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QATAR | Page 20
SPORT | Page 1
2, 20
4, 5
6 – 17
18, 19
1 – 5, 8 – 12
7, 8
1 – 11
Al Khor Fly In event sparks
children’s interest in aviation
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QATAR | Sport
Bayern Munich
team in Doha
German champions Bayern Munich
arrived in Doha yesterday for their
winter training camp which lasts
for eight days. A number of German
national team players who won the
World Cup in Brazil are part of the
travelling squad including, Mario
Gotze, the scorer of World Cup final
winning goal. The camp is the fifth
for the German giants who will be
training at Aspire Academy. The club’s
chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge,
praised the training conditions in Doha
as well as the sporting facilities, saying
that the players were eager to return
to Qatar every year. Bayern will take
on Qatar Stars League all-star team
in a friendly on Tuesday at Abdullah
bin Khalifa Stadium, with the latter
being coached by Lekhwiya manager
Michael Laudrup.
Gorbachev warns
of major conflict
Former Soviet leader Mikhail
Gorbachev warned that tensions
between Russia and European powers
over the Ukraine crisis could result in a
major conflict or even nuclear war, in an
interview to appear in a German news
magazine. “A war of this kind would
unavoidably lead to a nuclear war,” the
1990 Nobel Peace Prize winner told Der
Spiegel news magazine, according to
excerpts released yesterday. “We won’t
survive the coming years if someone
loses their nerve in this overheated
situation,” added Gorbachev, 83. “This is
not something I’m saying thoughtlessly.
I am extremely concerned.” Page 18
Oil hits lowest
since April 2009
Global oil prices resumed their slide
yesterday after two days of relative
calm, with Brent and US crude hitting
their lowest level since April, 2009, on
persistent worry over the global supply
glut. Benchmark Brent crude broke
below $49 a barrel, drifting further
below the $50 support level it had seen
earlier in the week. US crude fell below
$48. Oil prices had barely moved in the
past two sessions after tumbling 10%
the first two days of the week.
SYRIA | Conflict
Assad �building
nuclear plant’
Intelligence suggests that Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad is building
a secret underground plant with the
aim of developing nuclear weapons,
Germany’s Spiegel news magazine said
yesterday. Citing information made
available by unidentified intelligence
sources, Spiegel said the plant was in
an inaccessible mountain region in the
west of the war-ravaged country, 2km
from the Lebanese border.
Children flying a kite in front of a sculpture on the Corniche Promenade in Doha, promoting the Handball World Championship
2015, which will take place in Qatar from January 15 to February 1.
Film lovers rue dearth
of �affordable’ venues
By Ramesh Mathew
Staff Reporter
ilm lovers among the country’s
expatriates continue to rue the
dearth of cinemas that they can
visit without having to pay a hefty sum
for a ticket.
While Qatar has more than 50 multiplex screens spread over seven locations, many movie buffs feel that unlike
in some other GCC states, the country
has only a couple of halls that can be
called “affordable” options for expatriates with limited income.
Some of the п¬Ѓlm lovers say the only
halls that fall within their budget are
the two screens at West End Park,
which cater mainly to South Asian expatriates, screening Bollywood and
other Indian п¬Ѓlms. Two more screens
are due to open at the venue.
While there has been a surge in the
country’s population over the last five
to six years, including a large number
of workers who have arrived in Qatar to
take up employment in different infrastructure and other projects, there are
hardly any avenues for entertainment
for people like them.
It is learnt from the operators of
some major multiplexes in the country
that they generally have little patronage
on weekdays. On weekends, the crowds
swell significantly, especially when bigticket blockbusters are screened.
People queuing up for cinema tickets at West End Park. PICTURE: Jayaram.
The relatively low patronage on
weekdays has prompted some to call
for better marketing strategies, as seen
in some European cities, where tickets
for shows on weekdays are priced lower
than those for weekends. Such a model
is followed in some Asian cities as well.
“If the operators can offer reduced
ticket rates on weekdays, the response
would certainly be better,” says an expatriate who moved to Qatar more than
a couple of years ago from a neighbouring GCC state.
Sources familiar with the movie industry in the GCC states say some cinemas in the UAE and Oman have also
successfully experimented with the
model of lower ticket rates on weekdays.
