secretary, said
the decision to extend the
date provides a further
opportunity for Qatari and
Arab participants to submit
their entries.
The main aim of the
award is to enhance
the quality of children’s
literature and achieve
greater diversity, it was
The award would be
given in five areas:
poetry and biography
of Prophet Muhammad
(PBUH), educational
story, novel and science
fiction, children’s
music and smartphone
Air travellers urged to fully
charge electronic gadgets
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
ravel agencies are
advising their clients
to ensure that electronic gadgets they carry,
when travelling out of Qatar
through the Hamad International Airport (HIA), are
fully charged.
“HIA has issued a circular about the new security
procedure, which came into
effect from December 21,”
a representative of a leading travel agency told Gulf
Times yesterday.
The circular says: “From
December 21, 2014, you will
also be required to remove
all large electronic items
(e.g. tablets, laptops etc.)
from your carry-on baggage
and place them in the tray at
the security screening.
“You may be asked to turn
on any electrical or battery
powered devices in front of
security teams and/or demonstrate the item’s functionality, so it is advised that
you bring your charging cables with you,” it added.
Many airports around the
world have already been implementing the new security procedure, it is learnt.
The travel agency staff
HIA has advised travellers to fully charge their electronic
pointed out that a gadget
which fails to turn on will
not be allowed onboard the
aircraft. But, the agency
does not have information
if such gadgets will be returned to the owner when
the person returns to Doha.
An Asian female expatriate who travelled to Hong
Kong in the early hours of
yesterday from HIA told
Gulf Times that she was not
asked to switch on any of her
three gadgets.
“I had charged all my
phones, tablets and laptop
before leaving for the airport,” she said. “Maybe it
was a random check, but
what I observed is that there
are state-of-the-art scanners at HIA.”
This was also the observation of many Qatar residents who flew out of HIA
Hamad Bin
Khalifa Hospital
treats villagers
in Mauritania
Hamad Bin Khalifa Hospital
in Boutilimit, Mauritania,
is providing its services to
people in remote areas of the
The hospital recently
dispatched a multidisciplinary medical convoy
to Matamoulana, a remote
Mauritanian village located
180km south-east of capital
Nouakchott. The convoy was
part of the hospital’s efforts
to deliver medical services to
the largest possible number
of local communities.
Qatar Red Crescent
(QRC), which takes the
responsibility for operating
and managing the hospital,
said in a press release that
the medical convoy was
equipped with an ambulance,
an ultrasound equipment as
well as medicines for malaria,
skin diseases, antibiotics and
drugs for pregnant women.
The programme treated
384 people of different
ages. Of them 15% were
men, 35% were women
and 50% were children,
the release said, adding
that the general medicine
clinic received 246 cases,
and the gynaecology clinic
treated 95 cases, while the
ultrasound examination
clinic received 43 cases.
Hamad bin Khalifa Hospital
was established in 2007
under the patronage of
HH Sheikha Moza bint
Nasser, through the
Qatari-Mauritanian Social
Development Foundation.
The strategic goal of the
hospital is to provide
high-quality healthcare at
affordable charges to the
people in remote areas so
that they do not have to
travel to Nouakchott or
abroad for treatment.
yesterday, she added. One
Filipino who sent a message
on Viber after the security
check said it was a usual airport security procedure.
“They just asked us to put
all our electronic gadgets in
a tray which passed through
a scanner along with our
hand luggage,” she added.
Some airlines such as Fly
Dubai also referred to HIA’s
circular to travel agencies.
The HIA circular also reminded airline passengers
to continue adhering to
existing airport rules such
as prohibiting the carrying
of sharp items, п¬Ѓrearms,
weapons, explosives (including п¬Ѓreworks) and liquids over 100ml in volume.
Personal items such as
phones, wallets, watches,
keys, belts, shoes, among
others, should also be removed
through the metal detector.
Any liquid containers
of 100ml or less should be
packed in a clear and resealable plastic bag (available at the airport prior to
immigration) and placed in
a tray at the security screening.
nspectors from the
Ministry of Economy
and Commerce (MEC)
recently detected some 26
commercial violations during a campaign conducted
at local markets.
were carried out by MEC
officers at commercial outlets located in places such as
Wakrah, Wukair, Mamoura,
Markhiya and Al Rayyan.
Meanwhile, seven furniture shops were issued violation reports in Al Rayyan
and Mansoura areas for
not displaying proper price
lists. Violations were also
recorded against two fruit
and vegetable shops in
Wakrah and Wukair for not
abiding by rates mentioned
on the price list. Besides, a
laundry and a beverage shop
in the same area got violation reports for not displaying price lists.
Other violations detected
included the case of a shop
issuing an invoice with the
words “sold items could not
be replaced or returned”
mentioned on it.
A number of gift shops
around the country were
issued violation reports
for not following the displayed price tags. The
penalty for such violations amounts to a п¬Ѓne of
National Day greetings
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, HH
the Deputy Emir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani
and HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh
Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani have sent cables
of congratulations to Emperor Akihito of Japan on his
country’s National Day.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Al Meera becomes
Nojoom partner
oredoo has announced Al Meera,
a prominent player
in Qatar’s retail industry, as the newest Nojoom
partner in an effort to continue bringing a wider variety of reward options to
the multi-award winning
Members have the choice
to earn Nojoom points on
their purchases with Al
Meera or redeem the points
for vouchers starting at
QR50 up to QR2,000.
Al Meera outlets covered
under the partnership include Mansoura, Azghawa,
Hazm Al Markhiya, Wakrah,
Bin Omran, Nuaija, Khalifa South, Al Merqab and
A plan is in place to expand the Nojoom coverage
to additional Al Meera outlets across Qatar in 2015.
To commemorate the
launch of the new partnership, Ooredoo and Al Meera
are offering all members
who earn or redeem points
before January 21, a free
entry to a raffle draw to win
prizes including a QR10,000
gift voucher from Al Meera
and 10 winners will receive
40,000 Nojoom points.
Al-Kubaisi and Dr al-Qahtani shaking hands after signing an agreement.
Yousuf Abdulla al-Kubaissi, chief executive officer, Ooredoo Global Services,
said: “Partnerships that reward everyday events such
as shopping at Al Meera
help us truly give back to our
Dr Mohamed Nasser alQahtani, deputy CEO, Al
Meera, said: “We believe
that our customers are at
the forefront of everything
we do.”
Redemptions can be
made following Nojoom’s
redemption channels by
logging into their account
at or by downloading the
Ooredoo App.
Every Ooredoo customer
with a Qatar ID can enrol
into Nojoom, which ena-
bles members to earn Nojoom points each time they
opt for an Ooredoo service
or shop at selected earn
partners. Points can be redeemed at over 150 local
and international Nojoom
Ooredoo working to boost disaster
management preparedness
oredoo is working with the GSMA
and Souktel Mobile
Solutions to develop new
partnerships and enhance
current strategies to manage
disaster preparedness, following the п¬Ѓrst-ever Middle East Summit on Mobile
Technology and Crisis Response.
As countries across the
Middle East face growing
humanitarian crises, mobiles are playing a key part
in regional aid efforts. When
Iraqi refugees were asked
about their urgent needs in a
recent poll, mobile charging
stations were the main form
of help they requested after
food and water. As a result,
aid agencies rushed to include solar-powered mobile
chargers in emergency relief
According to the GSMA
mobile economy 2014 Arab
states report, at the end of
2013, the Arab states of the
Middle East and North Africa region accounted for
195mn of the 3.4bn unique
worldwide – a 53% penetration rate. At the same time,
it is estimated that global
conflict had forced 33.3mn
people to become internally
displaced people (IDPs) and
a further 17mn people to become refugees at the start of
This crisis puts pressures
not only on the displaced
but on the host communities, local infrastructure and service providers.
These were the issues that
the Middle East Summit
on Mobile Technology and
Crisis Response sought to
examine. Held in Amman,
Jordan, the event brought
together more than 30
leaders in the aid and telecoms sectors to build
partnerships that will enable quicker, more effective
service delivery in emergencies.
Ooredoo Group has a
long history of providing
emergency aid via technology such as a recent Gaza
SMS donation campaign by
Wataniya Palestine. During the month-long drive,
customers across Palestine could donate directly
to relief efforts by pledging funds via text message, through their mobile
accounts. These rapid donations helped get realtime assistance to families
across the Gaza Strip.
Most recently, Ooredoo
Maldives has been in action to help tackle a water
crisis, which left thousands of people in Male
without fresh water after a
п¬Ѓre broke out at the main
water and sewage company. To help alleviate the
crisis, Ooredoo Maldives
provided a water tracking
service on Ooredoo locate
- a real-time vehicle tracking system - which enabled
users to п¬Ѓnd nearest mobile
water units across Male.
In addition, Ooredoo
Group made a significant
donation to the relief fund
and provided tonnes of water bottles airlifted to the
Maldives by Qatar Airways.
Dr Nasser Marafih,
Group CEO, Ooredoo, said:
“Being there to connect
and care for people during emergency situations
is one of Ooredoo’s core
values – and one we are
striving to support in every
market that we operate in.”
“Access to mobile network services can be a
lifeline for those affected
by crisis,” said Kyla Reid,
head of disaster response,
GSMA. Jacob Korenblum,
CEO, Souktel Mobile Solutions, observed that
partnerships are essential for achieving impact
in humanitarian response
The GSMA is an association of mobile operators and related companies
devoted to supporting the
standardising, deployment
and promotion of the GSM
mobile telephone system.
Audi posts 46.7%
growth in sales
-Auto, the official dealer for Audi
in Qatar, has announced a 46.7% growth
in the year 2014 to date, the
strongest for the brand in
the region.
The top achiever for
Audi in Qatar so far has
been the A5 Coupe with
an increase of 71% compared to the previous year.
Following closely is the
A4 and the A8 saloon with
an increment of 69% and
60%, respectively.
Audi’s SUV models have
also experienced year over
year gains, with an overall
growth of a 36% for the
crossover Q7, 32% for the
midsized Q5 and 35% for
the Q3.
“Audi Qatar foresees
an even higher growth
achievement next year,
due to a number of exciting product launches and
an all-new aftersales service centre set to open in the
first quarter of 2015,” said
Ala Makey, sales manager.
The Audi Q7
became the official dealer of
Audi, the brand has accomplished a number of
achievements in the year
2014, he claimed.
“This includes the pre-
mium sedan and SUV
packages being offered to
customers as well as the
recent introduction of the
“Customer Delight” aftersales service programme,”
the official added.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Al Khaliji hosts Open Day
for job seekers at ministry
l Khalij Commercial Bank
(Al Khaliji) has hosted an
Open Day at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
with the aim of recruiting Qatari
nationals looking for opportunities to work in the banking
The event was held under the
patronage of HE the Minister
of Labour and Social Affairs Dr
Abdullah Saleh Mubarak alKhulaifi and in the presence of
Hussain al-Mulla, undersecretary in the Ministry of Labour,
and Al Khaliji’s Group CEO Fahad al-Khalifa.
A team of Al Khaliji professionals was present to provide
guidance to and conduct interviews with applicants looking to
join the bank’s staff.
Commenting on the occasion, al-Khalifa said: “This
event comes in line with al khaliji’s Qatarisation strategy and
reinforces the bank’s commit-
Officials and dignitaries on the occasion.
ment to Qatar National Vision
2030, in particular the human
development pillar. Al Khaliji is
always on the lookout to welcome, retain and nurture the
most talented individuals as well
as fresh graduates among Qatari
“We are thankful to the Min-
istry of Labour and Social Affairs for their support and continued co-operation to help us
achieve our aim of select and
empower the next generation of
banking leaders through such
Hamad al-Kubaisi, Group
head of Human Resources at
Al Khaliji, added: “In order to
be the next-generation bank,
we believe Al Khaliji’s employee base should be representative of the community
in which we live and work. al
khaliji’s growth relies on the
extent of our commitment
to being the employer of choice,
particularly for Qataris.
“We have recognised great
talents among applicants and
are set to offer them fantastic
opportunities to tackle greater
responsibilities within different
roles, while gaining a wealth of
experience to become Qatar’s
future banking professionals.”
Since its launch, al khaliji
has focused on developing and
growing Qatari nationals, according to a statement. The bank
is committed to strengthening
its Qatarisation programme by
reaching out to qualified nationals and offering them career
opportunities, it adds.
Dr Mohamed al-Thani
programme for
schools launched
The Supreme Council of Health (SCH)
has launched the asthma-friendly
schools programme for 2014-2015,
which shall be implemented at 30
local independent schools for boys
and girls.
The schools were selected by SCH
from among the health sustaining
schools in collaboration with the
Supreme Education Council, Hamad
Medical Corporation, Primary Health
Care Corporation, and Qatar Fuel
Additives Co Ltd, the official sponsor
of the programme.
Sheikh Dr Mohamed bin Hamad
al-Thani, director of the Department
of Public Health, SCH, affirmed that
the programme aims at providing
the students suffering from
asthma with a safe and supporting
education environment at school
and help them manage the disease
The programme targets the students
at the age category of 7-15 years
old, document the development
of the cases and ensure that they
have easy access to the required
December 28 deadline for Volunteer Awards application
he Social Development
Centre (SDC), a member
of Qatar Foundation for
Social Action, announced that
the Volunteer Awards for year
2014/2015 is now open for applications and will be closing on
December 28.
The Volunteer Awards, п¬Ѓrst
launched in 1999, was officially announced in 2004.
Since then, SDC has regularly
held the awards ceremony to
honour the individuals, groups
and institutions in Qatar for
their volunteer work and
humanitarian efforts.
The Volunteer Awards also
aims to raise awareness around
the valuable role of volunteerism in the modern society and
encourage the involvement in
volunteer work; starting from
the involvement of school students to major institutions in
The award consists of four
categories. The п¬Ѓrst is the Hon-
orary Volunteer Award, nominated by members from the executive committee and includes
a number of the п¬Ѓnest representatives of volunteers in the
local community.
The Individuals Volunteer
Award is applicable for all citizens and residents of Qatar who
are leading п¬Ѓgures in volunteer
work. The Project Award for Institutions especially acknowledges all volunteering projects
from different institutions in
Qatar. The Research Category
is addressed to students in secondary and university level and
applicants are required to submit their work on a specifically
chosen topic to be considered for
the award.
Manar Rashid al-Dossari,
marketing and public relations
manager at the SDC, described
the Volunteer Awards as an annual celebration to honour individuals and institutions for all
the time and effort they put into
their voluntary work to serve
their community and nation as
a whole.
“So far, SDC has honoured
a large number of active individual and institutional volunteers, and we look forward
to receiving nominations for
creative and unique initiatives that have brought about
a positive change in our community and have the potential
to achieve more success in the
During 2014, SDC has participated in many events,
exhibitions and various educational institutions, which
helped spread the word
about SDC and the Volunteer
Awards. Recently, SDC’s Kafu
campaign, another initiative
promoting volunteer work,
took part in Qatar Community
Expo held by College of the
North Atlantic - Qatar, presenting samples of past applications and responding to
inquiries on applying for the
Volunteer Awards.
The event also included a joint
presentation on the Volunteer
Awards by SDC and the Centre
of Volunteerism and Civil responsibility at Qatar University.
In addition, SDC participated in
Hamad Medical Corporation’s
Healthcare Exhibition at Qatar
University, aiming to promote the
Kafu campaign and the Volunteer Awards as well as recruiting
new volunteers at SDC.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Fishermen warned
over violations
Fishermen transgressing into
restricted areas have been issued
a stern warning by the Coast
Even though fishing is banned
within a 5km radius of some of
the major oil platforms such as PS
1, PS 2 and PS 3 off Halul and its
surroundings, violations have been
reported at frequent intervals in
these areas, it is understood.
In view of repeated violations,
representatives of fishermen
were recently formally instructed
by the Coast Guards to stay
away from the area owing to its
sensitive nature.
When contacted by Gulf Times,
some of fishermen said they have
received strict orders from the
Coast Guards against violations
by some of their fellow workers
and they have communicated it
to the fishermen concerned.
A fisherman said they stray into
the restricted area because of
likelihood of better catch.
Significantly, the warning has
come at a time when the fishing
season is peaking.
The warnings from the Coast
Guards include cancellation of
The Coast Guards apparently
installed new radars in the area,
which help them trace violators
in no time.
Reacting to the warnings, some
of the fishermen said the move
will affect their catch harvesting
Ashghal to follow iRAP
road safety standards
he Public Works Authority (Ashghal) has
signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the International Road
Assessment Programme (iRAP).
The signing took place during the annual
general conference organised recently by the
Automobile International Federation (FIA)
and hosted in Doha by the Qatar Motor and
Motorcycle Federation.
The MoU paves the way for following road
safety standards that are implemented by iRAP
to evaluate roads in Qatar. The standards aim
to raise the safety levels on the high-risk roads
to a three star minimum as per the standards
approved by the programme.
The Ashghal’s representative, Yousef alEmadi, manager, roads operations and maintenance department, signed the MoU with John
Dawson, chairman of iRAP.
Al-Emadi described the collaboration with
iRAP as an important milestone towards providing safe roads for all those living in Qatar.
“It is also an important contribution that
will support the National Road Safety Strategy,
and we are proud to be part of these efforts that
will play a role in reducing road accidents and
saving lives.”
Saul Billingsley, director general, FIA, observed that the new partnership between Qatar and iRAP is an example of the innovative
approach that leads to measurable results, and
contributes to reducing road traffic fatalities
and injuries in Qatar.
MasterCard and
QNB announce
trip winners
NB and MasterCard have
announced the п¬Ѓve winners of an all-expense
paid trip to New York to help
celebrate the festive season.
The п¬Ѓve QNB First members
won the prize as part of QNB
First and MasterCard’s “Spend
and Win” campaign. All QNB
First customers with valid QNB
Life Rewards MasterCard World
credit cards, who spent a minimum of QR1,500 during October
qualified for the raffle.
“The raffle was successfully
conducted after the campaign’s
end with the presence of a representative from the Ministry of
Economy and Commerce,” QNB
said in a statement.
The п¬Ѓve winners, who were allowed to bring a loved one, visited New York on December 11-14
and were awarded business class
return flights from New York
along with a four days and three
nights stay at a п¬Ѓve-star located
near the famous Central Park.
Upon arrival, the winners
were greeted in a welcome reception at Tavern on the Green
Al-Emadi and Dawson after signing an MoU.
in Central Park. The next day
they toured New York City and
had dinner at A Voce in Time
Warner Centre and concluded
the night with the “Wicked
Show” on Broadway.
“QNB is fully committed
to pursuing the best way
to reward its QNB First
members, opening before
them an unparalleled world
of privileges, rewards...”
The winners were also rewarded a $2,000 prepaid card
each to enjoy a private shopping
by dinner at Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant at Red
“QNB is fully committed to
pursuing the best way to reward
its QNB First members, opening before them an unparalleled
world of privileges, rewards, and
global recognition benefiting of
their status as clients of Qatar’s
leading п¬Ѓnancial institution and
one of the world’s strongest
banks,” QNB added.
QM, Brazilian embassy working on �Legacy of the Year’ project
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
atar Museums (QM) and
the Brazilian embassy in
Doha are designing the
“Legacy of the Year” initiative,
which will showcase the highlights of Qatar-Brazil 2014 Year
of Culture, according to charge
d’affaires Viviane Balbino.
Terming the festival as “a very
good moment for bilateral relations,” the Brazilian diplomat
hopes that her country’s culture
will occupy a special place in
Doha’s cultural scene.
Balbino said the project has
been envisioned by HE Sheikha
al-Mayassa bint Hamad alThani, chairperson of the QM’s
Board of Trustees, who wants
every Year of Culture to leave
behind a legacy.
“From the perspective of the
embassy, Brazil of course was
well-known among expatriates and nationals, but mainly
because of football,” she said,
adding: “The Year of Culture
extended their view about our
country, about our culture,
and that is very good, very
Also, most Brazilians and Qataris share the same passion –
football, according to Balbino,
who expressed optimism about
the success of the 2022 FIFA
World Cup in Qatar.
The Qatar-Brazil Year of Culture concluded with a festival
at the Museum of Islamic Art,
which showcased numerous activities that attracted more than
30,000 visitors.
The celebration also featured photography exhibitions,
a joint concert featuring the
Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra
and a Brazilian conductor, and
a Brazilian cinema showcase.
She recalled that a number
of cultural activities and shows
were held during the Qatari
Week in Sao Paulo.
Asked about any Arab influence in Brazil, Balbino said there
is a huge Arab community in
their country.
“There are about 50mn people
and they are Arab descendants,
not necessarily Arabs who migrated to Brazil but they are de-
scendants,” she pointed out.
While Brazil is an open
country for migration, she
said a majority of nationals were Portuguese speakers.
“It’s an interesting history of
About bringing Brazilian performers to Doha, Balbino admitted they do not have concrete
plans yet. But the embassy is considering cultural performances
similar to Thailand.
Viviane Balbino
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
After the war,
a bittersweet
Xmas in Gaza
In streets which still bear
the scars of war, shops are
spruced up with Christmas
Gaza City
garland in hand, 11-yearold Sara decorates the
family Christmas tree
with her parents. But this year,
the young Gazan will be spending the rest of the holiday alone.
Her family applied for Israeli
permits to leave the Gaza Strip
and travel to the West Bank
town of Bethlehem to celebrate
Although her parents received
them, she and her older brother
and sister did not.
This year, Israel granted
around 500 permits to Palestinian Christians, allowing them
to travel from Gaza to the West
Bank so they can visit Bethlehem’s Nativity church and attend the traditional midnight
“Christmas is a happy time
but it’s also a bit sad because I
didn’t get the permit to go with
my parents,” Sara admits.
Her mother, Abeer Mussad,
spoke of a “joy tinged with sadness” as she and her husband
celebrate Christmas Day in Bethlehem without their children
who will tomorrow be “meeting
Santa at church in Gaza”.
“He will give us our presents,”
says Sara who will stay with her
older sister and celebrate Christmas at St Porphyrius Greek Orthodox church in Gaza City.
In Gaza, the adults have done
everything they can to ensure
the holiday is not spoilt, but nobody can forget the deadly 50day summer war which killed
nearly 2,200 Palestinians and
left the densely populated territory in ruins.
“We’re going to celebrate
Christmas in order to forget
the suffering of the war,” says
60-year-old Umm George, who
lost her sister in the conflict and
will be one of those travelling to
In streets which still bear the
scars of war, shops are spruced
up with Christmas decorations
and ornamented trees covered
in sweets take pride of place in
front windows.
For most of Gaza’s tiny community of some 3,500 Christians, 85% of whom are Greek
Orthodox, they must make do
with celebrating at home after
failing to obtain the small slip
of paper issued by Israel which
would have allowed them to
leave the enclave and travel the
70km to Bethlehem.
Abdullah Jakhan is one of
He and his п¬Ѓancee Janet applied to celebrate Christmas in
Bethlehem, but they were both
turned down. Now they will have
to make do in Gaza.
Just four months after the end
of the war, it would be inappropriate to engage in too much celebration, Jakhan says.
“We want a joyful celebration, but the blood of the martyrs which flowed during the war
is still fresh. Because of this we
can’t be completely happy,” he
“We will celebrate mass and
have a small, simple party with
family and friends in light of the
circumstances in Gaza.”
Tony al-Masri, 60, has also
just put up a tree at home but his
heart isn’t really in it.
“Inside, I feel sad for my people who have suffered a war,” he
“The war affected all of us
here, Christians and Muslims, so
today I am praying for peace and
But other concerns also feature at the top of their prayer
George, 38, who prefers not to
give his family name, is praying
for an end to extremism and attacks on Christians.
“Even if there aren’t many of
them, like those in the Islamic
State movement, they don’t
want us to celebrate our Christian feasts,” he says.
“And they wouldn’t hesitate
to attack us, as they have already
done,” he adds, referring to an
incident in February when unidentified attackers left an explosive device inside the compound
of the Church of the Latin Convent in Gaza City.
A woman, hoping to cross into Egypt, cries as she waits at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip yesterday.
Factions call for protests
over slow reconstruction
Gaza City
aza has so far received
only 2% of the $5.4bn
pledged by foreign donors at an October conference
in Cairo and reconstruction of
the strip is going too slowly,
Palestinian factions and NGOs
warned yesterday.
“The Gaza Strip is like a barrel
of explosive powder and it may
blow up any time, if the donors,
the United Nations and Israel
don’t speed up the process of reconstruction,” said the factions,
which included the Islamist Hamas movement in de facto control
of the strip, in a joint statement.
They called for protests on
Sunday all over the Gaza Strip
“to send a message to the world
that the continuation of the
siege and blocking construction
materials will lead to tragic and
bad consequences”.
They criticised the UN mechanism overseeing the construction as “humiliating”, slow and
overly bureaucratic.
The mechanism, an Israeli
demand, includes surveillance
cameras and UN supervision to
ensure that raw materials such
as cement and metal are used for
civilian purposes only, and not
by militants to build attack tunnels and rockets.
Resurfacing tensions between Hamas and Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas, of
the secular Fatah party, are also
slowing down the process, observers say.
Fifty days of п¬Ѓghting between
Israel and Hamas in July and August left some 2,200 Palestinians
killed and tens of thousands of
families homeless, with an estimated 18,000 houses destroyed
and many others damaged. Sixty-six Israeli soldiers and seven
civilians were also killed.
Egypt kept its Rafah border crossing with Gaza open for a
third day yesterday, state media
said, after nearly 2,000 people
used the terminal in the п¬Ѓrst two
The Rafah crossing, the only
access point to the Gaza Strip
not controlled by Israel, opened
on Sunday for only the second
time in two months to allow
people stranded in Egypt to enter the Palestinian enclave.
State news agency Mena said
that 1,950 people had used the
crossing since it was opened.
It said that 1,137 people came
from Gaza and 813 went to the
territory from Egypt on Sunday
and Monday.
The United Nations said last
month that more than 3,500
Palestinians had been stranded
in Egypt since the crossing was
closed following a suicide attack
in North Sinai on October 24
that killed 30 soldiers.
Many Palestinians who travel through Rafah are students
heading to universities in Egypt
or beyond, or people in need of
medical treatment.
During the п¬Ѓrst six months of
the year, when the crossing was
closed for a total of 22 days, an
average of 6,400 people crossed
each month, the UN said.
People gather at the site of a bomb explosion in Sanaa yesterday.
Several Shia militiamen
killed in Yemen attacks
everal Shia militiamen were
killed in two Yemeni cities yesterday in a series of bomb attacks
and a drive-by shooting, a medic and
witnesses said.
Five small bombs hit the centre of
the capital Sanaa, which has been
mostly controlled by the Ansarullah
militiamen since September, killing
one and wounding two, a medic said.
The п¬Ѓrst explosion went off in the
old quarter of Sanaa when one of the
militiamen, also known as Houthis,
tried to defuse a bomb found underneath the car of a judge.
He died later in hospital, the medic
Another four devices planted in garbage containers in the same Bustan alSultan neighbourhood then exploded
within intervals of about п¬Ѓve minutes.
The Houthis, who fought authorities for a decade in their northern
stronghold, overran Sanaa on September 21 and have since expanded to
coastal areas and southern regions.
In a separate attack yesterday, a
prominent Houthi п¬Ѓgure, Faisal Sherif, was shot dead near the University of
Sanaa by two gunmen on a motorbike,
witnesses and a Huthi source said.
Tribal sources in the central city
of Rada said that an explosive device
detonated underneath a vehicle carrying Houthi militiamen, killing several
One source put the number of dead
at five, but this toll could not be independently confirmed.
Yemen has been wracked by unrest
as the Houthi advance is met by п¬Ѓerce
opposition from Sunni tribes backed
by Yemen’s powerful Al Qaeda affiliate.
The country is also facing continued violence in its restive south, where
separatists are pushing for the restoration of independence.
Police shot dead a southern separatist and wounded four more as security forces confronted protesters in
Ataq, the provincial capital of Shabwa
province, Southern Movement activists said.
A security official confirmed the
toll, adding that police tried to stop
protesters from storming the local
government offices.
Businesses and schools in Ataq have
been closed for two days, witnesses
Every Monday, separatists in southern regions organise a day of civil disobedience.
A senior separatist, Khaled al-Junaidi, was shot dead by security forces
earlier this month during one such
South Yemen was independent from
the end of British colonial rule in 1967
until 1990, when it joined the north.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
US-led Syria strikes kill more than 1,100 militants
S-led air strikes in Syria
have killed more than
1,000 jihadists in the past
three months, nearly all of them
from the Islamic State group, a
monitoring group said yesterday.
“At least 1,171 have been killed
in the Arab and international air
strikes (since September 23), including 1,119 jihadists of the Islamic State group and Al Nusra
Front,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which
relies on a network of activists
and medics across the war-ravaged country for its information.
Among the dead were 1,046
members of IS, which has seized
large chunks of Iraq and Syria
and is the main target of the air
Seventy-two of those killed
were members of Al Qaeda’s
branch in Syria, the Al Nusra
Front, while another was a jihadist prisoner whose affiliation was
unknown, an Observatory statement said.
The remaining 52 were civilians.
IS has declared a “caliphate”
in the parts of Iraq and Syria that
it has overrun, and its militants
have been accused of widespread
atrocities, including beheading
Western hostages.
The United States and its allies
have significantly scaled down
their air strikes in Syria since late
September compared to the п¬Ѓrst
month of the campaign.
In total, the United States
carried out 488 air strikes in
Syria through December 15,
according to US military data.
The Observatory figures do
not include casualties from air
strikes on IS targets in Iraq.
On another front, the Observatory reported the deaths of
29 civilians in regime air raids
across Syria yesterday.
Among them were nine children, it said.
Syria’s war began as a peaceful pro-democracy revolt. It
later morphed into a brutal civil
war after the regime unleashed a
massive crackdown against dissent.
Thousands of people, most
of them civilians, have been
killed in air strikes since July
2012 when the regime’s air
force was first deployed in the
Iraqi victims
of IS driven
to suicide by
sex slavery
omen and girls from
Iraq’s Yazidi religious
minority have told
rights activists they were beaten
and forced into sexual slavery by
the Islamic State militant group,
driving some to suicide.
IS militants have overrun
swathes of Iraq since June, declared a cross-border caliphate
also encompassing parts of
neighbouring Syria and carried
out a litany of abuses in both
The group has targeted Yazidis
and other minorities in northern
Iraq in a campaign that rights
group Amnesty International said
in a report yesterday amounted to
ethnic cleansing, murdering civilians and enslaving others for a
fate that some captives consider
worse than death.
It said hundreds and possibly
thousands of Yazidi women and
girls had been forced to marry,
sold or given to IS п¬Ѓghters or supporters.
“Many of those held as sexual
slaves are children—girls aged
14, 15 or even younger,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty’s senior
crisis response adviser, who interviewed dozens of former captives.
A 19-year-old named Jilan
committed suicide out of fear she
would be raped, according to the
Amnesty report entitled “Escape
from Hell: Torture and Sexual
Slavery in Islamic State Captivity
in Iraq”.
“One day we were given clothes
that looked like dance costumes
and were told to bathe and wear
those clothes. Jilan killed herself
in the bathroom,” said a girl who
was held with her but later escaped.
“She cut her wrists and hanged
herself. She was very beautiful; I
think she knew she was going to
be taken away by a man and that
is why she killed herself.”
Another former captive told
the rights group that she and her
sister tried to kill themselves to
escape forced marriage, but were
stopped from doing so.
“The man who was holding us
said that either we marry him and
his brother or he would sell us,”
said Wafa, 27.
“At night we tried to strangle
ourselves with our scarves. We
tied the scarves around our necks
and pulled away from each other
as hard as we could, until I fainted,” she said, but two other captives stopped them.
Sixteen-year-old Randa was
abducted with her family, then
beaten and raped by a man twice
her age. Her male relatives were
The man “took me as his wife
by force. I told him I did not want
to and tried to resist but he beat
me. My nose was bleeding, I could
not do anything to stop him,”
Randa said.
“It is so painful what they did
to me and to my family,” she said.
Amnesty said that many of the
perpetrators were IS п¬Ѓghters, but
might also include supporters of
the group.
Some of the escaped victims
said they were kept in family
homes with wives, children, parents and siblings of the rapists.
The abuse causes long-term
damage even to those who manage to escape.
“The physical and psychological toll of the horrifying sexual
violence these women have endured is catastrophic,” Rovera
“Many of them have been tortured and treated as chattel. Even
those who have managed to escape remain deeply traumatised.”
One man said that he fears
his wife, who escaped captivity,
may commit suicide, and makes
sure someone is with her at all
“My wife has panic attacks and
can’t sleep. I can’t leave her alone
because I’m afraid for her safety,”
he said.
This combination of handout pictures provided yesterday by UNOSAT shows close-ups of satellite-detected images of the historic heart of Aleppo on November 21, 2010 (left) and
on October 22, 2014.
War ravages 290 Syria
heritage sites, says UN
Detailed analysis of satellite
images from several
hundred sites unearths the
full scale of the damage
early 300 sites of incalculable value for Syria and
human history have been
destroyed, damaged or looted in
almost four years of war, the UN
said yesterday, citing “alarming”
satellite evidence.
From prehistoric settlements
and ancient markets to worldfamous mosques and Crusader
castles, Syria is home to countless
But since the country’s brutal
war erupted in 2011, heritage sites
have been plundered by all sides—
regime loyalists, anti-government
rebels, jihadist п¬Ѓghters and even
desperate residents.
After a major survey, the United
Nations said that detailed analysis of satellite images from several
hundred sites had unearthed the
full scale of the damage.
Of the 290 sites, 24 had been
destroyed, 104 severely damaged,
85 moderately damaged and 77
possibly damaged.
The UN said the report was
“alarming testimony of the ongoing damage that is happening to
Syria’s vast cultural heritage”, and
called for efforts to scale up their
The satellite images were put
together by UNOSAT, a Genevabased UN institute.
They focused on 18 areas, six of
them listed as Unesco world heritage sites: the Old City of Aleppo,
Bosra, Damascus, the Dead Cities
of northern Syria, the Crac des
Chevaliers castle and the GrecoRoman oasis of Palmyra.
“It is very sad for Syria as well as
the world that this is happening,”
UNOSAT director Einar Bjorgo
said. “Humankind is losing hundreds and thousands of years of
Aleppo, Syria’s former commercial hub where settlements
date back 7,000 years, has been
especially hard hit in п¬Ѓghting between rebels and forces loyal to
President Bashar al-Assad.
The 11th century Great Mosque
of Aleppo saw its minaret re-
duced to rubble in п¬Ѓghting, and
the famed Carlton Hotel has been
pulverised, leaving behind a huge
crater, the images show.
“Every time the regime or the
rebels would take the mosque,
they would deploy a sniper in
the minaret. In the end, it was hit
by an air raid,” Cheikhmous Ali
of the Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology
(APSA) said.
Ali added that Aleppo’s ancient souq, the largest market of
its kind in the world, had been seriously damaged as well.
The UN images also show serious damage to Palmyra, known
for its spectacular Roman colonnade, with the Syrian army
building a road that cuts through
the necropolis, damaging several
Ali said the road is used by
tanks and that their п¬Ѓring is also
weakening the site’s structures.
In the city of Raqa, a bastion
of the extremist Islamic State
(IS) group, the Sufi Muslim
Uwais al-Qarni Mosque and a
shrine to Ammar ibn Yasir, one
of the companions of Prophet
Muhammad, have mostly been
Ali said IS has also destroyed
ancient Assyrian statues in the
Kobane areas shelled as Kurds advance
Islamic State militants shelled
south and south-eastern areas
of Kobane in northern Syria
yesterday where Kurdish rebels
had advanced.
“Both advancements by the
Kurdish rebels were very
key and I can tell you our
fighters are gradually gaining
important ground from the
Islamic State,” said Idriss
Nassan, a spokesman for the
Kurdish fighters in Kobane.
Idriss said most of Kobane
is under the control of the
Kurdish People’s Protection
Units (YPG), as the town enters
the 100th day of a siege by IS.
The YPG this week retook the
cultural centre in the middle of
the town, a symbolic victory
against the extremists who
have destroyed heritage sites
and banned many of the arts.
northwestern province of Hasakeh.
In Dura-Europos, in the eastern
province of Deir al-Zor, the UN
said looting has rendered “unrecognisable” a site previously known
as the “Pompeii of the desert”.
Byzantine statues, pots and
beads have been stolen from the
site, APSA said.
The magnificent Apamea site
near Hama in central Syria—a Roman archaeological jewel—has
also been largely looted.
APSA has documented some
14,000 illegal excavation sites
across Syria.
In Homs province, the once
rebel-held Crac des Chevaliers
has lost some of its facade and
roof after coming under regime
Rebels in the northwestern
province of Idlib have also turned
Ebla, seat of one of ancient Syria’s
earliest kingdoms, into a training
“The danger in Syria is even
greater than in Iraq. Here, sites
have been turned into military
barracks and battlefields,” Ali said.
“It’s a catastrophe, an immeasurable loss for humanity.”
Iraqis seek holiday
cheer amid sorrow
People shop for Christmas decorations in Baghdad’s historic Shorjah market on Monday.
aasub Ali stands inside his shop in Baghdad’s Shorjah market
surrounded by nearly empty
shelves cleared of decorations
by Iraqis seeking holiday cheer
after a year of relentless violence.
In the narrow market, which
dates to the Abbassid era more
than 700 years ago, Iraqis peruse Christmas and New Year’s
wreaths and ornaments to redand-white Santa Claus outfits
and п¬Ѓgurines.
Many of them are not members of Iraq’s dwindling Christian minority but Muslims who
have embraced the end-of-theyear holiday season as an occasion to celebrate.
Plastic Christmas trees are
available in green and white,
some boxed up and others on
display, including one that sells
for $200 and features built-in
The area is crowded with cus-
tomers, and the workers carting
boxes of decorations who pass
every few minutes struggle to
get through.
“Demand was unusually high
this year... this is the п¬Ѓrst time
we sold this amount,” says Ali,
who has worked in the shop for
10 years.
“We did not expect this demand,” he says, pointing to
shelves emptied of decorations
except for Santa costumes and
some ornaments.
He speculates that there is
heightened demand because
“people are looking for an outlet”.
They have ample reason to—
Iraq has suffered through a
year that saw the brutal Islamic
State (IS) militant group overrun large parts of the country,
displacing hundreds of thousands and leaving thousands
At another shop, Safa—who
goes by the name “Abu Hadaya,” meaning “Father of
Gifts”—says sales have been
“I have sold gifts and decorations for 30 years and this is the
п¬Ѓrst time I have witnessed (demand) to this extent. I sold all
the Christmas and New Year’s
decorations,” he says.
Aside from a lone Christmas
tree and a few Santa п¬Ѓgurines,
his shop is now stocked up for
Valentine’s Day, the next major
gift-buying holiday.
“People want to rejoice this
year because of the sadness
caused by (IS),” Abu Hadaya
“This year, I sold 10 times
more than past years,” says
Bassem Jarjis, a Christian shop
owner in Shorjah.
He too put the increased sales
down to Iraqis wanting to celebrate to escape the difficult
“We are looking for joy to forget the suffering,” Jarjis says.
Ali Abdulzahra, a Shia from
the shrine city of Najaf carrying two massive bags of decorations, agrees.
“People need to celebrate
more this year because many
of them were harmed by what
happened, and they love to get
themselves out of sadness,” he
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Algeria kills militant chief behind tourist killing
he Algerian army said
yesterday it had killed
the head of a militant
group that beheaded a French
tourist after it had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State
The body of Abdelmalek Gouri, who claimed responsibility
for the beheading of Frenchman
Herve Gourdel in September, was
identified after an operation in
the town of Isser “that allowed us
to eliminate three terrorists”, the
army said.
An operation lasting three
months had seen 3,000 Algerian
troops mobilised to catch Gourdel’s killers.
The confirmation of Gouri’s
death came after the Nahar private television network said
soldiers had killed him and two
other militants late on Monday in
Isser, about 60km east of Algiers.
Jund al-Khilafa, or “Soldiers of
the Caliphate”, beheaded Gourdel
on September 24 in a gruesome
video posted online after France
rejected the group’s demand to
halt anti-IS air strikes in Iraq.
On Saturday, the army said it
killed three other Islamist gunmen in a mountainous area near
Sidi Daoud, and that one of them
was a “dangerous criminal”
wanted since 1995.
Soldiers also seized a large
quantity of guns, ammunition
and explosives during the operation.
On December 11, Justice Minister Tayeb Louh announced that
soldiers had killed two Jund alKhilafa members implicated in
Gourdel’s murder.
An Algerian court has launched
legal proceedings against 15 people, including Gouri, suspected
of participating in the beheading.
Gourdel, a 55-year-old mountain guide, was kidnapped in
September while hiking in a national park that was once a draw
for tourists but became a sanctuary for Islamists.
He was later decapitated by
Jund al-Khilafa, which was
formed at the end of August after
splintering from Al Qaeda in the
Islamic Maghreb and pledging
allegiance to IS.
His killing followed calls by
IS for Muslims to kill Western-
ers whose nations have joined a
campaign to battle the militants
in Iraq and Syria.
The defence ministry said in a
statement it had received information that led to forces pursuing “a dangerous terrorist group
travelling in a vehicle”, before
killing Gouri and two others.
A source familiar with the operation said the bodies of three
suspected militants were taken
to a local hospital, where Gouri’s
death was confirmed by his father
early yesterday.
Violence involving Islamists
has fallen considerably since the
1990s civil war, but groups linked
to AQIM continue to launch attacks in the northeast, mostly on
security forces.
Gouri, alias Khaled Abou
Souleimane, was the former
right-hand man of AQIM leader
Abdelmalek Droukdel, and is
suspected of helping to organise
suicide attacks on the government palace and against a UN
contingent in Algiers in 2007.
He is also thought to have masterminded an April attack that
killed 11 soldiers in Iboudrarene,
the same region where Gourdel
was kidnapped.
The town of Isser in the Kabylie area is home to a large officer
training school that was targeted
in a 2008 suicide attack that
killed dozens.
Gourdel’s body has yet to be
found, despite a widespread
search by the army which has
already found a Jund al-Khilafa
hideout and identified the location where a video was filmed in
August showing the group pledge
fealty to IS.
Another two “dangerous terrorists” were killed yesterday in
Akerrou, 120km southeast of Algiers, the army said.
Essebsi says
Tunisia has
�turned page’
on despotism
Libyan soldiers stand on a tank as heavy black smoke rises from Benghazi’s port after a fire broke out at a car tyre disposal plant during clashes yesterday.
UN warns of war crimes
as hundreds die in Libya
The UN human rights agency
warns that many of the
abuses being committed
across Libya “may amount to
war crimes”
ecent п¬Ѓghting in Libya has
killed hundreds of civilians and forced hundreds
of thousands to flee their homes,
the UN said yesterday, demanding justice for serious rights
violations and possible “war
In a joint report, the UN
human rights office and the
UN Support Mission in Libya
(UNSMIL) warned of surging violence across the country
since May and widespread human rights violations, including abductions of civilians,
torture and executions.
“Violations are continuing
with impunity. There has been
no effort to stop them,” Ravina
Shamdasani, spokeswoman for
the UN human rights agency,
told reporters in Geneva.
She warned that many of the
abuses being committed across
Libya “may amount to war
Three years after Muammar
Gaddafi was toppled and killed
in a Nato-backed revolt, Libya is
awash with weapons and powerful militias, and run by rival governments and parliaments.
Yesterday’s report pointed to
an escalation in п¬Ѓghting since
mid-October in Benghazi, where
forces loyal to General Khalifa
Haftar have been battling Islamist militiamen who have taken
control of much of Libya’s second city.
Some 450 people were killed
Egypt satirist п¬Ѓned
millions of dollars
satirist has been п¬Ѓned
millions of dollars over
a dispute with a television
channel which suspended his
show after it lampooned military leaders, officials said yesterday.
Bassem Youssef, often compared to US satirist Jon Stewart, moved Al Bernameg (The
Programme) to Saudi-owned
channel MBC last year after
it was pulled by the private
Egyptian broadcaster CBC.
The Cairo Regional Centre
for International Commercial
Arbitration п¬Ѓned Youssef and
his company, Q-Soft, 50mn
Egyptian pounds ($6.5mn)
each for “CBC’s financial and
literary losses”, CBC owner
Mohamed al-Amin said.
The arbitration body said
the weekly show was not
“purposeful and constructive” but a platform for
“smearing the country’s political direction”.
It said that if Youssef’s
company failed to pay its part
of the п¬Ѓne then he would have
to shoulder it all himself.
CBC suspended Al Bernameg in November 2013 after an episode in which the
satirist poked fun at military
leaders including then army
chief and now President Abdel
Fattah al-Sisi.
The private channel said at
the time that Youssef had “violated the editorial policies”
of the channel.
there in the two months leading up to mid-December, and
some 90,000 people had fled,
including more than 9,000
seeking shelter in schools, unfinished buildings and open
spaces like parking lots, the report said.
Clashes in Benghazi on Monday meanwhile killed another 16
people and wounded dozens, security sources and medics said.
In the western Warshafana
area, п¬Ѓghting between rival
armed groups had killed some
100 people and injured 500 others between mid-August and
mid-October, the report found.
It warned of “a humanitarian crisis” with at least 120,000
people displaced in the area facing “severe shortages of food and
medical supplies”.
Fighting in the neighbouring
Nafusa mountains had also left
a reported 170 people dead, and
displaced around 5,700 families,
it said.
People displaced by the п¬Ѓghting had told UNSMIL that hundreds of houses, farms and businesses had been looted, shelled,
burned down, or destroyed by
In the capital Tripoli the humanitarian situation had improved since late August, but
activists, journalists and public
п¬Ѓgures continued to be abducted and threatened, the report
“One prominent human rights
defender received text messages
from armed groups warning him
to stop his advocacy work or else
his children would be abducted
and killed,” it said.
Several journalists had been
killed, including the October 5
killing of Al-Tayeb Isa, the founder of Tuareg Tumsat television,
whose body was found riddled
with bullets and his car set on п¬Ѓre.
The report painted a horrifying picture of widespread abductions, torture and abuse, as
well as reports of summary executions, including beheadings.
A father and son detained at a
checkpoint in Al Maya said they
had been severely beaten before
their captors poured petrol over
them and threatened to burn
them alive.
In a statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein cautioned
commanders and high-ranking
officials that they were “criminally liable under international
law” for any human rights abuses they commit or order.
They could also be held accountable if they “fail to take
reasonable and necessary measures to prevent or punish” war
crimes or human rights violations taking place, he said.
unisia’s new leader Beji
Caid Essebsi said the
country has turned the
page on dictatorship after a
presidential vote that European observers hailed yesterday
as “credible and transparent”.
Essebsi, an 88-year-old
veteran of previous Tunisian
regimes, was on Monday declared the winner of a vote
seen as a landmark for the
birthplace of the Arab Spring.
The election rounded off
Tunisia’s transition to democracy and has won praise from
Western leaders including US
President Barack Obama.
European Union observers
reported yesterday that Tunisians had voted “for the first
time in a credible and transparent presidential election”.
The head of the EU mission,
Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck,
said however that “private
television channels had clearly favoured the candidate Essebsi”.
That was in line with complaints from his opponent
Moncef Marzouki during an
often bitter and divisive campaign that has raised concerns
that Essebsi’s victory marks
the return of Tunisia’s old
But Essebsi insisted Tunisia
would not turn back history.
“I am for completely turning the page on the past, we
must go beyond the past and
look to the future,” Essebsi
said in a nationally televised
interview late on Monday.
Marzouki, a long-exiled
69-year-old former rights
activist, has conceded defeat and called for calm after
hundreds of his supporters
clashed with police on Sunday
and Monday.
On national television late
Monday, Marzouki urged supporters to respect the result
and return to their homes “in
the name of national unity”.
“These are the rules of the
democratic process,” he said.
Signing ceremony
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of
the People in Beijing yesterday. Sisi is on a state visit to China.
Essebsi is now expected to
begin forming a government,
after his Nidaa Tounes party
won parliamentary polls in
The moderately Islamist
Ennahda party, which was
in power after the revolution
and installed Marzouki as
president, came second in the
general election and has not
ruled out joining in a governing coalition.
The presidential vote - the
п¬Ѓrst time Tunisians have freely elected their head of state
since independence in 1956 was seen as a milestone for the
country that sparked the Arab
Spring with the 2011 ouster of
long-time strongman Zine El
Abidine Ben Ali.
The revolution that began
in Tunisia spread to many
parts of the Arab world, with
mass protests in Egypt, Libya,
Syria and Yemen.
In every country except Tunisia the revolution was followed by violent turmoil or, as
in Syria’s case, a devastating
civil war.
Obama congratulated Essebsi and hailed the vote as “a
vital step toward the completion of Tunisia’s momentous
transition to democracy”.
President Francois Hollande of France, Tunisia’s
former colonial ruler, also
praised Tunisians for their
“determination, sense of
responsibility and spirit of
Tunisian newspapers yesterday underlined the difficulties ahead, with daily La
Presse saying the new leader
must deal with “a massive
debt, weak growth, high unemployment,
competitiveness and highly
threatened security”.
Le Temps hailed Tunisia for
emerging “victorious from
a gruelling and painful ordeal”, adding that voters had
not given Essebsi a “blank
cheque” to do as he pleases.
“No party is in a position to
claim that it alone can solve
the country’s problems,” the
daily said.
Sisi ratifies law
on constituencies
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah
al-Sisi on Monday ratified a
law finalising the electoral
constituencies, his office said,
paving the way for much-awaited
parliamentary elections.
Electing a new parliament is a key
step in a roadmap announced
by the army after it ousted
Mohamed Mursi on July 3, 2013.
The new law divides the country
into 237 constituencies for
individual candidacy seats
and another four for party list
seats, the presidency said in a
“The law guarantees a fair
representation of voters...
from all governorates in the
people’s assembly regardless of
their population,” presidential
spokesman Alaa Yousef said in
the statement.
The Supreme Electoral
Commission had recently said
the date for the parliamentary
polls will be fixed after a law
finalising the constituencies was
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Former footballer has
edge in senate race
Burundi budget
to rise 6.4% in 2015
Ivory smuggling
�kingpin’ arrested
Tanzania suspends
senior energy official
Gambia arrests 3 men
over homosexual acts
Liberia’s former football star George Weah held
an overwhelming lead over the president’s son in
one of the country’s senate races on the weekend,
Radio Veritas reported yesterday. The contest
between Weah and Robert Sirleaf, son of President
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was the most high-profile
race in the elections, which had been postponed
twice since October out of fear that campaigning
and voting might spread the Ebola virus. Weah
- FIFA’s 1995 Player of the Year and founder of
the Congress for Democratic Change opposition
party - had nearly 80% of the vote in Monrovia’s
Montserrado County, according to provisional
results released late Monday.
Aid-dependent Burundi aims to increase its budget
by 6.4% in 2015, with more money set to go towards
agriculture, energy and infrastructure projects. The
landlocked East African country of nearly 10mn people
projects its economy will grow by 5.4% in 2015 against
an estimated 4.8% in 2014, largely thanks to big infrastructure projects. The International Monetary Fund
last week projected growth of 4.7% next year. Just
under half of Burundi’s planned 1.5tn franc ($970mn)
budget for 2015 will be funded by international donors,
according to a plan approved by parliament on Monday. The government expects to receive grants worth
679.8bn francs, down from 707.8bn francs it received
this year.
A suspected organised crime boss alleged to be
a leading figure in the illegal ivory trade has been
arrested by Interpol agents in Tanzania, officials
said yesterday. The international police organisation last month put Kenyan national Feisal Ali
Mohamed on a list of nine most wanted suspects
linked to crimes against the environment. “Feisal
Ali Mohamed was arrested by Interpol officers in
Dar es Salaam. He was then booked in Musimbasi
police station at 10.42pm last night,” Kenya’s director of public prosecutions said in a statement. It
said he is facing charges in Kenya’s port city of
Mombasa for “dealing and possession of elephant
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kiwete’s office suspended a
senior energy ministry official yesterday, the third political casualty of a corruption scandal that has rocked the
east African nation. Tanzania is estimated to have 53.2tn
cubic feet (tcf) of gas reserves off its southern coast. But
its energy sector has long been dogged by allegations
of graft which have now led Western donors to delay
aid and weakened Tanzania’s currency. Eliakim Maswi,
permanent secretary in the ministry of energy and
minerals, was suspended a day after Kikwete sacked a
senior cabinet minister over the graft allegations. Maswi
was among senior officials accused by parliament last
month of fraudulently authorising the transfer of at least
$122mn of public funds to a private company.
Gambian authorities arrested three men and accused them of committing homosexual acts, which
are punishable with a maximum sentence of life
imprisonment under a law signed in October, state
television said on Monday. The arrests followed a
security operation and the men have confessed
that they are gay, according to the TV report. Their
nationalities were not named. “We go around in
search of suspected individuals and in the course
of the investigations we arrested the men and they
have confessed that they have engaged in these
inhuman acts,” the broadcast said. Gambia and
President Yahya Jammeh face global condemnation
over the country’s human rights record.
Farmers reap
little benefit
from sharp fall
in oil prices
rom the coffee plantations
of Uganda to the maize
п¬Ѓelds of Zambia, the collapse in world oil prices has so far
brought few benefits for African
farmers, with stubbornly high
pump prices and voracious middlemen maintaining a squeeze on
Only in South Africa, the
continent’s most sophisticated economy and one of its top
agricultural producers, have
fuel prices - tightly regulated
by the government - come
down enough to make a difference.
Elsewhere, many smallholders are unaware of the nearhalving of crude oil prices on
world markets since July, and
even the better informed doubt
any savings will filter through
the web of agents and brokers
that dominates much of African
“If it’s true fuel prices are falling, it is possible these traders
will increase what they’re paying
us,” said 73-year-old Ugandan
Gladys Kavuma, who has been
farming two acres of coffee in
Buloba, 15km west of Kampala,
for four decades.
“But I doubt prices will ever
improve. They will simply come
up with another reason to keep
prices low,” she said, with a resigned shrug.
A typical Ugandan smallholder
who has brought up п¬Ѓve children
on the back of her meagre coffee
earnings, Kavuma’s plight is replicated across sub-Saharan Africa, which relies on small farmers
for 80% of its food.
In essence, weak government
regulation means fuel importers
and distributors can raise pump
prices as crude oil rises, but drag
their feet when it drops.
“We have heard and read
that the cost of oil has
dropped globally but unfortunately we are yet to feel the
effects,” said Jack Kneppers,
a Dutch florist who employs
500 people at his Maridadi
farm in Naivasha, northwest
of Nairobi, Kenya.
“The price of fuel has dropped
by a few shillings and this has
very little if any effect on our cost
of production.”
In countries such as Zambia, Africa’s number two copper producer, oil’s dramatic
decline has been offset by
currency weakness as foreign investors have retreated
from frontier market debt and
stocks due to concerns about
global growth.
Furthermore, fuel imports
are often paid for months in advance, meaning any benefit from
the collapse in oil prices is delayed.
In its п¬Ѓrst price adjustment
since April, Zambia dropped
pump prices by 2.5% at the end
of November based on fuel shipments bought in August, when
crude was only just beginning its
Over that time, the kwacha
weakened 8%, eroding much of
the impact of the oil price decline.
“The drop in global oil prices
has not been felt in Zambia. The
reduction in prices has been extremely negligible and means
nothing to the farming community,” said 62-year-old Request Muntanga, who owns a
500-hectare maize farm south of
Only in South Africa, where
fuel price changes п¬Ѓlter through
faster and the government is
stricter about ensuring reductions are passed on, have farmers
seen major savings.
According to commercial
farmers group AgriSA, for every
0.1 rand drop in the domestic
fuel price, farmers nationwide
save an annualised 100mn rand
Economists forecast that petrol will fall to 11.44 rand a litre
next month, its lowest since
August 2012 and 20% below a
record 14.39 rand in April.
If sustained, such a decline
means $250mn wiped off the annual fuel bill of South Africa’s
commercial farmers.
The knock-on effect is even
greater as the price of chemical
fertilizer, another hydrocarbon
by-product, should also come
down over time.
“If fertilizer prices do come
down it will have a huge effect,” AgriSA president Johannes
Moller said. “Production will go
up and food prices will at least
start rising slower, or may even
come down. It’s good news all
Christmas shoppers flock to a market despite concerns over Ebola in Monrovia, capital of Liberia, yesterday.
Exhausted medics battle
Ebola in the �red zone’
Of the three countries worst
hit by the outbreak, Sierra
Leone now has the most
cases and the numbers are
rising fastest; roughly half
are in Freetown
Hastings, Sierra Leone
hen Dr Sekou Kanneh
goes to work at his
Sierra Leonean Ebola
clinic, he will probably be in the
“red zone” for many hours, ignoring by necessity strict limits
that govern foreign colleagues
п¬Ѓghting the epidemic.
Conditions at Kanneh’s treatment centre, the only Ebola unit
in the country run by local staff,
contrast to the purpose-built
facilities where foreign volunteers who have flocked to Sierra
Leone, Guinea and Liberia work.
Kanneh has received no official training to treat the virus
that has killed over 7,000 people
in West Africa. Still, he works
up to four-hour shifts in the stifling heat of the red zone, a ward
where healthcare workers have
direct contact with the highly
contagious Ebola patients.
“We don’t have time for surgery any more, and many of our
surgeons are dead from Ebola,”
he said, rubbing his brow in the
dense heat, his green medical
gown dark with sweat.
Last week, US medics showed
UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon around their air-conditioned treatment centre near the
Liberian capital, explaining how
every precaution is taken to protect workers.
Highly-trained staff at the US
unit may stay in the red zone for
a maximum of two hours - for
good reason. Less time there
means less risk of exposure to
Ebola and of making possibly
fatal mistakes. Workers must
also avoid suffering dehydration
in their polyethylene protective
suits, which even with air conditioning are extremely hot to
In the Sierra Leonean capital
of Freetown, medical charity
Medecins Sans Frontieres limits
the time local and international
staff spend in the red zone of its
facility to about one hour.
Britain, France, Cuba and
others have also sent doctors,
and the foreign-run facilities
are generally well funded. But
things are different when Kanneh puts on his “PPE” - the personal protective equipment of
a suit, gloves and mask - at his
unit on the site of a former police academy.
“If you tell me to remove
my PPE after 45 minutes and I
hear a patient saying �doctor,
doctor I’m dying’, then I won’t
leave,” Kanneh said at his clinic
in Hastings, a community just
outside Freetown.
Reassurance is vital for those
suffering symptoms such as
vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding from eyes and ears. “The
patients can’t see faces because
of the mask so the voice is really
important,” he said.
For Kanneh, who trained as a
surgeon in Russia, the shifts are
gruelling. One recent Sunday,
he found himself working alone
to supervise treatment of 27 patients as one colleague was at
church and another is recovering from the virus.
Of the three impoverished
countries worst hit by the outbreak, Sierra Leone now has the
most cases and the numbers are
rising fastest; roughly half are in
Sierra Leone had only 136
doctors before the epidemic
struck and 12 of them have become infected, mostly fatally,
including the country’s leading
doctor, Victor Willoughby. He
died last week, a few hours after
the arrival in Sierra Leone of an
experimental drug that could
have been used to treat him.
Across the three countries,
358 healthcare workers have died
from Ebola, according to World
Health Organisation п¬Ѓgures.
But the loss of Willoughby,
who mentored a generation of
Sierra Leonean medical students, was a particularly heavy
blow to morale. Willoughby
had won great respect for staying throughout a civil war that
lasted more than a decade until
2002, rather than taking a more
lucrative post abroad.
“We have lost too many in the
battle,” Kanneh said. “I don’t
want them to be forgotten. We
remember them each time we go
back into the red zone.”
At the Hastings centre, gloved
workers walk along its open-air
corridors with buckets, while a
clergyman consoles a handful of
gaunt survivors.
Kanneh, who has no medical insurance, stays on site in
Blast at Nigeria
market kills 7
Opposition challenges
Kenyan security law
enya’s opposition coalition filed a court challenge yesterday to overturn new anti-terrorism laws it
says are hasty and undermine
basic freedoms.
