BUSINESS | Page 1 SPORT | Page 4 INDEX QATAR 4 вЂ“ 8, 28 9 REGION ARAB WORLD 10, 11 INTERNATIONAL 12 вЂ“ 25 COMMENT BUSINESS 26, 27 1 вЂ“ 8, 14 вЂ“ 16 CLASSIFIED 9 вЂ“ 13 SPORTS 1 вЂ“ 12 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 Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani sent cables of congratulations to Beji Caid Essebsi on the occasion of winning the Tunisian presidential election, which was held on Sunday. They wished him success. Meanwhile, welcoming the election results, the Foreign Ministry expressed QatarвЂ™s aspirations that this victory would contribute to building a state of institutions and maintaining the security, stability and prosperity of Tunisia, in a way that fulfils the aspirations of the Tunisian people. It also stressed QatarвЂ™s full support to TunisiaвЂ™s government and people. Page 11 55.39 +391.63 +3.26% -1.74 -3.05% TUESDAY Vol. XXXV No. 9580 December 23, 2014 Rabia I 1, 1436 AH www. gulf-times.com 2 Riyals Qatar Airways takes delivery of its п¬Ѓrst A350 QNA Toulouse Q BRITAIN | Horse racing Goodwood in 10-year deal with Qatar Goodwood has announced a 10year partnership with Qatar that the racecourse describes as вЂњthe single biggest sponsorship deal ever done for the benefit of British horse racingвЂќ. More than ВЈ2mn ($3.12mn) will be invested in eight key races at the south of England track while the July 28-Aug 1. Glorious Goodwood meeting is to become the Qatar Goodwood Festival, with prize money of ВЈ4.5mn. 12,421.22 +84.37 +0.47% in Essebsi congratulated on Tunisian polls win 17,889.17 d QATAR | Official NYMEX he R is bl TA 978 A 1 Q since In brief QE Latest Figures GULF TIMES Napoli lift Italian Super Cup DOW JONES pu Total CEO sees oil at $100 in medium term Ferrari on restructuring spree after dismal year HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani presents the Italian Super Cup trophy to Napoli captain Marek Hamsik in Doha yesterday. After 18 penalties, Napoli edged out Juventus 6-5 in the shootout to win the cup. The match was tied at 2-2 after extra-time. PICTURE: Jayan Orma Sport Page 1 atar Airways yesterday received the first of its 80 A350 XWB aircraft, of which the airline is the global launch customer. The announcement was made by Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar alBaker during a press conference held at the Airbus Delivery Centre in the French city of Toulouse yesterday. In attendance at the press conference and delivery ceremony in Toulouse were Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier, Rolls-Royce Aerospace President Tony Wood, and QatarвЂ™s Ambassador to France Sheikh Mishaal bin Hamad al-Thani, witnessing the arrival of the airlineвЂ™s first A350 XWB aircraft. Speaking at the press conference, al-Baker explained about Qatar AirwaysвЂ™s rapid expansion plans, boosted by the arrival of this latest aircraft type. вЂњToday marks a momentous occasion in the history of our airline. Not only are we welcoming a new aircraft type into the Qatar Airways fleet, but as global launch customer for the A350 XWB, we are receiving the newest and most modern aircraft that the world will see for at least another decade.вЂќ The Airbus A350 XWB taxis during a delivery ceremony to Qatar Airways in France yesterday. вЂњWith our significant order as launch customer for 80 of this aircraft type, it has enabled Airbus to create an aircraft that not only considers every aspect of passenger comfort, but also features the cutting-edge light-weight carbon composite design, which in turn allows fuel consumption and noise to be reduced, along with many other leading features. вЂњI am confident that with our passenger insight, the aircraft that has today been welcomed into our fleet will be the footprint for all future aircraft design, both with regard to technological advancements and the passenger journey itself,вЂќ he added. For his part, Bregier said that delivering the first A350 XWB is a вЂњsignificant step in Airbus and aviation historyвЂќ as the aircraft becomes the вЂњmost modern aircraft in serv- ice, developed with our excellence established over 45 years in meeting our customersвЂ™ needs.вЂќ вЂњThe A350 XWB is the latest Airbus aircraft to join the skies, revolutionising our industry and redefining the way people fly,вЂќ Bregier said, adding: вЂњItвЂ™s with tremendous pride that we are delivering our first A350 XWB today to our launch customer, Qatar Airways. ItвЂ™s a perfect match to be handing over the first of an allnew world-class aircraft to a leading world-class airline.вЂќ The first commercial service on the new aircraft will be deployed on the Doha-Frankfurt route in January. The delivery of the A350 XWB is the second significant fleet milestone for the Qatari carrier in recent past, having taken delivery of its first A380 aircraft in September. Business Page 16 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23 , 2014 4 QATAR PM meets head of Qatari-French society Deputy PM meets AlgeriaвЂ™s envoy UK, French orthopaedic surgeons to visit HMC T HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani meeting Maurice Leroy, head of French-Qatari Friendship Society, in Doha yesterday. HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud meeting the outgoing Algerian Ambassador to Qartar Abdel Fattah Ziani yesterday. They reviewed bilateral relations in all fields. The Deputy Prime Minister wished the ambassador success in his future assignments and the relations between the two countries further progress and prosperity. QC takes lead in relief efforts Q atar Charity (QC) has been named п¬Ѓrst in the world in terms of relief for Syria, Palestine and Somalia, the organisation has said in a statement. The announcement came in a Financial Tracking of International Relief Report of the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and refers to the organisationвЂ™s performance over the last three years. QC projects valued at over QR185,455,000 were carried out for the beneп¬Ѓt of around 2,128,000 displaced and refugee Syrians, including QR62.5mn on food for the beneп¬Ѓt of around 1,353,000 Syrians, QR45mn on shelter and non-food items, QR60,562,000 on health projects and QR17.6mn in the п¬Ѓeld of education. More than half of these projects were directed inside Syria. QC projects in Pales- tine amounted to around QR170,760,000, of which QR145mn went towards projects in the Gaza Strip, while in Somalia QC spent QR25,522,000 on projects that beneп¬Ѓted around 680,000 people. The projects focused on ensuring the most basic necessities of life in terms of food, medicine and shelter, in addition to income generation in order to provide job opportunities for the unemployed, orphan sponsorship and disaster relief. The Financial Tracking Service (FTS) is a global database managed by OCHA, which records all contributions to international humanitarian aid, including non-government organisations and their contributions, covering bilateral and inkind aid and private donations. FTS focuses on strategic response plans and response plans for refugees, which cover all major humanitarian crises. FTS is managed by OCHA using data provided by donors and beneп¬Ѓciary organisations. QC is characterised by a large number of international partnerships and a wide п¬Ѓeld presence made possible due to its 18 offices on three continents. The partnerships include eight with the UN as well as a number of other international bodies, specialised organisations and charities, including 25 non-intergovernmental and three banks and development funds, as well as ministries and technical interests of its subsidiaries in the countries where it operates. These number some 150 partners in addition to relationships with around 350 local non-government organisations. QC works in 60 countries on three continents through its ofп¬Ѓces where present or via its partners in the countries where it does not have offices. wo top orthopaedic surgeons from the UK and France will visit the Orthopaedic Surgery Department at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) to conduct patient consultations and perform surgeries. Scoliosis expert, Dr Colin Nnadi, from the UK, will be available at the HMC facilities from 27 to 30 of this month. Dr Nnadi is a consultant spine surgeon from the UKвЂ™s Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust. He is scheduled to conduct surgery on 27 December and will be available for patient consultations from 28 to 30 December at the Bone and Joint CentreвЂ™s Outpatient Clinic at Hamad General Hospital ( HGH). Dr Marius Scarlat, consultant and shoulder and elbow surgeon from Clinique, St Michel in Toulon, France, will conduct surgery and lecture at a session for medical residents. He will be available for patient consultations on 1 and 2 February at the Bone and Joint CentreвЂ™s Outpatient Clinic. Patients interested in booking an appointment with either physicians, should visit the Bone and Joint Centre at the HGH Outpatient Department (OPD) Annex between 7am and 3pm. Wakra Hospital honours South Security Dept Projects and initiatives carried out by QC. Shahry Smart in new offer O oredooвЂ™s Shahry Smart has introduced a new offer, enabling new users to beneп¬Ѓt from a 50% discount on their Shahry Smart subscription charge. Existing customers who upgrade to a higher Shahry Smart pack will also be eligible to access the 50% discounted rates until March 21, 2015, saving up to QR1,125 during the period. Shahry Smart packs offer a host of local and Official PM holds talks with envoys HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani met the outgoing Spanish Ambassador to Qatar Carmen De La Pena. The Prime Minister wished the ambassador success in her future posting and the relations between the two countries further progress and prosperity. Ambassador De La Pena thanked the Prime Minister and State officials for the co-operation accorded to her during her tenure in Qatar. The Prime Minister also met the Ambassadors of Eritrea, Sweden to Qatar Ali Ibrahim Ahmed and Ewa Bjorling, respectively. Talks dealt with means of developing bilateral relations. Condolence cables sent HH the Deputy Emir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani and HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani have sent cables to the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah condoling the death of Sheikha Sabah Nasser al-Sabah. international minutes/ SMS, data and free access to the 4G network for вЂњsuperfastвЂќ mobile data speeds. Packs come in denominations of QR15, 35, 55, 100, 150, 250, 450 and 750, as well as OoredooвЂ™s VIP service Al Nokhba. Shahry Smart pack 250 and onward customers can enjoy unlimited local calls and SMS as well as at least 1GB of monthly data for their phone. More information could be had from an Ooredoo Shop or from www.ooredoo.qa Al Wakra HospitalвЂ™s (AWH) administration has honoured the South Security Department for its role in watching over residents of Al Wakrah. AWH officials Ali al-Muftah (head, Engineering Department) and Charlotte Hamilton (assistant executive director, Business Development ) jointly presented an appreciation plaque to Brigadier Mohamed Jassim al-Sulaiti (head, South Security Department) and Major Yousuf Mohamed al-Obaidly (assistant head) during a reception held in their honour at Al Wakra Hospital. Many doctors and other staff members of the hospital attended the event. Speaking on behalf of Ali al-Khater (executive director, Corporate Communications Department, Hamad Medical Corporation), Mohamed al-Dosari (acting head of Public Relations, AWH), said that presenting the award also demonstrated the importance of co-operation among the business community. Brigadier al-Sulaiti thanked the administration team at AWH for the award. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 5 QATAR Ports, border posts equipped to handle radioactive materials T A view of the Al Ruwais port. The first phase of operations at Al Ruwais port will start on January 1. The authorities have taken all measures so that the port can start receiving vessels on that date. Al Ruwais port set to receive vessels T he п¬Ѓrst phase of operations at Al Ruwais port will start on January 1, the Marine Department in the Ministry of Transport has announced. Qatar Ports Management Company has carried out necessary co-ordination with the authorities concerned so that the port can start receiving vessels on that date. The development plan for Al Ruwais port seeks to ease the entry and exit of ships, cargo and travellers to boost trade (export and import) and other forms of commercial transactions among the countries of the region. All marine works at the port have already been completed, such as deepening of the water passage, creation of platforms and navigation aids, and general expansion of the port and service facilities such as government buildings and п¬Ѓshermen service centres. The Al Ruwais port development project aims to make the port compliant with relevant international standards in the п¬Ѓeld. The main works of the project included deepening of the water passage to 5m and creation of marine basins (7m deep), besides six marine platforms stretching over 1,414m. HMCвЂ™s stroke service gets JCI accreditation Hamad Medical CorporationвЂ™s (HMC) stroke service has become the first of its kind in the Middle East to be accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI). JCI accreditation is based on quality and safety across all clinical and management functions and is considered the gold standard in global healthcare. All HMCвЂ™s network of hospitals, as well as the Ambulance Service and Home Healthcare Service, have been accredited by JCI. Stroke is one of the leading causes of mortality and the number one cause of chronic disability in the world. Due to the high prevalence of many risk factors for stroke among QatarвЂ™s population, including diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension and inactivity, the incidence of stroke is high in the country. The JCI accreditation follows significant recent improvements in care for stroke patients, with the opening of a dedicated stroke ward at Hamad General Hospital in March 2014, playing a key role in these improvements. The multi-disciplinary nature of the care has contributed greatly to ensure that stroke patients in Qatar receive the safest, most effective and compassionate care. he Ministry of Environment (MoE)вЂ™s radiation and chemicals protection department has started equipping and preparing the countryвЂ™s ports and border posts for more effective handling of the import and export of radioactive materials. This is being implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior. The aim is to exercise tighter control over the movement of all types of nuclear and radioactive materials entering or leaving the country, particularly in terms of potential illegal operations with such materials. Meanwhile, the MoE conducted a training workshop for the staff of QatarвЂ™s ports, where they were briefed on the nature of radioactive and nuclear materials. Besides, they were given a detailed explanation of related equipment at ports and principles of personal protection while handling such substances. The staff members were also trained on how to trace sources of any illegal attempt to pass radioactive materials and methods of detecting them within various cargo containers. Eventually, a practical training was held at the Doha port and another at the Abu Samra checkpost. This would be followed by similar training at Hamad International Airport, Al Ruwais port and Ras Laffan port. Staff members who have already received this specialised training number 20 trainees employees of different border posts around the country. More training workshops in this regard would be held by the MoE in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency to suitably equip staff working in the п¬Ѓeld and prepare them to ensure the early detection of any suspected hazard. Training for the border staff will enhance their capabilities to handle radioactive materials. 6 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 QATAR QRC вЂ“Al Khor holds contests, games to mark National Day Gez Garai receiving a cheque worth 100,000 reward points during an awarding ceremony at the bankвЂ™s headquarters. IBQ announces monthly prize draw winner I nternational Bank of Qatar (IBQ) has named Gez Garai as the December winner of the bankвЂ™s monthly prize draw for the IBQ loyalty programme, thanq. With the draw taking place before the holidays, Garai received 100,000 thanq reward points in a ceremony held at the bankвЂ™s headquarters in the presence of deputy head of branches Muhanad Abu al-Wafa. вЂњWe are delighted that Gez Garai is the latest lucky winner of our December thanq prize draw, with a timely win before the holiday season. The thanq programme is our way of rewarding our valued customers to show we appreciate their commitment to our brand and banking relationship. thanq offers them a unique opportunity to travel anywhere in the world with special travel offers that are second to none in Qatar,вЂќ al-Wafa said. The thanq rewards programme allows IBQ customers to accumulate points across a wide range of IBQ products and services and then redeem them by booking п¬‚ights on more than 800 airlines, accommodation in 160,000 hotels, and car rental services worldwide. Q atar Red Crescent (QRC) вЂ“ Al Khor has participated in Qatar National Day celebrations held countrywide to mark the special occasion on December 18 and cater to the public who go out to celebrate and enjoy the different artistic, cultural, heritage and recreational events. QRC ambulances and staff provided medical coverage in the celebration area to ensure the safety of all visitors and provide instant intervention in case of an emergency. The branch organised recreational events at Al Khor Cultural Centre, including competitions and games for adults and children, serving of traditional dishes, henna tattooing, face painting and a best folk costume competition. Prizes were distributed to the winners. A special QRC corner was set up to distribute educational printouts and gifts to the public, train them in the basics of п¬Ѓrst aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), inform them of QRCвЂ™s mission in the service of the Qatari and other societies, and conduct medical examinations (blood sugar and pressure) for free. The corner attracted a large numbers of visitors, particularly children. Its services covered up to 200 families that visited Al Khor Cultural Centre. Rashid bin Saad alMohannadi, director of QRCвЂ™s Social Development Department and Al Khor branch, said: вЂњQRC is pleased to support different social centres and organisations that host National Day celebrations in the city of Al Khor, for the pleasure of all Al Shamal society members, in accordance with QRCвЂ™s philosophy and vision of social responsibility and social work.вЂќ Al-Mohannadi explained that the purpose of such participation is to spread joy and happiness everywhere, keep in touch with people of all groups and ages and promote QRCвЂ™s humanitarian and social image, thereby reinforcing its community presence and enabling it to perform its developmental and charitable role as an international humanitarian organisation and an auxiliary to the State of Qatar in its humanitarian policies, both locally and internationally. A QRC volunteer guiding children on cardiopulmonary resuscitation technique. Celebration of diversity and inclusiveness at RasGas R asGas celebrated Qatar National Day on Wednesday with its employees in Doha, Ras Laffan, offshore and at its office in South Korea. To mark the occasion, a giant billboard was also set up on the RasGas headquarters building in Doha. Hamad Rashid al-Mohannadi, chief executive ofп¬Ѓcer, RasGas, said: вЂњAt RasGas, the Qatar National Day is an occasion to celebrate the big strides that the State of Qatar has made in the economic, social and cultural sectors. People are our biggest strength and we are very proud of the dedication and commitment of all our employees, which enables us to continually support RasGas officials with employees at Ras Laffan during the Qatar National Day celebrations. the Qatar National Vision 2030.вЂќ At Ras Laffan, the CEO was joined by Hamad Mubarak al-Muhannadi, chief operations officer, in a cake cutting ceremony in the presence of the other members of RasGas executive leadership team. The celebrations took place in the newly built garden area in front of the administration building. A traditional Qatari village was set up on the 10th п¬‚oor open area at RasGas headquarters building in Doha, complete with handicrafts and cultural activities. Traditional Qatari dance Traffic Tech named Sub-contractor of Year T raffic Tech (Gulf) has been named sub-contractor of the year at the GCC edition of the Construction Week Awards 2014 held in Dubai recently. Traffic Tech emerged the winner among other shortlisted companies from Qatar and other GCC countries. вЂњThe judges said that Traffic TechвЂ™s submission was вЂњparticularly impressiveвЂќ and that it managed to stand out as an organisation with a proven track record of delivery,вЂќ according to a statement. Husam Musharbash, president and CEO of Traffic Tech Group, received the award from Simon Moon, CEO at Atkins. вЂњWe have been in business for 28 years and we have won a lot of awards, but this is one of the most important ones for us. We have been doing a lot of fast-track projects and the project that I think won us the award is the Doha Corniche trafп¬Ѓc signals project that we did in a very short period of time and that was very challenging to us,вЂќ he said. The Construction Week Awards are was performed by school students. A food stall was also set up where traditional dishes were offered. As a celebration of the diversity and inclusiveness of RasGas, the employees were encouraged to wear the traditional clothing of their country on the day. Musharbash (right) receiving the award from Moon. an annual series of events that recognise and reward the best the GCC construction industry has to offer. Other winners this year include ALEC вЂ“ Contractor of the Year; WSP вЂ“ Consultant of the Year; AECOM вЂ“ Commercial Project of the Year; and Qatar Foundation and ASTAD Project Management вЂ“ Sustainability Initiative of the Year. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 7 QATAR QIB employees mark National Day with Arda, photo contest E mployees of Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) celebrated this yearвЂ™s Qatar National Day with a large family celebration. The celebrations included Arda, a Qatari outп¬Ѓt contest showcasing the traditional attire and a photography contest for staff. The photography contest was aimed at encouraging talented employees to put their skills and artistic abilities on display by taking pictures that depict life in Qatar. Five winners for the best submitted photographs were announced during the event and awarded gifts in appreciation of their contribution. QIB Group CEO Bassel Gamal said the bank was proud to involve all its staff members in the National Day celebrations. вЂњQIB is the golden sponsor of QatarвЂ™s National Day celebrations across the country. By encouraging our employeesвЂ™ participation, it gives them an opportunity to reaffirm QIBвЂ™s commitment towards Qatar, the land of benevolence and compassion,вЂќ he stressed. вЂњQatarвЂ™s National Day is not just a date for Qatari nationals to celebrate; it is an inclusive event for all our staff, whatever their nationality, to celebrate an international bond across all boundaries. The holiday means a lot to our dignity as a people and we are honoured to mark this special day. In light of this, QIB actively QIB National Day celebrations. promotes interaction with the community in addition to numerous social activities and initiatives that serve to beneп¬Ѓt the community, here in Qatar,вЂќ he added. вЂњOn the occasion of National Day, I would, on behalf of the bank, like to send greetings and congratulations to both HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. вЂњQIB is keen to show that our corporate responsibility to the Qatari society is always our top priority and that the spirit of the Qatar National Day celebrations reaches out not just to Qatari nationals, but to all expatriates in the country as well.вЂќ Nakilat staff visit Darb Al Saai Nakilat officials and employees at the National Day celebrations. Nakilat has celebrated Qatar National Day with festivities at its office locations and a visit to the Darb Al Saai grounds in Al Sadd. On the occasion, Nakilat managing director Abdullah al-Sulaiti accompanied employees to the Darb Al Saai grounds for a celebration of traditional Qatari culture. The companyвЂ™s employees enjoyed an insight into the old way of life in Qatar, including demonstrations of local cuisine, insights into traditional crafts such as the preparation of leather, explanations of popular hunting methods, a traditional souq and displays of horses and camels. The visit to Darb Al Saai allowed NakilatвЂ™s international employees to observe local customs and heritage, thereby helping improve their understanding of QatarвЂ™s origins and traditions. Nakilat also celebrated Qatar National Day at its office locations in Ras Laffan. вЂњQatar National Day is an important occasion for citizens and residents of Qatar alike. Our Qatari employees are proud to share their culture and heritage with their international colleagues and to celebrate the achievements of our great country on this momentous day,вЂќ said alSulaiti. Nakilat is a Qatari marine transport company providing the essential transportation link in QatarвЂ™s LNG supply chain. 8 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 QATAR Advisory Council calls weekly meeting T he Advisory Council yesterday held the weekly meeting of its 43rd Ordinary Session under the chairmanship of the Speaker HE Mohammed bin Mubarak al-Khulaiп¬Ѓ. At the outset of the meeting, the agenda was read and then approved. Later, the Council endorsed minutes of the previous Session. The Advisory Council also dis- cussed a report of the Finance and Economic Affairs Committee on a draft law on the StateвЂ™s п¬Ѓnancial system and decided to refer its recommendations to the Cabinet. Total holds National Day photo contest T otal has concluded its yearly Qatar National Week celebrations, featuring a variety of Qatarthemed events to promote the national spirit among all in the company. Qatar employees of the oil and gas company who organised the celebrations transformed the ofп¬Ѓce canteen and halls of the company into a majlis. All employees were invited to experience Qatari hospitality in the majlis while indulging in Reyooq, a Qatari breakfast, and a Qatari lunch. Wafaa al-Saffar, an employee of Total, said: вЂњAs a Qatari, it gives me great pleasure to share my culture with my expatriate colleagues, and Qatar National Day gives us a great platform to do so. It was an opportunity to highlight QatarвЂ™s rich heritage and understanding of our Wafaa al-Saffar: вЂњAs a Qatari, it gives me great pleasure to share my culture...вЂќ Guillaume Chalmin, managing director, Total E&P Qatar and Group representative history, customs and why we do things a certain way, and this in turn promotes a greater appreciation of our culture.вЂќ The week commenced with Karak and Swalif, where questions related to QatarвЂ™s traditions were answered over a cup of karak. EmployeesвЂ™ children were invited to participate in a drawing competition, where they were encouraged to let their imagination soar under the theme вЂњMy QatarвЂќ. My National Day photo competition, suited for adult participants, was also launched, calling upon them to capture the essence of Qatar and the spirit of National Day celebrations. The winners of the two competitions will be commemorated in a special ceremony during the Total Marhaba Day celebrations, which is equivalent to Family Day, due to take place late next month. Finally, in a bid to portray employeesвЂ™ creativity, they decorated their ofп¬Ѓces with the National Day theme. The best decoration will be entitled to a special prize and will be passed on the trophy from last yearвЂ™s winner. Guillaume Chalmin, managing director of Total E&P Qatar and Group representative, said: вЂњI would like to extend my sincere congratulations to all the citizens and residents of Qatar for the National Day, and to wish them continued strength, happiness and prosperity. I would also like to congratulate the organisers of our Qatar National Week celebrations for their successful efforts in promoting a sense of unity among both Qataris and non-Qataris through events, which also honour the rich traditions of Qatar.вЂќ Barwa Bank honours п¬Ѓve nationals B arwa Bank gathered its staff together to celebrate Qatar National Day during a special ceremony held at its headquarters on December 17. Barwa Bank management and employees expressed their collective sense of national pride and patriotism and celebrated Qatar, its proud history and heritage and its people and extended warm greetings to HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and the Qatari people. On the occasion, Barwa Bank also presented п¬Ѓve Qatari nationals with special awards for completing the п¬Ѓrst contingent of the obligatory military service. In a statement, Barwa Bank said: вЂњIt is a privilege Qatar National Day celebrations at Barwa Bank headquarters. for us to contribute to the National Day celebrations and convey a message of solidarity, loyalty and pride on this glorious occasion. We look towards 2015 as a continuation of the growth and prosperity for the bank as well as the continuing success and achievement enjoyed by this great country.вЂќ Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9 REGION Protester shot dead in south Yemen Cricket stirs passion, eases hardships of UAE Pathans Pathans come in large numbers to watch sixes and boundaries in a Twenty20 or a one-day international AFP Dubai F or 59-year-old taxi driver Kamal Khan, cricket is war without the shooting. Like most Pathans, known for their tough, battle-hardened nature, defeat is unacceptable. They may not know all the rules of the game, like the Barmy Army fans of England or IndiaвЂ™s Swami Army but Pathans watch cricket out of passion for the sport and for the love of Pakistan. Kamal, like most of his fellow Pathans, often skips his taxidriving duties to watch cricket in the United Arab Emirates, the neutral venue where Pakistan have been forced to play since 2009вЂ™s terror attacks on the visiting Sri Lanka team back home. A 30-dirham ticket gives fans a comfortable seat in the stands or a place on the mound and the rest is enjoyment. вЂњCricket is the only entertainment for us in this country,вЂќ Kamal, who has been driving a cab in Abu Dhabi for 13 years, said. The 9/11 attacks on the United States, and the ensuing war in Afghanistan and around PakistanвЂ™s north-west Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, forced hundreds of Pathans to move to the Gulf in search of a more lucrative and peaceful way of life. A taxi driver like Kamal earns 4,000 to 7,000 dirhams a month but the 24/7 job takes its toll. вЂњMost of the taxi drivers have kidney stones because they donвЂ™t drink much water to avoid going to the toilet,вЂќ said Kamal. вЂњLife is tough and there was no enjoyment but since cricket arrived here we are very happy that we can watch our players.вЂќ Needless to say, the Pathans demand aggression and passion on the п¬Ѓeld. They come in large numbers to watch sixes and boundaries in a Twenty20 or a one-day international. And that is the reason that allrounder Shahid Afridi, who hails from the Khyber Agency, is the star attraction even after 18 years in the game. вЂњWe just come to watch Afridi,вЂќ said Taif Khan, who drives a taxi in Sharjah. вЂњI got my moneyвЂ™s worth when I watched the third one-dayer (against New Zealand) last Friday because Afridi got a п¬Ѓfty.вЂќ Afridi hit a 25-ball 55 to help Pakistan reach 364-7 and went on to win the match by 147 runs. New Zealand, however, took the п¬Ѓve-match series 3-2. вЂњOur cricket begins and ends with Afridi,вЂќ said Wahid Khan, a trader from Miranshah in North Waziristan Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. вЂњI lost millions in the recent operation in Miranshah,вЂќ said Wahid, referring to the military operations by the Pakistan army aimed at clearing the area of militants. Those military sweeps resulted in his shops being razed. Wahid now lives in Abu Dhabi and п¬Ѓnds solace in cricket. вЂњCricket is a way of forgetting our pains,вЂќ he said. вЂњBy default we are watching our players here and itвЂ™s great entertainment.вЂќ Afridi acknowledges the support he receives. вЂњThey love me very much,вЂќ said the 34-year-old Afridi. вЂњMost of them drive taxis and whenever I get time I meet them. ItвЂ™s their love and affection that drives me.вЂќ AFP Aden A south Yemen separatist was shot dead yesterday when police intervened to disperse protesters observing a day of civil disobedience in the formerly independent region, witnesses and a medic said. Clashes erupted in Ataq, the main city in Shabwa province, when police opened п¬Ѓre at protesters who tried to block a road, killing one protester and wounding others, witnesses said. A medical source conп¬Ѓrmed the death. Confrontations also п¬‚ared in Aden, the former capital of south Yemen, and Mukalla, the provincial capital of Hadramout, where riot police opened п¬Ѓre to disperse protests and reopen roads blocked with burning tyres and concrete blocks, witnesses said. Most businesses and schools were shut yesterday in response to a call for protests made by the separatist Southern Movement. A senior separatist п¬Ѓgure, Khaled al-Junaidi, was shot dead by security forces earlier this month during a previous day of civil disobedience. Man beheaded for child rape Pathan spectators clad in traditional garb dance during the match between Pakistan and New Zealand at the Zayed International Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on December 19. Saudi Arabia yesterday beheaded a child rapist. The interior ministry said Suleiman bin Abdullah had been found guilty of kidnapping a male child, tying him up вЂњand performing the obsceneвЂќ act. Authorities carried out the sentence against him in Buraydah city, northwest of Riyadh, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. 10 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 ARAB WORLD Syria crisis has cost Lebanon $20bn: minister AFP Beirut N early four years of civil war in Syria have cost Lebanon more than $20bn, the social affairs minister said yesterday. вЂњSeveral factors brought on by the Syria crisis have caused a loss of more than $20bnвЂќ since March 2011, Rashid Derbas said. вЂњBecause of this, infrastructure planned to last for 15 years will now have to be changed in just two because of intensive useвЂќ due to the presence of 1.1mn refugees from Syria, he added. He also cited the use of energy resources, primarily electricity, by refugees unable to pay for it. Tourism has also been hit hard, Derbas said of some 500,000 tourists who used to arrive overland via Syria. He expressed regret that much of the international aid pledged to help Lebanon cope with the inп¬‚ux has yet to materialise. вЂњWe have received just half of the amount promised for 2013 and only 44% this year,вЂќ Derbas said. Lebanon currently hosts more than a million Syrians who have п¬‚ed the brutal war that has ravaged their country for nearly four years. Refugees now account for a quarter of LebanonвЂ™s population and cost Beirut $4.5bn a year, Central Bank governor Riad Salameh said in June. Basing this estimate on a World Bank study, he said вЂњthe direct cost to the Lebanese state is around a billion dollars per annum, with an indirect cost of 3.5bnвЂќ. *Seven people suspected of abducting members of SyriaвЂ™s opposition in Lebanon and turning them over to the Damascus regime have been arrested, a security official said yesterday. The seven, all members of the Baath party which has ruled Syria for 50 years, were detained last week, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Among them was a Baath вЂњofп¬ЃcialвЂќ from the Bekaa region of eastern Lebanon bordering Syria. He confessed to having kidnapped a member of the Syrian rebel group Ahrar al-Sham, and is also suspected of abducting a Syrian opposition member more than a month ago in eastern Lebanon and a sheikh he handed over to the Syrian authorities. Many opponents of President Bashar al-AssadвЂ™s regime, from peaceful activists to rebels, have found refuge in Lebanon. The conп¬‚ict has deeply divided Lebanon between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime, which held sway over its neighbour for nearly 30 years. Iraq: Jordan training for soldiers to begin soon Reuters Amman J People watch from the Turkish border as smoke rises from Kobane, in this October 26 file photo. 100 days on, Kobane holds off Islamic State Against all odds, the mostly Kurdish town of Kobane in northern Syria is holding its ground against the onslaught by Islamic State militants DPA Beirut S hort of weaponry and food supplies, SyriaвЂ™s mostly Kurdish town of Kobane has been able to hold back repeated attempts by the Islamic State militant group to capture it since mid-September. Kobane is strategically situated in northern Syria close to the Turkish border. To Syrian Kurds, the town is a symbol of resistance and pride. вЂњKobane will make history by this unprecedented resistance and the steadfastness of its people despite the deteriorating humanitarian situation day after day,вЂќ Khaled Barkel, a local Kurdish ofп¬Ѓcial, said. Fighters from the PeopleвЂ™s Protection Units, a key Kurdish militia, are leading the battle against Islamic State, which also controls territory in other parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq. The Kurds are backed by USled air strikes that started against the extremist group in Syria in late September. In October, KobaneвЂ™s п¬Ѓghters were joined by some 150 members of the battle-hardened Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces - a reinforcement that has helped the Kurdish п¬Ѓghters halt the jihadistsвЂ™ advance in Kobane in recent weeks. Should Kobane fall to Islamic State, it would give the Al Qaeda splinter group control over an area of at least 100km near the Turkish-Syrian border, which could become a major supply route for the radical militia. Barkel said a few families had in the past few weeks returned to Kobane, after Kurdish п¬Ѓghters liberated districts in the southern part of the town from the militants. вЂњMaybe we can say that 10 to 15% of the people of Kobane has returned,вЂќ Barkel told DPA by phone from inside the town. By September 22, an estimat- ed 200,000 residents had п¬‚ed Kobane towards the Turkish border, fearing an incursion and mass atrocities by Islamic State. вЂњLife inside Kobane for those returnees is not easy at all. Food and medicine are rare to п¬Ѓnd. Sometimes families inside Kobane suffer from a shortage of milk for their children,вЂќ Barkel said. вЂњBut our people are known to survive against all the odds. The world should do more to help. They should open humanitarian passages for our people.вЂќ Idriss Nassan, another Kobane official, said the Kurdish п¬Ѓghters have fared well in recent weeks against the better-equipped militants. вЂњOur п¬Ѓghters need more weap- ons to continue the battle. The 150 peshmerga, who have come to Kobane with their weapons, have made a difference. But this is still not enough.вЂќ However, Kurdish п¬Ѓghters like Halaa Kobane are optimistic. She believes that victory for Kurds there is imminent. вЂњWe just want the world to know that we are п¬Ѓghting because we love freedom and not because we love war. We are peaceful people. We are п¬Ѓghting aggressors who started a war on us,вЂќ she said, speaking by phone from inside Kobane. вЂњWe have lost brothers and sisters in the battle. But we know that with our determination and high morale, weвЂ™ll regain our land and live in dignity.вЂќ ordan will begin training the п¬Ѓrst group of army troops from neighbouring Iraq in the next few weeks as part of the international effort to п¬Ѓght Islamic State, the Iraqi defence minister said yesterday. Speaking after meeting Jordanian King Abdullah, Khaled al Obeidi said Amman would also supply the Iraqi army with arms needed for its drawn-out fight against the radical Islamists who have seized wide swathes of the north and west of his country. Obeidi aims to rebuild the Iraqi army, which fell apart last summer in the face of Islamic StateвЂ™s blitz across northern Iraq during which at least four Iraqi divisions crumbled. вЂњI think in the next weeks the п¬Ѓrst batch of Iraqi army will get training in Jordan,вЂќ the defence minister said in Amman. вЂњThe arms warehouses of Jordan from weapons and ammunition will be open to the Iraqi army.вЂќ King Abdullah, a US ally whose country has joined the military campaign against IS militants in Syria, said on Sunday it was crucial to support both Iraqi and Syrian tribes threatened by Islamic State п¬Ѓghters. Jordan has in recent months beefed up its troops along the 180km border with Iraq, where IS п¬Ѓghters have control over stretches of the Baghdad-Jordan highway, a major Middle Eastern trade route. Obeidi was due to visit Jordanian army camps today. He said his talks with the armyвЂ™s chief of staff would focus on ways of regaining control of the crucial overland trade and passenger artery. The fall of large parts of Anbar province bordering Jordan to IS poses a major security risk for the kingdom, officials say. Tribes currently п¬Ѓghting the militants in Anbar have long-standing ties with Jordan. Obeidi speaks to the media in Amman yesterday. Five militants killed in shootout with Egypt police AFP Cairo F ive members of EgyptвЂ™s deadliest militant group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, were killed yesterday in clashes with police, the interior ministry said. The militants, who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group, вЂњopened fireвЂќ after security forces stormed a farm where they were hiding and preparing bombs, the ministry said in a statement. вЂњAn exchange of gunfire then took place, causing the deaths of five members of the terrorist cell while a police officer was injured,вЂќ it added. The farm was located in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya, northeast of Cairo. A car bomb found at the scene was detonated by remote control, the statement said. Police also seized suicide belts, weapons and ammunition. Three of the militants killed in the raid were identified as Abdel Fattah Ayed Marzouk Salman, Hamdeen Salman Saad and Mouaz Ibrahim Abdel RahmanвЂ”the son of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis leader Ibrahim Abdel Rahman who is currently in prison. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem) has claimed an October 24 suicide bombing that killed 30 soldiers in North Sinai, a brazen attack that sparked a state of emergency. The militants say their attacks are to avenge a government crackdown targeting supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi that has left at least 1,400 people dead. The group has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group that has captured swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. Wait at border Coca-Cola factory being built in Gaza Palestinians await permission to enter Egypt as they gather at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and southern Gaza Strip yesterday. Around 630 Palestinians left Gaza through the Rafah crossing the previous day after Cairo authorised a temporary reopening of the border, a Palestinian official said. Coca-Cola yesterday began construction of its first plant in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army confirmed. Construction of the factory which will take three years to build at a cost of $20mn - began yesterday after nine trucks with building materials and supplies entered the coastal enclave. Once complete, the plant is expected to create 1,000 jobs in the industrial complex of Karni, where it will be based. One of the men responsible for the venture is Palestinian businessman Zahi Churi, who already runs a Coca-Cola factory in Ramallah. вЂњThe only enemy of extremism is good jobs,вЂќ Churi told the Jerusalem Post. Coca-Cola secured Israeli permits for the necessary materials to enter the enclave before the countryвЂ™s 50-day with Gaza over the summer. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 11 ARAB WORLD 88-year-old veteran says youth is a state of mind AFP Tunis V eteran politician Caid Beiji Essebsi, officially confirmed as TunisiaвЂ™s new president yesterday, had been the favourite to become the new head of state of the country that launched the Arab Spring. Essebsi - now 88 - held key posts under Habib Bourguiba, the father of Tunisian independence, but also under dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who was deposed in 2011. An anti-Islamist lawyer, Essebsi became prime minister after the revolt and organised parliamentary elections later that year. Born on November 29, 1926, he denied before the presidential electionвЂ”the п¬Ѓrst time Tunisians had been able to freely choose their own head of stateвЂ” that his age was a hurdle to assuming the nationвЂ™s highest ofп¬Ѓce. вЂњI have the age that I have,вЂќ he told AFP, describing youth as вЂњa state of mindвЂќ. His detractors had accused him of seeking to restore the regime of Ben Ali, who clung to power for 23 years before fleeing, combining authoritarian rule with a degree of prosperity and stability for his people. But Essebsi stood his ground, saying that former Ben Ali regime figures had the вЂњrightвЂќ to play a role in governing Tunisia alongside all political factions. Born in Sidi Bou Said, a northern suburb of Tunis, the founder and chairman of the Nidaa Tounes (Call of Tunisia) party studied law in Paris Essebsi: shrewd politician and began practising in 1952. After independence from France in 1956, he became an adviser to Bourguiba, holding a number of key jobs under him and later under Ben Ali. Over the years, Essebsi was director general of the national police and interior minister. He later held the defence portfolio before becoming ambassador to France. After a subsequent posting as TunisiaвЂ™s envoy to Germany, he was named foreign minister. He also served in parliament, holding the speakership in 1990 and 1991. When Ben Ali skipped the country for exile in Saudi Arabia on January 14, 2011, prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi declared himself president. But just a day later, parliament speaker Fouad Mebazaa took the reins of power. Ghannouchi remained premier for another six weeks, before Mebazaa called on Essebsi to replace him and head an interim government until elections for a constituent assembly could be held. Those polls, in December 2011, were won by the Islamist party Ennahda, and new interim president Moncef Marzouki appointed EnnahdaвЂ™s Hamadi Jabali to replace Essebsi. In October this year, Nidaa Tounes emerged as the winner in parliamentary elections, with Ennahda coming in a close second. Essebsi has acknowledged that Ennahda is вЂњpart of TunisiaвЂ™s political lifeвЂќ, and his Nidaa Tounes does not rule out collaborating with it. He is a shrewd politician whose communications style is to mix QurвЂ™anic verses with old Tunisian proverbs. It is also difficult to corner him. During the campaign he was taken to task for the way he responded to criticism by a female Islamist member of the constituent assembly. вЂњSheвЂ™s just a woman,вЂќ he said, explaining later that he said that out of gallantry, not wanting to criticise a woman. вЂњNo one can doubt the fact that I consider TunisiaвЂ™s women to be the guarantors of the democratic process. And I am one of those who participated in the liberation of women by Bourguiba,вЂќ who introduced the Arab worldвЂ™s most liberal legislation on womenвЂ™s rights. Essebsi is married and has two sons and two daughters. A supporter of Essebsi celebrates in Tunis yesterday. Essebsi wins Tunisia presidential election Essebsi takes 55.68% of the vote to defeat incumbent Moncef Marzouki in SundayвЂ™s runoff AFP Tunis V eteran anti-Islamist politician Beji Caid Essebsi was declared the winner of TunisiaвЂ™s п¬Ѓrst free presidential election yesterday, capping off the transition to democracy in the birthplace of the Arab Spring. But in a sign of the challenges ahead, police п¬Ѓred teargas to disperse hundreds of youths protesting against the result. Essebsi, an 88-year-old former official in previous Tunisian regimes, took 55.68% of the vote to defeat incumbent Moncef Marzouki in SundayвЂ™s runoff, the electoral commission said. Essebsi had claimed victory shortly after polls closed but Marzouki, a long-exiled 69-year-old rights activist, refused initially to concede defeat. Yesterday, however, MarzoukiвЂ™s spokesman said on Facebook the outgoing president had congratulated his rival. Essebsi thanked Marzouki and told him: вЂњTunisiaвЂ™s future lies in consensus and it needs all its children, without exclusion or discrimination,вЂќ a party statement said. Speaking on national television later, Essebsi pledged to be вЂњpresident of all TunisiansвЂќ. вЂњThe campaign is over and we must all look to the future.вЂќ Marzouki urged his supporters, especially those in the south protesting against the outcome, to respect the result and return to their homes вЂњin the name of national unityвЂќ. вЂњThese are the rules of the democratic process,вЂќ he said on national television, calling for calm. A п¬Ѓrst round of voting on November 23 had seen Essebsi in the lead with 39% of the vote, six points ahead of Marzouki. Participation in the second round was 60.1%, electoral commission chief Chaп¬Ѓk Sarsar said. US President Barack Obama congratulated Essebsi and hailed the vote as вЂњa vital step toward the completion of TunisiaвЂ™s momentous transition to democracyвЂќ, a White House statement said. Foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini of the European Union, which sent an observer mission for the election, praised Tunisians for sending вЂњa message of hope to all the people who, like them, aspire to a future thatвЂ™s more peaceful, democratic and prosperousвЂќ. President Francois Hollande of France, TunisiaвЂ™s former colonial ruler, also praised the people for their вЂњdetermination, sense of responsibility and spirit of compromiseвЂќ. The vote was seen as a landmark in Tunisia, which sparked the Arab Spring mass revolutions with the 2011 ouster of long-time strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. However, the campaign was bitter and divisive, with Marzouki insisting an Essebsi win would mark the return of TunisiaвЂ™s old guard. Essebsi accused his rival of representing the moderately Islamist party Ennahda that ruled after the revolution and which installed him as president. Continued divisions were clear as some 300-400 protesters clashed with police at El Hamma in the south, where Marzouki had widespread support. The interior ministry said 16 killed in Benghazi clashes AFP Benghazi C lashes yesterday between pro-government forces and Islamist militiamen in LibyaвЂ™s eastern city of Benghazi killed 16 people and wounded dozens, security sources and medics said. Forces loyal to former general Khalifa Haftar and to internationally recognised Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni have been battling for weeks against Islamists who have taken control of much of LibyaвЂ™s second city, and the capital Tripoli. The Benghazi Medical Centre said it received the bodies of seven people and 35 wounded in the clashes, while Al Jala hospital said it took in four bodies and 25 wounded. An injured soldier receives medical treatment in Benghazi yesterday. Medical sources said the casualties were all from HaftarвЂ™s ranks and pro-government forces. Islamist militias rarely report their casualties. The п¬Ѓghting raged in southern and central Benghazi, security sources said. Farther east, in the Islamist stronghold of Derna, п¬Ѓve soldiers were killed yesterday when gunmen attacked a checkpoint in the cityвЂ™s western suburb of Dahr el-Ahmar, a military spokesman said. Earlier this month the Islamists staged a military parade in Derna with tanks and combatants carrying black п¬‚ags. Three years after dictator Muammar Gaddaп¬Ѓ was toppled and killed in a Nato-backed revolt, Libya is awash with weapons and powerful militias, and run by rival governments and parliaments. protesters torched two police stations and that the clashes, which erupted late Sunday, continued yesterday. EssebsiвЂ™s Nidaa Tounes party said protesters in Tataouine, also in the south, had tried to burn one of its offices. The vote was the п¬Ѓrst time Tunisians have freely elected their president since independence in 1956. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in neighbouring Algeria also congratulated Essebsi and hailed the вЂњmaturityвЂќ of the electorate. EgyptвЂ™s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said EssebsiвЂ™s victory вЂњreп¬‚ects the valuable trust placed in him by the Tunisian peopleвЂќ. The weekly Tunis Hebdo said the vote would вЂњenhance TunisiaвЂ™s reputation as the only Arab Spring country that has managed to surviveвЂќ. 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 SyriaвЂ™s case, a devastating civil war. SundayвЂ™s vote was largely peaceful, though troops guarding ballot papers in the central region of Kairouan who came under attack shot dead one assailant and captured three, the defence ministry said. Ahead of the vote, jihadists issued a videotaped threat against TunisiaвЂ™s political establishment. Nidaa Tounes won parliamentary polls in October and Essebsi promised to begin the process of forming a government after the presidential vote. Ennahda came second in the general election and has not ruled out joining in a governing coalition. Under a new post-revolution constitution, presidential powers have been curbed to guard against a return to dictatorship. The next government will face major challenges. TunisiaвЂ™s economy is struggling to recover from the upheaval of the revolution and there are fears that widespread joblessness will cause social unrest. A nascent jihadist threat has also emerged, with militant groups long suppressed under Ben Ali carrying out several attacks including the killings of two anti-Islamist politicians. 12 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 AFRICA Zuma says in вЂ�perfect conditionвЂ™ AFP Pretoria S outh AfricaвЂ™s President Jacob Zuma yesterday declared that he was in вЂњperfect condition,вЂќ in his п¬Ѓrst comments allaying concerns over his health following his hospitalisation in June. Zuma told the public broadcaster SABC television in a year-end interview that the elections earlier in the year had taken a toll on him after he went into вЂњoverdrive.вЂќ вЂњWe did overstretch ourselves, and I think there was fatigue thereafter,вЂќ he said in the interview broadcast on Sunday night. вЂњIndeed there was a period where I really took it easy. I couldnвЂ™t say my health was in its perfect condition... (but) IвЂ™m in perfect condition now.вЂќ вЂњWe did overstretch ourselves, and I think there was fatigue thereafterвЂќ Due to the exhaustion the 72-year old was forced at one time in June to hand more duties to his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa. The president who has visibly lost weight in recent months, also dismissed public sentiments that he might be lining up Ramaphosa to take over as he appears to be delegating him more tasks than normal. There is вЂњno hidden agenda,вЂќ he said. вЂњThe deputy president has the energy, has everything that it takes that you can... delegate without any worry,вЂќ he said. Zuma last week assigned Ramaphosa to oversee the running of three troubled state companies, including the energy provider Eskom following weeks of rolling electricity blackouts that have cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars. Power shortage is regularly cited as one of the weaknesses hampering South AfricaвЂ™s growth. AfricaвЂ™s second biggest economy is expected to expand by just 1.4% this year. Zuma also vowed to stop opposition lawmakers, who had hounded him out of parliament, to disrupt the national assembly. The president was in August forced to abandon his speech and leave parliament when lawmakers from the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party yelled вЂњPay back the money.вЂќ The heckling came as Zuma was being grilled over the $23mn of taxpayers money spent on вЂњsecurity upgradesвЂќ at his private residence. In November, the national assembly again descended into chaos ahead of a debate over the presidentвЂ™s palatial Nkandla country house in the southeast of the country. But in the interview on Sunday, Zuma said that these incidents would no longer be tolerated. вЂњThatвЂ™s not going to be allowed,вЂќ he said. вЂњIt canвЂ™t happen, otherwise it will be chaos in this country.вЂќ вЂњWe have a country, we have authority here, we have to do the governing of the country,вЂќ he said, without outlining the measures he plans to take. Zuma is due to deliver his state of nation address to parliament on February 12 next year. A report by South AfricaвЂ™s public protector had called on Zuma to repay some of the millions spent on items such as a swimming pool, amphitheatre and cattle pen at his rural home in Nkandla. Zuma said he had not violated any regulations. вЂњThe president did absolutely nothing wrong in the Nkandla (case). Three reports have not found anything,вЂќ he said. The countryвЂ™s ombudsman concluded that Zuma and his family had unduly beneп¬Ѓted from the refurbishments. вЂњThatвЂ™s not committing any crime. The president did nothing, the president did not ask any beneп¬Ѓt from anyone,вЂќ he said. Muslims trapped in CAR: rights group Hundreds of Muslims are trapped in the west of the Central African Republic in miserable conditions after fleeing Christian militiamen, Human Rights Watch said yesterday, accusing UN peacekeepers of collaborating with the authorities in preventing them from leaving. The rights group said about 1,750 Muslims - many of them ethnic Peuhl herders - are trapped in Yaloke, Carnot and Boda, where they arrived when fleeing attacks by the largely Christian anti-Balaka militia in late 2013 and early 2014. The conditions are the worst in Yaloke, where 42 people have died from malnutrition and diseases since February. The Central African Republic was plunged into civil war after largely Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew president Francois Bozize, a Christian, in March 2013. Keeping a safe distance An Ebola patient, who only provided his first name as Peter (right), talks to his wife from within the quarantined zone in the Kerry town Ebola treatment centre outside Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone, yesterday. 20 die in Nigeria bus station bomb attack While experts agree that isolated bombings are extremely difficult to stop, the broader military response to the extremist uprising has been widely criticised AFP Abuja A bombing at a bus station in northeast Nigeria killed at least 20 people yesterday, as Boko Haram was blamed for a separate attack in the embattled region. Violence in the northeast is escalating ahead of NigeriaвЂ™s February 14 general elections, with many concerned that voting will be impossible in large parts of the region. The blast hit the Dukku motor park on the outskirts of Gombe city, capital of Gombe state, at roughly 10.50am (0950GMT), officials said. State secretary for the Red Tanzania minister sacked over energy graft scandal Reuters Dar es Salaam T anzanian President Jakaya Kikwete п¬Ѓred a senior cabinet minister yesterday over a graft scandal in the energy sector that has already led to the resignation of the African countryвЂ™s attorney general. Kikwete said he had dismissed Anna Tibaijuka, minister of lands, housing and human settlements development, for accepting a $1mn payment from a Tanzanian businessman linked to a controversial energy deal. Tibaijuka, a former undersecretary-general of the UN and executive director of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), had rejected calls for her resignation from parliament, saying the money was a donation for a school where she serves as the main fundraiser. вЂњThere were ethical shortfalls in her conduct ... that is why we agreed to ask the minister to give us the opportunity to appoint someone else in her position,вЂќ Kikwete said in a national address late yesterday. вЂњOne of the biggest questions raised is why this money was not paid directly to the school and was instead deposited in a personal bank account in her name.вЂќ Tibaijuka said she had received the donation in good faith and presented it to the school. The Tanzanian president said the government was still investigating allegations of impropriety against the countryвЂ™s energy minister and his permanent secretary and would make a decision on their fate after the conclusion of the probe. TanzaniaвЂ™s parliament last month called for the dismissal of senior officials, including the lands and energy ministers, over graft accusations. Attorney General Frederick Werema resigned on December 17, becoming the п¬Ѓrst political casualty in the scandal that has led Western donors to delay aid and weakened the countryвЂ™s currency. The attorney general denied any wrongdoing and said he was stepping down because his legal advice on the transfer of at least $122mn of public funds to a private company was misunderstood. The funds came from an escrow account held jointly by state power company TANESCO and independent power producer IPTL and went to IPTLвЂ™s owner, Pan Africa Power (PAP) in 2013. Kikwete yesterday defended the transfer of funds, saying there was no wrongdoing by government officials in the deal and PAP said the payment was legal. A group of 12 international donors have said they will only pay outstanding pledges of budget support worth nearly $500mn to aid-reliant Tanzania if the report of the graft investigation is published and appropriate action is taken. Cross Abubakar Yakubu Gombe said his staff sent 20 body bags to the scene and вЂњthey have all been exhausted.вЂќ вЂњWe are still looking for more bodies among the carnage,вЂќ he said, adding that another 18 people with вЂњseriousвЂќ injuries had been taken to hospital. The attack happened as reports emerged that Boko Haram militants had torched the town of Geidam in neighbouring Yobe state at the weekend. The bomb in Gombe was planted near a bus that was filling up with passengers, said Mato Yakubu of the National Orientation Agency, a government body responsible for the media. The city was hit by a triple bombing blamed on the Islamists on October 31. The state shares a border with Borno and Yobe, two of the states worst affected by Boko HaramвЂ™s five-year insurgency which has cost more than 13,000 lives. The Islamists have claimed a number of attacks at bus stations, often targeting people who are heading to NigeriaвЂ™s mainly Christian south. Witness Awwalu Lame said a mob formed at the station shortly after the blast went off, with locals throwing stones at the security services. Anger has risen across northern Nigeria amid complaints that the security services have repeatedly failed to contain the violence. While experts agree that isolated bombings are extremely difficult to stop, the broader military response to the extremist uprising has been widely criticised. Boko Haram gunmen stormed Geidam in Yobe on Sunday, setting fire to several buildings and forcing residents to flee to the bush, witnesses said. вЂњThey were firing shots and throwing bombs,вЂќ said resident Adamu Shehu. вЂњWe spent a night in the bush but from afar we could see in the darkness flames and smoke coming from the town,вЂќ he said. Geidam in the hometown of YobeвЂ™s governor Ibrahim Geidam and his home was also razed, witnesses said. The attackers rampaged late into the night and reportedly faced no resistance from the military. While some people fled, others locked themselves in houses that were later torched and locals were going door-to-door to see if any lives were lost. вЂњOur town is a mess,вЂќ said resident Brema Umar, who reported that scores of people had fled overnight, many towards YobeвЂ™s capital Damaturu, 180km to the north. Details of attacks in the remote region often take several days to emerge due to the poor mobile phone network. President Goodluck Jonathan, who is running for a second term, has on several occasions claimed that Boko HaramвЂ™s defeat was imminent, even as the violence has escalated. The insurgency has forced more than 1.5mn people from their homes, straining resources in the embattled northeast, as communities struggle to care for those displaced. Underscoring the severity of the crisis, 185 people, mostly women and children, were kidnapped on December 14 from the town of Gumsuri in Borno. The attack recalled the kidnapping of more than 200 girls from a school in the town of Chibok in April, a mass abduction that Jonathan vowed would not happen again. The presidentвЂ™s opponent in February polls, ex-military dictator Muhammadu Buhari from the mainly Muslim north, is seen by some as better placed to contain the Boko Haram threat, but experts say he may struggle to unseat an incumbent with the backing of a wealthy ruling party. Close encounter AttackerвЂ™s brother held Visitors look on as an elephant and calf cross a road inside ZimbabweвЂ™s Hwange National Park. According to park officials, Hwange is home to over 53,000 elephants and as a result of overpopulation, the country is now considering selling part of the herd to buyers in France, the United Arab Emirates and China. Authorities in the central African nation of Burundi said yesterday they had arrested the brother of a man who was killed in France after a suspected Islamist-motivated attack. A spokesman for BurundiвЂ™s National Intelligence Service said Brice Nzohabonayo was detained in the capital Bujumbura shortly after his brother Bertrand Nzohabonayo attacked a police station in the central French town of Joue-les-Tours. Bertrand Nzohabonayo was shot dead on Saturday after entering the police station armed with a knife, seriously wounding two officers - slashing one in the face - and hurting another. вЂњWe arrested Brice Nzohabonayo on Saturday while he was staying with one of his uncles in Bujumbura. He had come from France and was spending several days here,вЂќ intelligence spokesman TГ©lesphore Bigirimana said. вЂњHe has been detained in our premises and he is being questioned,вЂќ the official added, saying BurundiвЂ™s intelligence service was in contact with its French counterparts. He added that Burundi had told France last year that the two brothers - who regularly visited Burundi - should be considered suspect because of their extremist religious views. Mugabe fires more cabinet ministers Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has fired two cabinet ministers and five deputy ministers, the presidency announced late Sunday, in an apparent purge targeting allies of his former deputy Joice Mujuru. The move came after months of political upheaval in Zimbabwe over the succession to 90-year-old Mugabe when he dies or steps down. Mugabe, who is currently holidaying in Asia, dismissed Flora Buka, minister of state for presidential affairs and Sylvester Nguni, minister of state in the office of the vice president, saying вЂњtheir conduct and performance were below expected standards,вЂќ according to a presidency statement. The two were seen as allies of former vice president Mujuru, who was dismissed two weeks ago along with seven cabinet ministers and a deputy minister. Five deputy ministers - for health, justice, rural affairs, work and transport - were also dismissed on Sunday. Once seen as favourite to step into MugabeвЂ™s shoes, Mujuru has since come under constant attack, notably from MugabeвЂ™s increasingly powerful wife Grace. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 13 AMERICAS Killings expose rift between mayor and NY police AFP New York N Police officers line-up to pay their respects at a memorial during a vigil for the two New York City police officers. De Blasio calls for pause in protests Mayor De Blasio is attempting to bring his estranged police force back into the fold Reuters New York N ew York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to ease tensions with the police force on Monday, calling for a suspension of protests against the use of excessive force until after the funerals of two officers killed by a gunman over the weekend. De Blasio, a Democrat who has come under intense criticism from some police unions for his handling of protests over police killings of unarmed black men, asked the city to stand by families of the officers slain on Saturday. вЂњItвЂ™s a time for everyone to put aside political debates, put aside protests, put aside all of the things we will talk about in due time,вЂќ de Blasio said in a speech to a charity with close ties to the New York Police Department. вЂњLetвЂ™s comfort these families, letвЂ™s see them through these funerals. Then debate can begin again.вЂќ The US Justice Department condemned the attack in which a 28-year-old man with a troubled history ambushed two ofп¬Ѓcers while they were sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn, apparently to avenge the killings by white officers of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. The gunman then killed himself. Earlier yesterday, police commissioner William Bratton urged an easing of tensions after some in his force accused de Blasio of being insufficiently supportive of police. вЂњThis issue is really starting to go down partisan lines, Republican/Democrat,вЂќ Bratton told NBCвЂ™s вЂњTodayвЂќ programme. This is something that should be bringing us all together, not taking us apart.вЂќ De Blasio had sympathised with protesters who took to the streets after grand juries declined in the last few weeks to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio arrives to speak at the Police Athletic League Luncheon in New York City. charge white officers in the killings. De Blasio was elected last year on a promise to advance civil rights after two decades of his predecessors emphasizing law and order policies that helped New York shed its reputation for violent crime. Several police officers turned their backs on de Blasio in protest when he arrived at the Brooklyn hospital where the two officers were taken after they were shot. The police union said the mayor had blood on his hands. Bratton said he considered it inappropriate for police officers to turn their backs on the mayor. He said labour talks and pension concerns were fuelling their discontent. De Blasio and Bratton earlier yesterday visited the families of both officers. The grand juries that investigated the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York found that the police officers involved broke no laws. On Monday, a Milwaukee prosecutor said that a police officer would not be charged for the April fatal shooting of a black man. The officer in the Milwaukee shooting, who like the officers in Ferguson and New York incident was white, was п¬Ѓred in October for failing to follow police procedure. US deputy attorney general James Cole called the killings of police officers in New York a вЂњheinous and cowardlyвЂќ attack. вЂњThereвЂ™s just no reason that we should have to be dealing with this,вЂќ Cole told reporters. вЂњOne of the main focuses that weвЂ™ve had in the department of justice is officer safety and making sure that we have procedures in place and training in place to encourage that.вЂќ Investigators are checking into whether the gunman, identiп¬Ѓed as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, attended any of the protests against excessive police force and said the suspect had made вЂњanti-policeвЂќ comments online. A foundation established by late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner will pay for the education expenses of the two children of slain officer Rafael Ramos, a spokeswoman said yesterday. Ramos, 40, and his partner, Wenjian Liu, 28, were shot dead in the BedfordStuyvesant neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Liu had recently married and did not have any children. Former police officer not charged in Milwaukee shooting death Reuters Milwaukee A former Milwaukee police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man was acting in self defence and will not be charged, the district attorney said yesterday, two days after dozens of demonstrators calling for justice in the case were arrested. Christopher Manney, who was п¬Ѓred from the Milwaukee police force, shot Dontre Hamilton 14 times during a struggle in Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee on April 30, Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm said in a statement. ew YorkвЂ™s police commissioner sought yesterday to ease a damaging rift between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the largest police force in the United States in the wake of the murder of two officers. Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, were shot in the head through the window of their patrol car in broad daylight in Brooklyn on Saturday following weeks of anti-police protests. Police named the shooter as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, who п¬‚ed to a nearby subway station and shot himself dead on the platform. Officers described Brinsley as an extremely disturbed individual with a clear anti-police bias. Some police lashed out at de Blasio, accusing him of creating a dangerous mood by allowing demonstrators to shut down New York streets in protest at recent police killings of unarmed black men. De Blasio, who has biracial children, has been criticised for allegedly not being sympathetic enough to the problems police face in п¬Ѓghting crime and too sympathetic to protesters. Police commissioner Bill Bratton went on NBCвЂ™s п¬‚agship Today show yesterday to admit that de Blasio had lost the trust of some officers, but defended the mayor against the avalanche of critism. вЂњI think he has lost it with some officers,вЂќ Bratton said, going so far as to say the last time he remembered such tension in New York was in 1970. He told NBC that he doesnвЂ™t believe вЂњat allвЂќ that de Blasio increased the threat to police ofп¬Ѓcers by allegedly not expressing enough sympathy for them by siding with demonstrators. He welcomed an extra $400mn in the budget that had been set aside to improve police training, facilities and to acquire new technology that would equip every officer with a smart phone. Former New York governor George Pataki and former mayor Rudy Giuliani, both Republicans, have been among the most critical of de Blasio and US President Barack Obama, both Democrats. вЂњItвЂ™s starting to shape up along partisan lines, which is unfortunate,вЂќ Bratton said. De Blasio was last seen in public attending a mass at St PatrickвЂ™s Cathedral in Manhattan on Sunday accompanied by his wife and Bratton. Yesterday, his office announced that he would deliver remarks on вЂњstrengthening the bond between police and the communityвЂќ at a police lunch at 1:15 pm (1815 GMT.) Perhaps in an effort to calm the situation, NYPD unions decided not to comment on the situation until further notice. A representative for Ed Mullins, president of the New York City Sergeants Benevolent Association, said he would not available for interviews вЂњuntil further notice.вЂќ Giuliani criticised de Blasio for allowing protesters to shut down mayor streets in New York and for participating in вЂњhate speechвЂќ against police in the last two or three months. вЂњLetвЂ™s give the police a break. This has been three months of anti-police hatred, rhetoric, anger,вЂќ he told CNN. вЂњI donвЂ™t hold the mayor responsible for deaths, but three to four weeks ago IвЂ™m telling people a cop is going to get shot here. вЂњThey were yelling it in the streets. The mayor was allowing them to take the streets. When I was the mayor, nobody took my streets.вЂќ Amid fears of copycat attacks, patrols by a volunteer auxiliary policeвЂ”a uniformed but unarmed forceвЂ”have been reportedly suspended temporarily for the п¬Ѓrst time since the 1970s. On Sunday, an intruder was charged with assault after reportedly pushing his way into a police station in Harlem and attacking two officersвЂ”one of whom needed medical attention. Other threats were phoned into a police station in Staten Island, where black father of six Eric Garner died after being held in a police chokehold in July, and made on Facebook. The New York Post also reported that police cars were sabotaged in The Bronx and that a Bronx teenager pulled the trigger of his gun at officers after emptying the weapon shooting out windows. вЂњMy decision ... does not depreciate the very legitimate concerns raised any time a law enforcement officer uses deadly force against a citizen,вЂќ Chisholm said later during a news conference. The Hamilton family called for the US department of justice to investigate. вЂњThis is a п¬Ѓght that we are going to endure. We are going to stay strong. WeвЂ™re not going to waver,вЂќ DontreвЂ™s brother Nate Hamilton said. Protests have been held in Milwaukee since the incident occurred. On Friday, 74 people were taken into custody after an evening demonstration spilled onto a highway and stopped rush hour traffic. Demonstrations against the use of ex- cessive force by police have been held around the United States in the wake of recent cases in which unarmed black men were killed by white policemen. вЂњWe cannot allow all police officers in this nation and all police officers in this city to be demonised. This is a time for peace,вЂќ Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett said. Milwaukee police chief Edward Flynn announced the п¬Ѓring of Manney on October 15. He said Manney had acted without malice but that he had failed to follow police policies when addressing mentally ill people. вЂњItвЂ™s very, very hard to charge a police officer with homicide if he does exactly what he is trained to do,вЂќ Chisholm said. Manney told investigators that he found Hamilton, who had a history of mental illness, lying on the ground in the park. After Hamilton stood up, he and the officer got into a п¬Ѓght, according to the statement Manney gave police. Hamilton took ManneyвЂ™s baton and hit him in the neck, ManneyвЂ™s statement said. Manney then shot Hamilton, according to police. вЂњHe feared Hamilton would attack him with the baton and that he вЂ�would be deadвЂ™ as a result,вЂќ the statement said. Local media reported Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker granted a request by local law enforcement officials to deploy National Guard troops in the city if protests became violent. Commissioner Bratton visits a makeshift memorial where the police officers were fatally shot US urges N Korea to compensate Sony AFP Washington T he United States urged North Korea yesterday to admit it ordered a cyberattack on the Hollywood studio Sony Pictures and to pay for the damage it had caused. вЂњIf they want to help here they could admit their culpability and compensate Sony for the damages that they caused,вЂќ deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters. Washington accuses Pyongyang of being behind the hack that led to the release of embarrassing company emails and caused Sony executives to halt the debut of the comedy action п¬Ѓlm вЂњThe Interview.вЂќ The п¬Ѓlm about a п¬Ѓctional CIA plot to kill the countryвЂ™s leader infuriated North Korea, although Pyongyang has repeatedly denied it was behind the cyber assault. Washington is вЂњconп¬Ѓdent the North Korean government is responsible for this destructive attackвЂќ, Harf insisted. Asked about threats from Pyongyang to hit back if it is sanctioned over the Sony affair, Harf said: вЂњWe do urge North Korea to exercise restraint, to refrain from further threatening actions at this time.вЂќ 14 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 ASEAN Indonesia jails cleaners in school abuse scandal AFP Jakarta F ive cleaners were jailed yesterday over the sexual abuse of a young boy at one of IndonesiaвЂ™s most prestigious international schools, in a scandal that has rocked JakartaвЂ™s expatriate community. In separate hearings, judges told the South Jakarta district court that four male cleaners вЂ” Agun Iskandar, Virgiawan Amin, Zainal Abidin, and Syahrial, who goes by one name вЂ” were вЂњproven legally and convincingly guilty of committing sexual abuse and violence on minorsвЂќ. They were each sentenced to eight years in jail and a п¬Ѓne of 100mn rupiah ($8,000). Afrischa Setyani, the only female cleaner among the п¬Ѓve defendants, was earlier yesterday вЂњfound guilty of assisting in violence and sexual abuse of childrenвЂќ, presiding judge Mohamed Yunus said. вЂњWe sentenced her to seven years in prison and a п¬Ѓne of 100mn rupiah ($8,000),вЂќ he added. Their sentences were lower than the prosecutorsвЂ™ recommended 10 years. Their trials began in August, following the п¬Ѓrst allegation in April that cleaners had raped the six-year-old nursery school boy at the Jakarta International School, which has long been favoured by expatriates and wealthy Indonesians but is now facing the worst crisis in its 60year history. Several of the cleaners who Virgiawan Amin (left), one of five cleaners, listens to the judgeвЂ™s verdict in Jakarta yesterday during his hearing over sexual abuse and violence on minors. originally confessed have since recanted, claiming they were beaten by police. The family of the abused boy is suing the school and seeking $125mn in damages. Their lawyers said their clients were innocent and would Reuters Phnom Penh ambodian prosecutors said they charged an unlicenced medical practitioner with murder yesterday, alleging he spread HIV among at least 106 villagers in the countryвЂ™s remote northwest. Ceaseп¬Ѓre talks with rebels begin DPA Yangon M yanmar and ethnic rebels yesterday resumed ceaseп¬Ѓre talks that were postponed in November when the army shelled a Kachin rebel training camp in the north of the country, killing 23. Top-level representatives were not due to attend the talks in Yangon, which were expected to focus on the shelling, an official said. вЂњUnless there is a good explanation for the attack, it might be very difficult to move forwards on the peace talks,вЂќ said Khun Okka, member of Nationwide Ceaseп¬Ѓre Co-ordination Team (NCCT). The NCCT, an umbrella group of several ethnic armed factions, postponed the seventh round of talks planned for November after the armyвЂ™s assault on the training camp near the border town of Laiza, the headquarter of Kachin Independent Army (KIA) on November 19. The military says the artillery shell was just a warning shot which inadvertently hit the camp. Conп¬‚icts with several ethnical rebel groups have intensiп¬Ѓed since peace talks collapsed between the governmentвЂ™s Union Peace Working Committee (UPCW) and NCCT in September. In early December, ethnic Kokang rebels of the selfproclaimed Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army killed seven soldiers in northeastern MyanmarвЂ™s Shan State, news reports said. AFP Kuala Lumpur A Thai woman was sentenced to death yesterday after a Malaysian high court found her guilty of trafп¬Ѓcking drugs, Bernama news agency reported. Duangchit Khonthokhonbari, 33, who had been working in Malaysia as a maid, was caught with 2.81 kilogrammes of methamphetamine at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in March last year. Anyone with at least 50 grams of methamphetamine is considered a trafficker in Malaysia and subject to the death penalty. Defence lawyers could not be reached for immediate comment, but Duangchit is expected to appeal against the death sentence, which is carried out by hanging in Malaysia. The verdict comes just days after an Australian mother-offour, Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, was also charged with drug trafп¬Ѓcking in Malaysia. A customs check at the airport on December 7 discovered 1.5 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine, or вЂњice,вЂќ in a hidden compartment in her bag. Her lawyers insist she was innocently duped into carrying a bag that appeared to contain only clothing by a stranger in Shanghai. Exposto is due to appear in court again on January 23, when a chemistвЂ™s report on the suspected drugs will be submitted. Hundreds of Malaysians and foreigners are on death row in the Muslim-majority country, many for drug-related offences, though few have been executed in recent years. Two Australians were hanged in 1986 for heroin trafficking вЂ” the first Westerners executed in Malaysia вЂ” in a case that strained bilateral relations. Last year Dominic Bird, a truck driver from Perth, was acquitted on drug trafficking charges after he was allegedly caught with 167 grams of crystal methamphetamine. Woman dies after cops п¬Ѓre on protesters appeal. The schoolвЂ™s workers union in a statement said medical reports from four hospitals вЂњstated that there was no evidence of sexual abuseвЂќ and called for the cleaners and their families to appeal to the High Court. вЂњWe believe the truth is there and there will always be a way to uncover it,вЂќ union representative Rully Iskandar was quoted as saying. A sixth cleaner was implicated in the case but reportedly died in custody. Police have said he commit- ted suicide by drinking п¬‚oorcleaning п¬‚uid. Canadian Neil Bantleman, an administrator at the school, and Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdinand Tjiong, are also on trial separately, accused of sexually assaulting children. Cambodia charges unlicenced doctor for spreading HIV to people C Thai maid sentenced to death for drugs Authorities detected the local epidemic of HIV, or human immunodeп¬Ѓciency virus, on Dec 9 when they started testing in the community in Battambang province and found children as young as two and people in the 80s had contracted the virus. They were alerted after a 74-year-old man tested positive in November and started convincing others who had also visited the same practitioner, 55-yearold Yem Chrin, to get tested. вЂњWe charged him with spreading the HIV virus to others, brutal murder and operating a medical service without a licence,вЂќ Nuon San, the provincial courtвЂ™s chief prosecutor, told Reuters by telephone. Yem Chrin admitted to routinely re-using syringes and was a well-respected local doctor who provided cheap services to the poor, according to provincial deputy police chief Chet Vanny. вЂњHe used the same syringes again and again,вЂќ Chet Vanny said. вЂњAnd he even let villagers owe him the money for the services,вЂќ he said, adding the accused was also regarded as having healing powers. The case is a blow to CambodiaвЂ™s so far successful efforts to cut the rate of HIV infections. Reuters Yangon M yanmar police п¬Ѓred on protesters near a mine at the centre of a longrunning land dispute yesterday, killing one person and wounding 20 others, media reports said, as the China-linked company announced plans to expand the project. A Myanmar television station and website, the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), said that one person was killed during the protest near the Letpadaung copper mine in central Myanmar. Khin San Hlaing, a parliamentarian with the opposition National League for Democracy, cited witnesses as saying a woman died after being struck in the head by a bullet. The mining company, Myanmar Winbao, conп¬Ѓrmed a person was killed. вЂњThe events leading up to her death are still unclear,вЂќ company Medical tourism booms in Asia AFP Kuala Lumpur T he lines snaking into BangladeshвЂ™s overwhelmed hospitals are often so long, says Nusrat Hussein Kiwan, that they extend into the street outside -- too many patients seeking too few quality doctors. So, through a Google search, the wife of a Bangladeshi construction executive chose a Malaysian hospital for her heart bypass surgery. вЂњItвЂ™s peaceful here, and my doctors are good,вЂќ Kiwan, 65, said during a post-op check-up at a Kuala Lumpur private hospital, looking full of life in an orange headscarf and sparkling gold bracelets. вЂњI didnвЂ™t expect to be as good as before. But IвЂ™m better.вЂќ Kiwan spent $20,000 on the procedure earlier this year, joining a booming global medical tourism market that is seeing particularly rapid growth in Southeast Asia. US-based industry resource Patients Beyond Borders estimates the world market is expanding by 25% per year -- it reached $55bn with 11mn medical tourists in 2013. International medical tourism began to gain ground in the 1980s as Latin American countries such as Costa Rica and Brazil offered relatively cheap dental, cosmetic and other procedures to US and European patients driven south by high costs. But the onetime niche market has developed into a multibillion-dollar industry as developing-world health systems improve, global aviation links spread, and the Internet broadens patientsвЂ™ horizons. Alexandria Garvie from Australia poses following a tummy-tuck operation at a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur.. Procedures vary widely from fertility treatments in Barbados, to cosmetic surgery in Brazil, heart and eye operations in Malaysia, and gender-reassignment in Thailand. The sector beneп¬Ѓts from a вЂњperfect storm of an ageing global population, rising affluence and greater choice in quality hospitals,вЂќ said Josef Woodman, CEO of Patients Beyond Borders. вЂњThis is particularly true in Asia, where disparities in quality of care are driving millions of patients to countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan -- and even the US and UK -- in search of medical treatment not yet available in their homelands.вЂќ вЂњThe near-term growth potential is signiп¬Ѓcant,вЂќ he said. Increasingly, major Asian players like India, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are aggressively promoting treatments at up to 80% savings compared to developed nations, with some companies arranging package trips that combine a nose job with a little beach time. Southeast Asia, in particular, is considered a medical-tourism вЂњsweet spot,вЂќ with decades of solid economic growth creating high-quality medical systems that remain competitively priced. Patients come from both rich and poor nations, the former driven by high costs at home, and the latter seeking better-quality care. MalaysiaвЂ™s market has nearly doubled since 2010, reaching 770,000 patients and $200mn in revenue last year, according to government figures. вЂњWe are behind Thailand for sure, but we are giving Singapore a good fight,вЂќ said T Mahadevan, head of the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia. Thailand says it attracted 2.53mn medical tourists in 2012. Though its figures in- clude spa tourists, thatвЂ™s a one-third increase in just two years, a period in which revenues nearly doubled to around $4.2bn. In Singapore, medical tourists spent $630mn last year, a figure likely inflated by the modern city-stateвЂ™s relatively higher costs. Patients Beyond Borders estimates Singapore draws more than a half million treatmentseekers annually, mostly from neighbouring Indonesia, where health systems lag. Malaysia set up a special body in 2009 to streamline and organise industry players. Patients Without Borders calls Malaysia вЂњmedical travelвЂ™s best-kept secretвЂќ, noting the widely spoken fluent English and far cheaper medical costs compared to Japan, the US, Europe and other key clientele sources. вЂњI would come back here again. I would definitely recommend it,вЂќ Alexandria Gar- vie, 61, said from her hospital bed in Kuala Lumpur after a tummy tuck. The $5,000 procedure -around one-quarter of what she would have paid at home in Australia -- was performed at the Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre. The company also recently opened a new branch near the border with Singapore to entice patients from the more affluent city-state. Most medical tourists to Malaysia, however, are wellheeled visitors from less-developed Indonesia, followed by Indians, Japanese and Chinese. Future growth is expected from the wealthy Middle East. Ancillary businesses have sprouted. Beautiful Holidays, based on the northern Malaysian island of Penang, connects overseas clients with local cosmetic surgeons, arranges their accommodations, and shepherds them to pre- and post-op check-ups. But it also arranges drinks, dining and sightseeing in Penang, know for its historical sites, beaches and cultural melange. вЂњThe idea is to have people come here for holidays - sun and silicone, that kind of thing,вЂќ said Tony Leong, the companyвЂ™s programme director. Ashley Higgins, a 30-yearold American, has used the company twice, first for a breast augmentation, then a nose job. She was initially wary of going under the knife on the other side of the globe, but price concerns won out. вЂњThe hard part is trusting people when you are 1,000 miles from home. I felt comfortable coming here,вЂќ she said. spokesman Cao Desheng said in a statement. вЂњWe understand the police were at the scene, and we hope they will start investigating this event.вЂќ Local police contacted by Reuters said they had no information about the protests. Earlier yesterday, Wanbao, which is a unit of the Chinese weapons manufacturer China North Industries Group Corp, said it would вЂњbe extending its working area in the Letpadaung copper project to comply with requirements of its investment permitвЂќ. вЂњConstruction is proceeding as a result of broad community support for the project,вЂќ the company said in a statement, adding that two% of the mineвЂ™s proп¬Ѓts would be spent on community development. The deadly protest comes as MyanmarвЂ™s semi-civilian government, which took power in 2011 after 49 years of military rule, faces criticism for rights abuses including cracking down on journalists and against protests. Illegal trade in wild cat parts thriving DPA Yangon T he illegal trade in tiger and other wild cat parts from Myanmar into China has grown, a survey said yesterday, while the same trade into Thailand has diminished. In Tachilek on the MyanmarThailand border, shops selling wild cat parts including tiger and leopard skins and skulls, fell from 35 in 2000, to just six in 2013, UK-based wildlife NGO Traffic said in a press release. вЂњHowever in Mong La, at the China border, such shops more than trebled from six in 2006, to 21 in 2014. Mong La caters almost entirely to customers from China,вЂќ Traffic said. вЂњMost of the cat parts on sale were claws, skulls, canine teeth and skins,вЂќ said the survey. Over 2,000 wild cat parts, the majority of them skins, were recorded. The decrease in Tachilek could be due to greater enforcement action in Thailand while the increase in Mong La may be linked to the rising buying power of ChinaвЂ™s consumers, and the apparent ease in smuggling illegal wildlife parts into China from Mong La, the report said. вЂњItвЂ™s time for the relevant enforcement authorities to live up to their international commitments to address wildlife crime,вЂќ said co-author Dr Vincent Nijman, professor of anthropology at Oxford Brookes University. The study looked at trade in the two border towns over two decades. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 15 AUSTRALASIA/EAST ASIA LEGAL POLICY CRIME RESTRICTION PEOPLE Court reopens case of wrongful execution Beijing says officials should learn minority languages Jackie ChanвЂ™s son hit with drug charge Parliament weighs tough curbs on tobacco adverts AC/DC drummer says he wants to keep his job The mother of a man executed 20 years ago for a murder to which another person later confessed appeared in a Chinese court Monday, as pressure builds to correct errors of justice. The courtвЂ™s reopening of the case of Nie Shubin, executed by firing squad in 1995 at the age of 20 for rape and murder, comes just a week after another court declared innocent a teenager executed on the same charges in 1996. The ruling Communist party is trying to ease the resentment caused by mistaken verdicts, which are fuelled by police reliance on forced confessions and the lack of effective defence in criminal trials. Officials from ChinaвЂ™s majority Han population who work in ethnic minority regions need to make an effort to become conversant in their languages, the government said yesterday, calling for better understanding of minority cultures. China has more than 50 minority groups, many of whom have their own distinct cultures, ranging from groups with large populations like the Tibetans and Mongols to tiny minorities with threatened languages, including the shamanistic Evenki. While Mandarin is the countryвЂ™s official tongue, minority languages are taught at school and in some cases widely used. The son of kung fu star Jackie Chan has been charged with providing a venue for others to use drugs, the state Xinhua news agency reported, citing prosecutors. Jaycee Chan, who like his father has worked as an actor and singer, was detained in August after police said they found 100 grams of marijuana in his Beijing home. Prosecutors will now bring the evidence against Chan to a court, which can still decide whether or not to accept the case. Prosecutors had no information on the latest development on their website late Monday. The younger Chan and Ko Chen-tung, a Taiwanese actor also known as Kai Ko, both tested positive for marijuana. ChinaвЂ™s parliament is considering tough curbs on tobacco advertising as the worldвЂ™s top consumer of cigarettes looks to kick its smoking habit, state media reported yesterday. The Standing Committee of the National PeopleвЂ™s Congress (NPC) is weighing an amendment to ChinaвЂ™s advertising law that would вЂњprotect minorsвЂќ from harmful ads, including cigarette ads, Xinhua news agency said. If the amendment is approved, all tobacco ads will be banned except those posted in tobacco shops, Xinhua said, citing an official at the NPC Law Committee. Ads would be banned in public places, hospitals and schools, and public transport facilities. AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd described allegations he tried to hire a hitman as вЂњludicrousвЂќ yesterday and said he wanted to keep his job with the top-selling rock band. Rudd faces charges of threatening to kill and drug possession in New Zealand and fellow band members, including guitarist Angus Young, have hinted he will be dropped for AC/DCвЂ™s upcoming world tour. The 60-year-old drummer said he wanted to remain part of the band he first joined in 1975 after his arrest last month. вЂњI want my job back and I want my reputation back and IвЂ™m going to get them,вЂќ he told TVNZ. Beijing criticises вЂ�cyber terrorвЂ™ as Obama pledges Pyongyang review AFP Beijing C hina condemned вЂњcyber terrorismвЂќ yesterday after US President Barack Obama pledged to consider officially labelling North Korea, accused by Washington of hacking Sony Pictures, a state sponsor of terrorism. The Chinese foreign ministry statement came after talks Sunday between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his counterpart John Kerry and followed calls by Washington for China and other nations for help in deterring future attacks. Obama, while saying that the alleged hack was not an act of war, has promised an unspecified вЂњproportionateвЂќ response. South KoreaвЂ™s nuclear power plant operator, meanwhile, launched a two-day drill to test its ability to thwart a cyber attack, though the exercise did not appear to be directly linked to the US-North Korea row. In Beijing, a foreign ministry statement yesterday said the country вЂњopposes cyber attacks and cyber terrorism in all of its forms,вЂќ without referring directly to ChinaвЂ™s ally North Korea. China вЂњopposes any country or individual using facilities in other countries to launch cyber attacks toward a third country,вЂќ it said. Washington accuses Pyongyang of being behind the hack that led to the release of embarrassing company emails and caused Sony executives to halt the debut of the comedy action film The Interview. The film about a fictional CIA plot to kill the countryвЂ™s leader infuriated North Korea, although Pyongyang has repeatedly denied it was behind the cyber assault. Despite calls from Republican critics for a robust response to the alleged hack, Obama told CNN in an interview: вЂњI donвЂ™t think it was an act of war. I think it was an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously.вЂќ He also promised to вЂњreviewвЂќ whether to return North Korea to the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. Bbut added: вЂњWeвЂ™ve got very clear criteria as to what it means for a state to sponsor terrorism. And we donвЂ™t make those judgments just based on the news of the day.вЂќ The hermit state threatened to hit back at the White House and other US targets if it was sanctioned over the alleged hacking. The NorthвЂ™s National Defence Commission, in a statement on the official news agency, said its army and people вЂњare fully ready to stand in confrontation with the US in all war spaces including cyber warfare space to blow up those citadels.вЂќ According to the FBI, there is вЂњsignificant overlapвЂќ between the Sony Pictures attack and other вЂњmalicious cyber-activityвЂќ with direct links to Pyongyang, including an attack last year on South Korean banks blamed on the North. The SouthвЂ™s Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co (KHNP) yesterday began conducting drills at its four nuclear plant complexes after a series of online information leaks by a suspected hacker. The hacker, using an account entitled вЂњpresident of the anti-nuclear reactor groupвЂќ, published a variety of information on Twitter, including designs and manuals for two reactors as well as personal information on some 10,000 KHNP employees. There did not appear to be any link between the drill and the Sony Pictures hack, and North Korea says it has never attempted or made a cyber attack on South Korea. Govt probes former senior aide to Hu over graft Reuters Beijing C hinaвЂ™s ruling Communist Party announced a corruption investigation into a one-time senior aide to former president Hu Jintao yesterday, as President Xi Jinping opens another front in his sweeping battle against deep-rooted graft. In a terse and brief statement on its website, the partyвЂ™s anticorruption watchdog said that Ling Jihua was being investi- gated for вЂњsuspected serious discipline violationsвЂќ, the usual euphemism for graft. It gave no other details. But two sources with ties to the leadership said that Ling, who heads a party body charged with reaching out to non-Communists and holds a rank equivalent to a vice premier, may escape prosecution. вЂњHe is under investigation, but it does not necessarily mean he will be prosecuted,вЂќ one source with ties to the leadership told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. вЂњThis is Xi Jinping being fair,вЂќ the source added, meaning that the president is keen to show his campaign will target anyone and that nobody is safe, no matter what their party affiliations. Several allies of another former president, Jiang Zemin, have also been targeted, including former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai and former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. вЂњXi is not targeting a specific faction,вЂќ said the second source. вЂњHu JintaoвЂ™s men are also being investigated.вЂќ Ling Jihua was demoted in September 2012 after sources said his son was involved in a deadly crash involving a luxury sports car. The car, a Ferrari according to some of the sources, crashed in Beijing in March 2012 in an embarrassment for the ruling Communist Party, which is sensitive to perceptions that children of top party officials live rich, privileged lifestyles completely out of touch with the masses, the sources said. People look at the floral tributes left outside the Lindt cafe (rear) in SydneyвЂ™s Martin Place, one week after a siege at the cafe which saw two hostages and the gunman killed yesterday. Aussie court orders partner of Sydney hostage-taker jailed Reuters Sydney A n Australian court yesterday ordered bail revoked for the partner of a self-styled Sheikh who last week stormed a Sydney cafe at gunpoint, sparking a 16-hour hostage crisis that left three people dead, including the gunman. Amirah Droudis, on bail after being charged with the murder of hostage-taker Man Haron MonisвЂ™ wife, was ordered by a Sydney court returned to jail to await trial. Monis, who had been charged as an accessory to the murder, had also been free on bail. The perceived failure of the justice system to prevent a convicted felon who was well known to authorities from seizing a cafe in the cityвЂ™s п¬Ѓnancial district in broad daylight has sparked calls for a Abbott under п¬Ѓre for women comments AFP Sydney A ustralian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was accused yesterday of craving вЂњa world where men do the big jobs and women do the ironingвЂќ after saying his biggest achievement for females was reducing household bills by axing a carbon tax. The backlash came after he unveiled sweeping changes Sunday to his ministry, dumping Defence Minister David Johnston, promoting Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and appointing only his second woman to cabinet. It followed recent opinion polls showing his personal approval rating and that of his conservative government had plunged over tough spending cuts and perceived broken promises since coming to power late last year. Abbott hit the airwaves yesterday to sell the reshuffle as a вЂњreset and refocusвЂќ for the new year, but found himself the brunt of criticism after saying his biggest achievement for Tony Abbott: facing criticism women this year was repealing the carbon tax. вЂњAs many of us know, women are particularly focused on the household budget and the repeal of the carbon tax means a Aus$550 ($447) a year beneп¬Ѓt for the average family,вЂќ Abbott, who doubles up as minister for women, told the Nine Network. In opposition Abbott, who was accused of sexism by former leader Julia Gillard in an infamous speech about misogyny, claimed repealing the tax would help women by low- ing electricity costs associated with ironing. Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese told Fairfax Media Abbott was stuck in a time warp. вЂњThe problem isnвЂ™t that Tony AbbottвЂ™s stuck in the past, itвЂ™s that he wants the rest of Australia to go back there and keep him company in a world where men do the big jobs and women do the ironing,вЂќ he said. Labor Senate leader Penny Wong added: вЂњI think we can safely say that time and time again, over and over again, Tony Abbott just reminds us how out of touch he is with the lives of women in modern Australia.вЂќ His comments spawned numerous digs on social media as women pondered what they would do with the extra money, with the hashtags #thankstony, #PutYourIronOut and #ministerforwomen trending, with people posting pictures of irons. вЂњWas planning to write paper for Astrophysical Journal today but too distracted by household budget,вЂќ tweeted scientist Lisa Harvey-Smith. Another said: вЂњ#thankstony, with the Carbon tax repeal I can buy a new apron,вЂќ while tweeter Willa McDonald added: вЂњI know where IвЂ™d like to put my ironing board.вЂќ Since assuming power in September 2013, the government has announced savings across the board to rein in a growing budget deп¬Ѓcit. But critics have slammed some of the measures, which include slashing health and education spending while tight- ening welfare beneп¬Ѓts, as broken pre-election promises and too harsh. There has also been criticism of the governmentвЂ™s ability to adequately explain why the cuts were needed, but Abbott denied the reshuffle was damage control. вЂњNo,вЂќ he told the Seven Network when asked if this was the case. вЂњThis is a good way to end the year after a year of considerable achievement. вЂњThe vital challenge of government next year is more jobs, more prosperity for families, but the way to achieve that is to build a stronger economy and that means continuing our work to get the budget back under control,вЂќ he added. Among the cabinet changes, Morrison was moved to the social services ministry with Abbott making welfare reform one of his key priorities. Johnson was replaced by Health Minister Peter Dutton while Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley assumed the health and sport portfolios, doubling the number of women in the ministry. Julie Bishop is Foreign Minister. tightening of the bail system. Last year, Droudis was freed on bail after being charged in connection with the stabbing murder of MonisвЂ™ ex-wife, who was set alight in a Sydney apartment block. Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson cited her prior convictions, the particularly heinous nature of the alleged offence and the slight possibility she might skip bail as factors in deciding to remand her in custody until trial. вЂњI п¬Ѓnd there is an unacceptable risk that cannot be properly mitigated by a further extension of bail,вЂќ Henson said following the hearing at a Sydney court. DroudisвЂ™ lawyers argued that the case was вЂњfrivolousвЂќ and their client was effectively being swept up in the public anger surrounding the cafГ© siege, in which she did not take part. Droudis, who was mobbed by reporters and television crews when she arrived at the court, just blocks away from the cafГ©, sat impassively for much of the hearing. She will next appear in court in February. Last week, the commissioner of police in New South Wales state, Andrew Scipione, said he was concerned that Monis had been granted bail on earlier charges, leaving him free in the community, sparking calls for a wider review of the bail system. Henson took the unusual step of admonishing a courtroom packed with journalists not to speculate on DroudisвЂ™ guilt, reminding them that the decision to revoke her bail had no bearing on her guilt or innocence. вЂњSuspicion, wild accusation, deп¬Ѓciencies in evidence cannot be translated into accepted truths simply because an agency of prosecution says so or a media who wants something to be true says it must be without due process,вЂќ he said. House where eight kids killed to be demolished Reuters Sydney T he house where an Australian mother allegedly killed eight children, most of them her own, will likely be demolished in keeping with indigenous culture to make way for a memorial, a government official said yesterday. The fate of the house in the tropical northern city of Cairns was being discussed while a judge denied a request to transfer the murder case against 37-year-old Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday to Queensland stateвЂ™s Mental Health Court. Thaiday is the mother of the four boys and three of the girls who were slain. The eighth child was her niece. The Queensland government agreed to the demolition of the home because of the horriп¬Ѓc nature of the killings and in keeping with indigenous cultural beliefs, Queensland MP Gavin King said. вЂњAfter extensive consultation we will remove the house behind me,вЂќ King said as he spoke to the media in a park where the dead children used to play. King said the government would liaise with the community on what form a memorial would take. Thaiday was charged on Sunday with eight counts of murder over the deaths of the children, aged between two and 14 years. Magistrate Alan Comans declined a request from ThaidayвЂ™s lawyer, Steven MacFarlane, to have the case moved to the Mental Health Court. Comans said during a brief hearing at the Cairns Magistrates Court yesterday it was too soon for such a request. No plea was entered at the hearing on behalf of Thaiday, who remains under police guard in hospital. She is being treated for stab wounds. MacFarlane said he was not sure how long his client would remain in hospital, where she is also awaiting psychiatric assessment. Police have asked that media abide by the cultural protocols of the indigenous Torres Strait Islander community. 16 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 BRITAIN PEOPLE POLITICS ENTERTAINMENT COST CUTTING WILDLIFE Socialite arrested at Heathrow airport Cameron warned on wooing Ukip defectors Lion King is still the maine attraction Safety fears as councils cut lights Seal found stranded in inland field Socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson has been cautioned by police after a вЂњdisturbanceвЂќ at Heathrow Airport. The 42-year-old вЂњIt girlвЂќ was arrested by armed officers following her reaction to being refused access to a first-class lounge, The Sun said. Video footage filmed by a witness showed her sobbing, swearing and tearing out her hair extensions during the incident on Saturday, the newspaper said. Palmer-Tomkinson, who has battled drug problems in the past, was taken to a west London police station and accepted a caution under the Public Order Act. Following her arrest, the former reality television star told The Sun that a panic attack triggered her behaviour. David Cameron risks alienating moderate Conservative voters by trying to be more like the UK Independence Party in the hope of wooing back defectors, a former Tory treasurer has warned. And Lord Ashcroft cautioned that talking about Europe and immigration with the aim of winning over Ukip supporters might actually undermine the Tory lead on other issues, by highlighting areas where voters think they are unable to make much difference. The billionaire Conservative peer, who has made major donations to the party in the past, was discussing the key findings of national opinion polls he has conducted on a weekly basis throughout 2014. Despite running in the West End since 1999, The Lion King has kept its crown as the show families want to see. The musical has topped a list of the most popular theatre and family events, according to Ticketmaster. Based on the Disney film of the same name, the show has been seen by more than 75mn people worldwide and still proves a hit for British audiences at the London Lyceum and on tour. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came second ahead of The Phantom of the Opera, now in its 29th year at Her MajestyвЂ™s Theatre. Also in the top 10 are Mamma Mia! and Les MisГ©rables. Significant areas of the country are being вЂњplunged into darknessвЂќ, it has been claimed, as research showed that more than 1.3mn street lights are being switched off or dimmed by councils attempting to save money. Motoring and pedestrian groups have raised concerns about the move, suggesting that accident rates on darkened roads in towns and cities are rising, and is leaving walkers feeling unsafe. Labour claimed the squeeze on budgets coupled with high electricity prices were leading councils to turn off or dim almost a quarter of all lights, compared with under 3% in May 2010. A seal has been found stranded in a field. Police said a dog walker reported to them that she had seen the animal on land in Newton-le-Willows, near St Helens, Merseyside, at about 9.45am yesterday. The seal has since been contained by officers, with conservation experts at the location, but police warned members of the public to stay away for their own safety. In a statement, Merseyside Police said: вЂњPolice in St Helens were called at around 9.45 yesterday morning by a dog walker, reporting that sheвЂ™d seen what appeared to be a seal in the middle of a field in the St Helens area. вЂќ It is thought the animal may somehow have arrived in the field from the estuary of the River Mersey. Nightmare for shoppers as supermarket websites crash London Evening Standard London S hoppers were yesterday left fearing they will be without food for Christmas after supermarket websites crashed under the strain of unprecedented volumes of online orders. SainsburyвЂ™s and Asda customers vented their anger on Twitter and Facebook as delivery slots booked weeks ago were scrapped, while others waited more than an hour to get through to customer service call centres. The meltdown came as the West End experienced a frenzied п¬Ѓnal shopping weekend, with stores reporting sales up by between п¬Ѓve and 15% on last year. Shoppers who had ordered home deliveries of groceries in the final days before Christmas fell victim to a glitch as the SainsburyвЂ™s website was shut down for half an hour. One shopper, Matt Richardson, said on Twitter: вЂњ@sainsburys have let us down 100%. Delivery slot booked two weeks ago. SainsburyвЂ™s make a unilateral decision to delete our order. Merry Xmas.вЂќ Another SainsburyвЂ™s customer, Peter Dunbar, tweeted: вЂњHad an e-mail last night cancelling our Xmas shop delivery. Website glitch. No delivery slots left now. What will you do to п¬Ѓx?вЂќ A SainsburyвЂ™s spokesperson said: вЂњWe experienced a brief technical issue with our website on Sunday night which has now been п¬Ѓxed.вЂќ Asda customers experienced similar problems, with customers losing slots booked weeks in advance when they attempted to amend orders online. On Facebook, one shopper wrote: вЂњKeeps asking us to amend our order and book a new slot. We booked the slot on December 4 and held it open with just a bottle of champagne until now. Now all it looks like weвЂ™re getting is a bottle of champagne. It wonвЂ™t let us amend our order, and just wants us to book a new slot. An hour on the phone to South Africa (where AsdaвЂ™s call centre is based) and they canвЂ™t help either.вЂќ On Twitter, another Asda customer wrote: вЂњA problem with your website has cancelled my order and delivery for tomorrow!!! I could cry.вЂќ An Asda spokeswoman said: вЂњA handful of customers were affected over the weekend and weвЂ™re investigating. вЂњWeвЂ™re contacting those customers to reassure them they will be getting their orders, and to offer a little something extra for their inconvenience.вЂќ Retailers appear to have been unprepared for the huge boom in online shopping this festive season. SainsburyвЂ™s said more than 30% more food orders had been placed over the internet for the week leading up to Christmas Day this year than last. The supermarket said it was preparing to deliver more than 100,000 orders in the three days to December 23. A spokesman said: вЂњSome customers experienced difficulties with booking or amending their delivery slot; weвЂ™re very sorry for the inconvenience caused. We would like to reassure customers who did not experience issues on the website on Sunday night that their conп¬Ѓrmed orders will be delivered as expected.вЂќ Analysts predict shoppers will spend ВЈ6.5bn at the UKвЂ™s leading grocers in the two weeks up to Christmas. West End traders were braced for another huge surge of shoppers yesterday after Saturday saw numbers up 6.7% on last year. The rubbish truck (right) is seen wedged into the wall of the Millennium Hotel in George Square in central Glasgow, Scotland, yesterday. Several killed as lorry hits Glasgow shoppers AFP Glasgow S everal people were killed and a number of others injured in Glasgow yesterday when a bin lorry ploughed into Christmas shoppers in the city centre, police said, in what appeared to be a tragic accident. One eyewitness described the vehicle knocking people down вЂњlike pinballsвЂќ as it veered out of control over a distance of around 300 metres, only stopping when it crashed into the side of a hotel. вЂњThere have been a number of fatalities and people injured,вЂќ a police statement said, adding that emergency services were at the scene and it had been declared a вЂњmajor incidentвЂќ. Police would not comment on a report on Sky News television that six people had died, although a spokesman said вЂњat leastвЂќ seven people had been seriously injured. Some media reported that the driver may have suffered a heart attack. The spokesman said he was being treated in hospital, without giving any further details. вЂњThe bin lorry just lost control. It went along the pavement, knocking everyone like pinballs,вЂќ eyewitness Melanie Greg told Sky News. вЂњPeople were trying to run out of the way but when something was coming out behind them like that, how can they run out of the way?вЂќ she said. She added: вЂњThere was noise, bangs, screams and everything. It was just horriп¬Ѓc.вЂќ The rubbish truck, owned by Glasgow City Council, mounted the pavement and hit the п¬Ѓrst pedestrian outside the Gallery of Support for new Gatwick runway fading: mayor London Evening Standard London B oris Johnson believes the chance of a political deal for a second runway at Gatwick is fading, leaving attempts to solve the South-East aviation capacity crisis in potential deadlock. The mayor has told friends that he thinks political splits will block expansion at Gatwick or Heathrow, regardless of the official recommendation due next year from Sir Howard DaviesвЂ™s Airports Commission. вЂњI was told earlier there was this big political consensus emerging around Gatwick, but now IвЂ™m not sure it will happen,вЂќ Johnson is understood to have said. His remark will pile pressure on Nick CleggвЂ™s Liberal Democrats to rethink their stance on airports. Clegg planned to endorse Gatwick in a compromise designed to meet business demand for more п¬‚ights, while continuing to oppose a third runway at Heathrow. But his scheme was blocked when LibDems staged a rebellion at the party conference in October and voted against any new runways in the South-East. вЂњI was told earlier there was this big political consensus emerging around Gatwick, but now IвЂ™m not sure it will happenвЂќ Business Secretary Vince Cable, whose Twickenham constituency is on the Heathrow п¬‚ight path, is said to be deeply unhappy with the vote, fearing it lacks credibility with business and could increase the likelihood of a third runway at Heathrow. JohnsonвЂ™s own preferred option is a new four-runway hub airport in the Thames Estuary, but that has been rejected as too costly by the Davies Commission. The mayor then shifted behind Gatwick expansion as a temporary compromise. Last month, the Standard revealed he had held private talks with Gatwick bosses, and in an interview with the Standard in July he described a second Gatwick runway as вЂњa compromiseвЂќ. Johnson plans to campaign for his Estuary plan if, as expected, he is elected as a Conservative MP in May. He also intends to champion infrastructure projects and tackling low pay. He wants a big increase in the вЂњmeasly and patheticвЂќ compensation paid to people whose homes are blighted by schemes such HS2. Johnson, who has been mooted at an infrastructure secretary, thinks the government should buy homes outright, selling them when disruptive construction work is completed and property values return to normal. He also wants to encourage п¬Ѓrms to pay the ВЈ8.80 London rate of the Living Wage, with one idea cutting business rates for those that pay it. вЂњIt should be front and centre of our programme,вЂќ the mayor has argued privately. Modern Art on Queen Street at about 2.30pm (1430GMT), police said. It struck several more as it continued at speed for another two blocks, crashing at the Millennium Hotel on George Square, near Queen Street station. The incident took place the day after a driver with psychiatric problems in the French town of Dijon ploughed into pedestrians, injuring 13. He was later arrested. Scottish police said there was nothing вЂњsinisterвЂќ about the Glasgow incident, calling it an accident. вЂњIt is a road traffic collision with multiple fatalities,вЂќ the spokesman said, adding: вЂњIt does not look to be a criminal or deliberate attack.вЂќ The accident happened near the Scottish cityвЂ™s main shopping hub, where shoppers п¬Ѓlled the streets just three days before Christmas Day. Prime Minister David Cameron said he was being kept informed of developments, while ScotlandвЂ™s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: вЂњMy thoughts with everyone involved in dreadful George Square incidentвЂќ. PMвЂ™s tax cuts plan not affordable, feel voters London Evening Standard London M Johnson: вЂ�political splits will block expansion at Gatwick. ore than half of Londoners believe David CameronвЂ™s п¬‚agship promise of ВЈ7bn of tax cuts in the next Parliament is unaffordable, an exclusive poll for the Standard revealed yesterday. The YouGov survey found that 53% think the prime minister was making a pledge which the country cannot afford, compared with 23% who believe it can. Lower taxes, though, are generally popular and despite worries about affordability, more Londoners backed the cuts than opposed them. Cameron announced his postelection tax-cutting agenda at the Tory party conference in Birmingham in the autumn, promising to raise the 40p income tax threshold to ВЈ50,000 and the personal allowance to ВЈ12,500. Labour has said that the Tory plan is unfunded and will require more borrowing or deeper spending cuts. When this was put to Londoners, 42% said they supported the policy and 35% opposed it. Strikingly, 84% of Conservative supporters were in favour, compared with 22% of Labour backers, 27% of those intending to vote Liberal Democrat and 43% of those saying they will vote for Ukip. Men are noticeably keener on the tax cuts than women, by 44% to 39%. But pressed further on whether Cameron was making a promise that Britain could afford, more than twice as many Londoners said вЂ�noвЂ™ than вЂ�yesвЂ™, with people aged 40 and over the most sceptical. Nearly 80% of Labour supporters and about 60% of LibDem and Ukip backers believe Britain is not in a position to pay for the tax cuts, while 15% of people intending to vote Conservative shared this view. вЂњWhile many would like the tax cut outlined by the prime minister it is by no means a majority and there is a notable sense of caution among Londoners about such a move,вЂќ said Tanya Abraham of YouGov. YouGov interviewed 1,385 adults between December 15 and 18. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 17 BRITAIN OBITUARY CRIME PEOPLE LAW AND ORDER WEATHER Photographer Bown dies aged 89 Rapper stabbed to death in motherвЂ™s flat following row Grieving mum reunited with precious laptop CCTV cameras do not deter crime, feel police Flash flooding traps shoppers British photographer Jane Bown, who captured Samuel Beckett, John Lennon and Queen Elizabeth II in iconic black and white portraits, has died aged 89, her former employer The Observer reported. The newspaper employed Bown in 1949, and she came to the office each week for over half a century, continuing to work with 35mm film and becoming part of the вЂњDNAвЂќ of the newspaper, according to editor John Mulholland. вЂњShe produced some of the most memorable and insightful images of prominent cultural and political figures taken during the 20th century,вЂќ Mulholland said. вЂњHer beautifully observed pictures have become part of our cultural landscape.вЂќ A DJ and rapper who hosted a weekly music show on an online radio station was stabbed to death in his motherвЂ™s flat after a row. Luke Jackson, 33, was found dead at Elizabeth JacksonвЂ™s ВЈ850,000 flat in Pimlico. Elizabeth Jackson, 65, was arrested but released on bail after questioning. An 18-year-old man was arrested on Sunday as he attempted to board a flight at Heathrow and was being questioned on suspicion of murder. Jackson, who co-presented a drum-and-bass show on LondonвЂ™s Vision Radio, was a carer for his mother. In 2008, he enrolled at the new London Urban Arts Academy where he was named вЂњstar studentвЂќ and toured secondary schools teaching rap. Bereaved Irish mother Lynda McCance had her faith in humanity restored when a thief returned a laptop containing the final photographs of eightyear-old Chloe. On her Facebook page yesterday was a вЂњbig thank youвЂќ for the return of a computer taken when her Bangor home was burgled last week just days after CloeвЂ™s funeral. McCance had made a public appeal for the return of the laptop, promising no recriminations and even a reward. She said she had come home from getting a Chloe tribute tattoo to discover her house ransacked. Chloe was diagnosed with the rare degenerative illness BattenвЂ™s Disease at 18 months. McCance did not reveal how the laptop had been returned. A police force is considering plans to stop monitoring live CCTV cameras after a report found there was вЂњlittle evidenceвЂќ that they deterred crime. Dyfed Powys Police, which covers more than half of Wales, could have funding reduced to actively monitor security cameras after an independent investigation found their removal вЂњdid not result in a significant rise in crimeвЂќ. The report was ordered by the forceвЂ™s police and crime commissioner Christopher Salmon who said he was looking to put вЂњmore bobbies on the beatвЂќ. вЂњWe must spend every pound where it delivers,вЂќ he said. вЂњIвЂ™m giving the public what they ask me for - more bobbies on the beat.вЂќ Flash flooding has caused major disruption in parts of Scotland, with dozens of people rescued from a supermarket and one passenger injured after a train hit water on the line. Firefighters attended 11 flood-related incidents in Ayrshire as crews worked to rescue people and clear water from homes after heavy overnight rain. In Kilmarnock, 42 customers and staff were ferried to safety after becoming stranded by floodwater at an Asda supermarket shortly after 6.10am. Part of QueenвЂ™s Drive Retail park had become flooded after the River Irvine burst its banks. Water rescue crews from Polmadie and Ayr used two rigid inflatable boats to carry those stranded from the store. Footballer dies after crashing moped in cop chase Helping hand Anger at plan to lengthen ambulance response time London Evening Standard London A talented teenage footballer died when he crashed his moped during a police pursuit. Henry Hicks, 18, was pronounced dead in hospital just over an hour after the accident in Wheelwright Street, near Pentonville Prison in Islington. Scotland Yard said it happened after Henry failed to stop for police and crashed into a car near the junction with Roman Way. The incident on Friday has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate. Henry, a trained carpenter and former London Nautical School pupil, was a close friend of Joe Walker, 18, who died in a moped crash two months earlier, over which a number of his friends now face criminal charges. The two had played football together alongside Arsenal and England under-17s striker Kaylen Hinds. A huge shrine of bouquets and balloons were laid at the scene in HenryвЂ™s memory, as more than 50 friends and family gathered on Sunday night. Members of HenryвЂ™s family, who he lived with in Islington, yesterday paid tribute to a вЂњgood-natured blokeвЂќ. His older sister Claudia said: вЂњHe was the love of my life, just the most wonderful, lovely, caring brother you could ask for. Our family is in shock.вЂќ His younger sister wrote on Twitter: вЂњLifeвЂ™s not fair. Henry was the best brother anyone could ask for.вЂќ His friends revealed he had planned to sell his moped on Gumtree the day of the crash but the sale had fallen through because police warned the buyer it was part of an investigation. His best friend said: вЂњHe did everything for his family, he had so much respect for his mum and dad. They are just heartbroken. No one should have to bury their children.вЂќ Agencies London A Three-year-old Henry Butterworth skates with ice marshal Matt Nolan on the rink at the Natural History Museum in London. Govt вЂ�sabotaging inquiry into child abuse scandalsвЂ™ London Evening Standard London A n MP yesterday accused the government of вЂњdeliberate mistakesвЂќ to stop the official inquiry into child abuse scandals getting to the truth. The bombshell allegation of sabotage was made by LabourвЂ™s Simon Danczuk, who laid bare the abuse of boys by late Liberal Democrat grandee Sir Cyril Smith. вЂњYou canвЂ™t help thinking that they arenвЂ™t intent on getting this right,вЂќ the MP commented after a leaked letter revealed that Home Secretary Theresa May told inquiry members their panel might be disbanded. вЂњThereвЂ™s a catalogue of mistakes that have been made, some of them fairly basic.вЂќ Danczuk said some survivors of child abuse were wondering if the number of setbacks was linked to the fact that some allegations involved вЂњhighproп¬Ѓle п¬ЃguresвЂќ. He added: вЂњYou canвЂ™t help thinking that some of this is quite deliberate mis- takes by people in central government. They donвЂ™t want to get to the truth, that would be the allegation.вЂќ The current inquiry has seen two chairs appointed by May вЂ” Fiona Woolf and Baroness Butler-Sloss вЂ” resign because of family or social connections with people linked to the scandal. In addition, a dossier written by MP Geoffrey Dickens in the Eighties about alleged VIP abusers has gone missing at the Home Office. Dozens of child abuse survivors yesterday urged the government to replace the inquiry with a more powerful body. May may set up a new inquiry panel under statutory terms. In a letter to the panel members, she said: вЂњI am currently considering these options and I appreciate this has implications for members of the panel.вЂќ Peter Saunders, of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, told BBC radio: вЂњI have yet to encounter any survivors who have any faith in the process, or in the panel as it is currently constituted. We need to have a transparent, open recruitment or a panel with appropriate skills and expertise, all done out in the open, nothing to do with nepotism or connections with people already in the Establishment.