When contacted recently, a local cinema operator said their company had
plans to introduce a similar marketing
strategy so as to boost patronage on
Calling for the introduction of such
marketing plans at local screens, a cinema manager said it would not only
contribute to improved revenues for
companies like theirs, but also provide
an opportunity for many people to
watch movies in a comfortable environment.
Sri Lanka swears in new president
Cables of congratulations
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and HH the Deputy Emir
Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani
have sent cables of congratulations to
Maithripala Sirisena on the occasion
of his winning Sri Lanka’s presidential
ri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse lost his bid for a third term
yesterday, ending a decade of rule.
Opposition candidate Maithripala
Sirisena, a one-time ally of Rajapakse
who defected in November and derailed
what the president thought would be an
easy win, took 51.3% of the votes polled
in Thursday’s election. Rajapakse got
47.6%, according to the Election Department.
Celebratory п¬Ѓrecrackers were set off
in the capital, Colombo, after Rajapakse
conceded defeat to Sirisena, who has
vowed to root out corruption and bring
constitutional reforms to weaken the
power of the presidency. Sri Lanka’s
stock market climbed to its highest in
nearly four years.
“We expect a life without fear,” said
Fathima Farhana, a 27-year-old Muslim
election, wishing him success. HE
the Prime Minister and Minister of
Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser
bin Khalifa al-Thani has also sent a
cable of congratulations to Sirisena on
the occasion.
woman in Colombo. “I voted for him
because he said he will create equal opportunities for all,” she said of Sirisena.
Like Rajapakse, Sirisena is from the
majority Sinhala Buddhist community, but he has reached out to ethnic
minority Tamils and Muslims and has
the support of several small parties.
Sirisena was sworn in at Colombo’s
Independence Square, where British
colonial rulers handed Sri Lanka its independence in 1948, alongside his new
prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
In an acceptance speech, he was
vague on foreign policy, promising to
“maintain a close relationship with all
countries and organisations”.
However, his allies say he will rebalance the country’s foreign policy, which
tilted heavily towards China in recent
years as Rajapakse fell out with the
West over human rights and allegations
of war crimes committed at the end of a
drawn-out conflict with Tamil separatists in 2009. Pages 17, 18
January 10, 2015
Rabia I 19, 1436 AH
www. 2 Riyals
killed as
twin sieges
rock France
The violent end to the simultaneous
stand-offs followed a police
operation of unprecedented scale
as France tackled one of the worst
threats to its internal security in
UKRAINE | Crisis
In brief
Doha ready for Handball World Championship
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wo brothers suspected of a bloody
attack on the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo
were killed when police stormed their
hideout yesterday, while a second siege
ended with the deaths of four hostages.
The violent end to the simultaneous
stand-offs followed a police operation
of unprecedented scale as France tackled one of the worst threats to its internal security in decades. The heavy loss
of life over three consecutive days also
risked fuelling anti-immigrant voices in
the country and elsewhere in the West.
Officials said Cherif Kouachi and his
brother Said, both in their thirties, died
when anti-terrorist forces moved in on
a print shop in the small town of Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris,
where the chief suspects in Wednesday’s attack had been holed up. The
hostage they had taken was safe, an official said.
Automatic gunfire rang out, followed
by blasts and then silence as smoke
could be seen billowing from the roof
of the print shop. Amid thick fog, a
helicopter landed on the building’s roof,
signalling the end of the assault. A government source said the brothers had
emerged from the building and opened
п¬Ѓre on police before they were killed.
Minutes later police broke the second
siege at a Jewish supermarket in eastern
Paris. A police union source said four
hostages had died there along with a
gunman, believed to have had links to
the same Islamist group as the Kouachi
brothers, who was holding them.
News footage of the Hyper Cacher
kosher supermarket in the Vincennes
district showed dozens of heavily armed
police officers massed outside of two
entrances. The assault began with gunfire and a loud explosion at the door, after which hostages were rushed out.
Reuters photographs taken from long
distance showed a man holding an infant and looking distressed being herded into an ambulance by police. Others
were carried in on stretchers.
French authorities have mobilised a
force of nearly 90,000 since Wednesday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo, a weekly
that has long courted controversy by its
satirical articles and cartoons.
The Kouachi brothers were prime
suspects in this attack when hooded
gunmen shot dead 12 people including
some of France’s top cartoonists along
with two police officers.