The measures will allow
suspects to be held without charge for 360 days, four
times longer than before,
compel landlords to provide
information about their tenants, and punish media that
print material “likely to cause
fear or alarm.”
President Uhuru Kenyatta,
who championed the amendments, has faced pressure to
boost security after a spate of
deadly attacks over the past 18
Somali militant group Al Shebaab, which massacred 67 people in a Nairobi shopping mall
last year, killed more than 60 in
two attacks this month in northeastern Kenya.
The government says the new
rules compare favourably with
US laws enacted after 9/11. Opposition leaders say they threaten civil liberties and free speech,
and might unfairly target the
minority Muslim population. It
was not clear how long the High
Court would take to consider
their challenge.
“Those who conceived these
new laws and rushed them
through the National Assembly
did so in the hope that Kenyans
would be too busy enjoying the
(Christmas) season to notice the
evil being plotted by their leaders,” Raila Odinga, an opposition
leader and former prime minister, said in a statement.
“But we love our country and
our freedom more than the merry-making.”
The measures were approved
last week during several chaotic sessions of parliament, with
rival lawmakers exchanging
“We are saying that this law is
invalid, that the provisions are
inconsistent with the Constitution. It is null and void,” lawyer
and Senator James Orengo, representing the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy
(CORD), told High Court Justice
Isaac Lenaola.
He also argued the law was
a spartan room near the Ebola
ward and is often on call overnight. Numbers of patients at
Hastings have dropped since
early December, thanks partly
to six new facilities built by the
British military.
But with funding falling far
short of that for the foreign facilities, staff at Hastings are exhausted and frustrated. A pharmacist showed a list of around
180 staff members out of a total
of 257 who say they have not
received their full government
wages and risk allowance.
“If you look at the risk allowance of white people, it’s much
higher. I’m angry. This is risky
work,” said Mohamed Marrah,
who supervises workers as they
don PPEs.
Even in centres run by Western groups, the majority of staff
are local. Medecins Sans Frontieres has around 30 foreign
workers and 250 Sierra Leonians
at its Prince of Wales facility.
“It’s not unrealistic for Sierra
Leone doctors to have the same
conditions as Western ones but
somebody has to be prepared to
fund that,” said O B Sisay, director of the situation room at the
National Ebola Response Centre.
Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga addresses journalists outside a courtroom after filing a case against
the newly-signed security laws in Nairobi yesterday.
passed in violation of parliamentary procedures, asking the
court to “delay implementation
of this unconstitutional law”
pending a п¬Ѓnal decision on its
Nine foreign diplomatic
missions, including the US,
Britain, France, Germany,
Canada and Australia, said
in a statement that they supported plans to improve security, but human rights should
also be respected.
Over the weekend, a spokesman for Kenyatta singled out the
US for siding with “the noisemakers” and said Kenya’s law
was better than security legislation adopted by the US after the
Al Qaeda attacks of September
11, 2001.
“What is more, Kenya has no
Guantanamo Bay!” Munyori
Buku, senior director of public communication, said on the
president’s website.
A explosion at the main market
in northeast Nigeria’s Bauchi city
killed seven people and injured 25
in an area repeatedly attacked by
Boko Haram, police said yesterday. The blast on Monday evening
set much of the market on fire,
including an area dominated by
women traders, according to the
Red Cross. “Seven persons were
confirmed dead while 25 others
sustained various degrees of injuries, out which six have been treated and discharged and 19 others
are responding to treatment,”
police spokesman Haruna Mohamed said. So far there has been
no official confirmation that the
explosion was caused by a bomb,
but Nigeria’s Islamist insurgents
have a long track record targeting
markets during their five-year
uprising. Mohamed said a number
of people tried to rob shops in the
market in the chaos that followed
the blast and that seven of them
had been arrested. Rescue workers and witnesses said reaching
the victims immediately after the
blast was impossible because of
the raging inferno.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Mayor’s plea to pause
protests is rejected
Protesters are unwilling to lose
momentum in a crtical stage of the
New York
rotesters who have rallied for weeks
over excessive use of police force rejected New York City Mayor Bill de
Blasio’s plea to suspend demonstrations
after the killing of two officers, vowing to
march in the center of Manhattan.
De Blasio and other politicians have
called for a cooling of tensions after the officers were ambushed Saturday while sitting in their patrol car, shocking a city that
had seen largely peaceful demonstrations
over decisions by grand juries in New York
and Missouri not to indict white police officers in the killings of unarmed black men.
Since Saturday, some activists have woven in protests against the killings of officers Rafael Ramos, 40, and Wenjian Liu, 32,
into their rallies and vigils.
Answer Coalition, organisers of a march
on 5th Avenue in midtown Manhattan said
a “peaceful protest against police violence” would continue as planned. “The
mayor’s call for a suspension of democracy
and the exercise of free speech rights in the
face of ongoing injustice is outrageous.”
The point-blank shootings of Ramos and
People protest in the rain outside the justice department in Washington, DC. The
demonstrators from the Hands Up Coalition DC gave a list of demands during the rally.
Liu electrified tensions between City Hall,
the police department and the reformminded protesters who voted for de Blasio, a
liberal Democrat, in large numbers last year
to run the largest US city of 8mn people.
Similar protests, some of them violent, have taken place across the United
States, provoking a bitter debate about
how American police forces treat nonwhite citizens that has drawn in President
Barack Obama and his attorney general,
Eric Holder.
De Blasio on Monday called for a pause
in protests until after the funerals of the
two police officers.
Saturday’s attack has left police forces
around the United States on edge. Police in
Chicopee, Massachusetts, on Tuesday said
they would seek to bring criminal charges
against a man for posting the words “put
wings on pigs” on his Facebook page, a
phrase similar to the one used by the man
who shot the officers in New York.
The gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who
was black, in a social media posting
linked his plans to the July chokehold
death of Eric Garner, 43, in New York’s
Staten Island borough and the August
shooting of Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Missouri.
Brinsley shot himself to death after killing the officers.
De Blasio, who campaigned on a promise of repairing relations between police
and members of minority communities,
has been harshly criticised by the city’s
largest police union for being insufficiently supportive of police.
But the mayor angrily rebutted those
claims on Monday, saying there was no
conflict between opposing police violence
and supporting police officers.
Emerald Garner, a daughter of Eric Garner, left a wreath at an impromptu roadside memorial swelling with flowers and
candles that marks the spot where Ramos
and Liu were killed.
“My dad wasn’t a violent man, so to use
his name to do something that’s violent is
definitely not something that my father
would want,” she told reporters.
Liu had married only two months before his death. His widow, Pei Xia Chen,
emerged from her Brooklyn home with
relatives on Monday evening.
“This is a difficult time for both of our
families,” she said. “But we will stand together and get through this together.”
Capitol Christmas tree
Sony clears
release of
ony said yesterday it will
release madcap comedy
The Interview in some US
theaters on Christmas Day, after it cancelled the movie’s debut following threats blamed on
North Korea.
“We have never given up on
releasing The Interview and
we’re excited our movie will
be in a number of theaters on
Christmas Day,” said Michael
Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment.
He said the film would be released on more “platforms” and
in more theaters in the future.
Some US independent movie
theatres are to show the comedy
on Christmas Day as planned,
despite threats blamed on
North Korea’s erratic regime.
The Alamo Drafthouse in
Austin, Texas, and the Plaza Atlanta in Georgia were the п¬Ѓrst to
say yesterday they would show
the movie, which lampoons
North Korean dictator Kim
“We are making shows available within the hour. Victory,” said Alamo founder Tim
League, in a tweet announcing
that Sony had reversed a decision to cancel the film’s release.
There was no immediate
comment from Sony, but US
media reported that the company was preparing to an-
nounced a limited theatrical
release of the movie along with
online video-on-demand.
Last week, Sony cancelled
the December 25 release of The
Interview, a madcap caper in
which Seth Rogen and James
Franco play television journalists recruited to assassinate
The Hollywood giant had
suffered a massive cyber attack
on its internal computer network that US authorities now
blame on Pyongyang, which
has denounced the movie as a
terrorist threat.
Following the hack, which
exposed humiliating company
secrets and the personal data
of employees, Sony received
anonymous threats that cinemas showing the п¬Ѓlm would
face violent attack.
While denouncing the movie, North Korea has denied any
role in the hacking. US President Barak Obama said it faces
a “proportionate response” to
what he called its “cyber vandalism.”
North Korea’s already limited
Internet links have been cutting
in and out for two days, because
of what experts said appeared
to be a “denial of service” attack, but no one has claimed
Sony, meanwhile, was widely
criticised—including by Obama
himself—for backing down to
the threats and cancelling the
Oklahoma execution
methods upheld
The US Capitol looms behind the Capitol Christmas Tree December in Washington, DC. The white pine, approximately 88-feet tall, is a gift from the state of Minnesota
and was harvested from the Chippewea National Forest in Cass Lake, Minnesota. The tree is decorated with approximately 10,000 handmade ornaments from
Minnesota communities.
�Canadian psycho’ found guilty
of murdering Chinese student
Canadian man who killed and dismembered a Chinese student in
Montreal in 2012 was found guilty
of п¬Ѓrst-degree murder yesterday, with the
jury delivering a verdict after more than a
week of deliberating the gruesome case.
Luka Magnotta, 32, had admitted to
killing and dismembering engineering
student Jun Lin, 33, but pleaded not guilty
on grounds of mental illness.
Magnotta was also found guilty of committing an indignity to a human body,
publishing and mailing obscene material,
and criminally harassing Canadian Prime
Minister Stephen Harper and other members of parliament.
The prosecution had argued that Magnotta was “a man on a mission” and had
carefully planned his acts.
The verdict came on the 8th day of
Luka Rocco Magnotta escorted by police
upon arrival from Germany on June 18,
2012 at Mirabel Airport in Mirabel, Quebec,
jury deliberations. Magnotta stood in the
glassed-in, high-security prisoner’s dock
as the verdicts were read out. The jury
foreman answered “guilty” in a firm voice
as the court clerk asked what the decision
was on each of п¬Ѓve charges.
In a statement to the court afterward,
the presiding judge, justice Guy Cournoyer, said the case “was by all standards
He praised the jury for their dedication
and patience. “We have asked a lot of you
but you rose to the occasion and indeed
proved that real and substantive justice is
a reality,” he said.
The jury was shown a video of Magnotta’s acts that he had posted online. The
prosecution said that six months before
the killing, Magnotta had emailed a British
journalist to say he planned to kill a human
and make a movie of it.
“We had good evidence of premeditation and that the crime was planned and
deliberate, so I thought that we had a
good case on that,” Louis Bouthillier, the
prosecutor, said: “There was never any
doubt in my mind that the jury would п¬Ѓnd
Mr Magnotta guilty of first-degree murder.”
The jury heard that Magnotta, a gay escort, had sought psychiatric help about a
month before Lin’s death. Magnotta’s father, who testified at the trial, also has a
medical history of schizophrenia.
The case gripped Canada in the spring
of 2012 after Lin’s body parts were found
in the trash behind a Montreal apartment
building and in packages mailed to political parties in Ottawa and to schools in
The mailed packages contained
hands and feet wrapped in pink tissue paper as well as notes and poems.
The victim’s father, Diran Lin, travelled
from China to attend the trial. A lawyer
representing him read the father’s statement to the court after the verdict.
“The night Lin Jun died, parts of many
other people died in one way or another.
His mother, his sister and me, his friends
... in one night, we lost a lifetime of hope,”
the statement said.
“I had come to see your trial system to
see justice done, and I leave satisfied that
you have not let my son down.”
US judge has refused to
halt Oklahoma’s use of
controversial execution
drugs, rejecting defence lawyers’ arguments that the methods are “prolonged and agonising”.
The decision comes after the
botched execution of Clayton
Lockett, a convicted murderer and rapist, who was put to
death in April using an untested
three-drug protocol in a process that took 43 minutes.
This was well over the expected time of 10 minutes and
officials said Lockett, who was
seen writhing in pain, bucking
off the gurney and mumbling
unintelligibly, ultimately died
of a massive heart attack.
Lawyers п¬Ѓled a preliminary
injunction last month arguing
that some combinations of lethal injection drugs—including
the controversial anesthetic
Midazolam—cause “prolonged
and agonising death” for inmates, who they said were not
adequately informed about
Attorneys argued against
“using any drugs or combination of drugs that is experimental and being used on captive
human subjects”, according to
court documents.
But US district judge Stephen
Friot on Monday denied the request for a preliminary injunction, saying it was “without
Death penalty opponents allege that recent lengthy executions—which at times left inmates suffering for more than
an hour—amount to the “cruel
and unusual” punishment forbidden by the US Constitution.
Midazolam was used in three
executions this year—in Ohio,
Oklahoma and Arizona—that
were criticised because the
condemned took longer than
usual to die and apparently suffered.
Man shot, wounded
on border bridge
S officers shot and
wounded a Canadian
man early Sunday as he
crossed a border bridge into the
United States while waving a
handgun, officials said.
US Customs and Border Protection said that the man, who
was not identified, stopped his
car around 3am (0800 GMT)
near an inspection booth on the
Ambassador Bridge that links
Detroit, Michigan to the Canadian city of Windsor in Ontario
“CBP officers ordered the
man to drop his weapon to
which he did not comply,” continuing to walk toward them,
spokesman Kris Grogan said in
a statement.
“After pointing the weapon
in the direction of the officers, CBP officers п¬Ѓred upon
the individual, who fell to the
The man was then treated at
a local hospital, from which he
was released. He is still under
CTV television said the man,
a Windsor native, has had previous run-ins with the law in
Just minutes before the border incident, Windsor police
had an encounter with the same
man again holding a gun in the
parking lot of a McDonald’s fast
food restaurant, according to
As he walked toward the
McDonald’s, police ordered
the man at gunpoint to drop
his weapon. The suspect then
turned toward the officers and
pointed his п¬Ѓrearm at them.
“Why haven’t you shot me
yet?” he asked, CTV said citing
police. The man then entered
his vehicle and drove over the
sidewalk and curb.
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Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Panda conservation awareness drive
Illegal Indonesian
migrants deported
from Malaysia
deported nearly 500
undocumented Indonesian workers, in what
analysts said was part of a
push to clamp down on illegal
labour as the economy starts
to slow.
The workers were brought
in shackles to Subang Airport
west of Kuala Lumpur, where
Indonesian officials said they
would be loaded onto military
C-130 aircraft to be flown to
their native country.
Another 200 will be deported today, Indonesia’s ambassador to Malaysia Herman
Prayitno said, adding that
more illegal workers may be
sent back next year.
Mohamed Arifuddin, who
worked as a labourer in construction for four years in Malaysia before being arrested,
said he hopes to return to seek
legal employment.
“I will try to get the legal
documents and return to Ma-
laysia to work,” the 36-yearold said.
Malaysia draws migrants
from across the region and
even from South Asian nations such as India, Nepal and
More than 6mn foreign
migrants, most of them illegals, are thought to work in
factories, plantations, restaurants and in other jobs largely
shunned by more affluent Malaysians.
But Yeah Kim Leng, dean of
Malaysia University of Science
and Technolgy, said it looked
like authorities were clamping down on illegal workers as
growth has started to slow.
“The Malaysian economy
is softening. The deportation
of the illegal migrants seems
to coincide with the economic
slowdown,” he said
Kuala Lumpur in October forecast solid economic
growth of between 5-6% next
year, but the World Bank recently trimmed its forecast
to 4.7%, citing lower exports
and weaker commodity and oil
A general view shows part of the 1,600 paper pandas displayed in front of Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office building in Putrajaya yesterday. The paper pandas were created
by French artist Paulo Grangeon, who crafted 1,600 pandas, to mark the number of the current living pandas left in the wild. The creations, which were made in six
different shapes and sizes, will visit more than 15 iconic landmarks in Malaysia under the theme �Initiating the Culture of Creative Conservation’. The tour will run from
December 21-January 25, 2015 to promote the message of panda conservation and sustainable development.
Thai deputy PM tells
US �polls in Feb 2016’
general election to return
Thailand to democracy
after a military coup in
May will be held in February
2016 at the earliest, a deputy
prime minister said yesterday,
later than the military had initially indicated.
The military government said
last month an election planned
for late 2015 would be delayed
until 2016, giving more time for
reforms which the military says
should bring stability after a
decade of factional rivalry.
The May 22 coup followed
establishmentbacked protests against a populist elected government and it
damaged Thailand’s relations
with some of its Western allies.
Wisanu Krue-ngam gave the
most clear indication of an election date after talks with a top US
“I told the US charge d’affaires
today elections will take place at
the earliest in February 2016,”
Wisanu told reporters.
“But if we have to have a referendum, polls could be delayed by
a further three months,” he said,
referring to a possible plebiscite
on a new constitution.
Thailand has been divided
for nearly a decade between rival camps, one led by former
Thaskin Shinawatra, whose
populist policies have won him
and his parties every election
since 2001. Opposed to him is
the royalist and military establishment which sees Thaksin as a
free-spending, opportunist who
bought power by handing out
taxpayers’ money in the voterich countryside.
Thaksin’s supporters suspect
the reforms the military government is overseeing are aimed at
keeping the self-exiled, ousted
former premier and his allies
out of power for good, including
changes to election laws.
Thailand’s junta-appointed
National Reform Council last
week proposed stripping parliament of the power to appoint a
prime minister and cabinet.
A committee appointed to
draft the new constitution rejected that recommendation on
A senior Western diplomat
said he was not optimistic about
the possibility of an election in
2016, fearing Prime Minister
Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army
chef who launched the May
coup, could come up with a justification to delay.
“It is not inconceivable that
Prayuth will stay in power for
two to three years, despite his
pledge to return Thailand to democracy as soon as possible,”
said the diplomat, who declined
to be identified.
Questions over the return to
democracy come at a time of
extreme sensitivity surrounding the monarchy and in particular the issue of succession,
which has formed part of the
backdrop to the complex national crisis. King Bhumibol
Adulyadej, 87, is in hospital recovering from gallbladder surgery.
The king is regarded as almost divine by many Thais and
is widely seen as a unifying figure through years of political
Undocumented Indonesian worker Mohamed Arifuddin (front left)
walks along with others before being deported back to Indonesia,
at Subang Airport, outside Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Journalists beaten,
driver arrested in
Cambodian capital
Phnom Penh
ne man appeared in
court in the Cambodian capital yesterday after being arrested over
a violent confrontation with
journalists following a traffic
accident, police said.
Journalists had been reporting from the scene of a
traffic accident early Monday
near the Wat Phnom temple
in central Phnom Penh, when
drivers involved in the accident attempted to grab their
recording equipment.
Srah Chak commune police chief Kann Vannak said
seven local newspaper and
television reporters were
beaten during the fighting.
There were no reported
casualties from the accident itself, in which one car
collided with several other
vehicles. “We tried to run
to follow them to take our
property back ... Immediately, one man shot at us three
times,” one of the television
reporters, Ngov Dina, was
quoted as saying by the Cambodia Daily.
“Nobody was injured, but
one video camera was broken,”
Vannak said, adding that a
driver had been sent to Phnom
Penh court for allegedly causing the violence.
Police see little hope of naming about 369 tsunami victims
Takua Pa
ith the bodies of almost 400 victims of
the Indian Ocean tsunami still unidentified a decade
on, Thai police were holding
out little hope of gleaning any
new information from opening a
cargo container packed with unclaimed personal items.
Watches, chunky gold necklaces with Buddhist amulets,
an Egyptian souvenir coin
purse, and a wad of $1,800 in
cash were pulled from tattered
cardboard boxes and police evidence bags stashed in the container that has not been opened
since 2011.
The three metre by 12 metre
container was passed to various
Thai police agencies after the
2004 Boxing Day disaster that
killed at least 226,000 people in
14 countries. It was handed over
to Takua Pa district police in
southern Thailand in 2011.
But the Takua Pa police never looked inside until recently
when, after requests from Reu-
ters, they opened the container
ahead of the 10-year anniversary
of the Dec 26 tsunami when the
items can, by official regulation,
be put up for auction.
They initially believed the
container held the belongings of
unidentified victims, but found
some items were identification
cards and credit cards and could
be claimed by relatives.
“I’m a bit surprised by the
large number of valuables,” Lieutenant Colonel Voravit Yamaree
from Takua Pa district said as
his team surveyed the items on a
long, white table.
“I think back then everyone
was so busy focusing on identifying the corpses they may have
forgotten about this.”
The tsunami left 5,395 dead
and 2,932 missing in Thailand,
including about 2,000 foreign
tourists, when a wall of water several metres high ripped
through resorts and п¬Ѓshing villages on the Andaman Sea coast
in southern Thailand.
In the aftermath of the tsunami, forensics experts from 39
countries convened in Phang
Nga, where about 80% of the
Policemen hold bags with personal possessions of 2004 tsunami victims before they are photographed
outside a police station in Takua Pa, in Phang Nga province.
victims in Thailand perished, to
identify the bodies.
The Thai Tsunami Victim
Identification unit was considered one of the largest and most
successful projects of its kind,
putting names and faces to the
thousands of tourists, Thais and
migrant workers killed in the
Boxing Day disaster.
However, 10 years after the
one of the most devastating hu-
manitarian disasters in recorded
history, about 400 unclaimed
bodies — 369 of them still unidentified — rest in metal coffins,
marked with coded numbers.
In the past four years, just 24
bodies have been claimed, all but
one Thai nationals, according to
various reports.
In Ban Nam Khem, a sleepy
п¬Ѓshing village on the north end
of Phang Nga, the tsunami left
661 dead and 765 missing.
Ban Nam Khem resident Hin
Chan-ngern lost п¬Ѓve family
members in the tsunami -- his
wife, brother and three daughters. In the three years after
the disaster, four of their bodies were found, but his eldest
daughter remains among the
“We provided all of the information -- dental records, tissue
and DNA samples ... but they
still can’t find her. I don’t know
what more I can do,” said Hin,
sitting amid photos of his loved
ones killed in the tsunami.
The unidentified and unclaimed bodies are all in a cemetery in Bang Maruan village, just
south of Takua Pa.
The graveyard, with a metal
plaque at the gate listing the nations involved in the project, is
often overgrown with weeds.
Of the bodies there, authorities have identified 26 Thais and
26 Burmese, but their families
have not come to claim their
bodies, according to Colonel
Yuthaphong Intaraphone, the
police superintendent overseeing the Police Forensic Science
“It would cost them (the relatives of Burmese migrant workers) a decade of life savings to
come to Thailand and reclaim
the bodies,” Yutaphong said in an
interview at the Disaster Victim
Identification Centre in Bangkok.
What happens now to the personal possessions that have been
stashed in the container for years
remains unknown with the police headquarters in Bangkok to
make that call.
Even if the items in the container do not go up for auction,
the chances of victims’ families
claiming the possessions of their
loved ones are narrowing as the
boxes holding the contents deteriorate, said Voravit.
“We have records with code
numbers listed on each box,
but it is rather difficult to check
as the numbers are fading,”
he said.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Abbott warns of �terror chatter’
as memorials held for victims
ustralian Prime Minister
Tony Abbott said yesterday security officials
had intercepted a heightened
level of “terrorist chatter” in the
aftermath of the Sydney cafe
As memorial services were
held for the two victims of the
16-hour siege a week ago, Abbott warned that the public
needed to remain alert as the
country headed into Christmas and New Year celebrations.
agencies today indicated that
there has been a heightened
level of terrorist chatter in the
aftermath of the Martin Place
siege,” Abbott told reporters in
Man Haron Monis, a selfstyled sheikh, held hostages at
gunpoint at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Martin Place, a
central Sydney shopping and
office precinct, from midmorning on Monday last week.
Two hostages, cafe manager Tori Johnson and lawyer
Katrina Dawson, were killed
along with Monis when police
stormed the cafe.
An official investigation into
the final moments of the siege
and the deaths of all three is
“I’m alerting people to the
fact that the terror level remains high and at this level an
attack is likely,” Abbott said.
Police have said they would
be boosting their presence at
prominent locations such as
Sydney Harbour, home to the
Opera House, over the Christmas period.
Members of an all-women funeral company carry the coffin of Tori Johnson, manager of the Lindt cafe, following his funeral at St Stephens Uniting Church in Sydney
yesterday. Right: Mourners react as they leave the funeral of Tori Johnson.
Several of the 17 hostages
taken by Monis attended the
funeral service for 34-yearold Johnson at a church just
metres away from the cafe.
New South Wales (NSW)
state Premier Mike Baird and
Police Commissioner Andrew
Scipione also joined mourners,
who included Johnson’s partner of 14 years.
A quote from philosopher
Rumi under a photo of Johnson
graced the cover of the funeral
booklet: “Outside the ideas of
wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field. I will meet you
Seoul steps up cyber
security at nuclear plants
outh Korea boosted cyber
security at the country’s
nuclear power plants
yesterday following what President Park Geun-hye described
as a series “grave” data leaks,
and prosecutors said they were
investigating a new online
Korea Hydro and Nuclear
Power Co Ltd (KHNP), which
runs South Korea’s 23 nuclear
power reactors, said on Monday its computer systems had
been hacked, raising alarm in a
country that is still technically
at war with North Korea.
Park ordered inspections of
safeguards at national infrastructure facilities, including
nuclear power plants, against
what she called “cyber terrorism”.
A government official said
authorities had raised the cyber crisis alert by one level for
all the state-run companies to
Nod for
payout to
“caution” from “attention”.
The nuclear operator, part of
state-run utility Korea Electric
Power Corp, said only noncritical data had been stolen
and operations of the nuclear
plants were not at risk. South
Korea’s law enforcement authorities are investigating the
leaks. “Nuclear power plants
are first-class security installations that directly impact the
safety of the people,” Park said
at a cabinet meeting, according
to her office.
“A grave situation that is unacceptable has developed when
there should have been not a
trace of lapse as a matter of national security,” she said.
Within hours of Park’s comments, an online user who
claimed to have hacked the
nuclear operator posted a new
threat and a fresh batch of data
on the same Twitter account
that was used for previous
threats and leaks.
“We are now looking at it ...
We believe it was done by the
same user,” an official at South
Korean prosecutors’ office investigating the leaks told Reuters by telephone.
An official at the nuclear
operator said it was working
to verify whether the data had
been taken from its computers.
Earlier, the investigation
team official said Seoul had not
ruled out the possibility that
North Korea was involved in
the cyberattack, although Park
did not make any mention of it.
The official added that South
Korea had requested Washington’s help investigating the
In recent years South Korea
has accused the North of a carrying out several cyberattacks
on its banks and broadcasters.
The incident at the nuclear
operator came after the US accused North Korea of a serious
cyberattack on Sony Pictures
and vowed to respond proportionately.
Anti-nuclear activists in
South Korea have also protested against the use of nuclear
More than 1,000 people attended a separate memorial
service for 38-year-old Dawson at her alma mater, Sydney
University. Her three children,
aged four, six and eight, each
chose a song for the service: Santa Claus is Coming
to Town, Somewhere over the
Rainbow, and The Gambler respectively.
A huge carpet of thousands
of bouquets of flowers in Martin Place was removed early
yesterday as thunderstorms
threatened to drench the city.
The flowers will be crushed
into mulch and scattered at a
North Korea’s Internet
collapses after Sony hack
orth Korea’s Internet
went dark for several
hours amid rumours of
US retaliation over its alleged
hacking of a Hollywood studio,
just as the pariah state came
under attack at the UN over its
rights record.
It was not clear who or what
had shut down Pyongyang’s
web connections, but cyber experts said the country’s already
limited Internet went completely offline overnight from
Monday to yesterday local time.
Piling further pressure on
Kim Jong-Un’s regime, UN
members debated North Korea’s brutal treatment of its
huge prison population after
China, its only major ally, was
rebuffed in a bid to shelve the
US-based Internet analysts
Dyn Research said Pyongyang’s
four online networks, all connected through Chinese telecom provider China Unicom,
had been offline for nine hours
and 31 minutes before services
resumed yesterday morning.
Pyongyang’s very limited infrastructure could be vulnerable
to power outages but the way it
had collapsed “seems consistent with a fragile network under
external attack”.
US President Barack Obama
and the FBI have accused North
Korea of being behind the hacking of Sony Pictures, which decided to cancel the Christmas
Day release of comedy п¬Ѓlm
“The Interview”.
Washington officials refused
to comment on speculation
that the North Korean Internet
blackout was the п¬Ѓrst stage in
what Obama has warned will be
a “proportionate response” to
the hack.
North Korea has angrily insisted that it had nothing to
Taiwan launches its largest ever missile ship
aiwan launched its largest ever
missile ship yesterday as the island strives to modernise its armed
forces in response to a perceived threat
from China.
The 500-tonne corvette named �Tuo
Chiang’ — �Tuo River’ — is the first of its
kind ever produced by Taiwan and was
touted by defence minister Yen Ming as
“the fastest and most powerful” in Asia.
Armed with 16 missiles including eight
supersonic Hsiung-feng III (Brave Wind)
anti-ship missiles, it will boost Taiwan’s
defence capabilities against its giant
neighbour, which considers the island
part of China’s territory awaiting to be
reunited by force if necessary.
“From now on, the navy’s combat capabilities will reach a crucial milestone, Yen
said at a launch ceremony held in the port
of Suao, in northeastern Yilan county.
“The completion of the new generation of naval warship is expected to ensure
Taiwan’s first domestically-produced missile corvette, the 500-tonne ship Tuo Chiang (Tuo
River), is pictured during the vessel’s launch ceremony at the naval port at Suao yesterday.
security in the Taiwan Strait and protect
shipping lanes,” he added.
Vice Admiral Wen Chen-kuo said that
“the supersonic missile is very difficult to
The sleek twin-hulled ship uses stealth
site to be determined.
Meanwhile, NSW state opposition leader John Robertson
resigned after coming under
pressure when it was revealed
he signed a letter to support
Monis gaining access to his
children in a dispute with his
second wife.
n Australian court has
approved a record payout of almost A$500mn
($406mn) to survivors and
families of some of the 173 people killed in the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, the country’s
worst-ever natural disaster.
A class action lawsuit by more
than 5,000 people sued electricity provider AusNet Services and
asset manager Utility Services
Corp Ltd after a Royal Commission found that the Kinglake п¬Ѓre,
the most deadly of the series of
wildfires, was caused by an ageing AusNet power line.
AusNet and Utility Services
denied liability. The settlement,
which includes the Victorian
state government, excludes any
admission of liability.
On February 7, 2009, bushfires tore through much of the
southern state of Victoria, killing 173 people. More than 1,000
people were injured and 1,172
homes were destroyed.
“While we can never compensate people for what they’ve lost,
particularly those who’ve lost
loved ones, we have recovered in
this proceeding A$494mn,” Rory
Walsh from Maurice Blackburn
Lawyers said after the ruling in
the Victorian Supreme court.
“We hope that that money
can help people alleviate some
of the hardships that they
continue to experience today,” he said. AusNet will pay
A$378.6mn, with Utility Services paying A$12.5mn and the
Victorian government paying
the remainder.
technology to reduce the reflection of
radar waves, making it harder to detect,
with a maximum speed of 38 knots per
hour and a range of 2,000 nautical miles
(3,704 kilometres).
It set sail briefly yesterday to show its
capabilities to reporters before returning
to the port again.
The corvette is scheduled to be deployed in Taiwan waters after further tests
and is the prototype of up to 11 others to be
built by the navy.
Its launch comes after the US Congress
passed a bill last week authorising President Barack Obama to transfer up to four
Perry-class guided missile frigates to Taipei.
China slammed the deal, saying a diplomatic protest had been lodged with the
“We are firmly opposed to arms sales to
Taiwan by the US,” said Chinese foreign
ministry spokesman Qin Gang.
Ties between Taiwan and China have
eased markedly since Ma Ying-jeou of the
China-friendly Kuomintang party came
to power in 2008, ramping up trade and
allowing in more Chinese tourists.
But Beijing still refuses to renounce the
use of force, even though Taiwan has been
self-governing since the end of a civil war
in 1949, prompting the island to continually modernise its armed forces.
do with the theft and leaking
of Sony company secrets nor
threats against moviegoers, but
it has also condemned Sony’s
madcap movie, which features
a п¬Ѓctional plot to kill Kim.
Pyongyang has also vowed
reprisals if the US brings in new
sanctions such as restoring the
country to a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
China yesterday suggested
Washington and Pyongyang
hold talks over cyber hacking.
US officials, however, have dismissed a North Korean proposal
for a joint investigation into the
Sony hack and instead called for
the hermit state to compensate
the п¬Ѓlm studio.
Dyn Research said earlier
Monday that Internet connectivity between North Korea and
the outside world, never good
at the best of times, had begun
to show signs of instability over
the weekend.
“This is different from short
duration outages we have seen
in the past,” Earl Zmijewski,
vice president of data analytics
at Dyn, said.
But Zmijewski stressed it
was impossible to say what had
caused the outage. “They could
have elected to simply pull the
plug or they could have suffered
from some sort of failure or attack,” he said.
The diplomatic row comes as
China failed on Monday to block
the first-ever UN Security Council meeting on North Korea’s dismal rights record after a strong
majority of members voted in
favor of it.
US ambassador Samantha
Power -- backed by envoys from
Britain, Australia and France -said North Korean citizens experience a “living nightmare” of
political repression.
She recalled testimony from
a starving prison camp survivor
who picked kernels of corn from
cattle dung to eat and of a former
guard who said prison wardens
routinely raped prisoners.
China reviews execution
after miscarriage ruling
hinese authorities are reviewing another execution carried out almost
20 years ago for possible miscarriage of justice after last week
exonerating a teenager who was
wrongly put to death for rape
and murder, state media said
Nie Shubin, 21, was executed
in 1995 for the rape and murder
of a woman a year earlier in the
northern city of Shijiazhuang.
Five judges are reviewing
Nie’s case because another man,
Wang Shujin, insists that he is
guilty, state news agency Xinhua
reported. The case has set off a
public outcry. Wang, 47, was arrested in 2005 for three uncon-
nected rape and murder cases.
During questioning he claimed
that he was responsible for the
murder of which Nie was convicted, the official Xinhua news
agency said.
The case is being reviewed
by the high court in Shandong
province, the report said, because the Hebei higher court
that originally approved Nie’s
execution refused to overturn
its verdict last year. Last week,
a court in Inner Mongolia found
that 18-year-old Huugjilt was
wrongly convicted in 1996 of
raping and killing a woman in a
public restroom.
Many ethnic Mongols in
China go by one name. While
wrongful executions have often
stirred public outrage, capital
punishment itself has wide support in China.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Ex-footballer Carlisle
struck by lorry
Man jailed for bid to
smuggle in migrants
Clegg shrugs off
Labour challenge
Charity to fund bid to
re-examine cyclist death
Robin sets up home
at Sainsbury’s branch
Premier League footballers yesterday sent
messages of support to former QPR defender
Clarke Carlisle after he was seriously injured in a
road accident. The 35-year-old, who was chairman
of the Professional Footballers Association
following his retirement, was airlifted to hospital
after he was hit by a lorry while walking on the A64
near the village of Bishopthorpe, North Yorkshire,
on Monday morning. QPR player Joey Barton,
32, wrote on Twitter: “My thoughts are with his
friends and family.” Clarke’s wife Gemma yesterday
thanked the public for their support saying she has
been “overwhelmed”. The cause of the accident is
under investigation.
A man who attempted to smuggle a group of
Afghan nationals into the UK on a small boat has
been jailed for five years. Romanian Marion Badea,
30, was discovered on board the inflatable motor
boat in the English Channel, near Dover, Kent, just
before 10am in June this year after a lifeboat was
sent to rescue it following engine failure, a Home
Office spokesman said. Seven men, aged between
20 and 35, and a 16-year-old boy, from Afghanistan,
were also found on the boat, trying to enter the
country illegally, he added. The vessel was towed
into Dover harbour by a Border Force cutter and
Badea was arrested and charged with assisting
unlawful entry into the UK.
Nick Clegg has shrugged off suggestions that
Labour is pumping resources into winning his
Sheffield Hallam seat at the general election. The
Liberal Democrat leader held the constituency with
53% of the vote in 2010, but opposition strategists
reportedly believe he could be vulnerable after
his U-turn on tuition fees and the cancellation of
a government loan for a local firm. Tom Watson,
Ed Miliband’s former election co-ordinator, told
The Times. Labour’s candidate Oliver Coppard
had built up a formidable group of volunteers. The
Labour MP added, “I have never encountered such
animosity on the doorstep against an incumbent
MP - particularly one as high-profile.”
A cycling charity is to fund an attempt to
force the Metropolitan Police to reconsider
its decision not to take action against a
motorist over the death of a cyclist. The
Cyclists’ Defence Fund has decided to back
Anna Tatton-Brown’s bid to have the case of
her father Michael Mason re-examined. The
70-year-old stand-in teacher died in hospital
in March, three weeks after he was hit
from behind in the West End by driver Gale
Purcell. The CDF will also provide backing to
consider whether there are grounds to bring
a private prosecution if the Met refuses to
A robin has taken up residence among the
festive displays in a London supermarket.
The bird was first spotted two weeks ago at
Sainsbury’s in Chiswick. Crowds have flocked
to photograph him bobbing along the shelves
and swinging on decorations — including a giant
heart-shaped mobile of robins. Attempts to trap
him safely and release him back outside have
so far failed. Branch deputy manager Danny
Riordan said: “We don’t want to harm the bird
and would never kill it.” Rivals Tesco called in
a marksman to shoot a pied wagtail living in a
branch at Great Yarmouth this year but backed
down amid public anger.
Govt pledges
ВЈ6bn to tackle
potholes and
improve roads
ocal councils are to get a
near-ВЈ6bn fund to п¬Ѓght
potholes over the next six
Awarded by the government,
the fund will help English local
authorities tackle potholes and
improve local roads between
2015 and 2021. A succession of
severe winters and the devastating floods earlier this year have
left councils playing catch-up
with road maintenance.
Announcing the funding yesterday, Transport Secretary
Patrick McLoughlin said the
money would be enough to п¬Ѓx
around 18mn potholes.
Of the total package, just
over ВЈ4.7bn will be shared between 115 English councils, while
councils will be able to bid for a
further ВЈ575mn in total available
for the repair and maintenance
of local highway infrastructure
such as junctions, bridges and
street lighting.
McLoughlin also announced
that ВЈ578mn had been set aside
for an incentive fund scheme
which will start in 2016 to reward
councils who demonstrate they
are delivering value for money in
carrying out cost-effective improvements.
McLoughlin said: “Roads play
a significant part in everyday life.
Poorly-maintained local roads,
blighted by potholes, are a menace to all road users, particularly during the festive period as
people travel to see family and
“It is vital we have good quality roads. This government has
already taken strong action by
spending ВЈ1bn more on local roads
maintenance than was spent in
the previous parliament.” He went
on: “This £6bn funding will put
an end to short-term п¬Ѓxes and will
mean we have committed ВЈ10bn
between 2010 and 2021.
“This huge investment is part
of our long-term economic plan
to ensure we have a transport
network fit for the 21st century.”
Meanwhile, drivers will have
to contend with disruption from
next month due to work starting on improvement schemes on
the link road between the southbound M6 at junction 8 and the
M5 north of Birmingham and at
the M6/A38(M) Gravelly Hill Interchange (Spaghetti Junction).
The schemes will involve
concrete repairs and associated
drainage work and will mean
lane closures, some full carriageway and sliproad closures, and
temporary speed limits.
The junction 8 work is due to
start on January 5 and be completed by the end of May 2015.
The Gravelly Hill work is due to
begin on January 11 and be п¬Ѓnished by the end of July 2015.
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said funding for potholes was
welcome but there were doubts
whether this was “new money”.
He went on: “We also question whether this really goes far
enough. Recent estimates by
the Asphalt Industry Alliance
suggest a one-off investment
of ВЈ12bn is needed in England
to deal with the backlog in road
maintenance, the majority of
which is associated with those
roads for which local authorities
are responsible.
“The government deserves
credit for their bold actions to
develop and fund an investment
strategy for the strategic road
network. But unless equally bold
actions are taken on local roads,
we risk a two-tier network with
strategic roads capable of supporting economic growth but
with a crumbling local road infrastructure.”
Shadow transport secretary
Michael Dugher said: “You can’t
believe a single word ministers
say. Local roads are in a desperate state under David Cameron.
Over 2,220 miles more of our local roads now need maintenance
work compared to 2010.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon looks at flowers near the scene where a refuse truck crashed into pedestrians in George Square, Glasgow, Scotland, yesterday.
Glasgow mourns victims
of lorry crash tragedy
Ten people, including driver,
injured as tributes to victims
pour in; first minister says
tragedy left �city with a
broken heart’
Guardian News and Media
ive of the Glasgow lorry
crash victims are female
and one is male, police
have said.
Ten people were injured in the
tragedy, including the driver, and
three members of the same family are feared to be among the
Scotland’s First Minister,
Nicola Sturgeon, said the city
was waking up “with a broken
heart”, as tributes poured in yesterday following Monday’s accident and residents struggled
to come to terms with a second
major tragedy in just over a year.
Police Scotland said: “Seven
casualties were taken to hospital
by the ambulance service, two
walked in to hospital and one was
treated at the scene. Four have
since been discharged.
“There are currently six people
in hospital being treated for their
injuries. Two have been moved
to the Intensive Therapy Unit for
further monitoring.
“The deceased includes one
male and five females.”
Guardian News and Media
he new leader of Scottish Labour, Jim Murphy,
faces a daunting challenge
to lift his party’s fortunes before
next May’s general election as a
poll shows support for Labour in
Scotland is now half that for the
A Survation poll for the Daily
Record, the п¬Ѓrst to be released
since Murphy’s election on December 13, found that 48% of
Scottish voters plan to support the
SNP in May, and 24% Labour. The
swing implied by the п¬Ѓgures suggests that as many 10 Labour seats
could fall to the SNP.
Support for the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats
fell by one point each, to 16%
and 5% respectively, while Ukip
polled 4% and the Greens 1%.
Reflecting the transformation
of the political landscape in Scotland since the referendum, voting
intentions for Westminster are
now almost exactly aligned with
those for Holyrood, where Labour
polled 25% compared with the
SNP’s 51%.
John Curtice, professor of
politics at Strathclyde University, said on his What Scotland
Thinks blog that the poll had
dispelled any hopes that Murphy’s election would prove to
be a �magic bullet’ for the Scottish Labour party. Among those
currently supporting Labour,
only 29% said Murphy’s election had made it more likely
they would vote for the party
in May.
Seventy-five percent of SNP
supporters said that they would
vote for the party with the best
Scotland-wide policies or
leader for Scotland, or for the
party with the best approach to
devolution and independence,
while 68% of Labour supporters, in addition to 84% of
Conservative and 73% of Liberal Democrat voters, said they
would be voting for the party
with the best UK-wide policies
or leader.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s
first minister, said the SNP was
taking nothing for granted but
added: “This is a great early
Christmas present for the SNP
- our best ever Survation poll
rating for a UK general election, as well as being over 50%
for the Scottish parliament
constituency vote for the first
In an interview last Friday ,
Jim Murphy told the Guardian
that the scale of the challenge
he faced was �vast’ but he still
believed Labour could hold all
its Westminster seats and win in
Holyrood in 2016.
“The (SNP) have got to work
out how they deal with the argument we are going to make,
which is you can protest against
Cameron by voting for the
Greens or the Nats, but you can
only replace him with one party,”
he said.
witnesses in the police investigation. It is understood that the
driver remained in hospital overnight.
Speaking on BBC Scotland’s
Good Morning Scotland yesterday,
Sturgeon said: “As the city wakes
up this morning, the sheer sense of
horror and grief at what happened
will be very raw. All our thoughts,
п¬Ѓrst and foremost, are with those
who are waking up as bereaved
families this morning. It is almost
impossible to imagine what they
are going through. I know that
everyone across the city, across
Scotland, across the UK, will be
thinking of them today.
“I think all of us on our televisions were again struck by
just how readily people run into a
scene of potential danger to help
those who have been injured,
those who have been affected.
There was a sense in the city on
Monday night of everybody rallying around.” She added: “There
is something quite incredible
about the spirit in this city. Everybody knows it is a city with a
big, big heart. This morning it is a
city with a broken heart but it will
get through this as it got through
the Clutha tragedy.”
In November 2013, 10 people
lost their lives when a police helicopter crashed into the popular
Clutha Vaults pub on the north
bank of the river Clyde, not far
from Monday’s carnage.
Five simple changes
�cut dementia risk’
Labour support in
Scotland �half of SNP’
Survation poll finds 29%
of Labour supporters say
Murphy’s election as leader
makes it more likely they will
vote for party
A formal identification process
was carried out later.
The accident happened at
2.30pm on Monday in George
Square, which was teeming with
last-minute Christmas shoppers
and visitors to the ice rink and
amusements in the square.
Witnesses described a council
bin lorry that had been travelling
up Queen Street, which bounds
the west side of George Square,
mounting the pavement and
scattering pedestrians “like pinballs”. It is thought that the driver
may have fallen ill at the wheel.
The BBC reported that the
driver had two passengers in the
truck with him at the time of the
crash. They are likely to be key
Jim Murphy: tough task ahead
ny one of п¬Ѓve simple
lifestyle changes could
keep your brain healthier for longer.
Not smoking, taking more
exercise, losing weight, cutting down on alcohol and eating better food can reduce
the risk of dementia by over a
third, research shows.
Men aged 45-59 who had a
good score on at least four of
those п¬Ѓve lifestyle factors had
a 36% lower risk of developing
cognitive decline and a 36%
lower risk of developing dementia than those with poor
scores, a landmark British
study carried out over 30 years
Dementia affects one in
three people over the age of 65.
The research was commissioned by lobby group Age UK
and carried out by Edinburgh
University’s Ian Deary. His
research is based on the Scottish Mental Survey, a test that
measured the cognitive abilities of every 11-year-old in
Scotland in June 1947.
No other country had tested
all children of a certain age and
none has since - making the
data collected hugely valuable
to researchers.
Professor Deary tested some
of those 70,000 children who
were tested in 1947 - now
adults in their 70s - and compared the results with profiles
of their lifestyle, health, genetics and biology.
Age UK’s Caroline Abrahams described the research
as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to understand how
cognitive ability changes
throughout life and during
ageing itself.”
Deary’s work highlighted
the importance of physical
exercise as the most effective
way to ward off cognitive decline in healthy older people
and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Abrahams said: “While
there’s still no cure or way to
reverse dementia, this evidence shows there are simple
and effective ways to reduce
our risk of developing it to begin with.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Writer Jeremy Lloyd
dies aged 84
Cable warns against
raising off-peak train fares
Standard readers
help cancer girl
Money-laundering couple
get 19 years jail term
Travel watchdog calls for
payouts to travellers
Comedy writer Jeremy Lloyd, who created
sitcoms including Are You Being Served? and
�Allo �Allo!, has died aged 84. His agent said he
died in a London hospital on Monday evening
from pneumonia. Alexandra Cann said: “Jeremy
was a great wit and always a mass of original
ideas. He had a wonderfully original mind and
will be greatly missed.” Lloyd, who was married
three times including to Joanna Lumley, created
a string of hit shows with his writing partner
David Croft. He was given an OBE for services to
comedy in 2012. Lloyd enjoyed a screen career
of his own before devoting himself to providing
the funny lines for others.
Vince Cable yesterday accused Boris Johnson
of worsening overcrowding on commuter
trains by raising off-peak fares in the New Year.
The business secretary pointed out that from
Teddington in south-west London the cost of
a one-day travel card will go up from ВЈ8.90 to
ВЈ12, and that from neighbouring Twickenham,
the off-peak capped fare, with an Oyster card,
will rise from £7.70 to £10.90. “One unintended
consequence is that the big increase will lead
to no incentive for people to catch later trains
in the morning, so contributing even further
to overcrowding on our commuters,” said the
senior Liberal Democrat.
A three-year-old girl will receive potentially
life-saving cancer treatment in America after the
Evening Standard highlighted her plight. Chloe
Balloqui’s family have raised the £100,000 needed
in time for the deadline of January 10, meaning that
they can enjoy Christmas knowing she will receive
the pioneering drug therapy not available on the
NHS. Yesterday, her mother Karen, 33, thanked
Evening Standard readers. Kallaste, who lives in
Pimlico with her partner Richard and son James,
said: “It’s just fantastic news and the best present.”
Chloe was diagnosed in October 2013 with a rare
cancer of the nervous system which had spread
throughout her body.
A husband and wife have been jailed for a total
of 19 years for laundering ВЈ145mn of dirty money
through their bureaux de change. Moothathamby
Sriskantharajah, 59, and his wife Thilageswary,
48, ran three sites across London. The couple,
from Hounslow, took money from crime gangs
and transferred it into euros, storing cash in safe
deposit boxes at Harrods. Sisters Marlene and
Lucia Cumbo, 53 and 54, from Islington, acted as
their couriers. The gang were jailed for money
laundering at Southwark crown court after
being convicted last week. Sriskantharajah was
sentenced to 12 years, his wife was jailed for seven
and the Cumbos were given a total of five years.
London’s travel watchdog demanded “significant”
payouts for commuters who have endured a
miserable service on the Thameslink rail service.
Since Govia took over the Bedford to Brighton line
in September the service has deteriorated with
a shortage of drivers, cancellations and shorter
trains. Last month only half its trains into St Pancras
arrived on time, prompting passengers to petition
the government for a better service. London
Travelwatch said bosses must act immediately to
win back the trust of “cynical” passengers who are
a “captive market”. Payments should be made to
passengers beyond the sums awarded for trains
delayed by more than 30 minutes.
N Ireland
rivals seal
deal on
Levitation stunt
Mayor urges
revellers not
to misuse
999 service
rish nationalists and proBritish unionists in Northern
Ireland struck a deal yesterday
covering austerity spending and
historic crimes, staving off a collapse of the power-sharing government set up in 1998 to end decades of sectarian violence.
First Minister Peter Robinson
said the deal, reached after months
of talks and several missed deadlines, paved the way for the British province to acquire devolved
powers to set its own corporation
tax rate.
It is something the parties in
Belfast have long sought, offering
Northern Ireland the chance to set
a more competitive rate nearer the
12.5% of the adjacent Irish Republic rather than the 21% now shared
with the rest of Britain.
The breakthrough came after
27 hours of talks between Irish
nationalists led by Sinn Fein, the
Democratic Unionist Party and
representatives of the governments of Britain and Ireland.
The deal will see the Northern
Irish government getting extra
cash and borrowing powers of
ВЈ2bn. It sets in motion the reduction of government departments
at Stormont from 12 to nine and
paves the way for an official opposition.
“It has been a challenging and,
at times, difficult process for all
concerned,” said Irish Foreign
Minister Charlie Flanagan. It also
sets a framework for dealing with
the “corrosive legacy of the past”,
as Flanagan put it.
This would include an oral history archive and a dedicated unit
to investigate deaths during the
Northern Irish conflict. The parties agreed in principle to transfer
responsibility for handling the
volatile issue of sectarian parades
by nationalist Roman Catholics
and pro-British Protestants from
the British government in London
to the Northern Irish parliament.
But regional Justice Minister
David Ford, a member of the nonsectarian Alliance Party, criticised
that arrangement, saying it lacked
detail and was “storing up problems for the future.”
London Evening Standard
A man dressed as Father Christmas appears to levitate by using a specially-designed prop
and costume as he waves to people in Trafalgar Square in central London yesterday.
Raspy-voiced soul
singer Cocker dies
egendary singer Joe Cocker,
whose intense, gritty voice
won him wide acclaim that
spanned both rock and blues, has
died at age 70, his agent said.
Cocker, who started off playing
to small audiences in pubs in his
native England, won fame when
he jolted the 1969 Woodstock
festival with his high-powered
version of the Beatles’ “With a
Little Help From My Friends”
- one of rock’s most successful
Cocker - who on stage would
flail his arms so wildly that uninitiated crowds wondered if
he had neurological problems said in a 1971 movie about him,
Mad Dogs and Englishmen, that
music served as his release and
mused that he could have been
a murderer if he had not been a
But some of his biggest hits
showed a gentler side, including
the love ballad You Are So Beau-
tiful and Up Where We Belong,
a Grammy-winning 1982 duet
with Jennifer Warnes that п¬Ѓgured
prominently in the movie An Officer and a Gentleman.
“He was without doubt the
greatest rock/soul voice ever to
come out of Britain,” his agent,
Barrie Marshall, said in a statement announcing his death.
Paul McCartney mourned
Cocker as a “lovely guy who
brought so much to the world.”
The former Beatle said that he
found Cocker’s version of With a
Little Help From My Friends to be
The cover “totally turned the
song into a soul anthem and I was
forever grateful for him for doing
that,” McCartney said.
Cocker’s label, Sony Music,
said that he was suffering lung
The Yorkshire Post, the singer’s hometown newspaper in
England, said that he died in
the US Rocky Mountain state of
Colorado where Cocker and his
wife settled in a small town two
decades ago.
Cocker had remained prolific,
releasing his 22nd studio album
in 2012. He moved to Colorado
as he sobered up after a notoriously hard-partying youth, when
his love for alcohol and drugs
brought fears that he would be
the latest rock star to die young.
In 1972, Cocker and his bandmates were arrested in Australia
for possession of marijuana and
then ordered to leave the country
due to a hotel brawl, triggering a
debate in Australia about its drug
At Woodstock, despite it being a carnival of counter-culture,
Cocker recalled that promoters
thought that the then unknown
singer’s arm movements were
too strange and brought attractive women to the stage next to
him to deflect attention.
Another problem - he had
flown in on a separate helicopter
and did not know that his entire
band was tripping on LSD, he later told the US rock DJ Redbeard.
“I didn’t find out until later,” he
said. “I thought they were all
looking a bit frisky up there.”
oris Johnson yesterday issued an urgent public appeal to Christmas revellers
not to dial 999 for an ambulance
except in a genuine emergency.
The mayor urged people with
minor fractures or sprains to take
themselves to hospital in a taxi or
ask relatives to drive them. His
plea follows a big increase in pressure on the London Ambulance
Service (LAS), which had its busiest week ever ending on December
14, when crews attended 11,008
Category A incidents — the most
seriously ill and injured.
The head of the LAS revealed
that crews have been hampered
by non-emergencies — including
one call-out for a cat with a broken leg and a person with a tissue
stuck in his ear. Johnson told the
Standard: “The message is simple — celebrate responsibly and
only call an ambulance in a genuine emergency.” City officials fear
the service could be stretched to
breaking point when millions of
Londoners risk getting injured at
alcohol-fuelled celebrations of
Christmas and the New Year.
The scale of the problem was
laid out when the mayor chaired a
London-wide resilience meeting
attended by emergency services,
Met Commissioner Sir Bernard
Hogan-Howe and Transport for
London chief Sir Peter Hendy.
It was told emergency call-outs
are already 16% higher in London
this month than last December.
Some ambulances were held up
waiting to offload ill patients at
busy accident & emergency units.
At the same time, members of the
public were increasingly dialling
999 for help rather than waiting
to see their GP or travelling to A&E
under their own steam.
Johnson said: “Over the festive
period and winter I know the public will heed emergency services’
calls for restraint when it comes to
calling an ambulance.”
The LAS has already in- creased
overtime and even asked for support by other regions. People with
minor injuries or illnesses are being declined an ambulance and
given phone advice or being referred to NHS 111.
Its director of operations Jason
Killens said: “Each year demand
on our service rises. December has
been especially busy and the last
two weeks were our busiest ever
for Category A patients.
“In contrast to these lifethreatening incidents, we have
also had calls for an emergency
ambulance on blue lights for a cat
with a broken leg and a person
with a tissue in his ear.”
A City Hall source said: “Of
course LAS don’t and won’t skimp
on genuine emergencies. But with
practical stuff like a fractured
wrist or badly sprained ankle, perhaps a lift with a relative or taking
a taxi to A&E rather than calling
an ambulance is the answer, leaving crews to deal with serious and
life-threatening issues.”
Shadow health secretary Andy
Burnham said: “The LAS needs
more help than this from senior Tories. This is a crisis of their
making and it is no good trying to
blame the public.”
Woman �called 999 to report dead cat’
A woman dialled 999 to
report a dead cat on the
road, ambulance chiefs have
revealed. Another caller rang
the emergency services to ask
for the number for directory
The calls are among those
highlighted in a campaign
called Keep the 999 Line Free
For Me, by South Western
Ambulance Service NHS
Foundation Trust. The trust
said it often received 999
calls from people with minor
injuries and even from those
trying to get help for animals.
The campaign is running
throughout the winter and
encourages people to question
whether they need to ring
999 or instead call the NHS 111
service or seek advice from
a pharmacist or GP. Hardhitting posters show people
in real emergency situations
who do need the 999 service.
The trust, which covers
Cornwall, Devon, Avon, Dorset,
Gloucestershire and Wiltshire,
is receiving 2,500 calls every
24 hours, which it says is an
unprecedented number before
the Christmas peak.
Ed Balls warned over
mansion tax plan
London Evening Standard
Ed Balls: levy plan attacked.
d Balls was yesterday
warned it would be a disaster to hit tens of thousands
of Londoners with “mansion tax”
bills just weeks before the mayoral
The shadow chancellor has signalled that he wants to rake in revenue from the controversial levy in
2015-16 to inject ВЈ1.2bn more into
the NHS.
Owners of properties worth
more than ВЈ2mn could have to declare on their tax return by January 31, 2016, into which of a series
of bands above this п¬Ѓgure their
home’s value fell.
They could then get bills of a
couple of hundreds of pounds, or
more if they live in very high-value
homes, before the mayoral election in May 2016.
But a senior Labour MP said:
“That’s a disaster. The leadership
has not thought through the impact on Londoners and the way in
which there are people currently in
properties (worth less than ВЈ2mn)
who will fear the tax.”
The tax will disproportionately
be levied on Londoners given that
property prices in the capital are
so much higher than other regions
of Britain. Polling by YouGov has
shown while far more Londoners
support the tax than oppose it,
one in seven fears they will end up
worse off as a result of it.
Balls has made clear he believes
the Treasury should be “gearing
up” to swiftly bring in the levy if
Labour wins power. He denied
the move amounted to retrospective legislation to impose the tax in
2015-16, which would have started
before the general election in May.
As a “backstop,” Labour would
legislate, if it wins power, for the
mansion tax to start in 2016-17,
Balls added.
Several of Labour’s mayoral
hopefuls have voiced concerns
over the levy, though shadow
London minister Sadiq Khan said
it was “absolutely fair”.
Bob Neill, Conservative vicechairman for local government
and MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, said: “It would be bizarre
for a Labour government to shoot
itself in the foot by bringing in a
tax which discriminates against
London home owners just before
the mayoral election.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
party flayed
by German
Ukrainians drum with the empty metal barrels during their rally in front of the Parliament as Ukrainian lawmakers discuss the state budget, in Kiev.
Kiev takes historic
step toward Nato
Kiev is seeking Nato’s protective
kraine took a historic step toward
Nato yesterday in a parliamentary
vote certain to stoke Russia’s anger ahead of talks on ending the ex-Soviet
state’s separatist war.
Lawmakers in the government-controlled chamber overwhelmingly adopted a
bill dropping Ukraine’s non-aligned status—a classification given to states such as
Switzerland which refuse to join military
alliances and thus play no part in wars.
President Petro Poroshenko had vowed
to put Ukraine under Western military
protection after winning an election called
in the wake of the February ouster in Kiev
of a Moscow-backed president.
“Ukraine’s fight for its independence,
territorial integrity and sovereignty has
turned into a decisive factor in our relations with the world,” Poroshenko told
foreign ambassadors in Kiev on Monday
Ukraine assumed neutrality under
strong Russian pressure in 2010. It had
sought Nato membership in the early postSoviet era but—its once-mighty army in
ruins and riven by corruption—was never
viewed as a serious candidate.
Last winter’s revolution in Kiev upset
Russian president Vladimir Putin’s plans
to enlist Ukraine in a new, Kremlin-led
bloc that could rival both Nato and the European Union.