вЂќ A Home Office spokesman said: вЂњThe home secretary is determined that appalling cases of child sexual abuse should be exposed so that perpetrators face justice and the vulnerable are protected. She is absolutely committed to ensuring the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has the conп¬Ѓdence of survivors.вЂќ Former childrenвЂ™s minister Tim Loughton criticised DanczukвЂ™s claim that the government could have undermined the inquiry. Pointing out that May was instrumental in setting it up, he added: вЂњShe wants it to succeed, she wants it to get to the bottom of the truth.вЂќ Danczuk said he had previously made clear that he believed May was committed to getting to the bottom of the allegations. mbulance services said proposed changes to response times would beneп¬Ѓt all patients as a row continued to rage over the plans. Labour attacked Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, demanding more information and claiming he had treated Parliament with contempt. The department of health said вЂњno decisions have been madeвЂќ and Hunt would only agree to plans that improve response times for the most urgent cases. A leaked document, obtained by the Press Association, included plans to change the response time for some вЂњRed 2вЂќ patients - those with вЂњserious but not the most life-threateningвЂќ conditions - from eight to 19 minutes in England. It said the proposals have been approved by Hunt, subject to conп¬Ѓrmation from the medical directors of 10 ambulance trusts. The current target is for an emergency vehicle to reach those in life-threatening situations within eight minutes. According to the leaked memo, drawn up by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), NHS England has agreed вЂњin principleвЂќ to relax the maximum wait for some Red 2 incidents, which include a range of serious problems including strokes and seizures. The only higher category Winter solstice is Red 1 - вЂњimmediately lifethreateningвЂќ incidents such as cardiac arrest, choking and major bleeding. The changes would see about 40% of Red 2 incidents move to a 19-minute response target while the proposed date for implementing the plans is the п¬Ѓrst week of January. The AACE said in a statement that plans for change would improve the care provided to the most seriously ill and injured patients and release resources which would be used to improve ambulance waiting times for all. It added: вЂњAACE supports the plans, which have been developing over the last 18 months, and medical directors of all 10 ambulance trusts in England have been closely involved in their development. вЂњThey will expand the number and type of calls that come into the most serious category (Red 1) so that those who have life-threatening emergencies get an even faster response than is currently enjoyed. вЂњIn addition, they will allow us to ensure that only those patients who truly need a response in eight minutes receive one.вЂќ And it said: вЂњAt this stage, these are only proposals and they will not be formally approved until NHS England and the secretary of state are convinced, as we are, that they are clinically safe and that they offer better care for our patients. вЂњWe have been surprised by some of the reaction given that over the last three months Actress Whitelaw dies at the age of 82 AFP London B A reveller wearing a golden cape celebrates as the sun rises during the winter solstice at Stonehenge on Salisbury plain in southern England yesterday. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, and the longest night of the year. the principles of what we are proposing and the beneп¬Ѓts for patients that we envisage have been shared with Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats and we have received no negative feedback on the thrust of those principles.вЂќ A Labour spokesman said: вЂњWe have never given any support for this plan. When raised in passing, (shadow health secretary) Andy Burnham explicitly warned of the need for caution and consultation. вЂњThe evidence needed to be produced п¬Ѓrst and it hasnвЂ™t been. Instead, ministers are forcing it through from January, in the middle of a crisis, without proper planning.вЂќ Burnham wrote to Hunt yesterday to demand immediate answers on the plans and ask why Parliament was вЂњtreated with contemptвЂќ three days after he signed them. He said: вЂњJeremy Hunt was dragged before Parliament last Thursday to answer questions on NHS winter planning but treated it with contempt. вЂњIt is outrageous that he decided to keep MPs and the public in the dark about a decision he had already taken and one which will have farreaching implications across the NHS. вЂњPatients are already waiting hours on end for ambulances to arrive. People will struggle to understand how, in the middle of a crisis, it makes sense for the government to make a panic decision to relax 999 standards and leave patients waiting even longer.вЂќ ritish actress Billie Whitelaw, famous for her intense collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett who wrote several roles for her, died on Sunday aged 82, her son told the BBC. Described by Beckett as the вЂњperfect actressвЂќ, Whitelaw became the playwrightвЂ™s muse and they created a series of experimental performances together. One of the most famous was in a BeckettвЂ™s monologue вЂњNot IвЂќ in which only her mouth was visible to the theatre audience. вЂњThis relentless mouth that wouldnвЂ™t let goвЂќ, she told a later interview. вЂњHe was so demanding, he was so meticulous, if you said an вЂњohвЂќ instead of an вЂњahвЂќ... from the stalls youвЂ™d hear вЂњOh lordвЂќ or youвЂ™d see his head going down into his hands,вЂќ Whitelaw said. вЂњBut because I knew he was radiating love and he cared and he wanted you to be perfect, and itвЂ™s not possible but he wanted you to be perfect, it didnвЂ™t upset me.вЂќ The two had a close relationship until his death in 1989, after which she gave lectures on his drama. WhitelawвЂ™s career on stage and screen won her a series of awards and spanned over half a century, from playing the mother of the notorious gangsters in The Krays to her most recent appearance in comedy Hot Fuzz in 2007. One of her most famous roles was as a demonic nanny in horror film The Omen. She was married to British actor Peter Vaughan from 1952 until 1966, and later to writer Robert Muller. WhitelawвЂ™s son Matthew Muller told the BBC she had died at a nursing home in London on Sunday. вЂњI could not have asked for a more loving mum,вЂќ Muller said. вЂњShe had an incredible career - but first and foremost she was my mum, and thatвЂ™s who I will miss.вЂќ 18 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 EUROPE Snack attack Anti-EU party gains support AFP Rome M Activists throw fries and mayonnaise on Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. The protest action was organised by feminist group LilithS (formerly the Belgian branch of Femen), at the Cercle de Wallonie, in Namur. RussiaвЂ™s allies build ties with Ukraine Russia is losing support rapidly in its neighbourhood Agencies Kiev K azakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev followed his Belarussian counterpart to Ukraine yesterday as MoscowвЂ™s old allies built bridges to Europe while RussiaвЂ™s п¬Ѓnancial crisis and diplomatic isolation grew. Both visits were ostensibly made to kickstart stalled peace negotiations between Kiev and the two Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine that rebelled against Kiev in April. Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko hosted such talks in September and is hoping to do so again in Minsk in the coming days. But Nazarbayev has no evident link to the eight-month conп¬‚ict and remains a prominent member of a Russian-dominated economic union that includes Belarus and once had aspirations to enlist Ukraine. A senior Ukrainian official told AFP that both leadersвЂ”criticised in the West for their intolerance of political dissentвЂ”were now trying to shake off the Kremlin and forge partnerships in Europe because Russian President Vladimir Putin вЂњis weakвЂќ. Some political analysts in Russia agreed. вЂњThis is an unambiguous signal to Putin,вЂќ said Konstantin Kalachyov of MoscowвЂ™s Political Expert Group think tank. вЂњBoth Kazakhstan and Belarus fear that their union with Russia will be engulfed by (an economic) crisis.вЂќ Putin angrily rejects backing UkraineвЂ™s separatist п¬Ѓghters and calls the waves of Western sanctions a remnant of Cold Warera thinking designed to contain Russia and possibly even topple his team. The veteran Kremlin leader is due today to receive both Nazarbayev and Lukashenko for a summit of leaders from neighbouring nations that have formed a loose military bloc. But his relations with Lukashenko have been strained by the Belarussian strongmanвЂ™s refusal to let Russian industrial giants take over his state companies in return for discounted energy deliveries. And Nazarbayev has balanced his Central Asian countryвЂ™s interests evenly between those of Russia and ChinaвЂ”its southeastern neighbour and increasingly important trading partner. вЂњKazakhstan has equal regard for both Russia and Ukraine,вЂќ Nazarbayev said on the eve of his visit to Kiev. вЂњWe have no conп¬‚icts of interest. I am what they call an honest broker.вЂќ Lukashenko also appeared keen to cast himself as someone ready to stand up to Russia if their views did not coincide, during talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Sunday. He appeared to be referring to Putin when he told the Ukrainian leader: вЂњThey keep saying that Lukashenko is afraid of someone. But I am not afraid.вЂќ Belarussian state media then quoted Lukashenko as saying that he supported holding вЂњsecretвЂќ negotiations about building stronger cross-border ties with Ukraine. вЂњLetвЂ™s not say anything to anyone at all but do it in secretвЂ”just as long as there is progress in this direction,вЂќ Lukashenko was quoted as saying. The US and EU sanctions have cut off RussiaвЂ™s biggest companies from Western money markets and put them in danger of going bankrupt. And the KremlinвЂ™s ability to provide their rescue has been limited by a recent plunge in the global price on Russian oil and gas exports. But the Western restrictions have hardly dented PutinвЂ™s domestic approvalвЂ”still estimated at around 80% вЂ”or dramatically altered his public approach to Ukraine. US President Barack Obama on Sunday dismissed the notion that Putin was вЂњthe chess master and outmanoeuvring the West and outmanoeuvring Obama and this and that and the otherвЂќ. вЂњRight now, heвЂ™s presiding over the collapse of his currency, a major п¬Ѓnancial crisis and a huge economic contraction,вЂќ he told CNN. вЂњThat doesnвЂ™t sound like somebody who has rolled me or the USA.вЂќ The authoritarian leader of Belarus п¬‚ew into Kiev on Sunday hoping to revive stalled Ukrainian peace talks he has been hosting to calm EuropeвЂ™s volatile eastern edge. But a high-ranking Ukrainian official said Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko was just as keen to use the trip to build bridges to Europe that ease his dependence on an increasingly isolated Russia. Two major rounds of negotiations in the Belarussian capital Minsk in September Italians break up neo-fascist group Reuters Rome I talian police yesterday arrested 14 people they said were members of a neo-fascist movement that was planning attacks on politicians, prosecutors and the police. The suspects were rounded up in raids around Italy on charges including attempted terrorism, attempted subversion of democracy and instigating racial violence, the national Carabinieri police said in a statement. Italy is still reeling from the вЂњMaп¬Ѓa CapitaleвЂќ scandal involving a network of corruption based in Rome that investigators said was run by a former right-wing extremist with long-standing ties to the capitalвЂ™s underworld. Police said they had disbanded the вЂњNew Order VanguardвЂќ, calling it a clandestine organisation which modelled itself on the far-right вЂњNew OrderвЂќ movement active in widespread political violence in Italy in the 1970s. Mario Parente, head of the special Carabinieri unit which has conducted the so-called вЂњBlack EagleвЂќ investigation since 2013, told reporters that New Order Vanguard aimed to break up ItalyвЂ™s so- cial order and found a new political party at a time of rising social tensions as the economy has deteriorated badly. вЂњWe believe we have intervened before the organisation could put its plans into action,вЂќ said prosecutor Fausto Cardella. вЂњThe plans were in place and we couldnвЂ™t run the risk of only discovering afterwards how concrete they were.вЂќ As well as the 14 arrests, 31 other people were formally placed under investigation. The police statement said the group was led by Stefano Manni, a 48-year-old former policeman with long-standing far-right connections who was active in planning its strategy and disseminating racist propaganda. He was under arrest. A sharp increase in social unrest in Italy in recent months is often attributed to falling living standards and record unemployment following six years of stagnation and recession. The far-right Northern League party has seen a surge in its support as it has capitalised on growing hostility towards immigrants and Roma people. The Black Eagle operation involved wiretaps and undercover agents who inп¬Ѓltrated New Order Vanguard which police said was targeting politicians and other public п¬Ѓgures. produced deals on a truce and partial selfrule for the two Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine that rebelled against Kiev in April. The agreements stemmed the worst п¬Ѓghting but were still followed by at least 1,300 more deaths. The toll from EuropeвЂ™s worst security crisis since the Balkans wars of the 1990s now stands at 4,700 вЂ” a п¬Ѓgure UN officials warn is a conservative estimate. LukashenkoвЂ™s п¬Ѓrst visit to Kiev since its historic shift westward last winter comes as EU efforts to get the peace talks back on track are in full swing. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko overnight held his third conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel since last weekend about the continued delay of the talks. The conference was п¬Ѓrst pencilled in for September 9 and has since been stalled by KievвЂ™s refusal to discuss the resumption of social payments to militia-run regions that Poroshenko cut off last month. Poroshenko and Merkel agreed that the new talks should вЂњproduce a demarcation line and establish a roadmap for withdrawing troops and releasing hostages,вЂќ the Ukrainian presidentвЂ™s office said. It added that Poroshenko still expected the meeting to happen вЂњsoonвЂќ. EU heads of state and Poroshenko had most recently hoped to see the Minsk talks convened in the presence of European and Russian envoys on Sunday. But two top rebel negotiators told AFP that no talks were scheduled for the immediate future. ore than one third of ItaliansвЂ”including many in the oncehostile southвЂ”are ready to vote for the anti-EU, anti-immigration Northern League, a poll showed yesterday. Matteo Salvini, the youthful leader of the right-wing regional party, conп¬Ѓrmed his status as the rising star of Italian politics with approval ratings of 35% in a Demos & Pi poll published by La Repubblica newspaperвЂ”up 5% on November. Salvini, 41, who launched a bid to extend his partyвЂ™s appeal to the poorer south of the country amid much fanfare on Friday, came second in the poll to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, 39, who it said has the conп¬Ѓdence of exactly half of Italians. His rise is often compared with that of FranceвЂ™s far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who has tried to steer the National Front closer to the mainstream in a bid for power. But Salvini has had to overcome ItalyвЂ™s much wider regional divisions and his partyвЂ™s demands that the wealthier north, which he calls вЂњPadaniaвЂќ, be allowed to break away. The party has also traditionally held the rest of the country south of Tuscany in contempt. Even so the poll seems to show the partyвЂ™s centre of gravity shifting south on the back of SalviniвЂ™s popularity. In fact, 19% of voters in the centre of the country said they would vote for itвЂ”one per cent higher than in its northern heartlandsвЂ”with 7% of southerners saying they would support it. Italy has seen an unprecedented surge of illegal immigrants this year, with more than 150,000 rescued from rickety boats attempting to reach its southern shores from north Africa. The poll appears to show support for the government stabilising, with RenziвЂ™s popularity, which stood at 69% in June before falling back to 43% in November, bouncing back to 46 in December. BreivikвЂ™s letters are blocked AFP Oslo N orwayвЂ™s prison authorities said yesterday they had seized over 200 letters from mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik to prevent him from setting up a network outside jail. Breivik killed 77 people in a bombing in NorwayвЂ™s capital Oslo and in a shooting rampage on a nearby island in July 2011. He said he committed the attacks to prevent a вЂњMuslim invasionвЂќ of Norway. вЂњWe have refused to send some letters from Breivik for reasons of security. WeвЂ™re talking about roughly 220 letters,вЂќ Yling Faeste, a spokesman for the prison administration, told AFP. вЂњWe control his communication, and he is not allowed to set up a network that could commit even more crimes.вЂќ Breivik, who is now aged 35, committed the worst carnage in recent Norwegian history on July 22, 2011. After setting off a bomb in OsloвЂ™s government district that killed eight, he went on to attack a Labour Party youth camp on the island of Utoeya, where another 69 people died, most of them teenagers. He was sentenced to 21 years in jail in August 2012, but his jail term could be extended indeп¬Ѓnitely if he is deemed a danger to society. Breivik now claims he has been вЂњconvertedвЂќ to democracy, saying he wants to establish a political party to promote his ideas, without having to resort to violence. He has said he has been inspired by the electoral success of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in Greece. Breivik himself contacted the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang to complain about the curbs placed on his correspondence. His lawyer Geir Lippestad told the paper his client has appealed the decision to intercept his letters. Faeste declined to describe the content of the letters to AFP. Rouble in tatters RussiaвЂ™s Communist Party supporters dressed as white bears, symbol of pro-President party United Russia, saw a model of a one Russian rouble coin during a rally against the roubleвЂ™s fall in front of the headquarters of the government in central Moscow yesterday. Deep recession, skyrocketing prices and a fragile banking system: although the rouble seems to have stabilised after its abysmal drop this past week, Russia still faces the heavy consequences of the turbulence. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 19 EUROPE Dresden at sunset Pope п¬‚ays Vatican вЂ�ridden with illsвЂ™ AFP Vatican P The brilliantly lit promenade along the embankment of the Elbe river in Dresden, Hollande urges calm after France attacks French officials are striving to avoid linking probably unconnected events AFP Paris P resident Francois Hollande yesterday urged the French not to panic as authorities probed the motives and proп¬Ѓles of two men who committed brutal weekend attacks. The country is reeling from the violence, which saw a man killed Saturday when he assaulted police officers in the central town of Joue-les-Tours and a driver plough into pedestrians Sunday in Dijon in the east, leaving 13 injured in a scene one witness described as вЂњapocalyptic.вЂќ Both men reportedly shouted an Islamic phrase that has previously been used by extremists when waging violent attacksвЂ” prompting speculation the assaults were motivated by radical Islam. But Hollande told a weekly cabinet meeting that people should not panic, calling on authorities to exercise вЂњutmost vigilanceвЂќ. Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll stressed that there was no link between the two incidents, warning against вЂњlumping them togetherвЂќ. In SaturdayвЂ™s attack, Bertrand Nzohabonayo, a French convert to Islam who was born in Burundi, was shot dead after entering a police station in Joue-les-Tours armed with a knife, seriously wounding two officersвЂ”slashing one in the faceвЂ”and hurting another. The assault prompted the government to step up security at police and п¬Ѓre stations nationwide. Nzohabonayo had previously committed petty offences but was not on a domestic intelligence watch-list although his brother Brice is known for his radical views and once pondered going to Syria. Brice was arrested in Burundi soon after the Saturday incident, intelligence services there said Monday. вЂњHe has been detained in our premises and he is being questioned,вЂќ intelligence spokesman Telesphore Bigirimana told AFP. The anti-terror branch of the Paris prosecutorвЂ™s office quickly took over a probe into the attack amid heightened vigilance over potential вЂњlone wolfвЂќ attacks by individuals heeding calls for violence by the Islamic State jihadist group. The radical group has repeatedly singled out France for such attacks, most recently in a video posted on jihadist sites. Bertrand Nzohabonayo, who had taken the name Bilal when he converted to Islam, had posted a п¬‚ag of the Islamic State group on his Facebook page Thursday, although people who knew him said at the weekend they refused to believe the attack was spurred by radical Islamism. The second attack on Sunday also saw the assailant shout a slogan witnesses told police. The driver targeted groups of passers-by at п¬Ѓve different locations in Dijon in a rampage that lasted around half an hour, before being arrested. Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who visited the town yesterday, said 13 people were injured in the rampage though none of the victims are critical. Calling for вЂњcautionвЂќ and вЂњrestraintвЂќ, he said the motives of the assailant had not yet been established. A source close to the investigation told AFP that the man, born in 1974, was вЂњapparently unbalanced and had been in a psychiatric hospitalвЂќ. A witness to his rampage, meanwhile, described an вЂњapocalyptic sceneвЂќ. вЂњWe were going home, we saw four people on the ground... who werenвЂ™t moving at all,вЂќ said the witness, who refused to be named. вЂњCars stopped to give them п¬Ѓrst aid. Very quickly, п¬Ѓreп¬Ѓghters and emergency medical workers arrived.вЂќ A Frenchman who ploughed into pedestrians had been to psychiatric hospital 157 times and had no known links to jihadist groups, a prosecutor said, easing concerns the attack was inspired by Islamic extremism. The driver targeted groups of passers-by at п¬Ѓve different locations in Dijon in a rampage that lasted around half an hour, before being arrested. Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who visited the town on Monday, said 13 people were injured in the rampage though none of the victims are critical. Local prosecutor MarieChristine Tarrare told reporters that the man, born in 1974, had a вЂњlong-lasting and severe psychological disorderвЂќ and had visited psychiatric hospital 157 times. She said he told police that he ploughed into people due to a sudden вЂњoutburst of empathy for the children of ChechnyaвЂќ. вЂњHe was not guided by religion but because he felt that politically he had to react,вЂќ she said, adding that nothing had been found at his parentsвЂ™ home that would suggest he had any interest in the Islamic State group or other extremist gatherings. Authorities in the central African nation of Burundi said Monday they had arrested the brother of a man who was killed in France after a suspected Islamist-motivated attack. A spokesman for BurundiвЂ™s National Intelligence Service said Brice Nzohabonayo was detained in the capital Bujumbura shortly after his brother Bertrand Nzohabonayo attacked a police station in the central French town of Joue-les-Tours. Bertrand Nzohabonayo was shot dead Saturday after entering the police station armed with a knife, seriously wounding two officersвЂ”slashing one in the faceвЂ”and hurting another. вЂњWe arrested Brice Nzohabonayo on Saturday while he was staying with one of his uncles in Bujumbura. He had come from France and was spending several days here,вЂќ intelligence spokesman TГ©lesphore Bigirimana told AFP. вЂњHe has been detained in our premises and he is being questioned,вЂќ the official added. TurkeyвЂ™s president Erdogan slams birth control as вЂ�treasonвЂ™ AFP Istanbul T urkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan described efforts to promote birth control as вЂњtreasonвЂќ, saying contraception risked causing a whole generation to вЂњdry upвЂќ, reports said yesterday. Erdogan made the comments on Sunday, directly addressing the bride and groom at the Istanbul wedding ceremony of the son of businessman Mustafa Kefeli, who is one of his close allies. He told the newly-weds that using birth control was a betrayal of TurkeyвЂ™s ambition to make itself a п¬‚ourishing nation with an expanding young population. вЂњOne or two (children) is not enough. To make our nation stronger, we need a more dynamic and younger population. We need this to take Turkey above the level of modern civilisations,вЂќ Erdogan said. вЂњIn this country, they (opponents) have been engaged in the treason of birth control for years and sought to dry up our generation,вЂќ Erdogan said. вЂњLineage is very important both economically and spiritually. I have faith in you,вЂќ he said in comments reported by the Dogan news agency, which also posted a video of his speech. Erdogan went on to praise marriage in front of the couple, who were declared man and wife by IstanbulвЂ™s mayor Kadir Topbas. вЂњMarriage is a long journey. There are good days and bad days. Good days become more frequent as we share them and bad days п¬Ѓnally bring happiness if we are patient,вЂќ said Erdogan. He added: вЂњOne (child) means loneliness, two means rivalry, three means balance and four means abundance. And God takes care of the rest,вЂќ he added. ErdoganвЂ™s government has long been accused by critics of seeking to impose strict Islamic values on Turks and curtailing the civil liberties of women. The presidentвЂ”who has two sons and two daughtersвЂ”has angered feminist groups for declaring that every woman should have three children and saying that women are not equal to men. He has also made proposals to limit abortion rights, the morning-after pill and Caesarian sections. But this appears to be his strongest attack yet on the principle of birth control. Erdogan has repeatedly warned that Turks must have more children to prevent the rapid ageing of the population. TurkeyвЂ™s population has risen exponentially in recent decades to over 76mn but the birth rate has begun to slow. ErdoganвЂ™s latest remarks gave fresh ammunition to critics who argue he is trying to raise the proп¬Ѓle of Islam in secular Turkey. Opposition lawmaker Aylin Nazliaka said in a written statement that Erdogan portrayed women as вЂњincubatorsвЂќ rather than вЂњindividualsвЂќ, leaving them exposed to violence. вЂњErdogan has become the president but he continues to act like a guardian. Would he talk so blatantly about the female body if he was capable of giving birth to a child?вЂќ she said. Health minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu, a doctor with two children, had at the weekend also caused controversy by declaring pregnant women did not have the right to decide how they would deliver their child. вЂњIt is the duty of the midwives and the doctors to prepare them for the birth. The patients cannot say вЂ�I want a CaesareanвЂ™. They donвЂ™t have such a right,вЂќ he said. вЂњThe doctorsвЂ™ job is to fulп¬Ѓl their medical responsibilities not to follow the patientsвЂ™ demands. Doctors must give the medical treatment that the patients have a right to. The C-section is not one of those rights.вЂќ ope Francis lambasted the VaticanвЂ™s bureaucracy yesterday, saying some within the Church lusted for power and suffered from вЂњspiritual AlzheimerвЂ™sвЂќ in comments likely to outrage his adversaries. The Argentine used a Christmas speech to cardinals, bishops and priests to list a catalogue of ailments plaguing the the very top of the Church. He said the Vatican was riven with вЂњexistential schizophreniaвЂќ, вЂњsocial exhibitionismвЂќ, вЂњspiritual AlzheimerвЂ™sвЂќ and a lust for power, all of which made for an вЂњorchestra that plays out of tuneвЂќ. The outspoken pope also warned against greed, egoism and people who think they are вЂњimmortalвЂќ. It is not the п¬Ѓrst time the 78-year-old has taken on the scandal-hit, intrigue-п¬Ѓlled Curia, and called for them to renounce gossip and act responsibly. But rarely has he used such vivid terms to describe the sins he says afflict the heart of the Italian-dominated body, and the speech was very stonily received. He slammed those who are slave to their вЂњpassions, caprices and maniasвЂќ as well as those who вЂњpossess a heart of stone and a stiff neckвЂќ. He bemoaned the вЂњscandalвЂќ caused by inп¬Ѓghting and those who live a вЂњdouble lifeвЂќвЂ”their public one and a вЂњhidden and often immoralвЂќ one. He pitied those who, ridden with jealousy, вЂњfeel joy in seeing others fall downвЂќ and urged top officials to help him п¬Ѓnd a вЂњcureвЂќ. The pope advised red-hatted cardinals full of their own self-importance to вЂњpay a visit to the cemeteriesвЂќ to look at those вЂњwho thought they were immortal, immune and indispensable!вЂќ And with relish, he also returned to one of his favourite themes: the evils of gossip. Backstabbing by вЂњcowards who donвЂ™t have the courage to say things openlyвЂќ is tantamount to вЂњmurder in cold bloodвЂќ, he said. The diatribe will doubtless fuel the opposition to the reform-minded Francis which has been growing within the Church, according to Vatican watchers. But religious expert Gianni Valente told La StampaвЂ™s Vatican Insider that he would also be applauded for вЂњcalling the diseases which plague his surroundings by their namesвЂќ. His performance вЂњfoiled once more the stereotype of Pope Francis blesses a child during a special audience for Vatican employees. the вЂ�Latin American martianвЂ™ who is unaccustomed to the Roman and European вЂ�complexitiesвЂ™ with which his detractors and aspiring courtiers try to neutralise himвЂќ, he said. Francis was elected in March last year on a mandate to overhaul the Vatican and put an end to decades of inп¬Ѓghting within the powerful but troubled body. Since then he has establish a series of specialist bodies to tackle corruption and poor management, including the naming of eight cardinals from around the world to advise him on the CuriaвЂ™s overhaul. FrancisвЂ™s attempts to kickstart dialogue within the Church earlier this year over a possible new approach to remarried, divorced people and homosexuals sparked an outcry in some quarters. His most vocal critic, the American cardinal Raymond Burke, was later demoted. But Vatican watcher Andrea Tornielli said the speech did not herald вЂњthe start of witchhunting seasonвЂќ, with other red hats ready to roll. In particular, the pontiff spoke against the вЂњhoarding diseaseвЂќ that sees members of the clergy вЂњamassing material goods, not out of need, but to feel safe.вЂќ In what was seen as an oblique reference to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is about to move into a 500-squaremetre п¬‚at, Francis recalled the story of a young priest who was mocked by his superior for loading too many possessions on a truck ahead of moving home. вЂњThese moves are a symptom of our [hoarding] disease,вЂќ the pope said. Bertone was secretary of state, the VaticanвЂ™s secondhighest position, under Pope Benedict XVI. Under his watch, the Roman Curia suffered from cronyism, inп¬Ѓghting and п¬Ѓnancial mismanagement, as exposed by the VatiLeaks scandal. On the weekend, Bertone was stripped of the title of Camerlengo of the Roman Catholic Church . Francis later addressed the CuriaвЂ™s lay staff, pleading forgiveness вЂњfor my failings and those of my advisors, and also for some scandals, which are very hurtful. Forgive meвЂќ. Princess Cristina to stand trial for fraud Reuters Madrid C ristina de Borbon, sister of SpainвЂ™s King Felipe VI, is to stand trial on tax fraud charges as soon as next year, becoming the п¬Ѓrst Spanish royal to face prosecution. Princess CristinaвЂ™s father Juan Carlos abdicated in June after a series of scandals, and his son Felipe is riding high in opinion polls. He has tried to modernise the monarchy and has taken away rights and duties from his two sisters, neither of whom is now formally part of the royal family. Prosecutors have been conducting an investigation into the affairs of CristinaвЂ™s husband, former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin, for four years. They have ordered Cristina, 49, Urdangarin and 15 others to stand trial in the case involving his Noos Foundation charity, the High Court of the Balearic Islands said yesterday. Graft investigations in Spain have exposed high-level corruption among politicians, trade unions and bankers among others, and have eroded SpaniardsвЂ™ faith in their institutions after a major economic crisis and a government austerity drive. As Spain heads into a general election year, corruption will be high on the political agenda. Polls show the issue as SpaniardsвЂ™ second biggest concern after sky-high unemployment. New anti-establishment party Podemos - вЂњwe canвЂќ in Spanish - has already beneп¬Ѓted from the disaffection, and threatens to eat away at support for mainstream political leaders, including those from the ruling centre-right PeopleвЂ™s Party (PP) and the opposition Socialists. 20 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 INDIA CRIME TRAGEDY ROBBERY INSURGENCY TRAGEDY 9 policemen injured in attack by residents Teenager dies weeks after self-immolation bid Poultry farm owner attacked, looted CRPF to battle Maoists with new strategies 3 children die after eating contaminated meal At least nine policemen were injured when they were attacked by residents of a locality in New Delhi where a sex racket was being allegedly being run from a house, police said yesterday. Police detained some people for rioting, Deputy Commissioner of Police Vikramjit Singh said. Police said the residents threw stones when a police team came to conduct searches at the house in west DelhiвЂ™s Narela area on Sunday night. вЂњThe team was led by station house officer Ghulam Sabbir. Nine policemen, including Sabbir, were injured when the residents attacked them,вЂќ Vikramjit Singh said. вЂњThe residents also vandalised five police vehicles. Some people have been detained for rioting,вЂќ he said. A14-year-old boy from Faridabad died yesterday weeks after sustaining burns during a selfimmolation bid, officials said. вЂњThe boy had suffered 40% burns. Despite treatment, his kidneys and lungs stopped functioning. He died 5.25am today (Monday),вЂќ a doctor at DelhiвЂ™s Safdujung Hospital said. Kaustubh Pandit, a student of a private school in Faridabad, had set himself on fire on November 26. Police said though the actual reason was yet to be established, the initial investigation showed the boy was allegedly harassed by his teacher in front of his classmates, leading him to take such an extreme step. вЂњThe boy got the fuel from a petrol pump in a bottle,вЂќ a police officer said. Four unidentified people yesterday attacked a poultry farm owner near Gurgaon and looted Rs2.75mn from him, police said. The suspects came in a car, forced Sumer Singh, 53, to stop his car on a road at Kankrola village near Manesar in Gurgaon district. вЂњSumer Singh was going to Gurgaon city to make payments to his business partners. He was forced to stop on a road near his village (Kankrola) by the four men,вЂќ a police officer said. вЂњThe criminals attacked Sumer Singh, broke the windscreen of the car and fled with the bag containing the money,вЂќ the officer said. Police have registered a case and an investigation is underway, the officer said. Sumer Singh has been admitted to hospital. The Central Reserve Police Force, the countryвЂ™s largest paramilitary force, will unleash new strategies to combat Maoist guerrillas, new CRPF chief Prakash Mishra said yesterday. Mishra, who took charge as CRPF director general yesterday, said: вЂњWe will adopt new counter strategies to combat Maoism. CRPF personnel will be trained accordingly.вЂќ He said his special focus would be on curbing the growing Maoist threat along the borders of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar. There was a need to ensure fewer casualties among security personnel during anti-Maoist operations, he added. Mishra, a former chief of Odisha police, said his Odisha experience would be useful in other states while dealing with the Maoists. Three children died while another is battling for life at a hospital in a village in BiharвЂ™s Muzaffarpur district after eating contaminated food. The incident was reported from Gaurea village, about 70 km from Patna, officials said yesterday. вЂњTwo to three hours after eating dinner on Sunday night, four children fell ill as they complained of stomach pain followed by diarrhoea and vomiting. Three of them died,вЂќ a district official said. вЂњOne boy has been admitted to Shri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur. His condition is serious,вЂќ the official said. вЂњPreliminary inquiry suggested that the food turned contaminated.вЂќ Villagers said the children ate rice and spinach for their dinner. States on alert for bird and swine п¬‚u Intense cold continues in N India, Delhi shivers at 4C Agencies New Delhi C onп¬Ѓrmed cases of bird and swine п¬‚u have prompted widespread alerts in India, officials said yesterday. Officials in the northern city of Chandigarh culled over 100 birds around the popular scenic Sukhna Lake after some of 22 migratory geese found dead there tested positive to avian inп¬‚uenza or H5N1, municipal public relations official Nidhi Bhatia said. Lakes and farms in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana states were being monitored, IBN news channel reported. Northern Uttar Pradesh state banned all import of poultry products from other states and ordered an inspection of its own 4,000 poultry farms. Chief Veterinary Officer Vipin Kumar Agarwal said the veterinary doctors of the state government were sensitised on the issue. R P Singh, director of the animal husbandry department said that till further notice, import of chicken and eggs from other states has been completely banned. This, he added, had been necessitated after reports of bird п¬‚u п¬Ѓltered in from other parts of the country. The state government has ordered the sampling of all chickens and formation of Rapid Action teams in all districts to ensure vaccination. An official said that the state had 4,000 big and small poultry farms. An earlier outbreak of bird п¬‚u in Kerala had been contained after more than 260,000 ducks in three districts were culled, NDTV reported. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were on alert after three deaths from swine п¬‚u were reported on Wednesday at the Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad, the capital of both states. вЂњThe patients came in at a very advanced stage of the disease,вЂќ K Narasimhulu, the doctor in charge of the swine п¬‚u wards at the hospital said. Swine п¬‚u cases have also been reported from Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. IANS New Delhi S People walk down Raj Path on a cold foggy morning in New Delhi yesterday. Dense winter fog enveloped the Indian capital with the low visibility affecting road, rail and air traffic. New airline Vistara to start п¬‚ights from Jan 9 AFP New Delhi I ndiaвЂ™s newest airline announced yesterday it would start п¬‚ying next month and was вЂњenthusiasticвЂќ about the future, even as rival carriers bleed red ink. The new airline, called Vistara - a Sanskrit word meaning вЂњlimitless expanseвЂќ- will make its п¬Ѓrst п¬‚ight on January 9. The airline is 49% owned by Singapore Airlines, one of the worldвЂ™s top-rated carriers. Mumbai-based Tata conglomerate, one of IndiaвЂ™s best-respected brands, controls 51%. вЂњWeвЂ™re enthusiastic. There are no doubt challenges, but we believe in the immense potential of the Indian aviation market,вЂќ Vistara chief executive Phee Teik Yeoh told reporters. The 46-year-old former senior executive of Singapore Airlines, added he had felt like вЂњbreaking into songвЂќ ever since Vistara cleared the п¬Ѓnal hurdle to start п¬‚ying, obtaining its Air Operators Permit from the government earlier this month in IndiaвЂ™s highly regulated market. While airline analysts say IndiaвЂ™s aviation future belongs to low-cost carriers, Yeoh said there was also room for fullservice airlines. вЂњWeвЂ™re here to redeп¬Ѓne the п¬‚ying experienceвЂќ and вЂњcreate a demand for a kind of personalised travelвЂќ that doesnвЂ™t exist, he said, referring to the вЂњmassiп¬ЃcationвЂќ of the Indian travel market. Vistara will operate the 148-seater Airbus A320-200 with 16 seats in business class, 36 in premium economy and 96 in economy. Once it takes off, Vistara will be the third full-service carrier after state-run Air India and Jet Airways, which are both making chronic losses. The new carrier will start with Delhi-Mumbai п¬‚ights and then include the western city of Ahmedabad. It will add routes as its current two-plane Airbus п¬‚eet grows. The carrier expects to have п¬Ѓve planes in a month and 20 Airbus planes within four years. The launch comes after the debt-laden no-frills airline SpiceJet was grounded brieп¬‚y last week for failing to pay fuel bills. IndiaвЂ™s air passenger market has expanded at breakneck speed but many airlines are laden with debt and beset by cutthroat fare wars, high fuel taxes and shoddy infrastructure. IndiGo, IndiaвЂ™s largest passenger carrier, is a budget operation and the sole one among the countryвЂ™s four biggest airlines consistently to report proп¬Ѓts. Kingп¬Ѓsher, a full-service airline owned by liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, was grounded by huge losses in 2012. Tata also holds a stake in an Indian low-cost carrier which started п¬‚ying in June, operated by AsiaвЂ™s biggest-budget airline AirAsia. The previous Congress government began allowing foreign airlines to buy up to 49% stakes in Indian carriers in 2012. everal states in north India continued to reel under an intense cold wave yester- day. Residents of Delhi woke up to the coldest Monday in the last п¬Ѓve years, marked also by a dense fog, which reduced visibility to 50m. Fifty trains and 16 п¬‚ights were delayed. The minimum temperature was recorded at 4.2 degrees Celsius, four degrees below the seasonвЂ™s average, the weather office said. вЂњDue to the poor visibility, the arrival of 50 trains from various parts of the country to the national capital has been delayed while 12 trains have been rescheduled and one has been cancelled,вЂќ said an official of the Northern Railway. The fog also hit п¬‚ights - 16 departures were delayed by more than 15 minutes. But no п¬‚ights were diverted or cancelled, an official at the capitalвЂ™s Indira Gandhi International Airport said. Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung made an emotional appeal to Delhiites to help the cityвЂ™s homeless by giving them clothes, saying that displaying вЂњyeoman kindnessвЂќ was a rare opportunity in life. According to the Delhi government, there are nearly 60,000 homeless in the capital city itself, but NGOs estimate them to be over 150,000. The Delhi government has established 221 night shelters True friendship for homeless people with basic facilities such as clean drinking water, toilets, blankets and beds. The cold wave also affect life across Bihar and people are unlikely to get any respite over the next 24 hours, weather officials said. вЂњIcy winds with foggy conditions have forced people to stay indoor,вЂќ R K. Mohapatra, regional weather official, said in Patna . He said fog and cold wave will aggravate in the coming days. вЂњCold wave will intensify in the last week of December.вЂќ Mohapatra said icy winds with cloudy sky will keep the cold wave condition more or less the same in the next fourп¬Ѓve days. Neighbouring Uttar Pradesh continued to shiver as the cold wave further intensified yesterday, leading to the closure of all schools in the capital Lucknow. Icy winds blowing from the neighbouring hill state of Uttarakhand worsened the situation which had already been compounded by a dense fog. Footfalls at AgraвЂ™s Taj Mahal have fallen considerably due to the cold wave, guides said. The day temperatures in Agra fell to around 14 degrees Celsius, as the city was enveloped in a thick blanket of fog. Himachal Pradesh experienced more snow. The minimum temperature in Shimla was 6.2 degrees Celsius and 0 degrees in Manali. Kalpa, some 250 km from Take steps to control encephalitis: states told IANS New Delhi T A still image taken from a video shows a monkey shaking another monkey which fell unconscious after being hit by a live electric wire in the northern city of Kanpur on December 20. The monkey fell on to rail tracks and lost consciousness. Immediately another monkey came to its rescue, tried to revive it by hitting, biting and dipping it in water. After more than 20 minutes the unconscious monkey showed signs of life and started to move. Shimla, saw a minimum temperature of minus 0.6 degrees Celsius. It was 5.2 degrees Celsius in Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. The desert state of Rajasthan also experienced severe cold. Mount Abu, the only hill station in the state, was the coldest place, recording the minimum temperature of 2 degrees Celsius, 2 degrees below what is normal for this time of the season. Churu and Bikaner recorded minimum temperatures of 4.2 and 4.5 degrees respectively. State capital Jaipur recorded 6.4 degrees2 degrees below normal. The southern states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh also continued to be in the grip of a cold wave. Mercury plummeted to one degree Celsius in Lambasingi, a tribal area in Visakhapatnam district while the lowest temperature of 4 degree was recorded in Adilabad in Telangana state. Lambasingi in Chintapalli mandal, about 110km from coastal city of Visakhapatnam, on Sunday chilled at zero degree. The temperature in most parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana continue to be below 10 degrees. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has attributed the cold wave to cold dry northerly winds blowing into the two states. The IMD has forecast that temperature might further dip in the coming days. he central government will ask Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu from where Japanese encephalitis cases have been reported, to utilise funds meant for the diseaseвЂ™s prevention, Health Minister J P Nadda told parliament yesterday. Asked about the deaths of children due to the dreaded disease, Nadda singled out contaminated ground water and lack of general immunisation as the causes for the disease. вЂњIt is a matter of grave concern. The issue is of implementation of the funds at the grassroots level which lies with the state governments,вЂќ he said. The health minister said the matter would be taken up at the inter-ministerial meeting to be held later this month. вЂњI will talk to the health ministers of all п¬Ѓve states and also visit the states,вЂќ he said. The minister was replying to Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adi- tyanath, whose constituency reports the maximum number of deaths of children due to encephalitis. Nadda said the prevention and control of both acute encephalitis syndrome and Japanese encephalitis requires concerted and co-ordinated action along with expeditious setting up of infrastructure to control the disease. вЂњThis entails effort by all stakeholders including the central and state governments, local self-governments, medical fraternity and non-government organisations,вЂќ he said. вЂњThe programme for prevention and control of encephalitis is being regularly monitored and I appeal to the state governments to utilise the funds already released or being released to them,вЂќ he added. Nadda said the funds released under National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme during 2014-15 to the п¬Ѓve affected states were Rs9.16 crore for Assam, Rs28.57 crore for Bihar, Rs15.61 crore for Tamil Nadu, Rs 23.76 crore for Uttar Pradesh and Rs18 crore for West Bengal. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 21 INDIA Despite intelligence, 26/11 attack wasnвЂ™t foiled: NYT IANS New Delhi I n one of the вЂњmost devastating near-misses in spycraft,вЂќ intelligence agencies of India, the US and Britain failed to stop the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack despite information from hightech surveillance and other tools, The New York Times reported yesterday. The daily said it had pieced together the story from classiп¬Ѓed documents, court п¬Ѓles and dozens of interviews with current and former Indian, British and American officials. According to the NYT, 30-year-old computer expert Zarrar Shah вЂњroamed from outposts in the northern mountains of Pakistan to safe houses near the Arabian Sea in the fall of 2008, plotting mayhem in Mumbai.вЂќ The lead conspirators were alleged to be Shah, another Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Sajid Mir and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, reported Pro Publica, which conducted the investigation along with the Times. Shah, the technology chief of the Pakistani terrorist group, and fellow conspirators used Google Earth to show terrorists the routes to their targets in the city, it said. Videos, maps and reconnaissance reports had been supplied to Mir by David Coleman Headley, the Pakistani-American who scouted targets. вЂњ(Ajmal) Kasab was trained to locate everything in Mumbai before he went,вЂќ said Deven Bharti, a Mumbai police official who investigated the attacks, said. вЂњHe (Shah) set up an Internet phone system to disguise his location by routing his calls through New Jersey,вЂќ the Times report said. вЂњShortly before (the) assault (on Mumbai) that would kill 166 people, including six Americans, Shah searched online for a Jewish hostel and two luxury hotels, all sites of the eventual carnage,вЂќ the report said. But he did not know that by September the British were spying on many of his online activities, tracking his Internet searches and messages, according to former American and Indian officials and classified documents from former American security contractor Edward J Snowden. Shah also drew similar scrutiny from an Indian intelligence agency, according to a former official briefed on the operation, the Times said. вЂњThe US was unaware of the two agenciesвЂ™ efforts, American officials say, but had picked up signs of a plot through other electronic and human sources, and warned Indian security officials several times in the months before the attack,вЂќ it said. The Times said: вЂњWhat happened next may rank among the most devastating near-misses in the history of spycraft. вЂњThe intelligence agencies of the three nations did not pull together all the strands gathered by their high-tech surveillance and other tools, which might have allowed them to disrupt a terror strike so scarring that it is often called IndiaвЂ™s 9/11.вЂќ The reason: no one fully grasped the developing Mumbai conspiracy. вЂњThey either werenвЂ™t looking or didnвЂ™t understand what it all meant,вЂќ said one former American official who had access to the intelligence and would speak only on the condition of anonymity. вЂњThere was a lot more noise than signal. There usually is.вЂќ The daily quoted IndiaвЂ™s former national security adviser Shivshankar Menon as saying: вЂњNo one put together the whole picture. Not the Americans, not the Brits, not the Indians.вЂќ Menon added that only after the shooting started in Mumbai in November 2008 did everyone share what they had, largely in meetings between British and Indian officials, and then вЂњthe picture instantly came into focus.вЂќ The British had access to a trove of data from ShahвЂ™s communications but contend that the information was not speciп¬Ѓc enough to detect the threat. вЂњThe Indians did not home in on the plot even with the alerts from the US,вЂќ the Times said. Pro Publica said that the CIA on November 18 вЂ” eight days before the terror attack in Mumbai вЂ” reported the location of a Pakistani vessel linked to a Lashkar threat against the city to Indian counter-terror agencies. вЂњIt turned out to be Pakistani waters, so we could not do much more,вЂќ a senior Indian counterterror official was quoted as saying. The Times said that Headley, who scouted targets in Mumbai, exchanged incriminating e-mails with plotters that went unnoticed until before his arrest in Chicago in late 2009. вЂњUS counterterrorism agencies did not pursue reports from his unhappy wife, who told American officials long before the killings began that he was a Pakistani terrorist conducting mysterious missions in Mumbai. вЂњThat hidden history of the Mumbai attacks reveals the vulnerability as well as the strengths of computer surveillance and intercepts as a counterterrorism weapon,вЂќ it said. However, later co-operation among the spy agencies helped analysts retrospectively piece together вЂњa complete operations plan for the attacksвЂќ, a top-secret NSA document said. PM has failed to fulп¬Ѓl promises, say leaders of socialist parties IANS New Delhi L eaders of the socialist вЂ�Janata ParivarвЂ™ raised the issue of black money both inside and outside parliament yesterday, hitting out at the government for failing to fulп¬Ѓl its promise of bringing back illegal cash stashed abroad. They also accused the government of fomenting communal tensions. Political heavyweights from the Janata Parivar, comprising the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) gathered in the Jantar Mantar area in the heart of the capital to address a rally denouncing Prime Minister Narendra ModiвЂ™s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. вЂњWhy has the NDA government failed to fulп¬Ѓl its promises made before the (Lok Sabha) election?вЂќ asked JD-U leader Nitish Kumar. вЂњWhere is the black money it promised to bring back?вЂќ вЂњThe prime minister has campaigned across the nation. He had said that he would bring back black money; what happened to the promises he made? They are spending money on religious conversions, they made false promises during poll campaign, and now they are diverting peopleвЂ™s attention,вЂќ said the former Bihar chief minister. He accused Modi of not acting tough against rightwing Hindu groups charged with religious conversion of Christians and Muslims and said the country should not be divided on religious grounds. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav were equally critical. Mulayam Singh said: вЂњThey promised jobs to all the youth and Rs15 lakhs to everyone (from the black money they would bring back). They even asked people to open bank accounts. But where is the money?вЂќ вЂњThe BJPвЂ™s conspiracy is to engineer riots so that attention is shifted away from the governmentвЂ™s failures,вЂќ said the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister. вЂњThe Agra incident was just a beginning. They will do such things across the country,вЂќ Mulayam Singh said, referring to the conversion of 300 Muslims families in his state. Lalu Prasad alleged that Modi was attempting to cause religious divide in the country by tacitly encouraging religious conversions. вЂњThe minorities have also fought for IndiaвЂ™s independence and the Modi government engages in вЂ�ghar vapsiвЂ™ (homecoming),вЂќ he said. JD-U chief Sharad Yadav said: вЂњJanata Parivar is protesting at the venue (Jantar Mantar) against the government over black money. You promised good days, employment.вЂќ The issue was raised again in both houses by members of these parties. In the Lok Sabha, they also staged a walkout over the issue. Members of the Samajwadi Party and the Trinamool Congress also held protests in the parliament premises. In the lower house, Mulayam Singh accused the government and Modi of not fulп¬Ѓlling the promises made to people who voted him to power. Members of the RJD and the JD-U also demanded a statement from the prime minister over the issue. The SP chief said promises were made that farmers would get money in their accounts and that land encroached by China and Pakistan would be taken back. But вЂњthese promises have not been fulп¬Ѓlled.вЂќ Both houses of parliament have debated the issue of black money during the winter session. Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav and others stage a protest against the government at the Parliament House in New Delhi yesterday. Conversions row sets back reform agenda Venkaiah Naidu says neither the government nor the BJP is involved in conversions and asks state governments to take action Agencies New Delhi P rime Minister Narendra ModiвЂ™s reform agenda suffered a setback yesterday as protests erupted in parliament and in the streets over a campaign by Hindu hardliners linked to his party to convert Muslims and Christians to Hinduism. Opposition members threw papers and swarmed to the centre of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, forcing the suspension of the session and effectively preventing the government from tabling a bill to increase foreign participation in the insurance sector. The long-pending insurance legislation to raise the cap on foreign investment to 49% from 26%, and another bill to replace a decree to overhaul the coal sector, were considered low-hanging fruits that Modi hoped to push through parliamentвЂ™s winter session, which ends today. But comments by the head of the rightwing Hindu group, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, that India was a вЂњHindu nationвЂќ provoked a storm of criticism, snuffing out any chance of opposition support for government business in the Rajya Sabha, where ModiвЂ™s Bharatiya Janata Party lacks a majority. The main opposition Congress staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha, the lower house, over the issue. Parliamentary Affairs Minis- ter M Venkaiah Naidu said neither the government nor the BJP was involved in such acts and the state governments should take action if anyone violates the law. He said the government does not support conversion or reconversion. вЂњThe government is nowhere in the picture, the party (BJP) is nowhere in the picture. If any individual does it, action has to be taken by the state government,вЂќ he said. вЂњThis is an attempt to divide the society,вЂќ Janata Dal (United) leader and former Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar told hundreds of people at a protest in New Delhi, referring to religious conversions. вЂњThe government is not capable of resolving the core issues of our country, so they want to divide the society and distract people.вЂќ Modi is facing a backlash for not doing enough to rein in hardline affiliate groups that have become emboldened in their pursuit of a Hindu-dominant agenda, threatening IndiaвЂ™s secular foundations, critics say. Trouble erupted this month after a group of Muslims complained they had been tricked into attending a conversion ceremony by Hindu groups. A Hindu priest-turned-lawmaker of ModiвЂ™s party had planned a mass conversion ceremony on Christmas Day, but that has been put off. However, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) yesterday vowed to convert 200 Christians to Hinduism in Kerala on Christmas Day. Aneesh Balakrishnan, the coordinator of VHPвЂ™s helpline to prevent conversions of Hindus, said his office had received nearly Another Japan award for Singh Make in India to be a key topic at PBD event: Swaraj IANS New Delhi T he governmentвЂ™s key programmes, including Make in India, would be highlighted during the January 7-9 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) being held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said yesterday. Over 3,000 people of Indian origin are expected to attend the event. The annual PBD is being held in Gandhinagar to mark the centenary of the return of the вЂњsarva sreshtha pravasi BharatiyaвЂќ or foremost Indian diaspora mem- ber, Mahatma Gandhi, to India from South Africa, said Swaraj who is also minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, said An exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi and his contribution to IndiaвЂ™s independence would also be inaugurated besides other events to mark the centenary of GandhiвЂ™s return to India. South Africa Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has also been invited, but her conп¬Ѓrmation is awaited, Swaraj said. The chief guest of the 13th PBD would be Guyana President Donald Ramotar. PBD is the worldвЂ™s largest annual gathering of people of Indian origin aimed at enhanc- ing networking and reinforcing commercial linkages. There are 25mn people of Indian origin residing outside India. The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas would be вЂњdifferentвЂќ from earlier PBDs, Swaraj said. The PBD would be hosting some special events, including a special session for the diaspora youth and also four special sessions. These are - to deal with the concerns of Indian expatriates living in the Gulf, for those living in Francophone countries, a session for countries where the descendants of Indian indentured labour live and another session to address concerns of the associations of Indian diaspora, she said. 200 requests for conversions at various centres it runs in the state. вЂњWe have also received a few requests from Muslim converts as well. We intend to step up our efforts to bring back more people to their original faith,вЂќ Balakrishnan, who also campaigns against interfaith marriages, said in Thiruvananthapuram. But president of the Kerala unit of the Congress V M Sudheeran warned people against вЂњorganised efforts at conversionsвЂќ by Hindu fundamentalist groups aimed at вЂњcommunal polarization.вЂќ вЂњEverybody should unite against it. This is an attempt to divide people on communal lines. All secular parties should come together and defeat it,вЂќ he said. вЂњThis is a place where different communities live in harmony.вЂќ External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj gives details about the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas at a press conference in New Delhi yesterday. Also seen Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation V K Singh and Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Sarbananda Sonowal. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh has been conferred another prestigious Japanese award - the Second Asia Cosmopolitan Award - for вЂњtransforming IndiaвЂ™s economy and its integration with the broader East Asian economy throughout his tenure.вЂќ The Second Asia Cosmopolitan Award includes two scholars on East Asia and two cultural icons. The award ceremony was held on Sunday at the Nara Prefectural New Public Hall in Nara, Japan. In a video message, Singh said he receives the prestigious award with вЂњgreat gratitude and great humility.вЂќ In November, Singh was awarded one of JapanвЂ™s highest civilian honours - The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers - for his contribution towards building Japan-India relations. Singh served as finance minister from 1991 to 1995 and as prime minister from 2004 to 2014. 22 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 LATIN AMERICA COMMENT LAW AND ORDER CRITICISM PEOPLE MEDIATION US-Cuba thaw вЂ�boosts odds of getting back fugitivesвЂ™ Drug trafficker with alleged Farc links held Venezuela blasts EU resolution Separated by deportation, couple wed at border UN offers to verify ceasefire in Colombia US deputy attorney General James Cole yesterday said the historic new ties between the US and Cuba make it more likely that the Cuba government will return fugitives sought by US officials. вЂњCertainly, weвЂ™re working with that country and every country to get back fugitives who we have charges against,вЂќ he told reporters at a department of justice press briefing. вЂњI think the fact that weвЂ™re going to be having better relationships with Cuba will increase our likelihood of being successful in getting those people back.вЂќ ColeвЂ™s comments came in response to a question about the chances of Cuba returning a US fugitive who fled there after being convicted of killing a police officer. Colombian authorities have arrested a suspected drug trafficker alleged to have links with the Farc rebel group and wanted by the US, the army said. Hermes Casanova, also known as вЂњMegaвЂќ or вЂњMegatronicoвЂќ is accused of working in collaboration with Colombian guerrilla group Farc and MexicoвЂ™s Los Zetas and Sinaloa drug cartels. He is wanted by US authorities for working with a drug trafficking and money laundering cartel that exports nearly 100 tonnes of cocaine every year. Colombia said CasanovaвЂ™s arrest was a major hit for the cartel. вЂњIt is a crushing blow to international organised crime and drug trafficking,вЂќ army commander Jaime Lasprilla told reporters. Venezuela has reacted angrily to a European Parliament resolution accusing the Latin American nation of persecuting the opposition, saying Europe is trying to divert attention from its own financial woes. Lawmakers at the European Parliament in Strasbourg passed a motion last week urging Caracas to withdraw arrest warrants against opposition politicians, and to disarm and dissolve pro-government associations. European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she was concerned by the arrests of opposition leaders. In its statement, the foreign ministry blasted the European Parliament resolution as вЂњinterventionist and deeply disrespectful.