Security sources said the Frenchborn brothers of Algerian origin had
been under surveillance and had been
Emir reiterates
Qatar’s solidarity
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad
al-Thani yesterday held a telephone
conversation with French President
Francois Hollande. The Emir expressed
his condolences and sympathy to the
French government and families of the
victims of the “criminal attack” on the
offices of Charlie Hebdo newspaper on
Wednesday as well as the shooting at
Montrouge on Thursday, wishing speedy
recovery for the injured, the official Qatar
News Agency (QNA) said.
“HH the Emir reiterated Qatar’s solidarity
with the French people and its leadership against such a crime that aims to
destabilise the security and stability of
the friendly French Republic, stressing
the state’s stance that rejects violence
and terrorism no matter what the motives and reasons were,” QNA said.
“The Emir greeted the French president on his position on distinguishing
between the perpetrators of this heinous
crime on one side and Islam and Muslims on the other,” it added.
placed on European and US “no-fly”
The violence raised questions about
surveillance of radicals, far-right politics, religion and censorship in a land
struggling to integrate part of its 5mnstrong Muslim community, the largest
inn the European Union.
European leaders will make an extraordinary show of support for France
by joining a mass rally in Paris tomorrow
as a wave of global support continued
following the bloody end to the Charlie
Hebdo attacks’ sieges.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose countries have suffered major terror attacks in the past
decade, were among the п¬Ѓrst to say they
would attend a huge rally in Paris tomorrow.
Cameron said he would be “celebrating the values behind Charlie Hebdo”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel,
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel
said they would also come.
European Council President Donald
Tusk and European Commission chief
Jean-Claude Juncker said they would
attend the Paris rally as well, accompanied by the EU’s foreign affairs supremo
Federica Mogherini.
Tusk said European Union’s next
scheduled summit on February 12 would
focus on how to boost anti-terror efforts.
“Terror has struck in Europe. It is,
sadly, not the first time,” Tusk said in
Riga, the capital of Latvia which assumed EU’s rotating presidency on
January 1.
The EU can respond to the “barbaric
attacks in Paris” by “strengthening our
security”. Pages 3, 4, 11
French police special forces launching their assault to break the siege at a Jewish
supermarket in eastern Paris.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Pardon for
of murder
Nepalese expatriate who
was convicted for the
murder of an Indonesian
woman, and awarded a 15-year
jail sentence, has been pardoned
by the Government of Qatar and
travelled home.
Chandrasekhar Yadav, 40, was
pardoned as part of the Qatar
National Day celebrations last
month, according to a Nepalese
newspaper’s online portal. On
Thursday he reached his home in
Belaha district in Nepal.
Yadav was sentenced on December 21, 2010 along with two
Indian taxi drivers - Sreedharan
Manikantan and Mahadevan Unnikrishnan - who were awarded
a 25-year sentence each. They
have been serving the sentence in
the Central Prison since October
2003 in the case of an “unidentified” Indonesian woman, whose
body was found at Al Wakrah
The case moved from one
court to the other and one of the
courts had awarded death sentence to the trio in 2006 before
the Supreme Court reduced the
punishment in December 2010.
The case was reportedly one
of the rarest instances of a legal battle going to the country’s Supreme Court thrice before its final judgment, which
came seven years after the legal
process began.
Although the police could
not establish the identity of the
murdered woman, the public prosecution said she was an
absconding Indonesian maid.
Former Nepal ambassador to
Qatar Suryanath Mishra, who
had taken special interest in Yadav’s case and appointed for him
a Qatari woman lawyer Mona
Abdulrahman, has hailed his
release. He also expressed his
gratitude to the Qatari authorities, the Nepalese newspaper has
Yadav’s wife Ramdulari Devi
also thanked the Qatari government and all those who had supported the efforts to secure his
Multiple �projects
by same company
causing delay’
Some members of the Central
Municipal Council (CMC) have
complained against companies
which deploy their manpower
between several projects
at the same time, thereby
causing delays in completion,
local Arabic daily Arrayah has
Such companies also engaged
sub-contractors who failed as
well to deliver on time. A CMC
member cited a specific project
in which nine sub-contractors
were engaged in a year. “Finally,
this project was delayed and it
was after completion that many
technical defects came to light,”
he said.