And Moscow had set Kiev’s exclusion
from all military blocs as a condition for
any deal on ending the pro-Russian uprising that has killed 4,700 in the eastern Ukrainian rustbelt in the past eight
Putin’s view of Nato as modern Russia’s
biggest threat has only been reinforced by
this year’s dramatic spike in East-West
tensions over Ukraine.
“In essence, an application for Nato
membership will turn Ukraine into a potential military opponent for Russia,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
warned in a Facebook post Monday.
He said that Ukraine’s rejection of neutrality and a new Russian sanctions law
that US President Barack Obama signed
on Friday “will both have very negative
“And our country will have to respond
to them,” Medvedev added.
Perhaps the most immediate threat will
be to delicate peace talks this week in the
Belarussian capital Minsk that Poroshenko
announced on Monday.
Poroshenko said the deal for Kiev and
rebel negotiators to meet in the presence of Russian and European envoys on
Wednesday and Friday was struck during
a joint call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois
Hollande—the West’s top mediators on
The last two rounds of Minsk consultations in September produced a truce and
the outlines of a broader peace agreement
that gave the two separatist regions partial
self-rule for three years within a united
But the deals were followed by more
п¬Ѓghting that killed at least 1,300 people.
The insurgents’ decision to stage their own
leadership polls in violation of the Minsk
rules effectively ended political talks between the two sides.
A new meeting in Minsk had been hung
up by Kiev’s refusal to discuss ending the
suspension of social security and other
benefit payments to the rebel-run districts, which Poroshenko announced last
Ukraine’s leaders suspect the money is
being stolen by militias in the Russianspeaking Lugansk and Donetsk regions
and used to п¬Ѓnance their war.
Donetsk negotiator Denis Pushilin
stressed that Kiev’s continuing refusal to
budge on the issue could still prevent talks
from going ahead.
“We have no information about the date
of any meeting in Minsk,” Pushilin told
AFP by telephone.
“We are ready to meet, or we could conduct a videoconference,” said the rebel
“But only along the lines of the agenda that we discussed before,” he said in
reference to the suspended payments.
Ukraine’s finance minister has forecast the
economy will shrink by 4.3% next year and
warned of the huge challenge of getting
state п¬Ѓnances in order, as she presented a
draft budget to parliament.
France waves a discreet
goodbye to super-tax
hen president Francois Hollande unveiled a “super-tax”
on the rich in 2012, some feared
an exodus of business, sporting
and artistic talent. One adviser
warned it was a Socialist step
too far that would turn France
into “Cuba without sun”.
Two years on, with the tax
due to expire at the end of this
month, the mass emigration
has not happened. But the
damage to France’s appeal as a
home for top earners has been
great, and the pickings from
the levy paltry.
“The reform clearly damaged France’s reputation and
competitiveness,” said Jorg
Stegemann, head of Kennedy
Executive, an executive search
п¬Ѓrm based in France and Germany.
“It clearly has become hard-
er to attract international senior managers to come to France
than it was,” he added.
Hollande first floated the
75% super-tax on earnings over
€1mn a year in his 2012 campaign to oust his conservative
rival Nicolas Sarkozy. It п¬Ѓred up
left-wing voters and helped him
unseat the incumbent.
Yet ever since, it has been a
thorn in his side, helping little in France’s effort to bring
its public deficit within European Union limits and mixing
the message just as Hollande
sought to promote a more probusiness image. The adviser
who made the “Cuba” gag was
Emmanuel Macron, the exbanker who is now his economy minister.
The Finance Ministry estimates the proceeds from the
tax amounted to €260mn in
its п¬Ѓrst year and 160mn in the
second. That’s broadly in line
with expectations, but tiny
compared with a budget deficit
which had reached €84.7bn by
the end of October.
A п¬Ѓrst version of the tax payable by the earners themselves
was thrown out by the Constitutional Court as punitive. A
п¬Ѓnal version obliged companies to pay the levy instead.
French soccer clubs briefly
threatened to go on strike, and
actor Gerard Depardieu took up
Russian residency in a one-man
protest against the French tax
burden, among the highest in
the world. Others were making
more discreet arrangements.
“A few went abroad—to
Luxembourg, the UK,” said tax
lawyer Jean-Philippe Delsol,
author on a book on tax exiles called Why I Am Going To
Leave France.
“But in most cases, it was
discussed with their company
and agreed to limit salaries
during the two years and come
to an arrangement afterwards,”
he told Reuters by telephone.
Hollande and his govern-
ment have since sought to relieve business of around 40bn
euros of taxes and other charges, as unemployment at over
10% drives home the urgent
need to attract investment to
the sickly French economy.
It was no accident that
prime minister Manuel Valls—
alongside Macron the main
reformer in Hollande’s cabinet—chose a visit to London
in October to confirm that the
super tax would not be renewed: his British counterpart
David Cameron famously offered to “roll out the red carpet” to French tax exiles.
But Delsol said the saga had
made his clients more nervous
about investing their time and
money in France and had only
added to mistrust of a complex tax system which successive governments have failed
to reform. “People have lost
confidence,” he said. “That is
not something you can restore
A year of revolution and war with
pro-Russian separatists has pushed the
hryvnia currency to record lows and
crippled the economy, which was already
near bankruptcy after years of corruption
and economic mismanagement.
Finance minister Natalia Yaresko said
30% of next year’s budget would be spent
on defence and debt obligations and the
deficit would be 3.7% of GDP.
“A difficult year awaits us,” Yaresko
told deputies, who are under pressure to
approve a budget as soon as possible in
order to get the next tranche of п¬Ѓnancial
aid under a $17bn International Monetary
Fund loan package.
Yaresko highlighted the п¬Ѓnancial toll of
the standoff with eastern rebels, saying
the conflict cost the government 100mn
hryvnia ($6.3mn) every day.
“Without the help of foreign partners
we won’t be able to overcome the crisis,”
she said.
Earlier this month Kiev said it needed
the IMF to expand its bailout programme
due to the worsened economic outlook,
but the Fund and Ukraine’s other Western
backers have made it clear any further
п¬Ѓnancial assistance will hinge on Kiev
implementing long-promised reforms.
Prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk said
the proposed budget was drafted based
on a forecast average rate for the national
hryvnia currency of 17 to the dollar.
The average hryvnia rate at a daily
central bank auction on Tuesday was 15.75.
The currency has weakened nearly 50
percent since the start of the year.
powerful German business leader slammed
a growing anti-Islam
movement in the country yesterday, saying Europe’s top
economy needed more immigration to remain competitive
and should take in more asylum seekers.
The president of the German Federation of Industry,
Ulrich Grillo, said the emergence of the group “Patriotic
Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident”
or Pegida, which has been
holding weekly marches, was
undermining the country’s interests and values.
“We have long been a land
of immigration and we must
remain so,” he told German
news agency DPA.
“As a prosperous country,
and also out of Christian love
for our fellow man, our country should take in more refugees.”
Grillo blasted the Pegida
protests, which organisers
have billed as a grassroots
movement, calling participants “neo-Nazis and xenophobes”.
He said the group was trying to harness fears of Islamist
terrorism “to smear a whole
religion” which he called “unacceptable”.
Grillo’s federation represents
the political interests of more
than 100,000 companies employing around 8mn people.
He said Germany’s rapidly
ageing population needed a
strong influx of qualified newcomers to support the economy and the social welfare
“Considering our demo-
graphic development, immigration ensures growth and
prosperity,” he said.
He urged political leaders to
do more to stand up to Pegida.
“The political class has got
to try harder to make citizens
see the opportunities and diminish their fears,” he said.
The government’s top official for integration, Aydan
Ozoguz, agreed that Berlin
could not afford to simply wait
for Pegida to fade away.
“We need to do more to
educate people. That takes
longer but has a longer-term
impact,” she told AFP.
Ozoguz attributed Pegida’s
rise to everything from “personal fears of slipping living
standards to the fear of becoming an ethnic minority to a
vague fear of Islam”.
A record 17,500 people
joined a Pegida march against
the “Islamisation” of Germany in the eastern city of Dresden late Monday in the 10th
demonstration in as many
weeks, with smaller clone
groups rallying in three western cities.
marched in a counter demonstration under the slogan
“Dresden Nazi-free”, warning that there was no room for
racism and xenophobia in the
country that perpetrated the
Politicians from all major
parties have been stunned by
the emergence of the rightwing nationalists who vent
their anger against what they
consider a broken immigration
and asylum system.
Pegida said it would not
hold a rally next Monday, between Christmas and New
Year’s Day, in order to give
police guarding the protests a
Town hall wins in nativity wars
Traditionalists won another
victory yesterday in France’s
annual nativity wars as a court
allowed a town hall south
of Paris to keep its display
on the birth of Jesus Christ
that has angered secularists.
The administrative court
in Melun went against the
recommendations of the
magistrate’s office which
on Friday suggested the
creche be removed as it was
a religious symbol and more
than just a tradition. Town
mayor Gerard Millet hailed the
decision, saying the nativity
scene was not an act of
“It is a cultural element which
has its place among Christmas
decorations,” he said.
The decision comes after
a court in the southern
French city of Montpellier on
Friday backed the far-right
mayor of nearby Beziers
and allowed his town hall to
keep its nativity scene. The
beloved Christian tradition
of putting up an exhibition
of the birth of Jesus Christ
angers strict secularists in
the country which in 1905
signed into law the separation
between the church and the
state. Authorities in Vendee,
the traditional heartland
of French Catholicism, are
currently appealing a recent
court ruling that ordered the
removal of nativity scenes
in the headquarters of the
regional assembly.
Doctors protest
French doctors protest in Lyon against an upcoming health bill, prompting fears that hospitals already
bracing for a busy Christmas period will be seriously overrun. Three unions have called on general
practitioners to close shop in protest at certain aspects of the bill, which notably will allow pharmacists
to vaccinate patients -- an act that is currently almost exclusively reserved for doctors.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Greek PM
still short
in second
round vote
People visit the Christmas market in the western French city of Nantes yesterday, a day after a man rammed into shoppers with his car.
France ups security
after spate of attacks
France has stepped up security to ease
fears at a festive time
rench Prime Minister Manuel Valls
stepped up security nationwide yesterday following three successive,
apparently unrelated bloody attacks, in a
bid to ease growing unease in the country.
While the motives behind the incidents—a knife attack on police and two car
rampages onto passers-by—remain unclear, the violence has jarred nerves after
repeated jihadist calls for “lone wolf” action in France over its fight against Islamic
Altogether, 26 people were injured in
the attacks, one of whom was pronounced
clinically dead yesterday.
Valls stressed that the three incidents
were “distinct”, urging the French to keep
calm while stressing security would be
“Two hundred to 300 extra soldiers will
be deployed in the coming hours” on top of
780 forces already mobilised, he said live
on television.
Security patrols will also be increased in
shopping areas, city centres, stations and
on public transport, he added.
The violence began on Saturday when
a man was shot dead after attempting to
enter a police station in the central town
of Joue-les-Tours while shouting slogans
and attacking three officers with a knife,
two of whom were seriously injured.
Then on Sunday evening, a driver
ploughed into pedestrians in Dijon in the
French soldiers patrol the Christmas market.
east, injuring 13 people and also shouting
the same Islamic phrase which has in the
past been used by extremists when waging
violent attacks.
And on Monday night, another man
rammed into a bustling Christmas market
with his car in the western city of Nantes,
injuring 10 people—one of whom is now
clinically dead—before stabbing himself
repeatedly and being arrested.The attacks
both differ widely and present disturbing
similarities, and Valls acknowledged there
could be a copycat effect.
“Unbalanced individuals can act. They
can be receptive to or influenced by propaganda messages or the power of images,”
he said.
Authorities have for months been on
tenterhooks over the threat of violence inspired by Islamic extremism.
In September, the radical Islamic State
group that controls swathes of Iraq and
Syria urged Muslims around the world to
kill “in any manner” those from countries
involved in a coalition п¬Ѓghting its jihadists, singling out the French.
Among instructions detailing how to
kill civilians or military personnel was to
“run him over with your car”.
But while the probe into Saturday’s attack is veering towards extremism—the
Burundian convert to Islam who assaulted
police had posted an Islamic State flag on
his Facebook page—the car rampages appear to have been committed by people
with psychological problems.
Both prosecutors in charge of probing these incidents insisted they were not
“terrorist acts”.
The assailant in Dijon, for instance, had
been to psychiatric hospitals 157 times,
local prosecutor Marie-Christine Tarrare
told reporters.
She said he told police that he ploughed
into people due to a sudden “outburst of
empathy for the children of Chechnya”
and had shouted “Allahu Akbar” to give
him courage.
Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve
meanwhile said the attacker in Nantes also
appeared to be “unbalanced” and not motivated by politics or religion.
A source close to the investigation said
that after slamming into shoppers, the driver stabbed himself in the chest “at least nine
times”, causing himself serious injuries.
“We must not panic, lump things together, give in to fear,” warned President Francois Hollande on a trip to overseas French
territory Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon.
Nevertheless, the government faced
criticism that it was minimising the threat,
at a time when more than 1,000 nationals are thought to be involved in jihad on
home soil, or in Syria and Iraq.
Saturday’s assailant Bertrand Nzohabonayo was not on a domestic intelligence
watch-list but his brother Brice is well
known for his radical views and was arrested in Burundi soon after the incident.
Nzohabonayo’s mother had also told
authorities that she was worried about
Brice’s radicalisation and “the influence he
could have on his brother Bertrand,” said
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, whose
office is in charge of the probe.
The assailant in Dijon, meanwhile, had
taken an interest in religion and started
wearing a djellaba—a long robe worn in
Muslim countries—just a week ago, according to his mother.
Under pressure over CIA jail,
Poles send out mixed messages
his month’s acknowledgment by
Poland’s former president that he
allowed the CIA to operate a secret
interrogation centre throws the Polish
government’s appeal against a European
court ruling on the jail into disarray.
In July, the European Court of Human
Rights ruled that two inmates of the US
military prison at Guantanamo Bay were
held in a CIA jail run in a Polish forest in
2002 and 2003, had been subject to torture, and that Poland failed in its duty under human rights law to prevent that happening or investigate.
The Polish appeal, contained in a letter
reviewed by Reuters, said it was unproven
a CIA jail operated in Poland and that if it
had, officials might not have been aware.
It was sent two months before ex-president Alexander Kwasniewski broke with
years of blanket denials by Polish officials
by saying he had agreed to let the CIA use a
secret site but did not know prisoners were
being tortured there.
The mixed messages underscore the
pressure US allies have come under with
the release of details of the secret detention programme set up by the CIA in the
wake of the September 2001 attacks on US
cities, complicating future security ties.
Kwasniewski’s acknowledgment of the
existence of the jail for the п¬Ѓrst time was
prompted by a US Senate report into the
CIA programme.
Poland’s appeal had said the European
court admitted it did not have “any direct
evidence that the applicants were in the
territory of the Republic of Poland and
that the respondent state was not in possession of such evidence”.
Reuters asked the foreign ministry
whether it had known, when it sent the
letter to the Strasbourg-based court, that
the jail existed with the consent of officials
at the time.
In a written response, the ministry said
only that court procedure did not let it
amend its appeal in the light of new infor-
mation and that Poland was conducting
its own investigation into allegations of a
CIA jail.
Helen Duffy, a lawyer for one of the
plaintiffs in the European court case, Abu
Zubaydah, said that after the Senate report
and Kwasniewski’s comments, it was now
more difficult for the government to argue
there is insufficient evidence of its knowledge about the jail.
“It is absurd to suggest that Poland
agreed to house a secret CIA detention site
but is not responsible as it turned a blind
eye and didn’t know exactly what was
happening there and to whom.”
The European court ruled Poland had
violated its human rights commitments by
allowing the CIA to hold people on Polish
soil without allowing them a court hearing
or giving them access to lawyers.
It has no direct implications for individual Polish officials, but its ruling that
Poland had failed to properly investigate
allegations about the case adds to pressure
for the completion of a Polish inquiry into
the jail launched in 2008.
The foreign ministry said recent information would be taken into account in
that inquiry, implying both the Senate report and Kwasniewski’s statement making
clear Polish officials were aware of the site
and concerned by US secrecy about what
it was doing there. It did not say how it
would be considered.
“It is hoped that the material will help
bring the investigation to a conclusive
end,” its statement said, without elaborating.
The rules of the European court mean
it can only consider the existing case п¬Ѓle
when deciding whether to allow a rehearing. If a re-hearing is allowed, the new
information can be considered. A spokeswoman for the court declined to comment.
Dated October 23, the letter containing the appeal, which has not been previously reported, questions the standards
of proof used by the court in determining
that Abu Zubaydah and the second man,
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were in Poland,
describing the evidence cited by the court
as mostly circumstantial.
reek Pprime Minister Antonis Samaras
failed to capture the
support needed to elect a new
president in a second round
of voting yesterday and now
needs another 12 votes in the
п¬Ѓnal round next week to avert
a snap general election.
Samaras’ nominee, Stavros
Dimas, the only candidate in
the race, had not been expected to win the second round
and the score of 168 votes was
broadly in line with expectations.
But it leaves the result of
the decisive third round on
December 29, when Samaras
needs 180 votes, п¬Ѓnely balanced.
There were 131 blank votes
against the candidate, and one
Parliament must elect a
president or a general election
would have to be held by early
February, potentially bringing
in the leftwing Syriza party
which wants to renegotiate
Greece’s international bailout and roll back the austerity
policies of recent years.
The second round vote followed an offer by Samaras at
the weekend to bring proEuropean independents into
his government and hold early
elections late next year if Dimas is elected.
Greek stocks trimmed losses in the minutes following
the result, with the main Athens index trading 2.1 percent
lower by 1052 GMT.
Samaras must now concentrate on winning over independents and rebels from the
smaller parties.
Both the Democratic Left,
which left the ruling coalition
last year and Independent
Greeks, a right-wing antibailout party, have said they
would not vote for Dimas.
But it is unclear how much
discipline they can impose
on their members and a furious round of lobbying and
telephone calls is likely over
Christmas. Two Democratic
Left lawmakers announced
they were leaving the party to
sit as independents just minutes before the vote.
Financial markets and
Greece’s European partners
have been watching the presidential election closely, although after the crisis measures of the past two years,
most analysts believe there is
now less risk of wider contagion, with most Greek debt
held by official creditors.
Syriza still leads in the opinion polls but its advantage has
narrowed over recent weeks
and a survey at the weekend
gave it a lead of 3.4 points.
The party has sounded a
more moderate note lately,
seeking to reassure Europe
that it would be a responsible negotiating partner and
would keep Greece in the
But a victory would signal
a major shift in the politics
of the euro zone, for the п¬Ѓrst
time bringing in a government openly opposed to the
Brussels consensus which has
governed the bloc’s response
to the wider crisis.
urged to
respect due
onald Tusk, president
of the European Council of EU leaders, urged
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan yesterday to ensure fair
treatment of recent detainees,
a week after sharp exchanges
between the bloc and its prospective Muslim member.
In a statement couched
in diplomatic language, the
former Polish prime minister
said he and Erdogan discussed
in a telephone call how to improve relations. He said the
European Union welcomed
Turkey’s efforts to care for
Syrian refugees.
But referring to the arrests of journalists and others
close to an opponent of Erdogan, Tusk added: “We also
discussed developments in
Turkey, including recent detentions and the importance
of an impartial and transparent process in this regard. We
agreed to remain in close contact and both looked forward
to a meeting at the earliest
possible opportunity.”
A week ago, Erdogan effectively told the EU to mind its
own business after its foreign
policy chief Federica Mogherini and its commissioner in
charge of membership negotiations described the arrests as
incompatible with the bloc’s
democratic values.
“We have no concern
about what the EU might say,
whether the EU accepts us as
members or not, we have no
such concern,” the Turkish
leader had said. “Please keep
your wisdom to yourself.”
Mogherini had said she was
especially surprised by the
moves against allies of cleric
Fethullah Gulen because they
came just days after she led
one of the highest-level EU
visits to Turkey in years, aiming to revive a relationship
that has been strained by European criticism of authoritarian tendencies in Ankara.
The German government
said Turkey should remove
doubts over its “commitment
to basic democratic principles” following the raids on
December 14, in which 24
people including executives
and former police chiefs were
held. On December 19, an Istanbul court ordered the arrest of Gulen, who lives in the
United States.
Erdogan has accused Gulen, a former ally, of plotting
to seize power. He has purged
Gulen supporters from key
The statement by Tusk,
who took office this month
and hosted his п¬Ѓrst summit
of EU leaders on Thursday,
added to impressions that
he plans to play a more visible role in diplomacy than his
low-key Belgian predecessor
Herman Van Rompuy.
Turkey began negotiations
to join the EU in 2005, 18 years
after applying. But political obstacles, especially over
the divided island of Cyprus,
and resistance from powerful countries like Germany
and France have slowed its
progress towards membership.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Veteran filmmaker
Balachander dies
Acid thrown at
woman doctor
Seven killed in Bodo
attack in Assam
Media training
for Bahrainis
Sonia discharged
from hospital
Popular Tamil filmmaker K Balachander, who
was in a Chennai hospital for the last few days,
died yesterday, his manager said. He was 84.
Balachander, who was admitted to Cauvery
Hospital last Monday, was suffering from urinary
infection and other age-related ailments. “He
was recovering well over
the last few days but his
condition deteriorated this
morning,” the manager said.
Balachander has over 150
films to his credit including
Aval Ora Thodar Kathai,
Avargal, Varumayin Niram
Sigappu and 47 Natkal.
Acid was thrown at a 30-year-old woman doctor
at a crowded market in the national capital
yesterday morning by two motorcycle-riding
assailants, police said. Amrita Kaur, working at
the Employees State Insurance (ESI) hospital, was
attacked around 9.30am in west Delhi’s Rajouri
Garden area. The unidentified attackers also
snatched her bag before speeding away, police
said. Kaur was heading towards the hospital in
Bali Nagar area, barely a few kilometres from
where she was attacked. According to the police
official, Kaur received burn injuries on the right
side of her face and head. She was rushed to the
All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)
where her condition is said to be out of danger.
At least seven people were killed when
Bodo militants fired indiscriminately in two
villages in Assam yesterday evening, police
said. The attacks by militants of the National
Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) faction
opposed to peace talks took place in Saralpara
village in Kokrajhar district and Santipur
village in Sonitpur district, Inspector General
of Police S N Singh said. Four people were
killed in Saralpara, and three in Santipur. The
militants attacked the villages as a response
to intensified operation by the security
forces, Singh said. The NDFB had on Monday
triggered a grenade blast in Patgaon in
Kokrajhar district, injuring three people.
Bahrain has approved the signing of an agreement
between the information ministries of India and
Bahrain for training Bahrain’s media professionals.
“Bahrainis would get a chance to learn from India’s
experience in motion picture production, advance
technology and publication,” said Information
Affairs Minister and official government
spokesman Isa al-Hammadi. “We will learn from
India how to develop our media sector,” Gulf Daily
News yesterday quoted Hammadi as saying during
a media briefing. “The Indian media sector has
already reached an advanced stage especially
in motion pictures,” he said. “India is also a world
leader in modern media technology and we will try
to utilise this to the highest level possible.”
Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi was
discharged from hospital in New Delhi yesterday
after five days’ of treatment for a respiratory
tract infection, a hospital official said. Gandhi,
68, was admitted to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital on
Thursday with breathing difficulties. She had been
discharged and her condition was stable, hospital
official D S Rana said. “She has been advised rest
and to continue her medications.” After two terms
in power during her tenure, the Congress lost
to the Bharatiya Janata Party of current Prime
Minister Narendra Modi in general elections
held in April and May. There have been concerns
over Gandhi’s health since she went to the US for
surgery in 2011 for an undisclosed illness.
fall in birth
rate: study
Concern over
huge cut in
New Delhi
ndia’s birth rate declined
dramatically in the last two
decades due in part to rising female literacy, a new study
shows, but experts warned
against complacency in the
country of 1.2bn.
The Total Fertility Rate - the
number of children the average
woman will have in her lifetime
based on current trends - fell to
just 2.3 last year from 3.6 in 1991,
according to official п¬Ѓgures released on Monday.
Improvements in female literacy were having “a direct impact on
fertility,” said the report, called the
Sample Registration Survey.
India, which is set to become
the world’s most populated
country in the next decade, has
been trying for decades to curb
population growth.
“The new data shows India
does not need to panic,” said
Poonam Muttreja, director of
the Population Foundation of
India, a non-profit advocacy and
research group.
“Even the poorest and most
marginalised women want no
more than two children, thanks
to the country’s focus on family
planning in recent years.”
While the national government officially abandoned targets for family planning in 1996,
local authorities still offer cash
incentives to women who undergo sterilisation.
Rights groups say this
amounts to coercion. The problem was highlighted last month
when 13 women died after a government-run mass sterilisation
programme in the central state
of Chhattisgarh.
“We have to give the women
a basket of choices. Investing in
informed family planning choices prevents maternal and child
mortality,” said Muttreja.
“Also, population stabilisation and demographic dividend can only happen when our
youngsters are educated and
trained for employment.”
Move could crimp efforts
to control the spread of
diseases, say experts
New Delhi
A health official immunises newly-born babies inside the maternity ward of a government hospital in
Agartala, the capital of the northeastern state of Tripura. India’s birth rate declined dramatically in the
last two decades due in part to rising female literacy, a new study shows.
he Indian government has
ordered a cut of nearly
20% in its 2014/15 healthcare budget due to п¬Ѓscal strains,
putting at risk key disease control initiatives in a country
whose public spending on health
is already among the lowest in
the world.
Two health ministry officials
said yesterday that more than
Rs60bn, ($948mn), has been
slashed from their budget allocation of around $5bn for the п¬Ѓnancial year ending on March 31.
Despite rapid economic growth
over the past two decades, successive governments have kept a
tight rein on healthcare expenditure. India spends about 1% of its
gross domestic product (GDP) on
public health, compared to 3% in
China and 8.3% in the US.
But hopes were high that
Prime Minister Narendra Modi,
who was elected in May, would
upgrade basic health infrastructure and make medical services
more affordable for the poor.
The UN estimates about onethird of the world’s 1.2bn poorest
people live in India.
“We were not expecting
(budget cuts) this time because
of the commitments they made
in the manifesto,” one of the
health ministry officials said,
referring to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “No reason was
given ... but there is shortage of
funds. It is not rocket science.”
The officials requested anonymity because of the sensitivity
of the matter.
The п¬Ѓnance ministry, which
ordered the spending reduction
and overruled objections from
the health ministry at a recent
meeting, did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
The move reflects the government’s struggle to achieve its
2014/15 fiscal deficit target of
4.1% of GDP. Dominated by private players, India’s healthcare
industry is growing at an annual
clip of around 15%, but public
spending has remained low and
resulted in a dilapidated network
of government hospitals and
clinics, especially in rural areas.
One of the health ministry officials said the cut could crimp
efforts to control the spread of
diseases. More newborns die in
India than in poorer neighbours
such as Bangladesh, and preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea kill more than a million
children every year.
The retrenchment could also derail an ambitious universal healthcare programme that Modi wants
to launch in April. The plan aims to
provide all citizens with free drugs
and diagnostic treatments, as well
as insurance benefits.
The cost of that programme
over the next four years had been
estimated at Rs1.6tn ($25bn).
The health ministry officials had
been expecting a jump in their
budget for the coming year, in
part to pay for this extra cost.
“Even next year we don’t think
we’ll get a huge amount of money,” said one official, adding that
it was now unclear how the new
programme would be funded.
In addition to the healthcare budget, the п¬Ѓnance ministry has also ordered a spending
cut for India’s HIV/Aids programme by about 30% to Rs13bn
India had the third-largest
number of people living with
HIV in the world at the end of
2013, according to the UNAids
programme, and it accounts for
more than half of all Aids-related deaths in the Asia-Pacific.
In October, India was on the
brink of running out of a critical medicine in its free HIV/
Aids drugs programme due to
bureaucratic delays. A crisis was
averted with the assistance of
pharmaceutical companies and
global health organisations.
Still, health activists complain
about dire shortages of several
HIV/Aids diagnostic kits.
“We are all in shock. That
shows the kind of importance
the government attaches to public health,” said Leena Menghaney, a New Delhi-based public
health activist. “This will undermine the HIV programme in the
long run.”
An angry Mamata is squandering her opportunities
or more than three decades
the communists were in
power in West Bengal. It
was, by a long shot, the world’s
longest-serving leftist government in a democracy.
Through a series of strikes,
shut-downs and blockades in
the name of governance, they
managed to reduce Kolkata from
a highly industrialised and culturally vibrant city to a povertystricken, crime-infested basket
case. The Marxists would brook
no opposition to their skewed
socialist ideology and if anyone
dared otherwise, a visit from
the “comrades” would settle issue once and for all. A body bag
would float in the Hooghly that
same night. An independent report by noted economists Bibek
Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari,
after evaluating the state’s inexorable slide into miserable poverty, had described West Bengal
under the CPM thus: “This is not
a democracy. It is a kleistocracy,
an aristocracy for the the party.”
So, when Mamata Banerjee
dared them in 2011 and came
up with a thumping majority in
the state assembly elections, the
collective sigh of relief could be
heard all the way up here in New
Delhi. They danced on the streets
of Kolkata. There was genuine
jubilation that not only had the
Bengali been rid of a poison that
had affected him for a generation
but had, in turn, managed to in-
stall a true people’s leader who
knew exactly what ailed the state
and how to remedy the situation.
Indeed Banerjee set off on
the right note. One of her п¬Ѓrst
decisions after becoming chief
minister was to return nearly
400 acres to farmers of Singur,
fertile agricultural land that was
somewhat forcibly acquired by
the Marxist government as part
of a plan to establish a special
economic zone for an Indonesian п¬Ѓrm. Fresh regulations were
brought in to help improve education and healthcare. A solution
to the longstanding Gorkhaland
issue was hammered out by establishing a new territorial administration. Considering how
the Marxists had turned Kolkata
into an unsafe city, law and order
received special attention from
the chief minister herself. Everything looked moving towards
a resurgent West Bengal. Time
magazine voted Banerjee as one
of the top 100 most influential
women in the world.
And then something snapped.
Or so it seems. Banerjee, or �Didi’
as she is affectionately called
by fellow-Bengalis and much of
her admirers outside the state,
started seeing demons, as it
were, in anything and everything
that was critical of her or her
party. Even the 2012 gang-rape
of a 37-year-old Anglo-Indian
woman in a moving taxi - which
eventually came to be known as
Delhi Diary
A K B Krishnan
the Park Street rape case - was,
according to Banerjee, a conspiracy against her government
whereas ultimately her own police force cracked the case after
an year-long investigation and
proved that there was no politics
The chief minister’s post is an
august one. You expect standard-bearing sense of decorum,
both in action and words, from
the chief minister. OK, that’s a
bit much in the present Indian
context. But you don’t want your
chief minister to use language
that could send п¬Ѓlm censors on
overdrive. But the �Didi’ could
not be bothered about such niceties. Her by-now notorious
“bamboo” profanity to describe
what she felt of the CPM has got
much of Bengal outraged.
And rage has been the prime
emotion on display in Banerjee’s
interactions lately. Like her attack on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for its actions
against her minions in the multibillion rupee �Ponzi’ scam that is
currently hogging the headlines.
It reached such a state that she
led a protest against herself, in
a manner of speaking. She got
Kolkata to shut down as she and
her legion took to the streets last
week to protest against the arrest of her transport minister
Madan Mitra. Apart from the
giant gridlock it caused on the
streets of that crowded, crumbling city, �Didi’s’ effort resulted
in the loss of a few million manhours, the economic impact of
which, in the ultimate analysis,
she herself would have to face
up to. Crippling normal life in
Kolkata was Banerjee’s way of
protesting against New Delhi.
The last time a state chief
minister sat in protest in his own
backyard you know what happened. No, Banerjee is in no danger of losing her grip over West
Bengal in the near future, unlike
what happened to Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi. But you will end up
shooting yourself in the foot if
you react emotionally to what is
strictly a matter of law.
The Supreme Court had entrusted the task of investigating the Saradha scam to the
CBI. And although the court is
not overseeing the day-to-day
progress of the investigation,
say, as in the 2G scam, it is well
aware of what is going on. The
case was assigned to the CBI as
far back on May 9, 2013. That
was more than a year before
Narendra Modi became prime
minister. But Banerjee would
have us believe that Modi is behind everything that the CBI is
doing. If the agency has arrested
three of her close confidantes
with what it claims to be incontrovertible proof of having their
hands in the Saradha till, then
it’s Modi who is getting it done.
In its defence of the arrest of
Mitra, the CBI had produced,
among other things, several
photos of the minister with
Saradha boss Sudipta Sen. Mitra
had also publicly exhorted Bengalis to deposit their savings in
Saradha schemes. But Banerjee
took it upon herself to harangue
the prime minister saying she
had photos of Modi with discredited Sahara India boss Subrato Roy, who is now in jail, and
wanted to know why the prime
minister should not be arrested!
That’s the level of debate she has
brought the issue to.
It is OK if the matter is confined to allegations and counter-allegations. A rumbustious,
disorderly democracy like India
can, to a large extent, take such
things in its stride. But it really
hurts when the nation’s parliament is held hostage to the whim
and fancy of a regional leader.
Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress
is leaving no stone unturned to
disturb normal legislative business, especially in the upper
house, under one pretext or the
other. That fringe elements of
the saffron brigade have been
doing their best to add fuel to
the п¬Ѓre should not diminish the
fact that Modi himself had made
it clear on the floor of parliament
that his government’s focus on
development will not be derailed. But small minds of Trinamool and its ilk have their own
Reports say that Banerjee had
asked her party’s MPs to attack
the ruling BJP for what she calls
“vendetta politics” and they
have been doing a very faithful
job of it. For more than ten days
now all that the upper house has
witnessed is shouting and adjournments. The Congress, for
its part, found the situation especially to its liking and has joined
the shouting match. At least one
Congress member of Rajya Sabha
had to be named by the Chairman
and expelled from the house.
Trinamool spokesman and Rajya
Sabha MP Derek O’Brian has declared that his party would not let
the house function.
Of course it is primarily the
ruling dispensation’s responsibility to make sure that parliament functions to the best of its
ability and that legislative work
is never disrupted. But an op-
position bent on disruption can
leave even the best intentions
of the government of the day in
disarray. Several key economic
policy reforms were to have been
tabled in the ongoing session of
parliament but the chaos in the
Rajya Sabha has set everything
back. But national interest and
greater common good are not on
the agenda of parochialist political formations. Parties in Tamil
Nadu are perhaps prime examples of this.
If Banerjee has proof that
charges against her partymen in
the Saradha scam are baseless,
she must defend them in court to
the best of her ability and let the
court decide one way or the other. (On the other hand, suspended Trinamool MP Kunal Ghosh
has claimed he has evidence
that even Banerjee is involved
in the scam). Disrupting public
life in Kolkata and obstructing
informed debate in parliament
are not the ways to defend alleged culprits in a Ponzi scam.
Nor is it a path to progress. Getting rid of the communist yoke
off the Bengali’s shoulders was
a great achievement. But that
was only half the battle won. The
other half is to make sure that
West Bengal becomes a healthy,
educated and prosperous state.
That’s still a work in progress. If
Banerjee allows herself to deviate from this narrative then she
will have only herself to blame.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
BJP makes history in Kashmir,
is to form govt in Jharkhand
Modi’s party extends its
grip on the country after a
landslide general election
victory in May
New Delhi
rime Minister Narendra
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata
Party made big electoral
gains in Jammu and Kashmir
and captured power in the eastern state of Jharkhand yesterday,
underscoring the party’s dominance of the political landscape.
The BJP made history by п¬Ѓnishing a close second in a verdict
that exposed the deep divide between the largely Muslim Kashmir Valley and Hindu-majority
Jammu region.
It won 25 of 87 seats, its best
showing ever in the state, but
still way short of a simple majority that it wanted to seize power.
Modi himself campaigned
heavily across Kashmir, a top
priority for his party which
wants closer integration of the
revolt-torn state with the rest of
the country.
Still, it will remain a key player
in the state where no single group
attained a majority, raising the
prospect of a coalition government led by the regional People’s
Democratic Party (PDP) which
won 28 seats.
The PDP was part of a coalition that ruled the state during a
period of relative peace between
2002 and 2008.
Both the BJP and the PDP benefited from widespread public
discontent over the state’s ruling National Conference party’s
handling of devastating September floods that killed over 200
people in Kashmir.
The National Conference of
outgoing Chief Minister Omar
Abdullah, who got elected
from Beerwah but lost in Sonwar, won 15 seats, disproving critics who felt it might
be wiped out. Its estranged
ally Congress finished with 12
seats - five less than last time.
Seven seats went to smaller
parties and independents including two bagged by the People’s Conference of Sajjad Lone,
a former separatist leader. Yusuf
Tarigami, a veteran Marxist, won
again from Kashmir Valley.
All BJP’s gains in the monthlong staggered polls came in
Jammu. The PDP dominated in
the Kashmir Valley, where the
Hindu nationalists failed to win
a single seat.
Hina Bhat, a photogenic Muslim woman who became the
face of the BJP during the elections, failed to win her seat in the
state’s main city of Srinagar.
The BJP had hoped to win 44
seats - enough to take power on
its own in Kashmir. That did not
happen. But a PDP-BJP coalition
would give them the numbers
to comfortably form a coalition
PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti
said it would take time to form
a government to provide “good
Her party spokesman Samir
Kaul, however, said that “an alliance with the BJP is not ruled
Mehbooba added: “It is not a
decisive mandate. It is not even
according to our expectations.
We could not get the kind of result we had expected.”
She refused to say if her party
would prefer to sail with the BJP
or the Congress. “We are looking
for a government which is based
on an agenda... the agenda of
good governance.
“It will take time to find out
what formulations can give good
governance. We will take our
time... We are not in a hurry.”
Separatists rejected the election
and militants stepped up attacks to
disrupt the month-long vote.
“In Jammu and Kashmir we
have improved our position significantly. We are now a relevant
party in Jammu and Kashmir,”
BJP president Amit Shah told a
press conference in New Delhi as
the results came in.
BJP supporters celebrate the party’s performance in the Kashmir assembly elections in Jammu, yesterday.
“I believe that voters have endorsed Modi’s style of governance.”
Although the п¬Ѓnal decision on
forging an alliance would rest on
Modi and Shah, BJP sources said
opinion within was split on who
the party should go with - the
PDP or National Conference.
The BJP did not п¬Ѓeld any senior
leader or known face in the election. Instead, the party projected
Modi as the answer to Kashmir’s
long-standing problems.
Modi visited the state six times
to campaign and focused mainly
on issues of development. He
also spoke against corruption
and dynastic rule.
On his part, the outgoing chief
minister said the best possible
combination would be one involving the BJP and PDP and
chided the Congress for making
overtures to the PDP for the sake
of tripping the BJP.
“I have accepted the people’s
verdict,” he said. “But those
who thought we would do badly
very badly have been proved
Riding on the Modi wave, the BJP
won its 25 seats in the Jammu region,
where only six Congress candidates
won. But the BJP got only 2% of
votes in the Kashmir Valley.
The National Conference and
PDP won two seats each in Jammu region and got the rest in the
valley, the epicentre of a dragging
separatist campaign.
Three of the four seats in the
Buddhist-dominated Ladakh region went to the Congress. The
fourth seat was taken by an independent supported by the National Conference.
Voters in the mineral-rich
Jharkhand gave the BJP a clear majority, potentially making it easier
for Modi’s government to kickstart
mining projects urgently needed to
2014 has been
for party: Shah
People have voted for
stability, says Modi
Ranchi/New Delhi
he Bharatiya Janata Party
yesterday emerged victorious and prepared to form
its government in Jharkhand,
with Prime Minister Narendra
Modi saying the people have
“voted for stability which is essential to realise the true potential of the state.”
The BJP won 30 seats and were
leading in eight seats, while its
pre-poll alliance partner the
All Jharkhand Students Union
(AJSU) got four seats and was
leading in a п¬Ѓfth -- taking them
comfortably past the magic halfway mark of 41 in the 81-member
“People of Jharkhand have
voted for stability which is essential to realise the true potential of the state. I congratulate
them,” said Modi who had campaigned vigorously in Jharkhand,
a state that is home to 3.2mn.
The vote share of the BJP went
up from last time’s 24% to 31%.
The party also did remarkably
well in the tribal Santhal Pargana
region that has 18 assembly seg-
ments. The BJP won seven seats
in the tribal belt, a marked improvement from just two it held
The ruling Jharkhand Mukti
Morcha (JMM) failed to improve
its performance, winning 17 seats
and leading in just one - a tally
that was same as last time.
“We are disappointed with our
performance. We were expecting
30 plus seats... We are hopeful of
getting more than 20 seats - two
more than that in the previous
polls,” Supriyo Bhattacharya,
general secretary of the JMM,
He added: “The alliance with
Congress and RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) could have kept the BJP
away from power. The Congress
stand to part ways helped the BJP
win in Jharkhand.”
The Congress-RJD combine
won three seats and a lead in four
Congress spokesman Kishore
Shadeo said the results show that
their organisation has improved
and they have managed to snatch
seats from the JMM.
BJP cadres were ecstatic in
Jharkhand as well as in Delhi. The
celebrations began soon after
trends indicated that the party
was coasting home to victory.
A beaming BJP chief Amit Shah
said in Delhi: “It is for the first
time that people of Jharkhand
have given a clear mandate in
an assembly election to the BJP.
We will form a majority government.”
Shah credited the victory in
Jharkhand to the achievements
of Modi’s six-month-old central
“People’s love and respect for
Modi has translated into this victory (in Jharkhand),” Shah said,
referring to a state that has seen
as many as nine chief ministers in
the past 14 years.
Jharkhand, which became a
state in November 2000, has rich
mineral resources including uranium. The state has a third of India’s coal reserves and a quarter
of India’s copper reserves.
BJP national vice president
Raghbubar Das, who is a contender for the chief minister’s
post and has won from East Jamshedpur constituency, said his
party will form the government
in the state.
He said that the BJP parliamentary board will decide on
reduce energy shortages.
State elections determine the
number of seats parties have in
the Rajya Sabha, the upper house
of parliament where the BJP lacks
a majority.
The opposition blocked his
plans to push through a legislation to increase foreign participation in the insurance sector in
the session of parliament that
ended yesterday.
New Delhi
BJP chief Amit Shah flashes a victory sign after results showed his party had performed well in Jharkhand and
Kashmir polls, at the party office in New Delhi.
who will be the chief minister.
Arjun Munda, considered a
strong contender for chief ministership, was defeated in Kharsawa constituency.
The other former chief ministers who were electorally stung
include Babulal Marandi and
Madhu Koda.
Marandi, the п¬Ѓrst chief minister
of Jharkhand and president of the
Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, lost the
election from both the Dhanwar
and Giridih constituencies.
Jai Bharat Samanta Party candidate Koda lost the election
from the Majhgao.
Chief Minister Hemant Soren
won from the Barhait but lost
from Dumka.
State BJP president Ravindra
Kumar Rai said: “We were hoping
to get a two-third majority but
have fallen short of the 50 seats
we were hoping to win.”
The BJP, which contested the
polls in alliance with the AJSU
and the Lok Janshakti Party
(LJP), п¬Ѓelded candidates in 72
seats. The AJSU had put up candidates in eight places. The LJP
had one candidate.
The Congress contested 60
seats while its ally RJD п¬Ѓelded
19 candidates. The Communist
Party of India and Communist
Party of India (Marxist) п¬Ѓelded
candidates respectively in 24 and
13 constituencies.
pbeat about the Bharatiya Janata Party’s good
show in the Jharkhand
and Kashmir assembly elections,
party chief Amit Shah yesterday
said the year 2014 has been unprecedented for his party.
Shah said the BJP п¬Ѓrst formed
an absolute majority government at the Centre, and thereafter “there has been a good performance” in the states as well.
Addressing reporters at the
BJP headquarters here, Shah
said all that was promised to the
people of Jharkhand would be
“The Congress and so-called
Janata Parivar tried to stop us but
they have failed in Jharkhand,”
he said.
Shah said they would meet the
same fate when they п¬Ѓght against
the BJP in Bihar next year.
“The people of Jharkhand
have destroyed their dreams,” he
said, referring to the Congress
and the Janata Parivar.
The BJP chief said his party
has considerably improved its
past seat tally in all the states it
has contested after the general
elections earlier this year.
Conversion row stalls passage of reforms agenda
New Delhi
arliamentary obstruction
scuppered Prime Minister
Narendra Modi’s economic
agenda in a month-long session that ended yesterday, and
the prospect of further deadlock
means he will п¬Ѓnd it hard to deliver quickly on promises of reform.
Lawmakers left without vot-
ing on a long-delayed bill to
raise the cap on foreign investment in insurance companies
to 49% from 26%, and another
that would overhaul the troubled coal sector.
Both bills were considered lowhanging fruit for Modi’s government, which came to power six
months ago, as they enjoyed rare
bipartisan support, but they fell
victim to a political impasse over
religious conversions.
The government is now con-
templating issuing an executive
order to implement these measures, which would need to be approved by lawmakers within six
weeks of the opening of the next
session of parliament, scheduled
for the beginning of February.
India’s president would also need
to agree.
The dispute mainly disrupted
proceedings in the Rajya Sabha,
the upper house, where Modi’s
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in
a minority and depends on oppo-
sition support. The lower house
Lok Sabha, where the BJP enjoys
the biggest majority since 1984,
continued to function.
Opposition parties will retain
a majority in the upper house
at least through 2016, with the
clout to hold up other reforms
intended to quicken an economic
“The BJP’s ascent has left most
of these parties extremely jittery,” said Sandeep Shastri, professor of political science at Jain
University. “You can expect them
to employ similar tactics in the
upcoming sessions.”
Since Modi’s election triumph,
the BJP has won an outright majority in three out of four state
polls. If it keeps winning states
at that rate, it could control the
upper house as early as 2017, because state assemblies elect onethird of the house’s lawmakers
every two years.
Until then, it may п¬Ѓnd it hard
to push through plans for a com-
mon goods and services tax
across the country and to make
it easier for п¬Ѓrms to acquire land.
Portfolio investors have
flocked to India this year on
hopes that Modi’s victory
would bring pro-growth reforms, putting Indian shares
among the best performers
But so far, most of his measures have been incremental.
Meanwhile, corporate investment remains stagnant, con-
sumers are glum, and bad loans
are rising. Economic growth
slowed to 5.3% year-on-year in
the quarter to end-September,
from a 2-1/2-year high of 5.7%.
Industrial output is down and
exports growth is anaemic.
The government is also set to
miss its target of nearly $10bn in
privatisations this year by a long
way, and with it a plan to trim the
fiscal deficit to a seven-year low
unless it cuts public spending
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Mexico mourns missing students as new graft claims emerge
Mexico City
t a special service at a
school in the southern
Mexican town of Ayotzinapa, Vatican envoy Archbishop
Christophe Pierre found himself
speaking to empty chairs.
Some 43 seats were unoccupied, save for the photos of students who had once sat in them.
The service, held during
Christmas week for the families
of the missing students, took
place nearly three months since
the students’ disappearance.
The students were taken while
on a school trip near Iguala.
According to testimonies by
three surviving members of the
group, they were abducted by
municipal police who handed
them over to the Guerreros Unidos cartel after being mistaken for
Cuba dissidents
shaken by US
seek new tactics
resident Barack Obama’s
decision to end п¬Ѓve decades
of enmity with Cuba has
shaken the island’s political dissidents, dividing their ranks and
forcing them to rethink tactics.
Throughout the Cold War
and beyond, the US relied on the
small dissident movement to lead
domestic opposition to Cuba’s
communist government and keep
track of human rights abuses.
So after Obama last week tore
up the tough, decades-old policy
aimed at crippling Cuba, some
dissidents feel betrayed and unsure of their movement, which
infuriates the government and
has limited public support.
The US will still encourage
Cubans to push for more political rights but it now has its own
direct channel to President Raul
Castro’s government, raising uncertainty about the dissidents’
future value to the Americans.
While some dissident leaders
welcomed the policy shift for
stripping Cuba’s government
of excuses for economic shortages and strict political control,
others complained the deal was
negotiated without their knowledge and against their will.
“President Obama has made a
mistake,” said Berta Soler, leader
of the Ladies in White, a largely
Roman Catholic group that has
protest marches each Sunday.
“This is going to benefit the Cuban government, strengthening
and equipping its repressive machine.”
While her group was marching
on the streets, enduring harassment and detention, the US government was engaged in secret
talks with Havana over the past
18 months.
Guillermo Farinas, who was
detained like clockwork at 38
consecutive weekly protests
outside his home this year in
the city of Santa Clara, was even
more blunt. “I feel betrayed,”
said Farinas, who was bothered
by the secrecy of the talks and
said the views of dissidents were
“I know some people are offended by that word, but I use it
on purpose.”
Farinas was in the minority
during a landmark meeting of
29 dissidents from across Cuba
who gathered for 10 hours on
Monday at the office of 14ymedio, the news and opinion website of prominent blogger Yoani
Sanchez. Soler did not attend.
Other senior dissident leaders
either welcomed Obama’s policy
shift or accepted it as a reality
beyond their control. In a joint
statement, they applauded the
prisoner swap that allowed the
release of US foreign aid worker
Alan Gross and more than 50 unidentified Cuban prisoners.
A US official described the
freed Cubans as political prisoners, but the dissidents have yet to
confirm any of their people were
released, leaving them wondering who exactly the US fought
to get free. Participants in the
meeting said they aired their differences inside but then agreed
to present a united front.
Reporters and diplomats were
banned and all 29 dissidents
placed their cell phones in a
basket for the entire 10 hours.
Veteran leader Elizardo Sanchez
declined to define the sharpest
points of disagreement, but said
they all recognised that Obama’s
move required a new approach to
pressuring the government and
seeking popular support.
“With this change, the discourse of the government has to
change, and so does ours ... Now is
the time for us to readjust our tactics due to the changing political
scene,” Sanchez said. They have
only just started thinking about
what those tactics might be.
Cuba’s government routinely accuses dissidents of being
“mercenaries” of the US government and many Cubans are
skeptical about their motives,
believing they are driven by the
modest economic aid afforded
by foreign groups.
members of rival gang The Reds.
Authorities have since found
multiple human remains in a
dumpster in nearby Cocula,
as well as a river. But only one
student’s remains have thus far
been identified, confirmed at a
laboratory in Innsbruck, Austria.
The incident prompted multiple protests across the country against what people see as a
corrupt and ineffective criminal
justice system, which frequently
collaborates with drug cartels
rather than represent the interests of ordinary Mexicans.
On Monday, new reports added
to the growing cache of evidence
documenting atrocities by the police, as newly released information
gathered by the country’s federal
prosecutor implicated them in the
murder of 72 Central American
migrants near the northern city of
San Fernando in 2010.
The mass grave, discovered af-
ter a shootout, was one of the largest massacres recorded during the
violence that has engulfed Mexico. Reports at the time cited one
surviving migrant saying his companions were killed for refusing to
work for powerful Zetas cartel.
The documents outline how
police in the northern state of
Tamaulipas collaborate with
the Zetas, which control major drug-trafficking corridors.
While it’s difficult to know ex-
he United States helped
a Cuban spy imprisoned
in California artificially
inseminate his wife back in
Cuba, a goodwill gesture while
Washington and Havana were
engaged in secret talks on restoring diplomatic ties, US officials said.
Now Gerardo Hernandez and
his wife, Adriana Perez, are expecting his baby in two weeks,
even though he was locked up
for 16 years without conjugal
visits. It will be a girl called
Gema, Cuban official media
Hernandez was serving a double-life sentence at the US federal penitentiary in Victorville
until his release on Wednesday
as part of a prisoner swap, which
was completed the same day the
US and Cuba announced they
would restore diplomatic ties after more than 50 years.
The US freed Hernandez and
two other Cuban agents in ex-
change for US foreign aid worker
Alan Gross, a Cuban who had
been spying for Washington, and
53 unidentified prisoners.
Hernandez was serving a
double-life sentence at the
US federal penitentiary in
Victorville until his release
on Wednesday
“We can confirm the US
facilitated Adriana Hernandez’s request to have a baby
with her husband. The request
was passed along by senator
(Patrick) Leahy, who was seeking to improve the conditions
for Gross while he was imprisoned in Cuba,” the US justice
department said in a statement.
Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, had long been active in
attempting to free Gross, who
was arrested in 2009 for bringing banned telecommunications
technology into Cuba for the US
Agency for International Development.
Hernandez, 49, was one of
п¬Ѓve Cuban agents captured 16
to (the municipal jail), they deliver them to the Zetas.”
He added that top police officials are paid by the cartels for
their collaboration. The memo,
acquired by the National Security Archive and published late
Monday by Mexican magazine
Proceso, is one of the few documents released by the prosecutor,
who often declines to hand over
information at the risk of jeopardising ongoing investigations.
Anger at Grand Canal construction
Demonstrators block the Panamerican highway to protest against the Grand Canal construction in Managua. Nicaragua on Monday announced the start of work on a $50bn
shipping canal, an infrastructure project backed by China that aims to rival Panama’s waterway and revitalise the economy of the second-poorest country in the Americas.
Argentina loses US appeal
over creditors’ subpoenas
New York
US appeals court yesterday rejected Argentina’s
bid to reverse a decision requiring the country and
various banks to provide holdout creditors with information
about the country’s assets, including military equipment and
diplomatic property.
The 2nd US Circuit Court of
Appeals in New York affirmed
the 2013 ruling, which ordered
the banks and Argentina to
comply with subpoenas and
information requests served by
bondholders suing for full payment of debts after Argentina’s
$100bn default in 2002.
The holdouts are creditors
that declined to accept the
terms of 2005 and 2010 Argentina debt restructurings, in
which it swapped about 92% of
its bonds for new obligations.
While the court upheld US
district judge Thomas Griesa’s
ruling, the three-judge panel
stressed “that Argentina - like
all foreign sovereigns - is entitled to a degree of grace and
Saying those concerns were
of “particular weight” when it
came to a country’s diplomatic
and sovereign affairs, the 2nd
Circuit urged Griesa to prioritise the production of documents “unlikely to prove invasive of sovereign dignity”.
Neither a US lawyer for Argentina nor a representative for
a lead hold bondholder, Elliott
Management’s NML Capital,
responded to requests for comment.
Argentina defaulted in July of
this year after refusing to honour orders barring it from paying holders of its restructured
bonds without also paying
$1.33bn plus interest to holdout
creditors including NML.
Argentina’s latest default
Cuban spy, wife to soon
be parents with US help
actly how many migrants have
gone missing - they are often
travelling without documentation in hopes of crossing the border into Texas - mass graves and
cannisters with remains of hundreds of people have been found.
Mexico’s general prosecutor cited the testimony of one
police detainee in Tamaulipas,
who said, “I know that police in
San Fernando help the Zetas, because instead of bringing them
years ago and given long prison
terms, all of them hailed as “anti-terrorist heroes” in Cuba for
infiltrating Cuban exile groups
at a time when anti-Castro extremists were bombing Cuban
When the so-called Cuban
Five were honoured in a ceremony at Cuba’s National Assembly
on Saturday, Perez appeared
alongside Hernandez with an
obvious baby bump, raising
questions about how she became
Hernandez patted her belly
and smiled, a signal of harmony
within the marriage.
Later that day, Hernandez
told Cuban television she became pregnant through “remote
control” but gave no details.
CNN п¬Ѓrst reported on Sunday it
was done by artificial insemination.
The New York Times on Monday reported that Cuban officials
collected the sperm sample and
transported it through Panama.
Perez, 44, became pregnant on
the second such attempt, the
Times said.
came after it refused to obey
Griesa’s order on paying the
Griesa held Argentina in contempt in September.
Argentina has said it cannot
pay the holdouts until the December 31 expiration of a clause
that prevents it from paying
them on better terms than it pays
holders of restructured debt.
The appeal that the 2nd
Circuit ruled on yesterday
concerned an order compelling Argentina and 29 banks
to comply with subpoenas
and information requests by
the holdouts aimed at finding
assets outside the country to
fulfil unpaid judgments.
Argentina contended the order would effectively allow an
inventory of military and diplomatic assets that were protected from seizure by US law
and various treaties. But the 2nd
Circuit said that insofar as the
information demands reached
diplomatic or consular property
immune from being pursued by
the creditors, Argentina should
object when the bondholders
seek to execute on such property. Argentina may also present
certain other objections regarding producing the documents to
Griesa on privilege and treaty
grounds, the appeals court said.
US state department
Gitmo envoy resigns
Gerardo Hernandez , 49, accompanied by his wife Adriana Perez,
44, during a session of the National People’s Power Assembly in
Havana, Cuba.
he state department
envoy responsible for
transfers from the US military
prison at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, is resigning, officials
said yesterday, even as President Barack Obama is promising a stepped-up push to close
the facility.
The surprise announcement
of Clifford Sloan’s departure
followed a flurry of detainee repatriations and resettlements,
though officials at the state department and White House had
made clear their frustration
with the slow handling of such
moves by outgoing Defence
Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Sloan assumed the post in
July 2013 and the state department said he was stepping down and returning to his
Washington law practice after
п¬Ѓnishing an 18-month commitment.
A senior US official said another factor in Sloan’s decision
was that the Pentagon “cer-
tainly hasn’t been as helpful as
they could have been” in speeding up the process of sending
prisoners home or resettling
them in other countries.
Still, Secretary of State
John Kerry said in a statement
Sloan’s “skilful negotiating”
led to the transfer of 34 detainees and “with more on the way.”
With the detainee population whittled down to 132,
several more are expected to
be transferred by year-end
and that п¬Ѓgure could reach
low “double digits” as further
moves involving “various nationalities” take place in following weeks, the senior official said.
Sloan’s resignation, which
takes effect on December 31,
is not likely to affect transfers
already in the pipeline, but it
remains to be seen what kind of
impact it will have beyond that.
“I’m going to be doing
everything I can to close it,”
Obama told CNN in an interview broadcast on Sunday,
renewing a pledge he made to
shut the internationally condemned prison when he took
office nearly six years ago.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
No difference between terrorists and abettors: Sharif
akistan Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif yesterday
said there was no difference between terrorists and their
Chairing a special anti-terrorism meeting of the country’s
civilian and military leadership,
Prime Minister Sharif stressed
the need to eliminate the mindset associated with terrorism
and militancy, The News International reported.
It was agreed upon in the
meeting that Operation Zarbe-Azb would continue till the
elimination of the last terrorist.
Army Chief General Raheel
Sharif, Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)
Lt General Rizwan Akhtar, and
Federal Ministers Chaudhry
Nisar and Ishaq Dar attended the
In an earlier meeting, Prime
Minister Sharif said that people
could not be left at the mercy of
The prime minister pointed
out that extraordinary times
called for extraordinary measures.
He emphasised that citizens
from all ethnicities and religious
beliefs would be protected.
He added that atrocities com-
mitted by terrorists would not be
forgotten or forgiven.
Sharif has summoned a meeting on parliamentary leaders today. The meeting will п¬Ѓnalise the
National Action Plan to counter
Earlier, Pakistan’s General
Raheel Sharif met Chief of General Staff of the Afghan National
Army (ANA) General Sher Mohamed Karimi and commander
of the International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF) General John Campbell at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in
According to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR)
statement, the visiting digni-
taries expressed their grief over
the Peshawar school carnage in
which more than 140 students
and teachers were massacred.
While appreciating the recently commenced operations
by Afghan forces against the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) in areas
close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan Border, General Sharif said
he would extend full support
to General Karimi and General
Campbell in all spheres, including intelligence sharing as well as
co-ordinated operations by both
The trilateral meeting discussed the overall security situation in the region, matters relating to co-ordination on the
Extremist leader
to be released
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leader
Malik Ishaq is expected to
be released tomorrow after
the Punjab government
withdrew a request to extend
his detention
he leader of a banned Pakistani sectarian militant
group is set to walk free
from jail, officials said yesterday,
even as the government considers “radical changes” to tackle
militancy after a Taliban school
Malik Ishaq, the head of
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) which
is dedicated to killing minority
Shias, is expected to be released
tomorrow after the Punjab provincial government withdrew a
request to extend his detention
under public order laws.