вЂќ A couple separated by deportation have realised their dream of getting married in a ceremony at a fence dividing the cities of Tijuana in Mexico and San Diego in the US. Cecilia Garcia travelled from Chicago to Mexico to reunite with her now husband, Hugo Enrique Velazco, who was deported to Mexico in 2012 after living in the US for 27 years. вЂњIt is a blessing to finally get married,вЂќ declared the couple at the end of the ceremony, in which they exchanged vows with Garcia standing on the US side of the fence and Velazco on the Mexican side in Friendship Park which straddles the border. The UN has the willingness and the experience to oversee a ceasefire in Colombia if the parties involved so request it, UN representative in Colombia Fabrizio Hochschild has said. вЂњThe United Nations has the competency,вЂќ Hochschild said in reference to the indefinite unilateral ceasefire announced by the leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) at the end of the last round of peace negotiations this year. The ceasefire took effect on Saturday. The rebel group has said that the ceasefire must lead to a truce, warning that it would be terminated if it was found that the guerrillas have been attacked by security forces. Rousseff stands by Petrobras CEO Bull run Construction of controversial Nicaragua canal kicks off Reuters Brasilia B razilвЂ™s President Dilma Rousseff yesterday said she has no plans to replace the chief executive officer of staterun oil п¬Ѓrm Petrobras, saying there was no evidence that senior management was involved in a graft scandal at the company. Speaking at a year-end breakfast with reporters in Brasilia, Rousseff also said she will take вЂњdrasticвЂќ measures next year to get BrazilвЂ™s economy back on track and voiced conп¬Ѓdence in a rebound, regardless of how the global economy performs. She was coy about what the measures might entail, though she played down speculation she would raise taxes to shore up government п¬Ѓnances. The widening Petrobras scandal has overshadowed the debate about what economic steps Rousseff will take when she is sworn in for a second term on New YearвЂ™s Day and has dominated the presidentвЂ™s agenda in recent weeks. It has forced her to vet Cabinet appointments to avoid picking anyone implicated. Yesterday, she said the pessimism surrounding Petroleo Brasileiro SA , as the company is formally known, was overblown and that the recent plunge in its shares was exaggerated. The stock has fallen about 24% since police last month arrested a second former Petrobras director and scores of executives from engineering and construction companies accused of paying bribes skimmed from overpriced contracts. Petrobras shares pared gains after RousseffвЂ™s remarks. The president has come under pressure to replace CEO Maria das GraГ§as Foster, who has offered to resign. But Rousseff said she stands by Foster, despite recent allegation by a former company manager that the CEO knew about overpriced contracts. вЂњI see no signs of any wrongdoing by the current Petrobras executive board,вЂќ Rousseff said. She rejected the suggestion that keeping Foster on would undermine PetrobrasвЂ™ credibility. AFP Managua A A Spanish recortadore jumps over a bull during a show in Cali, Colombia. Haiti health minister is new interim premier Reuters Port-au-Prince H aitian Health Minister Florence Duperval Guillaume has been named interim prime minister to replace Laurent Lamothe, who resigned a week ago following several weeks of protests. The announcement is part of an effort to resolve a mounting political crisis over long-delayed elections. Under HaitiвЂ™s constitution, Guillaume can hold the interim position for up to 30 days before a permanent choice is nominated for approval by parliament. Lamothe was forced to resign after President Michel Martelly accepted the recommendations of a special commission appointed to defuse the crisis, including calling for the prime minister to go. It also came after international warnings from the US and the United Nations that the impoverished Caribbean na- tion was on the brink of political chaos again. Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, is still recovering from an earthquake п¬Ѓve years ago that leveled much of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Guillaume is widely respected by international aid agencies In recent weeks, demonstrators in several cities have accused the government of corruption. If elections are not held before January 12, the п¬Ѓfth anniversary of the earthquake, parliament will shut down, leaving the country without a functioning government until presidential elections in late 2015. Guillaume, a career health worker whose official title is minister of public health and population, is seen as close to HaitiвЂ™s First Lady Sophia Martelly, and has overseen efforts to rebuild the countryвЂ™s fragile medical services, including by starting new hospitals and handling a cholera epidemic and long-running HIV-Aids treatment. Named health minister in 2011, Guillaume is widely respected by international aid agencies. She was previously deputy chief of management science for Health in Haiti, an organisation working with government and private groups across a wide range of medical problems. She told a Harvard Kennedy School forum last year that her biggest challenge is reaching the 40% of Haitians not covered by basic health care, according to the official Harvard Gazette. Martelly still has to п¬Ѓnd a permanent replacement for prime minister, who must be approved by parliament before it expires. Chinese company broke ground yesterday on a $50bn canal across Nicaragua, an ambitious rival to the Panama Canal that critics condemn as a pipe dream and protesters say will wreck the environment. President Daniel Ortega and the Chinese telecoms magnate behind the canal, Wang Jing, inaugurated the project at an evening ceremony in the capital Managua. But the actual construction will begin some 130kms away, with the п¬Ѓrst access roads at the mouth of the Brito River on the Central American countryвЂ™s Paciп¬Ѓc coast. WangвЂ™s Hong Kong Nicaragua Development Investment (HKND) п¬Ѓrm says 300 workers will build the roads and a port, the п¬Ѓrst of 50,000 people who will be hired to construct the massive 280km waterway connecting the Paciп¬Ѓc Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The п¬Ѓrm estimates the project will take п¬Ѓve years. That is half the time it took the US to complete the Panama Canal 100 years ago, considered one of the greatest engineering triumphs of the 20th century. Nicaragua, which fought Panama then to host the п¬Ѓrst canal across Central America, has now re-emerged as a modern-day rival. Panama earns about $1bn a year - six percent of its economy - off its canal, which spans 80kms. Ortega, the leftist president who has ruled Nicaragua for 18 Royal visit of the past 35 years, hopes the project will make his country the richest in Central America. вЂњWhat has been a centurylong dream for many generations in Nicaragua has today started to become a reality,вЂќ said Telemaco Talavera, spokesman for the countryвЂ™s Canal Commission and HKND. The canal route crosses Lake Nicaragua, the largest freshwater reserve in Central America, then runs through rainforest and at least 40 villages before terminating at the mouth of the Punta Gorda River in the southern Caribbean, where another port will be built. Both ports and the canal will be designed to handle the modern mega-ships favoured by global shipping п¬Ѓrms, which can carry up to 25,000 containers. That dwarfs the current capacity of the Panama Canal to the south, which can only handle ships carrying 5,000 containers. Even after completion of an ongoing $5.25bn project to upgrade the Panama Canal with a new set of locks - scheduled to be п¬Ѓnished in early 2016, after a series of delays and a dispute over cost overruns - the century-old waterway will only be able to handle ships carrying up to 12,000 containers. The Nicaragua project also includes construction of an international airport and a free-trade zone with residential and tourism facilities. Nicaragua has kept the canalвЂ™s technical, environmental and п¬Ѓnancial studies secret. Environmentalists warn the canal could destroy sensitive habitats and cloud Lake NicaraguaвЂ™s waters. Three billion cubic meters (106 billion cubic feet) of Zoo orangutan wins right to freedom Reuters Buenos Aires A Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima pose with their daughters Amalia (left), Ariane (right) and Alexia, at the Bosque de Arrayanes (Myrtle Forest) near Villa La Angostura, Neuquen, Argentina, yesterday. earth will have to be excavated for the canal, which will be between 230 and 520 meters wide and 30 meters deep, allowing it to handle ships of up to 400,000 tonnes. That threatens local wildlife, including sea turtles, activists warn, while scientists say the area is susceptible to earthquakes. The project will also displace 30,000 farmers and indigenous people from the Rama and Nahua ethnic groups who live along the canal route. Thousands of them have marched against the canal in the past three months, rejecting the вЂњ10 hens and a roosterвЂќ that community leader Octavio Ortega said the government offered them in exchange for dropping their protests. Last week, hundreds of farmers protested against the presence of army soldiers sent to southern Nicaragua to escort Chinese workers. The contract conditions, which allow HKND to operate the canal for 100 years, have also drawn criticism and from some in the political and business community. Congress passed a law in 2013 giving Wang hiring and land expropriating powers and exempted his company from local tax and commercial regulations. Wang, 42, heads more than 20 companies, including Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group, which controls Chinese state telecoms п¬Ѓrm Datang Telecom Technology & Industry Group. He entered Nicaragua in 2012 with a contract to build a cell phone network, estimated to be worth $2bn. He set up HKND that November and won the licence to build the canal in June 2013 with no competition. n orangutan held in an Argentine zoo can be freed and transferred to a sanctuary after a court recognised the ape as a вЂњnon-human personвЂќ unlawfully deprived of its freedom, local media reported. Animal rights campaigners п¬Ѓled a habeas corpus petition - a document more typically used to challenge the legality of a personвЂ™s detention or imprisonment - in November on behalf of Sandra, a 29-year-old Sumatran orangutan at the Buenos Aires zoo. In a landmark ruling that could pave the way for more lawsuits, the Association of Ofп¬Ѓcials and Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) argued the ape had sufficient cognitive functions and should not be treated as an object. The court agreed Sandra, born into captivity in Germany before being transferred to Argentina two decades ago, deserved the basic rights of a вЂњnon-human person.вЂќ вЂњThis opens the way not only for other Great Apes, but also for other sentient beings which are unfairly and arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in zoos, circuses, water parks and scientiп¬Ѓc laboratories,вЂќ the daily La Nacion newspaper quoted AFADA lawyer Paul Buompadre as saying. Orangutan is a word from the Malay and Indonesian languages that means вЂњforest man.вЂќ SandraвЂ™s case is not the п¬Ѓrst time activists have sought to use the habeas corpus writ to secure the release of wild animals from captivity. A US court this month tossed out a similar bid for the freedom of вЂ�TommyвЂ™ the chimpanzee, privately owned in New York state, ruling the chimp was not a вЂњpersonвЂќ entitled to the rights and protections afforded by habeas corpus. In 2011, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) п¬Ѓled a lawsuit against marine park operator SeaWorld, alleging п¬Ѓve wild-captured orca whales were treated like slaves. A San Diego court dismissed the case. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 23 PAKISTAN/AFGHANISTAN 500 terror convicts to be executed in coming weeks AFP Islamabad Prime Minister Nawaz SharifвЂ™s government has announced a plan to hang around 500 convicted terrorists after the recent school massacre A AFP Islamabad P akistan plans to execute around 500 militants in coming weeks, officials said yesterday, after the government lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in terror cases following a Taliban school massacre. Six militants have been hanged since Friday amid rising public anger over TuesdayвЂ™s slaughter in the northwestern city of Peshawar, which left 149 people dead including 133 children. After the deadliest terror attack in Pakistani history, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ended the six-year moratorium on the death penalty, reinstating it for terrorism-related cases. вЂњInterior ministry has п¬Ѓnalised the cases of 500 convicts who have exhausted all the appeals, their mercy petitions have been turned down by the president and their executions will take place in coming weeks,вЂќ a senior government official told AFP on condition of anonymity. A second official conп¬Ѓrmed the information. Of the six hanged so far, п¬Ѓve were involved in a failed attempt to assassinate then military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2003, while one was involved in a 2009 attack on army headquarters. In Karachi, the Sindh High Court suspended the death warrants of two terror convicts just a day before they were due to go to the gallows. вЂњThe Sindh High Court suspended the death warrants of two terrorists today,вЂќ additional advocate general Mustafa Mehsar said. Defence attorney Abdul Razaq conп¬Ѓrmed the news. вЂњWe had п¬Ѓled a petition in the Sindh High Court and the second review petition is pending in the superior courts and till Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan meets family members of slain schoolchildren on the premises of an army-run school in Peshawar yesterday. the decision of the petition, the death penalty could not be implemented,вЂќ Razaq said. Both the accused were sentenced to death in July 2004 for killing a doctor in Karachi in July 2001. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party leads the government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital, faced tough questions yesterday from the relatives of those killed. Angry parents accused PTI of neglecting its duties in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in favour of months of protests in Islamabad aimed at bringing down the national government. Shahabuddin, the father of one student killed in the attack, told Khan: вЂњWe had voted for you to bring about a change, but you gave us nothing but politics of dharna (sit-in protest).вЂќ Police, troops and paramilitary rangers were deployed across the country and airports and prisons put on red alert during the executions and as troops intensify operations against Taliban militants. Sharif has ordered the attorney generalвЂ™s office to вЂњactively pursueвЂќ capital cases currently in the courts, a government spokesman said. The вЂњprime minister has also issued directions for appropriate measures for early disposal of pending cases related to terrorism,вЂќ the spokesman said, without speciп¬Ѓcally conп¬Ѓrming the plan to execute 500 people. Pakistan has described TuesdayвЂ™s bloody school rampage, claimed by the Tehreek-e-Tal- Terrorists will be hunted down: prime minister IANS Islamabad P akistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday chaired a high-level meeting on counter-terrorism, which decided to crush rising terrorism in the country with full force. The meeting reviewed all existing anti-terror laws and decided to bring necessary amendments in order to toughen these laws, Dawn online reported. The prime ministerвЂ™s Special Assistant Khawaja Zaheer and Law Secretary Barrister Zafarullah briefed the meeting about Appeal delayed against bail order for Lakhvi the existing anti-terror laws and pending cases before various courts. The meeting also considered a proposal relating to establishment of special military courts for conducting speedy trials of terrorists. Sharif said the Zarb-i-Azb operation was going on in North Waziristan and other operations would be carried out across the country against terrorists who were hiding in cities and villages. Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan said yesterday that the war on terror can be won through unity of the nation, Ra- dio Pakistan reported. The war is difficult but not impossible, Imran Khan said during a press conference in Peshawar yesterday. The PTI chief demanded restoration of the original role to the Frontier Constabulary, legislation to ban illegal SIMs, better border management to regulate movement on Pakistan-Afghanistan border, immediate repatriation of illegal Afghan refugees, and п¬Ѓrm plans for repatriation of the registered ones. He also proposed provision of more funds for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to handle internally displaced persons. iban Pakistan (TTP), as its own вЂњmini 9/11,вЂќ calling it a gamechanger in the п¬Ѓght against extremism. Political and military leaders vowed to redouble efforts to stamp out the scourge of terror in the wake of the attack, which the TTP said was revenge for the killing of their families in an army offensive in the tribal northwest. The offensive against longstanding Taliban and other militant strongholds in North Waziristan and Khyber tribal agencies has been going on since June. But a series of fresh strikes since the Peshawar attack, in which dozens of alleged militants were killed, suggest the campaign is being stepped up. The decision to reinstate executions was condemned by human rights groups, with the United Nations also calling for Pakistan to reconsider. Human Rights Watch on Saturday said the executions were вЂњa craven politicised reaction to the Peshawar killingsвЂќ and demanded no further hangings be carried out. Pakistan began its de facto moratorium on civilian executions in 2008, but hanging remains on the statute books and judges continue to pass death sentences. Before FridayвЂ™s resumption, only one person had been executed since 2008 - a soldier convicted by a court martial and hanged in November 2012. Rights campaigners say Pakistan overuses its anti-terror laws and courts to prosecute ordinary crimes. Pakistani government prosecutor said yesterday he had been forced to delay his appeal against a court order which grants bail to the alleged mastermind of the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. A judge in an Islamabad anti-terror court last week granted bail to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, accused over the siege on IndiaвЂ™s commercial capital that left 166 people dead and was blamed on the banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The bail decision triggered a furious response from New Delhi and Pakistani prosecutors swiftly announced they would appeal against it. The challenge was due to be п¬Ѓled yesterday but government prosecutor Mohamed Azhar Chaudhry said he had been unable to proceed. вЂњI have not yet received copy of the court (bail) order, which is essential to complete legal formalities,вЂќ Chaudhry said. He said he would challenge the order after examining the bail order. Relations between Pakistan and India worsened dramatically after the Mumbai carnage, in which 10 gunmen at- tacked luxury hotels, a popular cafe, a train station and a Jewish centre. Lakhvi remains in custody in the high-security Adyala prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi after the authorities ordered his detention вЂ” following the courtвЂ™s bail decision вЂ” under public order laws. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told lawmakers last week that the bail order came вЂњas a shock to all those who believe in humanity world overвЂќ. It took the authorities three days to regain full control of Mumbai and New Delhi has long said there is evidence that вЂњofficial agenciesвЂќ in Pakistan were involved in plotting the attack. Islamabad denies the charge but LeTвЂ™s charitable arm Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), seen as a front for the militant group, operates openly in the country. Seven Pakistani suspects have been charged with planning and п¬Ѓnancing the attacks but the failure to advance their trials has been a major obstacle to better ties between Pakistan and India. Delhi accuses Islamabad of prevaricating over the trials, while Pakistan has claimed that India failed to hand over crucial evidence. Suspects held over school massacre Police in Pakistan have arrested suspects believed to have abetted Taliban gunmen who killed 135 children at a school last week, an official said yesterday, warning that militants might be planning more вЂњsavageвЂќ attacks. The official told DPA on condition of anonymity that the arrests were made in and around Peshawar and that six suspects including a woman were picked up from a remote town in central Punjab province. вЂњA few suspects who were facilitators in one way or the other have been taken into custody,вЂќ Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told media in the capital Islamabad late on Sunday. Seven Taliban gunmen stormed an army-run school in the north-western city of Peshawar last Tuesday, killing 148 people including 135 students in the deadliest such attack ever in Pakistan. All the assailants were killed by army commandos. Afghan forces launch offensive in areas bordering Pakistan AFP Kabul A fghan security forces have launched an operation against militants in an eastern province seen as a rear base for the Pakistani Taliban which carried out a school massacre last week, officials said yesterday. PakistanвЂ™s army chief met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul in the aftermath of the school attack in the Pakistani city of Peshawar which killed 149 people, mainly children. The army chief sought GhaniвЂ™s support in defeating the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah is believed to be hiding in AfghanistanвЂ™s Kunar province, which borders PakistanвЂ™s restive tribal areas. Kunar has been the scene of п¬Ѓerce п¬Ѓghting between local forces and the Afghan Taliban for the past 10 days. вЂњAfghan security forces have launched a joint anti-militant operations in several parts of Dangam district of Kunar province,вЂќ Dawlat Waziri, deputy defence ministry spokesman, said. вЂњSo far in the operation, 21 armed insurgents have been killed and 33 others wounded,вЂќ Waziri said, adding that seven security personnel were wounded. вЂњAfghan security forces have launched a joint anti-militant operations in several parts of Dangam district of Kunar provinceвЂќ Kunar governor Shujaul Mulk Jalala said more than 1,500 Afghan Taliban п¬Ѓghters attacked remote villages in Dangam. Jalala said Pakistani Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba militants were also battling Afghan security forces in Dangam. Pakistan has repeatedly asked Afghanistan to capture and hand over Fazlullah. Each nation has long accused the other of allowing militants to shelter in the border region and launch bloody attacks that threaten regional stability. The Afghan Taliban have stepped up their attacks as Nato wraps up its combat operations, which end on December 31. A follow-up mission of about 12,500 US-led Nato troops will stay on to train and support Afghan security forces. Scaffold looms for Pakistani convicted as teen AFP Islamabad C ondemned for murder when he was a teenager, Shafqat Hussain could be one of the next to go to the gallows in PakistanвЂ™s wave of executions that follows a Taliban school massacre. The country last week ended its moratorium on the death penalty in terror cases in the aftermath of the slaughter at an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar. Heavily-armed Tehreek-eTaliban Pakistan (TTP) gunmen murdered 149 people, 133 of them schoolchildren, in an attack that shocked the world and brought promises of swift and decisive action by the government and military. Six prisoners have gone to the gallows since Friday and government officials said on Monday there are plans to execute another 500 in the coming weeks. Pakistan set up anti-terrorism courts in 1997 to speed up trials, which often drag on interminably in the sclerotic and overloaded justice system. But critics say the special courts are often misused to try ordinary criminal cases and many of those convicted have no connection with militant groups вЂ” although they now face the hangmanвЂ™s noose. Rights groups say HussainвЂ™s case typiп¬Ѓes the way anti-terror courts are being misused. вЂњWho are we hanging? Let there be no doubt that many of those who are set to be led to the gallows are simply not terrorists,вЂќ said Sarah Belal of the Justice Project Pakistan, a human rights law п¬Ѓrm which works with death row cases. In April 2004 Hussain was working as a watchman in Karachi, PakistanвЂ™s sprawling and violent port metropolis, when a seven-year-old boy named Umair went missing from the neighbourhood. A few days later UmairвЂ™s family received calls from HussainвЂ™s mobile demanding a ransom of half a million rupees ($8,500 at the time), according to legal papers seen by AFP. The family reported to police and Hussain was arrested. During his п¬Ѓrst interrogation he ad- mitted kidnapping and killing Umair, whose body was found in a plastic bag in a stream. вЂњThe authorities applying the death penalty to terrorists, no problem for me, but theyвЂ™re going down the wrong road executing ordinary criminalsвЂќ He later withdrew his confession, saying he had made it under duress, but the case came before an anti-terrorism court which sentenced him to death. He was aged only 15 at the time, according to court documents. Therefore he should have been tried in a juvenile court and not been given the death penalty, which cannot be imposed on minors in Pakistan, according to Amnesty International. The case went to appeal but HussainвЂ™s age was not seen as any reason to overturn the sentence. His family wrote to urge the president to commute HussainвЂ™s sentence to life imprisonment, but without success, and HussainвЂ™s name came up again after the six-year moratorium was lifted. Jail authorities in Karachi, where Hussain has now been held for a decade, asked on Friday for his death warrant to be signed, to the horror of his family and groups supporting him. вЂњThe authorities applying the death penalty to terrorists, no problem for me, but theyвЂ™re going down the wrong road executing ordinary criminals,вЂќ HussainвЂ™s older brother Gul Zaman said by phone. AFP reporters tried to meet Husain in prison last year but jail authorities refused permission, citing security threats. Amnesty InternationalвЂ™s Chiara Sangiorgio said HussainвЂ™s case was not isolated вЂ” at least seven other death row prisoners claim they were under 18 when they committed their offences. Two were convicted by anti-terrorism courts. вЂњThe majority of people in Pakistan do not have a birth certiп¬Ѓcate, so it becomes very difficult for them to prove that they are juvenile... unless they have a good lawyer,вЂќ she said. In the trauma that has gripped Pakistan since last TuesdayвЂ™s attack, rights campaigners fear justice will be sacriп¬Ѓced in the name of the п¬Ѓght against terror. On Saturday, the day after the п¬Ѓrst hangings, Human Rights Watch denounced them as вЂњa craven politicised reaction to the Peshawar killingsвЂќ. Anti-death penalty campaign group Reprieve says Hussain was tortured into confessing and warned his death would do nothing to alleviate the pain of those who lost children in Peshawar. вЂњKilling a man who was arrested as a juvenile and tortured into a вЂ�confessionвЂ™ will not bring justice вЂ” it will merely add to the tragedy of the Peshawar school attack,вЂќ ReprieveвЂ™s director Clive Stafford Smith said. For now, Reprieve says, HussainвЂ™s family wait outside the prison every day. They have been told that preparations for his hanging have been п¬Ѓnalised. 24 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 PHILIPPINES Sealing of firearms ceremony Pope to meet Muslim and Buddhist leaders during visit AFP Manila P Female members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) hold their service pistols that are covered with tape during the sealing of the muzzles of firearms at the National Capital Region Police Office in Taguig, Metro Manila yesterday. A police officer said all policemen in the country are ordered to seal their firearms muzzles to prevent the indiscriminate firing of their weapons during Christmas and New Year holidays celebrations. Justice dept urged to dismiss murder case by US Marine AFP Manila A US Marine facing trial for the murder of a Filipino transgender urged the Philippine Department of Justice yesterday to dismiss the case against him. In a petition п¬Ѓled with the department, the lawyer for Private First Class Joseph Pemberton argued that prosecutors did not present enough evidence to charge him with the killing of Jennifer Laude. The body of Laude 26, also known as Jeffrey, was found at a cheap hotel in the red light district of the northern port of Olongapo in October after she checked in with Pemberton, police in that city said. But the petition argued that the evidence linking Pemberton to the killing was вЂњbased on nothing but conjectures and speculationsвЂќ. ope Francis will meet with leaders of various religions when he visits the Philippines next month, pushing a message of tolerance in order to combat global religious conflicts, a church official said yesterday. The pontiff will hold a 10 to 15-minute dialogue with the dean of the PhilippinesвЂ™ largest Islamic studies centre and a Taiwan-based Buddhist leader on January 18, according to Father Carlos Reyes, a member of the committee organising the PopeвЂ™s visit. He will also meet with the Hong Kong-based regional head of the Greek Orthodox Church, as well as a Hindu leader, Protestant bishops, and a Manila-based rabbi, Reyes told reporters. The dialogue will be held at the 400-year-old churchrun University of Santo Tomas in Manila, where the pontiff will also address a crowd of 25,000 youths. вЂњThe church is Catholic, it is universal, we are in dialogue with the world,вЂќ Reyes said. вЂњIt is our job as men and women of religion not to allow the fundamentalists or Detained ex-president Arroyo granted Christmas furlough Reuters Manila A This handout photo shows Private First Class Joseph Pemberton at the Olongapo police station. Right: Marilou Laude (centre), sister of Jennifer Laude, 26, also known as Jeffrey, speaks during a protest after attending a court hearing in the city of Olongapo, north of Manila yesterday. вЂњThere was no evidence presented as to the details of the purported assault during the preliminary investigation other than the surmises and conjectures of the supposed witnesses and the baseless conclusions of the (Olongapo) police,вЂќ the petition argued. The murder case against Pemberton was п¬Ѓled with an Olon- gapo court which issued a formal arrest warrant for him last week. However a petition to the justice department is also an option for the accused in such criminal cases. Pemberton also wanted court hearings suspended pending a decision on his petition. But Philippine prosecutors argued that this would delay proceedings, which under a USPhilippine agreement must be completed in a year. In Olongapo a lawyer for the Laude family, Harry Roque, said PembertonвЂ™s petition was вЂњnot a basis for suspension, especially for cases like thisвЂќ. The high-proп¬Ѓle case has inп¬‚amed anti-US sentiment in the Philippines and strains in rela- tions between the longtime allies, which both sought custody of the suspect. The US government has refused to hand over custody to Philippine authorities even after prosecutors charged Pemberton with murder. He is currently under US military guard at a Philippine military base in Manila. extremists to hijack the religion.вЂќ The event comes as the largely-Catholic Philippines is implementing a peace deal signed last March with its main rebel group to create an autonomous area for the Muslim minority in the southern islands. It also comes as the government fights a small band of hardliners that have reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, which has taken control of a swathe of territory across Iraq and Syria. The military has in recent weeks intensified offensives against the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, which is holding several hostages, including foreigners, in the troubled south. Pope Francis will arrive in the country amid tight security on January 15 for a four-day visit highlighted by a mass in Tacloban City, ground zero for Super Typhoon Haiyan last year. HaiyanвЂ™s monster winds spawned tsunami-like storm surges that wiped out entire towns and left more than 7,350 killed or missing. The pontiffвЂ™s visit has the theme вЂњmercy and compassionвЂќ and is expected to draw millions of the faithful to the public events. Philippines court ruled yesterday that ailing former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, detained on corruption charges since 2012, can spend Christmas with her family at home, although police guards will be posted at the residence. Arroyo was barred from leaving the country in October 2011, and has been detained in a military hospital since 2012 on corruption charges over the misuse of charity funds. She wears a neck brace and has lost weight. The 67-year-old has de- nied any wrongdoing. Her lawyers argue the cases against her are weak and cannot be proven, but the administration of President Benigno Aquino continues to cite her cases as example of anti-corruptipn drive. ArroyoвЂ™s Christmas furlough will begin on Dec 23 and will end of Dec 26 but the court banned her from using mobile phones and computers at home. She was also barred from giving press interviews and guards will be posted at her side. The Sandiganbayan court cited mercy and compassion, the theme of Pope Francis pastoral visit to the Philippines next month, in allowing ArroyoвЂ™s request. Binay favourite to replace Aquino as president: survey By Fernan Marasigan & Jefferson Antiporda Manila Times V ice President Jejomar Binay remains the peopleвЂ™s top choice to succeed President Benigno Aquino, edging out Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas and Sen. Grace Poe by a wide margin, a new survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed. The nationwide survey conducted from November 27 to December 1, showed that 37% of the respondents believed that Binay is the best leader to succeed Aquino when he steps down in 2016. Poe got 21% and Roxas, 19%. The poll asked the 1,800 respondents the question: вЂњAccording to the Constitution, the term of President Noynoy (the incumbent leaderвЂ™s nickname) Aquino is up to 2016 only, and there will be an election for a new president in May 2016. Who do you think are the good leaders who should succeed Aquino as president? You may give up to three names.вЂќ Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago got 10%; Sen. Francis Escudero and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada each got 9%; Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, 5%; Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr, 3%; former senator Manuel Villar Jr, Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr and Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson each got 2%. Senate President Franklin Drilon, Sen. Loren Legarda, Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernisation Francis Pangilinan and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao each got 1%. The survey has sampling error margins of В±2% for national percentages; В±6% each for Metro Manila, вЂњBalance LuzonвЂќ and Mindanao; and В±3% for the Visayas. The vice presidentвЂ™s ardent detractors вЂ” senators Antonio Trillanes and Alan Peter Cayetano вЂ” got 5% and 3%, respectively. The SWS conducted the survey using face-to-face interviews of adult respondents. No lists were provided to the respondents who were asked to name three of their favourite leaders who are likely to succeed President Aquino. There were 300 respondents in Metro Manila, 900 in the Visayas and 600 in Luzon and Mindanao. According to Binay, he is honoured and humbled by results of the SWS poll. вЂњI am grateful for the kind recognition of my worthiness to assume the countryвЂ™s highest public office. To my fellow Filipinos, thank you very much for this warm Christmas greeting,вЂќ the vice president said in a statement. He added that the poll results are an important guide and an inspiration to further improve his work in governance вЂњdespite the efforts of some quarters to distract me from fulfilling my mandate and my promise to serve our people.вЂќ вЂњPublic service is after all a never-ending profession. We must persevere in fulfilling our mission to promote the welfare and provide comfort to the greatest number of Filipinos,вЂќ Binay pointed out. вЂњIn this joyous season of harmony and compassion, I urge all my colleagues in government to renew our resolve in staying the course of good and effective governance. We owe it to ourselves, to our families, to our people, and to the country we all love and cherish,вЂќ the vice president said. In an earlier survey conducted by Pulse Asia, Binay remained the top choice for president despite a 5% drop in his rating. The vice president was recently investigated by the senate on accusations of wrongdoings, which BinayвЂ™s camp described as investigation вЂњin aid of demolition.вЂќ Binay has said the attacks against him and his family are meant to pull down his high survey ratings and destroy and eventually weaken the opposition party United Nationalist Alliance. Poe also expressed her appreciation to the trust given to her by the people but noted that she is more interested in her legislative duty than the 2016 elections. Top notcher of the 2013 senatorial race, she said she would rather focus on crafting laws that will benefit the public than her personal political ambition. The senator has declared that she has no plans to seek higher office, noting that those who aspire to be president must not only be prepared to face challenges but also be capable of addressing problems of the country. вЂњI took my oath as a member of the senate and I believe that IвЂ™m doing my job as lawmaker properly. It will not be proper for me put my personal ambition first than doing my job as a legislator,вЂќ Poe said in an earlier interview. The nationwide survey showed that 37% of the respondents believed that Jejomar Binay is the best leader to succeed President Benigno Aquino when he steps down in 2016. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 25 SRI LANKA/BANGLADESH Muslim minister quits in major blow to Rajapakse Rishad Bathiudeen accuses President Mahinda Rajapakse of failing to restrain a pro-government radical Buddhist group AFP Colombo S ri LankaвЂ™s President Mahinda Rajapakse suffered a setback to his re-election hopes yesterday when a key minister and his minority Muslim party quit the coalition government. Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen said he was switching allegiance to Maithripala Sirisena, the main opposition candidate seeking to topple Rajapakse in a January 8 election. It is the latest in a series of blows for the 69-year-old president, who was seen as the favourite when he called snap polls last month but has seen his former health minister Sirisena garner signiп¬Ѓcant support. Bathiudeen accused Rajapakse of failing to restrain a radical Buddhist group accused of attacking mosques, churches and businesses run by religious minorities in the Buddhistmajority country. вЂњI asked the president to stop these religious hate attacks, but he failed to take action against offenders,вЂќ Bathiudeen told reporters in Colombo. He accused the government of being behind an attack on Muslims in the coastal resort town of Aluthgama in June that left at least four people dead. And he said some 69 elected representatives from his All Ceylon Makkal (PeopleвЂ™s) Congress (ACMC) were joining the opposition in a mass defection of Muslims politicians from the government. Muslims, the second largest minority in the island after Hindu Tamils, account for about 10% of the electorate and could emerge as king-makers in JanuaryвЂ™s presidential election if the majority Sinhalese are split down the middle. Both Rajapakse and Sirisena are members of the majority Sinhala Buddhist community. However, Sirisena is seen securing the support of ethnic and religious minorities who feel alienated during RajapakseвЂ™s rule in the past nine years. The Tamil National Alliance, the main party representing Hindu Tamils, has not formally pledged support to either of the two main Sinhalese candidates, but has strongly hinted that it will support Sirisena. That would make it even more difficult for Rajapakse to win an election that he himself called two years ahead of schedule. The countryвЂ™s main party of Buddhist monks, the JHU, supports Sirisena, while a more radical outп¬Ѓt known as the Bodu Bala Sena, or Buddhist Force, favours Rajapakse. Three killed and 500,000 displaced in Lanka п¬‚oods DPA Colombo A Sri LankaвЂ™s Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen addressing a press conference in Colombo yesterday. t least three people have been killed and over 500,000 displaced in Sri Lanka after three days of heavy rain and п¬‚ooding, officials said yesterday. The eastern, northcentral and northern provinces were the worst-affected over the weekend, a spokesman for the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said. Water overп¬‚ow from major irrigation tanks in the Anuradhapura district - 180kms northeast of the capital caused additional п¬‚ooding yesterday with authorities calling on locals to evacuate areas close to the river and canal banks. Batticaloa district - 303kms east of the capital - was the worst affected yesterday, with more than 320,000 people displaced. Several other areas in the eastern and the northern provinces have also been hit by п¬‚oods. вЂњWe have made arrangements to provide accommodation for more than 50,000 people who have been displaced,вЂќ Lal Kumara, spokesman for the DMC, said. Officials from the provinces said that many of those displaced were in need of temporary accommodation as it would take several days for water levels to reduce. вЂњThe safety of pilgrims and foreign visitors is being given priority. They have been evacuated from hotels near major tanks while pilgrims were removed from the sacred city,вЂќ Anuradhapura district secretary Mahinda Seneviratne said. Heavy rains are expected to continue during the Christmas week, dampening relief efforts. Those areas had seen a drought from August to November that destroyed a large part of the harvest. President Hamid Act against criminals irrespective visits Ajmer shrine of their political ties, says Hasina IANS Jaipur/Kolkata B angladesh President Abdul Hamid on Sunday visited the Dargah of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishty in Ajmer, and prayed for peace and harmony in the subcontinent, the shrineвЂ™s officials said. вЂњHe (Hamid) visited the dargah at around 3:35pm and stayed for 15-20 minutes, offering prayers,вЂќ Syed Manovar Chisty, a khadim (servitor) at the shrine, over 140km from the state capital Jaipur, said. вЂњHe prayed for peace and harmony in the subcontinent and strong bilateral relations between India and Bangladesh,вЂќ said a source close to Syed Akil Ahmed Chisty, the khadim who helped the president to offer prayers. President Hamid, along with a 25-30 member delegation, reached Ajmer by helicopter and went straight to the state governmentвЂ™s circuit House where after some rest he went to the dargah where the dargah committee welcomed him in traditional style. He also offered a marooncoloured chador at the shrine. Looking to the visit of Bangladesh president, the administration had beefed up security arrangements at the dargah, which was vacated fully. Hamid was accorded a warm welcome earlier on his arrival at the JaipurвЂ™s Sanganer airport by state minister Arun Chaturvedi and senior police and administrative officials. President Hamid arrived in Kolkata yesterday on a twoday visit to West Bengal state of India. He was received at the airport by Minister for Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Firhad Hakim. West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi will host a dinner in honour of the Bangladesh President at Raj Bhavan this evening, Raj Bhavan officials said. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will also attend the dinner, a government official said. Hamid will visit Santiniketan today and come back to Kolkata the same day before п¬‚ying back to Dhaka. The Bangladesh president had arrived in Delhi on December 18 on a six-day official visit during which he held talks with the Indian leadership with an aim to further strengthen the already close bilateral relations between the two countries. Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid during his visit to the Amber Fort, near Jaipur in India. By Mizan Rahman Dhaka I n an unequivocal stance against terrorism, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday directed the law enforcement agencies to take stern actions against those indulging in crimes, including terrorism, militancy, drug smuggling and anti-social activities, irrespective of their party affiliations. вЂњWe must maintain the law and order situation ... stern actions must be taken against those indulging in terrorism, militancy, drug smuggling or anti-social acts, no matter who they are,вЂќ she said. The prime ministerвЂ™s strong directive came during a videoconferencing with members of Barguna and Lalmonirhat district development co-ordination committees, Rangpur division commissioner and the deputy inspector general (DIG) of police of Rangpur range, the Barisal divisional commissioner, the DIG Barisal range and Barisal metropolitan police commissioner and public representatives of Barguna and Lalmonirhat districts. While interacting with the Rangpur divisional commissioner and the DIG of Rangpur range, Hasina recalled the killings unleashed by BNP-Jamaat in 2013 in that area to thwart the January 5 polls and said her government wants no reoccurrence of such incident. вЂњPunitive measures are being taken against those responsible for such killings,вЂќ she said. Referring to the recent killings of Jubo League (youth front of ruling Awami League) and Sramik League (workersвЂ™ front) leaders, Hasina said: вЂњThereвЂ™s a clear directive, I donвЂ™t want to know who (criminal) belongs to which party. YouвЂ™ll (law enforcement agencies) arrest those committing crimes ... just remain careful so that no one is spared.вЂќ She said the problem of staying in power is that some people label themselves as permanent government party and thus the blame for the crime goes to the government. вЂњGet tough and spare no one вЂ¦ you donвЂ™t need to work seeing someoneвЂ™s face, you must work neutrally. If a peaceful environment prevails, development works in the country will get accelerated.вЂќ Mentioning that the poverty rate has now come down to about 24%, Hasina said her government has been implementing various schemes to further reduce the poverty rate by another 10% and thus change the fate of each of the countryвЂ™s people through ensuring better livelihoods for them. She also directed the administration to distribute warm clothes to people preferably above 60 and the physically-challenged ones. Hasina directed the local administration to stay alert so that development projects are implemented properly and in time, and he sought the co-operation of all in this regard. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina: вЂњWe must maintain the law and order situation ... stern actions must be taken against those indulging in terrorism, militancy, drug smuggling or anti-social acts, no matter who they are.вЂќ Tsunami brothers plan centre for Lanka children By Belinda Goldsmith/Reuters London W hen British brothers Rob and Paul Forkan survived the Indian Ocean tsunami 10 years ago that killed both their parents, they knew they had to use their lives to help other children in need. On December 26, 2004, the then teenagers awoke in a beachside hotel room in Sri Lanka as a wall of water ripped through coastal communities in 14 countries, claiming 230,000 lives. Their parents, Kevin and Sandra, had taken the brothers and two of their four siblings out of school for four years to travel and volunteer on humanitarian projects in India and were spending Christmas in a п¬Ѓshing village called Weligama. When disaster struck, the family was split up. Rob and Paul stayed together, clinging to trees, and eventually found younger siblings Matt and Rosie but their parents were swept away. The siblings hitchhiked their way to safety, despite having no passports and no money, and managed to get a п¬‚ight back to Britain. Realising how lucky they were to survive and to have family to help them, the brothersвЂ™ desire to give back led them in 2011 to set up Gandys, an ethical footwear company that makes colourful, funky п¬‚ip-п¬‚ops from natural materials. The company channels 10% of its proп¬Ѓts into funding projects for orphans and underprivileged children. Using this money, bolstered by fundraising and donations, the brothers are marking the 10th anniversary of one of the most devastating humanitarian disasters in recorded history by opening a centre for children in Sri Lanka through their Gandys Foundation that runs their вЂњOrphans for OrphansвЂќ mission. The centre in Mau Gama, near the capital Colombo, once completed around February, will provide medical treatment, nutrition and education for about 400 children. вЂњWe want to help children and give them an education,вЂќ said Paul, 25, at the companyвЂ™s office near Wimbledon in south London. вЂњItвЂ™s been hard work getting it off the ground because at п¬Ѓrst people thought we were weird for wanting to do good when most fashion brands want to be hot and sexy but things are changing and consumers are becoming more ethical.вЂќ His brother Rob, 27, said it has been difficult to grow the company that started from his onebedroom п¬‚at in south London and now employs 15 people. The idea was sparked when Rob woke up at a music festival saying his вЂњmouth felt like one of GandhiвЂ™s п¬‚ip-п¬‚opsвЂќ. The spelling was modiп¬Ѓed and the brand was born. The rubber п¬‚ip-п¬‚ops are produced in China with the brothers looking at opening a factory Rob and Paul Forkan launched Gandys flip-flops to raise money for projects for orphans and underprivileged children. in Sri Lanka too and are sold in some leading BritainвЂ™s shops, in Australia, Japan, Dubai, Thailand and a growing list of countries. They hope to expand to the US soon. In the past three years the company and the driven, charismatic brothers have won praise and support from British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, Prime Minister David Cameron, and various celebrities including singer Jessie J. вЂњIt is good to see that we are starting to get impact but next year it will be even harder work as that will enable us to do more projects like the one in Sri Lanka,вЂќ Rob told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, surrounded by thousands of zany п¬‚ip-п¬‚ops. Returning to Sri Lanka next week to check in on their project as the world commemorates that massive loss of lives 10 years ago, will be an emotional journey for the brothers whose story is told in the recentlypublished book Tsunami Kids. It is only the second time they have returned since the tragedy but they are convinced that surviving that day and the experiences with their parents in India, volunteering in slums and childrenвЂ™s homes, had enabled them to cope. вЂњDoing the volunteering work we always saw children worse off than we were,вЂќ Paul said, adding that living through the tsunami had given them a вЂњno fearвЂќ approach to life. вЂњNow we just want to grow Gandys so we can open another centre after this one and then more.вЂќ Verdict on war crimes accused today The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) has set Today to pronounce judgment in the crimes against humanity case against Syed Mohammad Qaiser, a former state minister for agriculture. вЂњLet this matter to fix Tuesday for judgment,вЂќ said Justice Obaidul Hassan, chairman of the threemember panel of ICT-2. The tribunal also asked the prison authority to present the accused in due time at the tribunal. On August 20, 2014, the ICT-2 kept the date of the verdict on CAV (curia advisory vault, a Latin legal term meaning court awaits verdict), saying it can be passed on any day. The tribunal also cancelled the bail of 73-year-old Qaiser and sent him to jail on that day. The tribunal passed the order as the prosecution pleaded death for Qaiser for his вЂ�DragonвЂ™ type role in 1971. вЂњQaiser played the role of a Dragon in the crimes that took place in the areas of Habiganj, Madhobpur and Brahmanbaria in 1971. We are pleading maximum punishment, which is death for heinous crimes,вЂќ prosecutor Rana Dasgupta had said. 26 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 COMMENT Chairman: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Attiyah Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed Production Editor: C P Ravindran P.O.Box 2888 Doha, Qatar [email protected] Telephone 44350478 (news), 44466404 (sport), 44466636 (home delivery) Fax 44350474 GULF TIMES Sony hack: threats to N Korea may merely provoke an escalation Sony PicturesвЂ™ decision to cancel the release of The Interview, its much-trailed comedy about the assassination of Kim Jong-un, the eccentric North Korean dictator, has raised concerns ranging from the trivial to the deadly serious. Cyber attacks on computer systems at SonyвЂ™s Hollywood studios by anonymous hackers led to publication of gossipy company e-mails about stars such as Angelina Jolie and Barack ObamaвЂ™s taste in movies. This was embarrassing, but hardly earthshattering. But when North Korea insisted the п¬Ѓlm constituted an act of war and when the hackers, styling themselves the Guardians of Peace, threatened terror attacks on American cinemas, the affair suddenly assumed a higher order of magnitude. The ensuing confused and panicky reaction in the US has been unedifying. Major cinema chains and distributors declared they would not screen or market The Interview out of fears for customer safety, obliging Sony to cancel not just the п¬ЃlmвЂ™s cinema, but also its home movie, release. Michael Lynton, SonyвЂ™s CEO, said it had not backed down and hoped the п¬Ѓlm would be shown. So far, no distributors have volunteered their services. Although it has already been publicly premiered in Los Angeles, this ill-starred movie seems destined to become a collectorвЂ™s item, possessed by the supposedly fortunate few. Maybe Sony and the distributors believed they were acting altruistically, in the wider national interest. Or maybe they just got cold feet in the face of potentially large п¬Ѓnancial losses and the prospect of liability lawsuits should violent attacks result. Whatever their motivation, those in the US responsible for preventing the п¬Ѓlm being screened have, in effect, handed a signiп¬Ѓcant victory to the hackers, to blackmailers, to actual and would-be terrorists of every stripe and to the North Korean regime that, despite its denials, has been identiп¬Ѓed by the FBI and South Korea as the dark force behind the hack attacks. This victory for intimidation amounts to a defeat for AmericaвЂ™s cherished principle of freedom of speech and expression that cannot be allowed to stand, as Obama rightly said when he п¬Ѓnally focused on the affair on Friday. вЂњWe cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United StatesвЂ¦ Or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they donвЂ™t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended,вЂќ he said. It should come as no surprise that isolated, insecure and paranoid North Korea, suspected of a previous cyber attack on South Korea, should also be expanding and perfecting its cyber capabilities. This development makes it more important than ever that the US and Japan, with China and Russia, work more urgently to bring this dangerous regime in from the cold. Obama refused to say what retaliatory action he may take. But more threats, more sanctions or likefor-like cyber attacks will not work in the long run and, if attempted, may merely provoke an escalation. Mockery of North KoreaвЂ™s oddball leader, however deserved, is no substitute for a thoughtful, grown-up policy of diplomatic engagement. Major cinema chains and distributors would not screen The Interview out of fears for customer safety To Advertise [email protected] Display Telephone 44466621 Fax 44418811 Classified Telephone 44466609 Fax 44418811 Subscription [email protected] 2014 Gulf Times. All rights reserved Young Cuban-Americans emerge as Obama allies Obama is going to need that support as he faces opposition from his Republican rivals and the Cuban-American political establishment that opposes closer ties with Cuba By David Adams/Reuters Miami F or a handful of CubanAmericans, President Barack ObamaвЂ™s new Cuba policy wasnвЂ™t much of a shocker. For months, they quietly advised the White House in hopes of shaping a new policy towards the communistrun nation. вЂњA lot of what the president announced is what we, and others in Miami, have been doing for a long time,вЂќ said Felice Gorordo, co-founder of Roots of Hope, a non-partisan group of Cuban-American university students and young professionals. Their mission: closer contact with the island to build mutual understanding - a point of view thatвЂ™s often at odds with their parents and grandparents. But they offer much more than policy advice. Obama is counting on this organisation, and others like them, to help pave the way for his new policy that includes measures from promoting private sector entrepreneurship, to modernising the islandвЂ™s telecommunications infrastructure and restoring access to US banking services. вЂњThere is a clear understanding in the White House that politically they are going to have to focus on and cultivate the younger generation of Cuban-Americans who are mobilised and out there supporting the presidentвЂ™s decision,вЂќ said Frank Mora, a Cuba scholar at MiamiвЂ™s Florida International University, and a former top Pentagon official for Latin America in the Obama administration. Obama is going to need that support as he faces opposition from his Republican rivals and the Cuban-American political establishment that opposes closer ties with Cuba. Gorordo co-founded Roots of Hope in 2002 while studying government affairs at Georgetown University after a visit to Cuba where he was inspired by the number of educated youths hungry for change. The group п¬Ѓrst gained notice in Miami in 2009 when it got behind a controversial peace concert in Havana by Colombian rocker Juanes who lives in Miami. Now, it says, there are some 9,000 members, a Miami office and three staffers. As far as politics is concerned, the organisation said it is bipartisan. Indeed, its leaders added, not all its members support normalisation of relations with Cuba. Members include second-generation Cuban-Americans born in Miami, as well as recent arrivals from Cuba. вЂњWe are not here to push political agendas. We are seeking to be a platform for anyone who cares about a better future in Cuba,вЂќ said Raul Moas, the groupвЂ™s director. Still, while respectful of their par- A group of Cuban-American friends play dominoes in Miami, Florida. News on Wednesday that the US will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half century rippled through the 1.5mn-strong exile community in the US, many of them lifelong opponents of communist rule. entвЂ™s bitter memories, they say itвЂ™s time to move on. вЂњThe pain is real,вЂќ said Gorordo. вЂњWe inherit this baggage and carry it like a backpack. It gives us the ability to empathise with our parentsвЂ™ struggle, and we also know when to take off that backpack in order to see the change we all desire.вЂќ Roots of HopeвЂ™s main focus is what they call вЂњpeople-to-people connectivityвЂќ with the island. It sends smart phones to Cuba. It encourages Cuban-Americans to visit the country and reconnect with lost relatives and discover their heritage. They have also worked with Silicon Valley executives at Google, Twitter, Facebook and Apple to improve digital services in Cuba, where the Internet is strictly limited by the Cuban government. It was, for example, instrumental in helping Google win US permission in August to make its Chrome browser available to users in Cuba. вЂњIn order to be able to advance you have to be able to engage,вЂќ said Gorordo, 31, a former White House fellow in 2011-12 who is also chief executive of Clearpath, a tech company for online immigration п¬Ѓlings. The Obama administration conп¬Ѓrmed its involvement with Roots of Hope. It has consulted with the organisation on вЂњthe kinds of action they thought might contribute to greater openings in Cuba,вЂќ said Bernadette Meehan, spokesperson for the National Security Council, the presidentвЂ™s advisory body on foreign policy. Roots of Hope, as far as young Cuban-Americans are concerned, arenвЂ™t the only game in Miami. In an e-mail Meehan also credited another Miami-based group, CubaNow, with urging the White House вЂњto focus on helping improve conditions for Cuban citizens,вЂќ while continuing to promote human rights and democracy. CubaNow, launched in April, is backed by a handful of deep-pocketed benefactors, including Ralph Patino, a Miami lawyer and Democratic party fundraiser who contributed $78,800 to the Obama campaign in 2012. вЂњWe have to do everything possible to ensure these gains survive the next election and work with Congress to see how we can continue updating our policy to Cuba,вЂќ said Ric Herrero, 36, CubaNowвЂ™s director. The group describes itself as a political advocacy organisation led by young CubanAmericans. It has urged Obama to use his executive authority to refocus Cuba policy away from punishing the Cuban government to empowering the Cuban people. The White House outreach began shortly after Obama visited Miami in November last year for a fundraiser at which he said US Cuba policy might need an вЂњupdate.вЂќ But WednesdayвЂ™s announcement was met with scorn from many older Cuban exile leaders who strongly oppose relaxing pressure on the Cuban government which they believe is on its last legs. In addition, the new groups are largely dismissed as bit-players by the well-heeled, conservative CubanAmerican political establishment. US Representative Mario DiazBalart said media reports have talked for decades about вЂњa change in perception,вЂќ but he noted that no Cuban-American has been elected who supports normalisation. вЂњSo where are all these people? You might want to interview them.вЂќ Other older Cubans are even less п¬‚attering. вЂњItвЂ™s sad that young people can be so ignorant. They must be communists,вЂќ said Laura Vianello, 68, a Cuban exile with the hardline Miami group Vigilia Mambisa. That point of view, though, seems to be softening. Street protest in Miami were small this week, a sharp contrast to the large demonstrations in 2000 when the Justice Department ordered a six-year-old rafter boy, EliГЎn GonzГЎlez, returned to his father in Cuba. Recent opinion polls show a marked shift among younger Cubans, as well as a growing group of middle-aged Cuban-Americans frustrated with 50 years of failed efforts at regime change in Cuba. A poll released on Friday showed Cuban-Americans evenly split over ObamaвЂ™s new policy. About 52% of Cubans under 65 support normalisation, according to the poll by Bendixen & Amandi International, with 67% of those over 65 opposed. вЂњFor more than 50 years weвЂ™ve tried it one way. The time has come for a different approach,вЂќ former Miami mayor Manny Diaz, a Democrat, declared in an email blast this week. Diaz, 60, whose father was a political prisoner in Cuba, is a former hardliner who led the legal effort to keep EliГЎn in the US. But it is the young Cuban-Americans who have most at stake. вЂњItвЂ™s been an ecstatic week,вЂќ said Maria Carla Chicuen, 26, the daughter of an electrical engineer and a doctor, who left Cuba with her family in 2002 when she was 14. After only four years in high school in Miami she was awarded a near full scholarship at Harvard to study history, before earning a masters at the London School of Economics. вЂњCuba is full of potential and very talented professionals,вЂќ said the education specialist who returns frequently to Cuba. Last year, she married a childhood friend from her old barrio in a ceremony at HavanaвЂ™s cathedral. вЂњGiven the opportunity,вЂќ she added. вЂњThey can do wonders.