Another member of the CMC
pointed out that delays in the
completion of projects and
defective construction are a
burden on the exchequer.
“A lot of money is spent on
repairing such defects,” he said
while calling for classification
of the companies in terms
of completing the work with
quality and within the deadline.
“Defaulting companies should
be excluded from future
contracts and only contractors
who are capable of handling
the projects by themselves
selected,” the CMC member
laaudddin Ahmed, an expatriate security guard of
a private security company deployed at Hamad International Airport (HIA), handed over
to the authorities a bag containing 16,500 euros, which he found
abandoned, local Arabic daily
Al-Sharq reported yesterday.
Ahmed was thanked and honoured by Brigadier Issa Arar
al-Rumaihi, director, airport
security department.
QRC Al Khor
holds п¬Ѓrst-aid
lecture for
marine scouts
atar Red Crescent’s
(QRC) branch in Al
Khor recently participated in several social and
cultural events and organised
a п¬Ѓrst-aid lecture for scouts
under “I Am a Paramedic”, a
public training programme
sponsored by the Ras Laffan
Community Outreach Programme (COP) during the
2014-2015 academic year and
targeting 4,500 students across
19 schools in the Al Shamal
(northern) region of the country as well as teachers, administrative staff and parents
(through the students).
At the Cultural Convoy, a
two-day event organised by the
Ministry of Culture, Arts and
Heritage at Al Khor Cultural
Centre and involving cultural,
artistic and folkloric activities,
the branch set up a special corner to introduce the public to
QRC’s mission and role in the
service of the Qatari and other
societies, distribute health education printouts and conduct
blood sugar and pressure tests
for free for the 600 visitors.
The branch also organised
the Safe Journey exhibition at
the Al Thakhira Youth Centre in
partnership with the Community Policing Department and
Traffic Department. The exhibition lasted for two days - one
Each peacock can cost as much as QR1,800 at the bird market, but customers can also get good
bargains. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
Health education printouts being distributed among children.
for men and another for women
- with a special focus on youth
aged 14-21 years to educate them
on traffic rules and road safety
procedures, thereby helping reduce accidents and subsequent
injuries and deaths.
A QRC corner was established
to communicate with the public,
inform them of the basics of п¬Ѓrst
aid that must be administered
to injured people, and safety
guidelines. QRC ambulances
and medical workers were de-
ployed to provide medical coverage at the event venue and
perform health checks for free to
those attending, whose number
exceeded 500.
In relation to community
training and education, the
branch organised a first-aid lecture for scouts under the “I Am
a Paramedic” programme for
the benefit of 15 members of the
Marine Scouts Camp – Al Khor.
Delivered by Da’as Qassem
Baioumi, a volunteer and п¬Ѓrst-
aid instructor, the lecture was
aimed at raising awareness
among the youth on the importance of п¬Ѓrst aid and the
fundamental skills that should
be learnt by anyone who deals
with an injured person in
QRC – Al Khor works for
the local community in the Al
Shamal region through close
co-operation with different
institutions and civil society
organisations there.
Chinese hen for sale.
Bird market in Mamoura
attracting city pet keepers
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
small bird market at
Mamoura in Doha continues to attract residents who want to own exotic
pets such as peacocks.
Located within a slaughterhouse a few metres away from
the vegetable and п¬Ѓsh market, the place is spread over
approximately 200sq m.
A seller said they get the peacocks from Al Khor along with
other birds such as Chinese
chicken, small and big ducks
and swans.
He added that the peacocks
are originally from Qatar and
not imported from other countries. As this species is rare in
Qatar, peacocks are more expensive than the other birds
they sell, he added.
While a single peacock can
cost as much as QR1,800, a customer can get a pair at a heavily
discounted price of QR2,000.
Some customers try to fur-
ther negotiate the price, quoting as low as QR500 per piece,
but the seller insists on the last
price of QR2,000 per pair.
The seller said he may not
be able to sell all 10 birds before the winter ends, but expressed confidence that buyers
would flock to the place before
While he noted that peacocks
can adapt to all types of climate,
some caretakers have provided
air-conditioners in cages. “This
is to make sure that they are safe
from the searing heat during
summer,” he pointed out.
The bird market also sells
hens, roosters, turkeys and
quails, among other types.
One can also п¬Ѓnd rabbits in the
A hen costs QR50 while a
rooster is pegged at QR70.