The announcement comes
less than 24 hours after Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged
to eradicate the “cancer” of sectarianism, and will add to concerns about the effectiveness of
the government response to the
school killings.
LeJ has claimed responsibility
for numerous bloody attacks, including two bombings targeting
Shias in the southwestern city of
Quetta in 2013 that killed a total
of nearly 200 people.
A senior legal official told AFP
the decision not to seek an extension of Ishaq’s detention was
made by a three-judge review
panel at Lahore High Court on
Ishaq, named a “Specially
Designated Global Terrorist”
by the US, has been implicated
in numerous murder cases and
was accused of masterminding
a 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan
cricket team in Lahore which
killed eight people.
An anti-terror court in May
cleared him of inciting violence
This photograph taken on December 22, 2014, shows Pakistani police
escorting the head of banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Malik Ishaq as
he arrives at the high court in Lahore.
and of making speeches which
fomented hate but he was held
under maintenance of public order laws.
Pakistan has ramped up its
anti-terror strategy since the
December 16 attack on an armyrun school in Peshawar.
The death toll rose Tuesday to
150 including 134 children after
one of the injured — a 17-yearold student — passed away in
Six convicts have been hanged
after Sharif lifted a moratorium
on executions in terror cases,
and the military has stepped up
operations against insurgent
bases in the tribal northwest.
Officials said on Monday that
Pakistan plans to execute around
500 militants in coming weeks.
An official in Sharif’s office
said yesterday the prime minister had cleared his diary to discuss “radical changes/reforms”
with ministers, legal advisers
and military top brass.
stormed the school in Pakistan’s deadliest ever terror attack, claimed by the Tehreek-eTaliban Pakistan as revenge for
the killing of their families in the
army offensive.
Sharif hinted the military
operation could be extended
against “the enemy who is hidden in our cities and villages”, in
a statement late on Monday.
“Terrorism and sectarianism
is like a cancer for Pakistan and
now is high time we got rid of
this menace,” he said.
Sectarian violence, mainly
targeting Shias who make up
around one in п¬Ѓve of the population, has been on the rise in recent years.
But it is relatively rare for a
top politician to address the issue specifically by name in such
frank terms.
The government’s announcement of a wave of executions has
sparked protests from international human rights groups and
the United Nations.
Some have criticised the lifting of the moratorium as politically motivated, aiming to
capitalise on public outrage over
Peshawar, and have said it will do
little to stem terror.
Farzana Bari, a Pakistani human rights activist, condemned
the government’s move as a
“knee-jerk response”, saying the
problem of extremism begins in
mosques and seminaries.
“We have to look at our
mosques where hate speeches
and this kind of mindset has
been created,” she told AFP.
But there was support for
hangings among more than a
dozen ordinary Pakistanis interviewed by AFP around the country yesterday, though several
said executions alone would not
solve the problem.
“Terrorism will not finish with
executions as it is a longstanding
problem, but definitely death
penalty will be helpful in reducing terrorism,” said office worker
Atiq Zafar, 42, in Lahore.
In Karachi, student Sikander
Afaq said he believed executing terror convicts would send a
clear message to other п¬Ѓghters.
and protocols placed to improve
border control.
Meanwhile, a working group
of parliamentary parties in Pakistan yesterday suggested measures ranging from formation of
military courts to anti-terrorism
council as part of the nation’s
efforts to combat the scourge of
terrorism which has devoured
the lives of more than 50,000
people in the country.
The working group came up
with 21 recommendations, The
News International reported.
The group proposed formation of the anti-terrorism council to be chaired by the prime
minister and represented by
interior ministry, the army, the
Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau and other organisations.
It stressed the need to
strengthen the National Counter-Terrorism Authority and
formation of a special task force
to eliminate terrorism.
The working group recommended that militants included in schedule four of the
anti-terror act be arrested and
a ban should be imposed on the
militant organisations and their
It also called for a ban on hate
speech and literature and underscored the need for reforms in
the religious seminaries.
The working group suggested
action through monitoring Internet activities of terrorists by
the Federal Investigation Agency.
It also asked the government
to protect religious minorities
and cancel all licences for explosive materials.
The working group urged the
government to strengthen the
provincial government of Balochistan for political reconciliation and take the ongoing Karachi operation to a logical end.
The experts also recommended that the act of praising terrorists through electronic and print
media should be considered as a
Special security
measures at
Pakistan schools
n the drive to eliminate
terrorism from the country after the December 16
Peshawar school carnage, the
authorities in Pakistan are
taking all possible measures to
stop educational institutions
from becoming targets of militant attacks.
The superintendents of police of all the four zones in Islamabad - City, Saddar, Rural
and Industrial Area -- have
been asked to hold meetings
with the school administrations in their respective areas
and brief them on the security
arrangements, Dawn online
In some of the schools,
guards were already deployed
but now it has been made
mandatory for all institutions
to hire armed security personnel.
Walk-through gates should
also be installed at the entry points of the schools and
guards should be deployed
with metal detectors.
The administrations would
also be asked to install CCTV
cameras for surveillance of the
The height of the boundary
walls of all schools, colleges
and universities should be
raised and barbed wires п¬Ѓxed.
The digging of trenches has
also been proposed around
school buildings.
A police officer told Dawn
on condition of anonymity that schools would also be
asked to carry out evacuation
drills to check their preparedness in case of any emergency.
The educational institutions have also been asked to
arrange reflectors to check vehicles for magnetic explosive
The officer said there were
intelligence reports shared by
the interior ministry’s National Crisis Management Cell
(NCMC) that suicide jackets
and bombers had been moved
towards Punjab, especially
Rawalpindi and Islamabad, by
the outlawed Pakistani Taliban.
He said the terrorists might
target any school or college
vehicle with an improvised
explosive device (IED) through
a time device.
He also said the police officers and station house officers
concerned have been asked to
ensure that each educational
institution had implemented
the standard operating procedure (SOP).
As of now, winter vacations
have started in the schools and
majority of the universities.
Earlier, law enforcement
agencies identified 1,159 educational institutes in the Pakistani capital as soft targets for
Colleges to reopen only if they are secure
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Higher Education
Department has asked
government colleges
and universities across
Pakistan’s northwest
province not to reopen
campuses at the end of the
ongoing winter vacation
until proper security checks
are in place.
The higher educational
institutions were also told
to consult their respective
district police officers and
deputy commissioners before
reopening the campuses,
official sources said
The security guidelines
were issued in light of the
December 16 Taliban attack
on Army Public School and
College, Peshawar, which
left 149 people, including 132
children, dead.
Imran Khan
PTI to
hold rally
on Jan 17
he Pakistan Tehreek-iInsaf (PTI) yesterday decided to hold a rally in Islamabad on January 17.
The PTI’s strategic committee made the decision during a
meeting, held at D-Chowk in the
federal capital, Dawn online reported citing sources.
However, the purpose of the
rally was not mentioned.
On Dec 17, the PTI had announced its decision to suspend
countrywide protests, in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on a
Peshawar school that killed more
than 140 students and teachers.
Imran Khan had announced
the party’s decision to suspend
their protest movement saying
that the country was in need of
The PTI, along with Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), had
launched a campaign against the
government of Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif in August, demanding that he resign over alleged rigging in last year’s polls.
Afghan troops
kill 151 Taliban
School attack puts spotlight on role of clerics A
By Subel Bhandari and Zia
Khan, DPA
or a long time, controversial hardline cleric Maulvi
Abdul Aziz, and his like,
were untouchable in Pakistan.
They were a forceful clique
with a large public support base,
mostly made up of conservative
Sunni Muslims, and got political protection from п¬Ѓgures in the
powerful military establishment.
Aziz heads the Lal Masjid or
Red Mosque, infamous for a 10day siege in 2007 by the military
that killed more than 100 people.
His hardline followers tried to
impose Shariah on the Islamabad streets, with protests against
“immorality,” and forced some
people to follow Islamic rituals,
abducted alleged prostitutes,
and burned down DVD shops.
It triggered the military government to take action, which
led to the clashes, siege and the
That incident was seen as a
turning point for the Pakistani
Taliban in raising a unified banner against the state, and unleashing a wave of terrorist attacks across the country.
He has promoted radical Islam
openly in the heart of the capital,
voiced public support for Afghan
and Taliban jihad, and called for
the establishment of a Shariah
state on national television.
The mosque and its madrasas
or seminaries have been accused
of housing hardline Islamists
with militant links.
This year, the mosque named
a library at one of its seminaries after former Al Qaeda chief,
Osama bin Laden.
But since last week clerics like
Aziz have been on the defensive.
A couple of hundred angry
young professionals gathered
outside the mosque to protest,
which was unthinkable until
recently, after Aziz refused to
condemn the Peshawar school
attack, in which 135 children
were murdered by seven Taliban
During Friday’s sermon, Aziz
said the Taliban attack was un-
derstandable, given the Pakistani military’s summer offensive
against the insurgent hideouts
in the tribal region that severely
weakened the militants.
Protesters said clerics like Aziz
are at the fault - for promoting
extremist ideas and by not condemning the incident that has
deeply traumatised the nation.
“I am a resident of Peshawar.
I have lived my life there. Maulvi
Aziz is a cleric, a scholar. He, not
condemning [the massacre], is
very disturbing for me. He has
hurt our sentiments, as Muslims,” said Jabbar Khan, 33.
“I cannot pick up the gun
against Maulvi Aziz. But I can
raise my voice. And I will do
that,” he said at the protest.
Insults were howled, slogans
chanted and placards waved,
alongside the candlelight vigil
for the victims.
A group of protesters even
went to a nearby police station to п¬Ѓle a complaint against
Aziz, who allegedly threatened
Jibran Nasir, an organiser of the
protest, said radical clerics were
“as dangerous as the Taliban who
killed innocent children.”
“We want to take back the
mosque. This is my Allah’s
house. This is where my Qur’an
is being taught. It is my place of
worship,” he said.
The protest seemed to have
gained some momentum, in social media as well, where the organisers started “#reclaimyourmosque” campaign.
“I am a resident of
Peshawar. I have lived
my life there. Maulvi
Aziz is a cleric, a scholar.
He, not condemning
[the massacre], is very
disturbing for me. He has
hurt our sentiments, as
“We can no longer allow anyone to stand and preach hatred.
We will no longer stand by and
watch people like Abdul Aziz use
the name of our Holy Prophet
and our religion to perpetuate
violence,” Nasir said.
On Monday, Nasir said he received a call from Ehsanullah
Ehsan, the spokesman for a Taliban faction, telling him “not to
bother Maulvi.”
“We are not protesting to shed
blood, or to throw stones. We are
here because we want to send a
simple and clear message: �We
are not afraid anymore’,” he said.
Since 2004, more than 50,000
civilians and over 15,000 security forces personnel have been
killed in insurgent attacks across
Pakistan is currently involved
in a multiple, parallel conflicts,
from deadly sectarian violence,
to extremist Islamist militancy.
“These are the people who
teach wrong interpretations of
our religion, and train jihad, and
protect the murderers of the
children,” Nasir said of the radical clerics.
Political analyst Raza Rumi
said politicians have “failed
to build a coherent narrative
against Islamic extremism.”
“In part, they want to appease
the religious lobbies and view
religious references as a means
of popular support.”
He said thousands of madra-
sas teach that “jihad is the sublime purpose of human existence.”
“The unregulated mosque
sermons each week air sectarian
hatred, bigotry, thus influencing
millions of minds.”
One diplomat in Islamabad
said that keeping radical Islamists as allies, by the political and
military establishment, makes
the “terrorism policy of the
country a faulty one.”
And clerics like Aziz still enjoy
the backing of a large number
of people. One of the students
at his seminary said the protest
was a conspiracy hatched by the
enemies of Islam “to make Muslims fight each other.”
“Maulvi [Abdul Aziz] didn’t
condemn the killing of students
and he was right,” Mohamed Ismail, 22, said.
“Why should he condemn
only one incident that was done
by one party to the conflict [the
Taliban] and not condemn what
the other side is doing [the Pakistani state]?” said the student at
the Jamia Fradia madrasa, run by
the Red Mosque.
fghan security forces
killed 151 Taliban militants in 12 days of п¬Ѓghting
in the east of the country bordering Pakistan, a provincial police chief confirmed yesterday.
“Some 151 insurgents, including 17 foreigners, were killed and
107 others were injured in the
cross fighting with national security forces,” said Abdul Habib
Sayedkheli, the police chief of
eastern Kunar province.
Kunar borders Pakistan’s tribal regions, from where Taliban
militants are believed to enter
the country to attack Afghan security forces.
About 12 days back, hundreds
of insurgents attacked Kunar’s
Dangam district, forcing civilians to take up arms in an uprising and eventually asking the
government for help.
“The national security forces
launched the operation from
different directions on the insurgents in the district,” said
Sayedkheli, of an operation that
was launched on Monday and
was ongoing.
Six Afghan soldiers were killed
in that operation, he said, while
18 soldiers and one civilian were
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Binay’s camp braces for
more attacks after survey
By Llanesca T Panti
& Fernan Marasigan
Manila Times
hilippine President Benigno Aquino yesterday signed a 2.6tn-peso
($59bn) national budget for 2015,
which he said further limits opportunities for corruption.
Aquino said the budget includes specific targets for government departments to achieve
with the money allocated for
he worst may not be over
for Vice President Jejomar Binay even if recent surveys by two pollsters
showed that he is likely to succeed President Benigno Aquino.
Navotas City (Metro Manila)
representative Tobias Tiangco,
the interim president of the
United Nationalist Alliance
(UNA), yesterday said Binay’s
camp is bracing for more vicious
attacks despite the results of the
surveys conducted by the Social
Weather Stations (SWS) and
Pulse Asia showing that Binay
remains the top choice of Filipinos among several presidential
candidates in 2016.
“I can’t tell if the worst is
over. Of course, the goal of the
other side is to bring the vice
president down, so we expect
their attacks to be more vicious,” Tiangco told Manila
Times in a phone interview.
He said they expect Binay’s
critics to come out with more
allegations when the Senate
blue ribbon sub-committee
resumes its investigation on
January 22, 2015.
“You can expect them to peddle more lies there in the hearing, just like in the previous 12
hearings where they have failed
to prove anything. The sad part
here is that they are supposed to
be after the truth, but they even
encourage the witnesses to lie,”
the lawmaker said.
Former Makati City Vice
Mayor Ernesto Mercado had accused Binay of benefiting from
the construction of the Makati
City Hall Building 2 when the
vice president was the thenMakati mayor.
On Monday, the SWS said
their survey held from November 27 to December 1 showed
that the vice president was the
top choice among the possi-
for 2015
“Now, all heads of agencies
must also comply with
a requirement to report
about their budget”
Vice President Jejomar Binay hands over a cheque to a beneficiary association, as part of the Community Mortgage Programme of the Social Housing Finance Corp.
ble candidates for president in
2016, with 37% saying he is the
best leader to succeed Aquino.
Sen. Grace Poe, the second
placer, got 21% while Interior
Secretary Manuel Roxas got
19%.A survey conducted by
Pulse Asia also showed similar
Valenzuela City (Metro Manila) representative Sherwin
Gatchalian said Binay’s comfortable lead in the surveys
is a vindication that the vice
president did not do anything
“Filipinos are convinced
that the allegations against the
vice president are devoid of
truth and politically motivated,” Gatchalian, a stalwart of
the Nationalist People’s Coalition, said. But Binay said his
survey ratings would be higher
if not for the political attacks
against him.
“You know one of the rea-
sons (why our ratings went
down although) we still maintained the leadership was the
perception that was created
by our opponents. It came to a
point (that the people realised
that the accusations against
me) are all lies and are politically motivated, so (the num-
bers came back to us),” the vice
president explained.
Still, Binay admitted that
the attacks against him are not
He, however, said he will not
confront his accusers but will
instead find ways to explain
the truth to the people.
“The targets are clear,” he said.
“For example, the Department
of Public Works and Highways
aims to complete the repairs of
national roads by 2016, including 4,219 kilometres of road to
be rehabilitated in 2015.” “We
cleaned and clarified the process
to reduce the space for corruption,” he added.
“Now, all heads of agencies
must also comply with a requirement to report about their
budget; those who fail to comply
will face sanctions.”
The budget includes a 10bnpeso allocation for rehabilitation
of areas devastated by typhoon
Haiyan, the world’s strongest
cyclone that hit the Philippines
in 2013.
Most of that money or 7.99bn
pesos has been allotted for the
construction of permanent
housing for more than 4mn people left homeless by Haiyan.
“The houses will be built under the build-back-better principle,” Aquino said. “We will
move them away from hazardous
areas, the infrastructure are designed to be more robust against
storms and the people will have
alternative livelihoods.”
The 2015 budget is up 15%
from the 2.26tn pesos allocated
in 2014.
Traffic cop
hit by car dies
in hospital
The traffic enforcer who was hit
and dragged by a motorist he
had accosted, died yesterday
afternoon, Metropolitan Manila
Development Authority (MMDA)
chairman Francis Tolentino said.
Tolentino rushed to the St Luke’s
Medical Centre upon hearing
of the death of Sonny Acosta,
Manila Times reported.
The MMDA chief assured
Acosta’s family that the agency
will provide legal assistance and
will pay all the hospital expenses.
Acosta had been in critical condition since he sustained severe
head injuries after being hit by
the driver of an Isuzu Sportivo.
The traffic policeman had
flagged down the driver for
being in the lane designated for
provincial buses in Cubao,
Quezon City on December 19.
Acosta asked for the motorist’s
licence, but the driver, identified
as Mark Ian Libunao, sped off
even though Acosta’s hand was
still in the car’s window and was
thus dragged.
The Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office has filed charges of reckless
imprudence resulting in serious
physical injuries and driving
with an expired licence against
Festive celebration
Pope Francis’ visit to be
public holiday in Manila
Spectators watch the Festival of Lights displays along a financial district in Makati city, Metro
Manila. Filipinos are known for celebrating Christmas the longest by playing yuletide songs on
local radio stations and at malls as early as November until the observance of the Three Kings
during the first week of January.
he Philippines will have
a public holiday in the
capital during Pope
Francis’ visit in January, the
president’s office said yesterday.
The Pope will be visiting Manila and the eastern city of Tacloban from January 15-19.
The president’s Executive
Secretary Paquito Ochoa said
January 15, 16 and 19 are to be
non-working days for the 12mn
people of metropolitan Manila.
Pope Francis will meet with
leaders from the Catholic
Church and other religions,
youth representatives, government officials and Philippine
families in Manila.
In Tacloban, the Pope
is scheduled to have lunch
with survivors of typhoon
Haiyan and other calamities
in 2013, as well as inaugurate a
centre for poor.
Pope Francis will be visiting Manila and the eastern city of Tacloban
from January 15-19.
Lawmaker slams �unfair’ water rate hike for consumers
By Llanesca T Panti
Manila Times
he approved increases in
water rates by concessionaires, Maynilad and
Manila Water should be voided
for being unfair to consumers,
according to House Minority
leader Neri Colmenares of Bayan
Muna party-list.
He made the call yesterday
in light of the rate adjustments,
which the concessionaires said
resulted from implementation of
an increase in foreign currency
differential adjustment (FCDA).
FCDA is a mechanism that allows Maynilad and Manila Water
to cover foreign exchange fluctuations that also affect their
payments on foreign
currency-denominated loans
for expansion and service improvement.
Under the increases that will
take effect in January 2015, those
consuming 20 cubic metres a
month will have to pay an additional P4.45 and those consuming 30 cubic metres, P9.12 more.
Manila Water will be posting a
price hike of 0.36 per cubic me-
tre by January, while Maynilad
will increase its price by 0.38 per
cubic metre.
This means an additional
P1.19 in the bill of Maynilad’s
lifetime consumers, or those
that consume 10 cubic metres
and below per month.
The hike will add P4.45 to the
bill of those that consume 20
cubic metres a month, and P9.12
for 30 cubic metres.
According to Manila Water and Maynilad, the increase
comes in line with foreign currency differential adjustment,
or the change of the value of the
peso against other currencies.
Maynilad serves Metro Manila’s West Zone including
Manila, some areas in Quezon City, Caloocan, Navotas,
Malabon,Valenzuela, Pasay, Las
PiГ±as, Paranaque and Muntinlupa and Cavite City, Bacoor,
Imus, Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario in Cavite province.
Manila Water primarily serves
the East Zone which covers parts
of Quezon City, Makati, Taguig,
Pateros, Marikina, Pasig, San
Juan, Mandaluyong and Rizal
Colmenares said the conces-
sionaires must п¬Ѓrst refund billions of pesos that they had collected from the public for still
unimplemented water projects
before they could raise water
Among these projects involve
Angat dam (P5.4bn) and Laiban
dam (P45.3bn).
“These water concessionaires
are raking in billions by fooling
us. They borrow from foreign
creditors without any qualms
knowing that they are insulated
from the risks ordinary borrowers take because they’re allowed
to pass on their foreign exchange
losses to their consumers,” Colmenares, a lawyer, pointed out.
“They want their cake and eat
it too. Can you believe this? They
want us to pay for their tax dues.
Government has to stop this
practice of making the people
shoulder all the risks and losses
of public utilities and awarding
contracts to companies whose
main interest is profit-secured
business instead of public service,” he said.
Colmenares slammed Maynilad and Manila water for
passing their income, valueadded,
and other taxes to consumers.
According to the non-government Water for the People Network, such taxes charged to the
consumers have amounted to
“This (passing on of charges to
consumers) is highly questionable. This is detrimental to the
interest of the government and
the people and thus, must be
voided. The Manila Waterworks
and Sewerage System Regulatory Office should act now to end
this practice and have the water
concessionaires refund this to
consumers,” the lawmaker said.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Three get
penalty for
Lanka president pledges
fresh war crimes probe
ri Lanka’s president, under pressure from his
main opponent in upcoming elections, yesterday
promised a judicial inquiry into
allegations that his troops killed
thousands of Tamil civilians at
the end of the civil war.
But President Mahinda Rajapakse reiterated that he would
not cooperate with a UN-mandated investigation into the
government’s 2009 crushing of
the Tamil Tiger rebellion.
“If any rights have been
violated (during the war), justice will be ensured through a
transparent domestic judicial
mechanism,” Rajapakse said in
his election manifesto.
It did not say how this would
differ from an inquiry he ordered
in July, following intense foreign
pressure to account for the 2009
killing of Tamil civilians.
A 2011 United Nations report
cited estimates from “credible
sources” that up to 40,000 civilians may have been killed in
the п¬Ѓnal months of the war.
Rajapakse is credited with
crushing the Tamil Tiger rebels
who at the height of their power
between 1990 and 1995 controlled a third of Sri Lanka’s
But he is also accused of
rights abuses and is perceived
by some as an increasingly
authoritarian ruler.
Maithripala Sirisena, his
main opponent in the January 8 presidential election,
has already promised a similar
Rajapakse was seen as the favourite when he called the snap
election in November, two years
ahead of schedule.
But Sirisena has emerged
as a formidable opponent after securing the support of all
the main opposition groups,
including the tacit support of
minority Tamils.
The New York-based political risk analysis firm Eurasia Group said the opposition’s
Sirisena was likely to “narrowly
win,” but that a desperate Rajapakse could still use security
forces to discourage opposition
supporters from voting.
“Fresh defections from President Rajapakse’s ruling coalition suggest that opposition
candidate Maithripala Sirisena
will narrowly win the presidency when votes are counted
on 8 January,” Eurasia’s Sasha
Riser-Kositsky said in a report
released Monday night.
He was referring to industry
and commerce minister Rishad
Bathiudeen who quit the coalition government on Monday
and withdrew the support of
his All Ceylon Makkal (People’s)
The Brussels-based International Crisis Group warned two
weeks ago that Rajapakse could
try to remain in power by using
security forces, a suggestion
discounted by both the military
and the opposition.
Opposition leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe told business
leaders in Colombo yesterday
that a majority in the armed
forces were sympathetic to the
opposition and he expected a
peaceful transition.
Wickremesinghe said they
will hold no grudges, but ensure
rule of law which he said had
been undermined by Rajapakse
who is also accused of suppressing dissent despite the end
of the separatist war.
The United Nations has estimated that at least 100,000
people were killed in Sri Lanka’s
separatist war between 1972
and 2009, when security forces
declared victory over the rebels
who fought for independence
for minority Tamils.
Tamils account for about
15% of the population and usually vote together. They will be
kingmakers if, as seems likely,
the majority Sinhalese community is split down the middle between Rajapakse and
Wickremesinghe said they
would ensure a South African-style truth commission if
Sirisena was elected in January.
“We need some sort of
mechanism where there will be
Wickremesinghe said.
Rajapakse had also toyed
with the idea of a truth commission, whereby perpetrators
confess to their crimes but are
not prosecuted.
However, he did not pursue
it. Instead, in July he asked a
Commission of Inquiry already
investigating the disappearance
of nearly 20,000 people during
the war to include other alleged
abuses in its investigation.
Dhaka court yesterday
awarded the death penalty to three persons for the
2010 beheading of a mechanic,
Rubel, in Old Dhaka.
Judge Rezaul Islam of Dhaka’s Fifth Special Court pronounced the verdict in the presence of the convicts yesterday, reported.
The convicts are Barisal area’s
Rubel, 25, Rony Biswas, 24, and
Mymensingh’s Roman.
Each of them was п¬Ѓned 25,000
taka ($320), failing to pay which
they will be penalised with a
year’s jail term, said prosecution
lawyer Shawkat Alam.
He said the convicts murdered and beheaded Rubel on
the ground floor of Hotel Shah
Kamal in Old Dhaka on June 6,
The hotel manager later informed the police. One of the
assailants, Roman, was arrested
with the severed head. The other
two eventually confessed to the
murder following their arrest.
The body was recovered from
the ground floor of Hotel Shah
The victim’s elder brother
Maran Mia п¬Ѓled a complaint at
Sutrapur police station.
Sutrapur police sub-inspector
Ashiqur Rahman п¬Ѓled a chargesheet against the three in the
court on December 29, 2010. The
court indicted the three assailants on September 21, 2011.
Defence lawyer Morsheda Begum Lucky expressed dissatisfaction over the verdict.
“We will file an appeal in the
High Court,” she said.
Mahinda Rajapakse speaking at the inaugural presidential poll rally for his third term at the public
grounds in Anuradhapura, 208kms north of Colombo, last week.
Former minister
�Anti-women’ citizenship
sentenced to death bill sparks fury in Nepal
for war crimes
former junior minister
in a Bangladeshi military government was
sentenced to death yesterday
after a war crimes tribunal
found him guilty of atrocities
during the country’s war of
independence from Pakistan
more than four decades ago.
Syed Mohammad Qaisar, 73,
was found guilty of 14 out of
16 charges including genocide,
rape, extortion, arson and torture committed during the 1971
war, prosecutors said.
Bangladesh became part of
Pakistan at the end of British
rule in 1947 but broke away after a war between Bangladeshi
nationalists, backed by India,
and Pakistani forces.
п¬Ѓghters were accused of numerous
abuses during the war. About
3mn people were killed, according to official п¬Ѓgures, and
thousands of women were
“Wounds of rape are greater
than wounds of bullets,” state
prosecutor Tureen Afroz told
reporters outside the closely
guarded court, after the verdict.
Qaisar denied the charges.
He did not make any comment
but his lawyer, Syed Mohammad Shahjahan, told reporters
his client would appeal: “We
didn’t get proper judgment.”
The tribunal began hearing
cases in 2010 with the support of Prime Minister Sheikh
Her opponents say she is
using the tribunal against the
two biggest opposition parties
- her arch rival Khaleda Zia’s
Bangladesh Nationalist Party
and its Islamist ally Jamaat-eIslami.
International human rights
groups have said the tribunal falls short of international
standards. The government
denies that.
The tribunal has convicted
15 people and sentenced 13 of
them to death. One person has
been executed.
In September, the Supreme
Court commuted to life imprisonment a death sentence for a top Islamist leader,
Delawar Hossain Sayedee,
convicted on similar charges.
More than 200 people have
been killed in violent protests
against the tribunal and its decisions, most of them Islamist
party activists and members of
the security forces.
Some factions in Bangladesh, including the Jamaat,
opposed the break with Pakistan, but the party denies
accusations that its leaders
committed atrocities.
epalese single mother
Deepti Gurung has spent
years trying and failing to
register her two teenage daughters
as citizens of their country.
Although her children were
both born in Nepal, the 40-yearold has struggled to secure their
legal right to citizenship in the
absence of their father, who left
when they were small.
For now at least the law is on
her side. But Nepal’s parliament
is proposing to bar all single parents from passing on their citizenship to their children in a new
national constitution, sparking
outrage among rights activists.
“It is like being a refugee in
your own country,” said Gurung.
“All they do is interrogate,
torture and harass women, demanding the father’s documents … when a father applies
for his children’s citizenship, no
questions are asked.”
Activists say the move could
leave a million people stateless
and will disproportionately affect
women, who account for the vast
majority of single parents in Nepal.
The draft bill says both parents must be Nepalese for their
child to acquire citizenship,
which is needed to get anything
from a driving licence to a bank
It will overturn a 2006 act that
says children are eligible for citizenship as long as one parent is
The Forum for Women, Law
and Development (FWLD), a
Nepalese pressure group, says
the move will impact a million
children, with more than 90% of
those affected living with single
Nepalese activists participate in a march demanding equal citizenship rights for men and women, in
“On paper the law looks restrictive to both men and women,” said Subin Mulmi of the
“But conservative bureaucrats
have room to exploit the clauses
to discriminate against single
The bill provides for exceptions in some cases where the
child’s father is unknown, such
as rape, but Mulmi said the burden of proof would still rest with
And even though women have
been allowed to confer citizenship
on their children since 2006, only
a handful have managed to do so.
Arjun Kumar Sah was born
in Nepal to a Nepalese mother
and an Indian father, making
him theoretically eligible for
But the 25-year-old is still
waiting for his papers and in the
meantime has had to turn down
work because of his status.
“I was born here, I grew up
here, I am a Nepali … (but) I am
still waiting for papers that prove
it,” said Sah, who is from Nepal’s historically marginalised
Madhesi ethnic minority.
Despite a Maoist insurgency
that overthrew the monarchy,
Nepal’s political establishment
remains dominated by highcaste Hindu men — and many
believe they want to keep it
that way.
“The political forces in power
right now are not supportive of
change and inclusiveness, they
want to maintain the status
quo,” said Dipendra Jha, a lawyer
working on Sah’s case.
Nepal’s parliament is due
to vote next year on the longawaited constitution, which was
intended to draw a line under
centuries of inequality.
Lawmakers were tasked with
drafting the charter after a decade-long insurgency ignited by
deep-rooted social, political and
economic inequalities.
But activists say the current
draft — which also makes it easier for Nepalese man to confer
citizenship on his foreign spouse
than a Nepalese woman — will
only entrench existing prejudices.
“This bill is the result of the
flawed patriarchal attitude ingrained in our society,” said lawmaker Krishna Bhakta Pokharel,
who sat on the constitution
drafting committee but opposes
the citizenship changes.
Campaigners have fought back
with demonstrations in the capital and an online petition on the
social action website, Change.
org, which has secured more than
1,500 signatures in over a week.
Meanwhile, single mothers like
Gurung say they are furious at
the prospect of the bill becoming
law and forever closing the door
on her right to confer citizenship.
“Sometimes it feels like women are not even human here …
like we do not have any identity,”
she said.
Nepal opposition parties announce new protest programmes
Nepal’s opposition alliance has
announced new protest plans ahead
of the January 22 deadline for
drafting a new constitution, officials
said yesterday.
The Unified Communist Party of
Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M)-led 19-party
alliance decided to intensify street
protests stating that ruling parties
Syed Mohammad Qaisar is taken into a van following his verdict at a special court in Dhaka yesterday.
were not ready to promulgate a new
constitution with consensus among
parties, Xinhua reported.
There are just 30 days to meet
the January 22 deadline of the
constitution drafting process but
mistrust among the parties is
According to officials, because of
differences on federalism, form
of government, judiciary and
electoral system, chances of a new
constitution are fading out.
The opposition parties will hold
protests in 75 districts in January.
They will go on a general strike
in various parts January 9-13 and
a nationwide strike on January
19, three days before the statute
Though the series of talks between
ruling and opposition parties has
not yielded any positive result in the
constitution drafting process, the
opposition parties, however, would
continue dialogue with the government,
the opposition leaders said.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 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),
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Wait-and-see approach
could gauge the bottom
of global oil prices
Amid contrasting comments from influential
players, the oil market has now narrowed down to one
pertinent question: Has the price hit the bottom?
Supply glut, demand concerns and a stronger US
dollar have pushed oil prices down nearly 50% since
June to around $60 a barrel. But Saudi Arabia, the
world’s largest oil exporter which accounted for about
13% of global output last year, is confident that prices
will rebound with global growth boosting demand.
“The oil market will recover,” Saudi Oil Minister Ali alNaimi told a conference in Abu Dhabi last week. “Fossil
fuel will remain the main source of energy for decades
to come.”
“We are now in a provisional, correctional
period,” Qatar’s Minister of Energy and Industry
HE Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada said at the same
conference. “Markets have stabilisation mechanisms
that will bring stability.”
Echoing similar arguments, Patrick Pouyanné, Total’s
global CEO, said in a recent interview with Gulf Times
that Global oil price will rebound to $100 a barrel in the
medium term as global demand grows. Despite surging
unconventional oil supplies from the US, satisfying
the medium
and long-term
demand would
be “extremely
challenging,” he
The slump in oil
is also spurring
the most bullish
bet by hedge funds in four months, according to
Bloomberg. “People are starting to feel that we not only
hit the bottom but we are turning around,” Michael
Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic
Research in Winchester, Massachusetts, said. But “the
fundamentals haven’t really changed.”
Is recovery in oil prices such straightforward an
Conflicting market dynamics could still make the
direction of oil prices highly unpredictable. If Opec
is indeed looking to drive new producers with higher
costs - particularly US shale players - out of the
market, how long the effort will continue is uncertain.
“We have to wait and see if tight (shale) oil can
continue,” said al-Naimi, whose country pumps close
to a third of Opec’s 30mn bpd output. “Things could
need one year, two years or three.”
The International Energy Agency on December 12
cut the forecast for global demand next year, also
upgrading the estimate for non-Opec supplies. US
output, already at a three-decade high, will continue to
rise, the IEA said.
Going forward, the next 12-18 months are seen
crucial for the global energy market. While weak
demand in China is likely to continue, the continued
weakness of the global economy along with potential
output gains of around 3mn bpd if Libya, Iran and
Iraq manage to stabilise production can also delay a
recovery in oil prices.
Global oil prices have plunged around 23% since
November 26, the day before the 12-nation Opec
decided to maintain its output level. The wait for a
quick rebound could drag on as global consumption
growth slowed to the least since 2009, US companies
pumped more than they have since the 1980s and
major Opec producers are discounting their crudes to
preserve market share.
Opec is apparently letting the market to arrive at the
most sustainable price levels. Longer term, it may also
be in the best interest of investors to adopt a wait-andsee approach.
“Fossil fuel will
remain the main
source of energy for
decades to come”
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Off duty, black cops feel
threat from fellow police
Within the thin blue line of
the NYPD, there is another
divide - between black and
white officers
By Michelle Conlin/Reuters
New York
rom the dingy donut shops
of Manhattan to the cloistered police watering holes in
Brooklyn, a number of black
NYPD officers say they have experienced the same racial profiling that
cost Eric Garner his life.
Garner, a 43-year-old black man
suspected of illegally peddling loose
cigarettes, died in July after a white
officer put him in a chokehold. His
death, and that of an unarmed black
teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, has
sparked a slew of nationwide protests
against police tactics. On Saturday,
those tensions escalated after a black
gunman, who wrote of avenging the
black deaths on social media, shot
dead two New York policemen.
The protests and the ambush of
the uniformed officers pose a major
challenge for New York Mayor Bill De
Blasio. The mayor must try to ease
damaged relations with a police force
that feels he hasn’t fully supported
them, while at the same time bridging
a chasm with communities who say
the police unfairly target them.
What’s emerging now is that, within
the thin blue line of the NYPD, there
is another divide - between black and
white officers.
Reuters interviewed 25 African
American male officers on the NYPD,
15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom
are still serving. All but one said that,
when off duty and out of uniform, they
had been victims of racial profiling,
which refers to using race or ethnicity
as grounds for suspecting someone of
having committed a crime.
The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having
their heads slammed against their
cars, getting guns brandished in their
faces, being thrown into prison vans
and experiencing stop and frisks while
shopping. The majority of the officers
said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving. Five had had
guns pulled on them.
Desmond Blaize, who retired two
years ago as a sergeant in the 41st
Precinct in the Bronx, said he once got
stopped while taking a jog through
Brooklyn’s upmarket Prospect Park. “I
had my ID on me so it didn’t escalate,”
said Blaize, who has sued the department alleging he was racially harassed
on the job. “But what’s suspicious
about a jogger? In jogging clothes?”
The NYPD and the Patrolmen’s
Benevolent Association, the police
officers’ union, declined requests for
comment. However, defenders of the
NYPD credit its policing methods
with transforming New York from the
former murder capital of the world
into the safest big city in the US.
“It makes good headlines to say
this is occurring, but I don’t think you
can validate it until you look into the
circumstances they were stopped in,”
said Bernard Parks, the former chief
of the Los Angeles Police Department,
who is African American.
New York City Police officers visit a makeshift memorial at the site where two police officers were fatally shot in Brooklyn
yesterday. NYPD officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot and killed as they sat in a marked squad car in Brooklyn
on Saturday afternoon.
“Now if you want to get into the
essence of why certain groups are
stopped more than others, then you
only need to go to the crime reports
and see which ethnic groups are listed
more as suspects. That’s the crime
data the officers are living with.”
Blacks made up 73% of the shooting
perpetrators in New York in 2011 and
were 23% of the population.
A number of academics believe
those statistics are potentially skewed
because police over-focus on black
communities, while ignoring crime
in other areas. They also note that
being stopped as a suspect does not
automatically equate to criminality.
Nearly 90% of blacks stopped by the
NYPD, for example, are found not to
be engaged in any crime.
The black officers interviewed said
they had been racially profiled by
white officers exclusively, and about
one third said they made some form of
complaint to a supervisor.
All but one said their supervisors
either dismissed the complaints or
retaliated against them by denying
them overtime, choice assignments,
or promotions. The remaining officers
who made no complaints said they
refrained from doing so either because
they feared retribution or because
they saw racial profiling as part of the
In declining to comment to Reuters,
the NYPD did not respond to a specific
request for data showing the racial
breakdown of officers who made
complaints and how such cases were
White officers were not the only
ones accused of wrongdoing. Civilian
complaints against police officers are
in direct proportion to their demographic makeup on the force, according to the NYPD’s Civilian Complaint
Review Board.
Indeed, some of the officers Reuters
interviewed acknowledged that they
themselves had been defendants in
lawsuits, with allegations ranging
from making a false arrest to use of
excessive force. Such claims against
police are not uncommon in New
York, say veterans.
Still, social psychologists from
Stanford and Yale universities and
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
have conducted research - including the 2004 study “Seeing Black:
Race, Crime and Visual Processing” - showing there is an implicit
racial bias in the American psyche
that correlates black maleness with
John Jay professor Delores JonesBrown cited a 2010 New York State
Task Force report on police-on-police
shootings - the п¬Ѓrst such inquiry of its
kind - that found that in the previous
15 years, officers of colour had suffered
the highest fatalities in encounters
with police officers who mistook them
for criminals.
There’s evidence that aggressive
policing in the NYPD is intensifying,
according to data from the New York
City Comptroller.
Police misconduct claims - including lawsuits against police for using
the kind of excessive force that killed
Garner - have risen 214% since 2000,
while the amount the city paid out
has risen 75% in the same period, to
$64.4mn in п¬Ѓscal year 2012, the last
year for which data is available.
People who have taken part in the
marches against Garner’s death - and
that of Ferguson teenager Michael
Brown - say they are protesting
against the indignity of being stopped
by police for little or no reason as
much as for the deaths themselves.
“There’s no real outlet to report
the abuse,” said Brooklyn Borough
President Eric Adams, a former NYPD
captain who said he was stigmatised
and retaliated against throughout his
22-year career for speaking out against
racial profiling and police brutality.
Officers make complaints to the
NYPD’s investigative arm, the Internal
Affairs Bureau, only to later have their
identities leaked, said Adams.
One of the better-known cases
of alleged racial profiling of a black
policeman concerns Harold Thomas,
a decorated detective who retired this
year after 30 years of service, including in New York’s elite Joint Terrorism
Task Force.
Shortly before 1am one night in
August 2012, Thomas was leaving a
birthday party at a trendy New York
Wearing flashy jewellery, green
sweatpants and a white t-shirt,
Thomas walked toward his brandnew white Escalade when two white
police officers approached him.
What happened next is in dispute,
but an altercation ensued, culminating in Thomas getting his head
smashed against the hood of his car
and then spun to the ground and put
in handcuffs.
“If I was white, it wouldn’t have
happened,” said Thomas, who has
п¬Ѓled a lawsuit against the city over
the incident. The New York City Corp
Counsel said it could not comment on
pending litigation.
At an ale house in Williamsburg,
Brooklyn last week, a group of black
police officers from across the city
gathered for the beer and chicken wing
special. They discussed how the officers involved in the Garner incident
could have tried harder to talk down
an upset Garner, or sprayed mace in
his face, or forced him to the ground
without using a chokehold. They all
agreed his death was avoidable.
Said one officer from the 106th
Precinct in Queens, “That could have
been any one of us.”
Essebsi, 88, seen as old face of old regime
hortly after the election commission announced victory for
Beji Caid Essebsi as Tunisia’s
п¬Ѓrst democratically elected
president, angry residents took to the
streets of towns across the country
condemning his victory.
For many Tunisians, the 88-yearold is an extension of the regime of
longtime autocrat Zine El Abidine
Ben Ali, who was deposed in a 2011
Essebsi was parliament speaker
in the Ben Ali era. He won Sunday’s
presidential run-off with 55.68% of
the vote. His rival, outgoing president
and rights activist Moncef Marzouki
won 44.32%.
The election completed the democratic transition in Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolts.
Essebsi’s secularist Nida Tounes
party took the lead in October’s parliamentary elections, upstaging the
once-dominant Islamist Ennahada
This, along with his presidential
victory, has raised fears that Essebsi
will be the new dictator.
“The key issue for Tunisia’s future
is the composition of the future
Beji Caid Essebsi faces an uphill
task as Tunisia’s next president, with
rising concerns over a return to
authoritarianism, a weak economy
and tackling an Islamist insurgency
among the key challenges he faces.
government,” said Geoffrey Howard,
a Tunisia-expert for the global risk
consultancy Control Risks.
“Nida Tounes and Essebsi will
dominate the political landscape. Ennahda is still powerful in the assembly
and it still has a significant support
base,” Howard said.
If Nida Tounes excludes Ennahda
from the political process, the situation will be very critical, according to
“Divisions between Islamists and
secularists might deepen which could
encourage radical Islamist groups to
more extreme violence.”
In a televised address following his
victory, Essebsi pledged to be a “president for all Tunisians.”
“Tunisia’s future is based on consensus. Tunisia needs its entire people
without exclusion or discrimination,”
he said.
His critics remain sceptical.
“When a single party holds all
powers, there are justified fears of
authoritarianism,” said Azad Badi, a
member of the pro-Marzouki Wafa
“We are worried about the future
of rights and freedoms, especially as
Nida Tounes comprises former п¬Ѓgures
from the Ben Ali regime.”
Also of concern are the country’s
economic problems.
The unemployment rate currently
stands at 15%, compared to the preuprising rate of 13%.
Last year, Tunisia’s economic
growth slowed to 2.6%, according to
the World Bank.
Essebsi has not elaborated on how
he plans to revitalise the economy.
“It is unlikely that the new government will make substantial reforms,
which would improve the socio-economic conditions,” Howard of Control
Risks said.
“For example: If the main areas
were tackled, like subsidies and
wages in the public sector, it could
risk destabilising the country quite
Essebsi has pledged to bring stability to Tunisia, where Islamist insurgents have in recent months stepped
up attacks targeting mainly security
Neighbouring Libya is meanwhile
experiencing its worst inter-militia
violence since Muammar Gaddafi’s
ouster, forcing thousands to flee into
“In view of all these security and
economic challenges, I think Essebsi is
the best president for this crucial stage
in Tunisia,” said Nasser Ben Sultana, a
Tunisian researcher.
“He has the experience to develop
Tunisia’s relations with the outside
world and attract investment to the
country,” Ben Sultana said.
“Essebsi can boost regional cooperation against terrorism. Furthermore, he is able to unite Tunisians
rather than divide them.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
What price low-carbon future?
As 2014 draws to an
end, falling oil, gas, and
coal prices threaten to
undermine investment in
green energy and stimulate
wasteful consumption
By Adair Turner
ith just days left to go,
2014 seems certain
to be the warmest
year on record, or at
least the runner-up. International
agreement on robust action to limit
global warming remains inadequate:
the just-completed Lima climatechange conference delivered some
progress, but no breakthrough. Away
from the diplomatic circuit, however,
technological advances make it
certain that we can build low-carbon
economies at minimal cost and great
benefit to human welfare.
Solar energy reaching the earth’s
surface provides 5,000 times humanity’s
energy needs. The technology to
capture it cost effectively and cleanly is
available. Indeed, photovoltaic module
prices have fallen 80% since 2008 and
the best utility-scale solar projects can
now produce electricity for less than
$0.10 per kilowatt-hour. Optimists
say that solar energy will become
economical without subsidies later this
decade, while pessimists put the breakeven point in the 2020s. The question is
when – not whether – this will occur.
Though progress on energy-storage
technologies has been less dramatic,
it has been sufficient to make green
transport feasible. The price of
lithium-ion battery packs has fallen
from around $800 per kilowatt-hour
in 2009 to $600 in 2014, and will
likely be below $300 by 2020 and $150
by the late 2020s. Once the price is
below $250, the total cost of owning
and running an electric car will be
less than for one with an internal
combustion engine (assuming gasoline
prices of $3.50 per US gallon).
Of course, the precise pace of
progress is uncertain. But a future
in which carbon-free transport is
possible is assured. And our cities will
be cleaner, quieter, and more pleasant
places to live as a result.
Progress on other technologies is
also essential. Hydrogen or biofuels
will probably be needed to power
those applications – particularly
aviation – that require high energyto-weight ratios. And building a
low-carbon economy will entail
huge investments in power capacity
and transmission, energy-efficient
buildings, mass-transit systems, and
electrical charging networks.
The New Climate Economy report,
launched by the UN in September,
estimates that the investment required
over the next 15 years will total $14tn.
But the incremental capital costs
relative to a high-carbon economy are
a smaller $4tn, less than a third of 1%
of global GDP over that period. And the
maximum sacrifice of future income
per capita will be no more than 1-4% of
global GDP. That means that the world
might have to wait, say, until December
2051 to reach the income and prosperity
level that it would otherwise have
achieved the preceding January.
So we do not need fossil fuels to
support prosperous economies. If
some extra-terrestrial thief came in
the night and stole two-thirds of the
planet’s coal, gas, and oil reserves,
all of humanity could still enjoy the
household appliances, informationtechnology products and services,
heating, lighting, and mobility that
define the modern world.
But no such thief exists, and fossil
fuels are in dangerous abundance. Some
environmentalists claim that we will
As 2014 draws to an end, falling oil, gas,
and coal prices threaten to undermine
investment in green energy and stimulate
wasteful consumption. In the US, sport
and crossover utility vehicles – the largest
of which are 5m long and weigh 2.6 tonnes
– are the automobile market’s fastest
growing sector.
The human-welfare benefit of
these behemoths is unclear to those
who, like me recently, are allocated
one for a trip to the airport from
midtown Manhattan. The legroom is
no longer, the headroom no taller, and
the seats no more comfortable than in
a mid-size saloon car. One and a half
tonnes of unnecessary steel are simply
hitching a ride. The biggest threat to a
prosperous low-carbon future is not
a lack of technological options, but
the waste that low fossil-fuel prices
To believers in rational economic
choice, of course, there is no waste. If
people choose to drive enormous cars,
they must derive some benefit from it;
and if switching to green energy makes
that choice uneconomic, human
welfare must suffer.
But economic theory based on
real-world experience tells us that
consumer preferences are neither
given nor absolute. Rather, they
are stimulated in a self-reinforcing
fashion by group norms, trends, and
advertising, and some increases in
consumption deliver no permanent
increase in life satisfaction. A world
in which 2.6-tonne vehicles were
prohibitively expensive for singlepassenger use would entail no sacrifice
of human welfare.
Whatever the scenario, we should
commit to leaving most fossil fuels
forever in the ground. - Project
soon reach “peak fossil fuels,” making
green energy essential not only for the
climate, but also for continued growth.
Sadly, that is not the case.
Total gas and coal reserves could
support current demand for more than
a hundred years, and technological
progress – for example, hydraulic
fracturing, which has unlocked shale
energy – makes an ever growing
Climate change faces hard choices
By James K Boyce
Los Angeles
t the latest round of international climate talks
this month in Lima, Peru,
melting glaciers in the
Andes and recent droughts provided
a fitting backdrop for the negotiators’
recognition that it is too late to prevent climate change, no matter how
fast we ultimately act to limit it. They
now confront an issue that many had
hoped to avoid: adaptation.
Adapting to climate change will
carry a high price tag. Sea walls are
needed to protect coastal areas against
floods, such as those in the New York
area when Superstorm Sandy struck
in 2012. We need early-warning and
evacuation systems to protect against
human tragedies, such as those caused
by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines
in 2013 and by Hurricane Katrina in
New Orleans in 2005.
Cooling centres and emergency
services must be created to cope with
heat waves, such as the one that killed
70,000 in Europe in 2003. Water
projects are needed to protect farmers
and herders from extreme droughts,
such as the one that gripped the Horn of
Africa in 2011. Large-scale replanting of
forests with new species will be needed
to keep pace as temperature gradients
shift toward the poles.
Because adaptation won’t come
cheap, we must decide which
investments are worth the cost.
A thought experiment illustrates
the choices we face. Imagine that
without major new investments in
adaptation, climate change will cause
world incomes to fall in the next two
decades by 25% across the board, with
everyone’s income going down, from
the poorest farmworker in Bangladesh
to the wealthiest real estate baron in
Manhattan. Adaptation can cushion
some but not all of these losses. What
should be our priority: reduce losses
for the farmworker or the baron?
For the farmworker, and a billion
others in the world who live on about
$1 a day, this 25% income loss will
be a disaster, perhaps the difference
between life and death. Yet in dollars,
the loss is just 25 cents a day.
For the land baron and other “onepercenters” in the US with average
incomes of about $2,000 a day, the
25% income loss would be a matter of
regret, not survival. He’ll find a way to
get by on $1,500 a day.
In human terms, the baron’s loss
pales compared with that of the
farmworker. But in dollar terms, it’s
2,000 times larger.
Conventional economic models
would prescribe spending more
to protect the barons than the
farmworkers of the world. The
rationale was set forth with brutal
clarity in a memorandum leaked in
1992 that was signed by Lawrence
Summers, then chief economist of
the World Bank. The memo asked
whether the bank should encourage
more migration of dirty industries to
developing countries and concluded
that “the economic logic of dumping a
load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage
country is impeccable and we should
face up to that.” Climate change is just
a new kind of toxic waste.
The “economic logic” of the
Summers memo - later said to have been
penned tongue-in-cheek to provoke
debate, which it certainly did - rests on
a doctrine of “efficiency” that counts
all dollars equally. Whether it goes to a
starving child or a millionaire, a dollar is
a dollar. The task of economists, in this
view, is to maximise the size of the total
dollar pie. How it’s sliced is not their
A different way to set adaptation
priorities is to count each person
equally, not each dollar. This approach
rests on the ethical principle that a
healthy environment is a human right,
not a commodity to be distributed on
the basis of purchasing power, or a
privilege to be distributed on the basis
of political power.
This equity principle is widely
embraced around the world, from
the affirmation in the US Declaration
of Independence that people have
an inalienable right to “life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness,” to
the guarantee in the South African
Constitution that everyone has the
right “to an environment that is not
harmful to their health or well-being.”
It puts safeguarding the lives of
the poor ahead of safeguarding the
property of the rich.
In the years ahead, climate change will
confront the world with hard choices:
whether to protect as many dollars as
possible, or to protect as many people as
we can. – Tribune News Service
share of these reserves economically
attractive. Oil production may
peak within the next few decades,
but gasoline equivalents can be
synthesised from gas or coal.
zAidar Turner is a senior fellow at the
Institute for New Economic Thinking
and at the Center for Financial Studies
in Frankfurt.
Weather report
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Live issue
Researchers read, write brain activity with light
By Mo Costandi
team of neuroscientists at
University College London
has developed a new way of
simultaneously recording and
manipulating the activity of multiple
cells in the brains of live animals using
pulses of light.
The technique, described today in
the journal Nature Methods, combines
two existing state-of-the-art
neurotechnologies. It may eventually
allow researchers to do away with the
cumbersome microelectrodes they
traditionally used to probe neuronal
activity, and to interrogate the brain’s
workings at the cellular level in real time
and with unprecedented detail.
One of them is optogenetics. This
involves creating genetically engineered
mice expressing algal proteins called
Channelrhodopsins in specified groups
of neurons. This renders the cells
sensitive to light, allowing researchers
to switch the cells on or off, depending
on which Channelrhodopsin protein
they express, and which wavelength
of light is used. This can be done on a
millisecond-by-millisecond timescale,
using pulses of laser light delivered into
the animals’ brains via an optical fibre.
The other is calcium imaging. Calcium
signals are crucial for just about every
aspect of neuronal function, and nerve
cells exhibit a sudden increase in calcium
ion concentration when they begin to п¬Ѓre
off nervous impulses. Using dyes that
gives off green fluorescence in response
to increases in calcium concentration,
combined with two-photon microscopy,
researchers can detect this signature to
see which cells are activated. In this way,
they can effectively �read’ the activity
of entire cell populations in brain tissue
slices or live brains.
Calcium-sensitive dyes are injectable,
so targeting them with precision is
difficult, and more recently, researchers
have developed genetically-encoded
calcium sensors to overcome this
limitation. Mice can be genetically
engineered to express these calciumsensitive proteins in specific groups of
cells; like the dyes before them, they,
too, fluoresce in response to increases in
calcium ion concentrations in the cells
expressing them.
Each of these methods is extremely
powerful when used alone. Earlier this
year, for example, researchers at MIT
used optogenetics to label and then
manipulate the neuronal populations
encoding memories in the mouse
brain, while a team at Janelia Farm used
calcium imaging to visualise the п¬Ѓring
of every single neuron in the embryonic
zebrafish brain.
Adam Packer and his colleagues
created a strain of mice expressing
the Channelrhodopsin protein and an
ultrasensitive calcium-binding protein
in neurons in the barrel cortex, the
part of the brain that receives sensory
information from the whiskers. In
this way, they could optogenetically
activate specific cells while also
using high-speed calcium imaging to
visualise how they and other cells in
the population react to stimulation,
through transparent �windows’
scraped into the animals’ skulls.
The combination of methods
enabled the researchers to determine
which neurons contribute to a
particular function, and then target
them very precisely. To demonstrate
the precision of the technique, they
used a programmable device called a
spatial light modulator that splits the
light beam into a hologram consisting
of smaller �beamlets’, and then
simultaneously activated six neurons
arranged in the shape of a smiley face.
There are other ways of
simultaneously reading and writing
neuronal activity, but they have
drawbacks. Microelectrodes alone can be
used to stimulate some cells and record
from others, or stimulating electrodes
can be combined with an imaging
technique. This produces interference
between the input and output channels,
however, that can affect the results.
With the new approach, the
frequency of light used to stimulate
neurons does not overlap with that
emitted by the calcium sensor, so there
is minimal interference between the
two channels, and the holographic
light beam stimulates neurons with a
�fast scanning’ procedure lasting just 2
femtoseconds (billionths of a second)
further reduces the interference.
The experiments show that the
new all-optical method can indeed
be used to simultaneously record and
interfere with the activity of neuronal
populations. They also show that it
can be used continuously over several
weeks, or even months, in awake,
behaving animals. The researchers will
undoubtedly continue to develop and
improve upon the method, in order
to learn more about the link between
brain and behaviour and decipher the
corresponding neural codes.
“We’re excited about this,” says
senior author Michael Häusser. “It
unites two revolutions in neuroscience
and heralds a new era in which we
can abandon electrodes and use light
alone to probe neural circuits during
behaviour.” - Guardian News & Media
Around the world
Cape Town
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Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Concerns over shisha smoking in public
(From left) People smoking shisha in the open at a popular joint in Doha yesterday. Experts and activists have stressed that urgent steps to curb
shisha smoking need to be taken to save lives. A recent decision of Katara to ban outdoor shisha smoking from January 1 has given a fillip to
concerns raised by different quarters to end the practice.
RasGas, Kogas team up for
CSR project in Korean city
s part of an ongoing corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme,
RasGas and Korea Gas Corporation (Kogas) have held a special event to mark the opening
of Moonlight Children’s Park
in Dong-gu district of Daegu
Metropolitan City, South Korea, following the renovation of
park facilities.
The renovation of Moonlight
Children’s Park included a relaxation area for senior citizens,
installing sports equipment for
residents and upgrading children’s playground facilities.
“RasGas has a long-standing
partnership with Kogas to meet
the energy requirements of South
Korea. On behalf of RasGas chief
executive officer Hamad Rashid
al-Mohannadi, RasGas is very
proud and honoured to take such
partnership even further by jointly launching this CSR campaign
with Kogas for the residents and
children of Daegu city, the new
home of Kogas headquarters offices,” said Ali Khalaf al-Kaabi,
(long-term sales) and LNG Marketing Committee secretary.
“This pioneering international CSR initiative demonstrates
RasGas’s commitment to positive and proactive corporate
citizenship and our dedication
to Kogas, the people of South
Korea and the Daegu city
community,” al-Kaabi added.
Mayor of Dong-gu district
Daesik Kang said, “Today is a
very significant day as this CSR
campaign marks the п¬Ѓrst collaboration between public and
private organisations from two
friendly countries, Qatar and Korea. I would like to express a special thanks to RasGas and Kogas.”
Kogas vice-president Kim
added, “This event should be
regarded as important as this is
the п¬Ѓrst collaborative CSR event
in Korea between Kogas as a customer and RasGas as a supplier.
Kogas and RasGas will try to п¬Ѓnd
more meaningful CSR events in
Daegu city in the future.”
This joint CSR campaign by
RasGas and Kogas will bring tangible benefits to the local community in Daegu city. The renovation of Moonlight Children’s
Park is one aspect of the CSR
campaign that was signed on August 1 at Daegu City Hall between
Daegu Metropolitan City, Kogas,
RasGas, Kyungbok National University Hospital and the Community Chest of Korea, Daegu
branch, to promote sharing of
culture and welfare in Daegu city
by supporting a healthy lifestyle.
In addition to the renovation of
the park and as part of this CSR
campaign, RasGas and Kogas
are also supporting a children’s
library at Kyung-bok University
Hospital as well as orphanages.
The new showroom of Jaidah Automotive on Doha’s Salwa Road.
New showroom of
Jaidah Automotive
opens on Salwa Road
aidah Automotive, the exclusive dealers of Chevrolet
vehicles in Qatar, has announced the opening of a new
showroom on Salwa Road.
The new location comes as
part of the ongoing expansion
strategy, providing customers
with an array of accessible, fully
equipped centres.
The new showroom will
be open for extended hours
from 7am to 11pm, Saturday
to Thursday. “Our expansion
plans are pitched at not only
bringing Jaidah Automotive to
the forefront of the automotive
industry by offering the best
service to customers, but also
at contributing positively to the
economic growth of Qatar,” said
group executive director Mohamed Jaidah.
A Chevrolet Quick Service
centre is also scheduled to open
soon near the new showroom, announced Jaidah Automotive’s director of operations Khalid Samir.