вЂќ The need for radical transparency on US torture By Joseph Margulies Los Angeles H ereвЂ™s a radical idea: Let the people decide. Since the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture last week, we have been treated to a predictable barrage of overheated hyperbole. The left says the CIA programme was utterly pointless and needlessly brutal; the right says it was completely successful and entirely appropriate. Many have demanded prosecutions; many more have attacked the report as partisan and incomplete. Both sides squared off before most had even read the report, let alone studied it closely. And even if people had access to it, they would be studying a heavily redacted summary of a much larger report that remains secret. There are no plans to release the rest of the report or to reveal the content of the redactions. More important, no one as far as I know - has even suggested releasing the underlying documentation so people could form their own conclusions. And so we are left with a bitter but inconclusive debate about one of the most important programmes in our nationвЂ™s history. But what if, instead of vapid п¬Ѓngerpointing, we let the American people п¬Ѓgure it out for themselves? What if we gathered everything about the programme - not just the summary but the entire report, as well as all the underlying documentation - and let Americans make up their minds? What if, in other words, we tried radical transparency instead of mindless partisanship? Scholars would probably take the deepest dives. Sociologists, political scientists, historians, psychologists and legal academics could plumb the depths of the material for decades, mining it for countless invaluable insights about the nature of the US and the world in the 21st century. Journalists also would be interested and could п¬Ѓll in gaps in the record, not simply by asking the questions they are paid to ask, but by digging deeper and unearthing the humanity of the men and women touched by the torture programme. TheyвЂ™d thereby put a human face on the reportвЂ™s lifeless bureaucratic prose. But in many ways, the professionals are the least important audience. It would be valuable for high school students writing term papers, elementary school teachers developing lesson plans and just plain curious Americans who want to figure things out for themselves rather than be told what to think by talking heads on TV. This is the audience that matters. The knowledge would be available to everyone. Surely much of this material could be made available immediately. When CIA Director John Brennan addressed the report he emphasised that the episode was long past and encouraged the country to move on. The programme ended years ago and the techniques are no longer in use. Indeed, the CIA insisted on redacting names and places that are already known. Psychologist James Mitchell, for instance, is one of the two principal architects of the вЂњenhanced interrogationвЂќ programme. He has given a number of interviews freely acknowledging his role, yet his name is redacted in the report or a pseudonym is used. This is not a technologically challenging project. Virtually all this material is digitised, which means it can be organised and easily searched. Nor would it be particularly expensive to do. So, is there any chance of this happening? Absolutely not. The odds of meaningful transparency surrounding this programme are zero. In the US today, no major political actor and precious few media outlets are interested in transparent debate about contentious issues. We should pay close attention to this resistance because it reveals something important about the nature of American democracy. Selective dissemination of the sort surrounding the torture report encourages partisan п¬Ѓnger-pointing. From the perspective of the major political parties, this has the salutary effect of invigorating their core constituencies. To put it plainly, selective dissemination gets those who care to care even more. And since the major parties depend on these people for money and support, there is a chronic demand that the core stay molten hot. The parties thus have no incentive to encourage transparency because it tends to reveal nuances and complexity and therefore appeals primarily to the more moderate, and politically disengaged, middle. The result is a predictable polarisation. Elites within each party who espouse the most radical views become the media darlings du jour, which encourages them to swing for the fences in their public remarks. Fed a diet of raw meat, the energised extremes within each party grow increasingly enraged at the apparent depravity and evident hubris of the opposition. The result? Dick Cheney, the man the left loves to hate, makes the run of TV talk shows gleefully assuring the faithful he would do it all again. Cue applause. Radical transparency is not just a campaign slogan. It is a prescription for democratic repair. And thatвЂ™s a pill the major parties will never swallow. zJoseph Margulies, a visiting professor of law and government at Cornell University, is counsel for Abu Zubaydah. He wrote this for the Los Angeles Times. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 27 COMMENT Collecting rain helps ease drought for some For most Californians, raincatching is a seasonal hobby and not practical enough to eliminate dependency on snowmelt, reservoirs and groundwater By Lisa M. Krieger Los Gatos, California W hen rain drenches Mark WialbutвЂ™s mountain home, it sprouts inspiration. His vast network of gutters, pipes, tanks and п¬Ѓlters has captured more than 10,000 gallons so far this month, with more to come - enough for his family to be self-sufficient this winter in their Los Gatos aerie. For most Californians, raincatching is a seasonal hobby and not practical enough to eliminate dependency on snowmelt, reservoirs and groundwater. But for Wialbut - and the growing number of collectors like him rainwater systems are enough to weaken droughtвЂ™s п¬Ѓerce grip. вЂњThe water is used for everything,вЂќ said Wialbut, a salesman at Applied Power Technology at work but a water sanitation specialist, maintenance mechanic and troubleshooting technician at home. вЂњIt tastes great,вЂќ he said. вЂњAnd this morning, I took a nice long hot shower.вЂќ In the East Bay, Tony Poeck of Indira Designs reports a 30% revenue increase this year for sales of rainwater and вЂњgrey waterвЂќ (to reuse household water) collection system equipment, design and consultation. Several 20,000-gallon systems enough to supply an average family for about 115 days - are being installed in San Francisco, Marin and the East Bay, he said. The big systems can cost as much as $70,000, which might explain why smaller cisterns are even more popular. In North Oakland, Elizabeth Doughtery has п¬Ѓlled her three large cisterns with a total of 1,100 gallons, and she plans to hook up more to boost capacity another 1,000 gallons. вЂњAny amount of water saved is worth our while,вЂќ said Poeck. вЂњAnd when people have a cistern, they see how fast it goes. They start thinking about conservation.вЂќ The maths is simple: For every 100 sq ft of roof, 1 inch of rain yields 60 to 100 gallons of water. So if you have a 1,000-sq-ft roof, an inch of rain will give you 600 to 1,000 gallons. In places where the average annual rainfall is 12 inches of precipitation, it is possible to collect 10,000 gallons annually from a 1,500-sq-ft residential roof or 700,000 gallons annually from a 100,000-sq-ft commercial building, according to the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association. Some opponents of rainwater harvesting have argued that it deprives п¬‚ow to streams and aquifers, where it is needed for wells. But proponents say it eases pressure on other sources of water, as well as helps manage storm-water runoff. For Wialbut, whose home is perched 1,400ft high in one of the wettest spots in the Bay Area, collection required just a bit of ingenuity - and about $8,000. Far from municipal systems, his home had poor well water - вЂњugly and smelly,вЂќ he said - and its supplies were unreliable after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake fractured the aquifer. So he had to buy water by the truckload, delivered at $340 each. (He still relies on trucked-in water in the summer.) Mark Wialbut checks the water level in one of two 5,000-gallon tanks that collect rainwater from the roof of his home in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California. Rain that falls on his large composite roof is captured and conveyed via gutters and 60ft of piping. From there, it empties into two 5,000-gallon tanks, п¬Ѓtted with microп¬Ѓlters, and secured on a п¬‚at gravel pad. вЂњIt was nerve-racking,вЂќ he said. вЂњI had visions the night before of them rolling and smashing into thousands of pieces.вЂќ Then, because the tanks are downhill from his home, a powerful pump sends the water uphill to a third tank, where ozone kills bacteria and any other pathogens. Its final stop is a smaller pressure tank, designed to prevent erratic surges to his modern plumbing. Then it goes to his home, his Immigration as political theatre By Benjamin W. Powell Washington P resident Barack ObamaвЂ™s recent executive order on immigration has caused a political uproar. Congressional Republicans have introduced legislation to kill the order, 24 states are challenging it in federal court, and a federal district court judge in Pennsylvania has suggested the executive order may be unconstitutional. While this blowback indicates how emotionally charged immigration issues have become, in truth the executive order changes very little, for good or ill. The most substantial changes involve the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, which the president would expand, and a new programme called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability. DACA defers deportation hearings for immigrants brought here as children and temporarily authorises them to work here legally. So far, about 500,000 young adults have taken advantage of the programme. The executive order expands who is eligible to apply and increases the employment authorisation from two years to three years. DAPA creates the same deportation deferment and employment authorisation for illegal immigrant parents of US citizens and lawful permanent residents. Congressional Republicans claim that the president is failing to enforce immigration law as written, in violation of his constitutional duty. Judge Arthur Schwab of the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, in a Dec. 16 ruling in a deportation hearing, seems to agree, saying that вЂњPresident ObamaвЂ™s unilateral legislative action violates the separation of powers provided for in the US Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause and is therefore unconstitutional.вЂќ However, more than 11mn illegal immigrants reside in the US. No one expected that Obama, or anyone else, had the will or ability to deport all of them over the next few years. So some form of selectivity regarding who is processed for deportation, even if random, was inevitable. The executive order does not change that. All it does is make explicit who will be targeted for deportation and who wonвЂ™t. Targeted are those immigrants suspected of terrorist ties and those who have committed serious crimes in the US. Not targeted are the 3.7mn to 5mn who might qualify for DACA or DAPA. The work authorisation simply allows these people, who are going to be here anyway, to come out of the shadows and work legally. Although the executive order does not change the total number of undocumented immigrants in our country, it does create some modest beneп¬Ѓts. The most obvious is the temporary security it provides to those immigrants who qualify. But native-born Americans will beneп¬Ѓt as well. Allowing illegal immigrants to work openly and legally allows them to use their skills in the jobs and industries where they can contribute the most value, rather than working off the books in occupations where black market employment is harder to detect. This alone, the Fiscal Policy Institute estimates, should boost the wages of those immigrants who qualify to work legally by 5% to 10%, which indicates that they are creating more valuable goods and services for the rest of us. The Council of Economic Advisers calculates that, if the executive order were in force for 10 years, these better jobs would add $90bn to $210bn to the overall US economy. Some worry that immigrants are a tax burden. But in this case the immigrants are already here. Granting them legal working status would increase tax revenue by growing the economy and by bringing their work into the open where it can be taxed. Tribune News Service garden and his large koi pond. The occasional mishap - such as a weakened pipe thread - has caused leaks. вЂњItвЂ™s deп¬Ѓnitely trial and error,вЂќ he said. вЂњImagineering!вЂќ The only frustration, he said, is its size. With so much rain this month, heвЂ™s had to release thousands gallons Weather report Three-day forecast TODAY High: 24 C Low: 18 C Strong wind and high seas WEDNESDAY High: 23 C Low : 17 C P Cloudy THURSDAY High: 22 C C Low : 17 C P Cloudy FishermenвЂ™s forecast OFFSHORE DOHA Wind: NW 15-20/25 KT Waves: 5-7/8 Feet INSHORE DOHA Wind: NW 05-10/15 KT Waves: 1-3/4 Feet Around the region Abu Dhabi Baghdad Dubai Kuwait City Manama Muscat Live issue of water deep underground. So he plans to double capacity, ultimately saving enough water to last all year long. вЂњWe are creating a solution, like people do it all over the world,вЂќ he says. вЂњThereвЂ™s no water in the ground, so we get it from the sky.вЂќ вЂ“ Tribune News Service Riyadh Tehran Weather today Clear P Cloudy P Cloudy Clear P Cloudy Clear P Cloudy Clear Max/min 24/18 16/05 26/17 21/07 21/18 26/22 24/12 08/-1 Weather tomorrow Clear P Cloudy Clear Clear P Cloudy Clear P Cloudy Clear Max/min 25/17 16/05 27/18 17/06 22/15 27/22 21/09 08/-1 Weather tomorrow Clear Clear P Cloudy C Rain Clear P Cloudy T Storms Clear Rain Clear C Storms Clear C Showers M Cloudy Cloudy Clear Rain C Rain C Rain P Cloudy T Storms C Storms Clear Max/min 18/11 18/12 33/24 09/05 21/09 26/17 29/24 26/15 18/15 12/08 31/26 27/13 11/03 29/24 -6/-11 19/08 14/12 11/04 21/18 06/-6 32/26 26/19 12/02 Why we buy вЂ“ 11 generic customer needs By Ahmed al-Akber Manama C ustomers buy things for different reasons. Our job as marketers is to understand the needs that motivate customers to take action, including buying action. Brian Tracy outlines 11 needs customers have to purchase something in his book The Psychology of Selling. Once your customer needs are understood, the goal of your marketing and sales efforts become to convince the prospect that your product or service satisп¬Ѓes those needs better than anything else they get in the market and at that price. Here are the 11 generic customer needs. Which ones does your product or service satisfy enough to trigger a desire to buy? 1. Money. Does your product or service help customers make or save money? This could be in increasing their sales or proп¬Ѓts, or helping to cut costs. This is a very fundamental need that appeals to most people. 2. Security. According to Brian Tracy, this can be п¬Ѓnancial, emotional, or physical, and can go beyond just the customers security (for example, if can be for his familyвЂ™s security). It is a very basic need that appeals to almost everyone. 3. Being liked. Everyone likes to be respected and liked by others. If your product or service can help improve a customerвЂ™s likability, that could improve their need for belonging, self-worth, or improvement in their relationships with others. 4. Status and prestige. Many customers want to feel important or valuable. A economy-range car fulп¬Ѓls the need to get from point A to point B. However, a luxury sports car not only has the features that make it faster, but also offers customers the ability to improve their social status вЂ“ they are subtly telling others that they have excess disposable income and are successful. 5. Health and fitness. Helping others to achieve their health and fitness goals is a really important need. Everyone wants to live longer and enjoy the benefits of a healthy body. There is a lot of money to be made for a product or service that can help people safely lose weight, break unhealthy habits, and improve their overall health. 6. Praise and recognition. Everyone wants to be recognised for their accomplishments. It is a basic human emotion вЂ“ and remember, customers buy with their emotions. If your product or service can trigger enough of an improvement for the buyer to receive praise and recognition from friends, family, peers, management, or others, then you have a better chance of selling to him. 7. Power, inп¬‚uence, and popularity. People are willing to do and buy most things that will enhance their power and inп¬‚uence. Selling a product or service that helps achieve that will arouse a buying desire. 8. Leading the п¬Ѓeld. For some people, there is a lot of merit in being a pioneer in something. Being the п¬Ѓrst to own or use a product or service carries a lot of value. YouвЂ™ll see some of these early adopters go to great lengths, take considerable risk, and spend a lot of money to be вЂ�the п¬ЃrstвЂ™. Early adopters are the ones that stand outside the Apple store waiting for hours and sometimes days to purchase the latest iPhone. 9. Love and companionship. According to statisticbrain.com, over 75% of single people in the United States have tried online dating. It is a huge industry with annual revenues of well over a billion dollars. Similarly, cosmetics sells in the hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide each year. What this tells you is that people want love and companionship and will п¬Ѓnd it in whatever way they can! 10. Personal growth. Helping people to achieve their development goals is another very powerful buying trigger. If your product or service helps them become more competent, increase their skills, or gets them closer to achieving self-actualisation, then you can generate a desire to purchase. 11. Personal transformation. This is again a very powerful need that most people have вЂ“ the need to re-engineer an important part of their work or life. This could be to improve someoneвЂ™s ability to transition from a negative to a positive mindset, or to show someone how to overcome tough situations in life. The next time you talk to a prospect, remind yourself of the needs that your product or service fulп¬Ѓls and how to position it clearly so you have a better chance of turning him or her into a paying customer. Ahmed al-Akber is the managing director of ACK Solutions, a п¬Ѓrm that helps companies to improve their marketing and sales results by offering more effective ways attracting customers and signiп¬Ѓcantly better products and services. Ahmed has worked internationally in marketing, sales, and strategic planning at companies such as the Coca-Cola Company, Philip Morris International and Dell. Questions or comments can be sent to Ahmed on [email protected] acksolutions.com Around the world Athens Beirut Bangkok Berlin Cairo Cape Town Colombo Dhaka Hong Kong Istanbul Jakarta Karachi London Manila Moscow New Delhi New York Paris Sao Paulo Seoul Singapore Sydney Tokyo Weather today Clear Clear P Cloudy C Rain P Cloudy P Cloudy T Storms Clear M Cloudy P Cloudy T Storms P Cloudy P Cloudy C Rain Snow P Cloudy Rain P Cloudy Rain Cloudy T Storms Rain Clear Max/min 18/11 16/11 31/21 11/08 19/09 24/16 28/24 25/15 22/17 11/09 32/27 26/15 13/10 28/24 01/-6 19/10 11/09 09/06 21/17 05/-3 31/26 28/19 10/01 28 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 QATAR An exterior view of the hypermarket. Sheikh Hassan bin Khaled al-Thani opening the new outlet in the presence of a large number of dignitaries. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil LuLu Group opens 111th branch T he LuLu Group opened its latest hypermarket at Barwa City in Doha yesterday, taking the total number of LuLu outlets across the world to 111. The latest hypermarket, the sixth LuLu outlet in Qatar, was inaugurated by Sheikh Hassan bin Khaled al-Thani in the presence of ThailandвЂ™s Ambassador Piroon Laismit, BosniaвЂ™s Ambassador Tarik Sadovic, VietnamвЂ™s Ambassador Nguyen Hoang, Doha Bank Group CEO Dr R Seetharaman, LuLu Group managing director Yusuff Ali M A, CEO Saifee T Rupawala, executive director Ashraf Ali M A and director M M Althaf. Several prominent businessmen, government officials and other dignitaries were present on the occasion. A large number of nationals and expatriates also witnessed the opening event. вЂњWe are very clear in our approach to expansion and I am very conп¬Ѓdent about the economic situation of Qatar and have full trust in the vision of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. We are fully committed to continue our march forward with more outlets in the near future,вЂќ Yusuff Ali said on the occasion. The Barwa City outlet offers a convenient choice for residents of places in and around Abu Hamour, Mesaimeer, Wukair, Wakrah and the Industrial Area The 200,000sqft hypermarket showcases a fresh food section comprising fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, п¬Ѓsh and hot and cold ready-to-eat food. A major highlight of the newly opened store is that it has an exclusive store-instore for all вЂњfree from worryвЂќ food range that offers an extensive import line of gluten-free, lactose-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, wheat-free, vegan, organic, fat-free, nut-free, soy-free, salt-free, GM-free, egg-free, free range, no sugar, no additives, no preservatives, no hy- drogenated fat and other specialty food, imported from all around the world. The hypermarket also features the widest choice of world-class brands and offers a wide range of shopping with a good selection of brands and product lines under one roof. вЂњLuLuвЂ™s formula of value for money and quality shopping will be a matter of delight for customers as the outlet offers a great shopping experience as well as great economical beneп¬Ѓts,вЂќ according to a statement. The hypermarket has got a good tenant mix, including several leading brands such as KFC, McDonaldвЂ™s, Starbucks, Damas, Baskin Robbins and Early Learning Centre, among others. The new outlet is located in Barwa City, which is surrounded by the Religious Complex, Newton School and Birla Public School, offering a convenient choice for residents of places in and around Abu Hamour, Mesaimeer, Wukair, Wakrah and the Industrial Area. Bin Omran outlet will be largest in region: Yusuff Ali By Joseph Varghese Staff Reporter T he LuLu Group will open the largest hypermarket in the region in DohaвЂ™s Al Messila area, Bin Omran, by mid-2015, the groupвЂ™s managing director Yusuff Ali M A told Gulf Times yesterday. вЂњWe will also open another outlet in Wukair at the same time, taking the total number of outlets to eight in Qatar,вЂќ he explained on the sidelines of the opening of the groupвЂ™s latest hypermarket in Barwa City. Work on the outlets is progressing fast. вЂњThe upcoming hypermarket in Bin Omran will be able to match any of the international standards for hypermarkets.вЂќ Yusuff Ali said the group is working on a massive expansion plan in Qatar. вЂњWe plan to add more outlets in Qatar in the coming years. By 2020, we will reach the double digit in the number of outlets in the country. There is a great potential for investment in Qatar as the country is progressing day by day under the wise leadership of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.вЂќ вЂ�We plan to add more outlets in Qatar in the coming years. By 2020, we will reach the double digit in the number of outlets in the countryвЂ™ The LuLu Group managing director highlighted that the new hypermarket in Barwa City has several special features. вЂњOne of the specialties of the hypermarket is an organic division for food items, which makes it different from other hypermarkets. We will follow this practice in other hypermarkets also soon. The equipment in the Sheikh Hassan and Yusuff Ali taking a tour of the new hypermarket. A section of the crowd at the opening ceremony. outlet are of a higher standard and of an upgraded version. We want to give good service, good quality and good price to the people of Qatar.вЂќ He added that the LuLu Group would train Qatari nationals in retail marketing. вЂњWe are going to train Qatari nationals in the retail trade. This will enable them to get equipped for managerial positions.вЂќ The LuLu Group is also making its first retail push in Southeast Asia, with new hypermarkets in Malaysia and Indonesia, along with a planned investment of $500mn. The first LuLu hypermarket in Malaysia is expected to be opened by the third quarter of 2015. MalaysiaвЂ™s Federal Land Development Authority, the worldвЂ™s most successful land development and resettlement agency, has partnered with the LuLu Group for the establishment of LuLu hypermarkets in Malaysia. ROUBLE LIFT | Page 6 TESCO PLAN | Page 14 China offers Russia help with swap Boss keeps investors and staff guessing Tuesday, December 23, 2014 Rabia I 1, 1436 AH GULF TIMES GROWING PORTFOLIO: Page 2 Al Faisal Holding unit buys Boscolo Aleph hotel in Rome BUSINESS Total CEO sees oil at $100 in medium term Despite surging unconventional oil supplies from the US, satisfying the medium and long-term demand would be вЂњextremely challenging,вЂќ says global chief By Pratap John Chief Business Reporter G lobal oil price will rebound to $100 a barrel in the medium term as global demand grows and fossil fuels dominate the world energy scene for the foreseeable future, says Patrick PouyannГ©, TotalвЂ™s global CEO. вЂњForecasts show fossil fuels will still meet 75% of the worldвЂ™s energy needs in 2030,вЂќ PouyannГ© said in an interview with Gulf Times here. вЂњWe rediscover that oil is a commodity and that the oil price is volatileвЂ¦It is not clear how long a period of low price could be. But, in the medium term, it is commonly accepted that fossil fuels will dominate the world energy scene for the foreseeable future, forecast to still be meeting 75% of world energy needs in 2030. This is good news for the Middle East because, as a region rich in hydrocarbons, it looks certain to continue having a key role in meeting world demand,вЂќ PouyannГ© said. Oil price, he said, would go back to higher level because even if unconventional oil from the US is bringing new supplies onto the market, satisfying the medium and long-term demand would be вЂњextremely challengingвЂќ. вЂњTotal is reacting, but not over reacting. We have launched reduction programmes before the Brent started to decrease. We are now looking at further short-term п¬‚exibility to get through this weaker environment period. DonвЂ™t forget that those kind of periods can also be seen as beneп¬Ѓcial for robust integrated companies like Total as cost saving programmes will make us more stronger, more lean and also because opportunities can always emerge from low tides,вЂќ PouyannГ© said. On the factors that have led to the current low oil price, PouyannГ© said, вЂњDifferent elements have led to low prices: less demand in the world than anticipated, more supply in the world than anticipated, psychology of the markets, Opec position to defend its market share at 30mn bpd, and RussiaвЂ™s decision to maintain its production as well. вЂњWe still keep the view that on the medium term, price should come back to $100 a barrel because we will need to put into production more complex п¬Ѓelds in order to meet the world demand.вЂќ Total, PouyannГ© said, would obviously pre- fer to see oil prices higher than they currently are and reп¬‚ecting more the actual cost of producing marginal barrels. вЂњLow prices naturally have an impact on our revenues but we see no reason to over react because Total is in a very good п¬Ѓnancial shape and has a strong balance sheet. We have gone through cycles before and are used to adjusting and managing our way around the situation. вЂњIn addition, although there can be a timelag, low oil prices should ultimately translate into lower production costs which have been spiralling out of control in recent years.вЂќ To address this issue of rising costs, Total has already launched a multibillion-dollar cost reduction programme because, one way or another, there must be some industry movement to restore margins and proп¬Ѓtability necessary to launch new projects, PouyannГ© said. This cost saving plan will be achieved with absolutely вЂњno compromise on safetyвЂќ, PouyannГ© stressed. He said, вЂњIt must also be underlined that Total works on a long-term strategic horizon. While short-term п¬‚uctuations in the oil price may create temporary inconveniences, past experience shows that they must not distract us from our longer-term goals or prompt any knee-jerk changes in direction.вЂќ Page 3 PouyannГ©: Fossil fuelsвЂ™ dominence. 2 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 BUSINESS Iraq to boost oil output next year as Opec seeks to defend market share Bloomberg Abu Dhabi Artic acquires Boscolo Aleph hotel in Rome A l Rayyan Tourism and Investment (Artic), the international hospitality subsidiary of Al Faisal Holding Company, has announced its acquisition of the п¬Ѓve-star Boscolo Aleph Hotel in Rome. The Boscolo Aleph Hotel is ArticвЂ™s latest luxury hotel acquisition, growing its portfolio to 24 premium properties across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and North America, in line with the companyвЂ™s expansion strategy focused on high quality assets in prime city centres and resort locations. Located at the centre of Rome and just 100m from Via Veneto, the 6,500sq m hotel comprises 96 rooms and suites over six п¬‚oors, a roof garden, spa and a range of hospitality and dining facilities. Created in 2002 from a historic palace that housed the former offices of an illustrious credit house, the splendidly renovated, the hotel was designed by the famous architect Adam D Tihany and is a winner of the Villegiature Awards for the best interior design in Europe. Artic chairman Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani said, вЂњWith its exquisite architectural design, historical value and prime location, the Aleph hotel is a perfect п¬Ѓt with our long-term investment strategy and is a valuable addition to our portfolio, which also expands our European footprint to Rome, one of EuropeвЂ™s and the worldвЂ™s leading luxury tourist destinations. We will continue to enhance ArticвЂ™s portfolio of premium hotels in line with the companyвЂ™s medium-term plans for a п¬‚otation on one of the international stock exchanges.вЂќ Executive board member Tarek M el-Sayed said, вЂњArticвЂ™s acquisition of the Boscolo Aleph Hotel underlines our investment focus on properties in the key cities of the world that meet our exacting standards for asset quality, location, and architectural design.вЂќ He added, вЂњThis acquisition marks another important step in ArticвЂ™s international expansion, progressing from Mena (Middle East and North Africa), to Europe, and the US. We look forward to the further enhancement of our portfolio in future as we pursue our ambition to build one of the worldвЂ™s leading hotel investment groups.вЂќ Artic CEO Rutger Smits added, вЂњArtic is a fast growing global hospitality company with long-term investment outlook. The Aleph Hotel has many appealing characteristics, which make it an attractive investment opportunity and destination for both tourists and business travellers.вЂќ Iraq plans to boost its crude production to 4mn barrels a day next year as Opec nations intend to defend their market share against other suppliers, Iraqi Oil Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said. OpecвЂ™s number two producer will have output of 4mn bpd and export 3.3mn barrels a day next year, Abdul Mahdi said in an interview in Abu Dhabi. Its production accounted for 10% of OpecвЂ™s output in November at 3.35mn bpd, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. вЂњNot all of what we are planning to produce is going to be exported to the international market,вЂќ he said. вЂњIraq plans to consume between 1.5 to 2mn bpd.вЂќ Iraq has been building its oil infrastructure and surpassed Iran to become the secondlargest producer in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in 2012. By 2024, the nation will produce about 8mn bpd, Abdul Mahdi said. Opec has produced about 30mn bpd since January 2013 while global supply climbed more than 2mn bpd, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. OpecвЂ™s decision on November 27 to maintain its output at 30mn bpd was intended to defend its market share against other suppliers, Abdul Mahdi said. OpecвЂ™s decision to cut output to support prices in 2008 didnвЂ™t prevent a decline in the groupвЂ™s market share, he said. The Boscolo Aleph Hotel in Rome is ArticвЂ™s latest luxury hotel acquisition. Drop in oil prices to persist, Al Hodaiп¬Ѓ Rocks signs supply deal with Oryx help global growth: IMF Reuters Washington T he recent drop in oil prices should persist, helping to boost global economic activity by up to 0.7 percentage points next year, two senior IMF economists wrote in a blog yesterday. Brent prices have fallen more than 46% since the yearвЂ™s peak in June of above $115 per barrel, sped up by the November decision of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) not to reduce production. Saudi Arabia has also convinced its fellow Opec members it is not in the groupвЂ™s interest to cut oil output, however far prices may fall, the kingdomвЂ™s oil minister said. вЂњOverall, we see this as a shot in the arm for the global economy,вЂќ Olivier Blanchard, the IMFвЂ™s chief economist, and Rabah Arezki, head of the commodities research team, said in the blog. The boost to the global economy would be between 0.3 and 0.7 percentage points above the FundвЂ™s baseline world growth forecast of 3.8% from October. Lower oil prices should boost ChinaвЂ™s gross domestic product growth by 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points above the FundвЂ™s 7.1% baseline estimate, assuming steady policies. In 2016, it could mean an extra 0.5 to 0.9 percentage points of growth. For the US, the GDP boost would be 0.2 to 0.5 percentage points above the FundвЂ™s baseline estimate of 3.1% for 2015. In 2016, it could add 0.3 to 0.6 percentage points to growth. Oil futures are down over 20% since the start of the month, a drop that, if sustained, would be the biggest monthly loss in four years, further evidence lower prices should persist. The IMF economists said 65% to 80% of the price decline owed to supply factors, including an unexpectedly quick return to LibyaвЂ™s oil production and IraqвЂ™s steady supply. But they said both supply and demand remain uncertain as itвЂ™s unclear what is motivating Saudi ArabiaвЂ™s supply decisions and how lower oil prices could affect oil production investment. Falling oil prices also have raised risks to financial stability, affecting banks with claims on the energy sector and the currencies of oil-importing countries. The IMF warned volatility in prices and exchange rates could prompt global risk aversion. вЂњCurrency pressures have so far been limited to a handful of oil exporting countries such as Russia, Nigeria, and Venezuela,вЂќ the economists wrote. вЂњGiven global financial linkages, these developments demand increased vigilance all around.вЂќ Industries for 2.6mn tonnes quarry products F ujairah-based construction materials producer Oryx Industries has signed in Doha a new takeoff agreement with Qatarbased Al Hodaiп¬Ѓ Rocks for the import, transport, storage, and delivery of building materials. Under the agreement, Oryx Industries will supply Al Hodaiп¬Ѓ Rocks with 2.6mn tonnes of quarry products over the course of one year commencing from the signing date. Building materials will be delivered to Qatar through the Port of Fujairah. As the second largest global importer for gabbro products in 2013, Qatar currently accounts for almost 90% of the UAEвЂ™s gabbro exports. Furthermore, the government has recently removed the importing limits of 150,000 tonnes per company allowing Qatari businesses to import even greater levels of construction materials. Al Hodaiп¬Ѓ Rocks, which has a rising capacity of materials-handling operations in the Qatari market, has been a key building material trader supplying materials needed by QatarвЂ™s construction industry since 2006. Central to the construction sector boom in Qatar is the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will see the country spending more than $312bn on projects ahead of the tournament. At least eight new sports stadiums are planned, many of which are currently under construction and many more existing stadiums are planned to be refurbished ahead of the opening. Raw materials needed to accomplish the upcoming World Cup projects are expected to rise sharply, with a doubling of aggregate requirements in the next three years, increasing further as more projects get underway. In addition to the construction of sporting projects is the infrastructural development required to host an estimated 3.7mn tourist arrivals, which is expected to receive $65bn to $200bn in government investment across tourism, leisure and hospital- Khalaf (right) and Ghandour shake hands after signing the agreement. ity sectors, in addition to associated projects such as roads and walkways to supply the added tourism demand. Oryx Industries vice chairman and Group CEO Majdi Khalaf said, вЂњOur mission has always been to become the regional leader in building materials production, trading, and bulk transport logistic services. We expect to play an important role in laying the foundations for many of the large-scale real estate and infrastructure projects anticipated throughout the GCC in the coming years.вЂќ Khalaf noted that supplying raw materials for big-ticket projects would rely heavily on the development of strong relationships and agreements with local suppliers of construction aggregate. Al Hodaiп¬Ѓ Rocks managing director Saoud Ghandour said, вЂњWith the current strong pipeline of construction projects in Qatar, Al Hodaiп¬Ѓ Rocks is seeking strong partnerships to secure its escalating needs for building materials.вЂќ Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 3 BUSINESS Total exploring for more Qatar opportunities: Global CEO By Pratap John Chief Business Reporter Qatar constitutes one of TotalвЂ™s largest integrated platforms for refining and petrochemicals activities, split between Messaied and Ras Laffan, says Pouyanne. Global energy major Total, which has a вЂњstrategic relationshipвЂќ with Qatar, looks for more opportunities in the country, from upstream to downstream including marketing and solar energy, said Global CEO Patrick PouyannГ©. вЂњThe Middle East as a whole is extremely significant for Total, and Qatar is a very important part of those Middle East operations. We have been in this country for nearly 80 years and today have a wide range of activities here,вЂќ PouyannГ© told Gulf Times in an interview. TotalвЂ™s interests in Qatar Upstream include Qatargas 1 and Qatargas 2 as well as in Dolphin Energy. But in a country where the energy industry is somewhat dominated by gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG), Total also has a key asset in oil: the Al Khalij field. Discovered by Total in 1991, it began production in 1997. In 2013, Total signed a new 25-year concession agreement; the company now has a 40% operating interest with Qatar Petroleum (QP) holding the remaining 60%. Qatar also, PouyannГ© said, constitutes one of TotalвЂ™s largest integrated platforms for refining and petrochemicals activities, split between Messaied and Ras Laffan. вЂ�IвЂ™m just succeeding de MargerieвЂ™ вЂњI donвЂ™t replace Christophe de Margerie. IвЂ™m just succeeding him. IвЂ™ll be as I am,вЂќ said Patrick PouyannГ©, who was appointed TotalвЂ™s global chief following the death of de Margerie in a plane crash in Russia in October. вЂњI have been chosen to do the job so I have to continue to be as I am. I know I have 100,000 persons around the world who are waiting for some guidance from me. But my main message today is that we are a strong company, very united, we have a good strategy and letвЂ™s move on after these sad days,вЂќ PouyannГ© said when asked whether his appointment meant a вЂњdecisive shiftвЂќ in companyвЂ™s focus and policies. PouyannГ© said, вЂњWhat is important above all is that Total has demonstrated mutual support and strength at the time of this tragic accident. The board was able to take a decision in a day and a half and to unanimously ask me to take the job of CEO. But I am not alone: I have a strong team with me, at the executive committee level.вЂќ Qapco was established in 1974 in Mesaieed and since has been expanded several times. Since 2011, Ras Laffan Olefin Company (RLOC) has been producing ethylene in Ras Laffan that is transported through a pipeline to Mesaieed and partly used by Qatofin, a JV between Qapco and Total. Laffan Refinery 1, located in Ras Laffan, is a condensates refinery with a capacity of 146kb/d. An expansion to double this capacity (Laffan Refinery 2) is underway for a start-up in the second half of 2016, TotalвЂ™s global CEO said. вЂњOur interests in Dolphin Energy, Qatargas 1 and Qatargas 2, Al Khalij, Qapco, RLOC and Laffan Refinery underline our commitment to the country. These are long-term licences and agreements that will last for many years to come, and we would also consider taking on new business or entering into additional agreements if we think we can add value,вЂќ PouyannГ© said. вЂњWe have a strategic partnership with Qatar. Not only we intend to maintain it, but also we are always looking for new opportunities from upstream to downstream including marketing and solar energy. вЂњQatar is a very special country for me as I have held the position of managing director of our upstream affiliate here and group representative from 1999 to 2002. My visit here has, of course, a special meaning,вЂќ said PouyannГ© during his first visit to Doha after assuming charge as TotalвЂ™s Global CEO. India real GDP growth to reach 6.8% in 2016-17 on Modi reforms, says QNB I ndiaвЂ™s real GDP growth may accelerate to 6.3% in the next п¬Ѓnancial year on the back of Prime Minister Narendra ModiвЂ™s reform agenda, QNB has said in its вЂ�India Economic Insight 2014вЂ™. The report, which examines recent developments and the outlook for the Indian economy says the South Asian countryвЂ™s real GDP will climb to 6.8% in 2016-17 as reforms start to pay dividends. The Modi administration has identiп¬Ѓed a number of priority areas for reforms including phasing out food and energy subsidies, easing land acquisition laws, reviving the power sector, introducing a uniform federal sales tax and reforming the labour market. The majority of the reforms are projected to be implemented during the 2015-16 budget, thus starting to pay dividends over the next two years by increasing investments in the economy, QNB said. The countryвЂ™s CPI (consumer price index) inп¬‚ation is forecast to reach the target set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) of 6% by January 2016 on continued tight monetary policy and favourable external conditions. Labour market reforms are expected to reduce inп¬‚ation by increasing labour force participation and lowering wage inп¬‚ationary pressures. Falling international oil prices and a good monsoon season are likely to moderate energy and food price inп¬‚ation (comprising half of the CPI basket) in the short term. The current account deп¬Ѓcit is projected to decline to 1.1% of GDP by 2016-17 on further rupee depreciation and tighter п¬Ѓscal policy, the QNB report said. The implementation of reforms is expected to attract additional foreign investments, implying that the п¬Ѓnancial account is likely to enjoy a healthy surplus. The accumulation of international reserves is projected to rise to 7.9 months of import cover by endMarch 2017, supported by smaller current account deп¬Ѓcits and larger net capital inп¬‚ows IndiaвЂ™s double-digit growth in assets, loans and deposits is expected to continue at least until 2016-17, reп¬‚ecting further banking penetration, higher economic activity and reduced corporate deleveraging, QNB said. Lending growth is expected to rebound and NPLs (non-performing loans) to fall in 2016-17 as structural reforms begin to materialise and banksвЂ™ balance sheets are cleaned up. IndiaвЂ™s deposits are expected to continue growing robustly, despite the slowdown in inп¬‚ation driven by a high savings rate and the governmentвЂ™s п¬Ѓnancial inclusion initiative, QNB said. Gulf markets rise on oil and Saudi budget hopes, but uptrend slows Reuters Dubai Most Gulf equity markets continued rising yesterday but their uptrend slowed, suggesting the benefits of stabilising oil prices and expectations for a large Saudi Arabian state budget had now largely been factored into stocks. The main Saudi index closed 0.3% higher, after jumping 16% over the previous three days. Turnover remained active but dropped by about a fifth from SundayвЂ™s level. Brent crude climbed over 1% to above $62 per barrel yesterday. Analysts said Brent had received broad support after testing $60 a barrel earlier this month, and that a consensus was growing that prices would likely remain above that level for the rest of the year. This has improved sentiment among Gulf stock market investors, even though the long-term outlook for oil prices remains murky and fresh falls cannot be ruled out next year. Also, contrary to the stock marketsвЂ™ earlier fears, Saudi ArabiaвЂ™s 2015 budget is not expected to cut spending much if at all in response to the recent slide of oil prices. Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf reassured the markets last Wednesday when he said his government would continue spending strongly on development projects and social benefits in the budget. The budget was originally expected to be announced yesterday afternoon, but Saudi media reported the release would occur later this week, after a special cabinet meeting. Yesterday saw profit-taking in some stocks which led the recent rally such as property developer Dar Al Arkan, which fell 0.8% and was again the most heavily traded Saudi stock. On Sunday, Dar Al Arkan had soared 9.3%. The Dubai index climbed 2.3% after jumping 9.9% on Sunday and 13.0% on Thursday. Bourse operator Dubai Financial Market soared 10.1%, a fresh sign that investors believe the bruising downtrend in Gulf equities of recent weeks has ended and that investor activity will revive. OmanвЂ™s market climbed 3.7%. It has outperformed most of the Gulf since the executive president of the State General Reserve Fund, the countryвЂ™s largest sovereign wealth fund, told Reuters at the end of last week that the SGRF had boosted its buying of shares in the local market because prices had slid to attractive levels. Elsewhere in the Gulf, Abu DhabiвЂ™s index fell 0.9% to 4,478 points; KuwaitвЂ™s index rose 1.1% to 6,503 points, while BahrainвЂ™s index edged down 0.3% to 1,406 points. GWC looks to raise QR476mn through rights issue G ulf Warehousing Company (GWC), which recently won the right to construct Bu Sulba logistics hub for small and medium enterprises, is seeking to raise as much as QR476mn through a rights issue. The company, which manages bespoke logistics hubs in several strategic and dynamic locations in Qatar, is planning to issue 11.89mn shares or 25% of its current capital at QR40 (including the premium) each in order to further reinforce its capital base in view of the fast paced development works in the country. GWC, with a capital base of QR475.61mn, had reported net proп¬Ѓt of QR102.38mn in the п¬Ѓrst nine months of this year. The company will convene an extraordinary general assembly early next year to seek shareholders approval for the вЂ�priorityвЂќ issue of shares. вЂњThe price of shares has been set based on studies prepared by our consultants Ernst & Young,вЂќ a GWC spokesman said in a communiquГ© to the Qatar Stock Exchange. Total assets were valued at QR2.05bn comprising current assets of QR0.37bn and non-current assets of QR1.68bn at the end of September 30, 2014. GWC is the second entity to raise capital through rights issue this year, after Doha Insurance, which had in July raised as much as QR436.68mn by offering 24.26mn shares at QR18 a piece. Realty, insurance stocks pace QSE rebound as oil prices surge By Santhosh V Perumal Business Reporter S trengthening oil prices had a profound impact on the Qatar Stock Exchange, which gained another 392 points, amply supported by buying interests particularly in the real estate and insurance stocks. Domestic institutions turned bullish to lift the 20-stock Qatar Index (based on price data) by 3.26% to 12,421.22 points as there was rising hope that oil prices have found a short-term п¬‚oor and the market believes that oil may stay range-bound over $60 a barrel for the rest of the year. However, selling pressure was seen intense among local and foreign retail investors in the bourse, which is up 19.67% year-to-date. Market capitalisation expanded 2.44%, or more than QR16bn, to QR677.82bn with small, micro, mid and large cap equities gaining 3.88%, 3.8%, 3.27% and 2.45% respectively. The index that tracks Shariahprincipled stocks gained much faster than the other indices in the market, where trade was highly skewed towards realty, which alone accounted for more than 48% of the total trade volume. The Total Return Index vaulted 3.26% to 18,526.14 points, the All Share Index by 2.83% to 3,153.65 points and the Al Rayan Islamic Index by 4.16% to 4,100.29 points. Realty stocks appreciated 5.04%, followed by insurance (4.96%), banks and п¬Ѓnancial services (2.88%), industrials (2.16%), telecom (1.72%), consumer goods (1.49%) and transport (0.59%). More than 74% of the stocks extended gains with major movers being QNB, Gulf International Services, Vodafone Qatar, Doha Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank, International Islamic, Masraf Al Rayan, Dlala, Al Meera, Barwa, Ezdan, Mazaya Qatar, United Development Company and Dlala. However, Commercial Bank, Aamal Company, Gulf Warehousing and Islamic Holding Group bucked the trend. Domestic institutions turned net buyers to the tune of QR15.67mn against net sellers of QR120.45mn the previous day. Foreign institutionsвЂ™ net buying sunk to QR75.84mn compared to QR161.15mn on Sunday. Qatari retail investorsвЂ™ net proп¬Ѓtbooking rose to QR74.74mn against QR60.73mn on Sunday. Non-Qatari individual investors turned net sellers to the extent of QR16.68mn compared with net buyers of QR20.16mn the previous day. Total trade volume was down 5% to 24.72mn shares and value by 20% to QR1bn, while transactions rose 16% to 10,931. The banks and п¬Ѓnancial services sector reported a 44% plunge in trade volume to 4.21mn equities, 55% in value to QR289.05mn and 14% in deals to 2,758. The transport sector saw its trade volume plummet 25% to 1mn stocks, value by 20% to QR45.13mn and transactions by 19% to 462. The consumer goods sectorвЂ™s trade volume tanked 19% to 1.09mn shares, while value rose 28% to QR84.57mn and deals by 14% to 840. There was a 16% decline in the telecom sectorвЂ™s trade volume to 3.29mn equities and 15% in value to QR73.12mn but on an 81% plunge in transactions to 1,344. The industrials sectorвЂ™s trade volume was down 1% to 2.93mn stocks; whereas value was up 4% to QR221.9mn and deals by 18% to 2,268. However, the real estate sectorвЂ™s trade volume surged 35% to 11.93mn shares, value by 46% to QR272.69mn and transactions by 47% to 3,040. The insurance sectorвЂ™s trade volume grew 23% to 0.27mn equities, value by 33% to QR18.05mn and deals by 6% to 219. In the debt market, there was no trading of treasury bills and government bonds. 4 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 BUSINESS Saudi Arabia conп¬Ѓdent in oil rebound on global growth Bloomberg Abu Dhabi S audi Arabia, the worldвЂ™s largest oil exporter, is confident that crude prices will rebound with global economic growth boosting demand. Prices will recover from a slump due to a glut created by a lack of cooperation from producers outside the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Saudi Arabia Oil Minister Ali al- Naimi said at a conference in Abu Dhabi. Al-Naimi ended his speech showing the conп¬Ѓdence as he jumped off the stage and smiled. Brent oil tumbled into a bear market this year as the US pumped the most crude in more than three decades and economic growth slowed from China to Germany. The increase in global crude demand was about 700,000 barrels a day this year, below the projected 1.2mn bpd, al-Naimi said. вЂњThe oil market will recover,вЂќ al-Naimi said. вЂњFossil fuel will remain the main source of energy for decades to come.вЂќ Oil surged from a п¬Ѓve-year low at the end of last week after al-Naimi said the slump in prices was temporary. West Texas Intermediate climbed 4.5% to $56.52 a barrel on December 19 and Brent advanced 3.6% to $61.38 a barrel. Yesterday, Brent rose 1.4% and WTI gained 1.3%. Saudi Arabia accounted for about 13% of global oil output last year, BP estimates. Money managers are the most bullish since August about the rout being over. The net-long position in West Texas Intermediate rose by 26,455 contracts to 217,723 futures and options in the week ended December 16, the most since mid-August, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Lower oil prices wonвЂ™t have a major effect on Saudi ArabiaвЂ™s economy, alNaimi said. Economic growth will ex- Al-Naimi: Upbeat on global oil demand growth. pand 4.3% this year and 3.6% next year, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Lack of co-operation from non-Opec producers and wrong information in the market hit prices, al-Naimi said. Saudi ArabiaвЂ™s oil policy doesnвЂ™t target other countries, he said. If non-Opec producers were to offer cuts, Opec probably wouldnвЂ™t follow suit, he said. вЂњIf they want to cut they are welcome. WeвЂ™re not going to cut. Certainly Saudi Arabia is not going to cut.вЂќ High prices in the past three years and technological developments contributed to increased production, resulting in lower oil prices, al-Naimi said. Brent averaged $100.61 a barrel this year, down from $108.71 in 2013 and $111.68 in 2012. Output in the US is the highest in three decades as companies split rocks to produce shale oil. Current prices wonвЂ™t stimulate investment in energy in the long run, al-Naimi said. Less efп¬Ѓcient oil producers will be affected by low oil prices, he said. Shale oil costs between $30 to $90 a barrel, al-Naimi said. вЂњThe rocks in the earth are not homogeneous, they have some sweet spots, where the oil is easier to get out, and sour spots, where itвЂ™s more difficult.вЂќ Saudi Arabia has 265bn barrels of oil reserves, and will increase reп¬Ѓning capacity to 3.3mn bpd by 2017 from 2.1mn barrels in 2014, al-Naimi said. ItвЂ™s also looking to more joint ventures in downstream projects abroad, he said. The nation wants to become an international hub for climate change and carbon emissions research, he said. Al-Naimi attended UN global warming talks in Lima, Peru, this month. Saudi budget to be released later this week Reuters Riyadh Saudi ArabiaвЂ™s 2015 state budget will be revealed after a special cabinet meeting later this week, local media reported. Previously, media had said the ministry was expected to make its 2015 budget statement yesterday. But private Saudi-owned television broadcaster Al Arabiya, as well as Saudi news website Sabq, quoted unnamed sources as saying the announcement was now expected to come later in the week after a special cabinet meeting. Officials at the Ministry of Finance could not be contacted for comment. The budget is anxiously awaited by financial markets because it will be the first detailed look at how Saudi Arabia intends to handle the economic impact of this yearвЂ™s oil price plunge. Stock markets in Saudi Arabia and around the Gulf plunged earlier this month because of fears that Riyadh would react to cheaper oil by sharply cutting back its spending on infrastructure and other projects, hurting corporate profits. But Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf reassured the markets last Wednesday when he said his government would continue spending strongly on development projects and social benefits in the budget. Huge fiscal reserves will allow the government to cover budget deficits for years to come. Libya oil output drops as п¬Ѓghting spreads Bloomberg Paris L ibyaвЂ™s oil output fell below its own consumption as п¬Ѓghting spread to Mellitah, a region that hosts the countryвЂ™s fourth largest oil port, the state petroleum company said. National Oil Corp already this month declared force majeure at two export terminals, Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, after an attempt by militias to capture them. Force majeure is a legal status that protects a company from liability when it canвЂ™t fulп¬Ѓl a contract for reasons beyond its control. National Oil reported clashes in the Mellitah area, LibyaвЂ™s westernmost oil port. вЂњThere is no damage to the facilities till this hour, and the port of Mellitah is still open,вЂќ said Mohammed Elharari, the spoksman of the company, by phone in Tripoli, without giving an estimate for the nationвЂ™s current oil output. The US Energy Information Administration estimates LibyaвЂ™s consumption was 239,000 barrels of oil a day in 2013. The last estimate of the countryвЂ™s production, on December 15, was 350,000 bpd, according to two people with direct knowledge of upstream operations. Sitting on AfricaвЂ™s largest oil reserves, the North African country produced about 1.6mn bpd before the 2011 rebellion that ended Muammar Qaddaп¬ЃвЂ™s 42-year rule. вЂњNational Oil Corp is following with deep concern the events that happened over past two days in the region of Mellitah and their implications for the oil and gas complex,вЂќ the NOC said in a statement on its website. Libya is divided after its internationally recognised government, led by Abdullah al-Thinni, sought refuge in the countryвЂ™s eastern region after militias took over Tripoli about п¬Ѓve months ago. Omar al-Hassi set up a rival government in the capital with the backing of militants. Thinni announced plans this month to assert his governmentвЂ™s control of oil payments made by foreign companies, prompting the Islamist forces backing his rival to try to seize the oil terminals protected by the Petroleum Facilities Guard. вЂњThe current picture of ports and producing facilities is a harbinger to dangerous consequences should the crisis not be solved soon,вЂќ NOC said, and called on rival forces to вЂњspare the petroleum industry, the livelihood of all the Libyans.вЂќ The п¬Ѓghting near Mellitah also affected gas exports to Italy, by curbing gas production at the offshore Bahr Essalam п¬Ѓeld, one of the two reservoirs that feed the sub-sea pipeline that takes the fuel across the Mediterranean Sea, according to NOC. The other п¬Ѓeld is Wafa, onshore, according to documents on the website of Eni Spa, the Italian pipeline operator. While gas exports to Italy are continuing, the volumes have dropped, NOCвЂ™s Elharari said. Gas п¬‚ows from Libya at ItalyвЂ™s Gela entry were at 12.4mn cubic metres on December 20, down from 20.3mn cubic meters a week earlier, according to data from Snam, the Italian grid, on Bloomberg. Libya has nine oil export terminals, of which two, Jurf and Bouri, are offshore and relatively immune to the fighting. Zawiya, the secondlargest, and Zueitina, the sixthlargest, are not exporting because theyвЂ™re not receiving crude from fields upstream as a result of protests or military clashes. The other ports, Brega and Hariga, are open, according to NOCвЂ™s Elharari. Borsa trades SASX-10 index futures for first time Reuters Sarajevo TurkeyвЂ™s state-run stock exchange Borsa Istanbul has started trading index futures of 10 companies from the Sarajevo Stock Exchange as part of expansion plans ahead of an initial public offering expected in the first half of 2016. Borsa Istanbul is trying to increase links with other exchanges in the region such as those in Sarajevo and Montenegro as it prepares for the listing. вЂњWe developed this project to create a network of financial institutions where Istanbul will function as a hub, so local markets will have the ability to have an access to a larger pool of liquidity,вЂќ Ibrahim Turhan, the president of the Borsa Istanbul managing board, told a news conference. Turhan said the Istanbul bourse planned to have an initial public offering of its own shares in the first half of 2016. вЂњIn the first half of 2016, we will go for the IPO,вЂќ Turhan said. вЂњThe Turkish government has authorised Borsa as the organiser and operator of the IPO.вЂќ He said that Borsa Istanbul had signed a strategic partnership last year with Nasdaq in the US and expected to bring on board some other вЂњstrong names.вЂќ Borsa Istanbul, which owns five% or 308 SASE shares, has announced it wanted to acquire a further 1,563 shares when they go on sale next month and increase its SASE stake to 25%. Turhan said Borsa Istanbul wanted to help small regional exchanges, such as the Sarajevo and Montenegro bourses, survive in a highly competitive market. The Sarajevo exchangeвЂ™s SASX-10 includes among others Bosnian majority state-owned telecom companies BH Telecom and HT Mostar, and power utilities EPBiH and HZHB Mostar. SASE General Manager Tarik Kurbegovic said the first transactions in the SASX-10 index futures at the Borsa have been conducted, and BosniaвЂ™s local capital market should benefit from the visibility of its companies on such a large market. SASE has already clinched a deal with the Borsa Istanbul on the data distribution. It plans next year to tie up with the Turkish partner via an order-routing system, enabling investors in both countries to directly trade on both bourses. The officials said they also planned a dual listing of both Turkish and Bosnian firms on both bourses hopefully next year. The Borsa is TurkeyвЂ™s only exchange, created from the 2013 merger of the Istanbul Stock Exchange, Gold Exchange and Derivatives Exchange ahead of a planned privatisation. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 5 BUSINESS Low costs to propel long-term eurozone bond sales in 2015 Reuters London Eurozone governments are preparing to sell a record amount of bonds next year, tilting towards more long-term debt as they try to lock in historically low borrowing costs. Analysts estimate the blocвЂ™s biggest sovereign borrowers will sell a third more debt than in 2014, with Germany the notable exception as it aims to eliminate its budget deficit. Investors, on the other hand, will seek higher yields from lower-rated issuers such as Italy, Spain and Portugal, reassured by expectations that the European Central Bank will become a buyer in 2015. The prospect of the ECB expanding its asset purchases to include sovereign bonds early next year has given fresh impetus to a 2-1/2-year rally in eurozone debt that has driven borrowing costs to all-time lows. вЂњThe treasuries are very keen to lock in these ultra-low yield levels and extend duration,вЂќ said Michael Leister, a strategist at Commerzbank. вЂњDemand is still there even at these yield levels, especially with the ECB most likely coming in as a structural buyer.вЂќ The governments with lower credit ratings are anxious to exploit the benign market conditions to increase the average life of their debt stock. That means re-funding will be required less often, an advantage as at some point the era of ultra-low ECB interest rates, originally imposed to tackle the financial crisis, must come to an end. Ten-year Spanish and Italian 10-year yields are less than 2% , below those of US Treasuries, as the threat of deflation in the eurozone exacerbated by sliding oil prices pressures the ECB to begin a programme of quantitative easing (QE). At the height of the eurozone crisis, investors were reluctant to buy anything longer than five-year bonds from troubled governments. However, those worries have dwindled since ECB President Mario Draghi promised first to save the euro and then, last month, to tackle excessively low inflation by whatever means necessary. In a recent Reuters poll, 25 out of 27 economists expected the ECB to start buying sovereign debt under a QE programme, probably early next year. Analysts say Spanish and Italian bonds still look relatively attractive against German benchmarks, on which yields have dropped to all-time lows below 0.60% and could fall to 0.50% in the next few weeks. The eurozoneвЂ™s 11 biggest government borrowers are forecast to issue bonds worth в‚¬927bn ($1.1tn) in 2015, up about 34% from this yearвЂ™s projected total, according to an average estimate of six analysts. Germany, the regionвЂ™s biggest economy, is alone in bucking the trend. It plans to cut issuance to its lowest since 2002 next year as it seeks to present its first balanced federal budget in almost half a century. Although countries such as Spain have made progress in cutting their budget deficits, they still plan to increase issuance to cover maturing debt estimated by analysts at в‚¬86bn, up OilвЂ™s 50% drop from high of 2014 spurs bet by hedge funds Bloomberg New York T he slump in oil that drove US prices down as much as 50% from this yearвЂ™s high is spurring the most bullish bet by hedge funds in four months. Speculators expanded their netlong position in West Texas Intermediate crude by 14% in the week ended December 16, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Long wagers increased the most since February. Money managers have increased their net-long position by 34% in three weeks, even as prices kept tumbling as Opec ministers reiterated pledges to keep pumping. Their bullishness is also reп¬‚ected in exchange-traded funds that track oil, which attracted the most money in four years this month. вЂњPeople are starting to feel that we not only hit the bottom but we are turning around,вЂќ Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts, said by phone December 19. вЂњThe fundamentals havenвЂ™t really changed.вЂќ WTI fell $7.89, or 12%, to $55.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange in the period covered by the CFTC report and touched $53.60, the lowest since May 2009. Saudi ArabiaвЂ™s Oil Minister Ali alNaimi said itвЂ™s вЂњdifficult, if not impossibleвЂќ for his country and Opec to give up market share, the Saudi Press Agency reported December 18. The вЂњtemporaryвЂќ instability in oil markets is being caused mainly by a slowing global economy, he was reported as saying. The International Energy Agency on December 12 cut its forecast for global demand next year and raised its estimate for non-Opec supply. US output, already at a three-decade high, will continue to rise, the Paris-based IEA said. вЂњShort-term supply is still stronger than demand,вЂќ Gareth Lewis-Davies, a London-based analyst at BNP Paribas, said by phone December 18. вЂњThere is nothing that convinces me that we are not going to have a quite signiп¬Ѓcant supply An oil rig in Taft, California. The slump in oil that drove US prices down as much as 50% from this yearвЂ™s high is spurring the most bullish bet by hedge funds in four months. build in the п¬Ѓrst half of next year.вЂќ The four biggest US exchangetraded products tied to oil, including the US Oil Fund and the ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Crude Oil, received a combined $859.3mn this month as of December 18, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. ItвЂ™s the most in any month since May 2010. Oil plunged 23% since November 26, the day before the 12-nation Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries decided to maintain its output target. The group pumped 30.6mn barrels in November, above its 30mn-barrel quota for a sixth month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. вЂњOpec is no longer relevant,вЂќ Francisco Blanch, head of global commodities and derivatives research for Bank of America, said on Bloomberg TV. вЂњSaudi has pulled the plug and is letting the market balance itself.вЂќ US crude production reached 9.14mn barrels a day in the week ended December 12, the most in EIA weekly data from 1983. Net-long positions for WTI climbed by 26,455 to 217,723 futures and options in the week ended December 16. Long positions gained 6.7% to 274,740. Short bets decreased 14% to 57,017. In other markets, bullish bets on gasoline rose 1.2% to 49,416 contracts. Futures tumbled 11% to $1.541 a gallon on Nymex in the reporting period. Regular retail gasoline dropped 2.6 cents to average $2.409 December 20, the cheapest since May 2009, according to AAA. Bearish wagers on US ultra-low sulfur diesel increased 6.2% to 24,113 contracts as the fuel sank 6% to $1.96 a gallon.Net-long wagers on US natural gas fell 36% to 27,260 lots, the lowest since October. The measure includes an index of four contracts adjusted to futures equivalents: Nymex natural gas futures, Nymex Henry Hub Swap Futures, Nymex ClearPort Henry Hub Penultimate Swaps and the ICE Futures US Henry Hub contract. Nymex natural gas dropped 0.9% to $3.619 per million British thermal units. WTI for February delivery added 31 cents, or 0.5%, to $58.03 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. вЂњThese low prices are bringing value seekers out of the woodwork,вЂќ John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy, said. вЂњBut there is more oil continuing to enter into the market.