Smaller birds are cheaper, such
as little ducks and quails.
Besides, eggs can also be
bought from the place. While
a tray of chicken eggs (30 pieces) is priced at QR25, a tray of
turkey eggs costs QR250.
Asked why such eggs are expensive, one seller explained
that turkey eggs are bigger and
more nutritious and delicious.
“Many of our regular customers in Doha visit us just to
buy turkey eggs,” he said. “They
know these are really fresh ones.”
A number of residents visit
the market looking for turkey,
hens, ducks, rabbits, parrots and
other kinds of birds and animals,
according to the seller. “Unfortunately, as some birds are not
available here, we refer them to
shops in Souq Waqif.”
Big ducks attract a number of customers.
Besides peacocks and chicken, the bird market also sells rabbits.
QC sponsors meeting on Humanitarian Summit preparation
atar Charity (QC) has
sponsored a co-ordination meeting to prepare
for the Humanitarian Summit, taking place in the Moroccon capital, Rabat, from
January 26 to 28.
The meeting is organised by
the Humanitarian Forum and
hosted by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organisation in co-ordination
with the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, sponsored by
QC and the Alwaleed Bin Talal
The meeting aims to draw the
attention of directors and heads
of boards of directors of civil
society organisations working
in various areas of development to the issues of efficiency
and accountability, given their
importance in the management
of these organisations, enabling
them to use current methodology and tools in building their
The meeting is taking place
ahead of the regional meeting of the Global Humanitarian Summit for the Middle East
and North Africa, which will be
held by the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
in the п¬Ѓrst week of March in
the Jordanian capital Amman,
in preparation for the 2016
Humanitarian Summit.
The meeting aims to discuss
the outputs and national workshops that have already been
held in the Middle East, North,
East and South Africa and in
Europe to develop a collective
perception of Arab societies
regarding the future of humanitarian work in the Arab region
within the framework of the
2016 World Summit.
The last day of the meeting
will involve a workshop to build
the capacity of civil society organisations and raise awareness among civil society bodies
in Morocco in order to enable
them to perform their roles effectively, and make them viable
and ready for accountability of
various stakeholders.
The objectives of this workshop involve three main goals:
raising the awareness of civil society organisations, the concept
and the areas of building their
own abilities, drawing the attention of the directors of these
organisations to the issues of
efficiency and accountability in
light of their importance in the
management of contemporary
civil society organisations, and
enabling officials in these organisations in the methodology
and tools used in civil society
organisations internationally.
The Humanitarian Forum, in
collaboration with 23 humanitarian organisations, including
QC, has already held a national
workshop in the Middle East,
North, East and South Africa
and Europe, including 14 consultative workshops in the Arab
world - in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen, Jordan, Tunisia,
Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Libya,
Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, with Syrian organisations operating in
Turkey, and Palestine (in both
Gaza and the West Bank).
QC has organised several
previous workshops in this regard, including two national
consultations in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip in preparation
for the World Summit on Humanity to be held in Istanbul in
2016 in co-ordination with the
Humanitarian Forum and the
United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs in Palestine, and with
the participation of over 100
human institutions.
QC organised a similar workshop in collaboration with the
Humanitarian Forum under the
auspices of OCHA in Gaziant-
ep, Turkey, with the participation of 51 people representing 30 organisations active in
Syria. Similar workshops have
also been held in the Balkans in
support of civil society organisations set to participate in the
2016 summit.
Within the same framework,
QC also participated in the п¬Ѓrst
national consultative meeting
for humanitarian organisations,
which was held in Doha in collaboration with Qatar Red Crescent (QRC), the Humanitarian
Forum and OCHA, at the QRC
headquarters in Doha.
Twenty-four representatives
from the Qatar humanitarian
п¬Ѓeld participated in the workshop, representing 10 of the
most important Qatari actors.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
AQAP seen as Al Qaeda’s most dangerous arm
l Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is reported
to have trained one of the
two suspects in the deadly attack on French magazine Charlie
Hebdo, is seen by Washington
as the militant network’s most
dangerous branch.
It was formed in January 2009
as a merger of the Yemeni and
Saudi branches of Al Qaeda and
is led by Nasser al-Wuhayshi.