RasGas and Kogas officials are seen with a group of children at Moonlight Children’s Park.
The showroom will be open from 7am to 11pm, Saturday to Thursday.
The showroom and Chevrolet Quick Service centre will be
located by the Qatar Decoration intersection on Salwa road,
beside Teyseer Petrol Station.
The showroom will display a
number of Chevrolet models,
including the all- new Tahoe
2015, Silverado, Traverse, Impala, Malibu and Cruze.
“We are thrilled about the
opening of the new showroom
on Salwa Road as it is a key location in Doha,” he explained.
As with other Chevrolet
Quick Service centres, the new
Salwa Road branch will employ
specialist General Motors technicians to provide dedicated
support to Chevrolet owners.
Qatargas programme hosts student leaders
atargas recently hosted
students from Al Khor
(AKIS) on a three-day residential
programme as part of its Cadre
Leadership Development Programme, which targets the company’s high-potential leaders.
Held for the second year in a
row, the event brought together
15 Qatargas cadre leaders and 28
AKIS student leaders. The programme provided an opportunity
for the Qatargas leaders to work
closely with the student leaders
to further develop their leadership skills and share their expertise in this area.
As part of phase one of the
programme, the Qatargas cadre
leaders completed three modules – Leading Self, Leading
Others and Leading in Action.
The event’s participants with officials.
The student leaders from AKIS
were involved in the third module, Leading in Action, a practical workshop encouraging the
Qatargas cadre leaders to experiment and put into action the
content, tools and skills covered
on the programme to date.
The Qatargas cadre leaders designed and facilitated their own
workshops for the students, in
which they passed on some of
the lessons and insights gained
throughout the year.
The students were divided
into groups and given the task
of preparing and delivering a
special event, with the support
of the Qatargas cadre leaders, at
the closing ceremony of the programme on day three.
The Qatargas leaders supported,
guided and led the students, sharing with them their own leadership
lessons in the process. During the
ceremony, the students delivered
presentations outlining their vision for the Student Council in
2015 while the Qatargas leaders
presented their learning from their
collaboration with the students.
Adnan al-Shaibi, Qatargas
Learning and Development manager, said: “We were very pleased
to host the students for the programme again this year. I am sure
that as much as the students benefited from the experience, our
cadre leaders also took away some
valuable learning from guiding
and supporting them and effectively applying the skills they have
acquired from the leadership development programme.”
The closing event was attended by parents, senior Qatargas
managers as well as AKIS students and staff.
China testing
IMF as lender
of last resort
US economy
sharply in Q3
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Rabia I 2, 1436 AH
Arab Opec producers
see oil back above $70
a barrel by end-2015
QFCRA unveils
new prudential
framework for
authorised firms
The luxury component would be a key feature in the Doha Festival City, but it will also cater to wide demographics and attract market from all sorts of price points
QR6bn Doha Festival City eyes
top Middle East L&E position
The project is being envisaged as
a complete destination with such
unique L&E concepts as snow
park, bungee cages, rapid river
ride - all first in Qatar
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
he QR6bn Doha Festival City
(DhFC), which is home to Ikea
and will see the opening of the
country’s largest mall next year as
well as a 300-room п¬Ѓve-star hotel by
2017, is keen to expand its retail side
and strengthen leisure and entertainment (L&E) components to make
it one of the largest L&E destinations
in the Middle East, according to the
The developer Bawabat AlShamal Real Estate Company (Basrec) has also initiated talks with the
Qatar Rail on festival city station
in the Green Line of Doha Metro, a
move that will enhance connectivity
to DhFC, which has carefully selected the strategic locale of the country
for its project with a gross leasable
area of 250,000sq m.
Recently, the developer awarded
Gulf Contracting Company in joint
venture with ALEC Qatar a QR1.65bn
contract for the main works on its
mall, which will feature over 550
shops and stores through a carefully
balanced selection of global and local brands, including more than 85
restaurants and cafes.
Rather than being a mere retail
landscape, the project - whose promoters comprise the UAE-based
Al-Futtaim Real Estate Services,
Qatar Islamic Bank, Aqar Real Estate
Investment Company and a private
Qatari investor - is being developed
to be a complete destination with
unique L&E concepts such as snow
park, bungee cages, rapid river ride,
Shamma: Allowances for inflation.
all first in Qatar. “We have a strong
combination of internal and external L&E. The uniqueness of L&E area
alone will differentiate us from the
other malls,” Basrec CEO Kareem
Shamma told Gulf Times when asked
how DhFC will be a value addition
to Qatar’s retail landscape in view
of a total of 13 operational malls at
present and another 27 in the offing.
Shamma said the luxury component would be a key feature in the
festival city but, it will also cater to
wide demographics and attract market from all sort of price points.
Although DhFC is open to having alliances with international
amusement brands, Shamma said at
present, its unique selling points put
the project in good stead to leverage
itself rather than being dependent on
foreign brands.
The development - which is located just north of downtown Doha
on Al Shamal Road, one of the main
arterial routes to the city - is aiming a
premium price positioning in the retail landscape and has already made
enough provisioning towards project
cost inflation.
“We have certainly made allowances for inflation. There are sev-
eral ways to mitigate, one of which
is advanced purchasing,” Shamma
said, when asked about a report
by EC Harris, which said Qatar’s
project inflation may peak by 2016
or 2017.
Rather “inflation may even have a
positive twist to the project. Rental
rates will be in line with demand. It
could well be commercially a blessing in disguise for us”, Shamma said,
adding that the second phase of the
mall and the appurtenant L&E are
expected to be up and running by
September 2016.
About hospitality, he said Basrec
was close to п¬Ѓnalising a deal with a
globally renowned hotel group and
by the п¬Ѓrst quarter of 2015, it will be
made public.
The project will not have any residential component although Al Futtaim brand positioning has housing
units in Dubai and Cairo festival cities.
The Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory
Authority (QFCRA) has introduced several
enhancements to its prudential framework
for QFC authorised firms undertaking
banking, investment management or
advisory business.
The changes are included in two new sets
of prudential rules - Banking Business
Prudential Rules (BBPR) 2014 and the
Investment Management and Advisory
Rules (IMAR) 2014.
The new rules come into force on January
1, 2015.
“The strengthening of the prudential
framework for QFC authorised firms
undertaking banking, investment management and advisory business in the QFC
is closely aligned with the significant
improvements in international regulatory standards in recent years,” QFCRA
CEO Michael Ryan said. “It reinforces the
ability of our firms to operate with a strong
capital base and sound risk management
practices as their business activities
increase and expand.”
The new BBPR 2014 contain the framework for authorised firms that undertake
banking business - accepting deposits,
providing credit, dealing in investments as
principal, or undertaking Islamic financial
They are designed to align with the banking principles established by the Basel
Core Principles for effective banking supervision and Basel accord frameworks which
aim to provide a more resilient global
banking system in the wake of the 2008
global financial crisis.
The enhancements are on areas such as
internal capital adequacy assessment
process, capital adequacy and capital
requirements, credit risk, market risk, interest rate risk in the banking book, liquidity
risk, group risk, prudential reporting and
Islamic financial management firms.
The new IMAR 2014 contains enhancements particularly focused on such areas
as minimum paid-up share capital and
liquid assets requirement, risk management, professional indemnity insurance
and client money and asset protection.
Both the new rules replace the framework
for banking business firms contained in the
Investment and Banking Business Rules
2005 to be repealed at the end of 2014.
The QFCRA also introduced a number of
improvements to its framework for approving individuals to perform certain key
positions in QFC authorised firms.
The new framework - which is contained in
the Individuals (Assessment, Training and
Competency) Rules 2014 - amend the existing approved individual regime by placing
clearer accountability and responsibility
on the board and senior management for
the appointment of competent, fit and
proper staff; removing the requirement
for the QFCRA to approve individuals
performing the customer facing function;
and making certain enhancements to the
knowledge competency requirements.
Tanzania PM eyes food, tourism investments from Qatar
By Peter Alagos
Business Reporter
anzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda
has met with members and officials of
Qatar Chamber (QC) to discuss ways to
strengthen bilateral ties with Qatar, particularly
in areas of food security and tourism.
Pinda, who was in Qatar for a three-day trade
visit, hosted QC vice chairman Mohamed bin
Ahmed bin Tawar al-Kuwari and a group of Qatari businessmen in a meeting held at the Sheraton Hotel on Monday.
During the meeting, the prime minister emphasised the opportunities that could be exploited; from the proximity between Qatar and
the United Republic of Tanzania, as well as other
neighbouring countries “in order to advance our
Pinda said Tanzania is the largest country
in East Africa and sits between six other landlocked countries: Uganda, Democratic Republic
of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, and Malawi, which he described as “a substantial market.”
He said the presence of three deep water
ports, namely Dar es Salaam, Tanga, and Mtwara
and the country’s membership with the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
widen Tanzania’s trade opportunities as it serves
as an export hub for the 15 countries under the
Pinda also invited Qatar to explore possible
investments in Tanzania’s agricultural and livestock development, sugar cultivation, rice crop
growing, and horticulture sector, as well as in
п¬Ѓsheries, forestry, and beekeeping.
The prime minister added that other investment areas include the education, health, insurance and security services, construction, water
and sanitation, and integrated waste management sectors.
Juliet R Kairuki, executive director of Tanzania
Investment Centre (TIC), told Gulf Times TIC
held talks with the Qatar Investment Authority’s
(QIA) Hassad Foods yesterday to explore initiatives on food security.
Kairuki added that TIC will be inviting Hassad Foods to visit Tanzania to identify potential
areas of investments in the agriculture and livestock sector. The date of the visit, however, has
not yet been п¬Ѓnalised, she said. Al-Kuwari said
Qatar will be joining other Gulf Co-operation
Council (GCC) countries to attend a conference
in Tanzania next year. He added that the event
would be an opportunity to bring Hassad Foods,
including a Qatari business delegation, to continue discussions on food security and tourismrelated initiatives.
“There is much desire from the chamber and
local business owners to explore the investment
climate and opportunities in the Tanzanian market, especially in the п¬Ѓelds of mining and agriculture because we are serious about developing
Qatar’s food security,” al-Kuwari said.
Pinda also said Tanzania is looking at Qatar to
help it develop the country’s oil and gas industry.
There have been several gas discoveries on the
coastal shore of the Indian Ocean at Songosongo,
Mnazi Bay, and Mkuranga. Pinda said these discoveries “are catalysts of natural gas developments in Tanzania.”
“Your expertise in the hydrocarbon sector can
help us. We need knowledgeable people to help
us in our oil and gas industry considering that
you already have a lot of experience in this area,”
Pinda said.
Al-Kuwari hands over a token of appreciation to Pinda after the business meeting held in Doha.
PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Opec won’t cut
output even at
$20 a barrel,
says Saudi
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi (second left) speaks with an unidentified official as he walks with Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ali Saleh al-Omair (second right) and UAE Energy Minister Suhail bin Mohamed al-Mazroui
(right) during the opening session of the 10th Arab Energy Conference in Abu Dhabi last Sunday. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest exporter - and other leading Gulf producers within Opec - say it’s time for
others, whether that is countries like major exporter Russia or US shale drillers, to slow down on oil output.
Arab Opec sources see oil
back above $70 by end-’15
Opec hopes economic recovery
will spur fresh demand; $100 seen
as encouraging non-Opec output;
prospects for any output cut look
Abu Dhabi
rab Opec producers expect
global oil prices to rebound to
between $70 and $80 a barrel
by the end of next year as a global economic recovery revives demand, Opec
delegates said this week in the п¬Ѓrst
indication of where the group expects
oil markets to stabilise in the medium
The delegates, some of which are
from core Gulf Opec producing countries, said they may not see - and some
may not even welcome now - a return
to $100 any time soon. Once deemed
a “fair” price by many major producers, $100 a barrel crude is encouraging
too much new production from high
cost producers outside the exporting
group, some sources say.
But they believe that once the
breakneck growth of high cost producers such as US shale patch slows
and lower prices begin to stimulate demand, oil prices could begin
finding a new equilibrium by the
end of 2015 - even in the absence
of any production cuts by Opec,
something that has been repeatedly
ruled out.
“The general thinking is that prices
can’t collapse, prices can touch $60
or a bit lower for some months then
come back to an acceptable level
which is $80 a barrel, but probably
after eight months to a year,” one Gulf
oil source told Reuters.
A separate Gulf Opec source said:
“We have to wait and see. We don’t
see $100 for next year, unless there is
a sudden supply disruption. But average of $70-$80 for next year - yes.”
The comments are among the п¬Ѓrst
to indicate how big producers see
oil markets playing out next year,
after the current slump that has almost halved prices since June. Global
benchmark Brent closed at around
$60 a barrel on Monday.
Their internal view on the market
outlook will provide welcome insight
to oil company executives, analysts
and traders, who were caught out by
what was seen by some as a shift in
Saudi policy two months ago and have
struggled since then to understand
how and when the market will п¬Ѓnd its
For the past several months, Saudi
officials have been making clear that
the Kingdom’s oft-repeated mantra
that $100 a barrel crude is a “fair”
price for crude had been set aside, at
least for the foreseeable future. At
the weekend, Saudi Oil Minister Ali
al-Naimi was blunt when asked if the
world would ever again see triple-digit oil prices: “We may not.”
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest
exporter - and other leading Gulf
producers within the Organisation
of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) - say it’s time for others,
whether that is countries like major
exporter Russia or US shale drillers, to
slow down; Opec can no longer slash
output, ceding market share, to spare
them a downturn.
As al-Naimi told the Middle East
Economic Survey (MEES) in an interview this weekend: “It is not in the
Iraq’s draft 2015
budget envisions
23tn dinar deficit
raq’s cabinet yesterday approved a draft 2015
budget worth 123tn dinars ($103bn at the free
market rate) which was made possible by better ties between Baghdad and the autonomous
Kurdish region, but was constrained by plunging
oil prices.
The budget, which envisions a deficit of 23tn
dinars, will be presented to parliament after a
committee headed by Prime Minister Haider alAbadi п¬Ѓne-tunes some of the language at a meeting expected today, Finance Minister Hoshiyar
Zebari told Reuters.
Iraq did not have a budget for 2014; the government of former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
failed to pass one following the deterioration of
relations with Sunnis and Kurds.
By contrast, the 2015 budget is a symbol of
growing goodwill between Baghdad and the
Kurdish region as they both п¬Ѓght Islamic State
militants, also known as ISIS.
“This is a breakthrough,” the prime minister’s
spokesman Rafid Jaboori said of the spending
Zebari said no п¬Ѓgure was available yet for actual spending in 2014, but it was expected to be
higher than the 123tn dinars of the 2015 budget
- implying Baghdad has been forced into taking
substantial austerity measures by the slide of global oil prices in recent months.
“Our economy suffered two major shocks in
2014: the rise of ISIS, which resulted in military
confrontations, the loss of agriculture and displacement. The second shock was the drop in oil
prices,” he said.
The budget seals a п¬Ѓnancial arrangement between Baghdad and the Kurdish region that will
see the Kurds export 300,000 bpd of oil from
Kirkuk and 250,000 bpd from their own п¬Ѓelds in
return for a 17% share of the budget.
Unlike previous budgets approved under the
Maliki government, the 2015 plan does not list
punitive measures to reduce the Kurds’ share if
they do not meet their export quotas for oil.
The budget was delayed from last month as oil
prices continued to slide; it originally assumed
an average oil price of $70 a barrel next year, but
lowered that to $60. Brent crude is trading just
above $60, down from $115 in June.
“We have a really difficult financial and economic situation,” Zebari said. “The strategy was
to present a real budget - to engineer our budget
according to our actual revenues so that we will
be able to meet our top priorities.”
Zebari listed those as defence, oil, electricity
and Iraq’s internally displaced population, with
more than 2mn people who have lost their homes.
interest of Opec producers to cut their
production, whatever the price is.”
Without Opec to defend prices, oil
entered a free-fall, but most of Opec’s
members are holding fast.
At this point, intervening in the
market would simply invite new rivals to carry on pumping crude, eroding Opec’s market share without any
guarantee of a sustained price recovery, another Arab oil source told
Reuters on the sidelines of a meeting
in Abu Dhabi of the Organisation of
the Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OApec). “Every time prices fall,
we would be asked to cut,” the source
The second Gulf Opec source reiterated that Opec would not cut alone.
Non-Opec producers such as Russia, Mexico, Kazakhstan and “anyone producing more than 1mn bpd”
should also cut or at least freeze their
output if they wanted a stable market and better prices, the Gulf Opec
source said.
To be sure, there is no suggestion
that Opec is targeting a specific price,
or would want to do so. The group
hasn’t had a formal price goal in about
a decade, and Saudi Arabia has long
maintained that it is only seeking
price stability, not a set level.
Asked about market signals Opec
is looking for to decide on whether
the market is stabilising or not, irrespective of the price, al-Naimi said:
“The signals need time, one year, two
years, three years. There is not one
signal that we look to and say that’s
it... but for sure those who are the
most efficient producers are the one
who would rule the market in the future.”
Iraqi oil minister Adel Abdel Mehdi
told Reuters in an interview on Monday he thought prices would stabilise
now at about $60 a barrel but could
rise to over $70 by mid-next year.
“I believe that market has started
to stabilise itself now,” Falah al-Amiri,
head of Iraq state oil marketing SOMO
told Reuters in Abu Dhabi. “The future for next year, I don’t think there
would be much optimism in the market that the price would go to $80 or
above. But I don’t even think prices
would reach $80,” said Amiri, citing a
resilient shale oil production to current prices.
Opec will not cut oil production even
if the price drops to $20 a barrel and it
is unfair to expect the group to reduce
output if non-members do not, Saudi
Arabia said.
“Whether it goes down to $20 a barrel, $40, $50, $60, it is irrelevant,” the
kingdom’s Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said
in an interview with the Middle East
Economic Survey (Mees), an industry
In unusually detailed comments,
al-Naimi defended a decision by the
Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, whose lead producer is
Saudi Arabia, last month to maintain a
production ceiling of 30mn bpd.
The decision sent global crude prices
tumbling, worsening a price drop that
has seen them fall by around 50% since
Slower demand growth and a stronger
dollar have also contributed to the
Saudi Arabia has traditionally acted
to balance demand and supply in the
global oil market because it is the
only country with substantial spare
production capacity, according to the
International Monetary Fund.
The kingdom pumps about 9.6mn bpd
but al-Naimi said it is “crooked logic”
to expect his country to cut and then
lose business to other major producers
outside Opec.
The increasingly competitive global oil
market has seen daily US output rise
by more than 40% since 2006, but at
a production cost which can be three
or four times that of extracting Middle
Eastern oil.
“Is it reasonable for a highly efficient
producer to reduce output, while the
producer of poor efficiency continues
to produce?” al-Naimi asked during the
interview conducted with Mees on Sunday. “If I reduce, what happens to my
market share? The price will go up and
the Russians, the Brazilians, US shale oil
producers will take my share.”
Al-Naimi added it is “unfair” for Opec to
reduce output because it is not pumping most of the world’s oil.
“We produce less than 40% of global
output. We are the most efficient
producer. It is unbelievable after the
analysis we carried out for us to cut,”
he said.
Opec tried to seek market stability
through a common front between
members and non-members “but there
was no way,” he said.
Oil prices were above $100 a barrel
earlier this year, a level which al-Naimi
said “we may not” see again. Repeating comments he has made elsewhere,
al-Naimi told Mees that oil prices will,
however, improve.
“The timing is difficult to know,” he said,
but international oil companies have reduced their future capital expenditures,
“which means there is no exploration”.
That, in turn, signals they will not have
additional production, he added.
The minister said Opec was not surprised by the extent of the price drop.
“No, we knew the price would go down
because there are investors and speculators whose job it is to push it up or
down to make money,” he told Mees.
Bank Leumi to pay $400mn in US, NY tax probes
The Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd headquarters is seen in Tel Aviv, Israel (file). Bank Leumi has agreed to pay $400mn and admit it helped
American clients evade taxes for a decade, in a case showing that US prosecutors and New York regulators are extending their probes of
offshore tax evasion beyond Switzerland. The Justice Department filed a conspiracy charge yesterday against Bank Leumi, Israel’s
second-largest lender, and four units. The US agreed to defer prosecution for two years, and the bank admitted it unlawfully helped
clients hide assets from the Internal Revenue Service, according to court documents. The company will pay $130mn to New York’s
Department of Financial Services, fire the head of its trust subsidiary and improve its compliance programme.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
ICT spending in MEA seen crossing $270bn next year
Spending on ICT products and services in
the Middle East and Africa (MEA) will cross
the $270bn mark in 2015 with the IT market
expected to grow 9% year on year next year, a
new report by International Data Corporation
(IDC) said.
This makes MEA the second-fastest growing
market worldwide, with the SaaS (Software as
a service) segment set to perform particularly
strongly, expanding 29% year on year to total.
SaaS is a software licensing and delivery
model in which software is licensed on a
subscription basis and is centrally hosted.
Converged systems will be another key area
of growth as more organisations look to
leverage the agility, productivity, flexibility,
and cost-saving benefits presented by such
“Converged systems will gain prominence
in 2015 and serve as the building blocks to
software-defined environments across the
MEA region in 2016 and beyond,” said Megha
Kumar, research manager for software at IDC
Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. “In the Middle
East, demand will be particularly strong from
smart city initiatives and the implementation
of large-scale transportation projects, while
in Africa the lack of legacy systems will
enable organisations to leapfrog to the latest
converged technologies as they strive to ease
the pressures of ongoing skills shortages.”
IDC expects SaaS uptake to be focused
on non-critical workloads such as sales,
marketing, CRM, and talent management,
with public cloud adoption growing in the
region. However, private cloud will continue
to be used for critical apps and to provision
shared services. “Analytics uptake will also
rise in 2015, since organisations consider it
easier to comprehend than �Big Data’, both in
terms of technology and the value derived
from the solution,” said Kumar. “Big Data will
predominantly remain an opportunistic buy
in 2015 for a select band of large enterprises,
and vendors will need to increase their focus
on educating end users and showcasing the
value gained from successful deployments if
they wish this scenario to change.”
“The year 2015 is also expected to see the
rise of the executive buyer, with the MEA
region set to follow the worldwide trend of
growing line-of-business (LoB) influence over
IT spending,” said Jyoti Lalchandani, group
vice president and regional MD at IDC Middle
East, Turkey, and Africa. “Globally, 60% of
enterprises plan to structure their IT initiatives
into core IT projects and LoB IT projects.”
“The CIO will remain in control of the purse
strings for the former, but the latter will be at
the mercy of the relevant departmental heads.
This presents a whole new target audience
for the region’s vendor community and
raises the prospect of even more shadow IT
projects taking place, particularly around the
3rd Platform technologies of cloud, big data,
mobility, and social.”
MEA is the second-fastest growing market worldwide, with the SaaS (Software as a
service) segment set to perform particularly strongly, expanding 29% year on year to
CSR central to Qatar bourse
initiatives; Ezdan honoured
he Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE)
has attached utmost importance
to corporate social responsibility
(CSR) as it is integral to the country’s
economic growth and social development, according to its top official.
The bourse was yesterday recognised
for its contribution to the CSR forum
and the publication of the second edition of White Book on CSR practices in
The forum was held under the patronage of Qatar Central Bank Gov-
ernor HE Sheikh Abdulla bin Saud alThani, and Chairman of Sport, Social
and Culture Fund; and opened by HE
Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali,
Minister of Youth and Sports and vice
chairman of the fund.
The White Book, which is an annual
platform for companies to publish their
CSR reports, included several pages on
QSE’s development stages, its vision,
mission and strategic objectives; its
role in Qatar’s national economy; its
achievements and leading projects; and
the CSR efforts undertaken to achieve
the sustainable development objectives.
Rashid bin Ali al-Mansoori, CEO
of QSE, emphasised the importance
of the role played by it in supporting
the society and consolidating the CSR
practices through the implementation
of several initiatives integrating economic, social, educational, sports and
health aspects of community development.
Over the past few years, the bourse
has implemented a number of initiatives aimed at promoting knowledge
and investment awareness among the
public on the one hand and enhancing
health and physical wellness for its staff
and their families on the other hand,
in addition to participating in many
sporting events and blood donation
“These efforts indicate the QSE’s
contribution to achieve sustainable development in the context of Qatar’s National Vision 2030,” al-Mansoori said.
Ezdan Group was awarded for its
social responsibility brochure that includes several social initiatives it has
Receiving the award, Ezdan Holding Group CEO Ali al-Obaidli said the
group believes in being an integral part
and parcel of the Qatari society in all
its components and has adopted several initiatives over its long career in all
sectors, including social, health, educational, cultural, sports and environment.
Qatar realty
deals valued
at QR1.3bn in
2nd week
of December
eal estate deals in Qatar
were valued at QR1.3bn
in the second week of December across 191 deals, Ezdan
Holding Group has said in a report.
The value was, however, down
64% in the second week, Ezdan
said. But the company said it was
on account of an “exceptional
deal” concluded in the previous
week for a land (worth QR2.6bn).
“If we exclude this deal, the
transactions in the second week
would have been higher by at
least 30%,” Ezdan said.
The week saw diversified activities in the country’s real estate sector including the sale of
some 34 villas, 13 houses, one
hotel, one mansion, one residential compound, and four residential buildings.
Doha Municipality topped the
transaction value with QR783mn
and accounted for nearly 61% of
the total value of real estate deals
registered in the country.
But the largest number of
transactions was seen in Al
Rayyan Municipality (78 deals)
followed by Doha and Al Daayen
Municipalities (32).
Given the growing demand for
residential and commercial units
consequent on Qatar’s economic
boom, Ezdan expects to see more
property transactions in the
coming weeks.
Saudi budget spend
boost seen marginal
Saudi Arabia’s 2015 state budget
is expected to raise spending
marginally from this year’s original plan while covering a deficit
due to sliding oil prices with the
kingdom’s huge fiscal reserves,
a local newspaper has reported.
Al-Mansoori receiving the recognition from HE al-Ali. RIght: Al-Obaidli receiving the CSR award from HE al-Ali.
Gulf markets rebound Bank, realty sell pressure
stalls as oil pulls back leads to QSE correction
ost Gulf stock markets fell
yesterday, ending a rally
of several days, after the
Brent oil price pulled back to near
$60 a barrel, dampening sentiment
among retail investors.
The bourses have been closely
correlated to oil over the last several months because of concern
that lower oil export revenues could
cause Gulf governments to cut back
spending, particularly in the countries with relatively weak state п¬Ѓnances, Bahrain and Oman.
Major spending cuts look unlikely in big economies such as Saudi
Arabia. The kingdom’s Al-Medina newspaper, quoting unnamed
sources, reported that the 2015
Saudi budget - set to be announced
this week - was expected to rise
marginally from the 2014 plan to a
record 860bn riyals ($229bn), with
the government using its huge п¬Ѓscal
reserves to cover a deficit.
Nevertheless, oil has a psychological impact on the markets, and
the main Saudi stock index closed
flat yesterday at 8,547 points after
rising 17% over the four previous
trading days. Trading volume fell
back to a moderate level.
The index has still not turned
technically bullish despite its rebound; it faces technical resistance around 8,700 points, where
its downtrend line from September
now comes in.
Nevertheless, oil has a
psychological impact on
the markets, and the main
Saudi stock index closed flat
yesterday at 8,547 points
The most heavily traded stock,
real estate developer Dar Al Aran,
ended flat at 8.85 riyals. Much trade
focused on beaten-down secondor third-tier stocks such as insurers, with Solidarity climbing 6.5%.
Saudi Telecom rose 1.5% after
saying it would book a 621mn riyal
gain in the fourth quarter of this
year due to expropriation of some of
its land holdings by the government
- though it added that it thought
the amount of compensation was
too small, and it would appeal for
more money.
Dubai’s index fell 3.4% after
bouncing 27% over the three previous trading days. Trade focused on
real estate developers, with Dear
dropping 1.1% after a strong rise in
early trade, and the biggest developer Ear tumbling 5.9%.
Abu Dhabi’s market, usually
much less volatile than Dubai’s,
edged down 0.2%.
Kuwait edged up 0.02% as recently
listed telecommunications п¬Ѓrm Viva
Kuwait rose 1.9% and Bayar Real Estate Development gained 2.9%.
Bayar said construction at a major project in Dubai was in the п¬Ѓnal
stages and that all residential units
of the tower had been sold.
Egypt edged up 0.1% as Global
Telecom surged 4.1% to 3.59 Egyptian pounds, triggering a bullish
right triangle formed by the highs
and lows of the past week and
pointing up to about 4 pounds.
Elsewhere in the Gulf, Oman’s index edged up 0.02% to 6,221 points;
Kuwait’s index edged up 0.02% to
6,504 points, while Bahrain’s measure fell 0.3% to 1,402 points.
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
he Qatar Stock Exchange yesterday
witnessed corrections, after making huge gains for two consecutive
days, to plunge 238 points, mainly due to
severe selling in the banking and real estate stocks.
Local retail investors increasingly
booked profits to drag the 20-stock Qatar
Index (based on price data) by 1.91% to
12,183.52 points, discounting the positive
influence of strengthening oil prices.
Weak buying among foreign institutions was also a factor for the bearish sentiments in the bourse, which is, however,
up 17.38% years-to-date.
Market capitalisation fell 1.86%, or
about QR13bn, to QR665.21bn with large,
small, mid and micro cap equities melting 2.34%, 1.98%, 0.57% and 0.13% respectively.
The index that tracks Shariah-principled stocks was seem melting slower than
the other indices in the market, where
trade was highly skewed towards realty,
which alone accounted for more than 53%
of the total trade volume.
The Total Return Index shed 1.91% to
18,171.6 points, the All Share Index by
1.79% to 3,097.13 points and the Al Rayan Islamic Index by 1.39% to 4,043.33
Banks and п¬Ѓnancial services stocks
tanked 2.38%, followed by realty (2.24%),
industrials (1.74%), insurance (1.24%)
and telecom (0.71%); whereas transport
rose 0.31% and consumer goods was unchanged.
About 73% of the stocks were in the
red with major shakers being QNB, Industries Qatar, Gulf International Services, Vodafone Qatar, Masraf Al Rayan,
Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding, Barwa,
Ezdan, Mazaya Qatar, gulf Warehousing
and Islamic Holding Group. However,
Nakilat and Doha Bank bucked the trend.
Qatari retail investors’ net profitbooking surged to QR106.1mn against
QR74.74mn the previous day.
Foreign institutions’ net buying sunk
to QR43.18mn compared to QR75.84mn
December 22.
However, non-Qatari individual investors turned net buyers to the extent
of QR12.88mn against net sellers of
QR16.68mn on Monday.
Domestic institutions’ net buying
strengthened to QR49.97mn compared to
QR15.67mn the previous day.
Total trade volume fell 34% to 16.26mn
shares, value by 30% to QR707.81mn and
transactions by 29% to 7,778.
The transport sector saw its trade volume plummet 56% to 0.44mn equities,
value by 56% to QR19.93mn and deals by
42% to 269.
The consumer goods sector’s trade
volume plunged 50% to 0.54mn stocks,
value by 59% to QR34.47mn and transactions by 46% to 453.
There was a 49% decline in the industrials sector’s trade volume to 1.5mn
shares, 46% in value to QR120.45mn and
33% in deals to 1,516.
The telecom sector’s trade volume
tanked 49% to 1.69mn equities, value by
51% to QR36.05mn and transactions by
39% to 821.
The banks and п¬Ѓnancial services sector reported a 29% shrinkage in trade
volume to 3mn stocks, 28% in value to
QR207.83mn and 35% in deals to 1,787.
The real estate sector’s trade volume
shrank 28% to 8.63mn shares, value by
5% to QR258.66mn and transactions by
11% to 2,717.
However, the insurance sector’s trade
volume grew 70% to 0.46mn equities and
value by 69% to QR30.42mn but deals
were down 2% to 215.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Derivatives exchanges prove resistant to regulatory change
New York
In December 2013, Hanmag Securities
Corp, a small South Korean brokerage
firm, lost 46bn won ($42mn) in a day after
a stock option trading algorithm went bad.
It was a fatal blow for a company that had
just 15bn won of capital – Hanmag went
What happened next rattled regulators around the world: Hanmag defaulted
on its obligations, forcing the Korea
Exchange’s clearinghouse to tap its emergency funds.
Clearinghouses are a critical part of regulators’ efforts to fix the financial system
after the crisis, and they have grown much
larger in recent years. Seen as a way to ensure that banks are not too connected to
fail, clearinghouses can guarantee that if
one party in a derivatives trade can’t meet
its obligations, other banks it trades with
will still get the money they are owed.
During the financial crisis, regulators
were reluctant to let wobbly traders such
as Bear Stearns go bust, fearing that a
failing bank would default on derivatives
trades with other market players, which in
turn would default on obligations with others, potentially spiralling into a systemic
For clearinghouses to work, they need
to be rock solid when the world is crashing around them. If they aren’t, they may
make any unfolding financial crisis much
worse, by spreading panic instead of
tamping it down.
While regulators have recently talked
about efforts to make clearinghouses
stronger, they are finding it’s not easy, according to bankers and former regulators
who are working with global rulemakers
on this issue.
Clearinghouses force banks to post collateral to support their trades, but it is hard
to be sure that parties have always posted
enough, in part because during crises the
value of collateral may drop. The derivatives contracts that banks trade may also
behave unpredictably, potentially leaving
the clearinghouse with too little collateral.
There are by one measure about
$700tn of derivatives that trade off exchanges, which are the types of products
regulators are most concerned about,
though that number is far bigger than the
actual potential losses from these contracts. Figuring how much capital different
parties should pony up when a failing
bank doesn’t have enough collateral is
also difficult. Forcing other banks or the
clearinghouse itself, for example, to put
up a lot of cash when a member has failed
could further destabilise the financial
To be sure, clearinghouse failures are
rare – four have happened in the last 40
years. Still, regulators have been late to
design risk management standards for
clearinghouses, given how big they are,
said Darrell Duffie, a finance professor at
Stanford University who has consulted
with regulators on the matter.
For example, clearinghouses handle
more than two-thirds of over-the-counter
interest-rate derivatives, which are the
most common type of derivatives that
trade off exchanges, according to an
analysis of data by clearinghouse operator
LCH.Clearnet. That’s about four times as
much as before the financial crisis.
LCH.Clearnet’s SwapClear, one of the
biggest clearinghouses in the market,
has cleared some $400tn of outstanding
interest-rate derivatives known as swaps.
The actual market risk from those
swaps is much lower, but even so some
bankers complain that most clearinghouses have low levels of their own capital
available to absorb losses. SwapClear has
just €44.6mn ($55.45mn) of capital on the
line as of October 31.
At SwapClear, if a bank fails, its collateral is applied to losses, and next comes
the money the bank had put into the clearinghouse’s safety fund. After that comes
SwapClear’s capital, and then finally a
safety fund with ВЈ3.09bn ($4.85bn) paid in
by all its members.
Beyond that, banks would face additional assessments. However, once a
clearinghouse burns through its own
capital, banks can lose confidence in it and
clear new contracts elsewhere, leading
the clearinghouse to either wither away
or collapse.
Many of the biggest clearinghouses
now are for-profit companies, which may
encourage them to hold as little capital as
regulators will let them get away with to
maximize profits. A majority of Londonbased LCH.Clearnet was bought last year
by the publicly-traded London Stock Exchange Group. CME Clearing is operated by
Chicago-based CME Group and Intercontinental Exchange runs clearinghouses.
LCH and other clearinghouses have said
they have enough capital and business
reasons to manage their risk appropriately. If clearinghouses put up more capital
themselves, then members would feel emboldened to take more risk, they have said.
Crafting good rules for clearinghouses
could take years, said Stanford’s Duffie, because of their complexity and the number
of regulators involved. In the US alone, the
Securities and Exchange Commission, the
Commodity Futures Trading Commission,
and the Federal Reserve all make rules for
Regulators have done some work on
clearinghouses already – in 2012, they
agreed on 24 principles for how clearinghouses should operate. One of those is a
sort of capital standard for clearinghouses, namely that the companies must be
able to cover possible losses from defaults
by its two biggest customers. But regulators are not yet consistently checking
clearinghouses’ calculations. Rulemakers
see the work done so far as only a start,
people who have spoken to them told
An international panel of rulemakers is now crafting standardised “stress
tests” for clearinghouses to ensure the
companies can weather tough market
conditions. But the regulators have not
figured out how those tests will work, or
how much of the results will be disclosed
to customers and the public. There are no
approved plans in place globally to replace
clearinghouses and the market services
they provide if they should go broke.
Informal capital curbs lift
Russia’s sliding currency
ussia’s rouble hit its highest
levels in two weeks yesterday,
shored up by informal capital
control measures designed to head off a
repeat of the inflation and protests that
marked Russia’s 1998 financial crisis.
The government set limits on net foreign exchange assets for state-owned
exporters yesterday, while officials and
banking sources said the central bank
had installed supervisors at the currency trading desks of top state banks.
Early in the day, the rouble hit 52.88
to the dollar, its strongest since December 8. It fell back later but was still
was up 0.8% at 55.34.
Economists said the measures were
effectively a softer version of capital
controls, but that President Vladimir
Putin, who has drawn much of his popularity from п¬Ѓnancial stability and rising prosperity, would keep his pledge
not to resort to full-fledged controls.
“They have already forced government exporters to sell their dollars, and
same will happen for banks I guess, so
in a sense, capital controls are already
in place,” said Sergei Guriev, an exiled
economist who fled Russia after criticising the Kremlin.
Russians have followed hard currency movements closely ever since
hyperinflation destroyed their savings
after the collapse of the Soviet Union,
before Putin came to power.
The rouble plunged to an all-time
low in mid-December on the back of
lower oil prices and Western sanctions,
which make it almost impossible for
Russian п¬Ѓrms to borrow from the West.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
said yesterday that Russia risks deep
Before the recent rebound, the rouble
fell as low as 80 per dollar, from the average of 30-35 seen in 2014’s first half.
Yesterday, the Russian government
told large state exporting companies
that by March 1 they must bring their
net foreign exchange assets back to the
levels of October 1 and report to the
central bank on weekly basis.
“Of course, the companies are free
to hold on to the hard currency, they
Moscow set
to subsidise
Five thousand Russian rouble notes pass through a money counting machine at a store in Moscow. The rouble hit its highest levels in two weeks yesterday, shored up by
informal capital control measures designed to head off a repeat of the inflation and protests that marked Russia’s 1998 financial crisis.
are also free to get involved in speculative operations. But then we reserve the
right not to help them if and when they
hit tough times,” said one government
source. He said companies that needed
to repay large foreign debts could continue to accumulate hard currency.
“If exporters are told not to increase
their hard currency positions, it can
be viewed as an unofficial reintroduction of capital controls,” said Vladimir
Osakovskiy from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Limiting money flows, once
considered a damaging constraint on
open markets, has been more accepted
in the aftermath of the 2008-2009
п¬Ѓnancial crisis as a tool sometimes
needed to manage п¬Ѓnancial stability.
But in Russia, the issue has political
resonance. Capital movements were
liberalised only 10 years ago and restrictions bring back memories of the
chaotic post-Soviet п¬Ѓnancial turbulence which Putin, now in his 15th year
as Russia’s leader, made it his mission
to banish.
“(Full capital controls) would be a
huge immediate blow to the economy,”
Mikhail Zadornov, chairman of the
board of VTB-24 bank, told the news-
paper Vedomosti yesterday. “It would
intensify capital outflows and cause
a complete loss of confidence in the
country among both domestic and foreign investors.”
Instead, Russian authorities are being pragmatic. Four banking sources
and sources close to the government
said that the central bank had last week
begun sending supervisors to monitor currency trading at major Russian
“There was panic,” said a source
close to the government. “Something
had to be done and we took some
measures.” The central bank expects
net capital outflows to hit $130bn this
year and Russia can ill afford to lose any
more, with economists forecasting that
an already slowing economy will shrink
3.6% next year.
“Yes, we have to report all of our activities to them, they are very meticulous,” said a source at one of Russia’s
top п¬Ѓve banks. Another source at a large
bank said: “As of Monday (December
16), currency comptrollers have been
sitting in and monitoring our currency
positions, checking who bought foreign currency.”
oscow is to set to step
in to support troubled
Russian airlines badly
hit by the collapse of the rouble
and falling passenger numbers.
Deputy Prime Minister Arkadi
Dvorkovitch said he was considering credit guarantees and
subsidies worth up to €28mn
($34mn) to support struggling
He told the business daily Vedomosti that two of the
top three domestic airlines,
Transaero and UTair, were already in difficulty.
“Firstly (we are looking at
giving) companies credit guarantees which are very powerful
because they give banks an interest in resolving the problem,”
he said.
“Second comes subsidies for
domestic flights. We are ready to
widen the number of subsidised
routes to make connections viable,” he added.
The newspaper said Transaero
will begin to benefit from credit
guarantees this week.
Airlines have been among the
п¬Ѓrst hit by the currency crisis
because of the international nature of their business and the
landing charges they must pay in
foreign currency.
The price of air tickets has
jumped twice by 12% and then
14% as the ruble has tumbled
against the euro and the dollar.
With rising prices, passenger numbers have dropped back
sharply in recent months.
On Sunday the TASS official
news agency said Transaero, the
country’s second airline, had
asked for state help claiming
there was “a risk of flights being suspended before the end of
the year because the company
did not have the money to pay its
The company denied it was
about to cut flights, claiming
there was a campaign to “discredit” it, but admitted that as
during the crisis of 2008-2009,
public help was needed.
US п¬Ѓnancial п¬Ѓrms raise most money in IPOs since crisis
New York
Pedestrians pass in front of a Citizens Financial Group bank branch in Boston,
the US. Citizens Financial and LendingClub Corp are among banks and consumer
finance companies that have raised a combined $16.8bn, fuelling the best year for
all IPOs since 2000.
inancial п¬Ѓrms raised the most
money this year in US initial
public offerings since 2008, as
investors shook off doubts from the
credit crisis and bet that a new breed
of lenders is poised to wrest business
from big banks.
Citizens Financial Group and LendingClub Corp are among banks and
consumer-п¬Ѓnance companies that
have raised a combined $16.8bn,
fueling the best year for all IPOs since
2000. Four of the п¬Ѓve largest US debuts
involved п¬Ѓnancial- services п¬Ѓrms, with
the industry accounting for about 19%
of capital amassed in all sales.
Financial IPOs are making a comeback as a strengthening US economy
has boosted equity markets and prospects for consumer lending. While
deals involving large banks are slowing, smaller п¬Ѓrms that use technology
to make borrowing cheaper and easier
are poised to stoke a new round of offerings next year, according to bankers,
investors and analysts.
“For some of the biggest deals, the
IPO was about putting the п¬Ѓnancial
crisis in the rearview mirror,” said
Jeff Davis, managing director for the
п¬Ѓnancial-institutions group at Mercer
Capital in Nashville, Tennessee. “If
the stock market stays robust and consumer credit remains in good shape,
next year will be another great year for
financial-service IPOs.”
Forty-two п¬Ѓnancial п¬Ѓrms, including
banks, asset managers and specialty
consumer-insurance companies, had
initial offerings through December 19,
the most since 2005, according to data
compiled by Bloomberg.
While 2014’s biggest IPO was Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group
Holding’s record $25bn sale, rounding
out the top п¬Ѓve were Citizens Financial, Synchrony Financial, Ally Financial and Santander Consumer USA
Even as banks helped drive a record
year for initial offerings, they’ve underperformed all IPOs. Financialservices firms that went public this
year gained 8.4% on average through
December 19, compared with a 16%
increase for all US debuts, according to
data compiled by Bloomberg.
Among the worst performers is
Santander Consumer, the US autolending unit of Banco Santander,
Spain’s largest bank. The shares have
declined 17% since its January IPO as
regulators increase scrutiny of subprime car loans. Investment bank
Moelis & Co has turned in one of the
best performances, gaining 37% since
its April debut amid a surge in US
mergers and acquisitions.
Some of the biggest initial offerings
were fuelled by larger banks looking
to divest businesses and meet regulatory demands. Royal Bank of Scotland
Group spun off Citizens, its US subsidiary, amid pressure from the British
government to boost profitability and
return some of the ВЈ45.5bn ($71bn) it
received in a bailout п¬Ѓve years ago. RBS
raised $3.46bn, including an overallotment, in the biggest bank IPO since
Goldman Sachs Group in 1999. Providence, Rhode Island-based Citizens
has gained 16% since its September
Ally Financial, the bank bailed out
by taxpayers in 2008, raised $2.56bn
for the US Treasury in an IPO that was
more than three years in the making.
The Detroit-based auto lender, which
has declined 10% since its April offering, had put plans to go public on hold
as it worked to clean up its mortgage
Many banks “had been looking to do
something for a long time, and more
happened to come together in the same
year,” said Andy Sanford, head of equity capital markets for Wells Fargo & Co.
Companies looking to go public took
advantage of surging US equity markets and signs the country’s economic
recovery is gaining steam.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index
and Dow Jones Industrial Average both
climbed to record levels this month.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Beijing private sector suitors to drive Asian M&A deals
Hong Kong
hina’s private sector suitors are
set to drive another strong year
of Asian mergers and acquisitions in 2015 after deals hit a record
this year, with consumer retail, п¬Ѓnancial services and technology seen as
the most active sectors for dealmaking.
Non-state companies from China,
including Fosun International and
Haitong Securities, have sealed a series
of outbound deals this year, a marked
change from past years when stateowned enterprises (SOEs) dominated
China’s mergers and acquisitions.
Bankers are expecting that trend to
accelerate next year, mirroring private
firms’ increased role in equity capital
markets as Beijing’s reforms aim to
make the world’s second largest economy more responsive to market forces.
It would be a boon to merger advisers that already experienced strong
growth in fees in 2014.
“What we are seeing is (Chinese)
companies that haven’t been on the radar screen showing interest in specific
targets,” said John Kim, head of M&A,
Asia ex-Japan at Goldman Sachs.
Dealmaking in Asia ex-Japan
jumped 48% this year to an all-time
high $802.2bn, according to preliminary Thomson Reuters data through
December 19. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup took the top
three positions in the region’s league
table rankings.
China was the most active market in
2014, accounting for about $353bn worth
of deals, the data showed. Fosun’s takeover battle for Club Mediterranee and its
latest offer that values the French holiday
operator at $1.15bn give an indication of
things to come next year, bankers say.
“We are now seeing China come of
age in terms of the broadbased nature
of outbound acquirers,” said Rohit
Chatterji, head of Asia ex-Japan M&A
at JP Morgan. “In the past natural resources had dominated outbound interest, whereas the distribution has
been more balanced this year.”
Investment banks are also betting
on reforms in China’s SOEs and privatisations in Australia - where the New
South Wales and Victoria state governments are likely to sell an estimated
A$26bn ($21.2bn) worth of power assets next year – to pump up M&A volumes next year.
Private equity п¬Ѓrms, both homegrown and global, sitting on $130bn
worth of unused capital are also seen
deploying more cash next year to scoop
up targets, bankers say.
Yet another source of deals would be
depressed oil and metal prices, which
are expected to tempt Asian companies
to buy distressed п¬Ѓrms, giving M&A
and п¬Ѓnancing opportunities to banks.
“There are a lot of leveraged balance
sheets in the (commodities) sector. As
well, many companies that have committed to capex can no longer follow
through without equity support. These
will present opportunities,” JP Morgan’s Chatterji added.
China’s shadow banking
sector adapts and grows
despite rules tightening
Hong Kong
ew players in China’s shadow
banking sector are growing rapidly despite attempts to clamp
down on opaque lending, taking advantage of a regulatory anomaly to prosper
but also raising the risks of a build-up of
debt in the slowing economy.
Authorities have sought to rein in the
riskiest elements of less-regulated lending after a series of defaults, including
a 4bn yuan ($640mn) credit product
backed by Evergrowing Bank in September, because of the danger such debts
could pose to the health of the world’s
second-largest economy.
And a government measure created
in 2011 to capture shadow banking, total social п¬Ѓnancing (TSF), shows some
success, with shadow banking contracting in the second half of 2014 to roughly
21.9tn yuan ($3.5tn), according to a Reuters’ analysis of central bank data.
But that fails to capture as much as
16tn yuan ($2.6tn) of п¬Ѓnancing mostly
created in the past two years by п¬Ѓrms
overseen by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) rather than the
banking regulator, according to a Reuters
calculation based on third-party statistics.
When including that п¬Ѓnancing, shadow banking is roughly equivalent to more
than 45% of loans in the conventional
banking system.
“We can observe this, but we don’t
have concrete statistics, so we’re unclear
on the scope,” said Zeng Gang, director of
the banking department at the Chinese
Academy of Social Sciences, a think tank
that advises the central government.
Shadow banking is therefore harder to
regulate, he said.
Indeed, the State Council called on the
central bank last December to develop
new statistics to measure shadow banking.In shadow banking’s new incarnation, brokerages and fund management
companies can pool retail investor funds
or invest funds already gathered by a
bank, acting as an intermediary rather
than the actual investor.
“China’s credit landscape is just simply evolving too quickly, so TSF doesn’t
provide as comprehensive a picture as it
used to do,” said Donna Kwok, an economist at UBS.
Shadow banking, defined as non-bank
credit and off-balance sheet bank lending, is an important part of banking systems around the world. In China, it has
Dalian Wanda
stocks drop
in Hong Kong
trading debut
helped smaller, private companies access
credit and offered investors better returns than bank deposits.
The central bank has said the benefits
of the sector are undeniable.
But it can also fund risky or unproductive investments, building up risks in the
banking system. This is what authorities
are trying to tackle.
As the China Banking Regulatory
Commission (CBRC) clamped down on
trust companies and off-balance sheet
lending, the sector adapted to capitalise
on CSRC rules from 2008 that allowed
brokerages to launch asset management
Investment consultancy Z-Ben Advisers said these units had more than tripled
assets under management from 1.89tn
yuan in 2012 to 6.82tn at the end of June.
Fund management п¬Ѓrms followed suit,
growing from 100bn yuan in 2012, the
п¬Ѓrst year they were allowed, to 2tn at the
end of June.
More than 95% of those funds qualify
as shadow banking, according to How-
how Zhang, head of research at Z-Ben.
“There was next to nothing three years
ago and now you have 5, 10tn yuan from
platforms with little experience in managing this kind of business,” Zhang said.
The funds raised often back the same
projects that have been the bread and
butter of shadow banking: real estate, infrastructure and others that can raise risk
flags for conventional banks.
Lending by trust companies - shadow
banking’s old guard - may still be underestimated by 7tn yuan, as financing is
often labelled as an “investment” which
is not captured in TSF, but nevertheless
that sector’s rapid growth is over under
the CBRC’s stricter regime, analysts said.
The variance between the two regulators can mean different treatment for п¬Ѓnancial companies with the same parent
Some of the larger brokerages selling investment products are parts of
larger groups that also own banks, such
as Everbright Securities and Everbright
Bank , and CITIC Securities and China
CITIC Bank. A CITIC spokesperson did
not comment for this story, and calls to
the Everbright Group were not answered.
Banks are limited to offering depositors a maximum 3.3% annual rate,
whereas brokerages, trust funds, fund
management п¬Ѓrms and other non-bank
п¬Ѓnancial institutions can offer products
with higher returns.
Banks can use “wealth management
products” to offer higher returns, but
face more restriction than non-bank
Should the CSRC tighten rules on
shadow banking, п¬Ѓnancing may just shift
to emerging areas such as peer-to-peer
But perhaps the biggest threat for now
to shadow banking is not regulators but
the mainland stock market, where the
Shanghai Composite Index has gained
more than 30% since November 21, making shadow п¬Ѓnancing returns look paltry.
“Nowadays the stock market is very
good, so we just focus on trading,” a brokerage sales associate said.
hinese shopping mall
developer Dalian Wanda finished lower after
its trading debut in Hong Kong
yesterday, following an initial public offering that broke
about China’s cooling property market.
Shares in the Beijing-based
company ended down at
HK$46.75 ($6.03) by the close
of trade, 2.6% lower than the
HK$48 offering price, following the biggest IPO in the world
by a real estate п¬Ѓrm which raised
Analysts said the price drop
was not surprising, given the
stuttering performance of the
property sector.
“This is a property stock
and the outlook for property in
China is not good. Basically it
is oversupplied,” Geo Securities
CEO Francis Lun told AFP.
“It (the price drop) is not unexpected because the pricing is
at the higher end of the range.”
Owned by the property arm of
Dalian Wanda Group and controlled by Chinese billionaire
Wang Jianlin, the company is
one of the world’s largest developers of shopping malls, owning
dozens across China.
“Today is a historic day for
Wanda and also an important
milestone for the business development of Wanda,” said Wang
before striking the gong at the
Hong Kong exchange to mark
the listing.
Wang raised a glass of champagne with bourse officials and
gave a double thumbs up before
trading began.
The listing comes after China cut interest rates in November to spur the mainland property market, which remains
under pressure from a hefty
inventory of unsold newlybuilt homes.
House prices fell on a monthly
basis for the seventh straight
month in November, according
to the independent China Index
Wanda slashed its IPO fundraising target by about a third
from the original goal, possibly
to attract investors concerned by
the slowing real estate market.
Analysts also pointed to the
company’s high debt levels.
Dalian Wanda Commercial
Properties says it is the secondlargest commercial property
owner and operator in the world,
with 175 property projects across
China, including 71 Wanda Plazas, each made up of a combination of shopping centres, luxury
hotels, and office and residential
towers, according to the bourse
Wang topped the Forbes
China Rich List in 2013 with
an estimated net worth of
$14.1bn, but was displaced this
year after charismatic Internet
entrepreneur Jack Ma floated
his e-commerce powerhouse
Alibaba Group in the world’s
biggest ever IPO. Ma’s fortune
is now estimated at nearly
Wang may п¬Ѓnd himself on top
again after the Dalian Wanda
“To be on the rich list is not
my goal, my goal is to have my
company become diversified and
comprehensive,” Wang told reporters Tuesday.
“When I was the richest man I
didn’t feel pain nor did I feel especially happy,” said Wang.
The Wanda Group bought
US cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings two years
ago and has also branched out
into film production, theme
parks, print media and art investment.
Wang has said he wants the
company to rival world leading brands like Google, IBM and
His п¬Ѓrm is the latest in a
string of Chinese companies
tapping in to international investors through Hong Kong’s
The city’s stock exchange has
now climbed to second in the
world in terms of IPO fund raising activities, according to Dow
Jones Newswires.
Shares in China General Nuclear Power (CGN), the nation’s
largest nuclear power producer,
surged almost 20% on their debut last week after it raised more
than $3bn in its IPO.
South Korea cuts growth forecasts but sees improvement
Sejong, South Korea
South Korea cut its bullish growth
forecasts for both this year and next
but its revised projections were still
seen as too optimistic, supporting
expectations of an interest rate cut
early next year.
The Ministry of Strategy and Finance
forecast the economy will grow by 3.4%
this year, down from 3.7% projected
in July, with private investment and
sentiment turning out weaker than the
government had expected.
It also downgraded its 2015 growth
forecast to 3.8% from 4.0%.
“(An estimate of) 3.8% seems a bit
too high. Growth next year should be
similar to this year around 3.5% while
we still see a rate cut sometime early
2015,” said Kim Doo-un, an economist
at Hana Daetoo Securities.
Lee Chan-woo, director-general at
the ministry, said sentiment among
businesses and households had been
weakened by uncertainties over future
economic conditions, pulling down the
previous forecasts.
“Third-quarter growth was mainly
propped up by government stimulus
measures,” Lee told a briefing, referring
to a raft of legal revisions and new
policies launched under Finance
Minister Choi Kyung-hwan, dubbed
Expecting things to improve next year,
the finance ministry sees domestic
consumption rising 3.0% on an annual
basis, which would be the fastest since
the 3.7% growth seen in secondquarter 2011.
A supplementary budget is likely to
be in the works as well, economists
believe, while the ministry is scheduled
to soon announce structural reforms
in the labour market aimed at bringing
more stability to temporary jobs.
“We think that if the Korean
government feels the need for a
supplementary budget, it will likely
be announced in first-half 2015,” said
Ronald Man, an economist at HSBC
Hong Kong. Man sees two rate cuts
pending next year, and further expects
the government’s forecasts to be
revised down throughout the year.
Spending at home is expected to get
a fillip from falling oil prices, a boost
in welfare payments, and government
plans to increase household income.
The government calculates
consumption will swell inflation to
2.0% next year, from 1.3% this year,
with a 0.6% point boost coming from
a hike in cigarette prices. Inflation
has remained low for the past year in
South Korea on low commodity and
agricultural product prices, prompting
worries about the economy falling into
deflation, but the ministry is confident
the economy will improve enough to
restore price growth.
Meanwhile the South Korean
government said it has lodged
an appeal with the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) against a US move
to slap anti-dumping duties on imports
of steel pipes from the Asian nation.
South Korea’s trade ministry said
in a statement that the high US
tariffs on Korean steel pipes – over
$100mn annually – put them at a price
disadvantage compared with imports
from India and other countries. A
ministry official said the appeal has
sought a withdrawal of the duties.
The US International Trade
Commission ruled in August that “oil
country tubular goods” (OCTG) imports
from South Korea, India, Taiwan,
Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam would be
subject to duties.
Steel pipes are high-margin products
used in the energy sector and have
been a bright spot in the sluggish steel
industry, benefiting from a boom in the
US shale oil and gas industry.
“We believe that the US commerce
department potentially violated WTO
rules when it investigated the antidumping case, including calculating
dumping margins,” the South Korean
trade ministry statement said.
“If our government wins the case, the
US has the obligation to correct its
action to levy anti-dumping duties.”
US steel companies had lodged a
complaint against cheap imports
in 2013, saying OCTG imports sold
cheaply using government subsidies
had harmed their business, dragged
prices down and triggered job cuts.
The US commerce department, which
determines whether dumping exists,
said in July that imports from South
Korea’s Hyundai Hysco would be
subject to duties of 15.75%, those from
Nexteel to 9.89%, and all other South
Korean producers including Seah Steel
Corp and Husteel will have a duty of
South Korea’s OCTG exports to the US
were worth $818mn in 2013, more than
the combined imports of the other
countries involved in the case.
South Korea was hit with the secondhighest duties after Vietnam, which
attracted duties in the range of 24.22%111.47%. India steel pipe imports faced
tariffs of 2.05% to 9.91%.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Emerging stocks
snap 4-day rally
eak sentiment in
China halted a fourday rally in emerging
market stocks yesterday, though
there was no stopping the resurgent rouble as steadier oil and
central bank muscle-flexing lifted it to a two-week high.
The MSCI emerging stocks
benchmark was down 0.5% after
falls of as much as 4% in bank
and infrastructure firms’ shares
had seen Chinese bourses post
their biggest daily drop in two
In Europe, trading was heavily
reduced ahead of the Christmas
break but there was continued focus on a rebound in Russian assets, hammered in recent
weeks by the plunge in oil prices
and tensions with the West over
With oil holding above $60
a barrel and Russian banks and
exporters said to be selling hard
currency on the orders of the
central bank, the rouble was up
2.8% against the dollar in its
fourth rise in п¬Ѓve days.
Dollar-denominated stocks
also climbed 1.7% as they took
their gain over the last week to
a staggering 45%, and Russian
bond markets rose too as their
outperformance continued.
“It is difficult to get of sense
of what has happened over the
last week; it went from a crazy
sell-off to flattening off in a day
and now coming back again,”
said Regis Chatellier, Director
EM Sovereign Credit Strategy at
Societe Generale. “What it important in my view is that oil has
stopped falling, and that has an
important psychological impact
for emerging markets.”
Greece, which is now part of
the main emerging market indices, was also in the spotlight
as its parliament failed to elect a
new president at the second time
of asking.
If it fails again in the п¬Ѓnal
round of voting next week, it will
trigger a general election in February. That could bring the antiIMF/EU bailout Syriza party to
power and revive fears about
Greece’s future in the euro.
Greek bond yields rose back
above 8.1% while Athens’ main
stock market tumbled 1.5%,
hovering near a 1-1/2 year low.