вЂќ Wall St sees its best year for IPOs since 2000 AFP New York Wall Street in 2014 enjoyed its best year for initial public offerings since 2000, thanks to the record-setting flotation of Chinese Internet giant Alibaba and a barrage of biotech deals. Activity was вЂњuninterruptedвЂќ and proved largely immune to forces that at times rattled equity markets, Renaissance Capital said in a report this week. вЂњWhile various global events, such as RussiaвЂ™s incursion into the Ukraine and conflicts in the Middle East, caused nervousness in global markets, they largely failed to disrupt the US IPO applecart,вЂќ Renaissance said. Renaissance said there were 273 stock debuts in 2014, up 23% from 2013. Dealogic released similar numbers, counting 291 offerings, up 27% from 2013. Analysts are gearing up for another heady year in 2015, citing a deep pipeline of securities filings from leading prospects and investor zeal for such hot names such as apartment rental website Airbnb and app-based taxi service Uber. New entrants to US equity markets raised $85bn in 2014, according to Renaissance, about 55% more than in 2013. вЂњWhat is behind the growth is that companies are really growing and need more capital to continue to accelerate their growth,вЂќ Bob Greifeld, Nasdaq chief executive, said on CNBC. вЂњThat is great for the overall economy.вЂќ The year 2000 remains the best on record for IPOs, with 406 offerings raising $96bn, Renaissance noted. Paradoxically, while the US and China spar for the distinction of the worldвЂ™s biggest economy, the Chinese Internet marketplace Alibaba emerged as a key player behind New YorkвЂ™s banner year. Alibaba in September became the biggest IPO in history, raising $22bn. Besides Alibaba, nine other companies raised more than $1bn in 2014. They included Citizens Financial, a unit of British bank Royal Bank of Scotland, with $3.0bn gained, and Synchrony Financial, which was spun out of General Electric, with $2.9bn. A big chunk of this yearвЂ™s IPOs came out of the health sector, with biotechs comprising 25% of total deal volume at 69 offerings, Renaissance said. Biotech offerings also accounted for eight of the top 10 IPOs in terms of return to shareholders. However, the health sector also was responsible for five of the 10 worst-performing new stocks. In all, the average new stock finished 16% higher at the end of the year compared with its IPO price. That was well below the 40.8% gain in 2013. Renaissance cited the sell-off in energy IPOs in the latter part of the year as oil prices tanked, as well as a correction in high-multiple tech stocks in March and April, for the year-overyear decline. Twice as many deals were postponed in 2014 compared with the prior year and 40% came to market below the proposed pricing range, the report said. Experts expect another strong year in 2015, owing to a heavy number of securities filings from companies disclosing plans to do offerings. Renaissance has a private company вЂњwatchlistвЂќ of 255 companies that could go public. More than 80% are in the tech sector. The list includes web registration company GoDaddy and subscriptionbased music streaming service Spotify. вЂњOverall positive returns and a large pipeline suggest that consistent deal flow should continue into 2015, tempered by disciplined pricing,вЂќ Renaissance said. from в‚¬62bn this year. Spain was even more aggressive than neighbouring Italy in issuing short-term debt in 2011 and 2012 to tap into demand created by the ECB making crisis loans to commercial banks. Madrid faces a similar refinancing hump in 2016, making it vital for it to lengthen the average maturity of its debt. The Tesoro, SpainвЂ™s debt management office, is scheduled to announce its 2015 funding needs in the first week of January but gross issuance is forecast at в‚¬144bn on average, up from в‚¬133bn this year. вЂњWe expect the Tesoro to continue increasing its average debt maturity which is planned to climb to up to 6.4 years in 2015 from 6.28 years currently,вЂќ Nomura analysts said in a note. BelgiumвЂ™s equivalent agency also plans to issue more long-term debt in 2015 as it needs to refinance more maturing bonds next year. Last week, the head of FranceвЂ™s AFT debt agency said he expected growing demand for longer maturities to continue next year, adding it was looking into adding a new 15 or 20-year benchmark. вЂњFinancing conditions today are exceptional,вЂќ AFT chief Ambroise Fayolle said. France is expected to keep borrowing at low interest rates despite possible downgrades to its AA rating from MoodyвЂ™s and Standard & PoorвЂ™s next year. The deep liquidity of its markets and expectations that it will keep a relatively high rating make it an attractive alternative to Germany, analysts said. Top Russian oil п¬Ѓrm Rosneft repays around $7bn in debt Reuters Moscow R ussiaвЂ™s top oil producer Rosneft said yesterday it had met a $7bn loan repayment, partially easing fears among investors that Western sanctions banning major Russian п¬Ѓrms from access to European and US capital could prompt mass defaults. Shares in the company rose 2.5% in Russian trade after Rosneft conп¬Ѓrmed it had made the payment вЂ“ part of a two-year $12.7bn loan it used to buy oil п¬Ѓrm TNK-BP вЂ“ from its own cash reserves. Rosneft, which produces more oil than Iraq or Iran, has asked for 2.5tn roubles ($44.07bn) from the government to help it weather sanctions and reп¬Ѓnance its debts. But the government is yet to decide how much money to give from the National Wealth Fund, resulting in speculation last week вЂ“ denied by Rosneft вЂ“ that it was buying foreign currency on the domestic forex market. Rosneft Chief Executive Igor Sechin said yesterday: вЂњTo service its debt the company does not need to enter the currency market, because it generates enough foreign currency earnings. Surplus balances are used on the market, in such a manner.вЂќ Analysts say Rosneft is too big for the state to allow it to fail and point to its successful sale earlier this month of 625bn roubles worth of domestic bonds вЂ“ the bulk of the companyвЂ™s current planned debt reп¬Ѓnancing. вЂњAs for other companies, there is still concern, but I do not expect large-scale defaults on the public debt market,вЂќ said an analyst at a major Russian bank who declined to be named. The company continues to face a severe squeeze from a collapse in oil prices and the rapid devaluation of the rouble, which has lost 45% of its value against the dollar as a result of the sanctions, an approaching economic recession and a the dramatic fall in the value of oil, upon which the state budget depends. Rosneft must make a second loan repayment of $6.9bn in February. Its bridge loan providers were BNP Pari- bas, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Barclays Bank, Citi, Credit Agricole CIB, ING Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, JP Morgan, Mizuho Corporate Bank, Natixis, Societe Generale and UniCredit, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data. Meanwhile Rosneft said yesterday it had to abandon plans to purchase the oil trading business of US bank Morgan Stanley after failing to win regulatory approval. The December 2013 deal for an undisclosed amount covered Morgan StanleyвЂ™s Global Oil Merchanting business that included agreements on stockage capacity as well as physical oil inventories. Rosneft said it and Morgan Stanley were abandoning the transaction вЂњdue to an objective impossibility to complete the deal that has arisen as a result of regulatory clearances being refused.вЂќ Rosneft has asked for 2.5tn roubles from the government to help it weather sanctions and refinance debts Rosneft said in a statement that both companies regretted having to drop the deal and that they will вЂњcontinue to cooperate in other spheresвЂќ. Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley said it вЂњwill now consider a variety of options for the unit that take into account the interests of the п¬ЃrmвЂ™s shareholders, clients and employees.вЂќ Rosneft, the top quoted oil company by production volume, is led by Igor Sechin, a conп¬Ѓdant of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was placed on US and EU sanctions lists over MoscowвЂ™s annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. Rosneft has long affirmed that the sanctions will not affect its cooperation with its principal partners: BritainвЂ™s BP which holds nearly 20% of its capital and US company ExxonMobil. 6 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 BUSINESS China offers Russia help with currency swap suggestion Bloomberg Hong Kong T wo Chinese ministers offered support for Russia as President Vladimir Putin seeks to shore up the rouble without depleting foreignexchange reserves. China will provide help if needed and is conп¬Ѓdent Russia can overcome its economic difficulties, Foreign Minister Wang Yi was cited as saying in Bangkok in a December 20 report by Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV. Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said expanding a currency swap between the two nations and making increased use of yuan for bilateral trade would have the greatest impact in aiding Russia, according to the broadcaster. While the offer wonвЂ™t relieve the main sources of pressure on the rouble вЂ“ capital outп¬‚ow tied to plunging oil prices and sanctions linked to RussiaвЂ™s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine вЂ“ the currency gained 3.1% against the dollar in Moscow. The Micex Index was little changed, and the yield on RussiaвЂ™s 10-year bond fell 30 basis points to 13.3%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. вЂњIn the current conditions, any help is very welcome,вЂќ Vladimir Miklashevsky, a strategist at Danske Bank, said by e-mail. вЂњYet, it canвЂ™t substitute the losses of the Russian banking system and economy from western sanctions.вЂќ Russia, the biggest energy exporter, saw its currency tumble as much as 59% this year. Putin asked business leaders last week to report on plans to sell foreign currency revenues and to engage in responsible foreign exchange operations, Vedomosti newspaper reported today. Former Economy Minister Alexei Kudrin said Russia was entering a fullп¬‚edged economic crisis. A Chinese Commerce Ministry news official, who asked not to be named as part of the rules, said his department declined to comment on the Phoenix TV report, and a faxed question to the Chinese central bank went unanswered. President Xi Jinping last month called for China to adopt вЂњbig- An employee counts rouble notes at a private companyвЂ™s office in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. Russia, the biggest energy exporter, saw its currency tumble as much as 59% this year. country diplomacyвЂќ as he laid out goals for elevating his nationвЂ™s status as the worldвЂ™s second-largest economy. вЂњMany Chinese people still view Russia as the big brother, and the two countries are strategically important to each other,вЂќ said Jin Canrong, As- sociate Dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University in Beijing, referring to the Soviet UnionвЂ™s backing of Communist China in its п¬Ѓrst years. вЂњFor the sake of national interests, China should deepen cooperation with Russia when such co- operation is in need.вЂќChina and Russia signed a three-year currency-swap line of 150bn yuan ($24bn) in October, an agreement that can be expanded with the consent of both parties. The PeopleвЂ™s Bank of China published a chart detailing how such an agreement works in a microblog dated December 19 and the official PeopleвЂ™s Daily newspaper said that the explanation was provided to address concerns the nation could suffer losses if Russia used the facility to obtain funds. вЂњAs all we pay out and receive in return are renminbi, we donвЂ™t have to bear exchange-rate risks,вЂќ the PBoC said in the microblog, using an alternative name for the yuan. The swap amount can be adjusted to allow for changing circumstances and prevailing exchange rates, rather than pre-determined, are used, it said. China is promoting the yuan as an alternative to the dollar for global trade and п¬Ѓnance and the PBOC has signed currency- swap agreements with 28 other central banks to encourage this. The nationвЂ™s foreign-exchange reserves of $3.89tn are the worldвЂ™s largest and compare with RussiaвЂ™s $374bn. вЂњRussia is an irreplaceable strategic partner on the international stage,вЂќ according to an editorial today in the Global Times, a Beijing-based daily affiliated with the Communist Party. вЂњChina must take a proactive attitude in helping Russia walk out of the current crisis.вЂќ Still, вЂњChinaвЂ™s help for Russia will be limited,вЂќ the editorial said. While China can offer capital, technical and market support, it canвЂ™t address RussiaвЂ™s economic structure and excessive reliance on energy exports, the editorial said. China signed a three-decade, $400bn deal to buy Russian gas earlier this year. Oil imports from Russia hit an all-time high in November, according to ChinaвЂ™s General Administration of Customs. Russia isnвЂ™t in talks with China about any п¬Ѓnancial aid, said Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Putin, on December 20. Russia wouldnвЂ™t be the п¬Ѓrst country in п¬Ѓnancial strife to turn to China for support this year. ArgentinaвЂ™s central bank utilised a cross-currency swap with the PBoC to stem a slide in the peso, which dropped 24% against the greenback this year as the government defaulted on dollar bonds. The peso has weakened 0.3% this month following a similar decline in November. Desperate Chinese banks offer вЂ�valuable giftsвЂ™ to attract customers Bloomberg Shanghai Chinese banks, desperate to attract customers who are finding alternatives for their savings, are turning to giveaways. On offer at one branch in Beijing: an iPhone 6 Plus or a MercedesBenz. Cash rebates, trips abroad, interest rates at the highest premium ever over the official benchmark rate, even free vegetables are among other goodies banks are dangling to get Chinese savers to deposit their yuan in savings accounts. The competition is expensive. вЂњChinese banks are haemorrhaging their deposits,вЂќ said Rainy Yuan, a Shanghai-based analyst at brokerage Masterlink Securities Corp вЂњThere is no fix for this. All the efforts they made to win savers back will only push up the costs, so itвЂ™s a losing battle to fight.вЂќ Higher returns from Internet funds and investment products such as trusts, combined with the promise of a soaring stock market, have ChinaвЂ™s banks feeling the drain. They lost 950bn yuan ($154bn) of deposits in the three months through September, the first quarterly drop since 1999. In the first 11 months, new deposits were 23% lower than in the same period last year, PeopleвЂ™s Bank of China data show. The iPhone promotion, by Shenzhenbased Ping An Bank Co in October at a branch in Beijing, offered a 128-gigabyte iPhone 6 Plus in lieu of interest payments for depositing 38,000 yuan for five years. For parking 903,000 yuan for the same period, savers could pick one of four Mercedes-Benz models. A Mercedes A180, which costs 252,000 yuan, would give investors the equivalent of an annualized return of almost 7%, compared with the benchmark rate of 4% on five-year deposits. The China Banking Regulatory Commission in September banned what it called вЂњillicitвЂќ deposit-gathering practices, including gifts and rebates on deposits. Banks that flout the curbs could face punishment, the regulator said, without clarifying whether product giveaways in lieu of interest payments qualify as gifts. A spokesman for Ping An Bank in Shenzhen declined to comment on the giveaways. ChinaвЂ™s investors have been pouring money into online money-market funds offered by the likes of Alibaba Group Holding and Baidu. YuвЂ™E Bao, pioneered last year by Alibaba affiliate Alipay, drew 535bn yuan in its first 15 months of existence from 149mn customers, more than the populations of France and the UK combined. Users simply tapped a few buttons on their mobile phones to secure an annual rate of return that soared as high as 6.8% before falling to about 4% recently. Meanwhile, households put 12.9tn yuan into high- yield trust products as of September 30, making them the fastest- growing segment of what China defines as shadow banking, or financial activity outside the banking system. Trusts, which allow individuals to invest in real estate and other projects for returns of more than 10%, saw assets under management surge more than 10-fold since the start of 2009. The Shanghai Composite IndexвЂ™s 43% surge over the past six months also has savers plunging into equities. In the first week of December, Chinese investors opened almost 600,000 stock-trading accounts, a 62% increase over the previous week, according to China Securities Depository and Clearing Co. To stimulate the economy, ChinaвЂ™s central bank on Nov 21 announced a cut in benchmark interest rates for the first time in more than two years, to 2.75% from 3% on one- year deposits. At the same time, the maximum interest rate banks can pay customers was raised to 20% over the benchmark from 10%, allowing lenders the biggest leeway to set their own rates in modern Chinese history. Ping An Bank, China Citic Bank Corp and Bank of Ningbo Co immediately alerted customers through text messages that they would offer the highest interest rates allowed, or 3.3%. While Beijing-based Industrial & Commercial Bank of China and its four closest state-controlled peers first decided to pay 3%, their plan lasted just two weeks. Some branches in major cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, then boosted one-year deposit rates to the 3.3% ceiling. Taiwan Nov export orders slow, but on track for a record in 2014 Reuters Taipei T aiwanвЂ™s export orders grew slower than expected in November, amid global uncertainties, and the islandвЂ™s economics ministry slightly trimmed its forecast for this yearвЂ™s total, which still should set a record. Export orders in November rose 6% from a year earlier, below the 8.8% forecast in the Reuters poll as well as the ministryвЂ™s expectations for around a 10% gain. Still orders for information communication goods, the main driver for TaiwanвЂ™s exports, posted a record monthly high of $13.69bn in November. This underpinned hopes for the technology export-driven economy to wrap up a bumper year of orders fuelled by popular demand for AppleвЂ™s newest iPhone. TaiwanвЂ™s export orders are an indication of the strength of Asian exports and of global demand for technology. Lin Lee-jen, statistics director of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, said TaiwanвЂ™s export orders for this year could total around $470bn, down a bit from the estimated $480bn she offered last month, but still a record level. November orders totalled $43.51bn, down from OctoberвЂ™s $44.9bn - also a record high вЂ“ because of falling demand for petrochemical goods, the ministry said. Orders from the US and Europe rose by strong double digit year-on-year percentages, however orders from China, including Hong Kong, fell 3.4% from a year ago. The decline came as ChinaвЂ™s economy slows and as the mainland, trying to nurture the development of its own industries, takes fewer orders from Taiwan, Lin said. TaiwanвЂ™s statistics agency last month cut its forecast for 2015 exports, citing below-par growth expected for China and the European Union. This year, the release of AppleвЂ™s iPhone 6 was the biggest economic fillip to Taiwan, whose companies make a sizable share of the gadgetвЂ™s circuitry. Many of the technology orders are handled by Taiwanese-owned factories based in China, with the final goods being exported from the mainland to consumers in the US and Europe. Due to the high base from this year boosted by demand for the new iPhones, the monthly yearon-year growth in export orders next year will likely slow, said Shawn Shih, economist with Sinopac Securities in Taipei. Shih said as long as the monthly order value remains around $37bn-$38bn, any slowdown in the growth rate shouldnвЂ™t be a concern for the trade-reliant island economy. Sensex gains for third day; rupee rises marginally Reuters Mumbai I ndian shares rose for a third session yesterday, led by gains in defensive stocks such as ITC on worries the selling spree by foreign investors might continue till year-end, while higher Asian shares underpin the broader market. Foreign investors sold nearly $1bn worth of shares over nine consecutive sessions of selling, amid a brewing п¬Ѓnancial crisis in Russia and a crude oil slump, regulatory data show. They still remain net buyers of Indian equities worth $16.5bn in 2014 so far. Volatility may rise due to expiry of equity derivatives on Wednesday while progress on key reforms such as the opening up of insurance and coal sectors and tabling of a bill on nationwide sales tax in parliamentвЂ™s winter session that ends Tuesday, are key ahead of the federal budget in February. Asian shares took their cues from Wall Street and kicked off a holidayshortened week on a strong footing yesterday. MSCIвЂ™s index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan extended gains and was up 1.1%. вЂњValue-buying by domestic investors is supporting the market on hopes the insurance bill and GST would go through during the winter session itself,вЂќ said Deven Choksey, managing director at K R Choksey Securities. The NSE index rose 0.22% to 8,242.80, while the benchmark BSE index gained 0.23% to 27,435.13, trading around their respective 50-day moving averages. ITC rose 1.3%, Hindustan Unilever was up 1.4% while in utilities, NTPC rose 2.4% and Gail India rose 3.2%. Select lenders such as State Bank of India also gained as Prime Minister Narendra Modi may consider using an executive order to push through laws overhauling the insurance and coal sectors Meanwhile the rupee gained marginally while bonds were steady yesterday as investors stayed on the sidelines in a holiday-shortened Christmas week likely to see diminishing foreign fund п¬‚ows. Foreign funds are usually light on their investments towards the yearend and prefer to start investing fresh funds only at the beginning of the New Year, leading to lower volumes in most markets globally. Both debt and foreign exchange markets saw signiп¬Ѓcantly low volumes in India but sharp gains in the domestic share market helped the rupee edge up. Traders said the rupee could come under pressure on month-end demand from importers. For bonds, the movement in global crude oil prices will be crucial. вЂњSome month-end and quarter-end demand should push the rupee down later this week and next,вЂќ said Hari Chandramgethen, head of foreign exchange trading at South Indian Bank. вЂњThe rupeeвЂ™s fall will be limited at around 63.60 levels.вЂќ The partially convertible rupee closed at 63.24/25 per dollar, slightly stronger than its Friday close of 63.2950/3050, while the benchmark 10-year bond yield closed steady at 7.96%. Indian shares rose more than 1% to mark a third consecutive day of gains, while higher Asian shares and hopes of progress on key reforms underpinned the broader market. In the overnight indexed swap market, the benchmark п¬Ѓve-year swap rate closed 2 basis points lower at 7.31%, while the oneyear rate fell 1 basis point to 7.88%. Asia markets up in thin trade, tracking Wall Street cues AFP Tokyo Asian markets rose in thin trade yesterday ahead of the festive season, tracking cues from Wall Street where stocks surged in a Federal Reserve-fuelled вЂњSanta Claus rallyвЂќ last week. Stabler oil markets also provided support, with crude prices ticking higher as analysts predicted the sector had bottomed out after plunging almost 50% since June. Sydney soared 1.94%, or 103.35 points, to 5,442, Seoul gained 0.68%, or 13.14 points, to 1,943.12, Hong Kong climbed 1.26%, 291.94 points to 23,408.57 and Shanghai was up 0.61%, or 18.85 points, to 3,127.45. Tokyo closed flat, edging up 13.74 points to 17,635.14. In other markets, Wellington rose 0.25%, or 13.99 points, to 5,541.74; Fletcher Building was up 1.23% at NZ$8.25 and Warehouse Group added 0.98% to NZ$3.08. Taipei added 1.06%, or 95.48 points, to 9,095.0; Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co added 0.36% to Tw$138.5 while Hon Hai Precision climbed 2.8% to Tw$88.0. Manila gained 0.19%, or 13.64 points, to 7,139.27; top-traded Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co rose 0.36% to 2,824 pesos. Trading is expected to be thin this week at the start of the holiday season, with many traders away for Christmas and New Year celebrations. The gains in Asia come after US stocks went from famine to feast last week, starting out fearful of crashing oil prices and finishing it smiling at a вЂњSanta Claus rallyвЂќ. Worries about tumbling oil prices and the crashing Russian rouble, which has lost nearly half its value in 2014 against the dollar, prompted grim sentiment among investors. But markets began reversing course as the US Federal Reserve left in place market expectations that it may raise interest rates only in the middle of 2015 - and not soonerвЂ” and gave a fairly upbeat assessment of the worldвЂ™s biggest economy. Following a two-day meeting, Fed Chair Janet Yellen offered reassurances that sharply lower oil prices are a net positive for the economy and that economic fallout from RussiaвЂ™s struggles is likely to be limited. US stocks rose for the third day in a row on Friday, with the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up 0.15% at 17,804.80. The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.46% to 2,070.65, about five points below its record. The dollar stayed firm after YellenвЂ™s comments. The greenback was at ВҐ119.51 in Asian trade, up from ВҐ119.43 in New York on Friday. While the Fed did not accelerate its timeline for raising interest rates, currency traders are betting the US will increase borrowing costs more quickly than other major central banks, which would tend to boost demand for the dollar. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 7 BUSINESS SAUDI ARABIA Company Name QATAR 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 80.50 62.00 16.00 23.50 14.99 13.09 94.80 133.00 216.00 77.70 44.80 81.60 41.70 103.70 22.44 49.70 9.70 203.00 186.90 41.10 89.80 119.00 19.33 18.20 28.25 190.00 113.70 106.00 48.00 22.05 174.50 121.00 53.00 96.10 15.15 30.35 56.10 41.45 66.60 42.95 50.00 11.35 % Chg -3.01 4.73 3.90 3.34 3.45 1.24 0.85 1.22 2.86 9.44 2.28 3.42 7.47 7.46 0.63 3.97 -2.71 -0.78 2.58 0.00 5.03 1.10 -0.31 2.42 0.36 3.77 9.96 4.95 4.69 0.23 0.00 -9.97 -0.56 9.95 3.41 2.53 1.45 4.94 -1.91 9.99 5.93 -1.39 Volume 3,780 152,337 3,082,650 1,368,112 391,224 278,385 114,295 17,903 209,433 144,644 7,126 199,802 69,934 672,748 407,027 12,618 137,366 49,446 68,641 10 18,482 211,644 235,838 3,584,484 701,178 241,073 110,432 40,803 1,330,328 133,326 259,975 285,212 478,874 1,387,749 4,205,840 4,200 237,739 194,639 428,473 2,769,349 91,457 375,259 SAUDI ARABIA 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 Aseer 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 Maadaniyah 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 47.50 16.10 13.50 51.21 21.51 19.70 21.79 17.23 34.72 13.96 107.78 8.85 28.00 47.89 16.71 51.70 103.30 21.04 37.65 61.53 35.85 36.33 76.56 24.30 16.58 120.68 11.11 29.80 110.82 18.90 44.64 40.17 80.16 29.11 71.71 36.32 32.66 42.63 25.22 31.75 28.83 69.75 29.15 31.69 75.13 175.13 34.66 191.00 12.32 23.42 55.75 6.83 44.85 13.03 27.38 90.95 28.30 46.19 32.89 25.60 26.68 13.78 18.45 82.30 21.32 103.82 42.85 184.60 56.70 16.34 11.93 16.96 18.66 28.00 26.39 80.00 38.70 20.07 12.55 123.57 29.91 29.56 11.00 26.03 33.09 26.06 29.23 32.39 22.84 18.78 12.00 93.75 37.56 14.55 17.27 54.44 13.21 % Chg 0.30 3.27 0.00 5.39 5.13 0.46 -0.14 5.06 -1.20 6.24 4.04 -0.23 1.12 3.88 0.60 -0.60 8.03 -0.89 5.17 -1.05 -0.64 4.40 -0.17 0.00 0.30 7.51 5.91 -0.67 0.75 1.18 -0.76 5.77 -1.27 1.89 2.03 4.10 0.09 4.00 1.53 9.63 1.51 0.00 -0.51 -0.75 2.25 -1.22 7.14 -1.55 -0.40 1.39 -0.73 1.94 3.68 1.80 2.89 3.11 0.00 1.18 0.80 0.00 6.81 0.58 5.13 4.20 0.00 3.45 0.19 -0.25 -1.55 7.50 6.04 -0.24 0.76 -1.62 9.91 4.38 9.94 2.14 0.00 0.24 -0.40 0.10 5.57 7.92 0.67 -0.76 1.49 -1.07 0.26 0.81 0.76 0.39 0.56 0.48 -0.75 -0.71 0.15 Volume 38,780 1,394,804 250,252 1,278,187 811,978 229,208 805,348 313,109 1,874,896 111,809 65,761,117 583,915 987,701 1,039,365 536,273 456,579 30,931,922 297,536 385,956 2,716,985 648,833 359,684 378,754 921,184 2,312,459 811,479 197,800 2,638,833 655,406 955,188 619,919 542,585 1,001,410 151,097 715,425 1,126,857 1,536,975 1,112,855 301,928 3,104,706 330,287 188,448 359,179 457,084 74,688 3,318,265 569,556 117,285 5,694,266 7,809,718 5,651,981 2,931,851 109,538 509,656 689,997 1,063,339 1,470,047 1,030,261 61,434 1,260,548 60,050 174,405 59,692 4,077,550 8,539,519 23,908,708 3,154,754 1,661,380 8,331,392 6,138,871 107,108 500,972 2,241,319 128,769 465,275 344,161 5,564,384 944,297 201,373 1,580,181 1,707,534 2,004,917 375,647 3,106,344 1,979,041 106,874 396,552 285,374 1,584,140 4,049,800 3,247,138 Saudi British Bank Sabb Takaful Saudi Basic Industries Corp Saudi Cement Sasco 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 Savola 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 KUWAIT Lt Price 53.20 30.60 92.27 100.55 24.62 129.06 148.27 29.95 19.90 33.90 24.81 39.45 15.23 21.24 51.59 29.10 9.45 76.95 9.65 58.20 109.02 15.60 30.86 70.38 28.11 39.98 26.20 15.35 40.71 % Chg -1.08 7.44 2.40 -1.15 2.80 2.14 -0.33 9.31 2.68 9.99 5.75 0.13 0.00 1.92 1.34 0.34 2.61 -0.49 0.42 3.76 2.24 -0.64 1.25 3.71 -1.20 0.55 -0.38 1.79 2.34 Volume 43,085 1,379,575 5,844,311 45,527 1,169,454 256,489 159,328 1,395,403 1,815,957 545,798 613,142 614,641 3,980,818 608,047 17,300 11,733,574 502,862 1,701,097 229,829 104,942 2,540,887 1,005,055 161,594 557,641 1,467,265 95,606 3,838,659 641,073 KUWAIT 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 AвЂ™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 Agility 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 116.00 91.00 315.00 120.00 220.00 465.00 60.00 212.00 40.00 83.00 650.00 415.00 650.00 900.00 610.00 265.00 295.00 71.00 41.50 56.00 0.00 91.00 26.00 1.52 120.00 35.00 83.00 930.00 405.00 67.00 0.00 13.50 0.00 110.00 41.00 150.00 60.00 0.00 79.00 35.50 68.00 112.00 85.00 0.00 120.00 27.50 89.00 0.00 244.00 0.00 28.00 0.00 90.00 475.00 58.00 81.00 90.00 70.00 405.00 140.00 176.00 208.00 84.00 138.00 100.00 160.00 62.00 184.00 240.00 0.00 31.00 0.00 14.50 64.00 310.00 98.00 750.00 46.50 75.00 146.00 38.50 182.00 110.00 14.00 118.00 178.00 62.00 160.00 150.00 550.00 23.00 460.00 67.00 365.00 94.00 1,320.00 164.00 0.00 52.00 146.00 495.00 700.00 28.00 290.00 66.00 39.50 0.00 32.00 62.00 180.00 60.00 48.00 0.00 68.00 35.00 60.00 46.50 255.00 47.50 39.50 55.00 35.00 114.00 130.00 34.00 % Chg -1.69 4.60 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.64 0.00 0.00 6.41 0.00 -1.19 1.56 3.45 -1.61 -1.85 0.00 2.90 1.22 3.70 0.00 1.11 10.64 0.00 -1.64 0.00 6.41 0.00 1.25 0.00 0.00 -6.90 0.00 3.77 6.49 0.00 5.26 0.00 0.00 4.41 0.00 1.82 -1.16 0.00 5.26 5.77 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 3.70 0.00 0.00 0.00 5.45 1.25 0.00 2.94 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 3.70 -2.82 0.00 6.67 -1.59 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.64 0.00 0.00 -1.54 0.00 -2.00 4.17 5.68 0.00 4.29 6.94 1.11 7.84 7.69 0.00 -1.11 3.33 3.90 7.14 7.84 -2.13 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.08 -1.49 0.00 0.00 6.12 0.00 2.06 0.00 1.82 0.00 0.00 3.95 0.00 6.67 5.08 0.00 1.69 5.49 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.82 2.15 -5.95 0.00 1.45 0.00 -7.14 3.03 Volume 1,681 175,400 201,900 9,800 153,400 5,500 51,500 9,890 1,500 2,103,997 70,488 60,000 40,265 1,584,632 410,520 1,092,698 701,483 8,360 3,058,167 2,577,994 48,488 436 3,231,000 122,020 4,643,110 55,400 2,000 2,326,950 39,828,920 98,952 245,259 13,001 30,000 4,000 963,968 6,500 599,000 61,000 15,306 67,001,088 1,000 11,002 13,892,522 973,333 5,051 302,017 132,997 15,000 203,391 1 58,130 1,200 4,989 1,425,191 518,265 10 179,500 5,584,152 10,000 4,000 13,180,465 1,167,743 1,827,950 19,950 6,076,858 2,907,074 405 548,900 20,019 2,817,222 4,100,979 23,361 50,000 5,514 3,000 3,979,738 60,000 11,000 9,040,401 28,260,093 412,720 1,918,270 67,200 10,342 21,000 5,000 149,460 26,000 2,882,488 2,672,969 7,005,407 5,880 3,064 5,350,916 2,701,804 8,454,845 13,146 6,987,500 2,916,922 365,431 71,950 172,800 5,912,240 1,057,321 897,950 16,856 280,000 5,966,056 500 66,250 10,429,516 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-EnmaвЂ™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 OMAN Lt Price 0.00 24.00 98.00 890.00 120.00 18.00 69.00 47.50 435.00 234.00 60.00 0.00 194.00 0.00 42.50 840.00 33.50 300.00 95.00 0.00 56.00 126.00 200.00 55.00 405.00 405.00 90.00 60.00 77.00 1,320.00 0.00 150.00 17.50 59.00 242.00 79.00 158.00 45.00 62.00 60.00 0.00 425.00 91.00 128.00 56.00 35.50 99.00 140.00 350.00 140.00 23.00 1,500.00 78.00 410.00 70.00 370.00 670.00 126.00 740.00 % Chg 0.00 4.35 -3.92 1.14 0.00 5.88 -1.43 3.26 -2.25 0.00 7.14 0.00 -1.02 0.00 2.41 0.00 -1.47 0.00 -2.06 0.00 -3.45 0.00 0.00 5.77 5.19 6.58 -5.26 3.45 5.48 1.54 0.00 2.74 0.00 5.36 0.00 -4.82 0.00 3.45 0.00 -3.23 0.00 1.19 0.00 -1.54 -1.75 7.58 -1.00 -2.78 0.00 4.48 4.55 0.00 1.30 0.00 2.94 0.00 3.08 -3.08 0.00 Volume 20,905,035 140,000 1,000 15,569 3,244,287 954,350 1,565,086 2,533,823 1,262,093 362,900 55,626 2,572,898 50,000 86,096 111,000 12,800 4,884,046 140,000 750 846,580 1,221 2,770 10,100 20,000 300,712 10,079 22,993 4,680,763 2,598,006 5,000 1,322,412 5,010 8,769,987 170,200 1,387,321 301,113 649,384 31,600 389,000 4,934,004 87,000 10,108 347,782 1,284,253 19,585,488 12,250 923,455 14,500 4,909,520 106,020 58,901 65,135 3,335,906 OMAN 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 AвЂ™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 Ominvest 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 0.37 0.13 1.17 1.00 0.00 0.15 0.65 0.66 0.21 2.00 1.05 0.63 1.04 0.13 0.34 1.38 1.49 2.45 0.46 1.44 0.35 0.48 0.30 0.29 1.74 1.35 0.15 2.45 0.26 2.24 0.25 0.32 0.31 0.00 0.41 0.00 0.45 0.52 0.18 0.00 0.23 0.00 5.51 0.59 0.02 0.07 0.14 0.13 0.00 1.00 0.50 0.56 3.64 1.84 1.45 0.00 0.16 0.52 0.00 0.10 0.00 0.06 2.05 0.56 0.14 0.70 0.00 0.32 3.75 0.00 0.32 0.16 0.00 0.00 1.86 0.00 2.27 0.83 0.24 0.15 0.31 0.00 1.25 0.11 0.08 0.43 0.15 0.14 0.14 10.50 0.12 0.14 0.43 0.16 0.00 % Chg 0.00 3.17 0.00 0.00 0.00 9.63 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 7.38 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 7.94 9.92 4.82 0.00 7.55 0.00 2.97 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 6.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 8.24 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 9.74 0.00 2.94 0.00 8.26 0.00 0.00 -0.40 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.46 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.90 0.00 0.00 3.23 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.09 0.00 5.73 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 3.77 0.00 0.00 0.00 7.03 9.30 0.00 -2.54 7.09 0.00 0.00 0.00 Volume 142,300 57,692 20,664 965,490 1,533,906 27,755 12,800 2,158,242 1,400 1,420,813 964,900 1,948,272 10,000 140,100 1,768,605 123,128 49,000 25,330 509,413 380,250 15,370 13,484 931,284 6,613,688 54,047 191,600 995,903 - 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 0.13 0.49 0.18 0.53 0.53 0.20 1.47 0.00 0.00 1.28 0.18 0.13 0.26 0.25 0.04 0.00 0.00 0.22 0.61 0.31 1.13 0.51 5.51 0.34 0.00 0.82 0.33 0.00 0.39 0.32 0.55 0.75 0.23 0.05 0.00 % Chg 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 8.02 9.09 0.00 0.00 -2.56 0.00 0.00 7.18 7.80 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -3.41 0.00 1.48 0.00 0.00 0.00 3.21 0.00 0.00 3.17 0.00 0.00 Volume 41,000 6,158 22,110 225,800 3,352,929 3,768,706 2,000 8,000 19,000 245,834 2,699,040 - UAE 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 1.02 2.88 1.12 5.90 2.00 1.16 6.51 6.30 0.78 0.67 0.00 3.90 1.08 1.27 1.50 0.76 3.78 3.11 0.98 8.50 125.00 1.40 1.17 6.90 4.97 1.84 3.60 4.25 13.45 0.73 0.00 2.85 2.50 1.00 2.00 2.70 0.75 1.32 3.60 3.89 16.50 1.35 1.45 11.15 0.77 6.80 5.00 7.70 0.50 1.75 1.86 0.80 5.35 5.60 1.26 2.73 50.00 0.48 5.65 300.00 1.70 6.05 3.75 5.43 7.10 3.00 % Chg 0.00 -1.03 0.00 1.72 0.00 -7.20 -1.21 0.00 -1.27 3.08 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.70 0.00 3.67 11.36 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.55 0.00 0.00 -0.37 0.00 0.00 1.42 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 7.14 2.33 -9.77 0.00 -2.94 0.00 0.00 -0.45 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.54 8.11 0.00 -3.45 1.61 5.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -5.03 0.00 13.64 0.56 -5.33 -3.23 Volume 2,359,805 1,563,446 250 139,342 131,422 162,287 25,068,330 25,540 718,600 358,577 803,500 2,214,247 396,513 4,232 25,000 10,000 50,000 3,757,820 2,489,831 174,003,463 33,350,762 152,000 148,800 46,760 12,500 51,392,772 79,955 3,707 6,050,000 868,289 1,314,288 550,000 BAHRAIN 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 0.00 0.00 0.39 0.00 0.22 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.19 0.00 0.12 0.00 0.00 0.88 0.17 0.04 0.15 0.00 0.21 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.20 0.87 ` 1.55 0.22 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.83 0.00 0.66 0.15 0.83 0.40 0.00 0.45 0.33 2.10 0.80 0.00 0.79 % Chg 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 3.51 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -5.88 0.00 -0.63 Volume 10,742 30,000 50,000 693,943 11,650 118,812 130,000 50,000 30,000 9,087 5,000 2,911 97,000 20,000 36,834 70,169 34,000 4,851 9,000 18,136 7,870 14,000 42,000 LATEST MARKET CLOSING FIGURES Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 8 BUSINESS DJIA WORLD INDICES 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 McdonaldвЂ™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 93.04 47.89 106.49 25.65 85.94 111.63 92.22 61.81 47.35 160.49 32.03 42.28 33.82 58.74 37.01 93.79 262.61 28.22 102.71 116.63 93.66 128.15 92.93 166.49 193.64 102.59 95.18 73.51 92.23 105.93 % Chg -0.65 0.48 0.89 0.12 0.91 -1.15 0.18 -0.20 0.70 1.25 0.28 0.79 0.83 -1.42 1.76 0.96 0.36 1.60 0.77 0.90 0.47 1.52 0.03 0.61 0.19 0.10 0.36 0.30 0.57 0.17 6,108,549 5,939,939 2,340,291 9,504,907 1,323,365 3,440,493 1,464,120 3,779,255 4,234,726 1,417,413 5,279,385 2,584,132 6,683,543 2,803,324 9,301,810 2,021,616 430,420 9,667,231 1,564,185 913,021 1,789,867 1,079,029 677,540 598,030 553,008 544,515 990,352 894,459 1,301,210 302,003 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 JamesвЂ™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 1,344.00 3,671.00 176.10 4,730.00 1,871.00 225.00 933.50 2,650.00 404.50 437.60 1,844.00 180.65 409.40 941.90 808.50 1,616.00 695.00 1,084.00 1,108.00 4,638.00 2,041.00 2,711.00 239.70 460.30 3,377.00 446.10 415.70 2,243.50 2,175.00 389.30 873.50 2,865.00 1,097.00 5,315.00 4,148.00 1,525.00 704.50 1,589.00 1,183.00 189.70 6,515.00 917.20 1,057.00 514.00 480.80 2,247.00 76.77 245.20 1,173.00 330.40 3,405.00 212.60 338.10 470.40 2,353.00 2,611.00 2,880.00 1,254.00 611.70 1,010.00 613.00 296.95 1,389.50 345.80 278.60 371.50 715.50 1,096.00 1,656.00 460.20 291.90 1,849.50 1,515.00 1,105.00 1,242.00 277.00 2,820.00 1,093.00 1,638.00 1,779.00 410.90 0.00 778.00 3,527.50 413.20 1,368.00 884.80 240.20 470.70 1,069.00 491.90 4,588.00 3,217.00 1,172.00 971.00 738.50 1,170.00 1,538.00 1,342.00 433.80 452.00 0.00 % Chg 1.20 0.55 -0.06 0.96 -1.78 0.00 1.25 0.80 -4.64 0.00 1.10 -2.56 -0.02 1.61 1.00 -0.49 0.22 1.12 1.74 0.19 1.24 0.74 -0.04 0.59 0.06 -0.78 0.48 0.94 0.23 0.15 0.34 -0.24 1.76 0.66 -6.39 0.83 -2.49 0.76 0.17 0.74 0.31 0.57 -0.19 0.49 1.01 1.67 0.80 1.07 1.56 1.91 1.61 1.29 0.77 0.30 -0.08 1.24 0.81 0.56 0.69 0.80 0.49 -0.32 -0.18 0.67 0.98 -0.30 -3.18 0.74 0.24 -0.30 1.07 0.79 -0.53 1.75 0.65 1.58 0.36 1.58 1.05 1.08 1.51 0.00 1.37 0.77 0.05 -0.69 -1.83 1.05 1.73 1.33 -0.63 0.50 0.72 1.12 -0.05 -0.81 -1.93 0.07 2.52 1.05 0.71 0.00 Volume 1,632,317 188,842 5,708,830 216,412 671,163 17,942,670 1,050,283 1,161,160 6,785,364 287,242 25,584,913 1,687,251 2,483,589 480,231 1,334,196 669,509 479,330 1,206,266 746,149 347,263 384,015 4,621,780 2,296,829 670,315 1,651,924 1,190,953 3,756,304 3,451,306 3,121,962 2,127,218 1,978,231 1,449,166 507,659 484,533 1,194,251 2,393,245 479,304 1,898,670 4,857,078 230,807 3,544,571 969,691 1,485,209 4,756,001 241,982 48,105,958 7,816,244 900,611 2,635,695 173,765 3,240,132 1,991,851 3,968,173 247,372 320,987 847,704 1,171,203 5,937,798 365,519 719,426 11,460,023 4,470,279 1,057,676 4,455,014 1,351,482 797,626 1,176,197 563,364 1,441,459 1,769,423 1,515,849 749,107 1,202,144 305,492 8,884,232 879,515 1,489,783 267,268 297,641 5,576,422 1,416,483 1,002,766 21,161,187 5,658,901 4,668,497 11,893,910 3,000,543 557,314 2,922,726 1,094,698 322,107 852,644 1,769,722 1,722,466 2,241,142 833,567 353,149 1,958,673 696,409 - TOKYO 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 1,387.00 2,290.50 1,588.50 1,537.50 3,405.50 4,351.50 937.50 1,090.50 477.00 7,896.00 599.20 4,707.00 5,059.00 1,707.50 4,734.00 1,686.50 3,625.50 1,698.50 480.50 % Chg 5.16 0.39 -0.19 1.69 -0.13 -0.97 0.59 1.11 0.00 -0.75 -0.63 0.81 1.16 0.29 1.15 -0.18 0.39 0.86 6.45 Indices Volume Volume 8,274,500 1,326,300 2,588,100 2,690,300 7,406,600 2,496,400 7,488,000 4,934,000 6,410,000 1,101,300 7,917,700 1,906,900 2,078,500 4,636,500 1,851,200 2,846,900 3,097,300 3,052,900 36,496,300 Lt Price Change 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 17,899.78 2,070.27 4,771.23 14,442.26 42,751.48 49,330.07 6,573.00 4,251.15 9,858.68 10,357.30 +94.98 -0.38 +5.85 -26.00 +221.59 -320.91 +27.73 +9.50 +71.72 -6.30 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 17,635.14 1,413.05 23,408.57 5,414.09 1,117.38 27,701.79 8,324.00 3,330.96 22,890.60 5,125.77 +13.74 +3.44 +291.94 +101.35 +2.76 +329.95 +98.80 +51.43 +356.90 -18.85 TOKYO 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 4,281.50 604.00 310.10 0.00 208.00 2,700.00 1,828.50 1,532.00 31,875.00 2,758.50 1,800.00 7,902.00 907.50 509.10 1,453.50 8,071.00 357.00 665.00 1,439.00 266.00 2,470.00 7,380.00 54,060.00 5,678.00 20,100.00 7,680.00 5,613.00 12,990.00 6,706.00 681.90 1,056.50 7,535.00 3,581.00 3,656.50 1,694.00 4,174.50 3,989.50 1,242.00 1,101.00 12,655.00 1,272.50 715.70 1,600.00 9,086.00 1,230.00 2,180.00 1,181.50 669.80 607.80 466.00 4,328.00 659.10 202.50 1,551.50 974.30 712.00 3,091.00 2,879.50 1,883.00 3,893.50 1,476.50 3,323.50 2,581.50 4,227.50 9,032.00 5,682.00 17,920.00 297.70 6,289.00 7,930.00 1,799.50 457.00 1,412.00 1,206.00 1,425.00 1,256.00 640.50 7,020.00 386.00 44,525.00 7,427.00 % Chg -1.01 1.00 0.55 0.00 1.46 0.71 0.63 0.62 0.46 -0.24 2.21 -0.63 0.28 1.05 0.03 -1.14 0.28 -0.09 -0.24 1.14 0.96 0.41 0.35 -0.28 -1.45 -0.90 -1.04 0.70 0.37 -0.47 0.71 -0.36 0.01 -0.80 -0.18 3.23 1.82 -0.12 1.19 0.12 1.64 3.44 3.39 -0.33 1.74 1.61 0.00 -0.98 -1.27 0.45 0.08 -0.57 0.20 0.94 0.15 0.69 2.22 0.77 1.18 -0.56 0.03 2.10 0.58 1.74 -0.20 -0.84 -0.42 -0.20 0.03 -0.20 1.35 -0.44 -0.67 0.00 -0.42 -0.08 -0.53 0.47 2.39 -0.46 0.76 Volume 3,050,100 4,446,000 32,227,000 31,829,000 2,548,200 3,458,000 2,974,500 131,000 3,257,500 4,231,000 793,800 14,378,000 21,808,000 5,860,000 1,342,300 14,117,000 10,930,000 6,262,000 23,538,000 5,434,200 1,134,500 112,800 1,509,800 971,700 395,700 1,082,000 934,000 1,236,500 14,819,000 9,899,400 9,169,100 4,146,600 1,295,800 2,929,900 1,983,500 4,745,300 2,534,800 2,738,000 520,900 5,367,900 14,588,100 13,532,500 503,300 5,709,800 5,282,200 4,746,100 43,324,300 10,471,800 15,383,000 5,387,300 3,547,000 128,185,700 5,958,200 9,157,000 17,064,200 2,177,500 1,639,900 4,813,100 2,857,100 2,749,400 6,733,000 5,466,000 3,688,000 909,500 702,300 358,200 16,027,000 1,733,600 2,133,200 6,195,000 22,017,700 1,708,000 5,069,800 1,353,500 2,246,600 7,032,000 696,400 8,209,600 418,400 6,592,000 SENSEX 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. ReddyвЂ™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 377.95 555.15 2,517.00 2,594.45 404.05 84.15 494.70 2,513.40 814.50 307.70 210.85 904.90 223.35 136.85 357.55 139.00 145.50 3,393.50 1,265.40 1,441.20 1,524.20 1,257.95 145.50 374.10 1,999.60 777.95 157.15 359.20 1,146.30 767.85 155.80 3,114.30 963.70 1,588.50 3,418.30 446.90 3,237.90 133.65 390.35 618.25 248.70 348.80 655.25 265.95 1,055.40 2,477.30 498.30 745.55 228.85 1,383.50 % Chg -0.81 0.84 0.75 0.58 -0.35 0.90 1.81 0.11 0.82 1.17 1.25 0.48 -0.31 0.77 2.32 2.58 3.45 1.02 3.53 1.63 -0.71 1.75 6.20 1.44 0.05 0.95 1.06 0.90 2.81 1.68 -1.27 1.31 2.36 -0.04 1.26 2.71 1.20 1.25 3.82 -0.11 3.43 1.66 0.23 2.66 1.44 0.15 1.64 1.71 1.64 0.22 Volume 1,300,524 1,655,573 68,629 360,350 3,721,156 3,570,089 3,382,738 862,357 1,517,024 12,984,945 5,890,435 2,113,245 4,393,905 2,244,652 3,051,732 9,640,953 4,057,528 219,366 506,394 416,485 992,443 743,136 8,753,349 11,564,631 3,121,289 526,595 2,811,375 9,468,753 1,974,664 1,006,726 5,073,143 231,632 2,230,126 429,187 79,262 2,064,510 274,077 14,635,896 4,065,704 818,379 2,224,630 3,336,943 575,102 4,897,156 684,771 311,628 3,010,041 1,105,089 1,740,929 359,850 The euro yesterday rose to $1.2254 after sliding as low as $1.2220 in earlier Asian deals, matching FridayвЂ™s two-year trough that was reached as the Federal Reserve signalled it may raise US interest rates in the middle of 2015. Europe stocks rise on modest oil recovery AFP London E uropeвЂ™s main stock markets rose strongly yesterday in a renewed вЂњSanta rallyвЂќ powered by a modest recovery in oil prices early in the day, dealers said. LondonвЂ™s benchmark FTSE 100 index climbed 0.48% to 6,576.76 points, the Paris CAC 40 added 0.30% to 4,254.43, and in Frankfurt the DAX 30 rose 0.81% to 9,865.76. The euro rose to $1.2254 after sliding as low as $1.2220 in earlier Asian deals, matching FridayвЂ™s two-year trough that was reached as the Federal Reserve signalled it may raise US interest rates in the middle of 2015. вЂњFor the moment many of the worldwide indices have chosen to side with Santa, and have continued to rally despite oilвЂ™s renewed slip,вЂќ said Spreadex trader Connor Campbell. Oil prices rebounded modestly in early trade, but later turned down. LondonвЂ™s Brent crude for February delivery shed $1.35 to $60.03 per bar- rel in late trading, and US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February fell $1.68 to $55.45 a barrel. Oil prices had rebounded on Friday, wiping out losses earlier last week that saw prices hit fresh п¬Ѓve-year lows on the back of ample supplies and mounting demand worries. Oil has however shed about half its value since June, and a decision in November by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) to maintain output levels despite falling prices has weighed heavily on the market. Trading volumes meanwhile remained low with many investors away from their desks for the traditional Christmas and New Year holiday shutdown. The Frankfurt stock market closes for Christmas at the end of trading today, while London and Paris will shut down at lunchtime tomorrow. вЂњAs we head towards the Christmas break and a short week, the main focus going forward is likely to remain on the recent volatility in the oil price, particularly if we get a fresh bout of selling HONG KONG HONG KONG 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 pressure,вЂќ said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson. He added there were widespread concerns that further oil market declines вЂњcould prompt instability in oilproducing countries like Venezuela, Angola, Nigeria and Ecuador, and of course not forgetting Russia, as these countries struggle to balance their books, against a weakening currency, and a much weaker oil price.вЂќ Wall Street stocks were mostly higher ahead of a heavy day of economic data releases today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.45% to 17,885.33 points in midday trading. The broad-based S&P 500 edged down 0.02% to 2,070.32, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.08% to 4,768.99. Investors were looking ahead to todayвЂ™s economic reports, which include the third estimate of third-quarter gross domestic product and durable goods orders for November. On the London Bullion Market, gold slid to $1,195.25 per ounce from $1,195.50 on Friday. Lt Price 3.63 30.40 4.33 7.03 8.62 25.55 16.84 129.70 4.98 6.33 28.30 26.05 91.95 21.45 6.30 16.10 19.36 20.40 23.45 10.46 13.26 66.50 10.62 10.94 8.75 3.50 21.55 128.30 52.40 % Chg 1.11 0.83 3.84 3.38 1.41 2.40 1.32 0.15 4.62 3.43 1.80 1.96 1.88 0.00 3.45 4.82 2.54 1.24 5.39 -0.38 -0.75 1.53 4.94 0.55 -0.46 -1.96 0.94 0.47 1.16 Volume 37,533,010 1,778,541 669,404,320 73,538,823 14,220,900 11,600,617 2,421,615 2,099,679 35,692,531 547,267,592 53,449,608 2,769,144 20,460,715 29,457,936 240,958,789 4,646,802 9,608,313 11,168,000 38,994,669 46,572,007 12,962,191 2,164,484 149,177,373 5,745,401 1,612,795 7,623,000 3,122,414 773,059 3,775,356 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 17.40 172.00 74.10 90.35 5.55 7.14 31.70 8.80 8.72 77.00 74.05 12.18 115.80 99.95 113.00 55.30 % Chg 0.81 0.76 0.95 0.39 3.35 -2.19 1.12 0.23 4.06 3.49 0.41 0.83 2.21 0.25 -2.33 0.73 Volume 7,945,487 3,318,344 9,622,131 4,559,893 517,642,737 44,230,509 3,025,731 15,354,160 212,811,249 40,923,891 1,428,236 4,145,187 9,403,346 936,802 27,797,504 3,021,928 GCC INDICES Indices Doha Securities Market Saudi Tadawul Kuwait Stocks Exchange Bahrain Stock Exchage Oman Stock Market Abudhabi Stock Market Dubai Financial Market Lt Price 12,421.22 8,546.88 6,502.98 1,405.78 6,219.28 4,478.48 3,851.87 Change +391.63 +21.49 +70.33 -4.08 +221.01 -38.17 +86.52 вЂњInformation 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.вЂќ CURRENCIES DOLLAR QATAR RIYAL SAUDI RIYAL UAE DIRHAMS BAHRAINI DINAR KUWAITI DINAR 14 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 BUSINESS UK to extend Libor manipulation laws to cover gold, oil and silver Draghi starts squaring QE circle in persuasion month Bloomberg Frankfurt M ario Draghi has one month to win consensus on quantitative easing by reassuring those worried the European Central Bank risks losing its own money. As officials prepare to consider sovereign-bond purchases on January 22, the ECB president is working to get as many policy makers and as much of the public on his side as possible. One concession being debated is to require national central banks to be responsible for at least some of their own credit risk, according to people familiar with the talks. DraghiвЂ™s chief mission in the next 31 days will be to counter arguments that a QE package designed to revive inп¬‚ation will instead see the ECB loading up with junk assets at high prices to bail out negligent governments. While he might never convince more vocal opponents such as Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann, he can strengthen his position by crafting a programme that addresses the concerns of doubters. вЂњIn case of sovereign QE, itвЂ™ll be difп¬Ѓcult to square the circle to make everybody happy,вЂќ said Marco Valli, an economist at UniCredit in Milan. вЂњBut they are trying to make it as consensual as possible, bringing on board some of the smaller states. It would be important for the credibility of any sovereign QE program to reduce dissent as much as possible.вЂќ Weidmann has argued that aside from the question of whether government bond purchases are legal, thereвЂ™s no need for more action now. He has said a slump in oil prices will provide a вЂњmini-stimulusвЂќ to the economy. Yet the same slide is proving a concern for Draghi because of the risk that it feeds through into inп¬‚ation expectations and tips the euro area into a deп¬‚ationary spiral. The ECB wants to prevent a вЂњdangerous vicious circle of declining prices, rising real wage costs, falling proп¬Ѓts, shrinking demand and further declining prices,вЂќ Vice President Vitor Constancio said in an interview with Wirt- ECB president Mario DraghiвЂ™s chief mission in the next 31 days will be to counter arguments that a QE package designed to revive inflation will instead see the ECB loading up with junk assets at high prices to bail out negligent governments. schaftswoche published on December 20. Not responding in defence of its mandate to keep prices stable вЂњwould be illegal,вЂќ Draghi said on December 4 after strengthening the Governing CouncilвЂ™s official statement to say stimulus is intended to expand the ECBвЂ™s balance sheet by as much as в‚¬1tn ($1.2tn). In a preview of the disagreements he might face, that change вЂ” the council previously said stimulus was вЂњexpectedвЂќ to boost the balance sheet вЂ” was opposed by a quarter of the 24 policy makers, including half the six-person Executive Board. While some of those opponents are still likely to support QE, reservations remain on how it would gel with government reforms, risk distribution, and an EU ban on monetary п¬Ѓnancing. вЂњWe need to design a solution in a way that mitigates the concerns of as many people around the table as possible,вЂќ Executive Board member Benoit Coeure told the Wall Street Journal last week, according to an ECB transcript. вЂњNo instrument is perfect.вЂќ One example of how Draghi can steer policy makers towards a compromise, if not unanimity, is the Outright Monetary Transactions bond-buying plan announced in 2012. The Italian managed to limit the number of opponents to just one, Weidmann, by agreeing to concessions such as the maturities of bonds to be bought and purchasing pauses during reviews. OMT, which has never been used, still came under legal scrutiny. GermanyвЂ™s Constitutional Court said the ECB overstepped its authority and asked the EUвЂ™s highest tribunal to decide on its legality. A non-binding opinion will be published on January 14, with a ruling four to six months later. That may spur policy makers to narrow the liability for national central banks this time, according to Anatoli Annenkov, senior economist at Societe Generale in London. вЂњWe expect measures to limit credit risk,вЂќ he said. Options range вЂњfrom Basel watchdog wants standardised assessment of banksвЂ™ capital Reuters London Global regulators have outlined measures to ensure capital held by banks does not fall below a certain level and to adopt a more consistent approach across the industry to measuring risk. Regulators on the Basel Committee, which sets rules for the industry worldwide, are concerned that inconsistencies in the way big banks calculate the size of their capital buffers undermines investor confidence in their capital ratios, a key measure of lendersвЂ™ financial health. They are also seeking to avoid any repeat of the 2007-09 financial crisis which saw under-capitalised lenders being rescued by taxpayers. The regulators are proposing a standardised approach to assessing risk and a stricter вЂњfloorвЂќ on the capital which banks must hold. вЂњThe CommitteeвЂ™s proposed floor would ensure that the level of capital across the banking system does not fall below a certain level,вЂќ it said in a statement yesterday. However, it said it had yet to determine where that floor would be set. The Committee also wants to standardise the methodology used by big banks to apportion risk weightings to different assets they hold. It said the proposals would reduce risks associated with banks basing their calculations on internal models, and make it easier to compare the capital strength of banks. The measures would also reduce reliance on external credit ratings when assessing risk and instead be based on a bankвЂ™s capital strength and the quality of its assets. The Committee is proposing a tightening of the criteria required for consumer-facing banks to qualify for preferential treatment when apportioning risk weightings to assets. Home loans would no longer receive a 35% risk weighting. Instead they would be weighted based upon the size of the loan compared with the value of the property and the borrowerвЂ™s level of debt. The Committee published a consultation paper yesterday and has given banks and other interested parties until March 27 to respond. Regulators in Britain and the US have criticised BaselвЂ™s rules for being too complex and have put greater emphasis on blunter restraints on banks such as the leverage ratio, a measure of capital that disregards levels of risk. The reforms are unlikely to take effect before 2019, when changes already made to bank capital rules have been fully implemented. Reuters London buying only the highest-rated bonds, to letting national central banks keep the credit risk on their own balance sheets, and/or maintaining senior status in case of a debt restructuring,вЂќ he said. Other considerations may include limits on purchases relative to each nationвЂ™s outstanding debt and the size of its economy. Central banks in countries such as Greece and Portugal could be required to set aside extra money or provisions to cover potential losses, Reuters reported on December 19, citing unidentiп¬Ѓed officials. In a sign Draghi may also be reaching out beyond policy makers, he was due to give a rare interview to Handelsblatt this month. The article has yet to be published. Draghi still faces stiff resistance from German politicians. вЂњIвЂ™m not convinced of the need for a large-scale government-bond purchase program,вЂќ Norbert Barthle, the senior budget lawmaker in German Chancellor Angela MerkelвЂ™s coalition, said in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published yesterday. The euro area, which expands to 19 member states when Lithuania joins on January 1, lacks a common, riskfree asset such as the US Treasuries the Federal Reserve bought in its QE programme. That leaves the ECB looking at a hodge-podge of covered bonds and asset-backed securities, which it started buying this year, or corporate bonds and government-agency debt, which some policy makers have said are possible targets. Should officials decide that size matters in convincing investors though, government bonds offer by far the largest and most liquid debt market. More than 6tn euros of sovereign assets are eligible at the ECB as collateral, and so probably for any purchase programme. вЂњOur base case assumes that Mr Draghi will implement sovereign QE boldly,вЂќ said Huw Pill, chief European economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc in London. вЂњBut we entertain a variant scenario where Mr Draghi seeks compromise with the QE-sceptics. Such a compromise has the potential to disappoint markets.вЂќ Britain will widen the scope of laws which make the manipulation of market benchmarks a criminal offence to include seven more rates covering the currency, gold, oil and silver markets by April 1, the government said yesterday. The move is the latest by the Conservative-led government to clamp down on malpractice in the City of London whose reputation has been tarnished by an interest rate-rigging scandal and claims that traders colluded to manipulate currency rates. вЂњEnsuring that the key rates that underpin financial markets here and around the world are robust, and that anyone who seeks to manipulate them is subject to the full force of the law, is an important part of our long-term economic plan,вЂќ finance minister George Osborne said in a statement. Under the law, people found guilty of manipulation can be handed jail sentences of up to seven years Under the law, people found guilty of manipulation can be handed jail sentences of up to seven years. It was originally introduced to cover the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) market after a global manipulation scandal which resulted in banks being fined billions of dollars. The finance ministry said seven benchmarks including the WM/ Reuters 4pm London fix вЂ” the dominant global benchmark in the $5.3tn-a-day currency market вЂ” would be subject to the law, pending a consultation by BritainвЂ™s financial watchdog. The European Union has criminalised the rigging of financial market benchmarks after the Libor scandal, but those laws will not take effect until 2016. A former trader from RBS was arrested on Friday in connection with a criminal investigation into allegations that bank traders tried to manipulate currency markets. Dutch insurer п¬Ѓned over using conп¬Ѓdential info AFP Amsterdam T he Dutch central bank slapped a multimillion-euro п¬Ѓne on insurer Delta Lloyd yesterday and ordered it to dismiss its chief п¬Ѓnancial officer for proп¬Ѓting from conп¬Ѓdential information. The DNB п¬Ѓned Delta Lloyd в‚¬22.8mn ($27.9mn) after it in mid-2012 allegedly used conп¬Ѓdential information to cut back on interest rate risk hedges, a week before the DNB announced it was making changes in interest rate calculations on insurance liabilities. Delta Lloyd вЂњcarried out transactions based on conп¬Ѓdential information and thereby gained п¬Ѓnancially,вЂќ the Amsterdam-based DNB said in a statement. The DNB imposed a в‚¬1.2mn п¬Ѓne plus ordered it to pay в‚¬21.6mn it said Delta Lloyd made as a result. вЂњThe DNB also conп¬Ѓrms that it has asked Delta Lloyd to dismiss its chief п¬Ѓnancial officer,вЂќ the central bank said. But Delta Lloyd said it would appeal the п¬Ѓne in court. Tesco masterplan? New boss keeps investors and staff guessing Reuters London W The new Tesco CEO Dave Lewis вЂ” despite having no retail experience вЂ” is keeping management on a tight rein and personally taking charge of key areas of the business, sources say. hen Phil Clarke was sacked as TescoвЂ™s CEO, senior executives hoped his 0700 strategy meetings would go with him. They did вЂ” new boss Dave Lewis starts his at 0630. Parachuted in from Unilever in September, Lewis soon faced the task of making the shock announcement that a ВЈ250mn ($391mn) hole had been found in TescoвЂ™s proп¬Ѓts, in an accounting scandal that led to the departure of several senior executives. Now the CEO вЂ” despite having no direct retail experience вЂ” is keeping management on a tight rein and personally taking charge of key areas of the business, sources say. And as he conducts a vast review of TescoвЂ™s operations to come up with a strategy to revive its fortunes, he is giving little away вЂ” even to insiders. The 49-year-old has promised to give some details on January 8 about the measures he plans to take, but all the contents of his blueprint have not yet even been seen by senior management at the п¬Ѓrm, according to a source close to the situation. In fact the only member of the leadership team to be consulted on the new strategy is another new- comer to the п¬Ѓrm, chief п¬Ѓnancial ofп¬Ѓcer Alan Stewart, the source said. Key internal talks around п¬Ѓnancials, customer issues and products have been kept to separate teams, with all big decisions taken by Lewis and Stewart, the former п¬Ѓnance chief at Marks & Spencer. вЂњHe tends to operate keeping everything compartmentalised, so he keeps his own counsel on the masterplan,вЂќ said the source, who did not wish to be named. вЂњHe doesnвЂ™t have a core п¬Ѓve or six people that he discusses everything with.вЂќ Tesco declined to comment for this story. Lewis arrived in the worst crisis in the grocerвЂ™s 95-year history. Nicknamed вЂњDrastic DaveвЂќ after п¬Ѓxing units of Unilever with cost cuts and innovative marketing, he will have to show similar resolve to improve TescoвЂ™s competitiveness and strengthen the balance sheet of the п¬Ѓrm which issued its fourth proп¬Ѓt warning in п¬Ѓve months two weeks ago. After two decades of growth, Tesco has lost its way вЂ” distracted by an expensive overseas expansion strategy when it needed to respond to the rise of discount grocers; and wrong-footed by a boom in convenience stores and online shopping. Lewis has said there is no quick п¬Ѓx, and favours steady customer-focused improvements. Price cuts, major asset disposals and a cash call to п¬Ѓx creaking п¬Ѓnances are all options. His decision to take over temporarily the day-to-day leadership of the UK operation вЂ” whose boss left after the accounting scandal вЂ” is illustrative of his hands-on approach, punctuated by e-mails п¬Ѓred off to staff around the clock. Earlier this month, according to an industry source, he personally took charge of meetings with TescoвЂ™s top 25 suppliers, instead of newly promoted commercial director Jason Tarry, to the surprise of some attendees. Incorrectly booking payments from suppliers was at the centre of the accounting debacle, which is being investigated by BritainвЂ™s accounting watchdog and Serious Fraud Office. With TescoвЂ™s share price having halved in a year, the spotlight is on what it must do to revitalise a business still the UK market leader but now steadily losing share. However, company insiders say challenges also lie much closer to Lewis at his head office in Cheshunt, north of London. During ClarkeвЂ™s disastrous threeyear-and-a-half year tenure, TescoвЂ™s management talent pool was irresponsibly reduced, according to former company directors. Lewis now heads a team depleted further still by suspensions and exits, and retaining talent could be a difficult task. вЂњHim keeping ... everyone sort of slightly in the dark feeds uncertainty. Nobody is quite sure whether they are in the gang or not,вЂќ the source close to the situation said. Investors will hope that in his January 8 update Lewis will ditch the corporate jargon which вЂ” despite an army of PR advisors вЂ” has proved a hindrance both internally and externally. The Financial Times this month ran a вЂњDave Lewis jargon-busterвЂќ to help readers decipher phrases such as вЂњrebasing relationships with suppliersвЂќ. Analysts, drawing parallels with TescoвЂ™s current plight, say when Lewis returned to Unilever UK in 2005 it was suffering from declining market share, had an uncompetitive cost base and a weak image with customers. Nine years on, itвЂ™s revitalised. One unnamed former UK Tesco director, who knows Lewis, said he was a вЂњformidableвЂќ п¬Ѓghter. вЂњI think heвЂ™s getting a good grip of things and I think heвЂ™ll do a decent job,вЂќ he told Reuters. вЂњThe big issue is how he sets his stall out for the next two to three years, not the current focus on proп¬Ѓts.вЂќ Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 15 BUSINESS Google challenges Amazon with same-day deliveries during holiday Bloomberg San Francisco Google Inc is gaining ground in the market for same-day package deliveries, stepping up competition with Amazon. com, EBay and a host of startups during the busy holiday shopping season. The service, called Google Express and available in big US cities, handled 50% more toys in the two weeks after the Thanksgiving holiday, the peak of the year-end shopping season. Sales of books rose more than 30%, according to Google. вЂњIt saved me from having to run an errand myself,вЂќ said Aimee LaFont Leifer, a resident of San Francisco who used Google Express to order gifts, including a Lego brick set, for a charity event earlier this month. вЂњIt was good to be able to just keep working.