AQAP has a record of launching attacks far from its base in
Yemen, including a bid to blow
up a US airliner over Michigan
on Christmas Day in 2009.
The group recently called for
its supporters to carry out attacks in France, which is part
of a US-led coalition conducting air strikes against Islamic
State group militants in Iraq and
propaganda magazine Inspire
has urged militants to carry out
“lone wolf” attacks abroad. In
2013 it named Charlie Hebdo
cartoonist and editor-in-chief
Stephane Charbonnier among
its list of targets. Charbonnier
was one of 12 people killed in
Paris on Wednesday by two gunmen who stormed the magazine’s offices.
In 2009 an AQAP suicide
bomber tried to assassinate Saudi Prince Mohamed bin Nayef,
the kingdom’s current interior
minister who had led a crackdown on the militant group between 2003 and 2006.
The attacker managed to infiltrate Prince Mohamed’s security
in Jeddah and detonate explosives planted inside his body.
The prince escaped with light
wounds and the bomber was the
only fatality.
In November 2010, the group
claimed responsibility for sending parcel bombs to the United States and putting a bomb
aboard a UPS cargo plane that
crashed two months earlier in
It took advantage of the weakness of Yemen’s central government during an uprising in 2011
against now-ousted president
Ali Abdullah Saleh to seize large
swathes of territory across the
But after a month-long offensive launched in May 2012 by
Yemeni troops, most militants
fled to the more lawless desert
regions of the east towards
Hadramout province.
Since then, AQAP has regularly carried out deadly attacks
against Yemeni security forces
and, more recently, has claimed
a series of bombings against
Shia Houthi militiamen in the
capital Sanaa and central provinces.
The US has launched scores of
drone strikes on AQAP targets in
Yemen, including an attack that
killed US-born American radical
Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki
in September 2011.
Months later, Yemeni Al Qaeda leader Fahd al-Quso, who
was believed to have helped
mount a deadly attack on a US
warship in a Yemeni port in
2000, was killed in an air raid
blamed on the US.
In July 2013, AQAP confirmed
the death in a US drone strike of
its deputy leader Saeed al-Shehri, a former Guantanamo Bay
prisoner in Cuba who had undergone rehabilitation in Saudi
Arabia after his release.
The first known attack of Al
Qaeda in Yemen dates back to
1992, when bombers hit a hotel that formerly housed US
Marines in the southern city of
Aden, in which two non-Amer-
Five held
over car
in Sanaa
Paris attack
suspect �was
trained’ by
Yemen Qaeda
Said Kouachi is said to have
travelled to Yemen in 2011,
where he received training
from Al Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula in small arms
combat and marksmanship
ne of the suspects in the
attack against French satirical magazine Charlie
Hebdo studied in Yemen where
he attended Al Qaeda training
camps, Yemeni security sources
and a classmate said yesterday.
Said Kouachi appeared at
various times between 2009 and
2013 in the troubled country,
firstly as a student at Sanaa’s Al
Iman University and then at Al
Qaeda training camps in south
and southeast Yemen, the sources said.
According to witness reports
from Wednesday’s attack on the
Paris office of Charlie Hebdo that
left 12 people dead, one of the
two gunmen cried out that Al
Qaeda in Yemen was behind it.
The two suspects, Said
Kouachi and his brother Cherif,
were killed yesterday when police stormed the building where
they were holed up, sources
close to the investigation said.
Said Kouachi in 2009 attended Al Iman University, headed by
fundamentalist preacher Abdel
Majid al-Zindani whose name
п¬Ѓgures on a US terror blacklist,
a former Yemeni classmate said,
declining to be named.
According to US officials,
Kouachi was known by French
intelligence to have travelled
to Yemen in 2011, where he received training from Al Qaeda in
the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in
small arms combat and marksmanship.
Yemen, a key ally in US efforts
to combat Al Qaeda, has been
wracked by political turmoil and
violence since an uprising toppled strongman Ali Abdullah
Saleh in 2012.
AQAP, formed in January
2009 as a merger of the Yemeni
and Saudi branches of Al Qaeda,
is seen by Washington as the
millitant network’s most dangerous branch.
The US has launched scores
of drone strikes on AQAP targets in Yemen, which experts
say the group has been using as
a military and ideological training ground for militants from
around the world.