Elsewhere, the steadying of
oil prices at around $60 a barrel helped keep the main Middle
Eastern stock markets in tight
ranges, though emerging market
currencies were broadly a touch
lower against the dollar.
In eastern Europe, the Polish
zloty edged back towards
15-month lows after data showed
a surprise fall in retail sales and
slightly higher-than-expected
unemployment in November.
Most central banks in the region have cut interest rates to
record lows and some analysts
are pencilling in more, especially
if the ECB begins a QE programme.
Hungary’s central bank has
pledged to keep its record-low
2.1% base rate unchanged until
the end of next year as growth in
central Europe’s most indebted
economy is set to slow.
Rouble swap shows
China challenging IMF
as emergency lender
New York
hina is stepping up its role as the
lender of last resort to some of the
world’s most financially strapped
Chinese officials signalled on the
weekend they are willing to expand a
$24bn currency swap programme to help
Russia weather the worst economic crisis
since the 1998 default. China has provided $2.3bn in funds to Argentina since October as part of a currency swap, and last
month it lent $4bn to Venezuela, whose
reserves cover just two years of debt payments.
By lending to nations shut out of overseas capital markets, Chinese President
Xi Jinping is bolstering the country’s
influence in the global economy and
cutting into the International Monetary
Fund’s status as the go-to financier for
governments in п¬Ѓnancial distress. While
the IMF tends to demand reforms aimed
at stabilising a country’s economy in exchange for loans, analysts speculate that
China’s terms are more focused on securing its interests in the resource-rich
“It’s always good to have IOUs in the
back of your pocket,” Morten Bugge, the
chief investment officer at Kolding, Denmark-based Global Evolution who helps
manage about $2bn of emerging-market
debt, said by phone. “These are China’s
fellow friends and comrades, and to secure long-term energy could be one of
the motivations.”
The rouble jumped 4.9% to 55.8 per
dollar in Moscow on Monday after Hong
Kong-based Phoenix TV cited China’s
Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng as
saying that expanding the currency swap
between the two nations would help
The rouble has gained 10% over the
past two days, paring a selloff that’s made
it the world’s worst performing currency
over the past six months.
Unlike Ukraine, where the pro-west
government received a $17bn IMF-led
bailout this year, Russia, Argentina and
Venezuela are often at odds with the US
and its allies, essentially keeping them
out of the reach of the Washington- based
institution. At $3.89tn, China holds the
world’s largest foreign-exchange reserves, allowing it to fill the void.
China and Russia signed a threeyear currency-swap line of 150bn yuan
The People’s Bank Of China headquarters (right) is seen in Beijing. The PBoC has signed currency-swap agreements with 28 other
central banks around the world making the yuan an alternative to the dollar for global trade and finance.
($24bn) in October, a contract that allows Russia to borrow the yuan and lend
the rouble. While the offer won’t relieve
the main sources of pressure on the rouble - which has lost 41% this year amid
plunging oil prices and sanctions linked
to Russia’s annexation of Crimea - it
could bolster investors’ confidence in the
country and help stem capital outflows.
Two phone calls to China’s central
bank seeking comment on the terms of
its currency swaps weren’t returned.
Russia isn’t in talks with China about any
п¬Ѓnancial aid, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, said
on December 20.
Funding from China has helped
raise Argentina’s foreign reserves to a
13-month high of $30.9bn, a boost for a
country that has been kept out of international capital markets since defaulting
on foreign obligations in 2001.
Argentina received $1bn worth of yuan
earlier this month as part of the threeyear currency-swap agreement with
China, a central bank official in the South
American country, who asked not to be
identified because he isn’t authorised to
speak publicly, said. That extended the
funds transferred to Argentina to $2.3bn
since October. The swap is for a maximum of $11bn over three years.
In Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro last month added $4bn he borrowed
from China to the country’s reserves after they fell to an 11-year low. The country now has about $21bn in its coffers,
equal to the amount of debt it has coming
due in 2015 and 2016.
Venezuela, which was already plagued
by shortages of everything from toilet paper to toothpaste, is also suffering
from the drop in oil, its biggest export.
Traders are betting that there’s an 89%
probability that Venezuela won’t be able
to make good on its debts over the next
п¬Ѓve years, according to credit-default
swaps data compiled by Bloomberg.
“I don’t think this is a broad policy to
support any country that asks for Chinese help,” Steffen Reichold, an economist at Stone Harbor Investment Partners in New York, said in an e-mail.
“Several countries are currently in a tight
spot and the Chinese are offering to help.
That buys them some goodwill and influence, and promotes the use of the yuan.”
The People’s Bank of China has signed
Sensex rises for fourth day; rupee
falls on month-end dollar demand
ndian shares rose for a fourth consecutive session to head towards their
highest close in two weeks after early
poll results indicated Prime Minister
Narendra Modi’s party gaining in the elections of Jharkhand as well as Jammu and
Wins in either of the two states would
give the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government a stronger presence in the upper house of parliament, smoothening
the legislative fate of a slew of pending
reforms including the rollout of a nationwide tax.
Modi has been considering using an executive order to push through laws overhauling the insurance and coal sectors,
due to the increasingly fractious upper
house of the parliament, two government
officials said on Friday.
But trading could turn volatile today
given the expiry of monthly equity derivatives contracts.
“These trends indicate BJP tally would
increase in Rajya Sabha in the coming
years. So expect more push on reforms,”
said G Chokkalingam, founder of Equinomics, a research and fund advisory п¬Ѓrm.
The NSE index rose 0.22% to 8,242.80,
while the benchmark BSE index gained
0.23% to 27,435.13, heading towards their
highest close since December 8.
The gains came after early results from
the Election Commission of India showed
the BJP leading in the vote count in
Jharkhand as well as Jammu and Kashmir.
Banks led gainers, helped as well by
continued hopes the Reserve Bank of India would cut interest rates in early 2015.
State Bank of India rose 0.7%, while Axis
Bank gained 0.6%.
Housing Development Finance Corp
A stock trader monitors share prices on his terminal at a brokerage house in Mumbai. The benchmark BSE index gained 0.23% at
27,435.13 points yesterday.
rose 1.5% on its plan to sell up to 0.95%
stake in life insurance unit to Azim Premji
Meanwhile the rupee weakened yesterday on the back of month-end dollar
demand from importers and a fall in domestic shares, but bonds gained, tracking
a fall in global crude oil prices in a session
marked by low trading volumes.
Movement in foreign fund flows is
likely to be a key determinant of market
direction in the near-term as most foreign
funds stay light on investments towards
the end of the year.
“There is good support for the USD/
INR at 63 levels, while 63.90 should be a
strong resistance, keeping the pair within
that range until the year-end,” said Paresh
Nayar, head of п¬Ѓxed income and foreign
exchange trading at First Rand Bank.
The partially convertible rupee closed
at 63.28/29 per dollar, weaker than Monday’s 63.24/25.
The benchmark 10-year bond yield
closed 4 basis points lower at 7.92%.
Shares snapped their three-day winning streak as blue-chips such as ICICI
Bank fell on risk aversion after Chinese
stocks posted their biggest daily drop in
two weeks, while caution prevailed a day
ahead of the monthly derivatives expiry.
But traders said dollar sales by state-
run banks and exporters helped the rupee recover from its session low of 63.50,
offsetting greenback purchases from importers.
Bonds, however, gained as Brent crude
steadied around $60 a barrel yesterday,
under pressure from a supply glut but
supported by forecasts of stronger economic data from the US.
Bonds were also helped by strong demand from foreign investors for the
unutilised debt investment limits.
NewsRise Financial reported that India
attracted Rs56.53bn ($893.6mn) in bids
for Rs26.74bn of limits on offer. The cutoff was 74 bps.
currency-swap agreements with 28 other
central banks around the world, including those in the U.K. and Australia, making the yuan an alternative to the dollar
for global trade and п¬Ѓnance.
By promoting the use of its currency,
China acts in its own interests as it challenges the dominance of the US in the
global economy.
Two months after Russia annexed Crimea in March, China signed a three-decade, $400bn deal to buy Russian gas. Oil
imports from Russia hit an all-time high
in November, according to China’s General Administration of Customs. While
the rouble’s depreciation affected Chinese exports to Russia and made it difficult for the two countries to implement
joint projects, the challenges shouldn’t
be exaggerated, according to a commentary published in the official People’s
Daily newspaper yesterday.
China has made $47bn in loans to Venezuela since 2007, making it the country’s largest creditor, according to Eurasia Group, a political consulting firm.
Venezuela, which holds the world’s largest oil reserves, repays the loans by shipping crude to China.
China leads slump
in Asian markets
China led a slump in Asian
markets yesterday, with Shanghai
registering one of its biggest
percentage falls of the year and
banks among the biggest losers
Dealers said a recent run-up
following a surprise Chinese interest rate cut had created room for
a market correction.
Shanghai dropped 3.03%, or
94.84 points, to finish at 3,032.61.
The Shenzhen Composite Index,
which tracks stocks on China’s
second exchange, fell 1.39%, or
19.68 points, to 1,392.62.
Hong Kong ended down 0.32%
or 74.88 points at 23,333.69. Sydney dropped 61.1 points, or 1.12%,
to close at 5,380.9, and Seoul
slipped 0.21, or 4.10 points to end
at 1,939.02. Tokyo was closed for a
public holiday.
In other markets, Manila rose
0.66%, or 47.05 points, to 7,186.32;
Victorias Milling Company Inc
gained 4.22% to 4.69 pesos.
Taipei edged up 2.71 points, or
0.03% to 9,097.71; Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was
0.72% lower at Tw$137.5, while
Hon Hai Precision Industry fell
0.80% to close at Tw$87.3. Wellington rose 0.19% or 10.36 points
to 5,552.10; Fletcher Building was
up 0.36% at NZ$8.28 and Trade
Me rose 1.97% to NZ$3.63.
“The (Shanghai) market
climbed too fast in such a short
time after the November interest
rate cut, which has caused some
structural problems in the market,” Shenyin & Wanguo Securities analyst Gui Haoming told AFP.
The market had jumped more
than 20% since the cut to interest
rates last month—rising above the
3,000 mark on December 16 for
the first time in three and a half
Industrial and Commercial
Bank of China lost 4.88% to 4.48
yuan while China Construction
Bank fell 5.01% to 6.26 yuan.
The slide in Asia came despite
a positive lead Monday from Wall
Street, which remained buoyed
by a Federal Reserve meeting last
There were also high hopes of
more good news from a heavy
day of economic data releases
Last Wednesday the Fed kept
interest rates low and left in place
expectations that it may wait until
mid-2015 before raising them. The
Dow Jones Industrial Average
and broad-based S&P 500 hit new
highs late Monday.
The Dow jumped 154.64
(0.87%) to 17,959.44, almost a
point above the previous record.
The S&P 500 advanced 7.89
points (0.38%) to 2,078.54, about
three points above the previous
high on December 5.
The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.34%.
“Money is flowing to the US
right now because it’s definitely
in the healthiest position,” Aaron
Jett, vice president of global
equity research at Bel Air Investment Advisors, told Dow Jones
Economists surveyed by the
Wall Street Journal expect the
agency to say the US economy
grew at a seasonally adjusted
4.3% in the July-September quarter, up from its previous estimate
of 3.9%.
The US dollar was at ВҐ120.14 in
Singapore trade, up slightly from
ВҐ120.07 in New York on Monday.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Company Name
Company Name
Zad Holding Co
Widam Food Co
Vodafone Qatar
United Development Co
Salam International Investme
Qatar & Oman Investment Co
Qatar Navigation
Qatar National Cement Co
Qatar National Bank
Qatar Islamic Insurance
Qatar Industrial Manufactur
Qatar International Islamic
Qatari Investors Group
Qatar Islamic Bank
Qatar Gas Transport(Nakilat)
Qatar General Insurance & Re
Qatar German Co For Medical
Qatar Fuel Co
Qatar Electricity & Water Co
Qatar Cinema & Film Distrib
Qatar Insurance Co
Ooredoo Qsc
National Leasing
Mazaya Qatar Real Estate Dev
Mesaieed Petrochemical Holdi
Al Meera Consumer Goods Co
Medicare Group
Mannai Corporation Qsc
Masraf Al Rayan
Al Khalij Commercial Bank
Industries Qatar
Islamic Holding Group
Gulf Warehousing Company
Gulf International Services
Ezdan Holding Group
Doha Insurance Co
Doha Bank Qsc
Dlala Holding
Commercial Bank Of Qatar Qsc
Barwa Real Estate Co
Al Khaleej Takaful Group
Aamal Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Saudi Hollandi Bank
Al-Ahsa Development Co.
Al-Baha Development & Invest
Ace Arabia Cooperative Insur
Allied Cooperative Insurance
Arriyadh Development Company
Fitaihi Holding Group
Arabia Insurance Cooperative
Al Abdullatif Industrial Inv
Al-Ahlia Cooperative Insuran
Al Alamiya Cooperative Insur
Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Dev
Al Babtain Power & Telecommu
Bank Albilad
Alujain Corporation (Alco)
Aldrees Petroleum And Transp
Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & C
Alinma Bank
Alinma Tokio Marine
Al Khaleej Training And Educ
Abdullah A.M. Al-Khodari Son
Allianz Saudi Fransi Coopera
Almarai Co
Saudi Integrated Telecom Co
Alsorayai Group
Al Tayyar
Amana Cooperative Insurance
Anaam International Holding
Abdullah Al Othaim Markets
Arabian Pipes Co
Advanced Petrochemicals Co
Al Rajhi Co For Co-Operative
Arabian Cement
Arab National Bank
Ash-Sharqiyah Development Co
United Wire Factories Compan
Astra Industrial Group
Alahli Takaful Co
Axa Cooperative Insurance
Basic Chemical Industries
Bishah Agriculture
Bank Al-Jazira
Banque Saudi Fransi
United International Transpo
Bupa Arabia For Cooperative
Buruj Cooperative Insurance
Saudi Airlines Catering Co
Methanol Chemicals Co
City Cement Co
Eastern Cement
Etihad Atheeb Telecommunicat
Etihad Etisalat Co
Emaar Economic City
Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insu
United Electronics Co
Falcom Saudi Equity Etf
Filing & Packing Materials M
Wafrah For Industry And Deve
Falcom Petrochemical Etf
Gulf General Cooperative Ins
Jazan Development Co
Gulf Union Cooperative Insur
Halwani Bros Co
Hail Cement
Herfy Food Services Co
Al Jouf Agriculture Developm
Jarir Marketing Co
Jabal Omar Development Co
Al Jouf Cement
Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co
Knowledge Economic City
Kingdom Holding Co
Saudi Arabian Mining Co
Malath Cooperative & Reinsur
Makkah Construction & Devepl
Mediterranean & Gulf Insuran
Middle East Specialized Cabl
Mohammad Al Mojil Group Co
Al Mouwasat Medical Services
The National Agriculture Dev
Najran Cement Co
Nama Chemicals Co
National Gypsum
National Gas & Industrializa
National Industrialization C
National Shipping Co Of/The
National Petrochemical Co
Rabigh Refining And Petroche
Al Qassim Agricultural Co
Qassim Cement/The
Red Sea Housing Services Co
Saudi Research And Marketing
Riyad Bank
Al Rajhi Bank
Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Saudi British Bank
Sabb Takaful
Saudi Basic Industries Corp
Saudi Cement
Saudi Dairy & Foodstuff Co
Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Co
Al Sagr Co-Operative Insuran
Saudi Advanced Industries
Saudi Arabian Coop Ins Co
Salama Cooperative Insurance
Samba Financial Group
Sanad Cooperative Insurance
Saudi Public Transport Co
Saudi Arabia Refineries Co
Hsbc Amanah Saudi 20 Etf
Saudi Re For Cooperative Rei
Saudi Cable Co
Saudi Chemical Company
Saudi Ceramic
Saudi Electricity Co
Saudi Fisheries
Al-Hassan G.I. Shaker Co
Dur Hospitality Co
Arabian Shield Cooperative
Saudi Investment Bank/The
Saudi Industrial Development
Saudi Industrial Export Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Securities Group Co
Sultan Center Food Products
Kuwait Foundry Co Sak
Kuwait Financial Centre Sak
Ajial Real Estate Entmt
Gulf Glass Manuf Co -Kscc
Kuwait Finance & Investment
National Industries Co
Kuwait Real Estate Holding C
Securities House/The
Boubyan Petrochemicals Co
Al Ahli Bank Of Kuwait
Ahli United Bank (Almutahed)
National Bank Of Kuwait
Commercial Bank Of Kuwait
Kuwait International Bank
Gulf Bank
Al-Massaleh Real Estate Co
Al Arabiya Real Estate Co
Kuwait Remal Real Estate Co
Alkout Industrial Projects C
A’ayan Real Estate Co
Investors Holding Group Co.K
Markaz Real Estate Fund
Al-Mazaya Holding Co
Al-Madar Finance & Invt Co
Gulf Petroleum Investment
Mabanee Co Sakc
City Group
Inovest Co Bsc
Kuwait Gypsum Manufacturing
Al-Deera Holding Co
Alshamel International Hold
United Industries Co
Mena Real Estate Co
National Slaughter House
Amar Finance & Leasing Co
United Projects Group Kscc
National Consumer Holding Co
Amwal International Investme
Jeeran Holdings
Equipment Holding Co K.S.C.C
Nafais Holding
Safwan Trading & Contracting
Arkan Al Kuwait Real Estate
Gulf Finance House Ec
Energy House Holding Co Kscc
Kuwait Slaughter House Co
Kuwait Co For Process Plant
Al Maidan Dental Clinic Co K
National Ranges Company
Kuwait Pipes Indus & Oil Ser
Al-Themar Real International
Al Ahleia Insurance Co Sak
Wethaq Takaful Insurance Co
Salbookh Trading Co K.S.C.C
Aqar Real Estate Investments
Hayat Communications
Kuwait Packing Materials Mfg
Soor Fuel Marketing Co Ksc
Alargan International Real
Burgan Co For Well Drilling
Kuwait Resorts Co Kscc
Oula Fuel Marketing Co
Palms Agro Production Co
Ikarus Petroleum Industries
Mubarrad Transport Co
Al Mowasat Health Care Co
Shuaiba Industrial Co
Kuwait Invest Co Holding
Hits Telecom Holding
First Takaful Insurance Co
Kuwaiti Syrian Holding Co
National Cleaning Company
Eyas For High & Technical Ed
United Real Estate Company
Kuwait & Middle East Fin Inv
Fujairah Cement Industries
Livestock Transport & Tradng
International Resorts Co
National Industries Grp Hold
Marine Services Co
Pearl Of Kuwait Real Estate
Warba Insurance Co
Kuwait United Poultry Co
First Dubai Real Estate Deve
Al Arabi Group Holding Co
Kuwait Hotels Co
Mobile Telecommunications Co
Al Safat Real Estate Co
Tamdeen Real Estate Co Ksc
Al Mudon Intl Real Estate Co
Kuwait Cement Co Ksc
Sharjah Cement & Indus Devel
Kuwait Portland Cement Co
Educational Holding Group
Bahrain Kuwait Insurance
Kuwait China Investment Co
Kuwait Investment Co
Burgan Bank
Kuwait Projects Co Holdings
Al Madina For Finance And In
Kuwait Insurance Co
Al Masaken Intl Real Estate
Intl Financial Advisors
First Investment Co Kscc
Al Mal Investment Company
Bayan Investment Co Kscc
Egypt Kuwait Holding Co Sae
Coast Investment Development
Privatization Holding Compan
Kuwait Medical Services Co
Injazzat Real State Company
Kuwait Cable Vision Sak
Sanam Real Estate Co Kscc
Ithmaar Bank Bsc
Aviation Lease And Finance C
Arzan Financial Group For Fi
Ajwan Gulf Real Estate Co
Manafae Investment Co
Kuwait Business Town Real Es
Future Kid Entertainment And
Specialities Group Holding C
Abyaar Real Eastate Developm
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Dar Al Thuraya Real Estate C
Al-Dar National Real Estate
Kgl Logistics Company Kscc
Combined Group Contracting
Zima Holding Co Ksc
Qurain Holding Co
Boubyan Intl Industries Hold
Gulf Investment House
Boubyan Bank K.S.C
Ahli United Bank B.S.C
Al-Safat Tec Holding Co
Al-Eid Food Co
Al-Qurain Petrochemicals Co
Advanced Technology Co
Ekttitab Holding Co S.A.K.C
Kout Food Group Ksc
Real Estate Trade Centers Co
Acico Industries Co Kscc
Kipco Asset Management Co
National Petroleum Services
Alimtiaz Investment Co Kscc
Ras Al Khaimah White Cement
Kuwait Reinsurance Co Ksc
Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport
Human Soft Holding Co Ksc
Automated Systems Co
Metal & Recycling Co
Gulf Franchising Holding Co
Al-Enma’a Real Estate Co
National Mobile Telecommuni
Al Bareeq Holding Co Kscc
Union Real Estate Co
Housing Finance Co Sak
Al Salam Group Holding Co
United Foodstuff Industries
Al Aman Investment Company
Mashaer Holdings Co Ksc
Manazel Holding
Mushrif Trading & Contractin
Tijara And Real Estate Inves
Kuwait Building Materials
Jazeera Airways
Commercial Real Estate Co
Future Communications Co
National International Co
Taameer Real Estate Invest C
Gulf Cement Co
Heavy Engineering And Ship B
Refrigeration Industries & S
National Real Estate Co
Al Safat Energy Holding Comp
Kuwait National Cinema Co
Danah Alsafat Foodstuff Co
Independent Petroleum Group
Kuwait Real Estate Co Ksc
Salhia Real Estate Co Ksc
Gulf Cable & Electrical Ind
Al Nawadi Holding Co Ksc
Kuwait Finance House
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Voltamp Energy Saog
United Finance Co
United Power Co
United Power/Energy Co- Pref
Al Madina Investment Co
Taageer Finance
Salalah Port Services
A’saffa Foods Saog
Sohar Poultry
Shell Oman Marketing
Shell Oman Marketing - Pref
Smn Power Holding Saog
Al Shurooq Inv Ser
Al Sharqiya Invest Holding
Sohar Power Co
Salalah Beach Resort Saog
Salalah Mills Co
Sahara Hospitality
Renaissance Services Saog
Raysut Cement Co
Port Service Corporation
Packaging Co Ltd
Oman United Insurance Co
Oman Textile Holding Co Saog
Oman Telecommunications Co
Sweets Of Oman
Oman Orix Leasing Co.
Oman Refreshment Co
Oman Packaging
Oman Oil Marketing Company
0Man Oil Marketing Co-Pref
Oman National Investment Co
Oman National Engineering An
Oman National Dairy Products
Oman Medical Projects
Oman Ceramic Com
Oman Intl Marketing
Oman Investment & Finance
Hsbc Bank Oman
Oman Hotels & Tourism Co
Oman Holding International
Oman Fiber Optics
Oman Flour Mills
Oman Filters Industry
Oman Fisheries Co
Oman Education & Training In
Oman & Emirates Inv(Om)50%
Oman & Emirates Inv(Emir)50%
Oman Europe Foods Industries
Oman Cement Co
Oman Chlorine
Oman Chromite
Oman Cables Industry
Oman Agricultural Dev
Omani Qatari Telecommunicati
National Securities
Oman Foods International Soa
National Pharmaceutical-Rts
National Pharmaceutical
National Packaging Fac
National Mineral Water
National Hospitality Institu
National Gas Co
National Finance Co
National Detergents/The
National Carpet Factory
National Bank Of Oman Saog
National Biscuit Industries
National Real Estate Develop
Natl Aluminium Products
Muscat Thread Mills Co
Muscat Insurance Company
Modern Poultry Farms
Muscat National Holding
Musandam Marketing & Invest
Al Maha Petroleum Products M
Muscat Gases Company Saog
Majan Glass Company
Muscat Finance
Al Kamil Power Co
Interior Hotels
Hotels Management Co Interna
Al-Hassan Engineering Co
Gulf Stone
Gulf Mushroom Company
Gulf Invest. Serv. Pref-Shar
Gulf Investments Services
Gulf International Chemicals
Gulf Hotels (Oman) Co Ltd
Global Fin Investment
Galfar Engineering&Contract
Galfar Engineering -Prefer
Financial Services Co.
Flexible Ind Packages
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Financial Corp/The
Dhofar Tourism
Dhofar Poultry
Aloula Co
Dhofar Intl Development
Dhofar Insurance
Dhofar University
Dhofar Power Co
Dhofar Power Co-Pfd
Dhofar Fisheries & Food Indu
Dhofar Cattlefeed
Al Batinah Dev & Inv
Dhofar Beverages Co
Computer Stationery Inds
Construction Materials Ind
Cement & Gypsum Pro
Marine Bander Al-Rowdha
Bank Sohar
Bankmuscat Saog
Bank Dhofar Saog
Al Batinah Hotels
Majan College
Areej Vegetable Oils
Al Jazeera Steel Products Co
Al Sallan Food Industry
Acwa Power Barka Saog
Al-Omaniya Financial Service
Taghleef Industries Saog
Gulf Plastic Industries Co
Al Jazeera Services
Al Jazerah Services -Pfd
Al-Fajar Al-Alamia Co
Ahli Bank
Abrasives Manufacturing Co S
Al-Batinah Intl Saog
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
National Takaful Company
Waha Capital Pjsc
Union Insurance Co
Union National Bank/Abu Dhab
United Insurance Company
Union Cement Co
United Arab Bank
Abu Dhabi National Takaful C
Abu Dhabi National Energy Co
Sudan Telecommunications Co$
Sorouh Real Estate Company
Sharjah Insurance Company
Sharjah Cement & Indus Devel
Ras Al Khaima Poultry
Ras Al Khaimah White Cement
Rak Properties
Ras Al-Khaimah National Insu
Ras Al Khaimah Ceramics
Ras Al Khaimah Cement Co
National Bank Of Ras Al-Khai
Ooredoo Qsc
Umm Al Qaiwain Cement Indust
Oman & Emirates Inv(Emir)50%
National Marine Dredging Co
National Corp Tourism & Hote
Sharjah Islamic Bank
National Bank Of Umm Al Qaiw
National Bank Of Fujairah
National Bank Of Abu Dhabi
Methaq Takaful Insurance
#N/A Invalid Security
Gulf Pharmaceutical Ind-Julp
Invest Bank
Insurance House
Gulf Medical Projects
Gulf Livestock Co
Green Crescent Insurance Co
Gulf Cement Co
Foodco Holding
Finance House
First Gulf Bank
Fujairah Cement Industries
Fujairah Building Industries
Emirates Telecom Corporation
Eshraq Properties Co Pjsc
Emirates Insurance Co. (Psc)
Emirates Driving Company
Al Dhafra Insurance Co. P.S.
Dana Gas
Commercial Bank Internationa
Bank Of Sharjah
Abu Dhabi Natl Co For Buildi
Al Wathba National Insurance
Intl Fish Farming Co-Asmak
Arkan Building Materials Co
Aldar Properties Pjsc
Al Ain Ahlia Ins. Co.
Al Khazna Insurance Co
Agthia Group Pjsc
Al Fujairah National Insuran
Abu Dhabi Ship Building Co
Abu Dhabi National Insurance
Abu Dhabi National Hotels
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
Abu Dhabi Aviation
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
United Paper Industries Bsc
United Gulf Investment Corp
United Gulf Bank
United Finance Co
Trafco Group Bsc
Takaful International Co
Taib Bank -$Us
Securities & Investment Co
Seef Properties
Sudan Telecommunications Co$
Al-Salam Bank
Delmon Poultry Co
National Hotels Co
National Bank Of Bahrain
Nass Corp Bsc
Khaleeji Commercial Bank
Ithmaar Bank Bsc
Investcorp Bank -$Us
Inovest Co Bsc
Intl Investment Group-Kuwait
Gulf Monetary Group
Global Investment House Kscc
Gulf Finance House Ec
Bahrain Family Leisure Co
Esterad Investment Co B.S.C.
Bahrain Duty Free Complex
Bahrain Car Park Co
Bahrain Cinema Co
Bahrain Tourism Co
Bahraini Saudi Bank/The
Bahrain National Holding
Bankmuscat Saog
Bmmi Bsc
Bmb Investment Bank
Bahrain Kuwait Insurance
Bahrain Islamic Bank
Gulf Hotel Group B.S.C
Bahrain Flour Mills Co
Bahrain Commercial Facilitie
Bbk Bsc
Bahrain Telecom Co
Bahrain Ship Repair & Engin
Albaraka Banking Group
Banader Hotels Co
Ahli United Bank B.S.C
Lt Price
% Chg
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Company Name
Exxon Mobil Corp
Microsoft Corp
Johnson & Johnson
General Electric Co
Wal-Mart Stores Inc
Chevron Corp
Procter & Gamble Co/The
Jpmorgan Chase & Co
Verizon Communications Inc
Intl Business Machines Corp
Pfizer Inc
Coca-Cola Co/The
At&T Inc
Merck & Co. Inc.
Intel Corp
Walt Disney Co/The
Visa Inc-Class A Shares
Cisco Systems Inc
Home Depot Inc
United Technologies Corp
Mcdonald’s Corp
Boeing Co/The
American Express Co
3M Co
Goldman Sachs Group Inc
Unitedhealth Group Inc
Nike Inc -Cl B
Du Pont (E.I.) De Nemours
Caterpillar Inc
Travelers Cos Inc/The
Lt Price
% Chg
FTSE 100
Company Name
Wpp Plc
Wolseley Plc
Wm Morrison Supermarkets
Whitbread Plc
Weir Group Plc/The
Vodafone Group Plc
United Utilities Group Plc
Unilever Plc
Tullow Oil Plc
Tui Travel Plc
Travis Perkins Plc
Tesco Plc
Standard Life Plc
Standard Chartered Plc
St James’s Place Plc
Sse Plc
Sports Direct International
Smiths Group Plc
Smith & Nephew Plc
Shire Plc
Severn Trent Plc
Schroders Plc
Sainsbury (J) Plc
Sage Group Plc/The
Sabmiller Plc
Rsa Insurance Group Plc
Royal Mail Plc
Royal Dutch Shell Plc-B Shs
Royal Dutch Shell Plc-A Shs
Royal Bank Of Scotland Group
Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc
Rio Tinto Plc
Reed Elsevier Plc
Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc
Randgold Resources Ltd
Prudential Plc
Petrofac Ltd
Persimmon Plc
Pearson Plc
Old Mutual Plc
Next Plc
National Grid Plc
Mondi Plc
Meggitt Plc
Marks & Spencer Group Plc
London Stock Exchange Group
Lloyds Banking Group Plc
Legal & General Group Plc
Land Securities Group Plc
Kingfisher Plc
Johnson Matthey Plc
Itv Plc
Intu Properties Plc
Intl Consolidated Airline-Di
Intertek Group Plc
Intercontinental Hotels Grou
Imperial Tobacco Group Plc
Imi Plc
Hsbc Holdings Plc
Hargreaves Lansdown Plc
Hammerson Plc
Glencore Plc
Glaxosmithkline Plc
Gkn Plc
G4s Plc
Friends Life Group Ltd
Fresnillo Plc
Experian Plc
Easyjet Plc
Dixons Carphone Plc
Direct Line Insurance Group
Diageo Plc
Crh Plc
Compass Group Plc
Coca-Cola Hbc Ag-Cdi
Centrica Plc
Carnival Plc
Capita Plc
Burberry Group Plc
Bunzl Plc
Bt Group Plc
British Sky Broadcasting Gro
British Land Co Plc
British American Tobacco Plc
Bp Plc
Bhp Billiton Plc
Bg Group Plc
Barclays Plc
Bae Systems Plc
Babcock Intl Group Plc
Aviva Plc
Astrazeneca Plc
Associated British Foods Plc
Ashtead Group Plc
Arm Holdings Plc
Antofagasta Plc
Anglo American Plc
Aggreko Plc
Admiral Group Plc
Aberdeen Asset Mgmt Plc
3I Group Plc
#N/A Invalid Security
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Inpex Corp
Daiwa House Industry Co Ltd
Sekisui House Ltd
Kirin Holdings Co Ltd
Japan Tobacco Inc
Seven & I Holdings Co Ltd
Toray Industries Inc
Asahi Kasei Corp
Sumitomo Chemical Co Ltd
Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings
Kao Corp
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd
Astellas Pharma Inc
Eisai Co Ltd
Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd
Fujifilm Holdings Corp
Shiseido Co Ltd
Jx Holdings Inc
Lt Price
% Chg
Lt Price
Dow Jones Indus. Avg
S&P 500 Index
Nasdaq Composite Index
S&P/Tsx Composite Index
Mexico Bolsa Index
Brazil Bovespa Stock Idx
Ftse 100 Index
Cac 40 Index
Dax Index
Ibex 35 Tr
Nikkei 225
Japan Topix
Hang Seng Index
All Ordinaries Indx
Nzx All Index
Bse Sensex 30 Index
Nse S&P Cnx Nifty Index
Straits Times Index
Karachi All Share Index
Jakarta Composite Index
Company Name
Bridgestone Corp
Asahi Glass Co Ltd
Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Meta
Sumitomo Metal Industries
Kobe Steel Ltd
Jfe Holdings Inc
Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd
Sumitomo Electric Industries
Smc Corp
Komatsu Ltd
Kubota Corp
Daikin Industries Ltd
Hitachi Ltd
Toshiba Corp
Mitsubishi Electric Corp
Nidec Corp
Nec Corp
Fujitsu Ltd
Panasonic Corp
Sharp Corp
Sony Corp
Tdk Corp
Keyence Corp
Denso Corp
Fanuc Corp
Rohm Co Ltd
Kyocera Corp
Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd
Nitto Denko Corp
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Nissan Motor Co Ltd
Toyota Motor Corp
Honda Motor Co Ltd
Suzuki Motor Corp
Nikon Corp
Hoya Corp
Canon Inc
Ricoh Co Ltd
Dai Nippon Printing Co Ltd
Nintendo Co Ltd
Itochu Corp
Marubeni Corp
Mitsui & Co Ltd
Tokyo Electron Ltd
Sumitomo Corp
Mitsubishi Corp
Aeon Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Ufj Financial Gro
Resona Holdings Inc
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdin
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Gr
Bank Of Yokohama Ltd/The
Mizuho Financial Group Inc
Orix Corp
Daiwa Securities Group Inc
Nomura Holdings Inc
Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdin
Ms&Ad Insurance Group Holdin
Dai-Ichi Life Insurance
Tokio Marine Holdings Inc
T&D Holdings Inc
Mitsui Fudosan Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Estate Co Ltd
Sumitomo Realty & Developmen
East Japan Railway Co
West Japan Railway Co
Central Japan Railway Co
Ana Holdings Inc
Nippon Telegraph & Telephone
Kddi Corp
Ntt Docomo Inc
Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc
Chubu Electric Power Co Inc
Kansai Electric Power Co Inc
Tohoku Electric Power Co Inc
Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc
Tokyo Gas Co Ltd
Secom Co Ltd
Yamada Denki Co Ltd
Fast Retailing Co Ltd
Softbank Corp
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Zee Entertainment Enterprise
Wipro Ltd
Ultratech Cement Ltd
Tech Mahindra Ltd
Tata Steel Ltd
Tata Power Co Ltd
Tata Motors Ltd
Tata Consultancy Svcs Ltd
Sun Pharmaceutical Indus
State Bank Of India
Sesa Sterlite Ltd
Reliance Industries Ltd
Punjab National Bank
Power Grid Corp Of India Ltd
Oil & Natural Gas Corp Ltd
Ntpc Ltd
Nmdc Ltd
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd
Lupin Ltd
Larsen & Toubro Ltd
Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd
Jindal Steel & Power Ltd
Itc Ltd
Infosys Ltd
Indusind Bank Ltd
Idfc Ltd
Icici Bank Ltd
Housing Development Finance
Hindustan Unilever Ltd
Hindalco Industries Ltd
Hero Motocorp Ltd
Hdfc Bank Limited
Hcl Technologies Ltd
Grasim Industries Ltd
Gail India Ltd
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories
Dlf Ltd
Coal India Ltd
Cipla Ltd
Cairn India Ltd
Bharti Airtel Ltd
Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd
Bharat Heavy Electricals
Bank Of Baroda
Bajaj Auto Ltd
Axis Bank Ltd
Asian Paints Ltd
Ambuja Cements Ltd
Acc Ltd
Lt Price
% Chg
Traders work at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The DAX 30 climbed 0.57% at 9,922.11 points yesterday in its last trading day
before the Christmas holiday.
Europe markets climb
on Wall Street’s coattails
uropean equities climbed on Wall
Street’s coattails yesterday as the
Dow shot above 18,000 points
for the п¬Ѓrst time on stellar US growth
п¬Ѓgures, while the euro slumped.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index rose 0.14% to close at 6,585.93
points and in Paris the CAC 40 jumped
1.42% to 4,314.97 points.
Meanwhile Frankfurt’s DAX 30
climbed 0.57% to 9,922.11 points in its
last trading day before the Christmas
Early in the day European investors
were cheered by US stock indices having hit new records on Monday as the
markets still reacted to a likely reprieve
from US interest rate hikes until mid2015.
Then the release of data in the afternoon showing that US growth surged
to its highest level in 11 years in the
third quarter helped bolster trading.
Gross domestic product increased
5% between July and September in the
Commerce Department’s third estimate for the period, up from the 3.9%
previously estimated.
Analysts had expected GDP growth
of 4.3%.
That propelled the Dow Jones Industrial Average above the 18,000 level for
the п¬Ѓrst time when Wall Street opened.
The Dow stood at 18,041.30 points
nearing midday, a gain of 0.46% from
Monday’s record close.
The broad-based S&P 500 also
pushed further into record territory,
gaining 0.25% to 2,083.78 points, but
the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index dipped 0.11% to 4,776.20 points.
“Christmas Day isn’t until Thursday, but no one told the USA as impressive GDP figures led to an early influx of
presents for the US markets,” said analyst Connor Campbell at Spreadex.
But CMC Markets analyst Michael
Hewson noted that the strong growth
п¬Ѓgures might lead to a return of concerns that the US Federal Reserve will
raise interest rates early in 2015, which
had sent markets tumbling earlier this
“What this data does do is raise expectations that the Fed might find it
much more difficult to resist calls for
tighter policy as we head into 2015 irrespective of the deflationary effects of
the recent falls in the oil price,” Hewson said.
Surging US growth also pushed the
dollar higher, with the euro slumping
to a new two-year low of $1.2165.
The euro later stood at $1.2179, down
Company Name
Aluminum Corp Of China Ltd-H
Bank Of East Asia
Bank Of China Ltd-H
Bank Of Communications Co-H
Belle International Holdings
Boc Hong Kong Holdings Ltd
Cathay Pacific Airways
Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd
China Coal Energy Co-H
China Construction Bank-H
China Life Insurance Co-H
China Merchants Hldgs Intl
China Mobile Ltd
China Overseas Land & Invest
China Petroleum & Chemical-H
China Resources Enterprise
China Resources Land Ltd
China Resources Power Holdin
China Shenhua Energy Co-H
China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd
Citic Ltd
Clp Holdings Ltd
Cnooc Ltd
Cosco Pacific Ltd
Esprit Holdings Ltd
Fih Mobile Ltd
Hang Lung Properties Ltd
Hang Seng Bank Ltd
Henderson Land Development
from $1.2226 late on Monday.
In London Bullion Market, gold fell
to $1,175.75 per ounce from $1,195.25
on Monday.
Trading was thin in Europe yesterday with many investors away for an
extended festive break for Christmas
and New Year holidays.
London and Paris hold shortened
trading sessions on Wednesday while
Frankfurt is closed. All three reopen for
business on Monday.
In Asia equity trading China led a
slump yesterday, with Shanghai registering one of its biggest percentage
falls of the year and banks among the
biggest losers there.
Dealers said a recent run-up following
a surprise Chinese interest rate cut had
created room for a market correction.
Shanghai dived 3.03% and the Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks
stocks on China’s second exchange, fell
Hong Kong ended down 0.32%,
Sydney dropped 61.1 points and Seoul
slipped 0.21%. Tokyo was closed for a
public holiday.
“The (Shanghai) market climbed
too fast in such a short time after the
November interest rate cut, which has
caused some structural problems in the
market,” Shenyin & Wanguo Securities
analyst Gui Haoming told AFP.
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Hong Kong & China Gas
Hong Kong Exchanges & Clear
Hsbc Holdings Plc
Hutchison Whampoa Ltd
Ind & Comm Bk Of China-H
Li & Fung Ltd
Mtr Corp
New World Development
Petrochina Co Ltd-H
Ping An Insurance Group Co-H
Power Assets Holdings Ltd
Sino Land Co
Sun Hung Kai Properties
Swire Pacific Ltd-A
Tencent Holdings Ltd
Wharf Holdings Ltd
Lt Price
% Chg
Doha Securities Market
Saudi Tadawul
Kuwait Stocks Exchange
Bahrain Stock Exchage
Oman Stock Market
Abudhabi Stock Market
Dubai Financial Market
Lt Price
“Information contained herein is believed to be reliable and had been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The
accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This publication is for providing information only and is not intended
as an offer or solicitation for a purchase or sale of any of the financial instruments mentioned. Gulf Times and Doha Bank
or any of their employees shall not be held accountable and will not accept any losses or liabilities for actions based on
this data.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Happy New Year? Global growth forecasts may be raised for once
ere’s an early Christmas
present for the economists of
Wall Street.
2015 may be the п¬Ѓrst year in п¬Ѓve in
which they get to raise forecasts for
global economic growth rather than cut
That may be fanciful thinking as the
year ends with Russia in crisis, investors rediscovering volatility and central banks returning to the monetary
pumps. Other potential risks include
more geopolitical flare-ups, elections
from Greece to the UK, a hard landing
in China, a premature exit from Federal
Reserve stimulus and a slide towards
deflation in Europe and Japan.
Recent history is on the side of the
pessimists. A year ago, the median
forecast of economists surveyed by
Bloomberg News was for growth of
3.5% in 2014. It has since been scaled
back to 3.2%. Cuts were also made in
2011, 2012 and 2013.
Trying to explain this year’s miss,
economists at JPMorgan Chase & Co
blamed bigger-than-anticipated slowdowns in emerging markets and a failure by the euro area to gain traction.
Still, in the holiday spirit, here are
some grounds for optimism that the
forecast of the Bloomberg News survey
of 3.5% expansion in 2015 will, for once,
prove too low.
Oil’s 40% slide of 2014 will boost
the spending power of consumers and
companies. The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday estimated the
decline could add as much as 0.7% to
global gross domestic product next
year. Oil consumers have a higher propensity to spend than producers and
helped power growth accelerations in
the late 1980s and 1990s.
Markets are “underestimating the
upside risk to growth,” said Torsten
Slok, chief international economist at
Deutsche Bank AG, who estimates the
Group of Seven could grow faster than
3% as a result.
Central banks are set to ease monetary policy even further. The Bank of
Japan recently ramped up its buying of
bonds and may soon be followed by the
European Central Bank, while China
and other emerging markets are cut-
ting interest rates. Even if the Fed raises
rates for the first time since 2006, it’s
unlikely to do so before mid-year and
says it will act gradually and wait to
unwind its balance sheet. Same for the
Bank of England.
Credit Suisse Group estimates the
balance sheets of the four major central banks will grow 13% next year, or
$1.3tn, after this year’s 5% expansion.
The US is set for its fastest growth
in a decade amid a п¬Ѓrming job market
and falling fuel costs. Unemployment is
at a six-year low of 5.8%, homebuilder
confidence is near a nine-year high,
manufacturing is accelerating and,
having deleveraged, consumers are
more confident than at any time since
the last recession. Economists are eyeing a 3% expansion.
At hedge fund SLJ Macro Partners
in London, co-founder Stephen Jen
talks of a “converge up” scenario in
which the US leads the world rather
than a “converge down” environment
in which it’s dragged back by events
The euro area may not be so bad. A
weaker currency should support exports, banks may lend more after being
stress tested, the ECB is turning more
aggressive and governments are less
austere. Investor and business confidence is climbing in Germany, the region’s lynchpin.
The crisis economies of Ireland,
Greece, Spain and Portugal are now
growing faster than the region, a payoff for “tough love” reforms they were
forced to deploy, according to Berenberg
Bank’s Holger Schmieding, who predicts euro-area growth of 1% next year.
Spain’s economy grew 0.6% this quarter, according to the country’s central
bank, capping its best year since 2008.
Financial conditions remain supportive. The MSCI World Index of
stocks is up almost 6% from a year ago
after 2013’s 24% jump. The US 10-year
Treasury yield is lower than where it
began the year at just over 2%, while
the equivalent German bund ducked
below 1% in August and stayed there.
Banks are more willing to lend. A
JPMorgan Chase gauge of lending
standards in the major economies is
approaching its easiest since 2006
and demand for cash is accelerating
too. “This shift out of both the credit
demand and supply curves signals ac-
currency will pinch those who borrowed in it, especially emerging market companies, its ascent will also offer
some relief by fanning weak inflation
abroad and encouraging Americans to
ramp up exports.
Emerging markets. While Brazil,
China and Russia have slowed, low oil
is a boon for Turkey, India and South
Korea, and the resulting low inflation
allows some central banks to focus on
supporting growth. Bill Street, head
of investments for Europe, the Middle
East and Africa at State Street Global
Advisors, says investors should remember “reformers are performers,”
pointing to potential in India and Indonesia.
China is slowing, but Capital Economics notes that given its size, 7%
growth means demand is potentially as big as in the last decade when
growth averaged 10%. A shift toward
consumption could also help reduce
China’s trade surplus, boosting activity
“Given the momentum we have we
could even be on the conservative side,”
Street said of his forecast for 4% global
growth next year.
celeration in overall credit creation and
a pickup in economy-wide demand
growth,” said chief economist Bruce
Wages are starting to accelerate in
the US, Japan, the UK and Germany.
Although the pay hikes aren’t big and
workers have a long way to regain
ground lost since the global recession,
the salary boosts may still be enough to
support consumer demand.
“Job growth is fueling higher incomes, which if fueling more revenue
for businesses, spurring more hiring
and faster wage growth, which in turn
produces more business spending,”
said Bill Adams, senior international
economist at PNC Financial Services
Fiscal policy is no longer as restrictive. In the US, three years of budget
tightening has ended and policy is now
neutral, according to Bank of America
Merrill Lynch. There is also no п¬Ѓscal
drag likely in Europe, while Japanese
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has postponed a second increase in the consumption tax and is considering an extra budget of as much as ВҐ3tn.
The dollar’s surge. While a rising US
UK households drive economy;
current account deeper in red
Third-quarter GDP growth
confirmed at +0.7% qtr/qtr; yearly
growth figure revised down to
+2.6% from +3.0%; households
drive growth despite weak income;
current account deficit matches
all-time high
ritain’s economy relied more
heavily on spending by households for growth in the third
quarter despite a fall in take-home incomes, underscoring the challenges
of getting the recovery onto a sounder
In another disappointing sign for
policymakers, business investment was
weaker than in an earlier reading of how
Britain’s economy fared from July to
Official data also showed Britain’s
current account deficit matched a
record high in the third quarter, hurt in
large part by lower returns on foreign
investment, sending sterling lower.
Samuel Tombs, an economist with
consultancy Capital Economics, said
the numbers left Britain’s recovery
looking even more unbalanced, but the
economy was still likely to grow about
3% next year.
“Despite this somewhat bleaker assessment of the UK’s recent economic
performance, there remain plenty of
reasons to be optimistic on the outlook
for 2015,” he said, citing the fall in oil
prices and more recent signs that pay
growth is picking up.
Britain’s yearly growth rate in the
third quarter was revised to 2.6%
from a previous estimate of 3.0%,
hurt by downward revisions to growth
in each of the previous five quarters
and by lower investment and higher
Quarterly growth was confirmed at
0.7% between July and September, slowing slightly from the second quarter.
Britain struggled to grow in the
years after the financial crisis and
despite a strong recovery since early
BBVA sells
stake in
HK bank
A mannequin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is displayed by a sale sign in a shop window, in the run-up to Christmas, in central London yesterday. UK consumers dug into
their savings and household spending picked up speed, rising 0.9% from the April-June period and making it the main driver of growth.
2013, the economy is only 2.9% larger
than its pre-crisis peak, the ONS said,
a worse performance than previously
Pay growth has failed to rise much,
spurring households to dip into their
The ONS said household disposable income, after tax and inflation, fell
0.1% on the quarter and was up only
1.0% on the year.
Nevertheless, consumers dug into
their savings and household spending
picked up speed, rising 0.9% from the
April-June period and making it the
main driver of growth.
Weak earnings have also put living
standards at the centre of campaigning
for Britain’s national elections in May.
To the relief of Prime Minister David Cameron, earnings have recently
shown some signs of picking up.
The ONS also said Britain’s deficit
with the rest of the world via its current
account rose to ВЈ27.0bn in the third
quarter, equivalent to 6.0% of GDP,
matching the biggest deficit on record.
Income from investments held
abroad fell while payments to foreign
investors in Britain rose, the ONS
Simon Wells, an economist at HSBC,
said the size of the deficit did not seem
to be a problem for now but underscored how much Britain relied on foreign investors to buy its debt.
“If the UK falls out of favour with
international investors for any reason,
the economy might be forced to rebalance the hard way, i.e. with a combination of currency depreciation to make
exports more competitive and lower
domestic demand to suck in fewer imports,” he said.
panish lender BBVA said
it was reducing its exposure to China by selling its
stake in a Hong Kong bank at a
loss as Spain’s second-largest
bank looks to shore up its balance sheet.
BBVA said it has agreed to sell
its near 30% stake in CIFH, an
unlisted Hong Kong-based unit
of China’s CITIC Bank Corp,
back to the listed parent for
around €845mn ($1bn).
BBVA said the deal would
generate €700mn in capital, although it will also hit profit by
€25mn. Last year, BBVA had already cut its stake in CITIC to
just under 10%, for a cash loss of
up to €120mn.
Tougher global rules on banks’
capital ratios and their ownership of п¬Ѓnancial institutions
have forced BBVA and others to
set aside more cash or sell holdings in foreign lenders.
Foreign banks, which are allowed to enter the country’s
banking system through partnerships with local lenders, have
come up against a system that is
showing signs of stress, with bad
loans picking up as economic
growth slows.
BBVA’s profit in Eurasia,
which combines its operations in
China and Turkey, was up 13% in
the January-September period
from a year ago.
When BBVA cut the CITIC
stake last year by selling a 5.1%
chunk to state-owned parent
CITIC Ltd, management had
stressed an interest in keeping up the CITIC link. The bank
declined to comment further on
BBVA shares were slightly
down 0.2% at 0910 GMT, to
€7.892 per share.
It said the sale would add 20
basis points to its “fully-loaded”
core capital ratio. This tougher
measure of capital stood at 10.1%
at the end of September.
Commerzbank recovery takes hold but targets out of reach
Commerzbank boss Martin Blessing has restored the German lender to health but it is
unlikely to meet ambitious 2016 turnaround
targets as it faces tough competition at
home and a stagnating European economy.
CEO Blessing is half-way through a
four-year, post-crisis recovery plan for
Germany’s second-biggest bank. He has
cut costs, reduced its balance sheet by
about €40bn and is in the middle of laying
off 5,200 staff.
But the lender’s target of reaching
a 10% return on equity (RoE) — a key
measure of a bank’s profitability — by 2016
appears out of reach.
Since the lofty goal was set, the euro
crisis has dragged on, depressing demand
for financial services and forcing the European Central Bank to keep interest rates at
record lows, hurting banks’ ability to make
money from lending.
“When Commerzbank set out its
2016 targets in 2012, no one could have
predicted the development of the interest-
Commerzbank is half-way through a four-year, post-crisis recovery plan, but the
lender’s target of reaching a 10% return on equity by 2016 appears out of reach.
rate environment,” said a person close to
the thinking of Commerzbank’s management board. “The 10% target has become
much harder to achieve.”
The result is that Commerzbank, a
household name that finances over a
third of Germany’s exports and competes
with Deutsche Bank, will need to cut costs
deeper, push restructuring harder, and sell
assets faster — and even then, it may need
lower its target.
Failing to meet turnaround goals could
also deter potential buyers for the bank,
which has been the focus of takeover
speculation for decades as some industry
players regard it as too small to succeed.
Commerzbank posted an RoE after taxes
of 5.7% in the first nine months of 2014 in its
core bank, which excludes the €88bn portfolio of unwanted assets — or “bad bank”.
That’s better than Deutsche Bank at
4.9% but below its RoE target and its cost
of capital, which it also estimates at 10%.
And that places Commerzbank at just over
half-way down its reform path, with the
steepest part left to climb.
“Commerzbank has made very good
progress with its restructuring,” one of the
bank’s top 10 investors said. “The turnaround seems to be a success.”
A Commerzbank spokesman declined
to comment.
Commerzbank’s equity stood at
€27.6bn as of September 30, of which
€20.2bn resided in its core bank. To
achieve a 10% return based on that, its
core bank would need to earn at least
€2bn in 2016, much more than the €1.4bn
net profit forecast by Thomson Reuters
That target will only get tougher as
Commerzbank builds equity to meet rising regulatory demands and shifts assets
from the bad bank to other divisions.
“Since 1991, Commerzbank has always
targeted an RoE after taxes of 10-15% but
has on average achieved only 3.5%,” said
Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Dirk Becker.
“Given this history, nobody believes
Commerzbank will reach its 2016 target.”
He expects the lender’s core bank to
post an RoE of 7% in 2016.
Rather than resort to swingeing cuts,
Commerzbank is likely to look for smaller
opportunities to adjust activities and trim
costs, said the person close to management thinking.
The investment bank is one of the divisions in line for more cutbacks, he said,
putting Commerzbank on par with other
banks trimming their markets activities
due to stagnant demand.
By contrast, retail banking has grown
by leaps and bounds, adding around half
a million net new clients in the past two
years without increasing costs.
But the bad bank continues to drag,
with an operating RoE of minus 10.4%,
even though Commerzbank is ahead of
schedule in cutting unwanted assets.
It contains investments from an expansion drive that backfired, requiring the
government to spend around €18bn on a
bailout in the financial crisis.
How far Blessing — a University of
Chicago graduate and former McKinsey
consultant — goes with reforms will help
determine the appeal of the lender, which
is still 17% owned by the German government, to potential buyers.
A quick stake sale to the likes of BNP
Paribas, Societe Generale or UBS is
unlikely. Regulators do not want bigger
banks threatening the stability of the financial system and all those lenders have
said they are not interested.
More important to the government than
maximising proceeds from the sale of its
stake would be finding a secure home in
case Commerzbank needs a partner to
achieve the critical mass needed to survive,
a person close to the government said.
“In Germany, there are a lot of banks,
with the result that most of them do have
economically meaningful market share,”
said SEB fund manager Juergen Meyer.
“Foreign banks would have the problem
that even with an acquisition of Commerzbank they would still only have a small
market share in Germany.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Multiethnic Santas, �Frozen’ help stores ward off Amazon
New York
It’s 5pm at Nordstrom Inc’s flagship store
in downtown Seattle, and there’s a 2 1/2hour wait to see Santa Claus.
This isn’t a scene from “Miracle on
34th Street.” Customers get text-message
alerts about their spot in line, and they
can consult the schedule if they’re seeking
a black, Asian or sign-language Santa.
At Macy’s in New York’s Herald Square,
visitors can register online for their visit to
the 13,000-square-foot (1,200-square-metre) Santaland. Other retail centres have
spruced up their Santa villages with interactive “Frozen” and “Shrek” landscapes.
In 2014, retailers are relying more heavily on the jolly old elf to drive customers
into stores, and they’re using increasingly sophisticated tools to make him as
enticing as possible. Even as the economy
rebounds, shopping-mall foot traffic declined last month. That’s putting pressure
on stores to offer in-person experiences.
After all, Santa’s lap is one thing that can’t
be ordered on
“Santa is more important,” said Jan
Kniffen, chief executive officer of J Rogers
Kniffen Worldwide Enterprises, a consulting and equity-research firm in New York.
“Anything you can do to get that person
to show up.”
Santa’s retail career began in the 1860s
when Rowland H Macy brought him in
to help hawk dry goods at his New York
shop. The Macy’s Santaland was born
in 1902, and it grew to attract about
300,000 visitors a year to the 34th Street
store in Manhattan.
The concept caught on with retailers,
and Saint Nick is now a fixture everywhere
from Wal-Mart to Bass Pro Shops — with
kids waiting in long lines to share their
gift lists. A gun range in Georgia even lets
patrons take Santa pictures with a selection of firearms.
Across the country, 850,000 kids
visited Santa over the post-Thanksgiving
weekend alone this year, according to an
estimate by the International Council of
Shopping Centers, a trade group. With
Christmas just days away, retailers are
counting on the visits to drum up gift
purchases and impulse buys. About 70%
of shoppers planned to do some holiday
shopping while they were at the mall to
see Santa, an ICSC survey found.
“It’s a pure traffic driver, and anyone
with kids is looking for things to do,” said
Ani Collum, a partner at Boston-based
consulting firm Retail Concepts.
The Santa experience has changed with
the times. In the age of the selfie, many
malls and retailers now allow parents to
snap pictures with their phones — rather
than using a traditional photographer.
Some places are encouraging people to
bring their pets.
The Santa business has spawned
training programs, such as the Professional Santa Claus School in Denver. Susen
Mesco, the school’s founder, estimates
that there are now as many as 5,000 pro-
fessionally trained Santas in the US.
That’s providing stores with a talent
supply, she said. A mall Santa earns an
average of $17 to $22 hourly, Mesco said.
She knows of Kris Kringles in New York
who have made as much as $500 an
“It’s becoming more of a tradition because they’re more available,” she said.
In the Santa arms race, some malls are
adding kids’ favourite movie characters.
Mall developer Taubman Centers Inc
erected 30-foot-tall “Frozen” ice palaces
at 10 of its shopping centres across the
country, pairing the display with a Santa’s
village. It includes clips from the Walt
Disney Co film, falling snow and a light
show. Families visiting the spectacle have
waited in line for up to five hours, said
William Taubman, chief operating officer
of Taubman Centers.
DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc, meanwhile, has teamed up with shopping malls
to put Shrek characters together with
Saint Nick. Parents have to schedule their
visits online, helping eliminate long lines.
Hidden cameras take candid pictures that
parents can buy.
“Now you really need to up the ante,”
Collum said.
Even as technology helps enhance
the experience, it could eventually undermine it. A growing number of online
services let kids video-chat with Santa.
Mesco has placed 300 students from
her school with Talk to Santa, a website
that sells live video calls with Santa for
Online alternatives are adding to pressure to make in-store events as thrilling as
possible. At the DreamWorks installations,
there’s a virtual sleigh trip to the North
Pole led by Shrek.
The Macy’s in New York still considers
itself the authority on Mr Claus, and its
display is highly orchestrated. Employees dressed as elves stand sentry along
the route to Santa, sporting red-andwhite stocking caps and walkie-talkies.
Sponsorships help defray the costs: There
are Aflac-branded ducks, Build-A- Bear
Workshop animatronic reindeer and giant
Domino Sugar gingerbread men overseeing cookie baking.
The online reservations reduce hassles,
providing an express lane to customers
who plan ahead. That helps both the
retailer and consumers, since time spent
in line is time that could be spent shopping. The elves also can accommodate
requests: Customers seeking a black
Santa, for instance, are shepherded to the
right place.
At Macy’s, Santa never breaks character
— even when he’s being interviewed by a
reporter. While jazzy holiday music played
in the background, he said the most
popular request this year from kids was
for “Frozen” toys, along with more cars,
trains and video games. One 3-year-old
girl asked for a poker set and $10.
“Children don’t change — the wishes
change,” Santa said. “I believe in children.
As long as they believe in me, I’ll believe
in them.”
US businesses face a game of
catch-up if Cuba curbs are cut
nternational rivals have a clear head start in
Cuba but US companies could catch up quickly if the economic embargo that has kept them
away is dismantled in a new era of co-operation
between Washington and Havana.