вЂќ As more people shop on the Web and on their mobile devices, theyвЂ™re bypassing Google and going straight to Amazon and other online retailers to find merchandise, robbing Google of an opportunity to make money by showing advertisements alongside search results. The portion of shoppers who used Amazon to begin their search for online purchases doubled in the third quarter to 39% from 2009, according to Forrester Research Inc. вЂњMore consumers are shopping on-thego вЂ” they have more options,вЂќ said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W Baird & Co, who estimates that 30% to 40% of GoogleвЂ™s core search business вЂ” which makes up more than half of the companyвЂ™s annual revenue of about $60bn вЂ” is tied to e-commerce. вЂњGoogle needs to defend its turf.вЂќ Google Express, which debuted as a free test feature last year, now looks more like a permanent endeavour. Three new cities вЂ” Chicago, Boston and Washington вЂ” were added in October on top of the existing areas of San Francisco/Northern California, New York and Los Angeles. Google also started charging shoppers $95 a year or $10 a month for unlimited deliveries or $4.99 per eligible order. Same-day or overnight shipping for orders of more than $15 is free for members. In San Francisco and Silicon Valley, home of GoogleвЂ™s Mountain View, California, headquarters, white cars adorned with the Google Express umbrella logo can be seen parked outside shops and buildings. Google added more than 15 new merchants to the service in the past few months, including PetSmart Inc and 1-800-Flowers.com Inc, bringing the total to about 40. Target Corp, Costco Wholesale Corp and Staples Inc also sell goods via Google Express. вЂњWe continue to demonstrate how weвЂ™re going to make it scale,вЂќ said Brian Elliott, a business development manager at Google. вЂњThereвЂ™s a very strong commitment behind that today.вЂќ Eric Schmidt, GoogleвЂ™s executive chairman and former chief executive officer, has said that Seattle-based Amazon is GoogleвЂ™s biggest competitor in search because many consumers visit the ecommerce service first when they want to buy items. Amazon has wooed consumers with millions of products and its Prime service that gives users two-day shipping and access to digital content for $99 a year. The Web retailer has also been expanding delivery services, including same-day service for groceries in some cities. Last week, Amazon began offering a one-hour package service in Manhattan, covering tens of thousands of household goods. Amazon said it will expand the service to more cities in 2015. Kelly Cheeseman, a spokeswoman for Amazon, didnвЂ™t respond to requests for comment. As more people shop at home, the total US delivery market is projected to expand 12% to $82bn in 2016, according to Satish Jindel, president of SJ Consulting Group Inc, a research firm in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. Consumers are also demanding speedier deliveries, according to Joshua Hubbard, an industry consultant at AlixPartners LLP. Just 35% of consumers are willing to wait a full week for free deliveries, down from 50% two years ago, a survey by the firm found earlier this year. вЂњPeople are more and more comfortable buying online, and much of the purchasing is delivered,вЂќ Hubbard said. EBay has also rolled out a delivery service promising merchandise in as little as two hours. Called EBay Now, itвЂ™s debuted in several cities, including Boston, New York and Los Angeles. Startups are also eyeing the quick delivery space. Instacart Inc lets consumers order groceries, which are picked up and delivered by a shopper hired by the company. Postmates Inc offers goods from shops and restaurants in more than 15 cities. The San Francisco-based company, which has done more than 1mn deliveries, is counting on quick shipments of less than an hour to help it stand out in the market, according to CEO Bastian Lehmann. вЂњYou pay for having access to a product within minutes,вЂќ Lehmann said. вЂњThat really is the appealing thing. You press a button and a couple of minutes later, a MacBook arrives.вЂќ Guitar Center Inc, a Google Express partner, is seeing purchases of lighter products such as guitar strings or keyboard stands. Instruments are still usually bought in stores, according to Jeff Wisot, the retailerвЂ™s vice president of enterprise digital marketing. вЂњWeвЂ™re very motivated to offer our customers as many options as we can,вЂќ Wisot said. вЂњFor a company to build it internally, it would be pretty expensive.вЂќ Google has the technology to make deliveries more efficient, using mapping data to help route drivers in the fastest way possible, according to Elliott. вЂњWhat weвЂ™re doing pretty successfully is proving to retailers that we can help them drive more sales to their existing customers.вЂќ Elliott said. Sydney shopping spree helps brighten Australian gloom Bloomberg Sydney A ustraliaвЂ™s two-speed economy is back вЂ” only this time Sydney is leading an east coast boom while mining states lag. AustraliaвЂ™s biggest city contributed 38% of the countryвЂ™s growth in the year through June, up from an average of 22% in the past 24 years, consultancy SGS Economics & Planning Pty said in a November 27 report. Companies such as retailer Dick Smith Holdings Ltd are making hay as data showed sales of homewares, electrical goods and garden supplies in New South Wales state surged in October by the most in 14 years. The conundrum for central bank governor Glenn Stevens is that recordlow interest rates designed to rebalance growth are too low for Sydney, where house prices have soared, and too high for the rest as mining investment falls, new jobs fail to keep pace with population growth and conп¬Ѓdence slides. As the brakes on growth override the drivers, two of AustraliaвЂ™s four major lenders forecast policy makers will cut the benchmark rate next year, having held it at 2.5% for 16 months. вЂњSydney has been the epicenter of residential investment that has driven up house prices and provided a wealth effect,вЂќ said Stephen Walters, JPMorgan Chase & CoвЂ™s Sydney-based chief economist for Australia. вЂњElsewhere, households are suffering income compression as falling terms of trade suppress wages and squeeze the budget, requiring beneп¬Ѓt cuts and tax increases.вЂќ ThatвЂ™s a reverse from the peak of the resource boom in 2010-11 when Stevens ran developed-world high interest rates as AustraliaвЂ™s north and west vacuumed up labour to build mines, while the south and east, including Sydney, stagnated. Challenged over tight monetary policy at the time, the governor said the Reserve Bank of Australia had to set rates on an aggregate basis for the economy. Government data released this month showed that every Australian state shrank or stagnated last quarter in п¬Ѓnal demand terms, which exclude exports, apart from New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital. Mining powerhouse Western Australia contracted 2% while manufacturing hub Victoria dropped 1.6%. вЂњSydneyвЂ™s role as a major п¬Ѓnancial hub has also provided access to global capital п¬‚owsвЂќ as markets over the past few years Row of houses are seen in the Millers Point district of Sydney as Lend Lease GroupвЂ™s Barangaroo South redevelopment stands under construction. Sydney has led the housing boom with prices up 13.2% in November from a year earlier, according to CoreLogic RP DataвЂ™s home value index. have been вЂњп¬‚ooded with liquidity,вЂќ Terry Rawnsley, an economist at SGS, said in the report. вЂњThe strong growth in SydneyвЂ™s largest industry and low interest rates helped support growth.вЂќ The divergent trends in the national economy have prompted a split in economistsвЂ™ forecasts. Seven are predicting the RBAвЂ™s board will cut rates to a new record low in 2015, nine are forecasting increases and 11 see unchanged borrowing costs. Traders are pricing in at least one 25 basis-point rate cut in the next 12 months, swaps data compiled by Credit Suisse Group show. The economists predicting rate cuts highlight the falling terms of trade, or export prices relative to import prices, as the price of iron ore plunges. They also predict unemployment, which is already at a 12-year high, will increase further. Data on employment by industry from November showed 44,200 mining jobs and 20,900 manufacturing positions have been lost from a year earlier. Over the same period, 58,700 construction jobs have been created as the RBAвЂ™s loose monetary policy boosts home prices and encourages residential building. Sydney has led the housing boom with prices up 13.2% in November from a year earlier, according to Planned Australian LNG projects threatened by energy price crash Reuters Melbourne/Singapore Planned Australian liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects, including the costly Scarborough floating vessel, are at risk as sinking energy prices make investments unviable, analysts said. A nearly 50% slump in Asian LNG prices this year has pressured any project without a Final Investment Decision (FID). Just last week, Woodside Petroleum Ltd delayed the FID for its $40bn Browse floating project with Royal Dutch Shell and BP. The next cab off that rank could be ExxonMobil and BHP BillitonвЂ™s $10bn Scarborough project. Scarborough will be вЂњcommercially challengingвЂќ to justify given a raft of competing LNG projects, said Noel Tomnay, global gas and LNG research head at Wood Mackenzie. вЂњChinaвЂ™s growing pains as well as slugs of LNG coming into the market: thatвЂ™s a fairly wicked combination. It would take a very brave soul to ignore the prevailing market.вЂќ BHP and ExxonMobil were not available for comment. The future for other Australian LNG projects without FID is also uncertain. GDF Suez and Santos are seeking alternatives for their Bonaparte floating project, Woodside has indefinitely delayed its Sunrise project, while Shell has yet to commit to its Arrow project where it has cut hundreds of positions. вЂњI suspect most people will be hunkering down and trying to get a real handle on how long and how far this situation will persist,вЂќ Origin Energy CEO Grant King said, referring to falling energy prices. Origin plans to start-up the $25bn Australia Pacific LNG project next year and has taken steps to shore up its cash position. For existing or under-construction projects, low prices mean smaller operating margins. CoreLogic RP DataвЂ™s home value index. Sales growth at Dick Smith, AustraliaвЂ™s largest own-store electrical goods retailer, is running about 4 percentage points higher in New South Wales than the rest of the country, according to David Cooke, director of investor relations and corporate affairs. Whether the state continues to outperform depends on several factors, he said. вЂњIf housing remains strong, yes,вЂќ Cooke said by phone. вЂњBut if housing comes off the boil a little bit, which there is some talk of, then maybe that 4-point differential might come down a bit.вЂќ Similarly, Ikea of Sweden AB plans to open its third store in Sydney next year with sales in New South Wales having climbed 9% in the period since September 1, the retailerвЂ™s country manager in Australia, David Hood, said in an interview. вЂњNew South Wales has been very strong for us,вЂќ he said. вЂњA buoyant housing market will generally be favourable to IkeaвЂќ no matter where it is in the world, Hood said. The strength of SydneyвЂ™s economy prompted the state government to last week revise up its budget forecast and predict a surplus for the п¬Ѓscal year that began July 1 from a June forecast of a deп¬Ѓcit, fuelled by a 12% rise in revenue from levies on home purchases. US existing home sales hit 6-mth low Reuters Washington U S home resales tumbled to a six-month low in November after two straight months of strong increases, underscoring the uneven nature of the housing market recovery. The National Association of Realtors said yesterday existing home sales dropped 6.1% to an annual rate of 4.93mn units, the lowest level since May. NovemberвЂ™s steep decline probably does not signal the start of a weakening trend and in part reп¬‚ected stubbornly low inventories, which touched an eight-month low, giving buyers limited options. Sales were up 2.1% from a year ago. вЂњThe report suggests that the housing market remains on a somewhat rocky footing as data remains quite choppy,вЂќ said Gennadiy Goldberg, an economist at TD Securities in New York. Housing has struggled to shift into higher gear after stagnating in the second half of 2013 in the wake of a jump in mortgage rates, which have since pulled back from their peaks. It has lagged an acceleration in economic activity as tepid wage growth, a shortage of properties available for sale and higher home prices sidelined п¬Ѓrst-time buyers. But there optimism that a broadening of job gains will translate into stronger wage growth in 2015 and stimulate demand for housing. Household formation, a key ingredient for a healthy housing market, is running at about 500,000 a year, well below the more than one million that is considered ideal. Economists polled by Reuters had expected sales to fall only to a 5.20mn unit pace. The dollar slipped against a basket of currencies after the report. US stocks held their gains, though the housing index was trading down 0.3%. Prices for US Treasury debt were little moved. First-time buyers are wading back into the market, accounting for 31% of transactions last month. That was the biggest share since October 2012 and was up from 29% in October. Economists and real estate agents say a share of 40% to 45% is required for a strong housing recovery. Natural gas tops commodity losers as inventory surplus emerges Bloomberg London N atural gas declined to the lowest in 16 months as mild weather and rising production left inventories above year-earlier levels for the п¬Ѓrst time since 2012. Futures fell as much as 5.7% to the lowest since August 13, 2013, making the fuel the worst performer among 22 raw materials in the Bloomberg Commodity Index. US temperatures were forecast to warm over the weekend and to be above normal in the early part of this week, forecaster MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland, said in e-mailed report December 19. Gas in storage sites in the week ended December 12 were 3.295tn cubic feet, 47bn more than a year earlier, government data showed. While Morgan Stanley says the surplus will widen to more than 150bn by the end of the month, JPMorgan Chase & Co says inventory surplus will вЂњballoon to just shy of 200bn cubic feetвЂќ by the start of 2015. вЂњSupply growth and mild weather returned working gas storage to a year-onyear surplus for the п¬Ѓrst time since December 2012,вЂќ Morgan Stanley analysts including New York- based Adam Longson said in a report e-mailed yesterday. That вЂњadds to nearterm downside risk.вЂќ Natural gas for next month fell to as low as $3.266 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange before trading at $3.278 per million Btu by 5:38am in New York. The volume of all futures traded was more than triple the 100-day average for the time of day. Prices have fallen 23% this year, heading for the biggest annual loss since 2011. While вЂњheadwindsвЂќ are set to persist though the end of the year, prices have the potential to rebound early 2015 as early weather forecasts point to the likelihood of colder weather, according to Morgan Stanley. вЂњWith managed money net positioning near two-year lows, the potential for cold weather to produce upside swings and volatility also increases,вЂќ Longson said. Colder changes to the weather forecasts in January mean gas inventories at the end of the season will be at 1.65tn cubic feet, JPMorgan analysts Scott Speaker and Shikha Chaturvedi said in a December 18 report emailed yesterday. An estimated 49% of US households use gas for heating, according to the Energy Information Administration, the Energy DepartmentвЂ™s statistical arm. Tuesday, December 23, 2014 BUSINESS GULF TIMES Flying back on course: the inside story of the new Airbus A350 jet New carbon jet competes with Boeing 787; earlier version of A350 failed to win over customers Reuters Paris T en years ago, the boss of Qatar Airways, who took his п¬Ѓrst new A350 jet yesterday, warned Airbus it was п¬‚ying off course. Boeing was knocking on his door with a вЂњsuper-efficientвЂќ jet boasting 30% fuel savings thanks to a carboncomposite design. In Toulouse, some Airbus engineers, riding high after overtaking Boeing and suspecting a short-lived marketing stunt, laughed off the future 787 with a вЂњtail like a dolphinвЂќ. Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker urged Airbus to take the 787 seriously and said its draft response, a quick п¬Ѓx to its A330 with new General Electric engines, was inadequate. As Qatar Airways planned for rapid regional and long-haul growth, alBaker recalls, вЂњthere was a requirement for an aircraft that has capacity that is optimal on two fronts: customer comfort and technologically forwardthinkingвЂќ. That clamour for both cabin comfort and better economics eventually forced Airbus into a fundamental shift in strategy. But after al-BakerвЂ™s warning, it took another two years of sales setbacks and doubts at the highest management level before Airbus agreed to build the A350 XWB to be delivered yesterday. That story is revealed here after interviews with customers, suppliers and industry sources. Airbus declined comment. The п¬‚uctuating, decade-long journey from half-hearted tinkering to an all-new family of jets highlights a chess game still being played out as Airbus and Boeing battle each other in the wide-body market, valued at $1.9tn over 20 years. Next month, the A350 will start competing with the 787 in the skies, having garnered 778 orders against 1,055 for the 787. To build the carbon-plastic jets, plane makers have tested themselves to the limit. But they have also carefully avoided a head-on collision, searching for pockets of empty space in the twinjet market by unveiling variants that rarely have precisely the same capacity as their competitorвЂ™s. Some analysts say that may help support their proп¬Ѓt margins, though as the A350вЂ™s story demonstrates, competition for sales is intense. вЂњI think they are now pretty well matched,вЂќ said Steven Udvar-Hazy, who as CEO of lessor ILFC at the time was the worldвЂ™s biggest buyer of commercial jets and would prove to be an important inп¬‚uence on the A350s development. A decade ago, air travel was changing. Planes with two engines were able to п¬‚y further, and proving more efficient than big jets with four engines. BoeingвЂ™s twin-engine 777 was beating AirbusвЂ™s four-engine A340 in the market for big planes, and AirbusвЂ™s huge four-engine A380, the biggest airliner ever, had yet to enter service. Airbus was strong in the market for small wide-body jets, doing well with its twin-engine A330. But fast-growing airlines like Qatar and Emirates were demanding more comfortable cabins with space to install new lie-п¬‚at beds. That might have suggested a new fuselage, a decision plane makers rarely take more than once every couple of decades. But Airbus was behind in new materials technology, focused on п¬Ѓnishing the A380, and hoarding resources to improve its most proп¬Ѓtable cash cow, the A320 small jet, in case Boeing refreshed its 737 model, people familiar with the matter said. When Boeing launched the mediumsized 787 to compete with the A330, Airbus responded defensively. ItвЂ™s answer, the A350, was basically an A330 with carbon wings and new engines, rather than a new plane. вЂњPeople were cringing at the time, saying it was inelegant or вЂ�how can you put a patch on a broken legвЂ™,вЂќ said Henri Courpron, chairman of Plane View Partners and former head of Airbus North America. Soon, Airbus customers in BoeingвЂ™s backyard, like Northwest Airlines and Air Canada, were writing cheques for 787s. Airbus found itself straining to compete with both п¬‚agship Boeings. In December 2005, pressure reached boiling point with two big Boeing wins. Qantas chose the 787; Cathay Paciп¬Ѓc picked the 777. An internal post-mortem on Qantas laid out the problem: the original A350 was вЂњreactionaryвЂќ and Airbus had lost credibility. Airbus chief executive Gustav Humbert called in his 43-year-old strategy chief Olivier Andries and gave him a delicate task. вЂњI asked him to take the best guys and set up a long-range policy team,вЂќ Humbert, who is now retired, told Reuters. Humbert urged him to consider whether Airbus could capture 50% of the big-jet market, up from 35-40%, by straddling the largest 787 and smallest 777: around 300 seats. вЂњI was encouraged to think outside the box ....about the whole long-range strategy,вЂќ said Andries, now chief executive of engine п¬Ѓrm Turbomeca. He declined to discuss details. Monitored by a team of retired вЂњWise Men,вЂќ the group of 10 drew up conп¬Ѓdential scenarios from makeovers to bold new jets. In March 2006, Udvar-Hazy, who now runs Air Lease, piled on pressure by urging Airbus to drop its cautious A350. вЂњWe looked at the economics and concluded it was not a contender in a meaningful way. So I felt it would get a silver medal and didnвЂ™t deserve to get built,вЂќ Udvar-Hazy told Reuters. In Toulouse, it was proving hard to make the business cases stick, but one proposal labelled вЂњ1dвЂќ looked promising. It dived deep into a plane makerвЂ™s armoury of wings, cockpit, cabin, engines and the all-important wider fuselage. It would cost about в‚¬11bn to build rather than the 4bn budgeted for the original A350, while setting Airbus up for 20 years with projected sales of 2,000 planes instead of 800. But it was still a step behind BoeingвЂ™s 787: the tube would be in metal rather than carbon. Meanwhile, an internal crisis cast a new shadow over the proposals. Delays to the A380 hit share prices in June 2006 and forced Humbert to resign. The Farnborough Airshow was looming and a divided board was not ready to commit to a new project. вЂњNo decision was taken to discontinue the original A350,вЂќ Andries said. вЂњMost senior executives at the time were against the Extra-Wide Body. Even in the summer of 2006 the decision was not secure.вЂќ Airbus nonetheless took the risk of presenting the concept at the July 2006 show. Even as it called the plane a вЂњstep ahead of the 787вЂќ it made little reference to the metal shell. HumbertвЂ™s replacement, aerospace outsider Christian Streiff, took top Airbus managers to a converted French abbey to reп¬‚ect. Over dinner, according to a person familiar with the event, he asked them to raise their hands if they thought Airbus should build the very plane they had publicised weeks earlier. Only a handful did, including sales chief John Leahy and Andries. Nevertheless, the engineers pressed on. Soon, they came up with a cost-effective way to make an all-carbon body assembled from panels, which they felt would be cheaper to build than the single giant piece in the Boeing 787. In December, 2006, the reversal was complete: the board approved the new, all-carbon A350XWB. Meanwhile, the battle of the air goes on. Whether Airbus can meet HumbertвЂ™s challenge of 50% wide-body market share depends partly on the success of BoeingвЂ™s latest move - a larger and upgraded 777, Udvar-Hazy said. The answer may lie in a drawer in Toulouse. Industry sources say HumbertвЂ™s planners drew up, but discarded, a variant for a larger version of its new jet called A350-1100. That could provide a clue to AirbusвЂ™s options next decade. Airbus to step up Qatar A350 deliveries; plays down A380 revamp Bloomberg, Reuters Dubai/Toulouse/London From left: Fabrice Bregier, CEO of Airbus Group; Akbar al-Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways Group; and Rolls-RoyceвЂ™s President of Aerospace Tony Wood, attend a press conference during the first delivery of the new Airbus A350 XWB passenger jet to Qatar Airways in Toulouse, southwestern France, yesterday. An air hostess poses inside of the first Airbus A350 XWB before a flight during its delivery to Qatar Airways, in Colomiers, Southern France, yesterday. Journalists sit aboard the A350, during an hour-flight over France yesterday. The Airbus A350 XWB stands on the tarmac during its delivery to Qatar Airways, in Toulouse. Airbus Group indicated it will bring forward deliveries of its newest A350 model to first customer Qatar Airways while playing down prospects for an early commitment to upgrading its flagship A380 superjumbo. A350 slots available after Dubaibased Emirates scrapped an order last year leave scope for accelerating Qatar Air handovers вЂњto a limited extent,вЂќ Fabrice Bregier, who heads AirbusвЂ™s planemaking unit, said in an interview, while QatarвЂ™s chief executive, Akbar al-Baker, said he aims to expedite deliveries. Qatar Airways received the first A350 yesterday at a ceremony delayed from last week by what alBaker said were issues with the quality of buyer-furnished equipment, or customisation specified by the airline. Bregier said the jet offers 25% lower fuel burn than Boeing CoвЂ™s 777, while adding that there are no plans to add a bigger version and deemphasising prospects for an upgrade of the flagship A380 superjumbo. вЂњWe think we donвЂ™t need another stretch of the A350 family; I donвЂ™t say it will never happen but this is clearly not in our plans,вЂќ he told Bloomberg Television from AirbusвЂ™s base in Toulouse, France. вЂњWe are not at all in a hurry to look for upgrades of the A380. This is not the yearly priority.вЂќ Airbus is instead determined to persuade more airlines to buy the existing version of the A380, with a a Neo variant sporting new engines likely only вЂњlater onвЂќ and a stretch model adding more seats possible in the вЂњvery long term.вЂќ The idea of stopping production of the A380 is вЂњjust crazyвЂќ, Bregier said. He admitted, however: вЂњClearly our challenge is to get more customersвЂќ, while insisting that the Airbus order book was вЂњlargely filledвЂќ. The remarks came after an official at parent company Airbus Group suggested that the A380 would be wound down by 2018 because of a lack of orders. The comment caused Airbus shares to nosedive on December 10 and 11, losing nearly 15% of their value. Airbus, which aimed to sell 30 A380s and deliver the same number this year, met the delivery goal but not the sales target. The CEO said the trend was towards bigger planes like the A380 because global air traffic is expected to double every 15 years. вЂњThe A380 has a bright future as the market is getting bigger,вЂќ Bregier said. He said one option for making the plane more attractive was to replace the engines with more fuel-efficient ones such as those used in the midrange A320neo (new engine option) and long-haul A330neo. Meanwhile, al-Baker said the airline might buy more than the 14 A380s it has already ordered, of which three have been delivered. вЂњQatar Airways is very satisfied with this airplane. And I donвЂ™t know what more Airbus can do... ItвЂ™s a very well defined aircraft,вЂќ he said. Bregier said his chief challenge is to ramp up production of the A350 as fast as possible, with no new delivery slots available before 2021. A build rate of three planes a month will rise to 10 by early 2018, with Airbus offering the existing A330 to clients in regions such as China to bridge the gap. At Qatar Airways, al-Baker said the rollout plan for 80 A350s on order will see the twin-engine plane replace older A330s on existing routes while also opening up new destinations. вЂњWe want our aircraft as soon as possible because we have a fleet replacement program,вЂќ he said in a Bloomberg TV interview. вЂњIf I can get it yesterday, I would be delighted.вЂќ The delay in the handover вЂ” which the manufacturer said yesterday had still met its target of falling within 2014 вЂ” вЂњhad nothing to do with Airbus,вЂќ al-Baker said, relating only to a вЂњsmall issueвЂќ thatвЂ™s now been resolved. The glitch follows a similar holdup in Qatar taking receipt of its first A380. The A350 is scheduled to operate its first route to Frankfurt and will also be deployed to destinations on the US east coast and to Japan and other markets in Asia, as well as to Russia, alBaker said, adding that it will become the вЂњbackboneвЂќ of the fleet, together with the older 777. The CEO concurred that a stretch version isnвЂ™t necessary, with the largest A350-1000 an вЂњabsolute perfect size.вЂќ Qatar Airways would be interested in a Neo upgrade of the A380 if it became available, he said. Still, even the conversion of three order options that the carrier has in hand wonвЂ™t come before the double-decker has been in operation with its fleet for at least a year, he said. Qatar has 10 firm orders thus far, with four of those planes already in the fleet. Rolls-Royce Holdings, the only turbine supplier on the A350 and one of two on the A380, said in Toulouse that options for upgrading the superjumbo span engine enhancements, a basic re-engining, or the design of a wholly new powerplant. вЂњIt would depend on the business case,вЂќ Tony Wood, head of the UK companyвЂ™s aerospace arm, said at in an interview on the fringes of the A350 ceremony. The timescale and cost would vary in each case, he said, adding that Rolls is undertaking enhancement research all the time on various engines. Bregier said that whether Rolls, General Electric or Pratt & Whitney are undertaking work doesnвЂ™t mean that a particular offering will necessarily be brought to market. FOOTBALL | Page 5 TENNIS | Page 7 Liverpool on track for top four, says Rodgers Federer raises $1.3mn from fund-raising event Tuesday, December 23, 2014 Rabia I 01, 1436 AH CRICKET GULF TIMES SPORT Tendulkar named ICC World Cup 2015 Ambassador Page 2 SPOTLIGHT Napoli beat Juventus on penalties to lift Super Cup NapoliвЂ™s Higuain and JuventusвЂ™ Tevez scored two goals each as the match went into extra time Napoli players celebrate with the trophy after defeating Juventus to win the Italian Super Cup final at the Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad stadium in Doha yesterday. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil Joe Koraith Doha O ne of the key subplots of the 2014 Supercoppa was the battle of supremacy between two Argentinian strikers вЂ“ Gonzalo Higuain, playing for Napoli and Carloz Tevez, playing for Juventus. And in the end it was Higuain, who snatched the bragging rights yesterday as his team emerged champions 6-5 in the penalty shootout at the Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad stadium. The thrilling encounter had ended in 2-2 after extra time, with 18 penalties required to п¬Ѓnd the winner. Right from the start of the match, the star was Tevez, who gave his team a lead as early as in the fourth minute after he latched on to a botched clearance attempt and slotted the ball coolly under Napoli goalkeeper Rafael to score the opener. Higuain had a couple of chances in the п¬Ѓrst half but couldnвЂ™t convert them. It took him till the 67th minute to get his team level. Jonathan de Guzman set off on another one of this runs down the left п¬‚ank and sent in a cross at a perfect height for Higuain, who headed it perfectly into the far corner for the equaliser. Great cross and an even better п¬Ѓnish. Whether it was a sign or not, it canвЂ™t be said but the Napoli goal came just one minute after star playmaker Andrea Pirlo was replaced by Roberto Pereyra. The MetronomeвЂ™s presence was surely a reassuring factor for Juve. NapoliвЂ™s Gonzalo Higuain celebrates after scoring one of his two goals. Despite a п¬‚urry of activity from both sides towards the end of regulation time, neither side was able to п¬Ѓnd the back of the net. Then it was the turn of Tevez to step up again. In the 106th minute, the diminutive striker got a great pass from Paul Pogba and Tevez calmly slotted it in the far corner for a great п¬Ѓnish. Four minutes later, Higuain had a great chance when he found himself in a one-onone position against Gianluigi Buffon but it was the Juve goalkeeper who won. Then in the 115th minute, Higuain claimed that he was brought down in the box but the referee waved off the penalty claims. And then п¬Ѓnally, in the 118th minute, Higuain redeemed himself with a lunging strike to bring Napoli back on level terms again. Jose Callejon sent the ball into the middle and Higuain riп¬‚ed a shot into the box from inside the six yards and Buffon had no chance. The match extended to penalties after both the teams were deadlocked at 2-2 after extra time. The penalty shootout didnвЂ™t begin well for Napoli. Jorginho opened the proceedings and his shot was saved by Buffon. But the pivotal moment came when Tevez failed to score after his shot hit the post, with Napoli keeper Rafael CabralвЂ™s tactics to distract the striker paying off. Then both teams scored their shots till the score reached 5-5 which included Higuain scoring. And then the drama began. First NapoliвЂ™s Dries Mertens had his shot blocked by Buffon. But then for Juventus Giorgio ChielliniвЂ™s shot was saved by Cabral. Napoli missed again as CallejonвЂ™s shot was palmed off Buffon. And to even matters Pereyra hit over the bar. Napoli defender Kalidou Khoulibaly п¬Ѓnally scored, despite hitting the post and then Simone PadoinвЂ™s shot was saved by Cabral, setting off wild celebrations in the Napoli camp. Napoli coach Rafael Benitez had once again proved his mettle in a knockout competition and gave his team their second Supercoppa title. And defeating Juventus who they had lost to in 2012 was simply the perfect way to do it. Juventus will feel like they had controlled the game for most part but they couldnвЂ™t control Higuain and he proved to be the difference in the end. At the start, as the two teams had entered the pitch, their respective songs were played - Thunderstruck by AC/DC for Juventus and Go West by the Pet Shop Boys for Napoli. And in the end, it was Juve who were left вЂ�thunderstruckвЂ™ by Higuain & Co. JuventusвЂ™ forward Carlos Tevez (top) vies for the ball with NapoliвЂ™s Christian Maggio during the Italian Super Cup final. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 2 CRICKET THIRD TEST FOCUS Test of IndiaвЂ™s resolve on Boxing Day at MCG Tourists need to retain the fighting spirit they showed in Adelaide and Brisbane India will be keen to avoid their seventh straight loss in Australia in the third Test starting from Friday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground . (AFP) Reuters Melbourne W ith all hope of a п¬Ѓrst series triumph in Australia gone after defeats in the п¬Ѓrst two Tests, India need to draw on their reserves of pride and motivation to avoid a seventh straight Test loss on Australian soil this week. If the tourists can retain the п¬Ѓghting spirit that has made the Adelaide and Brisbane Tests anything but one-sided contests, however, they could record a victory of some signiп¬Ѓcance at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Since they triumphed in Perth in January 2008, neither side has won a Test match in the otherвЂ™s country with Australia suffering 2-0, 2-0 and 4-0 defeats on the sub-continent and India losing all four tests on their 2011-12 tour. There have been signs too that Australia, for all the conп¬Ѓdence that back-to-back Test victories will bring to any side, have a fragility to their batting order that IndiaвЂ™s pace attack can exploit. Proliп¬Ѓc opener David Warner has a bruised thumb that could hamper him if he is passed п¬Ѓt to play, veterans Shane Watson and Brad Haddin are in poor form, while injured all-rounder Mitch Marsh has been replaced by the uncapped Joe Burns. Quite how Australia will line up when the Test starts in front of the traditional bumper crowd on Friday is matter of some conjecture with coach Darren Lehmann suggesting Burns could slot in anywhere in the top six. Against that instability, there is the sparkling form of stand- in skipper Steve Smith and the mercurial menace of paceman Mitchell Johnson, whose performances with bat and ball turned the Gabba Test. Fast bowler Ryan Harris has recovered from a thigh strain and should return in place of left-arm quick Mitch Starc alongside Johnson and Josh Hazlewood, who took 5-68 in his п¬Ѓrst innings in Test cricket. India look the more settled of the two sides, though, with the fast bowlers working as unit and taking wickets, while the top six batsmen have all got into the runs at some stage of the series. Just how long the unrest caused by opener Shikhar DhawanвЂ™s decision not to bat on day four in Brisbane after injuring his arm in the nets continues to unsettle Mahendra Singh DhoniвЂ™s dressing room remains to be seen. ROUND-UP S ri Lanka pace spearhead Lasith Malinga is recovering well from his ankle surgery and should be back in action during the later stages of the one-day international series in New Zealand next month, according to coach Marvan Atapattu. The mercurial Malinga underwent surgery on his left ankle in September and missed the teamвЂ™s one-day series against India and England. The 31-year-old, whose yorkers delivered with a sling-shot action at times makes him almost unplayable, will be crucial for Sri LankaвЂ™s chances in the 50-over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. вЂњMalinga is still recovering from surgery and everything is going well according to plan,вЂќ former Sri Lanka batsman Atapattu said. вЂњHe will return for the last two ODI games in New Zealand.вЂќ Malinga, who has taken 271 wickets in 177 ODIs, has been named in Sri LankaвЂ™s provisional Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan is fit to play in the third Test against Australia starting Dec 26 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. An Indian team spokesperson yesterday said Dhawan and vice-captain Virat Kohli had recovered from the injuries sustained in the Gabba nets before play on the fourth morning of the second Test and would be fine for the Agencies Mumbai R ookie all-rounder Akshar Patel will replace the injured Ravindra Jadeja in IndiaвЂ™s squad for the remaining two Test matches in Australia, the Indian cricket board announced. Patel, who turns 21 in January, is a left-arm spinner and useful left-hand batsman like Jadeja. He has taken 14 wickets in nine one-day internationals, but has yet to play a Test. Jadeja has a shoulder injury and will return home to undergo a rehabilitation programme, the board said in a statement. It remained unclear if Jadeja, who did not play in the п¬Ѓrst two Tests, will be available for the World Cup that opens in Australia and New Zealand on February 14. Australia lead the four-Test series 2-0. The third Test starts in Melbourne on December 26 and the fourth will be played in Sydney from January 6. India are also due to take part in a triangular one-day series with Australia and England ahead of the World Cup. YUVRAJ, GAMBHIR DROPPED FROM BCCI CONTRACT LIST A few weeks after they were left out of the 30-member preliminary squad for the 2015 World Cup, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh were yesterday dropped from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) contracts list while medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar was promoted to a Grade A contract. Pacer Mohammed Shami, Ambati Rayudu and Ajinkya Rahane have been promoted from Grade C to Grade B, while Gambhir, Yuvraj, Dinesh Karthik and Jaydev Unadkat have been struck off the contracts list. Both Yuvraj and Gambhir were part of Grade A contracts last season. Several players who did not have a contract last season have been absorbed in Grade C this time around, including Varun Aaron, Stuart Binny, Pankaj Singh, Dhawal Kulkarni, Parvez Rasool, Axar Patel, Robin Uthappa, Manoj Tiwari, Karn Sharma, Sanju Samson, Kuldeep Yadav and K L Rahul. Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma, M Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Umesh Yadav, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja and Rohit Sharma have been kept back in Grade B, while Amit Mishra, Wriddhiman Saha, Vinay Kumar and Mohit Sharma remained in Grade C. BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said in a release that players who do not have contracts but feature for India in any of the three formats would be given a Grade C contract once they debut. The BCCI statement did not specify how much the players will be paid under the new contracts. Last season, a Grade A contract came with an annual retainer of Rs 1 crore for Grade A players (US$ 158,000 approx), Rs 50 lakh for Grade B players (US$ 79,000 approx), and Rs 25 lakh for Grade C players (US$ 39,000 approx). BCCI contracts list for 2014-15 Grade A: Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar Grade B: Pragyan Ojha, M. Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Umesh Yadav, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Md. Shami. Grade C: Amit Mishra, Varun Aaron, Wriddhiman Saha, Stuart Binny, Pankaj Singh, R. Vinay Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni, Parveez Rasool, Axar Patel, Manoj Tiwary, Robin Uthappa, Karn Sharma, Sanju Samson, Kuldeep Yadav, K L Rahul. Boxing Day Test, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Dhawan returned later to score 81 with a bruised wrist. India fell apart like a pack of cards in the Gabba Test owing to an onslaught from leftarm pacer Mitchell, losing six wickets in the morning session. Dhawan helped India set Australia a modest target, which the home side reached with four wickets to spare. But if Dhoni, who has been criticised for appearing less than convinced of the importance of the longest form of the game, can lead his team to victory, he could make a considerable addi- tion to his legacy as skipper. His predecessor Anil Kumble rated the 72-run victory at the WACA in 2008, when India were also 2-0 down in the series, the best of his 132-Test career. Akshar Patel has taken 14 wickets in nine ODIs, but has yet to play a Test. SPOTLIGHT Malinga to return from injury during Kiwi ODIs Agencies Colombo India opener Dhawan fit to play in Boxing Day Test India call up Patel to replace injured Jadeja 30-man squad for the World Cup. Sri Lanka, who п¬Ѓnished runner-up to India at the 2011 World Cup, will play seven one-dayers in New Zealand to warm up for the Feb 14-March 29 tournament. The Island nation will also play two warm-up matches, against South Africa and Zimbabwe, before their opening match of the tournament against co-hosts New Zealand on Feb 14. MY FATHER DIDNвЂ™T BELIEVE MY SELECTION: BURNS Joe Burns, who is set to make his international debut for Australia in the third Test against the Indians at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) starting on Friday, said he was вЂњdisappointedвЂќ that his father did not believe his selection in the Australian squad. вЂњMy Dad didnвЂ™t believe me, so thatвЂ™s a little bit disappointing,вЂќ Burns was quoted as saying by the Courier Mail website. вЂњI am a massive Australian cricket fan who just happens to play cricket himself. I am a cricket nuffy. I follow the game closely and I love it. That makes Boxing Day even more special, knowing how big this day is in the Australian sport calendar,вЂќ he added. Burns has scored 439 runs in the Sheffield Shield at 54.87 this season for his domestic side Queensland. The 25-year-old is a fan of Australian coach Darren Lehmann and said he was looking forward to working with him. вЂњI am looking forward to having Boof (Lehmann) as Australian coach as I really enjoyed playing underneath him,вЂќ Burns said. вЂњIn terms of the pressure I think I will just enjoy the experience and enjoy the moment. It is something that IвЂ™ve always dreamed of, and now IвЂ™m pinching myself thinking it may become a reality,вЂќ he added. Australia lead the four-match series 2-0. Tendulkar named ICC World Cup 2015 Ambassador IANS Dubai T he International Cricket Council (ICC) yesterday named Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar as the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Ambassador. It will be the second successive time that the Indian maestro will be the Ambassador of ICCвЂ™s pinnacle tournament, after he fulп¬Ѓlled the role in the previous event, which was co-hosted by Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka in 2011. In his role as ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Ambassador, Tendulkar will promote and support a variety of ICC initiatives to enhance the proп¬Ѓle of the tournament, which is the third biggest sporting event in the world and will take place in Australia and New Zealand from Feb 14 to March 29. Tendulkar retired from international cricket last year after representing his country in 200 Tests, 463 One-Day Internationals (ODI) and one Twenty20 International. In a career spanning 24 years, the 41-year-old scored a total of 34,357 interna- tional runs and 100 centuries. Tendulkar added the missing World Cup title to his long list of achievements in his sixth attempt in 2011. He is the alltime leading run-getter in World Cup history with 2,278 runs in 45 matches at an average of 56.95. For his 673 runs in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003, he was awarded player of the tourna- ment as India п¬Ѓnished runnerup to Australia. Commenting on his appointment, Tendulkar said: вЂњI am delighted and honoured to be appointed ICC Cricket World Cup Ambassador for the second successive time. After playing in the last six editions, the upcoming World Cup will be a different experience as I will follow it from the sidelines. It could probably be comparable to the ICC Cricket World Cup 1987 where I was a ball boy, enthusiastically cheering every ball.вЂќ вЂњThe image of the champion team lifting the World Cup inspires many youngsters around the world and gives them a dream to chase - a dream which I fulп¬Ѓlled after 22 years of relentless pursuit by being part of the victorious Indian team in 2011,вЂќ he added. ICC chief executive David Richardson said: вЂњThe ICC is delighted to once again have Sachin as an Ambassador for its biggest and most prestigious tournament. Sachin is not only an inspiration to cricketers but to all sportspeople for his endurance, perseverance, talent, personality and commitment to the game.вЂќ The 11th edition of the World Cup kicks off in Christchurch Feb 14 when co-host New Zealand take on former champion Sri Lanka. On the same day at the picturesque Melbourne Cricket Ground, four-time world champion Australia will square-off against England, who reached the п¬Ѓnal the last time the event was staged in Australia and New Zealand in 1992. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 3 FOOTBALL LA LIGA SPOTLIGHT Griezmann hat-trick leads Atletico to comeback triumph вЂ�This was my best match since IвЂ™ve been here. I need to keep on this path and keep workingвЂ™ AFP Madrid F rance international Antoine Griezmann scored a hat-trick as Atletico Madrid produced a stunning second-half display to hammer Athletic Bilbao 4-1 away on Sunday and move to within four points of La Liga leaders Real Madrid. The Spanish champions looked on course for back-toback league defeats for the п¬Ѓrst time since April 2012 when Mikel Rico gave Athletic a deserved half-time lead. But Griezmann levelled straight from the kick-off at the start of the second period and completed his hat-trick after Raul Garcia had put the visitors ahead from the penalty spot. Victory moves Atletico back to within three points of Barcelona, who were 5-0 winners over Cordoba on Saturday, in second. However, Real have a game in hand on their two main title rivals as they won their fourth trophy of the year in the Club World Cup п¬Ѓnal against Argentine side San Lorenzo in Morocco on Saturday. вЂњThis was my best match since IвЂ™ve been here. I need to keep on this path and keep working,вЂќ Griezmann said. At the new San Mames both sides were missing a number of key players with Aymeric Laporte and Ander Iturraspe banned for the hosts, while Atletico were without the suspended duo of Koke and Mario Mandzukic, as well as Miranda through injury. It was the Basque outп¬Ѓt who settled much quicker, and went ahead after 17 minutes when Markel SusaetaвЂ™s free-kick was expertly nodded into the far corner by the unmarked Rico. Atletico failed to create anything of note in the opening 45 minutes, and could have been even further behind at the break had Aritz Aduriz decided to shoot when he was released clear on goal by Susaeta rather than trying to turn inside before being crowded out. However, the champions emerged a different side after an inspired Atletico MadridвЂ™s French midfielder Antoine Griezmann celebrates after scoring against Athletic Bilbao during the Spanish Liga match in Bilbao on Sunday. (EPA) half-time pep talk from Diego Simeone and equalised straight from the kick-off as former Real Sociedad winger Griezmann came back to haunt his old Basque rivals once more with a precise header from JuanfranвЂ™s cross. Seven minutes later Atletico completed the comeback in controversial circumstances as the referee pointed to the spot when Tiago hit the п¬‚oor under minimal contact between he and Mikel San Jose inside the area. Once the protests from the home fans and players had п¬Ѓnally subsided, Garcia kept his cool to send Gorka Iraizoz the wrong way from the spot. If Ernesto ValverdeвЂ™s men felt hard done by at the penalty decision, they were handed a reprieve 22 minutes from time when Iker Muniain was extremely fortunate to escape with just a yellow card after a reckless studs high challenge into the knee of defender Jose Gimenez. That decision wasnвЂ™t to prove too contentious, though, as Atletico wrapped up the points п¬Ѓve minutes later when Griezmann pounced on a slip by Carlos Gurpegi to calmly stroke the ball past Iraizoz. The Frenchman sealed his п¬Ѓrst Atletico hat-trick nine minutes from the end thanks to more generous officiating as he tapped into an empty net despite clearly being in an offside position after the ball ricocheted off Garcia. Elsewhere, Villarreal and Malaga remained in the hunt for the top four with victories over Deportivo la Coruna and Elche ,respectively. It was a more comfortable afternoon for Villarreal at home to Depor as they recorded a seventh straight win No retirement in sight for timeless Cahill Reuters Sydney A ustraliaвЂ™s all-time leading goal-scorer Tim Cahill is feeling as п¬Ѓt as ever and thinks he could continue playing for another four seasons into his 40th year. With his weight and body fat ratio unchanged since he was 17, Cahill said he would be looking for a two or three year contract when his deal with Major League Soccer (MLS) club New York Red Bulls expires next year. The 35-year-old forward, in Australia to prepare for next monthвЂ™s Asian Cup, said he could yet return to the English Premier League, where he spent nine years with Everton before making the switch stateside. вЂњThe futureвЂ™s bright,вЂќ Cahill told the Australian Associated Press. вЂњIвЂ™ve got another year left on my New York Red Bulls contract. The main feeling for me is every time IвЂ™m at a club, I like to be there for a long time. вЂњTo be totally honest, I could have gone back to the Premier League on loan after the World Cup and I decided to stay with Red Bulls for the remainder of the season and still (have) options to go back to the Premier League if itвЂ™s the right one for me. вЂњSo when you put everything into one, the decision I make will be a methodical one, like IвЂ™ve always made it. It will take a month or so but I think people will be quietly impressed with what IвЂ™m trying to do.вЂќ Playing for his country, for whom he has scored at the last three World Cup and 36 goals in total, remains a key factor in his considerations over where to play. вЂњIвЂ™ve gone to the MLS because that allows me to play internationally,вЂќ he added. вЂњThe next decision that I make will still allow me to play internationally. I average 30 or 40 games every season since I was 17 years old and nothingвЂ™s changed.вЂќ CahillвЂ™s importance to the Socceroos is borne out by the fact that he has been responsible for eight of the 12 goals Australia have scored since coach Ange Postecoglou took over in 2013. The host nation will be looking to Cahill for a good few more from Jan. 9-31 as the Socceroos look to win AsiaвЂ™s biggest tournament for the п¬Ѓrst time at the third attempt. вЂњPhysically, I feel great,вЂќ he said. вЂњMentally, IвЂ™m always switched on. IвЂ™m ready to go.вЂќ in all competitions 3-0 thanks to Jonathan dos SantosвЂ™s п¬Ѓrst goal for the club and two second-half strikes by the in-form Luciano Vietto. Malaga, meanwhile, had to come from behind to record a third consecutive league win after falling behind to David LombanвЂ™s header on the verge of half-time. However, secondhalf goals from Ignacio Camacho and on-loan Liverpool midп¬Ѓelder Luis Alberto mean they join Villarreal and Sevilla on 30 points, just one off Valencia in fourth. SERIE A Lazio go third as Inter save Mancini blushes AFP Milan A п¬Ѓrst-half brace from Felipe Anderson was enough to secure third place for Lazio in Serie A prior to the festive break on Sunday in a hard-fought 2-2 draw away to Inter. Inter only claimed their maiden win under Roberto Mancini, their п¬Ѓrst in six games, last week but had the worst possible start at the San Siro where Anderson hit the п¬Ѓrst of his goals after just two minutes. Anderson, who broke his Serie A duck last week, beat Samir Handanovic with a п¬Ѓne angled strike after collecting Stefan RaduвЂ™s assist in the box. The Brazilian almost had his brace moments later when he sprung the offside trap to п¬Ѓre over but made amends minutes before half-time after collecting on the halfway line and carrying the ball all the way before beating Handanovic at the keeperвЂ™s near post. Inter emerged doubly determined after the break and after Mateo Kovacic and Mauro Icardi tested Federico Marchetti in the Lazio goal it was the former who reduced arrears in spectacular fashion. Kovacic was just outside the box when a headed clearance fell kindly for the Croatian, who struck on the volley to see his shot sting the palms of a п¬‚ailing Marchetti before hitting the back of the net. Mancini replaced Colombian Fredy Guarin with Federico Bonazzoli and two minutes later the highly-rated Inter youth player had a hand in InterвЂ™s 80th minute leveller. BonazzoliвЂ™s free kick found the head of Danilo DвЂ™Ambrosio in the box and after the ball rolled into the path of Rodrigo Palacio the Argentinian blasted past Marchetti from close range. The draw left Inter in 11th place at 18 points adrift of leaders and champions Juventus, four behind city rivals Milan and six behind Lazio in the third and п¬Ѓnal Champions League qualifying spot. But Mancini warned he will expect improvements when Inter resume after the festive break. вЂњWe canвЂ™t become a team like Barcelona or Bayern in the space of a month. WeвЂ™re having a few difficulties but we need to get over them,вЂќ said Mancini. вЂњLetвЂ™s hope we can improve over our coming games.вЂќ Lazio coach Stefano Pioli admitted KovacicвЂ™s goal had changed the prospects for his side. вЂњTeams like Inter have a certain kind of quality and KovacicвЂ™s goal set them up well for the rest of the game,вЂќ said Pioli, who admitted third place was a п¬Ѓrm objective. вЂњItвЂ™s early yet but weвЂ™re doing very well. Now we have a chance to recharge our batteries for January which will be crucial for us. But the lads have shown they are up to the job.вЂќ Juve lead The draw was one of six in the п¬Ѓnal weekend of the year, which left Juventus top of the pile with a three-point lead on Roma, who lead Lazio by nine points. Earlier, Italy striker Manolo Gabbiadini confirmed he could quit Sampdoria in the January transfer window after heading a late equaliser to secure a share of the spoils in a 2-2 home draw with Udinese. Gabbiadini has been linked with a move to Napoli and the highly-rated 23-year-old told Sky Sport after the game: вЂњI donвЂ™t know if this will be my last goal in a Sampdoria shirt, I always honour the shirt that IвЂ™m wearing.вЂќ Sampdoria are 12 points behind Juventus, who will face Napoli in the Italian Super Cup final in Doha on Monday with a chance for a double Christmas celebration after Roma were held to a scoreless draw at home to Milan on Saturday. Alberto Paloschi struck late to secure the points as Chievo beat Verona 1-0 in the city derby to give them some breathing space in the battle for relegation. Torino had defender Kamil Glik to thank for a brace of goals in a precious 2-1 home win over Genoa which secured just their fourth win of the campaign. Argentinian striker German Denis, meanwhile, struck a brace including a late leveller as Atalanta fought back to claim a point from a 3-3 draw with visitors Palermo. Fiorentina were sent on their way towards a seventh win of the campaign after Juan Manuel Vargas struck on the stroke of half-time, only for Lorenzo Tonelli to level just before the hour to secure a point for visiting Empoli. Inter MilanвЂ™s Rodrigo Sebastian Palacio (R) vies for the ball with LazioвЂ™s Felipe Anderson during the Serie A match in Milan on Sunday. (EPA) 4 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 SPORT SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP FOCUS Celtic must make chances count: Deila вЂ�We are not taking our chances. ThatвЂ™s our main issue just nowвЂ™ Hostile reception for Rangers chief at annual general meet AFP Glasgow R angers chairman David Somers yesterday lashed out at an вЂ�antiRangersвЂ™ feeling he claims is prevalent in Scottish football as the troubled Glasgow side held an ill-tempered annual general meeting at Ibrox. Somers and other board members were greeted with a round of boos and insults as the meeting got underway just hours after the announcement that manager Ally McCoist had been removed. Somers, Derek Llambias and brothers James and Sandy Easdale were greeted with chants of вЂњout, out, outвЂќ, вЂњsack the boardвЂќ and вЂњscumbagsвЂќ. Rangers are mired in п¬Ѓnancial turmoil and need to recoup most of their ВЈ8.3million (10.5million euros) annual losses before the end of the season just to keep the club aп¬‚oat. Despite the boos, Somers said that much of the blame for the clubвЂ™s plight lay elsewhere outside of the board. вЂњIn these past 12 months, I have been surprised at a number of things. Firstly, the highly negative aspect of most of the media reporting regarding Rangers,вЂќ he said. вЂњSecondly, because it is clear to me that a stronger Rangers is good for Scottish football, I have been very disappointed to realise that outside of Ibrox, there sadly still exists a great deal of anti-Rangers feeling, perhaps (although I hope not) even in the football establishment.вЂќ Somers also claimed that a season ticket boycott launched by former director Dave King and backed by fans has put the club in fresh peril. The club had 36,000 season ticket holders last term but home attendances this campaign have dropped as low as 19,000. вЂњRangersвЂ™ return to the top п¬‚ight of our game, I am sure you will agree, will be more easily achieved if everyone who cares about the club works together for the betterment of Rangers. вЂњThis turbulent year has seen people calling for a season ticket boycott, seen the disruptive creation of a season ticket trust for a while and other negative ideas. вЂњSuch negativity is expensive for Rangers as it reduces season ticket and overall ticket sales, increasing the likelihood that I will have to borrow money to cover the shortfalls created. вЂњOur path to restoring Rangers to where we all want the club to be can only be achieved with the continued support of all supporters, shareholders and business partners.вЂќ McCoistвЂ™s removal as manager came on Sunday evening with Somers placing assistant manager Kenny McDowall in charge of п¬Ѓrst-team affairs until the end of the season. The 52-year-old was already working a 12-month notice period after handing in his resignation last week. вЂњRangers would like to announce that Ally McCoist is relinquishing his duties as manager and will serve out the remainder of his 12 month notice period on gardening leave,вЂќ said a club statement. The Glasgow side, with 54 league titles won in their glory days, suffered a series of п¬Ѓnancial problems with a liquidation crisis seeing them banished to the third division in 2012. They are currently second in the Scottish second division but are nine points behind leaders Hearts who also have game in hand. CelticвЂ™s Leigh Griffiths scores against Dundee United during their Scottish Premier League match at Tannadice Park Stadium in Dundee on Sunday. (Reuters) AFP Glasgow C eltic manager Ronny Deila took a swipe at his ineffectual forwards after the HoopsвЂ™ winning streak came to an end following a 2-1 defeat to Dundee United on Sunday. Despite his side chalking up eight successive victories in the Scottish Premiership prior to SundayвЂ™s defeat, Deila has repeatedly called on his strikers to be more clinical in front of goal. And after the reigning champions managed 17 shots, seven of them on target, compared to just six for their hosts in the defeat at Tannadice, the Norwegian again highlighted his sideвЂ™s wastefulness. вЂњWe are not taking our chances. ThatвЂ™s our main issue just now,вЂќ the Celtic manager said. вЂњWe lost the game because we werenвЂ™t effective enough. ItвЂ™s a challenge weвЂ™ve faced in the last three or four games where weвЂ™ve created a lot of chances but donвЂ™t take them. вЂњWe gave two easy goals away. We let them go inside and into the box instead of pushing them wide. вЂњWe can talk about creating chances but we have to be more effective. In the last three or four matches we have created 10 to 15 chances in each but in the end if you donвЂ™t score then you lose matches and thatвЂ™s what happened today. вЂњIвЂ™m not disappointed in the way we played. I think we played quite well especially in the п¬Ѓrst half. We pressed them and were all over them and created chances but we gave away a stupid goal. All that was missing was putting the ball in the net and thatвЂ™s the most important thing in football.вЂќ Stefan Scepovic looked to have pulled one back for Celtic in the 81st minute after Nadir Ciftci and Stuart Armstrong had given United a commanding advantage. However, the SerbianвЂ™s effort was ruled out for offside despite Blair Spittal appearing to play him on. The decision disappointed Deila, whose side did pull one back through substitute Leigh Griffiths late on, and he felt his side had enough chances to get something from the game. вЂњOf course weвЂ™re disappointed that we didnвЂ™t get the goal, which would have given us a good chance to get some points in the end,вЂќ he added. вЂњBut we had a lot of other chances as well to put the ball in the net and if we kept missing them we will lose points.вЂќ The win moves United up to second in the Premiership table, just four points behind Celtic at the summit. With just two wins in their previous 60 meetings with the Glasgow giants the odds were stacked against United before kick-off but victory gains them some revenge for their 6-1 thrashing at Celtic Park back in August. Despite closing in on Celtic at the top, United boss Jackie McNamara believes any talk of becoming title challengers is premature. вЂњI donвЂ™t think you can say that now. YouвЂ™ve got to perform like that with a bit of luck week in, week out,вЂќ said McNamara, whose team go to St Johnstone next weekend and then host neighbours Dundee on New YearвЂ™s Day. вЂњItвЂ™s a big ask. Aberdeen will say the same. We can only do our best and see where we are at the end of the season. вЂњYou look at the gulf even with the substitutions that Celtic made with Leigh Griffiths coming on and Kris Commons, who had 31 goals last year, on the bench. вЂњThey also brought on a ВЈ3mn ($4.7mn) striker Stefan Scepovic and itвЂ™s hard to compete with that.вЂќ SPOTLIGHT Blatter вЂ�invigoratedвЂ™ after executive panel meet Reuters Berne S epp Blatter is вЂ�invigoratedвЂ™ after last weekвЂ™s executive committee meeting in Marrakech and has every intention of standing in next yearвЂ™s FIFA presidential election, a source close to the FIFA leadership said yesterday. вЂњHe was invigorated by the whole event and he is п¬Ѓnishing the year on a high note,вЂќ said the source, adding that he had not heard any suggestion that Blatter would change his mind about standing. вЂњThat is not our information at all,вЂќ he said. On Friday, FIFAвЂ™s executive committee bowed to public opinion and agreed to publish a redacted version of an ethics committee investigation into the bidding process for the 2018/2022 World Cups, awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively. Blatter then told the media: вЂњIf there are problems inside FIFA as we have faced, then itвЂ™s not the moment for the president, the man at the helm of FIFA, to say he will abandon his work.вЂќ Yesterday, Blatter said in a statement published by FIFA that soccerвЂ™s world governing body had to restore credibility. вЂњPublic opinion is important because football is the greatest game in the world; connecting people, giving emotions, passion and hope in this world. вЂњItвЂ™s very important for me personally at the helm of football to restore credibility and to breathe the New Year again with good attitude for the upcoming competitions.вЂќ Blatter, FIFA president since 1998, has until January 29 to conп¬Ѓrm that he will stand for a п¬Ѓfth mandate at the May election when he will be 79. Egypt to allow limited number of fans at league matches Egyptian authorities will partially lift a ban on supporters at domestic stadiums, ending three years of league football being played in empty arenas, the countryвЂ™s football association announced. There had been a blanket ban on supporters following the Port Said riot on February 1, 2012, when 74 people were killed during clashes between supporters of the Al Masri club and the countryвЂ™s most popular team, Al Ahli. However, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) confirmed that from the start of the second round of the 2014-15 league season after the African Nations Cup finals in Equatorial Guinea, a limited number would be able to gain entry. A total of 10,000 supporters will be able to attend games held in the larger Cairo and Alexandria venues, and 5,000 in smaller stadiums in the rest of the country. Not all teams will benefit from the ruling as a complete ban will remain in place at matches involving the six leading teams in the country: Al Ahli, Zamalek, Al Ittihad, Ismaili, Al Masri and Damanhur. Fans making us jittery, says coach after Benfica win Coach Jorge Jesus said impatient Benfica fans were making his players nervous after the leaders struggled to a 1-0 win over bottom club Gil Vicente on Sunday. Nicolas Gaitan scored the only goal on the half hour, firing into an empty net after Maxi PereiraвЂ™s shot hit the post, to keep Benfica six points clear of Porto at the top of the Primeira Liga after 14 matches. Pereira appeared to be offside as he ran on to Ola JohnвЂ™s pass before chipping the ball over goalkeeper Adriano Facchini. The supporters clearly expected more from Benfica as they toiled against the only team yet to win a league game this season. вЂњThe fans made the team nervous,вЂќ Jesus told Benfica TV. вЂњThey usually help the team when we are playing badly but, on the contrary, that did not happen today. вЂњWe need their support to continue in first place and reach our big target which is to win the title for a second season in a row.