Cuba’s inhospitable regulatory environment
under communist rule has made doing business
difficult and costly for foreign businesses, limiting
investment. The domestic economy is also small
with low salaries severely limiting retail businesses and inefficient state-run companies a drag on
productivity and growth.
Nevertheless, hotel companies such as Spain’s
Melia Hotels International and France’s Accor,
Canadian miner Sherritt International Corp, Britain’s Imperial Tobacco and French beverage giant
Pernod Ricard have survived and profited.
“We’ve found it to be quite a stable and good
place to do business and have had a lot of success
there,” said David Pathe, the chief executive at
Sherritt, which has been in Cuba for 20 years and
has joint ventures with the government in nickel,
oil, gas production and electricity generation.
He, like others, declined to comment on the
problems facing investors, saying only that
“there’s always been some noise around Cuba because of the US-Cuban relationship.”
Experts say the restoration of diplomatic relations with the US and a gradual dismantling of the
US economic embargo could open opportunities
in areas from п¬Ѓnancial services and telecommunications to agriculture and oil.
“The interest is pretty widespread, pretty much
every multinational,” said Jodi Bond, vice-president for the Americas at the US Chamber of Commerce, whose top executives made an exploratory
trip to Cuba in May, their п¬Ѓrst in 15 years.
A foreign investment law passed earlier this
year lowers taxes and promises an improved regulatory system, leading some potential investors to
propose new projects to the Cubans.
When Obama announced the dramatic policy
shift last week, US Corps were quick to respond.
Within minutes, the phones started ringing at
Miami law п¬Ѓrms from clients seeking guidance
on business opportunities. “We had 10 very significant clients ... Fortune 50 entities, call since
Wednesday to start a Cuba conversation at a much
more detailed and profound level,” said Pedro
Freyre, the head of the Cuba practice at Akerman,
a large Miami-based law п¬Ѓrm.
Those clients work in telecoms, construction,
food, light manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals, and all asked about the legal implications of
Obama’s move, potential resistance in the US Congress — and in Cuba — and logistical challenges.
“They want to know can foreigners own land in
Cuba, how do you get landing rights, how do you
Tourists walk beside Melia Cohiba Hotel in Havana. Experts say Cuba’s restoration of diplomatic
relations with the US and a gradual dismantling of the US economic embargo could open opportunities
in areas from financial services and telecommunications to agriculture and oil.
get docking rights, what is the power and water
supply like, what are the work force rules?” Freyre
said. “Companies want to know what are the rules
of the game? It’s more strategic thinking than specific proposals.”
There could be plenty of opportunities for US
firms if Cuba’s government is ready to open up the
economy. The pace of change, however, is unclear.
President Raul Castro is already implementing market-style economic reforms but is moving
gradually and warns that Cuba will stick to its socialist principles.
As part of the talks between Havana and Washington, Obama said Cuba decided to give its citizens more access to the Internet. Its government
has been reluctant to expand access in the past
and it is not clear how much it is prepared to do
now, but there is clearly a potential market.
Cuba has one of the lowest Internet penetration
rates in the world, barely 5%, and highly restricted
Telstra buys
Pacnet for
broadband Internet access and WiFi. “With all of
the pent up demand in Cuba, I think companies
would line up around the block to get in to provide
service in Cuba,” said Doug Madory, director of
Internet analysis at Dyn Research in New Hampshire who monitors Cuba.
“Mobile operators with experience fielding a
network in the developing world would be a good
fit. They will bring the equipment they need.”
There might also be opportunities in Cuba’s
74,000 square mile Exclusive Economic Zone that
runs along its northwestern coast and then outward to within 45 miles of Florida.
Both the US and Cuba agree there is plenty of
oil below the zone’s deep waters, yet just six of 59
blocks are leased because other foreign companies
decided before the recent slide in oil prices that
the embargo made exploration too costly.
Two international construction companies are
already active in Cuba — French firm Bouygues
builds hotels and Brazil’s Odebrecht is working on
ports and modernising airports.
But Cuba plans over the next 10 years to build
many more hotels, condominium complexes,
more than a dozen joint venture golf courses and
amusement parks as well as upgrade its ports,
rails, roads and bridges. All of those are possible
business opportunities for US companies.
An end to sanctions would help ease Cuba’s
strained public п¬Ѓnances, for example by cutting
shipping costs as it purchases goods closer to
home, opening up a possibility that it join the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and
sending millions of US tourists to its shores.
The US tourism industry, from travel agencies
and transportation to cruise lines and hotels, has
much to gain if travel restrictions are lifted.
Spanish, Canadian and other hotel chains are
already well placed along beaches and in colonial
cities but there is still plenty of beach front and
prime real estate available, most hotel ventures are
run under short-term management deals and Cuban law allows US п¬Ѓrms to buy out foreign owners.
Cuba is only now opening its agriculture, including sugar and livestock, to foreign investment, where
there are currently only a few minor ventures.
Plunged into crisis by the collapse of the Soviet
Union, Cuba signed deals in the 1990s giving exclusive distribution rights for its famed cigars and
rum to Imperial Tobacco and Pernod Ricard, but
it recently said there would be no more exclusive
agreements and that current ones expire in the
next few years.
A look at what happened in 2000 when the US
allowed agricultural sales to Cuba for cash says
much about future export potential.
Within three years, sales reached $800mn a
year at the expense of Canadian and European
companies and the US ranked fifth among Cuba’s
trading partners although sales have since declined to $400mn a year because Cuba prefers to
buy on credit.
elstra Corp will acquire
Pacnet Ltd, which operates undersea cables
through Asia and across the Pacific Ocean, as Australia’s largest
phone company seeks to expand
in the region.
The $697mn transaction,
which includes gross debt of
about $400mn, will be completed
by mid-2015, subject to regulatory
and Pacnet п¬Ѓnancier approvals,
Melbourne-based Telstra said in
a statement. Singapore and Hong
Kong-based Pacnet will give
Telstra an expanded data centre
network, more submarine cables
and major customers across the
region, it said.
The Australian operator has
sold $2.8bn of assets in the past
year, including Hong Kong wireless carrier CSL New World
Mobility and a domestic directory business, data compiled by
Bloomberg show. Buying Pacnet
also gives Telstra ownership of
more than 46,000km (29,000
miles) of submarine cable from
Asia to the US
“Asia is an important part of
our growth strategy,” Telstra
Chief Executive Officer David
Thodey said in the statement
yesterday. “This acquisition will
help us become a leading provider of enterprise services to
multinational companies and
carriers in the region.”
Pacnet’s owners were seeking a valuation of about $1bn
including debt, people with
knowledge of the sale process
said in June. In the year ended
December 2013, Pacnet revenue
was $472mn and earnings before
interest, tax, depreciation and
amortization were $111mn.
The acquisition appears cheap
and boosts Telstra’s presence
in the Asian region, Deutsche
Bank’s Sydney-based analyst
James Freeman said in an investor note today. “That said there
are a number of lingering questions regarding the strategic rationale for the purchase,” Freeman said.
Telstra shares traded at A$5.96
at 1:41pm in Sydney, down 0.7%
from yesterday when they closed
at the highest since June 2001.
Alstom bribed to buy influence in Egypt, Saudi, Taiwan and Bahamas
Alstom executives won several billions of
dollars’ worth of business in Saudi Arabia
a decade ago by making at least $49mn in
illegal payments in part through middlemen the company called “Mr Paris” and
“Quiet Man.”
The bribes were among those the
French power company made in five countries over more than 10 years, prosecutors
in Washington said. Alstom pleaded guilty
to those charges yesterday and agreed
to pay $772mn to end the investigation,
representing the largest criminal penalty
paid to the Justice Department under the
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The prosecutors’ statements, laid out in
dozens of pages of charging documents,
contained new details about Alstom’s
attempts to buy influence in Egypt, Saudi
Arabia, Taiwan and the Bahamas, including one executive’s effort to quiet an
employee who questioned the payments.
The documents also covered bribery in
Indonesia, which had already served as a
basis of criminal charges against former
Alstom executives and business partner in
federal court in Connecticut.
The US corruption case is one of
several against Alstom, which General
Electric Co is buying in its biggest acquisition ever. The Fairfield, Connecticut-based
manufacturer agreed in June to buy most
of the assets for €12.4bn ($15.2bn), and the
purchase should close next year.
Earlier on Monday, Alstom’s Londonbased power unit and two of its employees were charged by the UK’s Serious
Fraud Office for alleged bribe payments in
Lithuania. Lawyers for the men declined
to comment at the hearing. Alstom is also
facing a corruption investigation in Brazil.
The documents released by the Justice
Department outlined how Alstom paid
more than $75mn in bribes between 2000
and 2011 to win $4bn in projects from
state-owned companies, relying on consultants who prosecutors said funnelled
payments to officials in five countries.
“Alstom’s corruption scheme was
sustained over more than a decade and
across several continents. It was astounding in its breadth, its brazenness and its
worldwide consequences,” US Deputy Attorney General James Cole told reporters
in Washington.
“There were a number of problems
in the past and we deeply regret that,”
Patrick Kron, Alstom’s chief executive
officer, said in a statement. The LevalloisPerret-based company has changed its
compliance practices, he added.
In Saudi Arabia, where Alstom was
seeking $3bn in contracts, company
executives spread bribe money among a
half a dozen consultants around the turn
of the millennium, prosecutors wrote.
These people were identified, in company
documents, by code names that also
included “Mr Geneva” and “Old Friend.”
Alstom collected details on officials of
the country’s state-owned electric company to improve its chances of securing
business, prosecutors wrote. They cited a
January 2000 “action plan” for an upcoming bid that identified Alstom’s perceptions of decision-makers at departments,
as well as the “most important concerns”
for dealing with each.
“Honest reputation,” the action plan
read, referring to one official who it said
had a majority voice in awarding contracts. “Son has been known to deal.”
To ensure the official’s support, Alstom
turned to one of his close relatives — who
internal company documents referred to
as Mr Paris — who was paid $4mn to bribe
the executive, prosecutors said.
Alstom made $2.2mn in donations to a
US-based religious education foundation
associated with the Saudi official, prosecutors said. They didn’t identify the official.
Several countries have opened probes
into Alstom since 2004, when auditors for
the Swiss Federal Banking Commission
unearthed documents they said showed
possible corrupt payments. Since then, the
company has paid more than $53mn over
claims its employees bribed officials.
The US fine, which eclipsed the $450mn
paid by Siemens in 2008, would bring
Alstom’s tab to above $800mn. Kron said
on December 19 that the company will
pay the fines connected to its energy businesses as its shareholders voted in favour
of their sale to GE.
The US investigation, led by Daniel
Kahn of the fraud section and Assistant
US Attorney David Novick in Connecticut,
included at least 49 hours of recordings made by government co-operators
about allegations of bribery in Indonesia,
according to federal court records in
Investigators initially had to build
their case using informants and charges
against former Alstom executives when
the company refused to co-operate,
prosecutors said.
The Connecticut prosecution centred
on a $118mn contract to provide boiler
services at a power plant in Tarahan, on
the southern coast of Sumatra. Alstom
executives, together with Marubeni Corp,
a Japanese commodity-trading company,
used middlemen to funnel hundreds
of thousands of dollars to a member of
Indonesia’s parliament and officials at
Perusahaan Listrik Negara PT, a statecontrolled electricity company known as
PLN, according to court papers filed by
the Justice Department in related cases.
Marubeni pleaded guilty to bribery violations in March and paid an $88mn fine.
On Monday in the Connecticut federal court, Alstom pleaded guilty to two
charges related to their activities in the
five countries — one for violating bribery
laws by falsifying records and the other
for failing to have adequate controls.
Alstom’s Swiss subsidiary pleaded guilty
to conspiracy. Two US subsidiaries entered
into deferred prosecution agreements.
The documents released Monday also
pointed to internal conflicts over payments,
as Alstom executives allegedly attempted to
hide transactions related to the company’s
bids for power contracts in Egypt.
In December 2003, an Alstom finance
employee said by e-mail that she was
rejecting an invoice from one of the
company’s consultants in Egypt because
there weren’t enough details to justify the
payment, according to the documents
released Monday.
The finance employee received a phone
call from a US-based project manager,
who told the official that if she “wanted
to have several people put in jail,” she
should continue to send e-mail messages
questioning payments, according to the
prosecutors’ documents. The project
manager ordered the finance official to
delete all e-mails about the consultant,
prosecutors wrote.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Low oil prices help Asian nations top up their defence budgets
By Arno Maierbrugger
Gulf Times Correspondent
With record-low oil prices, oil-importing
countries in East and Southeast Asia are not
only expecting positive net effects on their
economy, but are now also able to top up
their military and defence budgets at a faster
pace than originally planned. In particular,
key markets in the region such as China,
Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea are
all seen to positively adjust their defence
spending to the windfall of saved money
from hydrocarbon imports, according to USbased industry data analyst firm IHS.
This development comes on top of
already strong defence expenses over the
past years. In April 2014, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said
in its annual global military spending report
that military expenditures in Southeast
Asia (with the exception of Cambodia. Laos,
Myanmar and Brunei) have climbed steadily,
from $14.4bn in 2004 to $35.5bn in 2013, a
147% increase within a decade, and between
2012 and 2013 alone, regional military expenditures increased by 10%. SIPRI estimated
that expenditures are likely to surpass $40bn
by 2016. As for China, military expenditure
has increased from $40bn in 2004 to $188bn
in 2013, a five-fold increase in a decade.
Drivers of the spending spree are, one the
one hand, the region’s aim to decrease their
dependence on foreign military support
from the US or Europe and to modernise
outdated military equipment. But the
enhancement of military capacity is also
rooted in increasing regional tensions such
as the South China Sea conflict, as well as
combined security goals of the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). Conflict
potential is also inherent in the frequent
Thai-Cambodian border clashes and in the
occasional intrusions of southern Philippine
insurgents in eastern Malaysia.
Lately, the region has seen a number of
large-scale military equipment purchases as
defence manufacturers from the US, Europe
and Russia are eager to sell to the region
while other markets such as the Middle East
or Latin America are turning sluggish. Vietnam just bought a couple of brand new submarines from Russia, Indonesia purchased
German tanks and Boeing Apache attack
helicopters, and Thailand’s government has
just approved a plan to acquire new light attack aircraft to replace its aging Czech-made
Albatros fighter jet fleet, just to quote a few
examples. The countries are also increasingly turning to Asian-made weaponry and
army equipment, such as Japanese attack
helicopters, South Korean-made aircraft
carriers and various equipment from China,
a country which just earlier in December
has impressively shown that it is already at
a technological level to manufacture stealth
fighters that could even be sold to Iran and
Consultancy McKinsey & Company in
its Southeast Asia Defence Report 2014 released earlier this year shows that Southeast
Asia already makes up the second largest
defence import market behind India, with
Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia
being the top buyers. “Warships, maritime
patrol aircraft, radar systems and combat
planes, along with submarines and naval
defence systems, were high on procurement
lists,” the study says.
Up until 2020, Southeast Asia and the
wider Asia-Pacific region “is expected to
solidify its role as the key driver of growth in
the defence sector,” says Fenella McGerty,
senior defence budgets analyst at IHS
Aerospace & Defence, while she asserts
that oil-exporting Middle Eastern countries
will have to trim their military expenditure — after a period of strong growth — in
accordance with their constrained budgets
that are impacted by declining returns from
the hydrocarbon sector.
US economy accelerates sharply
in Q3; consumer spending rises
Third-quarter growth raised to
5.0% pace; consumer, business
spending account for bulk of
revision; durable goods orders
unexpectedly weak in November;
consumer spending rises solidly
last month
he US economy grew at its
quickest pace in 11 years in the
third quarter, the strongest sign
yet that growth has decisively shifted
into higher gear.
The economy appears to have sustained some of the momentum in the
fourth quarter. Other data yesterday
showed consumer spending rose solidly in November, which could offset an
unexpected weakness in durable goods
“After four years of rocky recovery
the US economy is now hitting its stride
... and growth should remain good next
year, with lower gasoline prices a big
plus for consumers,” said Gus Faucher,
a senior economist at PNC Financial
Services in Pittsburgh.
The Commerce Department revised
up its gross domestic product growth
estimate to a 5.0% annual pace, citing
stronger consumer and business spending than it had previously assumed.
It was the fastest growth pace since
the third quarter of 2003. The economy
was previously reported to have expanded at a 3.9% rate.
GDP growth has now been revised up
by a total of 1.5 percentage points since
the п¬Ѓrst estimate was published in October. Big revisions are not unusual as
the government does not have full information when it makes its initial estimates.
A sales assistant distributes shoes in Macy’s during Black Friday sales in New York on November 27. The Commerce
Department revised up its GDP growth estimate to a 5% annual pace, citing stronger consumer and business spending than it
had previously assumed. The economy was previously reported to have expanded at a 3.9% rate.
US stocks rallied on the data, with
the Dow Jones Industrials breaking
through 18,000 points for the п¬Ѓrst
time. Prices for US Treasury debt fell,
while the dollar rose to a fresh eightyear high against a basket of currencies.
The economy expanded at a 4.6%
rate in the second quarter, meaning it
has now experienced the two strongest
back-to-back quarters of growth since
Economists polled by Reuters had
expected growth would be raised to a
4.3% pace in the third quarter.
But the pace of growth likely slowed
in the fourth quarter.
In a second report, the Commerce
Department said non-defense capi-
tal goods orders excluding aircraft, a
closely watched proxy for business
spending plans, was unchanged in November after declining 1.9% in October.
The continued weakness in the socalled capital goods orders is at odds
with industrial production data, which
has shown strong momentum in the
manufacturing sector.
In a third report, the Commerce
Department said consumer spending,
which accounts for more than twothirds of US economic activity, rose
0.6% in November after gaining 0.3%
in October.
A rapidly strengthening labor market
and lower gasoline prices are boosting
consumer spending, which should help
to cushion the economy from slowing
growth in China and the eurozone, as
well as a recession in Japan.
That should provide the economy
with sufficient momentum in 2015 and
keep the Federal Reserve on course to
start raising interest rates by the middle
of next year.
Underscoring the economy’s firming fundamentals, growth in domestic
demand was revised up to a 4.1% pace
in the third quarter instead of the previously reported 3.2% pace. It was the
fastest pace since the second quarter of
In the GDP report, consumer spending grew at a 3.2% pace, the fastest
since the fourth quarter of 2013, instead
of the previously reported 2.2% rate.
Growth in business investment was
raised to an 8.9% pace from a 7.1% rate,
with a stronger pace of spending than
previously thought on equipment, intellectual property products and nonresidential structures accounting for
the revision.
Inventories were also revised higher,
with restocking now being neutral to
GDP growth instead of being a mild
drag. That also helped to offset downward revisions to export growth.
But inventories could undercut output in the fourth quarter.
Spending on residential construction was also revised higher, as were
government outlays. While export
growth was trimmed, trade still contributed to GDP growth.
FBI searches
Doral Bank
offices in
Puerto Rico
San Juan
he Federal Bureau of Investigation is searching the
offices of Doral Bank, a San
Juan, Puerto Rico-based lender, as
part of an ongoing investigation,
an FBI special agent said.
“We are executing a search
warrant at Doral Bank,” Special
Agent Moises Quinones told
Reuters. “It is about an ongoing
investigation that the FBI is conducting here in this office.”
“Today, personnel from the
Federal Bureau of Investigation
have pursued the collection of
certain information at the main
offices of our institution,” Doral
said in a statement.
The company said it was cooperating with the authorities.
The Federal Deposit Insurance
Corp last week asked the troubled lender, which is controlled by Doral Financial Corp, to
resubmit its capital restoration
plan after it was listed as “significantly undercapitalised.”
The bank recently won a key
legal victory after a Puerto Rican
court ordered the government to
pay $229mn in tax refund. Puerto Rico’s treasury department
said it would appeal the ruling.
Last May, the department
voided a 2012 agreement that set
the tax refund for Doral resulting
from a restatement of inflated
earnings during a six-year period from 1998 to 2004.
Doral asked for the payment
after US regulators said earlier
this year the company could no
longer include the money as cash
on its balance sheet.
US airlines confront cheap oil’s flip side: costly hedges
New York
ome major US airlines including
Delta and Southwest are rushing
to п¬Ѓnance losing bets on oil and
revamp fuel hedges as tumbling crude
prices leave them with billions of dollars in losses, according to people familiar with the hedging schemes.
In theory, airlines are among the top
beneficiaries of a six-month slump that
halved crude prices to п¬Ѓve-year lows.
Oil is the biggest variable cost for airlines, often representing a third or more
of their total operating expenses.
But now, carriers such as Delta Air
Lines and even Southwest Airlines,
known for a successful hedging programme that locked in cheap fuel prices
before they rose a decade ago, see some
of the benefits of cheap fuel eaten away
by hedging costs.
That is largely because they have used
common but risky hedging strategies,
among them a “costless collar”: selling
п¬Ѓnancial options that pay off when oil
prices fall and using the proceeds to buy
protection against soaring costs when
prices climb, according to three people
familiar with the programmes.
The two carriers have been moving quickly to strategise how to meet
demands from brokers and banks for
additional collateral to cover potential
losses from a strategy that made perfect
sense just six months ago, those people
said. The airlines have also held a series
of meetings that included airline executives, brokers and consultants, according to the people, who declined to
be named because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.
With oil prices tumbling faster and
further than anyone had anticipated,
the collar hedges left the airlines with
insurance against high costs they no
longer need and on the hook for protection they sold against a further slide,
with potential liabilities on the rise.
Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz
said the meetings were part of a routine, although a rapidly changing market called for close attention.
“We continue to benefit from declining fuel prices,” Mainz said in an email.
“Obviously we’re going to move faster
when the price drops in the 40% range.
(Our fuel team) have been very busy
actively managing our portfolio to respond to the changes we are seeing in
the market.”
Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter
said the Atlanta-based carrier was not
surprised by the slide, having been prepared to meet its п¬Ѓnancial obligations if
Southwest, Delta and other carriers
that sources declined to name, will benefit from the drop in oil prices because
they hedge only a portion of the fuel they
Carriers such as Delta Air Lines and even Southwest Airlines, known for a successful hedging programme that locked in
cheap fuel prices before they rose a decade ago, see some of the benefits of cheap fuel eaten away by hedging costs.
buy. Southwest, for example, expects to
cover only 20% of its fuel consumption
with hedge contracts this quarter.
Delta expects a $1.7bn gain from lower fuel prices in 2015, despite $1.2bn in
estimated hedge losses.
Yet rival American Airlines, which
has not entered any hedge contracts
since late 2013, are set to see a greater
boost to their bottom lines.
Industry consultants say hedged
airlines have a few choices to deal with
the price slide, including selling forward positions on crude oil or jet fuel,
changing the prices at which they
hedge or selling assets, such as planes.
What airlines exactly plan to do remains unclear, people familiar with the
discussions said.
A lack of disclosure requirements
makes it almost impossible to tell how
or when airlines have hedged, and none
would discuss details of their strategies.
Collar transactions looked well suited to the market when prices hovered
around $100 per barrel for most of the
past four years, allowing airlines to cap
their fuel costs at little or no cost, analysts said.
“(Costless) collars are an effective
strategy that works best when prices
stay within a range,” said John Saucer,
vice president of research and analysis,
at Mobius Risk Group. “But it becomes
a very different animal when the market
goes against that.”
In their October quarterly п¬Ѓlings,
Southwest and Delta said they used a
mix of options and п¬Ѓxed-price swaps.
Southwest also explained that collar
trades “carry more risk than purchased
call options” because of possibly greater liability when the contracts expire.
The world’s biggest low-cost carrier
said that a 25% decline of crude prices
from Sept. 30 would probably force it to
pay $615mn in cash collateral, aircraft
collateral and letters of credit.
Delta said it would pay $800mn to
counterparties if oil fell 20% between
October 1, 2014 and December 31,
2015. Brent already has tumbled 36%
since then to trade at about $60 a barrel on Monday.
These hedges weigh on the costs of
their future fuel consumption, too.
At current prices, Southwest says it
expects to keep only about 80Вў of savings for every $1 in oil price decline,
while Delta puts this п¬Ѓgure at about
65Вў. American instead will reap the full
benefit of cheap fuel.
And every cent counts. Delta has said
that one cent change in the price per
barrel of oil is worth $40mn to the carrier.
CRICKET | Page 2
NBA | Page 8
Haddin backs
�brave’ call to
elevate Smith
as captain
James Harden
pours in 44 as
Rockets blitz
Trail Blazers
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Rabia I 02, 1436 AH
Chelsea sink Stoke
to secure top spot
going into the break
Page 3
�Save the Dream’ promotes importance
of purity of sport at Supercoppa in Doha
By Sports Reporter
he importance of protecting
the dream of pure, fair and
clean sport took centre-stage
as Save the Dream used the
global platform of the Supercoppa
Final in Doha to promote sport values and issue a call to safeguard sport
against the threat of violence, discrimination and misconduct in all its forms.
While Juventus and Napoli played out
an enthralling match, Save the Dream
made their presence felt by undertaking
several match day activities in co-operation with Aspire Academy, Qatar Football Association and Lega Serie A.
Children wearing Save the Dream
colours escorted the players on to the
pitch while banners and short п¬Ѓlms
displayed in the stadium prior to kickoff and during half-time helped to
promote the message of pure sport to
a global audience. Players, coaches and
prominent guests also expressed their
solidarity by wearing Save the Dream
badges, pins, caps and scarves in support of the campaign.
Save the Dream presented a specially-curated exhibition of the Magnum
Photos with Save the Dream project at
the Al Sadd stadium. The selected images form part of the collection “Noites
do Brasil”; which includes over 100
stunning images taken by Magnum
photographers in the streets of Brazil
around the twelve 2014 FIFA World
Cup host cities capturing the universal
emotion, spirit and passion for sport.
The impetus for “Noites do Brasil”
was sparked by an important initiative
launched during the 2014 FIFA World
Juventus players with children wearing Save the Dream colours before kick off.
Cup by Save the Dream, in partnership
with Unicef and Brazilian child protection authorities including the Secretariat for Human Rights. Titled �It’s
in your hands to protect’, the initiative
encompassed a widespread outreach
campaign designed to mobilise peo-
ple on the fundamental right of every
child to be protected from violence and
discrimination in the context of major
sporting events.
Mohammed Hanzab, President of
the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) said: “It is crucial to en-
gage and inspire the next generation of
young athletes and fans to share with
them how important it is to safeguard
sport against the threat of violence,
discrimination and misconduct.
“With the Supercoppa final taking
place in Doha for the very п¬Ѓrst time, this
was an ideal platform to promote the
positive ideals and values that sport can
teach young people and to share this important message around the world.
“I would like to thank the QFA, Aspire Academy and Lega Serie A for
helping to promote the values of sport
and call on other organisations around
the world to do the same.”
Save the Dream is a joint programme
of the International Centre for Sport
Security (ICSS) and Qatar Olympic
Committee that promotes and protects
the core values of sport for young people at a global level.
Save the Dream has enjoyed a close
co-operation with Lega Serie A. During the 2013-14 season, a campaign
designed to promote the awareness of
sport integrity among young people,
was launched in 10 stadia across Italy.
Save the Dream has been conceived
by the International Centre for Sport
Security and the Qatar Olympic Committee to promote and protect the core
values of sport for young people at a
global level. Save the Dream works to
empower youth and inspire societies
towards a sport free from corruption,
violence, discrimination and any other
misconduct.In pursuit of these aims,
several projects have been undertaken
including educational workshops in
schools across Qatar as part of the
Schools Olympic Program.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Haddin backs �brave’
call to elevate Smith
as Australia captain
�I think the decision was an outstanding one. He’s got a good core of senior players to help him out if
he needs it. But things are going well, he’s a good thinker about the game and he still wants to learn’
Waller banned
from bowling
Zimbabwe all-rounder Malcolm
Waller has been suspended from
bowling just seven weeks out from
the World Cup, the International
Cricket Council said yesterday. The
off-spinner was reported after the
second Test against Bangladesh
in Khulna last month and analysis
performed by the ICC’s accredited
team of Human Movement Specialists at the High Performance
Centre in Pretoria. “The analysis
revealed that all of his off-spin
deliveries exceeded the 15 degrees
level of tolerance permitted under
the regulations,” the ICC said in a
statement. Waller, 30, will have the
opportunity for re-assessment but
faces a race against time with the
World Cup in Australia and New
Zealand starting on Feb 14. The
middle-order batsman has been
used as a bowling option more often in the last 12 months, and in his
last one-day international against
South Africa in September bowled
a full compliment of 10 overs.
WI lose Roach,
call up Peters
West Indies have lost their most
accomplished fast bowler after
Kemar Roach was ruled out of
the final two matches of the Test
series in South Africa and replaced
by uncapped Kenroy Peters,
the country’s cricket board announced yesterday. Roach injured
his right ankle while bowling on
the first day of the first Test in
Pretoria that ended in an innings
and 220-run defeat for the tourists
and will return home to continue
his rehabilitation. Peters, a 32-yearold left-arm fast bowler, was the
leading bowler in the domestic
four-day competition in 2014. He
has yet to represent the West
Indies at senior level in any form
of the game but has an impressive
first-class record with 190 wickets
at an average of 20.21. The second
Test starts in Port Elizabeth on
Friday with the final match in Cape
Town from January 2.
rad Haddin (pictured above)
has backed the elevation of
Steve Smith (right) to the
Australian Test captaincy in
place of the injured Michael Clarke for
the remainder of the India series, despite being overlooked for the caretaker
role himself.
As vice-captain, the 37-year-old
wicketkeeper would have been п¬Ѓrst cab
off the rank for the position once it became clear that Clarke required surgery
on the latest in a string of hamstring
Instead, after Haddin took charge for
the last couple of hours of the 48-run
victory in Adelaide, Cricket Australia
turned to 25-year-old Smith, who led
the team to a four-wicket victory in
Brisbane last weekend.
“I think they’ve made a very brave
and good decision in making Steve the
captain. I think it’s the perfect time for
him,” Haddin told reporters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) ahead
of this week’s third test.
“He’s a good leader, he’s only young
but he’s going to get better and better
at it. I think the decision was an outstanding one.
“He’s got a good core of senior players to help him out if he needs it. But
things are going well, he’s a good thinker about the game and he still wants to
learn. I’d much rather you remember
the last two hours at Adelaide than do
it full time.”
While Smith has been enjoying a
purple patch with the bat, scoring 375
runs at an average of 187.5 in the series
so far, Haddin has been struggling with
that aspect of his game and has only 92
Bouncer blow forces Watson to
leave training session midway
ustralian all-rounder Shane Watson was
forced to cut short his training session in
the Melbourne Cricket Ground nets after
being hit on the helmet by a bouncer
yesterday, three days before the start of the third
Test against India.
Watson, under pressure for his place at number
three in the batting order, was knocked to the
ground when a short ball from James Pattinson
hit him flush on the helmet.
“Shane Watson shaken up, but OK, after helmet
blow,” Cricket Australia tweeted.
Pattinson was also shaken up by the incident,
which came less than a month after former
Australia batsman Phillip Hughes was killed by
injuries sustained when he was hit by a short ball
in a domestic match in Sydney.
Left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc also left the
session early after being hit on the knee by a ball
but his likely replacement in the side, Ryan Harris,
was apparently untroubled by the thigh injury
that ruled him out of the second Test.
The hosts, who take a 2-0 lead into the Boxing
Day Test, already had injury concerns over David
Warner, who skipped the session to nurse a
thumb injury he sustained on the final day of the
four-wicket victory in Brisbane on Saturday.
The aggressive opener, one of Australia’s best
NZ team donate
prize money for
Peshawar victims
in the last seven Tests.
“I’m not concerned about it, all my
preparation and everything is okay, I’ve
just been out of runs,” Haddin said.
“I’m not stressed about it or worried
about it, the game will turn my way,
the runs will come and it will be my
turn soon. I’ve been in these situations
before, that’s cricket. I’m comfortable
where my game’s at, everything’s going
in the right direction, I’d just like to get
more runs.”
Haddin, who was undone by a short
ball in Brisbane, is expecting India’s
pace bowlers to come out п¬Ѓring on all
cylinders in the third test, which begins
on Friday.
“The Indians showed their hand in
Brisbane, that they’re going to be quite
aggressive,” he said. “We’ve got an
Indian team playing some quite good
cricket but we want to wrap up the series in Melbourne.”
performers with the bat this year, had little doubt in
his own mind that he would be ready to go by Friday.
“I will definitely be playing, I will be doing everything I can,” he told reporters when the team
arrived in Melbourne on Monday. “Obviously it’s a
bit painful, it’s the one I broke before, but I’m not
missing a Boxing Day test, that’s for sure.”
Uncapped batsman Joe Burns was brought
into the squad on Sunday to cover for injured
all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, while captain Michael
Clarke will miss the rest of the series after surgery
on a hamstring problem.
The New Zealand cricket team
has donated their prize money
and match fees earned after
beating Pakistan in the recent
ODI series to the victims of the
Peshawar massacre, where more
than 140 Army school children
and teachers were killed. The Kane
Williamson-led New Zealand side
defeated Pakistan 3-2 in the fivematch ODI series held in the UAE.
Pacer Adam Milne donated his
$500 prize for bowling the fastest
ball of the series. “New Zealand
players and officials have handed
over some donations and kit
bags,” Younis Khan was quoted as
saying by The Nation yesterday.
Cook takes to the oche after World Cup snub
lastair Cook tried to take his mind
off his shock World Cup snub as the
deposed England captain stepped
onto the oche at the World Darts
Championships on Monday.
Two days after the heartache of being sacked as England’s one-day captain
and dropped from the squad for next year’s
World Cup in Australia and New Zealand,
Cook made his return to the public eye in a
light-hearted darts contest with international teammate James Anderson at London’s Alexandra Palace.
Cook took part in a one-leg shootout with
Anderson ahead of the fifth day’s play in the
World Championships and his bruised ego
may have been soothed a little after he won
with a double-11 checkout.
Performing under the nickname �Bed
and Breakfast’, Cook looked in good spirits
on stage and got into the swing of things in
amongst the raucous fans.
The pair then headed into the commentary box to do a stint alongside former world
champion Eric Bristow, and Cook, who remains England’s Test captain, admitted he
was struggling to take in what the last 48
hours had served him.
“It’s been an interesting couple of days,”
he said on Sky Sports Darts.
“I’m frustrated and disappointed not to
be joining Jimmy on the plane. Sometimes
these things happen; I take it on the chin and
get a couple of weeks away.
“It’s gutting and frustrating, but that’s the
way of the world and you have to get over it
and I wish the guys well.”
Cook is now looking forward to spending
some time on his farm and then throwing
himself into a 2015 campaign which involves
Test series against the West Indies, New
Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
“It’s hard to talk about it at the moment
(the World Cup) because of the way I feel,
but there are Tests next year, two real marquee series (against Australia and South
Africa) and hopefully I can get back scoring
some runs,” he added.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Chelsea sink Stoke, get
secure top spot at Xmas
�The three point lead we have is a little advantage, it is a little pillow we have to protect us’
helsea ensured they will spend
Christmas Day on top of the
Premier League as goals from
John Terry and Cesc Fabregas
gave the leaders a gritty 2-0 victory at
Stoke on Monday.
It was not the most fluent performance from Jose Mourinho’s side but,
at a venue where Arsenal recently lost
3-2, it was the result and not the performance which mattered most and the
Blues now sit three points clear of second placed Manchester City heading
into the hectic festive programme.
City’s win over Crystal Palace on
Saturday had drawn them level on
points with Chelsea, but this was an
emphatic response from the west Londoners as they bid to wrestle the title
from the Eastlands outfit.
The only concern for Chelsea was a
late injury to Belgium playmaker Eden,
Hazard, who was replaced after getting
a kick to his foot following a challenge
by Jon Walters.
“These victories mean more than
three points, to win and get three points
the players need the right spirit and
mentality,” Mourinho said.
“To win here they must be a really
very good team with the capacity to
adapt to Stoke’s style of play.
“The three point lead we have is a
little advantage, it is a little pillow we
have to protect us.
“We go home happy and pleased
with what we did.”
Chelsea could not have got off to a
better start as they took the lead inside
the opening 90 seconds when Terry
rose highest above Geoff Cameron to
head a Fabregas corner past Asmir Begovic.
It was the former England captain’s
п¬Ѓrst league goal of the season and a 12th
assist of the season for Spain midfielder
Fabregas. Mourinho’s men coped better with the blustery conditions at the
Britannia Stadium and came close to a
second as Diego Costa dragged a shot
wide of the post.
Stoke defender Phil Bardsley was
only booked for a late challenge on
Hazard on the touchline, a decision
that prompted Mourinho to protest
from outside the technical area.
And that incident seemed to spur on
Stoke, who went close within seconds
as Steven N’Zonzi’s deflected shot was
pushed behind by Thibaut Courtois.
But it should have been 2-0 on the
half hour as a Fabregas pass breached
the Stoke offside trap and Costa ran
through before dragging his tame shot
Chelsea steel Stoke created brief moments of optimism at the start of the
second half with Peter Crouch heading over from Bardsley’s cross from the
right. The Blues carved out another
Diouf as Stoke boss Mark Hughes
looked for a way back into the contest.
Marco Arnautovic then saw an effort
deflected wide for a corner but Stoke’s
set pieces were proving to be unthreatening.
Charlie Adam was brought on to improve Stoke’s quality in possession.
And immediately Walters came close
to getting on the end of an Adam deliv-
ans of Swedish club AIK
got an early Christmas
present when Nigeria
international and former
Manchester City, Fulham and
Sunderland midfielder Dickson
Etuhu signed for the Stockholm
side yesterday.
The 32-year-old, who moves
to Sweden following an injuryhit two years at Blackburn Rovers, told Reuters he had no regrets about leaving England but
that he cannot wait to get started
at his new club.
“I’m excited, I’ve got this feeling inside me that I’ve just never
had,” he said. “A lot of people
said to me �stay in England’. I’ve
played in England all my career. I
wanted something different.”
Etuhu had offers from clubs in
England and abroad but wanted
a change, moving to an AIK side
who finished third in last season’s Swedish championship.
“(In England) I’m going to play
some games, win some games,
but I’m never going to win a title. I want to come here and test
myself, a different language, different style, different players and
real fans,” he said.
A regular visitor to Sweden
with former Fulham and Blackburn team mate Danny Murphy,
Etuhu said winning the title with
AIK was the most important
thing on his mind.
“That’s why I’m here - if it was
for the money I wouldn’t be here,
would I?” he said. “I feel like I’m
as п¬Ѓt as the younger ones. I want
to feel like I enjoy football and
make an impact.”
The tough-tackling midfielder
has been training at Fulham, for
whom he played in the 2010 Europa League п¬Ѓnal.
Capped 20 times by Nigeria,
Etuhu has also played under
Swedish coach Lars Lagerback,
who led the side at the 2010
World Cup, as well as current
England boss Roy Hodgson, who
is revered in Sweden following
his spell as manager at Malmo.
Etuhu will return to London to
celebrate Christmas but is looking forward to getting started in
his more chilly surroundings.
“I just want to find somewhere
to stay here and get into training,” he said.
Chelsea’s Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas celebrates scoring their
second goal during the English Premier League match against Stoke
City at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England, on
Monday. Chelsea won the game 2-0. (AFP)
opening as Hazard crossed for Fabregas
whose near-post flick failed to overly
trouble Begovic.
Chelsea were not at their free-flowing best, but the steely visitors were
still the most likely to get a second goal
and Brazilian winger Willian saw a free
kick deflect wide for a corner.
Crouch had endured a frustrating
evening and he was replaced by Mame
offers to
join AIK
ery, while the Scottish midfielder also
drilled a left-footed shot wide from
the edge of the area from N’Zonzi’s
But Fabregas settled the contest 12
minutes from time, taking Hazard’s
pass before scuffing his shot past Begovic from close-range.
It may have been a fortunate strike
but the Spaniard joyously celebrated
his fourth goal for the club he joined
from Barcelona in the close-season.
Chelsea could have added a third
late on, with substitute Andre Schuerrle setting up Costa who was denied by
Stoke refused to give up and Oussama Assaidi was foiled by Courtois after
п¬Ѓnding space down the left and Adam
п¬Ѓred just over in stoppage-time.
Arsenal’s injury woes confirmed by study
rsenal and injuries have
gone hand in hand over the
last decade when the Gunners have had more players spending lengthy spells on the
sidelines than many of their Premier
League rivals, a study has shown.
Premier Injuries Ltd has produced
a database of comparative Premier
League injuries over the past decade which was published in the Daily
Telegraph yesterday.
From the 2003-04 season to 201314, Arsenal suffered 312 significant
injuries which led to players being
out for 10 days or more. That is exactly 100 more than Chelsea, while
Arsenal’s total number of injuries
was above the Premier League average in 10 of the 11 campaigns, including each of the last seven completed
This term is proving to be no different. Arsenal have racked up 25
injuries since August, more than any
other Premier League club. While
the Gunners trail Newcastle United
and Manchester United in terms of
significant injuries this season, it
is hardly surprising they are sixth
in the Premier League table with 27
points from 17 matches -- 15 behind
leaders Chelsea.
Arsenal’s treatment room is
bursting at the seams with Laurent
Koscielny, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere
all sidelined.
Other п¬Ѓrst-team regulars, including Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud,
Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs and
Nacho Monreal, have also paid regular visits to the club’s doctors this
“It is frustrating for everyone that
the run of injuries we have sustained
in the п¬Ѓrst third of the season has
meant we have only seen flashes of
this talented squad’s true potential,”
Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis
wrote in his quarterly update to
“We continue to work hard to improve our prevention of injuries and
to accelerate recovery but it is clear
there is no single contributing factor.”
In attempting to ease their injury woes, Arsenal are working on
a new athletic development centre
within their London Colney training
base, while construction work on
new medical and educational facilities and a gym will take place at the
club’s Hale End Youth Academy.
Arsenal won their last Premier
League title in 2004 when Arsene
Wenger’s “Invincibles” went unbeaten—the season when they also
had their fewest injuries.
Wenger upbeat
Gunners return
Sebastian Palacio (R) vies
Arsene Wenger is upbeat about a strong second half
of the season showing from an Arsenal side set to
capitalise on the return of injured players like Mesut
Ozil and Mikel Arteta.
Wenger expects Ozil and Arteta to return to action
in January, while Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and
Laurent Koscielny are due back imminently to help
reignite the Gunners’ quest for a top-four finish in the
Premier League.
The Christmas schedule features fixtures against
QPR, West Ham and Southampton and Wenger
believes Arsenal, who occupy sixth place in the table,
will soon be in a position to realise their potential.
“To give absolutely everything in every single game
until the end of the season,” replied Wenger when
asked to outline his aspirations for his team heading into the festive period yesterday. “I believe that
with the injuries coming back we will have a much
stronger squad than we had for the past two months.
“I believe 2015 can be very exciting if we manage to
get our injured players back and have a good run.
“Finishing in the top four is always the minimum
required here. We have the Champions League and
we have the FA Cup and we want to come back in a
much stronger position in the Premier League, and I
think we will.
“Our Christmas is not an easy schedule - it’s a tough
schedule. There are three games in a very short
period of time and we can make up points.
“It’s a period where you have an opportunity to make
points. Our opponents will think that as well, but let’s
just put the performances in and capitalise on it.”
Ozil and Arteta are on target for January comebacks
for the
from knee and
calf ball
although Ramsey and
Koscielny may
the Boxing Day
showdown with
A match
hamstring the
and calf
both be in
on Sunday.
action against
on New Year’s Day.
“Ozil will be back at the beginning of January. His
rehab has gone well but it took time. He works very
hard. He is very focused. Fitness-wise, he is there,”
Wenger said.
“Arteta is progressing well. He had a little setback with
an ankle problem but it should be very quick now. He
will not play before January.
“Ramsey has a chance to be fit for Southampton. The
closest at the moment is Koscielny. I believe he’s a bit
short for QPR, maybe has a chance for West Ham on
Arsenal are four points adrift of fourth place West
Ham and lost further ground on Champions League
qualification after conceding an equaliser deep into
stoppage time of Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool.
Per Mertesacker’s defending for Martin Skrtel’s
header has been criticised, but Wenger refuses to
single out his Germany World Cup winner for blame.
“I don’t want to go into any individual assessment.
I believe Mertesacker gives his best and that on the
corner we conceded it was a more organisational and
collective problem because no one talks,” Wenger
“It is difficult for the players who played at the World
Cup. I said many times you don’t see them really
before November and that is the case.
“It’s very difficult for them to get the hunger straight
away to go Stoke and win. It takes time to settle and
to come back to normal life.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Brazil crowds up
but stadium usage
still problematic
�We’re more certain than ever that some of these stadiums will be white elephants’
Sao Paulo
he average attendance
at Brazil’s new arenas
in the п¬Ѓve months since
the World Cup was
higher than the league mean
but stadiums in cities without
major clubs are in danger of becoming white elephants, studies
and experts said.
The average attendance at all
games in the 12 stadiums was
18,300, just above the 16,562
recorded over the season in Brazil’s Serie A, statistics compiled
by the Folha de S.Paulo and
Lance! newspapers showed.
Although the attendance at
п¬Ѓrst division games in new arenas is twice that in older stadiums, only three of the new
venues, in Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Manaus, were consistently more than half full.
In others without a strong
soccer tradition, crowds were
as low as 354 and grounds in
Salvador, Recife and Natal regularly played host to less than
10,000 spectators.
“We’re more certain than
ever that some of these stadiums will be white elephants,”
said Fernando Ferreira, head of
Pluri, a sports marketing п¬Ѓrm
that tracks football п¬Ѓnances.
“The number of people going
to games has increased, that is
undeniable. The big question is
over the future. Are they going
to bring in enough money to pay
for themselves? Everything indicates that the answer is �no’.”
Brazil built or refurbished 12
stadiums at a cost of 8.44 billion reais ($3.17 billion), around
50 percent more than originally
planned. The average attendance during the World Cup was
53,592, the second highest in
tournament history.
Since then, Cruzeiro and
Corinthians have packed them
in, with both clubs averaging
crowds of more than 30,000,
even though they charged the
highest ticket prices in the
league, said a recent report from
consultancy п¬Ѓrm BDO Brazil.
The average attendance in
Manaus was also high, at 27,759.
Although no big clubs play in
the city, teams such as Botafogo,
Flamengo and Vasco da Gama
have all shifted home games to
the Amazonian arena in a bid to
attract crowds.
Five of the World Cup sta-
China name
23-man squad
for Asian Cup
hina yesterday announced its 23-man
squad for the 2015 Asian
Cup to be held in Australia in January.
The 2013 Asian player of the
year Zheng Zhi, who plays for
club giants Guangzhou Evergrande, will bolster the midfield.
Zheng was a hit with fans
during nearly three seasons at
Charlton Athletic and a year
with Scottish giants Celtic before returning to China to join
Guangzhou Evergrande in 2010.
Also bringing an international
flavour is midfielder Hao Junmin, who made 14 league appearances for Germany’s Schalke 04 in 2010 and 2011.
The roster also includes
Guangzhou Evergrande striker
Gao Lin and his midfield teammate Zhang Linpeng, whose red
carding this year damaged their
teams bid for the AFC Champions League title.
He is joined at the front by
Yang Xu, who plays for Shandong Luneng at home and scored
in China’s build-up for the Cup
in a 3-0 over Thailand in October. Young midfielder Liu Binbin
will make his cup debut after a
strong domestic season.
Former Lyon boss Alain Perrin is China’s coach following a
lengthy search to replace Spaniard Jose Antonio Camacho,
sacked after a humiliating 5-1
defeat by Thailand last June.
China survived an almighty
scare before scraping into the
Asian Cup on goal difference
thanks to a late penalty in their
3-1 defeat to Iraq in March.
The 3-1 defeat to Iraq made for
a chastening start for the newly
hired Perrin, whose team barely
avoided missing out on the Asian
Cup for the п¬Ѓrst time since the
Despite wealthy Guangzhou’s
emergence as kings of Asian
club soccer, China have a woeful
record at national level.
China, who won only two of
their six qualifiers, will have their
work cut out at next year’s tournament in Australia with heavyduty competition in the form of
the hosts, defending champions
Japan and South Korea.
Goalkeepers - Wang Dalei
Cheng (Guangzhou Evergrande),
Yan Junling (Shanghai SIPG)
Defenders - Zhang Linpeng (Guangzhou Evergrande),
Ren Hang (Jiangsu GuoxinSainty), Zhang Chengdong
(Beijing Guoan), Jiang Zhipeng
(Guangzhou R&F), Mei Fang
(Guangzhou Evergrande), Ji
Xiang (Jiangsu Guoxin-Sainty),
Li Ang (Jiangsu Guoxin-Sainty)
Midfielders - Zheng Zhi
(Guangzhou Evergrande), Wu Xi
(Jiangsu Guoxin-Sainty), Hao
Junmin (Shandong Luneng),
Yu Hanchao (Guangzhou Evergrande), Wu Lei (Shanghai
SIPG), Yu Hai (Guizhou Renhe),
Sun Ke (Jiangsu Guoxin-Sainty), Liu Jianye (Jiangsu Guoxin-Sainty), Liu Binbin (Shandong Luneng), Liao Lisheng
(Guangzhou Evergrande), Cai
Huikang (Shanghai SIPG)
(Guangzhou Evergrande), Yang
Xu (Shandong Luneng)
USA defender Yedlin to join
Spurs in January
diums were built in cities like
Manaus, that have no п¬Ѓrst division clubs. Authorities vowed
they would ensure those stadiums did not fall into disrepair or
were left idle for local authorities to foot the bill.
“There is no chance that
these stadiums will become
white elephants,” Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo told reporters
last year.
“They will be much more
than football п¬Ѓelds. They will
be multi-purposes spaces that
the cities have lacked before and
now will have to use for several
different purposes.”
Although stadiums have
hosted everything from trade
fairs to mass weddings, some of
them have struggled to attract
soccer fans and many have seen
more small events than games.
At least two of the publicly
owned stadiums recently announced plans to lease the are-
nas to private consortiums,
tacitly acknowledging their
struggle. “The administration
understands that this is the best
solution for the management
of a concern as complex as the
Pantanal arena,” the owners of
the Cuiaba stadium said in an
emailed response to questions.
United States defender DeAndre Yedlin is joining Tottenham in
January, the north London club announced yesterday.
The 21-year-old signed a four-year deal with Spurs in August with his
move to White Hart Lane from the Seattle Sounders delayed until
the end of the Major League Soccer season.
“We are pleased to confirm that DeAndre Yedlin will be joining the
Club in January,” a statement on the Premier League club’s website
read. Yedlin ended his MLS stint in style, helping the Sounders win
the Western Conference title and Supporter’s Shield before losing to
the Los Angeles Galaxy in the Conference Finals, and big things are
expected from him by Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino.
“DeAndre is a young player with great potential who has already
achieved a lot in Major League Soccer, Pochettino said.
“It is important for his development that he is given the time to
adapt to his new surroundings both on and off the pitch and we
believe that by coming to us in January it will give him the best
opportunity to do so.” Yedlin, who has 10 international caps, made
three appearances for the USA at the World Cup, in group games
against Portugal and Germany and in their last-16 defeat to Belgium.
Yedlin’s arrival comes after Spurs brought in Ben Davies, Michel
Vorm, Eric Dier, Benjamin Stambouli and Federico Fazio during the
close season.
Meanwhile Portugal international Nelson Oliveira is the man Swansea City have turned to solve their striking problem in the New Year.
Oliveira, 23, will join the Swans on loan until the end of the season
on January 1, the club announced yesterday. His arrival solves a
problem for manager Garry Monk who will lose top scorer Wilfried
Bony to the African Nations Cup next month.
Australia’s evolution reflected in squad
occeroos coach Ange Postecoglou has included just seven of
the squad that reached the п¬Ѓnal
of the 2011 Asian Cup in his 23man party for Australia’s third assault
on the continental title on home soil in
Postecoglou has overhauled his playing group since taking over from Holger
Osieck in October last year and there
were never going to be many surprises in
the squad he named yesterday given the
number of players he has used since.
“I’m pretty pleased with the squad
we’ve put together,” the coach told a
news conference. “There’s enough experience in there but there’s also a little bit
of an eye to the future with some younger players who I believe can be exciting
Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones was
not included but the main marquee
names playing abroad, such as Tim
Cahill, likely skipper Mile Jedinak and
Robbie Kruse, will all assemble for a pretournament training camp in Melbourne
on December 27. “The last six months
has been about making sure we had cover
in the right areas,” Postecoglou added.
“We will never compromise the path
we started 12 months ago that the majority of this team п¬Ѓts into the next
four-year cycle and what we are trying
Seven players in the squad are playing in the domestic A-League, including
Wellington Phoenix striker Nathan Burns
who forced his way back into the reckoning with 10 goals in 11 games this season.
“Form’s one thing but there’s always the
question of whether they п¬Ѓt in with the
football that we want to play and п¬Ѓt into
the evolution of this team,” the coach
said. “(But) if you are a striker and scoring
goals that’s a pretty compelling argument
for getting you in the team.”
Cahill, Kruse and Burns were among
п¬Ѓve forwards selected along with World
Cup standout Matthew Leckie and Tomi
Juric, whose goals helped Western Sydney Wanderers win the Asian Champions League.
“We specifically picked more attacking options because of the nature of this
tournament,” Postecoglou said. “If you
look at games of football, they are usu-
ally won in the last part of the game and
if you can throw some attacking options
on it can help.”
Australia open their campaign against
Kuwait in Melbourne on Jan 9 before
taking on Oman and South Korea.
Goalkeepers - Mathew Ryan (Club
Bruges), Mitchell Langerak (Borussia
Dortmund), Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide
Defenders - Matthew Spiranovic
(Western Sydney Wanderers), Trent
Sainsbury (PEC Zwolle), Alex Wilkinson
(Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Chris Herd
(Aston Villa), Izaz Behich (Bursaspor),
Jason Davidson (West Bromwich Albion), Ivan Franjic (Torpedo Moscow).
Midfielders - Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), Mile Jedinak (Crystal
Palace), Mark Bresciano (Al Gharafa),
Tommy Oar (Utrecht), Massimo Luongo
(Swindon Town), Terry Antonis (Sydney
FC), James Troisi (Zulte Waregem), Matt
McKay (Brisbane Roar)
Forwards - Tim Cahill (New York
Red Bulls), Matthew Leckie (FC Ingolstadt), Robbie Kruse (Bayer Leverkusen),
Tomi Juric (Western Sydney Wanderers),
Nathan Burns (Wellington Phoenix).
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Early 2015 crucial for Sociedad’s goal: Moyes
eal Sociedad will know
early in the New Year
whether their goal of
securing a lucrative
berth in Europe for next season
is viable, according to coach
David Moyes.
The Basque club, who have
been weakened by a need to cash
in on a number of their best players in recent years, had a poor
start to their La Liga campaign
before stabilising under Moyes
after he replaced the sacked
Jagoba Arrasate last month.
When they return after the
two-week winter break they
host second-placed Barcelona
at their Anoeta stadium in San
Sebastian and the Scot said their
п¬Ѓrst п¬Ѓve or six matches in 2015
would be crucial to their chances
of moving up the table from their
current position of 14th.
Sociedad п¬Ѓnished fourth in
2012-13 and qualified for the
Champions League group stage,
where they п¬Ѓnished bottom of
their pool.
Last season, they were seventh and secured a place in Europa
League qualifying but were eliminated by Russian side FK Krasnodar.
“It is going to be difficult to get
back into Europe, we all have to
be clear about that,” Moyes said
in an interview published in As
sports daily yesterday.
“Right now I am focused, and
this is my obsession, on winning
all the games we can so that we
can make sure of avoiding relegation as soon as possible,” the
former Manchester United and
Everton manager added.
“If we get some good results at
the start of the year we can start
to look up at the places above us.”
Moyes said he was enjoying
living in Spain and his biggest
challenge was learning the language.
“I am learning words mainly
to do with football which are
helping me with my relationships with the players,” he
“I have given myself time to
get to know the players better,
the club and everything around
it, and my picture is already
more complete. “Everything we
want to change in the future has
to be done gradually and not in a
drastic way.
“We will change things but
in a logical way. In any case, the
only thing that matters to me is
that the team moves up the table
step by step.”
Van Gaal keen to
repay Fergie’s faith
�When you come to United, because I know Sir Alex, you hope that he will support you’
ouis van Gaal has revealed he feels under
pressure to succeed at
Manchester United to
repay the generous support of
Old Trafford legend Alex Ferguson.
Ferguson has given his backing to van Gaal in recent interviews, claiming the United
manager can restore the team to
the lofty levels which Ferguson
himself attained in his 27 years
as boss.
Certainly, van Gaal’s efforts in
leading United into a top three
position as the Premier League
enters the Christmas period
have been impressive and generated an air of optimism at the
club not felt since Ferguson retired in 2013.
However, that backing has
come at a cost, according to van
“It’s fantastic,” said van Gaal
yesterday. “When you come to
Manchester United, because I
know Sir Alex, you hope that he
will support you.
“And when he is supporting
you, he is doing that not only
this week but in other conferences he gave.
“He showed a lot of confidence and belief in me and you
need that as a trainer-coach, as
manager of Manchester United.
“You need that belief and
support of managers like Sir
Alex. I am very happy with
that because then you can work
more easily.
“But it’s also pressure because he believes in you and
that gives you that pressure that
you have to get results. It’s not
so easy to win Premier League
z Fortress
-United, unbeaten in seven
games, open their festive п¬Ѓxture
list with a home clash against
Newcastle on Friday and van
Gaal insists he has already succeeded in one of his primary
aims - making Old Trafford a
venue where other teams fear
to play.
Since losing at home to
Swansea on the opening day
of the season, in his п¬Ѓrst competitive match in charge, United
have won seven and drawn one
of their eight games.
“I have said after the first loss
against Swansea that it’s a pity
we came back from the United
States and won everything and
then lost our п¬Ѓrst match in the
Navas, Wambach win
of Year awards
osta Rica’s World Cup
goalkeeper Keylor Navas and United States
women’s team striker
Abby Wambach were named
CONCACAF’s Players of the
Year for 2014 yesterday.
The governing body for the
sport in North and Central
America and the Caribbean also
named Jorge Luis Pinto Coach of
the Year after he led Costa Rica
to the last eight at the World Cup
for the п¬Ѓrst time.
Navas, 28, produced some
outstanding displays for Costa
Rica in the World Cup with three
clean sheets from п¬Ѓve matches
and winning three Man of the
Match Awards. Following the
World Cup, Navas completed
a move to Spanish giants Real
Madrid. Wambach, the 34-yearold striker, who has scored more
goals in international football
than any male or female with 177
in 228 games, had another п¬Ѓne
season including scoring four
goals in the final of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in 2014 in which the United
States beat Costa Rica 6-0.
Pinto was rewarded for Costa
Rica’s memorable World Cup
campaign where they п¬Ѓnished
top of their group ahead of Uruguay, Italy and England and then
beat Greece on penalties before
losing to the Netherlands in a
shootout after a goalless draw.
Pinto became head coach of
the Honduran national team earlier this month.
United States and Everton
keeper Tim Howard won CONCACAF Goalkeeper of the year
for the second year while Costa
Rica’s Bryan Ruiz’s strike against
Italy in the World Cup was voted
Goal of the Year.
American Mark Geiger was
voted Referee of the Year.
The awards are voted on by
three constituencies—national
team coaches and captains, media and fans.
Deila wants �sleeping bear’
Celtic to wake up
Manager Ronny Deila wants his “sleeping bear” of a Celtic side to
wake up, the Norwegian giving only a six out of 10 at best for the
year-ending report card.
The Hoops are four points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership despite losing their first league game in nine against Dundee
United at Tannadice on Sunday.
Celtic are still in the Scottish Cup where they travel to Dundee in the
fifth-round and they look forward to a League Cup semi-final against
Rangers at Hampden Park in February.
And after passing up on two chances to get into the Champions
League the Parkhead side battled through to second place in their
Europa League group and face Inter Milan in the last-32 tie later in
the same month.
Ahead of the visit of Ross County in the league on Saturday, the Norwegian summed up the first six months of his tenure as Celtic boss.
“The results are good but I see so much possibilities there,” he said.
“When I see the possession and pressure we have and how we are
controlling games, it is about getting possession into goal chances.
“With the potential we have, I would give us a five, six maybe.
“We have a long way to go but it is quite good also.
“This club is a sleeping bear. It is a huge club, we have so many talented players and good staff “We have just have to have the energy
to work and progress, want to learn and get better. “If you have that
you can reach your goals.”
Premier League,” said van Gaal.
“We want to build a fortress
at Old Trafford and we have
made that already because we
have won a lot.
“I’m happy with that but then
we have to continue because
seven (wins) is too few I think.
“So we have to continue and
that’s the most difficult point
because it’s not easy to win
games in the Premier League.”
Meanwhile, van Gaal has
paid tribute to captain Wayne
Rooney’s versatility, but insists
he still remains an important
attacking threat.
The England forward played
in a deep midfield role in last
weekend’s 1-1 draw at Aston
Villa but van Gaal does not accept that Rooney’s days as a goal
threat are behind him.
“Wayne is a player who can
play in different positions and
I like that because I like multifunctional players, that’s why
I can use him as a midfielder,
also as a striker and an attacking
midfielder,” he said.
“The last game he was more
defensive midfielder. I like that
he is also coming into the 18
yard box because he can score
“He has the ability to run
from box to box and that is also
a little bit that he has to �feel’ in
a match - read the match - and
he can do this.
“But that’s a matter of time
and he can do that. I like him
closer to their area than our own
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Willett secures Masters berth via world ranking
nglishman Danny Willett will
be a big winner in the п¬Ѓnal world
rankings of the year, to be issued
next week, by narrowly punching
his ticket to the 2015 Masters.
Willett is among a dozen players not
previously exempt for the season’s opening major who will lock up invitations to
Augusta National next April by п¬Ѓnishing
2014 in the top 50.
However, Willett cut it ever so close in
earning his п¬Ѓrst invitation to the Masters
and made his move by winning the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa on December 7.
Though he was ranked 51st last week
after not competing, he will climb to 50th
in the year-end rankings with no tournaments scheduled for this week and because points are reduced at differing rates
in the world ranking formula.
Among the other players gaining Mas-
ters exemptions via the top 50 are Britons
Jamie Donaldson, Ian Poulter and Stephen
Gallacher, all of them members of Europe’s triumphant 2014 Ryder Cup team.
American Kevin Streelman will drop
from 50th to 52nd in the п¬Ѓnal rankings of
the year, but he is already in the Masters
field because he won the PGA Tour’s 2014
Hartford tournament.
There will be further opportunities for
players to qualify for the April 9-12 Masters, including an updated top-50 world
ranking heading into the week of the tournament.
Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy will
end 2014 as the world number one after
assuming the top spot on August 2. McIlroy deposed Australian Adam Scott, who
was the game’s leading player for 11 weeks
and will end the year ranked third.
American Tiger Woods started 2014 at
the top of the world rankings and stayed
there until May 17.
Woods, who played in only nine tournaments in 2014 due to a back injury that required surgery, will end the year in 32nd spot.
Christmas has a
different feel at
Ferrari this time
New Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne has plenty to get his teeth into after a
dismal 2014 season for Formula One’s oldest, most glamorous and successful team
Lost Freeman
Olympic body
suit recovered?
By Reuters
he lycra body suit that
Cathy Freeman wore
to light the cauldron
at the Sydney Olympics may have been returned
14 years after it went missing
from her dressing room, the
Australian Olympic Committee said yesterday.
Freeman, an Aboriginal
athlete who went on to win
gold in the 400 metres at the
Games, wore the suit at the
climax of the opening ceremony in 2000, a moment seen by
many as a statement of reconciliation with indigenous Australians.
The item of clothing is in the
possession of police after being handed in anonymously at
the Melbourne Cricket Ground
(MCC), which houses the Na-
tional Sports Museum.
“On that night, Cathy was
soaked while standing under
a waterfall after a mechanical
fault delayed the lighting of the
cauldron,” said an AOC statement released yesterday.
“She removed the suit after
the ceremony and it has not
been seen since.
“What happened to the suit
has been the subject of much
debate over the years as it is a
major part of Australia’s Olympic history.
“We are hoping the item of
clothing handed to the MCC
Museum is authentic and the
mystery is finally solved.”
Local media reports in 2010
quoted a Games volunteer as
saying the suit, which was
white with blue detail, had
been destroyed to save the
embarrassment of organisers
as the Olympic rings had been
printed upside down on it.
Stepanek latest to pull
out of Hopman Cup
Maranello, Italy
he winds of change have swept
through Ferrari and even Christmas has a different feel now.
Media invited to the team’s
Fiorano test track to attend the traditional
seasonal lunch in a building next to Enzo
Ferrari’s old house knew what to expect
when former chairman Luca di Montezemolo was in charge.
Like a Medici prince of old, sitting in
the middle of a long table, the elegant
Italian would hold court and pronounce
on anything and everything that vexed or
pleased him.
At last year’s gathering, his last
such occasion, the impeccably dressed
67-year-old merely toyed with a salad as
the steaming tortellini in brodo and sliced
cotechino con lenticchie (pork sausage
with lentils) were served.
Over the course of the meal, Montezemolo would lay into the sport’s over-complex
rules, with particular scorn for any that he
considered disadvantageous for Ferrari, and
emphasise the need to improve the show.
London: Administrators have not given
up hope that the Caterham team will be
able to compete at the start of the next
Formula One season in March, Sky TV
reported yesterday.
“We remain hopeful that the Caterham
Formula 1 team can be saved and be on
the grid in Melbourne for the first race of
2015,” joint administrator Henry Shinners
told the broadcaster.
Shinners said administrators were in
talks with interested parties and thanked
“creditors for their endorsement of our
There was much to displease him at the
end of 2013, with a new V6 turbo hybrid
engine formula in the offing, and he did
not hold back.
The menu was unchanged when the
media returned to Fiorano on Monday, and
new Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne
also had plenty to get his teeth into after
a dismal season for Formula One’s oldest,
strategy and work” at a meeting on Monday which allows talks to continue with
potential new owners into 2015.
Caterham and Marussia went into
administration late last season and didn’t
compete in the races in the US and Brazil.
Marussia folded while Caterham returned
for the season-ender in Abu Dhabi with
fresh income from a crowdfunding scheme.
Pre-season testing starts on February
1 and the opener in Australia is on March
15. So far nine teams led by world champions Mercedes are registered for 2015.
most glamorous and successful team.
But the style, two months after Montezemolo’s departure and with double
world champion Fernando Alonso also
gone along with a host of others, was different.
His helicopter’s arrival delayed by fog
in Turin, the Fiat Chrysler chief executive showed he meant business—even if he
prefers a wool sweater to a business suit—
by addressing the media at a formal news
conference with new principal Maurizio
Arrivabene alongside.
Questions about the auto industry,
flotations and the wider world of finance
were declared off limits as Marchionne focused on Formula One.
In a rhetorical flourish that Montezemolo would have approved of, he said
the rules appeared to have been written by
a bunch of bar room drunkards.
But otherwise his message avoided hyperbole.
Whereas Montezemolo liked to invoke
the spirit of Ferrari, and spoke passionately about the magic of Maranello, Marchionne was more matter of fact.
This year was best forgotten, he said,
and next season will be still hard.
But the right people are now in place for
future success.
With that, he and Arrivabene—who has
joined from sponsor Philip Morris and
bears a passing resemblance to the Marlboro man with cigarette in hand—retired
to lunch. On their own table. The time for
speeches was over.
zech tennis star Radek
Stepanek is the latest player to pull out of
the Hopman Cup mixed
team event, forcing the Cup to
scramble to replace the 36-yearold with an ATP outsider.
With competition starting on
January 4, Stepanek, who is suffering from leg muscle problems
that also forced him to withdraw
from the Australian Open, was
replaced by Adam Pavlasek. Lucie Safarova makes up the women’s half of the Czech side.
Stepanek is the second man to
exit the п¬Ѓeld at the eight-nation
mixed team event.
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga pulled out claiming an arm injury suffered in the autumn but
later entered the four-day Australian Open exhibition tuneup
at Kooyong Club, Melbourne.
American Jack Sock also
pulled the plug after surgery, and
was substituted in the п¬Ѓeld by
John Isner as partner to Serena
Williams. Benoit Pair will play
in place of Tsonga alongside Alize Cornet, who won the title a
year ago with Tsonga.
Stepanek explained his injury
problem to Czech media: “My
right leg stopped working as it
should, due to atrophied muscles. My weak leg is only working
at 50 per cent.
“To play would be a huge risk.
This unfortunately means I must
miss both the Hopman Cup and
the Open.”
The event also features Andy
Murray, Eugenie Bouchard, Nick
Kyrgios and Casey Dellacqua.
Poland, runner-up last January to the French, will be represented by Anieszka Radwanska
and Jerzy Janowicz, while Flavia
Pennetta and Fabio Fognini will
represent Italy.
Already announced: Britain with Murray and Heather
Watson, and Canada, with Bouchard, the women’s Wimbledon
п¬Ѓnalist, and Vasek Pospisil.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Formula One drivers Sebastian Vettel, Jenson
Button, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Kimi
Raikkonen stand behing a banner in tribute to late
fellow world champion Australian Jack Brabham on
the grid of the Monaco in May this year. (AFP)
Of those who left behind
a legacy and the world
Ralph Wilson
wner of the Buffalo Bills since founding
them in 1960 and a driving force behind
what became the Super Bowl died aged 95
on March 25. Bought the Bills for $25000 in
1959, they were valued by Forbes magazine
last year at $870 million. He was elected to
the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009. His
greatest impact was in bringing together the
flashy upstart AFL and the NFL to create the
Super Bowl and usher in the modern gridiron era, helping guide the league’s rise into
America’s most popular sports league. Sadly
for him his vision was not rewarded with the
trophy itself despite his hugely-talented but
temperamentally suspect Bills reaching four
successive Super Bowls in the 1990’s and
losing on every occasion—the only team ever
to do so on both counts.
Chris Chataway
ritish athletics great best known for
being one of the pacemakers for Roger
Bannister’s landmark four-minute mile
run in 1954, died aged 82 on January 19.
Chataway, who was knighted by Queen
Elizabeth II for his services to the aviation
industry, had a stellar year in 1954 when he
also broke the 5,000 metres world record.
For that achievement and for his role in
Bannister’s remarkable effort it was he and
not Bannister who was named the п¬Ѓrst-ever
BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Later
became successful journalist and was also a
Conservative MP and achieved ministerial
office twice.
Mbulaeni Mulaudzi
utstanding South African 800 metres
runner whose crowning glory came with
the world outdoor title in Berlin in 2009.
Died in a car crash aged 34 on October 24.
Described as a true hero by South African
president Jacob Zuma among many other
medals he won Olympic silver in 2004
where he was also given the honour of being
the flagbearer. He had barely had time to
enjoy retirement having hung up his spikes
in 2013. “Just lost a brother, a friend, a very
good friend,” tweeted Caster Semenya, who
completed a double for South Africa in the
800m in Berlin by winning the women’s
title. “May your soul rest in peace. I love you
man, will always love you CHAMP.”
as he took six wickets for 14 runs in the
semi-п¬Ѓnal victory over England and then
п¬Ѓve for 48 in the п¬Ѓnal against the victors
West Indies. Never the healthiest of men
he had a liver transplant in 2005. Also lost a
son Clint to a brain tumour aged just 33. “He
was at the front of the queue when they were
handing out talent, but unfortunately he
was right at the back of the queue when they
handed out health and good luck,” said his
captain Ian Chappell, who led the fundraising for the liver transplant, after his death.
Phillip Hughes
ustralian batsman who died on November
27 just days away from his 26th birthday
and provoked an outpouring of grief in a country where those who earn the right to wear
the green baggy cap are idolised. Hughes died
from a head injury inflicted when a bouncer by
Sean Abbott struck him in the neck. In all he
played 26 tests with his most memorable his
second against South Africa in 2009 scoring
a century in each innings to become at the age
of 20 years and 96 days the youngest player to
achieve such a feat. Australian Prime Minister
Tony Abbott led the many tributes. “Phillip Hughes was a young man living out his
dreams. His death is a very sad day for cricket
and a heartbreaking day for his family. What
happened has touched millions of Australians.
For a young life to be cut short playing our
national game seems a shocking aberration.”
eal Madrid legend considered one of the
greatest footballers ever, died aged 88
on July 7 after lapsing into a coma following
a heart attack. Nicknamed the �Blonde Arrow’ he played for both his native Argentina
and then his adopted country Spain but like
another superstar George Best never got to
play on the biggest global stage the World
Cup п¬Ѓnals. However, on the club front it was
a different matter playing for Real Madrid
for 11 seasons between 1953 and 1964, winning п¬Ѓve European Cups and being named
European player of the year on two occasions (1957 and �59). “Alfredo Di Stefano
changed the history of this club and he
changed the history of football,” said Real’s
chairman Florentino Perez.
Albert Ebosse
urprise Czechoslovakian winner of the
women’s high jump Olympic gold in 1968
died at the age of 64 on October 19. She also
won European gold in 1969, and married her
coach Rudolf Hubner a year later. Rezkova,
also declined a marriage proposal from a
Greek millionaire, who offered her an island
in the Aegean Sea as a wedding present.
Gary Gilmour
olourful character nicknamed �Gus’
enjoyed a limited international cricket
career for Australia despite being a very talented all rounder. Died aged 62 on June 10.
Played 15 tests—though Don Bradman remarked to him �that if I was a selector you’d
never play for Australia. You eat too many
potatoes’—and five one day internationals.
The 1975 World Cup was his п¬Ѓnest moment
stepped down at the end of the 2011/12 season and presided over the best п¬Ѓrst half of a
league season in the club’s history. However,
he had to then take two months out undergoing chemotherapy in New York but Barca
held on to win the title with a record 100
points. He had wanted to stay on after that
but the cancer returned. “To lose is not a
drama. What has happened to Tito Vilanova
is,” said Spanish tennis legend Rafael Nadal
in tribute.
Tom Finney
dashing player for Preston North End
and England and regarded as the equal
of his contemporary, Stanley Matthews
died aged 91 on February 14. Nicknamed
the �Preston Plumber’ because his father
insisted he п¬Ѓnish his apprenticeship, he
served in World War II in the Desert and
Italy. On returning from duty he scored 210
goals in 473 appearances for Preston. He also
represented his country on 76 occasions,
including at three World Cup п¬Ѓnals, scoring
30 goals. Apart from a Second Division (now
the Championship) title, Finney never won
one of football’s major honours, ending up
on the losing side in an FA Cup п¬Ѓnal and
twice runners-up in the First Division (now
the Premier League). The late Bill Shankly,
the legendary Liverpool manager who
played with Finney at Preston, said of him:
“Tom Finney would have been great in any
team, in any match and in any age... even if
he had been wearing an overcoat.”
Jack Brabham
Klas Ingesson
Jean Beliveau
Alfredo di Stefano
lgeria-based Cameroon striker died
aged 24 on August 23 as result of injuries received during or after a game for his
club JC Kabylie for whom he was leading
scorer the preceding season. While the official Algerian version is that he died from
being struck on the head by a piece of slate
thrown from the stands a Cameroon pathologist, paid for by the family, has alleged
he died as a result of a beating he took in the
changing rooms.
Miloslava Rezkova
Real Madrid in the European Cup п¬Ѓnal and in
1965 he was awarded the Ballon d’Or. “I was
the best player in the world, top scorer in the
world and Europe. I did everything, except win
a World Cup,” Eusebio said in 2011, recalling
his tears after Portugal’s loss in the 1966 World
Cup semi-п¬Ѓnal to England. Tens of thousands
of Portuguese lined the streets of Lisbon
despite the driving rain to watch his funeral
cortege pass by while it was also broadcast live
on television.
ortugal’s greatest player and an inspiration to many including Cristiano Ronaldo.
Died aged 71 from cardio-pulmonary arrest
on January 5. Revered as the �Black Panther’
for his remarkable skills he was born into
poverty in the then Portuguese colony of
Mozambique and went on to score 733 goals
in 745 matches. It was at Portuguese giants
Benfica he established his reputation. In 1962
he scored the crucial goals in a 5-3 victory over
obust former Swedish international
midfielder died aged just 46 on October
29 after a п¬Ѓve year battle with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells. Most
memorable moment came when Sweden
surprised many and reached the 1994 World
Cup semi-п¬Ѓnals where his physical ballwinning skills were pivotal to their success.
In all he played 57 times for the national
side, scoring 13 goals, and numbered PSV
Eindhoven, Bologna, Marseille and Sheffield
Wednesday among his clubs.
Senzo Meyiwa
outh African and Orlando captain and
goalkeeper aged 27 shot dead by intruders at his pop singer girlfriend’s house in
a township near Johannesburg on October 26. Irvin Khoza, the chairman of the
Orlando Pirates, for whom Meyiwa played,
said: “This is a sad loss to Senzo’s family
especially his children, to Orlando Pirates &
the nation.” Meyiwa had been in outstanding form for club and country, starring for
the latter in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations
qualifiers where he kept four successive
clean sheets to set up Bafana Bafana nicely
to eventually qualify after his death. Replacement goalkeeper Darren Keet sported a
moving, handwritten quote from The Bible
on his gloves for the qualification-clinching
victory over Sudan in Durban: “There is no
greater love than to lay down one’s life for
one’s friend.”
nly man to win world title driving a car
he built himself died of cancer aged 88
on May 19. The Australian won three world
titles in all (1959, 60 with Cooper Racing
and 1966 in his own Brabham car) after
serving in the Royal Australian Air Force in
World War II. Nicknamed �Black Jack’—for
the colour of his hair and his propensity for
maintaining a shadowy silence—in 1959 he
famously ran out of fuel at the United States
Grand Prix and pushed his car across the
п¬Ѓnish line to take fourth place and become
Australia’s first Formula One world champion. “I eventually stopped about 100 yards
from the finishing line, and I started pushing. If anybody assisted me, I’d be disqualified,” he said. First driver to be knighted for
his services to motorsport, the trophy for
the Australian Grand Prix has been named in
his honour.
egendary player who won 10 Stanley
Cups died aged 83 after a long illness on
December 2. Played for 20 seasons with the
Montreal Canadiens accruing all his titles
with them and was inducted into the Hall of
Fame in 1972 a year after retiring. His haul
of Stanley Cups is one short of the record
held by former team-mate Henri Richard.
Another legend, four time Stanley Cup winner Wayne Gretzky summed up the awe with
which Beliveau was held in the foreword to
the latter’s autobiography: “I don’t think
there can be any other п¬Ѓgure in the history of professional team sports who better
exemplifies the word �winner.”
Toby Balding
bullient trainer died aged 78 on September 25. Became the youngest trainer in
Britain when he took over his late father’s
stables aged just 20. Went on to train the
winner of the Grand National and Champion
Hurdle twice and the �blue riband’ of steeplechasing the Cheltenham Gold Cup once.
Was also adept at spotting riding talent
principally 19-times champion jumps jockey
Tony McCoy who he lured from Ireland at
a young age. “I cried when I heard the news
my old boss and friend Toby Balding had
died. We had great times together, he was
my ultimate mentor,” said the normally
unemotional McCoy.
Terry Biddlecombe
Tito Vilanova
ormer Barcelona coach and assistant to
Pep Guardiola where they amassed 14
trophies in four seasons. Died after a three
year battle with cancer aged 45 on April
25. Vilanova succeeded Guardiola when he
hree-time British National Hunt
champion jockey nicknamed the �Blonde
Bomber’ died aged 72 on January 5. Lived
life to the full both on and off the course his
favourite tipple being brandy mixed with
babycham. He won the 1967 Cheltenham
Gold Cup on Woodland Victory, only able to
ride thanks to a painkilling injection because
he had badly injured knee ligaments the
day before. Conquered alcoholism and then
with his third wife trainer Henrietta Knight
combined brilliantly to produce triple Gold
Cup winner Best Mate (2002/03/04).
Dessie Hughes
op Irish jockey and a leading trainer who
both rode and subsequently trained a
winner of the Champion Hurdle died aged
71 on November 16. After an inauspicious
start to his riding career, he was disqualified
and placed last, he rode Davy Lad to victory
in the 1977 Cheltenham Gold Cup and then
Monksfield to the 1979 Champion Hurdle.
Trained Hardy Eustace to win the 2004 and
2005 Champion Hurdles. Father of British
champion jockey Richard and his daughter
Sandra who took on his licence and trained
her п¬Ѓrst winner a few weeks after he died.
“There’s gentlemen and then there was Dessie Hughes,” commented Hardy Eustace’s
rider Conor O’Dwyer.
Jackie Kyle
utstanding fly-half who in 1948 inspired
Ireland to their only ever Five Nations
Grand Slam died aged 88 on November 27.
Capped 46 times, he also played six times
for the British and Irish Lions, the Ulster
legend was voted in 2002 Ireland’s greatest
ever rugby player, though, this was before
Brian O’Driscoll reached his peak. Was
present in Cardiff when O’Driscoll led Ireland to the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2009.
A modest man despite his achievements
after retiring he devoted 30 years working
as a surgeon in Zambia before returning to
live in Northern Ireland. “I was with Jack
at a dinner when he was named as the best
player ever produced by Ireland and he felt
embarrassed by it, he felt humbled by it—
but that was the nature of the man,” recalled
another Irish legend Mike Gibson.
Elena Baltacha
ormer British women’s tennis number
one died of liver cancer aged 30 on May
4. Born in Ukraine—her father was Soviet
Union international footballer Sergei who
played in the 1988 European Championships
final—and brought up in Scotland, she was
ranked a career high 49 and won 11 titles
despite being diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition
which compromises the immune system,
aged 19. The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA)
paid tribute to a “tireless fighter”.
Dorothy “Dodo” Cheney
he п¬Ѓrst American woman to win what
is now known as the Australian Open,
died aged 98 on November 23. Cheney won
the 1938 Australian Championships and
reached the semi-п¬Ѓnals of the other three
Grand Slam events in her career, Wimbledon and the French Open in 1946 and the
US Open semi-п¬Ѓnals in 1937, 1938, 1943 and
1944. She played tennis into her 90’s and
was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004,
joining her mother May Sutton Bundy in
the sporting shrine, and introduced at the
induction ceremony by fellow Hall of Famer
John McEnroe.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Patriots clinch
top seed in
AFC playoffs
Harden pours in
44, Rockets blitz
Trail Blazers
�I was being aggressive, my team was doing a great job of playing fast and finding me’
Los Angeles
ot-shot James Harden was on
п¬Ѓre and the Portland Trail Blazers got smoked.
The league’s top scorer,
Harden exploded for a season-high-tying 44 points Monday, and the Houston
Rockets snapped the short-handed Trail
Blazers’ five-game winning streak 11095.
“James really had it going tonight,”
Rockets coach Kevin McHale said of his
superstar. “They were giving him the
three and when they made a mistake
he was turning the corner and getting
Hardin eclipsed the 40-point mark
for a league-best third time this season,
connecting on 14-of-26 п¬Ѓeld goals and
four 3-pointers but fell two points shy of
matching his career-high.
“I was being aggressive, my team was
doing a great job of playing fast and finding me,” said Harden, who added seven
assists and п¬Ѓve steals.
Harden took advantage of the absence
of visiting Portland’s top scorer and rebounder LaMarcus Aldridge (upper respiratory illness) and centre Robin Lopez
(broken hand) to shred the Trail Blazers’
interior early and often.
The All-Star guard dropped in 19 п¬Ѓrstquarter points and 31 by halftime as the
Rockets took a commanding 73-53 cushion at the break.
“It was a scoring fest in the first half,”
Harden said.
Harden added 11 points, including
three 3-pointers in the third quarter.
He checked back into the game midway
through the п¬Ѓnal frame, knocked down
a jumper and headed for the bench with
four minutes remaining, as the Rockets
snapped a modest two-game slide.
Dwight Howard had 16 points and 13
rebounds while Corey Brewer added 12
with four rebounds, four assists and п¬Ѓve
steals in his Rockets’ debut after being
acquired from Minnesota on Friday.
“James was attacking,” Howard said.
“When he plays like that he’s tough to
guard and it’s tough for teams to run
against us.”
Damian Lillard scored 18 and CJ McCollum had 17 off the bench for Portland
(19-8) which committed a season-high 23
turnovers, leading to 24 Houston points.
“Defensively we didn’t give much resistance in the first half and they took
advantage of that,” Blazers coach Terry
Stotts said. “Offensively, we turned the
ball over too much and really weren’t able
to mount any kind of legitimate comeback.”
Chicago Bulls 129, Toronto Raptors
120: Derrick Rose returned from a twogame illness absence with 15 of his 29
team’s franchise-record 49 fourth-quarter points, Jimmy Butler added 27 with
11 rebounds, and the Bulls (18-9) ended
the visiting Raptors’ six-game winning
streak. Kyle Lowry topped East-best To-
Cincinnati Bengals’ Domata Peko celebrates with fans after beating
Denver Broncos 37-28 in their NFL game on Monday. (UPI)
By Adam Kurkjian
Boston Herald (TNS)
Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic (left) in action with Toronto Raptors forward James Johnson during the second half of their
NBA game in Chicago on Monday night. (USA TODAY Sports)
ronto (22-7) with 18 of his game-high 34
points in the п¬Ѓnal frame.
Atlanta Hawks 105, Dallas Mavericks
102: Germany’s Dennis Schroder poured
in a career-high 22 points to lead a balanced attack, and the Hawks (20-7) held
off the Mavericks after building a 24-point
cushion for their 13th victory in the last 14
games. Monta Ellis netted 18 points and
German juggernaut Dirk Nowitzki added
16 for Dallas (20-9) which fell short despite
a 39-23 fourth quarter.
Utah Jazz 97, Memphis Grizzlies 91:
Alec Burks scored 13 of his 23 points in
the п¬Ѓnal quarter, Gordon Hayward added 21, and the visiting Jazz (9-20) sent
the suddenly-slumping Grizzlies to a
season-high third straight setback. Mike
Conley had 28 points, Spaniard Marc
Gasol added 24 with 12 rebounds for the
Grizzlies (21-7), playing again without
their top rebounder Zach Randolph (sore
right knee) and defensive ace Tony Allen
(scratched right eye).
San Antonio Spurs 125, LA Clippers 118: Frenchman Tony Parker returned from a п¬Ѓve-game absence due to
a left hamstring strain with 26 points,
Tim Duncan added 21 with 12 rebounds,
and the Spurs (18-11) shot a sizzling 64
per cent to snap a four-game slide after
holding off the visiting Clippers. Chris
Paul tossed in 25 points while Blake Griffin added 22 for the Clippers (19-9), who
stormed from 17 down to knot the game
at 102 apiece but faded down the stretch.
Golden State Warriors 128, Sacramento Kings 108: Klay Thompson п¬Ѓred
in 25 points, Stephen Curry added 12 with
11 assists, and the league-best Warriors
(23-3) coasted past the visiting Kings.
Golden State got back starting forward
David Lee, who had six points and seven
rebounds, in his п¬Ѓrst action since suffering a left hamstring strain on November
6. DeMarcus Cousins tallied 22 points for
Sacramento (12-16), losers in 11 of its last
14 games.
Charlotte Hornets 110, Denver Nuggets 82: Al Jefferson scored 22 points,
Kemba Walker added 18 with nine assists,
and the Hornets (9-19) rolled the visiting Nuggets (12-16) for their season-high
third straight victory.
ith the Denver Broncos’ 37-28 loss to the
Cincinnati Bengals
on Monday night,
the Patriots officially clinched
home-п¬Ѓeld advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, enjoying
a bye for a record-setting п¬Ѓfth
consecutive season.
With a 12-3 record, the Patriots hold a one-game lead on the
11-4 Broncos. Even if the Patriots lose to the Bills on Sunday
and the Broncos win their п¬Ѓnale
against Oakland, the Patriots
will earn the No. 1 seed by virtue
of their win against Denver on
Nov 2.
The Patriots’ next game will be
either January 10 or 11 at Gillette
Stadium. They will play the lowest seed remaining after the two
AFC wild card games.
Of course, owning the top seed
doesn’t guarantee anything.
Over the last 10 years, a team
that goes into the playoffs with
the No. 1 spot makes the Super
Bowl only 45 percent of the time.
Forty percent of the time, the top
seed is bounced in the divisional
round. Only two teams -- 2010
Saints and 2014 Seahawks -with home-п¬Ѓeld advantage during the playoffs went on to win
the Lombardi Trophy. In both
instances, the Super Bowl loser
was the No. 1 seed coming out of
its respective conference.
In the AFC alone, п¬Ѓve of the
last nine teams with guaranteed
home-п¬Ѓeld advantage throughout were eliminated in the divisional round.
The Patriots have earned the
distinction three times over that
span and lost twice in the Super
Bowl and were defeated in the divisional round by the Jets in the
2010 season.
In other words, while it’s all
well and good to play at home
in the postseason, it essentially
guarantees nothing once kickoff
rolls around.
Pats running back Brandon
Bolden brushed off the idea that
having a bye week makes a difference.
“There’s advantage of kind
of getting fresh legs, getting
your wind under you,” he said
when asked if being the top seed
matters. “Guys who are a little
banged up get a chance to rest
and stuff, but other than that,
Coach Bill Belichick said, “Our
approach is going to continue to
be prepare and try to improve
our level of performance all the
way across the board: coaching,
playing, running game, passing
game, kicking game, everything.
Just keep trying to work to get
better. I think we’ll need to play
our best football, it will need to
be ahead of us. That’s what we’ll
try to prepare to do; to play well
and continue to work on things
that we need to work on so we
can play better.”
There is no rhyme or reason
to the theory that teams playing well down the stretch go on
to win the Super Bowl. Of the
last 10 NFL champs, none were
unbeaten over their last п¬Ѓve regular-season games. Three Super
Bowl winners п¬Ѓnished 4-1, while
the rest went either 2-3 or 3-2.
The 2011 Giants famously went
3-5 over their п¬Ѓnal eight regularseason games only to catch п¬Ѓre in
the playoffs and beat the Patriots
in Super Bowl XLVI, 21-17.
Panthers down Penguins in shootout in front of season-high crowd
By Harvey Fialkov
Sun Sentinel (TNS)
lthough the mumps-ridden Penguins
were down to 10 forwards at one point,
when a team has superstars Evgeni
Malkin and Sidney Crosby on the ice,
they’re never out of a game. The Panthers feel
the same way about goaltender Roberto Luongo.
Although the Panthers blew a two-goal lead
in the п¬Ѓnal п¬Ѓve minutes of regulation, Luongo
blanked all seven Penguins in the shootout, including Malkin and Crosby. Panthers teenage
center Aleksander Barkov tallied the only goal
necessary to earn a thrilling 4-3 victory over the
Eastern Conference leaders Monday in front of a
season-high 15,447 at the BB&T Center.
Panthers forward Sean Bergenheim’s crushing
hit on rookie pest Bobby Farnham led to the tying
goal at the tail end of the second period. He then
set up two goals by Jimmy Hayes early in the third
to give the Panthers a seemingly secure 3-1 lead.
However, the potent Penguins tied it with two
goals within 1:42 of each other. First, Nick Spaling deflected a long shot by Derrick Pouliot at
15:08. Then Malkin took over and drove the net
for a couple of whacks before scoring his 16th
goal to make it 3-3 with 3:10 left in regulation.
After a wide-open scoreless overtime that
had the mostly partisan Penguins crowd gasping, Luongo and Marc-Andre Fleury took over in
a mano y mano display of goaltending. The Panthers are now 5-4 in shootouts, with three wins
in the last six days that took a record 20 rounds,
six and seven respectively.
“They’re two of the best players in the league
but at that point I just want to make a save,”
said Luongo, who had 31 saves. “I’m not going
through progressions of what I think they can do
or what their moves are. I want to make sure I
don’t make the first move.”
He made a sensational glove save on Chris
Kunitz in Round 4 to save the extra point.
“We like the way we’re playing as a team,”
Luongo added. “We’re finding ways to win
against good teams. We’re in the hunt, which is
exciting this time of year.”
The Panthers needed just two days to avenge
Saturday’s chippy 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh and are
6-2-2 in their last 10 games. They’re just two
points out of the п¬Ѓnal wild-card berth as most
Panthers will happily head home for the fourday holiday break.
The Penguins had 10 starters out with injuries
or mumps -- including two more sent back to
Pittsburgh on Monday to be tested for the fastspreading disease. Penguins coach Mike John-
ston started eight players who started in the
AHL this season.
Bergenheim’s hit seemed to fire the Panthers
up after a lethargic start in the п¬Ѓrst period. Just
34 seconds later, defenseman Simon Despres was
whistled for slashing and three seconds after the
power play expired, center Dave Bolland found
Jussi Jokinen in the slot for a one-timer to tie it
with 37 seconds left to forge a 1-1 tie after two.
Jokinen, who spent the last year and a half
notching points on the Penguins’ power play,
scored his fourth goal.
Just 22 seconds after the opening faceoff of the
third, Bergenheim fed Hayes for a snap shot that
trickled through Fleury’s pads. Then at 4:57, Bergenheim’s shot bounced to Hayes, who poked it in
for his п¬Ѓrst multiple-goal game of his career.
“Whenever you get scratched you want to
bounce back with a solid game,” said Hayes, who
has nine goals but was scratched Saturday. “We
proved we can beat good teams when we play a
simple north-south game.”
The shorthanded Penguins seemed inspired out
of the gate and checked the Panthers all over the
ice until right wing Patric Hornqvist deflected a
long shot past Luongo at 4:39 of the п¬Ѓrst.
“I think this team has proven that they can
compete with just about anyone,’’ Panthers coach
Gerard Gallant said. “But they deserve this break.”
Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Blake Comeau (left) checks Florida Panthers centre Jonathan
Huberdeau during their NHL game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Monday. (USA TODAY Sports)
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Major League Baseball roundup
Qatar Optimist
Cup to kick off on
December 27
Qatar is one of four countries to field sailors in both the boys and girls categories
By Sports Reporter
ailors from eleven countries will
be vying for honours at the Qatar Optimist Cup 2014 which will
kick off on December 27 at Katara
Cultural Village.
The six-day event, which ends on January 2, will see 32 sailors competing in 12
races. The п¬Ѓrst day has been reserved for
The event is open for competitors born
in or after 1999 and is organised by Qatar
Sailing and Rowing Federation (QSRF) in
co-operation with Doha Sailing Club.
Besides hosts Qatar, sailors from Algeria, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Denmark,
Germany, India, Netherlands, Switzerland and Turkey will be seen in action at
the championship.
Qatar is one of the four countries
which will п¬Ѓeld sailors in both the boys
and girls categories. Turkey, India and
Netherlands will have one girl competitor
each in the event.
QSRF executive director Fahad alJaber said all the arrangements have been
complete for the hosting of the championship. “Three races will be held per day,
depending on the weather conditions.
The п¬Ѓrst day is reserved for practice and
the opening ceremony will be held in the
evening. One day is reserve for team.”
Al-Jaber informed that one day has
been set aside as a spare day, while the п¬Ѓnal three races will be held on January 2,
followed by the closing ceremony.
“Most of the sailors will be reaching
Doha by Wednesday,” added Jaber.
Meanwhile, Rashid al-Suwaidi, manager of the Qatar team, informed that the
hosts will п¬Ѓeld 13 sailors at the event.
“The Qatar team has been training for
the last two weeks for the event in a close
camp,” said al-Suwaidi.
“Most of the sailors, part of the Qatar
Open Sailing Cup, took part in the Asian
Games in Incheon South Korea. We have
high hopes and the preparations have
been on the right track,” added the team
The Qatari squad includes Khairadin
Bu Shama, Zeyad al-Awalma, Yasin Benzarti, Ali al-Sharshani, Abdullah al-Sharshani, Moshin al-Sharshani, Mohammad
al-Sharshani, Ali al-Marhoun, Rashid al-
Awalma, Abdulrahman al-Nasr, Ghanim
al-Sulaiti and Rashid Talfat.
The Qatar event will be an ideal event
for sailors from the host country ahead
of next month GCC championship which
takes place in Oman, said al-Suwaidi.
“The Doha championship will serve as
a good preparation for our sailors for the
GCC championship. It will also help them
to make the necessary improvements and
gain valuable international experience
competing against sailors from different
Meanwhile, the Organising Committee, chaired by QSRF president Khalifa
al-Suwaidi, have been holding coordination meeting with different committees
to discuss organisational issues and to
form working committees for hosting the
QSRF executive director Fahad al-Jaber;
(below) Rashid al-Suwaidi, manager of
the Qatar team.
Phil Hughes (right) with Twins GM Terry Ryan. (MCT)
he Minnesota Twins agreed to terms with starting right-handed pitcher Phil Hughes on a new five-year contract extension
Hughes, who originally signed a three-year contract last winter
which would have paid him $8 million in both 2015 and 2016,
will now earn $9.2 million in 2015, $9.2 million in 2016, $13.2 million in 2017, $13.2 million in 2018 and $13.2 million in 2019 in the
restructured deal.
Hughes, 28, had a 16-10 record and 3.52 ERA over 209 2/3 innings
with 16 walks and 186 strikeouts in 32 starts in his first season in
Minnesota last season. He set a major league record for highest
strikeout-to-walk ratio at 11.63.
He fell one out short in his final start to earn a $500,000 incentive bonus that he would have reached for pitching 210 innings.
The Twins offered to let Hughes pitch in relief during the season’s
final weekend to earn the bonus, but he turned down the offer.
Hughes’ first seven seasons in the majors were with the New
York Yankees. He has a career record of 72-60 and 4.32 ERA over
990 1/3 innings with 261 walks, 842 strikeouts and three complete games in 214 games (164 starts).
he Pittsburgh Pirates won the rights to negotiate with South
Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang with the high bid of about
$5 million.
The bid was accepted by the Nexen Heroes, Kang’s Korean
Baseball Organization Club. Pursuant to the United States-Korean
Player Contract Agreement, the Pirates have 30 days to sign the
27-year-old Kang to a contract.
The Yonhap News Agency reported that the winning bid was
Kang hit .354 with 39 homers last season for the Nexen Heroes
while being named the MVP of the Korean Baseball Organization.
he San Diego Padres reportedly are set to sign right-handed
pitcher Josh Johnson to a one-year contract that could be
worth $7.25 million.
Johnson, 31 next month, will receive a $1 million base salary
and could earn $6.25 million based on the number of starts he
makes, Yahoo Sports reported.
Johnson missed the 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John
surgery in April—the second such surgery of his career.
After spending his first eight seasons with the Florida/Miami
Marlins, Johnson was 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA in 16 starts with the
Toronto Blue Jays in 2013.
Josh Johnson. (MCT)
Gharafa beat Rayyan in a Qatar Basketball League thriller; Sadd win against Arabi
Samuel Monroe Jr of Al Gharafa (centre) prepares to score past Al Rayyan’s Nana Harding Ngueyep (right) during the Qatar Basketball
League match at Al Gharafa Sports Club. Monroe Jr scored match-high 26 points in Gharafa’s narrow 75-74 win. PICTURES: Jayaram
Al Sadd’s Rashad Woods (foreground) in action against Al Arabi during the Qatar Basketball League game
yesterday. Rashad scored 39 points in Sadd’s 87-73 win.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Laudrup best coach,
Sadd’s al-Haydoos
MVP for December
Lekhwiya Coach Michael Laudrup was awarded the best coach in QSL for December
for having achieved four wins and one draw to gain 13 points out of the 15 available
By Sports Reporter
ekhwiya Danish Head Coach
Michael Laudrup was awarded
the best coach in Qatar Stars
League for December 2014 for his
team’s performance during the recent
п¬Ѓve games played during this month, as
he achieved 4 victories and one draw to
gain 13 points out of 15.
QSL Competition & Development Department granted him this award based
on Prozon statistics which monitors everything related to the team individuals
and collective performance.
The statistics indicated that the team
had a high ball possession of 632 during the п¬Ѓve games, the highest of which
was against Al Shahania with total of 741
passes, to exceed the aim set by QSLM
which is 500 passes.
Also the team had an average of 502
passes per game during December, out of
which 431 passes to the front of the п¬Ѓeld
with average of 219 passes. While the total number of successful one touch passes reached 111 which reflects the direct
approach of the team that is an indicator
to the team’s offensive ability with hightempo from one touch.
The team also showed high ability of
penetrating the opponents’ areas with
an average of 58 times per game, out of
which an average of 32 times to penetrate
the goal area per match, which is equal
to highest criteria required by QSL. The
highest number was achieved during
their match against Al Khor as they won
4-2with the highest shooting number of
14 shots towards the goal.
More statistics assures the offensive
way of playing with the use of through
passes because the team owns distinguished players on the wings such as
Ismail Ali and Vladimir Weis, Hence the
team head coach asks the team to focus
on through passes as an offensive option
as well as the penetration from the depth
of the opponents’ defense by player Sebastian Sorya.
The average number of through passes
was 10 per match, with more than half
from the right wing by player Ismail Ali
with an average of 6.2 while the average
of left wing was 3.8 by player Vladimir
Weis. Noting that the highest number of
through passes was against Al Khor and
reached 15 times.
For the sake of completion of Lekhwiya
team’s excellence during their recent five
games during December 2014, we would
like to point out that the team scored 16
goals and conceived 6. The team players
created 16 goal-scoring opportunities
per match, not to forget that the physical п¬Ѓtness level of performance was high
with an average of 110555 metres of the
total distances covered by the whole
President of Qatar Stars League Management
meets with the head coaches of the teams
participating in AFC Champions League 2015
HE Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Thani, President of
Qatar stars League Management (right) with El Jaish Head Coach
Abdel Kader al-Megheseib during the meeting.
HE Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa
bin Ahmed al-Thani, President
of Qatar stars League Management, met with the three
head coaches of the teams
participating in AFC Champions
League; Lekhwiya, Al Sadd and
El Jaish, wishing them all the
luck in their matches with good
performance to honour the
Qatari football. His Excellency
granted the three of them Qatar
National Team jersey for representing Qatar in AFC Champions League.
QSL Competitions & Football
Development Department convened a meeting with the three
head coaches to discuss the
2015 match calendar and the
facilities QSL going to provide
for Lekhwiya, Al Sadd and El
Jaish during their participation
in AFC Champions League.
Ahmed al-Harami – CEO of QSL
Competitions & Football Development Department – attended
the meeting, along with Lekhwiya Danish Head Coach Michael
Laudrop, Al Sadd Moroccan
Head Coach Hussain Amouta
and El Jaish Head Coach Abdel
Kader al-Megheseib.
It is worth mentioning that
this meeting was convened
after meeting with the national
teams’ technical staffs.
On the other hand, next
Tuesday a meeting to be held
between the Sports Directors of
these three teams, QSLM and
QFA for the co-ordination regarding QSL, Qatargas League
and Youth League schedules.
Qatar Stars League announces six new Football
Rewards partners, amazing discounts on offer
Lekhwiya Danish Head Coach Michael Laudrup was awarded the best coach in Qatar Stars League for December 2014. (Below)
Al Sadd star Al-Haydoos is the most valuable player for the same month.
QSL Competition & Football Development Department awarded Al Sadd striker Hassan al-Haydoos the most valuable
player for December 2014 in view of the
statistics introduced by Prozon Company during the recent п¬Ѓve games, during
which the team gained 11 points out of
15with performance grades reached 92.2.
Al-Haydoos did well with his team
who achieved 3 wins and one draw and
one defeat during December. The player
continued his excellence, which was also
demonstrated with Qatar National Team
during the Gulf Cup as Al Annabi gained
its title.
Al-Haydoos introduced himself as one
of the key playmakers with Al Sadd according to the technical and tactical and
physical indicators submitted by Prozon
Company. His ball possession reached 54
passes, with 36 passes per match, among
which were 30 correct passes and he received the same number of passes. The
average touches per game were 3 and he
dispossessed the ball from the opponent
4 times per game. It is clear the major
role of al-Haydoos within the head coach
Hussain Amouta team formation as he
is a key player whether in offense or defense with four fouls committed against
him and seven tackles to dispossess the
ball from him.
The rest of Prozon statistics support
the importance of this player especially
in his offensive role as he scored three
goals, with three goal assists during De-
cember. He entered the opponents’ areas,
in particular the п¬Ѓnal third of the pitch,
four times per match.
He imposes huge risk on the opponents’ defense with entering their goal
areas п¬Ѓve times in addition to the large
number of through passes from the left
and right wings as well as the goal shooting tries.
Regarding the physical п¬Ѓtness level,
Hassan al-Haydoos demonstrated a very
good level of physical п¬Ѓtness performance, which helped him achieve all the
technical elements set by Prozon, while
he exceeded the QSL criteria and the international criteria.
The number of sprints he made during
the п¬Ѓve matches was 468 with an average of 1550 metres. The average number
of sprints per match reached 67 while
the recovery rest time was 29.8 seconds.
These are high ratios which reveal to us
what this player is capable of during the
game with high speed, noting that the
distance covered by al-Haydoos was
2000 metres per match, among which
was 1081.6 metres with high velocity.
Qatar Stars League is delighted
to announce six new Football
Rewards partners – Supplement
House, a leading sports-supplement brand; The Veterinary
Surgery, the oldest animal
hospital in Doha; Galaxy Sport,
a multi-brand sportswear concept; Reebok, an international
sportswear brand; Titanium
Protection Films, an automotive window films business and
RAW Middle East, Qatar’s first
premium cold pressed juices
and nutritional detox cleanses,
providing healthy solutions.
The six partners will be offering
Football Rewards’ members
amazing discounts.
Supplement House
For all Tiers: 20% discount on
all items in store
The Veterinary Surgery
For Standard and Bronze Tiers:
5% discount on food and 10%
discount on services
For Silver and Gold Tiers: 10%
discount on food and 20%
discount on services
Galaxy Sport
For all Tiers: 15% discount on
new collection. Discounted
items are not included
For all Tiers: 15% discount on
new collection. Discounted
items are not included
Titanium Protection Films
For Standard Tier: 10% discount
on clear shield (vehicle paint
protection film), 10% discount
on all type of window films,
20% discount on Titanium Auto
Services (30 detailing services)
For Bronze Tier: 10% discount
on clear shield (vehicle paint
protection film), 15% discount
on all type of window films,
20% discount on Titanium Auto
Services (30 detailing services)
For Silver Tier: 15% discount
on clear shield (vehicle paint
protection film), 20% discount
on all type of window films,
25% discount on Titanium Auto
Services (30 detailing services)
For Gold Tier: 20% discount
on clear shield (vehicle paint
protection film), 25% discount
on all type of window films,
30% discount on Titanium Auto
Services (30 detailing services)
RAW Middle East
For all Tiers: 15% discount in all
products and plans offered
Members will need to show
their Football Rewards membership card and their valid
Qatar ID at the outlets. New
members can click here to register and choose to receive their
membership card instantly via
e-mail or collect a plastic card
from QSL offices.
Qatar Mega Marathon launched
Qatar face Saudi Arabia
in championship opener
By Sports Reporter
atar A comprised of
Mahmoud Issa and
will meet Saudi
Arabia A in Group A match
of the 16th GCC Beach Volleyball Championship today
at Qatar Beach Volleyball
Academy (QBVA) courts at Al
Gharafa stadium.
The draw of the championship was held yesterday. In the
other matches on the opening
day Oman A will take on Qatar D, while Bahrain A will take
on Kuwait in a Group B match.
The semi-п¬Ѓnals and п¬Ѓnal will be
played on Saturday.
Qatari B comprised of Tiago
Santos and Jefferson Pereira
defeated Oman A 2-0 (21-15, 216) to win the last edition of the
championship held in Salalah,
Muscat, in August 2013. Qatar A
won the third place after beating
Oman B 2-0 (21-15 21-16).
Injured Santos is not part of
any Qatar team this year.
A: Mahmoud Issa and Jefferson Pereira
B: Tamer Abdelrasoul and
Abdelaziz Khallouf
D: Sherif Younouss and
Ahmed Tijan
TODAY: 3:00pm: Qatar D vs Bahrain
B, Kuwait vs Oman B
3:40pm: Qatar A vs Saudi Arabia A,
Qatar B vs Saudi Arabia B
4:20pm: Oman A vs Qatar D, Bahrain
A vs Kuwait
5:00pm: Saudi Arabia A vs Bahrain B,
Saudi Arabia B vs Oman B
5:40pm: Qatar A vs Oman A, Qatar B
vs Bahrain A
TOMORROW: 3:00pm: Saudi Arabia
A vs Qatar D, Saudi Arabia B vs Kuwait
3:40pm: Oman A vs Saudi Arabia A,
Bahrain A vs Saudi Arabia B
4:20pm: Qatar A vs Bahrain B, Qatar B
vs Oman B
5:00pm: Bahrain B vs Oman A, Oman
B vs Bahrain A
5:40pm: Qatar D vs Qatar A, Qatar B
vs Kuwait
Semi-finals and Final
Jassim al-Rumaihi, Secretary General, Al Sadd, and chairman of the Organizing Committee of
Qatar Mega Marathon, at yesterday’s press conference announcing the launch of the global race.
The marathon, which will be run on February 6 next year to coincide with the National Sport Day
celebrations, aims to become the largest marathon in the world in terms of participation and make it
to the Guinness Book of World Records. Also present at the press conference were Fahad al-Kuwari,
member of the Board of Directors of Al Sadd Club, Rashid al-Ansari of Qatar Athletics Federation,
and Pravin Patel, adjudicator from Guinness Book of World Records. PICTURE: Anas al-Samaraee
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Ryder Cup star Justin Rose
to play in 18th Commercial
Bank Qatar Masters
Rose joins Stenson and Garcia, as three of world’s top six commit to European Tour spectacular at Doha Golf Club
By Sports Reporter
orld No 6 Justin Rose will
compete in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters for the second time
in three years as the 2013 US Open
Champion joins Ryder Cup teammates
Henrik Stenson and defending champion Sergio Garcia in an increasingly
strong line-up in Doha.
Rose, 34, recently п¬Ѓnished third in
The Race to Dubai – behind Rory McIlroy and Stenson, currently World No. 1
and 2 respectively – after a strong finish to the season, having already won
his seventh European Tour title at the
Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish
Open in July.
In November, Rose п¬Ѓnished fourth
at the BMW Masters in Shanghai and
two weeks later was runner-up at the
season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai for the second time in
three years.
The Englishman – who will be making his sixth appearance in Doha – is
now determined to continue that form
into the 18th Commercial Bank Qatar
Masters, which will be held at Doha
Golf Club from January 21-24.
“I finished the season playing really well and I want to build on that in
Doha. I enjoyed myself at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters a couple
of years ago and I’m looking forward to
returning. I felt increasingly comfortable on the course and want to really
have another go at it this time,” said
Rose, who tied for 16th on his last visit
when he memorably met Wayne Rooney on a tee-box as Manchester United
stars watched the action.
“It looks like it’s already shaping up
into a strong п¬Ѓeld. I know Sergio played
well last year to win and he played great
when I last competed in 2013, so he will
be a favourite. Henrik beat us all in Dubai, so he’ll be another strong contender,
especially as I know he plays in Doha
every year. It’ll be tough, but I’m confident I’ll be in with a shout this time.”
Rose and Stenson proved an unstoppable pairing in September’s Ryder
Cup, as the duo won all three of their
matches against the USA to help Eu-
rope retain the trophy. Their three wins
included a Ryder Cup record of 12 birdies in 16 holes to beat Matt Kuchar and
Bubba Watson 3&2 in the fourballs.
Rose said: “Henrik and I had an incredible time at The Ryder Cup. It’s always an amazing event, but it was a real
privilege to team up with Henrik and
play so well. We really fed off each other. I much prefer playing with him than
against him, but I’m looking forward
to meeting up with him and Sergio and
other guys from the team in Doha.”
Rose has also continued to shine in
the USA and won his sixth PGA Tour
title in June to continue his run of lifting at least trophy on the Tour each
season from 2010.
Hassan al-Nuaimi, President of the
Qatar Golf Association, said the addition of Rose to a п¬Ѓeld that already featured Stenson and Garcia, currently
World No 5, boded well for an all-star
п¬Ѓeld in January.
“Justin Rose is a true Ryder Cup
hero and we welcome him back to the
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters after
his brilliant display for Europe, just
like when he competed here two years
ago. We were also delighted to see
him win the US Open last year just a
few months after he competed here in
Doha,” al-Nuaimi said.
“Justin is one of the true gentlemen
in golf and always popular wherever
he goes. He has spent most of the past
three years in the top 10 and much of
that in the top five, so we’re proud to
welcome one of golf’s great players to
a star-studded line-up.”
Abdullah Saleh al-Raisi, CEO of
Commercial Bank, which is title sponsoring the event for the 10th straight
year, added: “Commercial Bank is
proud to work with the Qatar Golf Association each year to attract a strong
line-up of players for the Commercial
Bank Qatar Masters.
“With Justin Rose joining Henrik
Stenson and Sergio Garcia, I strongly
believe we’re on track for one of the
tournament’s best-ever fields. All of
these players are hugely popular when
they compete in Doha and we’re delighted to continually deliver one of
the strongest line-ups on The European Tour.”
Commercial Bank is marking its 10th
Justin Rose on the 10th hole during the 2013 edition of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
year as title sponsor of the event, during
which time champions have included
Garcia, Stenson (2006), fellow Ryder
Cup representatives Thomas BjГёrn, Paul
Lawrie and Robert Karlsson, former
World No 1 Adam Scott and two-time US
Open Champion Retief Goosen.
Many of the world’s top golfers compete each year at the Commercial Bank
Qatar Masters, which has been held at
Doha Golf Club since its inauguration
in 1998. The club’s desert-type Championship Course is one of the longest
par 72 courses on The European Tour.
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
tickets are available to purchase now
at Virgin Megastores (in stores in Doha
and online), Doha Golf Club, and the
Doha Rugby F C. Each ticket purchased
entitles the holder to one free return
drive to the event at Doha Golf Club by
event partner UBER. Commercial Bank
Qatar Masters tickets for adults are
priced as follows:
Wednesday 21 January – QAR 150
Thursday 22 January – QAR 150
Friday 23 January – QAR 250 (includes evening entertainment – UB40
featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and
Saturday 24 January – QAR 200
Season Pass – QAR 450 (includes
event entry on all four days and evening
Entry is free for children under
14 years of age. For those looking
for an extra-special experience,
hospitality packages are available
through the official website,
Goodwood Racecourse announces biggest
sponsorship in British racing with Qatar
By Our Correspondent
oodwood Racecourse is delighted to announce a new
10-year partnership with Qatar, which is the single biggest
sponsorship deal ever done for the benefit of British racing. Commencing in
2015, this makes the Qatar Goodwood
Festival one of the most significant and
valuable meetings in the world.
The partnership results in over ВЈ2
million being invested into prize money for eight key races during the Qatar
Goodwood Festival 2015 as well as a
commitment to increase this year-onyear. Total prize money on offer for the
week now totals ВЈ4.5 million, with Qatar once again demonstrating their passion and support for British racing.
The Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes,
scheduled for Wednesday, 29th July,
has a total prize fund of ВЈ1 million cementing its position as one of the most
valuable mile races in the world.
The Group 1 Qatar Nassau Stakes,
the feature race on the Saturday of the
Qatar Goodwood Festival is now worth
£600,000, making it the most significant mid-summer race for fillies.
Each Group 2 feature race, The Qatar Lennox Stakes (Tuesday), The Qatar Goodwood Cup (Thursday) and
The Qatar King George Stakes (Friday)
are now worth ВЈ300,000, recognising their recent records for attracting
some of the best horses at their respective distances. In addition, Qatar has
President of Qatar Equestrian Federation, Hamad bin Abdulrahman al-Attiyah
(right) with Lord March, owner of Goodwood during the signing ceremony.
guaranteed that if any current Group 2
race achieves Group 1 status, the prize
money will rise to at least ВЈ500,000.
Other races to benefit from increased
prize money are the two Group 2 races
for two-year-olds, The Qatar Vintage
Stakes and The Qatar Richmond Stakes,
each of which will run for ВЈ200,000,
supporting their status as the proving
grounds for future champions.
The Qatar Stewards’ Cup is the headline handicap of the week with prize
money now totalling ВЈ250,000 and, as
part of this uplift, the consolation race
rises to ВЈ75,000. This is a perfect example of how strongly Goodwood and
Qatar feel about supporting racing at
all levels.
The inaugural Qatar Goodwood Festival will take place from Tuesday, 28th
July to Saturday, 1st August 2015.
There will two races at the Qatar
Goodwood Festival for Arabian horses,
with one being the п¬Ѓrst leg of the Arabian Triple Crown. The second leg will
take place on Arc day in France and the
п¬Ѓnal one at Doha in Qatar.
Lord March, Owner of Goodwood,
said: “I am delighted that Qatar have
decided to play a significant part in
Goodwood’s position as one of the finest racing experiences in the world.
Goodwood has, for more than 200
years, been about the best racing in the
most English of settings, accessible to
everyone. Our partnership with Qatar
will make an enormous contribution to
horseracing in the UK.
Hamad bin Abdulrahman al-Attiyah,
President of the Qatar Equestrian Federation, said: “Thanks to the wise guidance of His Highness the Emir Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar
supports sport all over the world.
“Goodwood is already one of the
most iconic sporting festivals of the
British summer season and we are delighted to be the title sponsor over the
five days. The sponsorship demonstrates Qatar’s further commitment
to British racing and, with such huge
prize-money on offer, we hope it will
help to attract international runners
from all over the world as well as continuing to see the best in Britain, France
and Ireland.
“We look forward to working with
Lord March and the team at Goodwood
and taking the racing festival to a world
class racing platform.”
Adam Waterworth, Managing Director of Goodwood Racecourse, added: “I
think Arabian Racing will be a great addition. There is a bit of a history of Arabian horses racing at Goodwood and for
us this is another part of what the Qatar
Goodwood Festival will become. We hope
to build other equestrian disciplines and
sports around the week.”
Sheikh Fahad bin Abdullah al-Tha-
The Qatar Lennox Stakes, Group 2, 7f
The Qatar Vintage Stakes, Group 2,7f
The Qatar Sussex Stakes, Group 1, 1m
The Qatar Richmond Stakes, Group 2, 6f
The Qatar Goodwood Cup, Group 2, 2m
The Qatar King George Stakes, Group 2, 5f
The Qatar Nassau Stakes, Group 1, 1m2f
The Qatar Stewards’ Cup (Handicap), 6f
ni, Director of QIPCO Holding: “It
has been a privilege for QIPCO to be associated with the last four runnings of
the Sussex Stakes with winners of the
calibre of Frankel, twice, Toronado and
“Our support of British Champions
Series is about promoting the best of
British Flat racing. The investment Qatar is making to Goodwood is a boost
for the sport and with that in mind,
QIPCO is very happy that Qatar’s partnership with Goodwood and support
for British racing will include sponsorship of the Sussex Stakes. With three
of the top races from the Goodwood
Festival remaining part of the QIPCO
British Champions Series we continue
to benefit from an association with the
Chris McFadden, Chairman of
British Champions Series Limited,
commented: “This new and significant
investment in the Sussex Stakes is an
extremely positive development for the
British Champions Series. One of the
2014 VALUE
2015 VALUE
reasons the Series was created was to
increase the value of British Horseracing’s major races. Since the Series was
launched in 2011, Newmarket, Epsom,
Ascot, Newbury and now Goodwood
have entered into long-term commercial deals that enable the racecourses to
build prize money and maintain Britain’s important reputation as home of
the best racing in the world. We congratulate Qatar and Goodwood on this
landmark sponsorship.”
Frankie Dettori: “I have always found
Goodwood one of the most exciting
courses to ride at and for me it makes
it even more special that Qatar will be
sponsors of the Goodwood Festival.
The hospitality and racing at Goodwood is world class and this should be
the icing on the cake.”
John Gosden: “Both a timely and
magnificent sponsorship arrangement for Goodwood which puts their
Festival meeting on a true international standing.”
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