вЂќ Gil Vicente finished with 10 men after Diogo Viana was sent off in stoppage time. Porto beat Vitoria de Setubal 4-0 on Friday, making them the only team to score more than one goal in the top flight this weekend. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 5 FOOTBALL EPL SPOTLIGHT Liverpool on track for top four, says coach Rodgers вЂ�ThereвЂ™s a bit of work to do, but at least weвЂ™re moving in the right direction againвЂ™ Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers catches the ball during their English Premier League match against Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool on Sunday. (Reuters) AFP London L iverpool manager Brendan Rodgers felt his players demonstrated the character necessary to revitalise their challenge for a top-four Premier League п¬Ѓnish in their last-gasp 2-2 draw with Arsenal. After Philippe CoutinhoвЂ™s opener was swiftly cancelled out by Mathieu Debuchy in п¬Ѓrst-half stoppage time at Anп¬Ѓeld on Sunday, Olivier Giroud struck in the 64th minute to set Arsenal up for an opportunistic victory. But having earlier required treatment for a head wound inп¬‚icted by Giroud that left him with a bandaged head and led to nine minutes of injury time, Martin Skrtel claimed an equaliser with an emphatic 97th-minute header in front of the Kop. The point was the least Liverpool deserved after restricting Arsenal to a 36 percent share of possessionвЂ”their worst performance in that domain since passing statistics began to be compiled in 2003. And although Liverpool trail leaders Chelsea by 17 points and lie nine points adrift of the Champions League places, Rodgers is convinced that last seasonвЂ™s runners-up are on the right track. Asked if Liverpool could sustain a challenge for a top-four п¬Ѓnish, he told reporters: вЂњYes, absolutely. вЂњIt was always going to be a big challenge. Of course weвЂ™ve got to make up points over the next part of the season, but we have shown this is a group that can go on a run of games (wins). вЂњIn the second half of last season we went on a run of 11 games and if we can put a run of games together, that can very quickly move you up. вЂњThe most important thing is the conп¬Ѓdence and the ability in the team. You bring (injured striker Daniel) Sturridge back in January, then you get back to being that team we have been in the last few years. вЂњThereвЂ™s a bit of work to do, but at least weвЂ™re moving in the right direction again, which is what we want.вЂќ вЂ�Bad memoriesвЂ™ Rodgers was pleased with the вЂњintensityвЂќ and вЂњarrogance with the ballвЂќ Liverpool showed, but he was less complimentary about his sideвЂ™s defending. Citing the build-up to DebuchyвЂ™s goal, when the hosts were beaten in the air three times after Alexis Sanchez curled a free-kick into the box, he said: вЂњA lot of the goals we give away are poor goals. вЂњI didnвЂ™t think it should have been a free-kick. I think Sanchez has dived once he realised he wasnвЂ™t getting the ball, and the referee fell for it. вЂњBut when it comes in, we lose three one-v-one headers in the box. We have to be better at that. ThatвЂ™s not about organisation. ThatвЂ™s about winning the duel.вЂќ Rodgers said he had вЂњno complaintsвЂќ about the injury-time dismissal of substitute Fabio Borini, who collected yellow cards for dissent and a high boot against Santi Cazorla. He also paid tribute to Slovakian centre-back Skrtel, who stayed on to score the winner despite having been left with an ugly gash on the back of his head after Giroud unintentionally caught him with his studs. вЂњHeвЂ™s a real warrior, Martin,вЂќ said the Northern Irishman, whose side registered 27 attempts on goal. вЂњHe showed great character and determination to stay on.вЂќ Arsenal had been destroyed 5-1 on their previous visit to Anп¬Ѓeld in February, when they conceded four times in the п¬Ѓrst 20 minutes, and beaten manager Arsene Wenger suggested the memory had played on his playersвЂ™ minds. Asked to explain a sluggish п¬Ѓrst-half display, Wenger cited вЂњtactical and psychological reasonsвЂќ and explained: вЂњMaybe (there were) bad memories from last year. Some players were not at their best. I think we played with the handbrake too much in the п¬Ѓrst half.вЂќ He added: вЂњOverall itвЂ™s a fair result, but itвЂ™s also a frustrating result for us because they came back at a moment in the game when we had plenty of defenders on the pitch. вЂњToday (Sunday) was frustrating because they came back to 2-2. But overall itвЂ™s not the most frustrating day of the season.вЂќ FOCUS D ecorated Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos has dubbed 2014 вЂњthe best year of my lifeвЂќ after playing a key role for the Spanish giants as they swept to four titles including a record-extending 10th European crown. A no-nonsense centre back whose strength in the air regularly yields goals, Ramos scooped the player of the tournament award at the Club World Cup after scoring AFP London A dam Johnson played the decisive role in SunderlandвЂ™s 1-0 win at Newcastle United in the Premier League, but only after persuading manager Gus Poyet to let him stay on the pitch. Poyet was preparing to substitute the winger after he missed an excellent chance in the closing stages, but changed his mind and was rewarded by JohnsonвЂ™s excellent goal in the 90th minute. вЂњThe manager told me that I would be coming off, but told him I was alright to stay on,вЂќ said the match-winner. Their reward came when Johnson held off a challenge from Moussa Sissoko as a Newcastle attack broke down and found support from Steven Fletcher and Will Buckley as he broke forward 50 yards. Fletcher kept the move going, then Buckley played a perfect pass inside to Johnson, who riп¬‚ed his shot past NewcastleвЂ™s third-choice goalkeeper Jak Alnwick. It was a п¬Ѓtting goal to decide a high-octane derby. вЂњItвЂ™s a massive win for us and gives us a great boost, but I think it has been coming for weeks,вЂќ added Johnson. Poyet has come out on top in his last п¬Ѓve meetings with Newcastle manager Alan Pardew while in charge at Brighton and Sunderland, but was reluctant to gloat. вЂњI need to be careful and show respect to everyone at Newcastle,вЂќ said the Sunderland boss. вЂњI hope everyone will understand our feelings. It is great, incredible and something to remember all your life. It is a special moment for the club. вЂњThere is no more conп¬Ѓdence than you can get from beating your local rivals at their place, so there are no excuses now for next week.вЂќ Newcastle have now lost three games in a row, but this was not a repeat of their capitulations at Arsenal and Tottenham in the past week. They created several opportunities and PardewвЂ™s adventurous substitutions left them with three strikers on the pitch in the closing stages. вЂњSunderland have caught us on the break before and they did it again. It is painful,вЂќ admitted the Newcastle boss. вЂњI think my players were wrapped up in the emotion of the derby in the п¬Ѓrst half, but we caused them problems in the second. вЂњIf there was one fault today it was that we over-committed at the end, but this club wants to see goals. вЂњIвЂ™m never going to be a manager who accepts a draw at home as a positive result, but we should still have the discipline to do the job. вЂњIt was our defenders who over-committed, but I am not here to criticise my team. They gave everything and tried to win it. вЂњIf you are going to lose, itвЂ™s good to do it in the right manner by trying to push for a win.вЂќ Sunderland badly needed this win after a succession of draws which had left them worryingly close to the relegation positions, while Newcastle continue their difficult holiday programme with a trip to Manchester United on Friday. Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet (R) greets goalscorer Adam Johnson after their their English Premier League match against Newcastle at St JamesвЂ™ Park in Newcastle on Sunday. (Reuters) S Korea name 23-man squad for Asian Cup Ramos caps вЂ�best yearвЂ™ with Club World Cup award Reuters Madrid Johnson rewards Poyet for leap of faith in the semi-п¬Ѓnal win against Cruz Azul and the victory over San Lorenzo in SaturdayвЂ™s п¬Ѓnal. The standout moment on the pitch in a year during which he also became a father for the п¬Ѓrst time was his last-gasp equaliser against Atletico Madrid in MayвЂ™s Champions League п¬Ѓnal before Real went on to beat their city rivals 4-1 after extra time. His goals against Cruz Azul, San Lorenzo and Atletico were typically athletic headers from set pieces and cemented the Sevilleborn 28-year-oldвЂ™s status as a hero to Real fans. The heavily-tattooed Ramos was also an important member of the Spain team that won backto-back European Championship crowns in 2008 and 2012 and a maiden World Cup trophy in between. SpainвЂ™s abject failure to defend their title at the World Cup in Brazil in June was a major blemish but Ramos nonetheless declared 2014 as вЂњthe most important of my life, both professionally and on the personal sideвЂќ. вЂњI had the unique experience of becoming a father and in the professional sphere I was able to win four titles and that Champions League we all wanted so much,вЂќ he told the radio station Cadena Ser late on Sunday. вЂњTo win awards is gratifying but it is down to the work of my team mates and if an individual player shines it is only thanks to their efforts.вЂќ Ramos, whose partner is glamorous Spanish television journalist Pilar Rubio, praised Real coach Carlo Ancelotti who he has a much more harmonious relationship with than he did with the ItalianвЂ™s predecessor Jose Mourinho. South Korea yesterday named its final 23-man squad for next monthвЂ™s Asian Cup in Australia, selecting a side that leans heavily on players from overseas leagues. Some 17 members of the national side play abroad, including six based in Europe, while just oneвЂ”Lee JeongHyeopвЂ”has no international experience. Lee, a little-known forward for South KoreaвЂ™s military club Sangju Sangmu, was selected as one of the three forwards, after domestic league strikers Lee Dong-Gook and Kim Shin-Wook were ruled out due to injuries. Coach Uli Stielike said Lee would act as the вЂњtarget manвЂќ on the front line despite his lack of experience. вЂњMy philosophy in selecting players is that their health comes before everything,вЂќ said the German coach, who took charge of the national team in October. Stielike said he picked вЂњversatileвЂќ players who could play multiple positions, adding that some defenders like Park Joo-Ho of Mainz 05 and Jang Hyeon-Soo of Guangzhou R&F will play as вЂњdefensive midfieldersвЂќ. Six of the squadвЂ™s players are based in Europe, including Swansea City midfielder Ki SungYueng, Bolton WanderersвЂ™ Lee Chung-Yong, and Bayer Leverkusen winger Son Heung-Min, who has netted 11 goals in club competitions this season. Defender Cha Du-Ri, who plans to retire from international play after the Asian Cup, is the oldest member of the team at 34. Park ChuYoung, who has gone six matches without a goal for his Saudi Arabian club Al-Shabab, was left off the side. South Korea is grouped with Australia, Oman and Kuwait in the Asian Cup. SOUTH KOREA SQUAD Goalkeepers: Kim Seung-Gyu (Ulsan Hyundai), Kim Jin-Hyeon (Cerezo Osaka), Jung SungRyong (Suwon Samsung) Defenders: Jang Hyeon-Soo (Guangzhou R&F), Kim Chang-Soo (Kashiwa Reysol), Kim YoungGwon (Guangzhou Evergrande), Kwak Tae-Hwi (Al-Hilal FC), Kim Jin-Su (TSG Hoffenheim), Cha Du-Ri (FC Seoul), Park Joo-Ho (FSV Mainz 05), Kim Ju-Young (FC Seoul) Midfielders: Ki Sung-Yueng (Swansea City), Lee Chung-Yong (Bolton Wanderers), Son Heung-Min (Bayer Leverkusen), Han KookYoung (Qatar SC), Nam Tae-Hee (Lekhwiya SC), Koo Ja-Cheol (Mainz 05), Kim Min-Woo (Sagan Tosu), Han Kyo-Won (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Lee Myung-Joo (Al Ain) Forwards: Cho Young-Cheol (Qatar SC), Lee Keun-Ho (El Jaish SC), Lee Jeong-Hyeop (Sangju Sangmu). 6 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 FEATURE BASEBALL Relations with Cuba could have huge impact on MLB Major League dreams of many Cuban ballplayers usually started out as nightmares. Now that will change By David Lennon Newsday (TNS) T he historic announcement by President Barack Obama last week about restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba soon brought to mind the huge impact it could have for Major League Baseball. Closed off to the United States for a halfcentury, the small island nation has managed to produce some of the sportвЂ™s most talented players. But the only way weвЂ™ve seen them is through the sacriп¬Ѓce and hardship they endured to get here. Whether it was life-threatening boat trips in the middle of the night or facing extortion and worse from what amounted to human traffickers, the major-league dreams of Cuban ballplayers usually started out as nightmares. Now that will change. Maybe not tomorrow. But as the two longtime adversaries hammer out the details of this new policy, it will be interesting to see how this might smooth the path for the next wave of Cuban stars. And for the 30 major-league teams, how they can better facilitate acquiring that talent. Former Mets general manager Omar Minaya, now the senior VP of baseball operations for the Padres, remembers being one of the п¬Ѓrst to extensively scout the Dominican Republic in the early 1980s. Minaya п¬Ѓgures seven or eight teams had a foothold there at the time вЂ” he worked for the Rangers then вЂ” but it was a relatively new enterprise. Now, with many teams having set up baseball academies on the island, the Dominican inп¬‚uence is profound. Of the 853 players on Opening Day rosters this past season, 83 вЂ” or nearly 10 percent вЂ” were from the Dominican Republic, more than any other country outside the US Cuba had the third-most at 19, a record for that country. Cuba, with its own large pool of talent, presents a different challenge, however. Minaya compared it to an вЂњoil wellвЂќ because of the vast reserves and the difficulty in tapping into them. And just because President Obama is ready to open the door to Cuba, that doesnвЂ™t mean dozens of potential Cuban All-Stars will be able to walk through unimpeded. вЂњNobodyвЂ™s seen what the real plan is yet,вЂќ Yankees president Randy Levine said. вЂњWhere does baseball п¬Ѓt in? WhatвЂ™s the timeline? I think depending on whatever the п¬Ѓnal regulations are, it will lead to easier access for players. I think it could lead to getting down there to help developing players early. вЂњMaybe an academy-type of system like in the Dominican Republic. Maybe theyвЂ™re subject to the draft. That all gets worked out in collective bargaining. But as weвЂ™ve seen, thereвЂ™s a lot of great talent down there.вЂќ Others caution that it would be overly optimistic to believe the Cuban government would simply allow Major League Baseball to set up shop there вЂ” or sign its players вЂ” without a signiп¬Ѓcant п¬Ѓnancial stake in those contracts. This could not be more different from the Dominican Republic in that respect. One possibility is that Cuba will set up a posting fee system like the one used by professional leagues in Japan and Korea. Under that system, MLB teams bid for the negotiating rights to a player вЂ” with the money going to his former club вЂ” and then work out a contract. MLB is not a fan of that system, for obvious Jose Abreu (left) debuted with the White Sox in 2014, batting .317 with a .383 on-base percentage, MLB-leading .581 slugging percentage and 36 home runs. He won the AL Rookie of the Year award, was a Silver Slugger winner, an All-Star and finished fourth in MVP voting. (Kansas City Star/MCT) reasons. Teams donвЂ™t want to essentially pay an extra п¬ЃnderвЂ™s fee. But it remains in place, with some recent adjustments, for the sake of diplomacy between MLB and the Asian professional leagues. Believing that Cuba would approve some form of free agency, like the Dominican Republic, or have its players subject to MLBвЂ™s п¬Ѓrst-year player draft seems unrealistic at this early stage. With the contracts signed lately by Cuban players, the potential п¬Ѓnancial windfall for the government, or the state-run baseball federation, is too immense. Roenis Elias debuted in 2014, going 10-12 with a 3.85 ERA in 29 starts for the Mariners. (MCT) The White Sox signed Jose Abreu to a sixyear, $68 million deal in 2013, a contract that included a $10 million bonus. Abreu rewarded them with a Rookie of the Year season in 2014, batting .317 with 36 home runs, 107 RBIs and a .964 OPS. In 2012, the Dodgers signed Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42-million contract. The mercurial slugger compiled a slash line of .305/.386/.480 in two seasons and п¬Ѓnished in the top 20 in the MVP voting each year. WhoвЂ™s next? Yoan Moncada, a switch-hitting 19-year-old shortstop, was declared a free agent by MLB last month after establishing residency in Guatemala. But while the market for Cuban players continues to soar, MoncadaвЂ™s free agency falls under rules that are different from the ones that Abreu and Puig faced. With the new CBA, international free agents under the age of 23 with fewer than п¬Ѓve years in a professional league must be subject to the restrictions of MLBвЂ™s international bonus pool. In short, clubs are taxed for going over their pool amount to sign players вЂ” and heavily penalized for going above by 15 percent or more. Despite such artiп¬Ѓcial restraints on spend- ing, teams still manage to come up with the cash for future stars such as Moncada. If this historic agreement between the U.S. and Cuba proceeds at a brisk pace, weвЂ™ll be seeing more and more of them sooner rather than later. As Minaya pointed out, things moved pretty quickly once the wall came down in Eastern Europe. Cuba stood as one of baseballвЂ™s last barriers, and it could take some time to be cleared. The important thing is that it п¬Ѓnally will be. вЂњI think what happened this week, at least it brought attention and hope to the situation being resolved,вЂќ Minaya said. вЂњThatвЂ™s what it did.вЂќ In 2012, the Dodgers signed Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42-million contract. (Los Angeles Times / MCT) Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 7 SPORT FORMULA ONE Ferrari on restructuring spree after dismal year Reuters Maranello (Italy) F errari have recruited Jock Clear, the Mercedes engineer who helped Lewis Hamilton win this yearвЂ™s Formula One world championship, as the last key element in the Italian teamвЂ™s rebuilding after a dismal year. Ferrari failed to win a race in 2014, their п¬Ѓrst blank season since 1993, while dominant Mercedes won 16 of the 19 grands prix and took both titles. The sportвЂ™s oldest and most successful team have carried out a major restructuring, with a host of senior staff leaving and Maurizio Arrivabene now installed as their third principal of the year. Arrivabene told a news conference at the teamвЂ™s Fiorano test track yesterday that Clear would be taking the departed Pat FryвЂ™s job as head of engineering with his arrival date still being negotiated with Mercedes. вЂњWe respect agreements and regulations,вЂќ he added. Clear, who also worked with Jacques Villeneuve at Williams when the Canadian won the 1997 world championship, will bring invaluable knowhow to Gerrans breaks collarbone, out of Tour Down Under Australian cycling star Simon Gerrans has broken a collarbone in a training accident and will not defend his Tour Down Under title, his team Orica GreenEdge said yesterday. Gerrans, who won a recordbreaking third Tour Down Under title earlier this year, will undergo surgery with his focus now shifting to the European spring classics. The 34-year-old, who has achieved a string of big wins at home and in Europe since joining Orica GreenEdge, said he was disappointed with the Australian road championships also out of the question. вЂњUnfortunately it doesnвЂ™t matter how well the recovery goes from here, I donвЂ™t think I am going to be in any condition to be racing at a high level in January,вЂќ he said in a statement. вЂњItвЂ™s a big blow not to be able to line up in the national championships and Tour Down Under and defend my titles. They are races that I really enjoy and I know how important they are to the team,вЂќ he added. Gerrans was completing a training session near his home in Victoria state when he crashed on Sunday. вЂњI knew straight away as I hit the ground that I had broken my left collarbone,вЂќ he said. Orica GreenEdge sport director Matt White said he expected Gerrans to bounce back for the top European races. вЂњSimon is one of our key riders and the Australian summer, particularly the national championships and Tour Down Under, were a real goal for him again next year,вЂќ he said. вЂњBut he is the ultimate professional; he will be back on the bike in no time and hunting down his next victory before we know it,вЂќ White added. Gerrans was set to go head-to-head with fellow Australian and Tour de France winner Cadel Evans in the Tour Down Under. The Tour Down Under, the first UCI World Tour event of 2015, will be staged in and around Adelaide from January 17 to 25. Jock Clear, the Mercedes engineer who helped Lewis Hamilton win this yearвЂ™s F1 world championship, has been hired by Ferrari as the last key element in the Italian teamвЂ™s rebuilding after a dismal 2014 during which it failed to win a single race. Ferrari from Mercedes at a time when the Italian team are playing catch up. Arrivabene dismissed speculation that former Mercedes technical direc- tor Bob Bell, who resigned in December 2013, could also be moving to Maranello and said Ferrari now had the right people in place. вЂњThe team is there,вЂќ he said. вЂњThere is no great news to be announced, no surprises. We have to believe in the people we have.вЂќ SpainвЂ™s double world champion Fernando Alonso has left for McLaren and been replaced by quadruple champion Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull, with 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen staying. Asked what he expected from Vettel, Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne smiled: вЂњI expect the same thing from a German driver as I do from a Spanish driver. To drive the hell out of the car and win races. вЂњTheir role in life is to race and to win.вЂќ Arrivabene, who previously worked for team sponsor Philip Morris, said he was looking to the German to lead and motivate a team that п¬Ѓnished fourth overall this year. вЂњNo man is an island,вЂќ he said. вЂњI am not a magician, there are no miracles to be made. We have to work as a team, this is the most important thing. вЂњI donвЂ™t believe in individual success. I believe in team success,вЂќ he added. вЂњDrivers become the stars of the show but they must be treated like employees. They must work as a team and help rebuild the team.вЂќ TIMELINE OF KEY CHANGES AT FERRARI Ferrari, Formula OneвЂ™s oldest and most glamorous team, have made sweeping changes as they regroup for 2015 after their first season without a win since 1993. A timeline of the key changes: Dec 22: Ferrari confirm that senior Mercedes engineer Jock Clear is to join as engineering director, replacing the departed Pat Fry. Dec 19: Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, dropped by Toro Rosso in November, replaces Spaniard Pedro De la Rosa as a test driver. Dec 17: Tyre expert Hirohide Hamashima, a former Bridgestone motorsport tyre development boss, leaves Ferrari. Dec 16: Ferrari announce the departures of chief designer Nikolas Tombazis and engineering director Pat Fry, two of the key men responsible for designing the 2014 car. James Allison handed responsibility for the technical side. Dec 15: Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, dropped at the end of the season by Sauber, is appointed test and reserve driver for 2015. Nov 24: Maurizio Arrivabene takes TENNIS Federer raises $1.3mn from African fund-raising event The fact that we were able to raise such a large amount for the foundation makes the evening even more special. A hearty thank you to Stan that he made this possibleвЂ™ Roger Federer (centre) and compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka (2nd left) pose with members of the South African Ibuyamo Orchestra group after вЂ�The match for Africa 2вЂ™ charity tennis match in Zurich on Sunday. The Swiss pair took to the court on behalf of Roger Federer Foundation, which aids disadvantaged children in Africa and Switzerland. (Reuters) DPA Zurich R oger Federer heads into Christmas week hoping to take his African charityвЂ™s aid to at least one million children after a blockbuster fund-raising tennis exhibition on Sunday night with Stan Wawrinka, which raised close to 1.3 million dollars. The pair of 2014 Davis Cup champions from SwitzerlandвЂ”both fathers themselves, with Federer and wife Mirka the parents to two sets of identical twinsвЂ”took to the court on behalf of the Roger Federer Foundation, which aids disadvantaged children in Africa and Switzerland. The Hallenstadion was п¬Ѓlled to capacity with 11,000 spectators eager to see their heroes in the п¬‚esh after what for both had been record-setting 2014 ATP seasons, with the entire exercise accompanied by the rhythms of African music. вЂњThe evening was a great experience for me. Stan and I were given a wonderful reception in the stadium,вЂќ said Federer, who п¬Ѓnished number two behind Novak Djokovic this season on the ATP, winning п¬Ѓve titles. вЂњThe fact that we were able to raise such a large amount for the foundation makes the evening even more special. A hearty thank you to Stan that he made this possible,вЂќ added the 33-year-old. вЂњIt was a lot of fun and a great end to the season,вЂќ said Wawrinka, preparing to defend his Australian Open title in less than a month. вЂњIt was a wonderful year with lots of special moments. It means a lot to me to be able to close the season here in Zurich,вЂќ he added. Since its establishment more than a decade ago, the charity effort has raised around 17 million dollars for education programmes, and helped 285,000 children in six countries in southern Africa and in Switzerland. By the end of 2018 the foundation aims to reach one million children. вЂњWith the proceeds from вЂњThe Match for Africa 2вЂќ we can reach another 30,000 children and improve the quality of over 200 kindergartens and primary schools in southern Africa,вЂќ added charity managing director Janine Haendel. Federer will begin his 2015 season in Brisbane in early January prior to the Australian Open. US skier Lindsey Vonn watches the tennis exhibition match between Stanislas Wawrinka and Roger Federer in Zurich. (EPA) over as team principal, replacing Marco Mattiacci, who leaves the company. Nov 20: Ferrari announce that double world champion Fernando Alonso is leaving and will be replaced by quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel, who joins from Red Bull on a three-year deal. He will partner Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 champion. Sept 10: Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo says he will leave on Oct 13, handing over to Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne. Montezemolo had been chairman since 1991 and also worked with team founder Enzo Ferrari. Aug 1: Ferrari confirm the departure of engine designer Luca Marmorini. Mattia Binotto takes his place. May 11: Ferrari go a year without a win. April 14: Stefano Domenicali, appointed team principal in 2008, resigns after the new V6 turbo era starts with nothing better than two fourth places from three races. He is replaced by Marco Mattiacci, FerrariвЂ™s North America president. Asian outlook for golf positive again, says tour chief Asian Tour CEO Mike Kerr says the outlook for golf in the continent is positive again after a difficult few years which saw tournaments scrapped and sponsors hard to find. The region received a boost last month when the European Tour announced it had added a new вЂњAsian swingвЂќ to its 2015 schedule with events in Malaysia, Thailand and India. February will see the longestablished Maybank Malaysian Open followed by two new co-sanctioned Asian Tour and European Tour eventsвЂ”the $2 million Thailand Classic and the Hero Indian Open. вЂњIt really highlights that Asia is where the growth is going to be,вЂќ Kerr said. вЂњIf you look at the two more established markets, the US and certainly western Europe, they are fairly saturated,вЂќ he added. вЂњYouвЂ™re going to get organic growth in those markets but youвЂ™re not going to get many new tournaments.вЂќ The Asian Tour enjoyed a boom period before leaner economic times and greater competition after the arrival of the rival OneAsia tour in 2009 hampered the growth of its schedule. Two flagship eventsвЂ”both cosanctioned with the European TourвЂ”suffered. The Singapore Open, once touted as вЂњAsiaвЂ™s majorвЂќ, was sidelined and the Hong Kong Open left without a title sponsor. Hong Kong still lacks a headline backer but the European Tour has underlined itвЂ™s importance with a key slot on next yearвЂ™s calendarвЂ”just before the season-ending вЂ�Final SeriesвЂ™. вЂњThe co-sanctioned programme has been very successful for us,вЂќ said Kerr. вЂњIt allows Asian players to play against some of the best in the world. I see us working closer and in more tournaments and more markets around the world in the future.вЂќ The European Tour has also added a new China date to its calendar for next year, with the Shenzhen International, which is not sanctioned by the Asian Tour, set to debut in April the week before the Volvo China Open. And in November, two of the European TourвЂ™s Race to Dubai вЂ�Final SeriesвЂ™ events will again take place in Shanghai, ChinaвЂ” the WGC-HSBC Champions and the BMW Masters. Kerr said the Asian Tour was also looking to increase the number of its stand-alone events, pointing out that the Vascory Classic in Malaysia had been added to next yearвЂ™s calendar. вЂњAm I happy with where the Asian Tour is at the moment? I think I am. Obviously we would love to have more tournaments, more purses, and more opportunities for the players but it takes time,вЂќ he said. вЂњWhat we want to do is develop a sustainable tour. We donвЂ™t want a flash-in-the-pan event coming in and off the schedule which has in some ways happened in the past,вЂќ he added. вЂњCertainly over the past couple of years weвЂ™ve had a fairly rough time and things have been quite tight but I think we can see that we are starting to come out of that situation.вЂќ 8 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 SPORT NBA Waiters sparks late run as Cavaliers cruise past short-handed Grizzlies HeвЂ™s a young guy and learning every day. We needed a spark and he gave us a big lift off the bench. He was aggressive, decisive and played a great gameвЂ™ Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters slips while driving the baseline against Memphis Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee in the second quarter of their NBA game on Sunday. (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports) DPA Los Angeles D ion Waiters doesnвЂ™t start for the Cleveland Cavaliers anymore but he knows how to п¬Ѓnish. Waiters netted 13 of his 21 points in the п¬Ѓnal quarter and the Cavaliers beat the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies 105-91. A starter early this season, Waiters has struggled and is now coming off the bench. He seems to be settling into his new role and he found his form Sunday against the Western Conference powerhouse. вЂњHeвЂ™s a young guy and learning every day,вЂќ said LeBron James, who led the Cavs with 25 points and 11 assists. вЂњWe needed a spark and he gave us a big lift off the bench. He was aggressive, decisive and played a great game.вЂќ BrazilвЂ™s Anderson Varejao scored 18 points, Kyrie Irving had 17 with 12 assists, and Cleveland (16-10) shot a season-best 61 per cent from the п¬Ѓeld in the wire-to-wire win. вЂњThe way Dion played tonight was amazing,вЂќ Varejao said. вЂњWhen we play like we did tonight weвЂ™re a pretty good team.вЂќ Spanish centre Marc Gasol had 23 points with 11 rebounds for Memphis (21-6), which lost its second in a row after a six-game run without starting forward Zach Randolph (swollen right knee) and top reserve Tony Allen (scratched right eye). вЂњWe play who we have,вЂќ Gasol said. вЂњWhoeverвЂ™s not here is not here. Trust me, we have enough talent in this locker room not just to win tonight, but to win the same amount of games weвЂ™ve won so far.вЂќ Without their top rebounder and best defender, Gasol carried the load, especially in the third quarter with 13 points to trim an 11-point halftime deп¬Ѓcit to 77-70. The Grizzlies drew to within 79-74 with a minute gone in the fourth quarter before Waiters led the Cavs on a game-breaking 21-9 blitz. During the spree, Waiters hit a cou- ple of triples and converted a threepoint play. He added a nifty layup, a corner jumper and sent a lob pass over to the soaring James for a ferocious dunk, as Cleveland opened up a 10083 cushion with just under п¬Ѓve minutes left en route to its 11th win in the last 13 games. вЂњWhen I come back in I have to be mentally locked in,вЂќ Waiters said. вЂњWhen youвЂ™re on a roll they keep feeding you. I just made shots, we rode the wave and got the win.вЂќ Elsewhere... New Orleans Pelicans 101, Oklahoma City Thunder 99: Anthony Davis had 38 points with 12 rebounds, and the visiting Pelicans (14-13) escaped the short-handed Thunder when Russell Westbrook missed a potential game-winning three-pointer with two seconds left. Westbrook п¬Ѓnished with 28 for Oklahoma City (13-15), which was playing its second straight game without league MVP Kevin Durant because of a right ankle sprain. Phoenix Suns 104, Washington Wizards 92: Eric Bledsoe scored seven of his 17 points in a game-sealing 9-0 run in the п¬Ѓnal 2:40, Markieff Morris also had 17, and the Suns (15-4) snapped the WizardsвЂ™ (19-7) six-game winning streak. Philadelphia 76ers 96, Orlando Magic 88: Michael Carter-Williams scored 21 points, and the league-worst Sixers (3-23) rallied past the Magic (10-20), which wasted a 19-point, 17-rebound effort from Nic Vucevic. Brooklyn Nets 110, Detroit Pistons 105: Mason Plumlee had 21 points with 12 rebounds, Joe Johnson made four free throws in the п¬Ѓnal 12 seconds, and the Nets (11-15) sent the visiting Pistons (5-23) to their 17th loss in the last 19 games despite Andre DrummondвЂ™s 18-point, 20-rebound effort. Toronto Raptors 118, New York Knicks 108: Kyle Lowry and Lou Williams tossed in 22 points apiece, and the East-best Raptors (22-6) rolled to their sixth straight victory, while sending the reeling Knicks (5-25) to their 15th loss in the last 16 games despite Carmelo An- thonyвЂ™s game-high 28 points. Miami Heat 100, Boston Celtics 84: Luol Deng scored 23 points, James Ennis added 10 of his 16 in the п¬Ѓnal quarter, and the Heat (13-15), without starters Dwyane Wade (bruised right knee) and Chris Bosh (left calf strain), stopped a п¬Ѓve-game slide after bouncing the visiting Celtics (10-15). Sacramento Kings 108, LA Lakers 101: DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points with 14 rebounds, Rudy Gay netted 24, and the Kings (12-15) went on a decisive 18-2 fourth-quarter run to end a п¬Ѓve-game slide after beating the visiting Lakers. Nick Young had 26 points and Kobe Bryant added 25 for the Lakers (8-19), losers of three in a row. Indiana Pacers 100, Minnesota Timberwolves 94: CJ Miles scored nine of his season-high 28 points in the п¬Ѓnal 3:15, and Pacers (9-19) trimmed the T-Wolves to stop a seven-game road slide. Mo Williams had 24 points and 10 assists for Minnesota (5-21), which lost for the 11 time in the last 12 games. CavaliersвЂ™ trade assets limited between now and Feb deadline By Jason Lloyd Akron Beacon Journal (TNS) W hen the Cavaliers watched Corey Brewer pack his bags and move from Minnesota to Houston last week, they made the difficult decision to pass on a useful wing who could help them now. But at what cost? The Cavs couldвЂ™ve acquired Brewer if they were willing to burn a first-round pick, but that wouldвЂ™ve been a drastic overpay for a journeyman guard who has averaged 10 points per game throughout his career. As the NBAвЂ™s trading season commences, the flurry of moves the Cavs made last summer and at the start of training camp has left them with precious few assets left to complete trades. The picks they wouldвЂ™ve needed to acquire Brewer were previously sent to the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers over the summer to create a $5.3 million trade exception. But they wouldnвЂ™t have had the cap space to acquire Brewer without the exception. Once LeBron James signed his max deal, the Cavs were out of cap space. In order to have any flexibility this season, they needed to create a trade exception. So they took Carrick FelixвЂ™s guaranteed contract and sent it to the Utah Jazz for a handful of nonguaranteed deals. They were forced to attach their second-round pick in the upcoming draft to entice the Jazz to take FelixвЂ™s guaranteed dollars. Then they took those nonguaranteed deals and sent them to the Celtics in exchange for Keith Bogans, who they had no interest in keeping and were simply using to maximize the value of a future trade exception. The price for that deal was second-round picks in both 2016 and 2017. Then they dumped Bogans on the 76ers and came away with the trade exception. The price? Another secondround pick in 2018. Add it all up and the Cavs spent four second-round picks to create the $5.3 million exception needed to acquire a player like Brewer, but they didnвЂ™t have the assets left to obtain him without drastically overspending. Their next available second-round pick to use in a trade isnвЂ™t until 2019. Similarly, the July trade made with the Celtics to clear enough cap space to bring back James was particularly costly. ItвЂ™s difficult to call anything that ends with James on the roster a bad trade, but it was a high price to pay. The Cavs essentially gave away a 7-foot rotational big man in Tyler Zeller and a 2016 first-round pick to the Celtics just to move Jarrett JackвЂ™s contract and create the space necessary to sign James. After a slow start, Zeller is averaging 11.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and a block per game since moving into the starting lineup 11 games ago. The Cavs, meanwhile, continue to shop for a rim protector. Although in fairness, defense was never ZellerвЂ™s strength. The pick stings, too. Since the Cavs cannot trade first-round picks in consecutive drafts under the Stepien Rule, they cannot trade their first-round pick in JuneвЂ™s draft because it would leave them without a pick in вЂ�15 and вЂ�16. The next available draft the Cavs could trade a first-round pick is 2018. That isnвЂ™t very appealing to an opposing general manager who knows he might not even have that same job three seasons from now. The outlook isnвЂ™t completely dire. ItвЂ™s not as if the Cavs have no upcoming draft picks and no paths to infuse young talent. All of which leaves the Cavs with four viable trade assets between now and February: Dion Waiters, Joe Harris, Brendan Haywood and a future first-round pick from the Memphis Grizzlies that could eventually become a lottery pick. Avalanche inflict 6th straight loss on Red Wings Agencies Detroit C enters Nate MacKinnon and Matt Duchene and right winger Jarome Iginla scored in a nine-round shootout to give the Colorado Avalanche a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night at Joe Louis Arena. It was DetroitвЂ™s sixth consecutive loss. Defenseman Erik Johnson scored for Colorado and goaltender while Calvin Pickard made 34 saves in the first 65 minutes. Elsewhere Stars 6, Oilers 5 (SO) In the worst loss of a season that already features 27 losses in 34 games, Edmonton blew a three-goal lead on home ice and lost to Dallas in a shootout. Forwards Shawn Horcoff, Erik Cole, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin (twice) scored for Dallas in regulation while Horcoff added the winner in the shootout. Edmonton left winger Taylor Hall and center Mark Arcobello scored two goals each and right winger Ted Purcell once for Edmonton. Rangers 1, Hurricanes 0 Defenseman Ryan McDonagh scored the gameвЂ™s lone goal, and goaltender Cam Talbot made 18 saves as the New York Rangers defeated Carolina at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers (17-10-4) earned their sixth consecutive win. The Hurricanes (9-20-4) lost for the eighth time in nine games. Blackhawks 4, Maple Leafs 0 Forward Patrick Kane scored a goal and added two assists, while fellow forward Patrick Sharp added three assists and Chicago shut out Toronto at the United Center. Backup goaltender Antti Raanta, spelling No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford, stopped all 31 of TorontoвЂ™s shots in the game. Bruins 4, Sabres 3 (OT) Just when their slide looked like it was going to continue, Boston pulled out a dramatic win over Buffalo. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who had an earlier goal in the game, forced overtime with his second goal with 1:31 remaining in regulation and right winger Loui Eriksson scored with 2:46 left in overtime, giving the Bruins a victory. Forward Chris Kelly scored the other goal for Boston. Stars 6, Oilers 5 (SO) In the worst loss of a season that already features 27 losses in 34 games, Edmonton blew a three-goal lead on home ice and lost to Dallas in a shootout. Forwards Shawn Horcoff, Erik Cole, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin (twice) scored for Dallas in regulation while Horcoff added the winner in the shootout. Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard (31) makes a save on Detroit Red Wings center Gustav Nyquist. Colorado won 2-1. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports) Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9 SPORT FOCUS CONTROVERSY World Cup winners, Hoefl-Riesch, Harting win German awards вЂ�In those six weeks in Brazil we had no inner stressвЂ™ Harting apologetic after criticism on Sportsman of the Year award DPA Baden-Baden, Germany R obert HartingвЂ™s third straight German Sportsman of the Year award has been criticised because he had left behind Winter Olympics champions, and the discus throw star himself was slightly embarrassed as well. The world and Olympic champion Harting won a European title in 2014 but agreed that the Sochi Games gold from Nordic combined skier Eric Frenzel and the double gold from luge slider Felix Loch were worth more. вЂњI am not quite sure how to rate this. I apologised immediately to the winter sports athletes,вЂќ Harting said after SundayвЂ™s gala in Baden-Baden where the result from the annual poll among 1,200 German sports journalists was announced. вЂњI believe that Olympic success tops European titles. The boys won gold there, even worse that I am now on top.вЂќ Harting won the German award a third straight year with a slim margin ahead of Frenzel, with Loch further back in third place. Retired three-time Olympic ski champion Maria-Riesch, who won the womenвЂ™s award, said вЂњyou have to accept the voteвЂќ but added the result is вЂњvery sad for winter sport, and to a certain extent a proof of inadequacy. вЂњI consider it quite disturbing that a European champion from the summer (sports) is worth more than an Olympic champion from the winter. Even more now that he has won it a third time.вЂќ Riesch nonetheless expressed respect for Harting, whose win comes four years Sebastian Vettel also beat menвЂ™s Winter Olympians for the 2010 award after his п¬Ѓrst of now four Formula One titles. However, the previous winners were winter athletes Michael Greis (biathlon, 2006), Sven Hannawald (ski-jumping, 2002), Georg Hackl (luge, 1998) and Markus Wasmeier (alpine skiing, 1994) ever since the Winter Olympics took place in different years than Summer Games. On the womenвЂ™s side, swimmer Franziska van Almick was the only summer athlete to get the award in those years in the same period, with Riesch being named Sportswoman of the Year in 2010 and 2014, and past winners also including skier Katja Seizinger. Observers, and Harting as well, suggested that his win was not only based on his results on the athletics п¬Ѓeld. The 30-year-old is very outspoken, had his name removed from a Athlete of the Year shortlist by the ruling body IAAF because it included former doping offender Justin Gatlin, and is among the initiators of a new lottery which is to start next month and to support athletes in a better way. вЂњI feel like in primary school where I won a competition at the age of eight or nine, and the classmates didnвЂ™t like me any more the next day,вЂќ Harting said. German national football team coach Joachim Loew (right) receives a test tube filled with sand taken from the beach near the teamвЂ™s 2014 World Cup base camp Campo Bahia in Brazil from TV host Katrin Mueller-Hohenstein (left) after the team was awarded GermanyвЂ™s Sports Team Of The Year 2014 in Baden-Baden, Germany, on Sunday. (Reuters) DPA Baden-Baden, Germany G ermanyвЂ™s World Cup winning football team, retired Olympic ski champion Maria Hoeп¬‚-Riesch and discus thrower Robert Harting won the nationвЂ™s Athlete of the Year awards on Sunday. GermanyвЂ™s footballers coached by Joachim Loew won the team award a 10th time overall in the wake of a fourth World Cup title in July. Hoeп¬‚-Riesch, who quit skiing after the past season, topped the womenвЂ™s list a second time after 2010 in the wake of a third career Olympic gold in Sochi; and the 2014 European champion Harting won the menвЂ™s award a third straight year. The awards, based on a poll among some 1,200 sports journalists in Germany, were announced at the annual gala in the resort of Baden-Baden. GermanyвЂ™s footballers were always the favourites to succeed treble winners Bayern Munich in the team award after their World Cup triumph 1-0 on July 13 against Argentina in Rio de Janeiro, which followed a historic 7-1 drubbing of hosts Brazil in the semis. вЂњIt was their team spirit; it was the team,вЂќ said German Football Federation Former Alpine skier Maria Hoefl-Riesch (right) receives the вЂ�Sportswoman Of The YearвЂ™ trophy from IOC President Thomas Bach during an awards gala in Baden-Baden, Germany, on Sunday. (Reuters) president Wolfgang Niersbach, reп¬‚ecting on the World Cup competition. вЂњIn those six weeks in Brazil we had no inner stress.вЂќ The footballers topped the bill with 4,660 points, more than double the 1,846 the Olympic ski-jumping team champions from Sochi received. The volleyball world championship bronze medallists were third with 1,115. Hoeп¬‚-Riesch, 30, was also the big favourite on the womenвЂ™s side thanks to her super-combined gold and super-g silver in Sochi, plus the World Cup downhill title in her п¬Ѓnal ski season. She received 3,147 points to win from two-time luge gold medallist Natalie Geisenberger (1,830) and Carina Vogt (1,782), who became the inaugural womenвЂ™s ski-jumping Olympic champion in Russia. Hoeп¬‚-Riesch said she thought about her decision to retire for a long time. вЂњIt was a difficult decision, but I believe to this day that it was the right one,вЂќ she said. Harting, 30, meanwhile was a surprise winner despite his long list of merits including three world titles and Olympic gold, as his 2014 highlight was only a continental championship. However, personality may have been a factor as well as the outspoken Harting for instance had his name removed from the п¬Ѓnal list of nominees for World Athlete of the Year because he didnвЂ™t want to be on the same list that included doping offender Justin Gatlin of the United States. Harting earned 2,100 points, which was just good enough to edge Nordic combined skiing Olympic and World Cup champion Eric Frenzel (2,055), and twotime Olympic luge champion Felix Loch, who was third (1,467). SKIING Ahonen not nominated, Stoch doubtful for Four Hills DPA Berlin R ecord winner Janne Ahonen has not been nominated and world and Olympic champion Kamil Stoch is doubtful in the wake of ankle surgery to compete at the upcoming ski-jumping Four Hills Tour. Ahonen, 37, who came out of retirement last year, has only jumped at one World Cup stop this season, and his 29th and 32rd п¬Ѓnishes in Ruka were not good enough to make the Finnish team for the Four Hills which he has won п¬Ѓve times. The Finnish ski federation said yesterday that Ahonen will instead prepare for the world championships in February in Falun, Sweden. The worlds are also the main target for PolandвЂ™s Stoch, who damaged his ankle just ahead of the season-opener in November and required surgery. He expressed doubts about returning for SundayвЂ™s Four Hills opener in Oberstdorf, Germany. вЂњAt this point I canвЂ™t say that. I hope that itвЂ™ll work, but as I said, I still need some time,вЂќ the two-time Sochi Olympics champion told the website of the ruling body FIS in an interview published on Monday. вЂњThe world championships are the highlight this season, I donвЂ™t want to risk missing that. I will not start jumping again until IвЂ™m completely sure that everything is okay. The recovery process is most important for me right now.вЂќ FinlandвЂ™s Janne Ahonen has only jumped at one World Cup stop this season. (Dallas Morning News/KRT) German discus thrower Robert Harting (right) celebrates being awarded GermanyвЂ™s Athlete of the Year 2014 with his grandmother Renate Seidel on Sunday. (Reuters) Cate Campbell named AustraliaвЂ™s Swimmer of the Year again Sydney: World 100 metres freestyle champion Cate Campbell was named AustraliaвЂ™s Swimmer of the Year yesterday after winning four golds at the Pan Pacific Championships and three at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. The 22-year-old, who also won the award last year, holds the fastest time in the world this year for the 100m freestyle (52.62 seconds) and joint fastest time for the 50m freestyle (23.96). Campbell also teamed up with her sister Bronte, Melanie Wright and Emma McKeon to win the 4x100m freestyle relay gold at the Commonwealth Games in a world record time of three minutes, 30.98 seconds, shaving almost a second off the previous mark. Her long-term mentor Simon Cusack was named Coach of the Year at the ceremony in Brisbane, while Campbell also won the SwimmerвЂ™s Swimmer award, which is voted for by the Australia team. 10 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 FEATURE NBA YEARENDER A dunk into the best and worst of 2014 By Robert Silverman The Guardian The Spurs dance round Oklahoma T he San Antonio Spurs won their п¬Ѓfth title in the last 17 seasons, and have rattled off an unfathomable winning percentage of .686 since Gregg Popovich was named head coach in 1996. ItвЂ™s the closest the NBA has seen to a dynasty on par with Bill RussellвЂ™s Celtics of the 1960s. Considering Red Auerbach never had to navigate the salary cap you could make the case that this run is even more impressive. For years, the Spurs were dismissed as вЂњboring,вЂќ but as they transformed from a grind-it-out, low post offence to the apotheosis of Mike DвЂ™AntoniвЂ™s then-revolutionary pick-androll, pace and space churn, theyвЂ™ve honed their craft such that it can seem as if they have unlocked the secret to nearperfect, unselп¬Ѓsh ball. This yearвЂ™s Spurs model might be the best. They ran rampant through a brutal Western Conference playoff gauntlet, and topped it off by slicing up LeBron and Co with a tsunami of perfectly executed passes, dogged, deft cuts and precise rotations on defence. There are literally hundreds of YouTubeвЂ™d clips and/or gifs you could select to sum up the totality of this magniп¬Ѓcent team, but IвЂ™m going to go with this sequence against Oklahoma City in which the ball and the players practically dance in unison. If you have a friend or colleague that isnвЂ™t much of a hoops fan, show him or her a few of these. See if they donвЂ™t get hooked. The end of Donald Sterling W e already knew who and what Donald Sterling was well before his ranting, bile-strewn вЂ�conversationвЂ™ with his then-mistress was leaked by TMZ. For decades this leathery, unreconstructed bigot ran every business heвЂ™s owned like a modern-day plantation, Justice Department and sexual harassment lawsuits be damned. Of course, thereвЂ™s a difference between culling the back pages of the sports section to read that Sterling would routinely bring women into the Los Angeles ClippersвЂ™ locker room and lecherously declare, вЂњLook at those beautiful black bodies,вЂќ or delving into depositions to discover out that heвЂ™d asked of one of the tenants of his slums, вЂњIs she one of those black people that stink?вЂќ and actually hearing his racist dreck for yourself. Thankfully, even a phalanx of lawyers and bottom feeding вЂ�investigatorsвЂ™ couldnвЂ™t prevent him from being booted from the league for good, and the team was sold to ex-Microsoft honcho Steve Ballmer after his estranged wife Shelly had Sterling declared mentally unп¬Ѓt to own the Clippers. everyone knew that theyвЂ™d be awful; that was never in doubt. But even after a scorched-earth campaign last season, they doubled down, punting on the 2014 NBA draft altogether by selecting two players that, either via injury or because of overseas commitments, wonвЂ™t be suiting up until the 2015-16 season at the earliest. The degree of their awful-by-design-ness even prompted the NBA to try to change the lottery rules mid-stream to thwart their п¬Ѓendish plot, which points to the larger question here: Whether or not you accept the conventional wisdom that dumping assets in the hope of accumulating draft picks is the way to rebuild вЂ“ even if said strategy hasnвЂ™t really been shown to work вЂ“ the fact remains that the NBA as itвЂ™s currently structured rewards failure. KobeвЂ™s highlight reel A nd then thereвЂ™s Kobe Bryant. ItвЂ™s hard to pick out one moment that encapsulates this late-career heel turn. As heвЂ™s proved more vulnerable to injury, and lost a step or two, the Kobe-ness of his personality has come full force, calciп¬Ѓed into something else; something meaner or harder, as if he could stave off the ravages of time by sheer force of will. ItвЂ™s almost as if heвЂ™s become a parody of himself, sniping at ESPN over the perceived indignity of being ranked the leagueвЂ™s 40th best player. Following team-mate Nick YoungвЂ™s pre-season injury he dismissively grumped, вЂњYou reach, youвЂ™re going to get hurt.вЂќ You can practically taste the raw, simmering rage with which he described how heвЂ™d be вЂ�mentoringвЂ™ rookie Julius Randle, вЂњIt means he canвЂ™t [expletive] it up. Seriously. You [expletive] this up, youвЂ™re a really big idiot.вЂќ Or the leaked snippets of him berating his team-mates during a practice, and barking at GM Mitch Kupchak, вЂњI thought weвЂ™re supposed to practice to get better, Mitch. These [expletive] ainвЂ™t doing [expletive] for me.вЂќ Even while basking in the glory of passing Michael Jordan on the scoring list, he ascribed his success to the teachings of Anakin Skywalker: вЂњThatвЂ™s just the reality of it; you canвЂ™t get to a supreme level without kind of channelling the dark side.вЂќ The Lakers are a mess, and if nothing else, watching KobeвЂ™s unquenchable competitive desire come face to face with that reality вЂ“ the Lakers are actually signiп¬Ѓcantly better without Kobe in the lineup вЂ“ has made for great theatre. Jason Collins, doing work O The players get a worthy leader n 23 February 2014, Jason Collins became the п¬Ѓrst openly gay athlete to play a pro game in one of the four major US sports. What he did on the п¬‚oor was in no way remarkable, and more or less the same as during his 13-year career; he played solid, rugged defence in the low post, using all the unglamorous tools of his trade to nudge bigger, stronger, more athletically gifted opponents a few inches away from their preferred slots on the п¬‚oor. And... nothing. Save for a rumoured slur or two, there were no massive protests or вЂњdistractionsвЂќ. Collins wasnвЂ™t shunned like some kind of social leper nor did he set the world aп¬‚ame with archaic panicking about showering with other men. The painfully slow arc towards justice bent just a little bit, as sports fans watched him go about the daily business of his job and maybe, just maybe came to the realization that gay people are, well, people. But the fact that вЂ�nothingвЂ™ occurred should in no way diminish the importance of his actions. вЂњJason Collins is living, screen-sliding, proof. This is news because we need it to be news. This is news because your children, or friends of your children, or children that your children know, or children that you might be coaching in a rec league, need to know that Jason Collins will become a productive player on a pro basketball team. While liking who he likes. While loving who he loves,вЂќ Kelly Dwyer wrote at Yahoo. вЂњBecause conп¬‚icted teenagers need to know that itвЂ™s just п¬Ѓne for men to love other men. That while this stuff shouldnвЂ™t matter at all, in these early stages we should make вЂ�newsвЂ™ out of it.вЂќ E A star is born The Silver King is enthroned S peaking of which, not much was known about NBA Commissioner Adam Silver before he ascended to David SternвЂ™s throne, but he came storming out of the gate, acting quickly decisively to quell an impending wildcat strike and sponsorbased rebellion in the wake of LвЂ™Affair Sterling, and working out a new $24bn agreement for the leagueвЂ™s broadcast rights with ESPN and TNT starting in the 2016-17 season, close to three times the annual amount of the previous deal. But itвЂ™s worth remembering that press conference in which he banned Sterling for life was far from the obvious or expected decision. Save for the always-outspoken Mark Cuban, no owner was willing to say so it publicly, but you have to imagine that the idea that they could lose their team because of a private conversation didnвЂ™t sit very well with the other 31 millionaires. It didnвЂ™t matter. And while weвЂ™ll never know what backroom negotiations were held to maintain consensus, Silver brought down the hammer, ditching a litigatorвЂ™s calm veneer and sounding downright enraged. Good for him. very time the National Basketball PlayersвЂ™ Association has gone toe-to-toe with the league, theyвЂ™ve got whomped like the Washington Generals. WeвЂ™re a long way off from the next potential work stoppage (the collective bargaining agreement is set to expire after the 2016-17 season) but the new head of the union, Michele Roberts is already staking out her turf. In response to SilverвЂ™s assertion that a third of NBA teams arenвЂ™t proп¬Ѓtable, she said, вЂњI initially just started laughing, to be honest with you.вЂќ If nothing else, Roberts is debunking all of the old pro sports labour myths. From the validity of the salary cap: вЂњI donвЂ™t know of any space other than the world of sports where thereвЂ™s this notion that we will artiп¬Ѓcially deп¬‚ate what someoneвЂ™s able to make, just because. ItвЂ™s incredibly un-AmericanвЂќ to the age limit: вЂњThere is no other profession that says that youвЂ™re old enough to die but not old enough to work.вЂќ None of this means another work stoppage is inevitable, but Roberts at least gives the players a general that is willing to put up a п¬Ѓght. LeBronвЂ™s homecoming A fter four straight trips to the п¬Ѓnals and two championships brought back to the shores of South Beach, LeBron James shocked the basketball world by deciding to return to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. вЂњBefore anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. ItвЂ™s where I walked. ItвЂ™s where I ran. ItвЂ™s where I cried. ItвЂ™s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart,вЂќ James explained in a Sports Illustrated article he wrote with Lee Jenkins. вЂњIn Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. IвЂ™m ready to accept the challenge. IвЂ™m coming home.вЂќ As was the case when LeBron joined up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010, the results out of the gate have been mixed at best. But LeBronвЂ™s paean to the place he grew up was so nakedly human and vulnerable, if practically Hollywoodscripted, that you couldnвЂ™t help but root for him to succeed, and п¬Ѓnally bring a title to long-suffering Cleveland fans. The tank A t the other end of the spectrum, we have the Philadelphia 76ers, losers of a record-26 consecutive game. Sure, T hereвЂ™s something special about witnessing a highly touted player begin to harness his full potential. But the best thing about watching Anthony Davis is that we donвЂ™t even really know what his ceiling might be. вЂњItвЂ™s been over a decade since a player of any age has averaged at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. ItвЂ™s been two decades since a 20-year-old player has accomplished the incredible feat вЂ” the last under-21 player to do it was Shaquille OвЂ™Neal,вЂќ SB NationвЂ™s Drew Garrison wrote. вЂњOnly Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson have ever п¬Ѓnished a season also averaging at least 1.5 steals per game on top of the rebound, scoring and block averages.вЂќ Shaq, The Admiral, The Dream. Yeah, thatвЂ™s pretty good company to keep. But the best Anthony Davis moments come when he just plain seems to defy the laws of physics themselves, his Plastic Man-like arms extending higher and higher to snag an alley-oop attempt that seemed destined to land in the pricey seats. He stretches (often literally) the boundaries of the possible, and the anticipation or hope that anything can and will happen, makes slogging through a meaningless mid-November game against an also-ran absolutely worth it. Damian Lillard in the nick of time A Spurs-Mavericks tilt that went the full seven games, with Vince Carter turning back time to drain an incredible, game-winning fadeaway three pointer. The dazzling brilliance of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook versus the grit and grind, brutish Memphis Grizzlies. The Warriors and the Clippers п¬Ѓghting tooth and nail while the world awaits SterlingвЂ™s demise. 2014 gave us the best п¬Ѓrst round of the playoffs in NBA history, with every night an endless parade of the leagueвЂ™s greatest players, eye-popping performances and unforgettable moments вЂ“ a never-ending euphoric cycle of goodness for NBA junkies. And the absolute cherry was Damian LillardвЂ™s series-winning bomb with nine tenths of a second remaining as Mike Tirico bellowed, вЂњItвЂ™s Lillard вЂ¦ HE GOT THE SHOT OFF вЂ¦ LILLARD GOOOD. GOOOOOOD. And the Blazers win the series ... for the п¬Ѓrst time in FOUR-TEEN-YEARS!!!!!вЂќ LeBron James shocked the basketball world by deciding to return to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 23, 2014 POSTER LASITH Malinga SRI LANKAN FAST BOWLER | ONLY BOWLER WITH 2 WORLD CUP HAT-TRICKS | вЂ�SLINGA MALINGAвЂ™ 11 Tuesday, December 23, 2014 SPORT GULF TIMES SNAPSHOTS FROM FANZONE AT ITALIAN SUPER CUP Napoli fans cheer for their team before the match. It was a festive atmosphere at the Italian Super Cup match between Juventus and Napoli last night, as Italian dancers performed at the Al Sadd stadium in Doha. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil FOCUS AL RAYYAN, AL KHOR WIN Abu Issa aims for podium finish at Dakar Rally By Our Correspondent Buenos Aires, Argentina A Al Rayyan beat Shamal 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-22) in the Qatar Premier League at Al Arabi Sports Club yesterday. PICTURES: Jayaram dramatic Dakar Rally debut saw Mohamed Abu Issa steer his quad towards a top п¬Ѓve п¬Ѓnish and a Rookies Cup win. The Qatari rider is now focused on pushing for even more honours when the next edition of the race gets going in Buenos Aires in a few weekвЂ™s time. It may have only been a year since Abu Issa arrived in South America to compete in his п¬Ѓrst ever Dakar, but a lot has changed in that time. Before his Dakar debut there was little expectation surrounding the 23-year-old student, who stated his pre-race ambitions as hoping to reach the п¬Ѓnish line. After two weeks and 13 gruelling stages, Abu Issa not only fulп¬Ѓlled his desire to complete the race but surprised everyone by п¬Ѓnishing fourth overall to become the best placed debutant. Now Abu IssaвЂ™s talent is no secret in the bivouac of the Dakar and expectations for his upcoming performance has risen signiп¬Ѓcantly. Following the withdrawal of the Patronelli brothers (four-time winners between 2010-2013) Abu Issa now п¬Ѓnds himself within a select group of riders with a realistic shot at the quad title in 2015. Emulating his countryman Nasser al-Attiyah, by winning the Dakar remains Abu IssaвЂ™s ultimate ambition and earlier this year the two shared top spot of the podium at the Sealine Cross Country Rally. The duo delighted race fans in their native Qatar with victory on home turf as belief surged through the crowd that the pair can repeat their winning performances at the upcoming Dakar. Abu Issa said: вЂњMy п¬Ѓrst Dakar was a lot harder than I imagined it would be. A month before the race I broke my arm so I rode the rally with titanium plate in there. Now I know what to expect when I arrive at the race and this will help a lot. I feel my preparation is much better this time and my ambition is to win. The minimum IвЂ™m aiming for is a podium п¬Ѓnish because I want to show that there are others in Qatar, not just Nasser (al-Attiyah), who can compete at this level. It will not be an easy race but IвЂ™m ready to do my best.вЂќ Nasser will have to get the most out of his MINI ALL4 Racing if he is to collect another car race title and the task ahead of Abu Issa in the quad category is also far from simple. There are a total of four marathon stages lying in wait for the quads at this next edition of the Dakar, meaning that riders must do all repairs themselves before starting the next dayвЂ™s racing. With 9,000km of perilous terrain between himself and glory itвЂ™s clear that Abu Issa will need to be in top physical and mental condition for the entire two weeks if he is to take home the big prize. In another match, Al Khor scored an easy win over Qatar SC 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-18) in the Qatar Volleyball League. Qatari rider Mohamed Abu Issa steers his quad during the Dakar Rally last year.