Laurent Bonnefoy, a professor
at Sciences Po university in Paris
and an expert on Yemen, said
many foreigners travel to the
country to attend Qur’anic and
Arabic language classes.
Some of the students, “who at
the outset do not have a violent
outlook, veer towards violence”,
Bonnefoy said.
Saeed al-Jamhi, a Yemeni researcher and specialist on extremist groups, said AQAP has
fine-tuned “a policy of recruiting
foreign elements” among students who converge on the impoverished and unstable country.
“After having trained them,
AQAP leaves them free to select
the targets and means to carry
out” attacks, he said.
Bonnefoy agreed that “any
eventual claim of responsibility
does not mean that AQAP was
Kerry, Zarif to meet
in Geneva next week
S Secretary of State John
Kerry will meet with his
Iranian counterpart in
Geneva on January 14 ahead of
the next round of talks on Iran’s
nuclear programme, a US official confirmed yesterday.
The two foreign ministers
will discuss “guidance for the
negotiating teams” which will
meet in the Swiss city from January 18 seeking to reach a deal
before the end of June, a senior
State Department official said.
Iranian negotiator Abbas
Araqchi was earlier quoted by
the Isna news agency as saying
that Iranian Foreign Minister
Mohamed Javad Zarif would
meet with Kerry in Geneva.
US and Iranian delegations
are also to hold bilateral discussions on January 15-17 ahead of
multilateral talks between Iran
and the P5+1 group of nations.
The US State Department
announced on Thursday that
bilateral negotiations would
restart in Geneva, as a third
deadline for a lasting agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme looms.
Acting Deputy Secretary
Wendy Sherman, who has led
the US delegation for more
than two years, will head the
team of senior officials and advisers to the talks, it said.
Republican lawmakers said
on Thursday they are close
to reintroducing legislation
seeking a voice in the negotiations and to impose tougher
sanctions against Iran, now
that they control both houses
of the US Congress.
Senator Mark Kirk told reporters at the Capitol he expected the Senate banking committee to vote within weeks on a
bill he co-authored with Democratic Senator Robert Menendez
that would increase sanctions
on Iran if the negotiations falter.
directly involved or provided
operational support”.
However, Charlie Hebdo has
for years been on an AQAP list
of targets and Al Qaeda’s late
chief Osama bin Laden warned
Europe back in 2008 of consequences for Prophet Muhammad
cartoons published in a Danish
newspaper and reproduced in
the French weekly.
According to the classmate
at Al Iman University, Said
Kouachi, a Frenchman of Algerian origin, used the name of
“He was disciplined, calm and
discreet” as a student, he said.
The classmate said he lost
track of Kouachi between 2010
and 2013, when Shia militiamen overran a studies centre in
Dammaj, in Saada province to
the north of the capital, run by
Kouachi battled with other students to defend the centre against
the Shia п¬Ѓghters, before their
defeat in December of that year
when survivors were evacuated.
How he returned to France afterwards remains unknown.
Western intelligence sources
said that after Kouachi’s return
from Yemen, both brothers appeared to have refrained from any
activities that might have drawn
the attention of French law enforcement or spy agencies.
They also said that in the
months leading up to Wednesday’s attack, the men were not
treated as priority targets by
French counter-terrorism agencies although Germany said later
they were on a European watch
ican citizens were killed.
In 2000, an Al Qaeda suicide
attack on the naval destroyer
USS Cole in Aden killed 17 US
military personnel.
Two years later, a bombladen boat struck the Frenchowned oil tanker Limburg off
the coast of Yemen. Al Qaeda
claimed responsibility for the
attack that killed a Bulgarian
Wuhayshi in July 2011 reaffirmed the group’s allegiance to
Ayman al-Zawahri, head of the
worldwide Al Qaeda network
since the death of Osama bin
Laden in May 2011.
Mourners carry the coffins of two victims of Wednesday’s car bombing during a funeral procession in
Sanaa yesterday.
Fiery protest
Saudi arrests seven
over border attack
A Molotov cocktail thrown by protesters explodes on a riot police
armoured personnel carrier at a highway in the village of Sitra,
south of Manama, yesterday. Several demonstrations calling for
the release of Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Al Wefaq opposition
group, were held across the country, local media reported.
emeni security forces
have arrested п¬Ѓve
suspected Al Qaeda
members accused of carrying out a car bomb attack on a police academy
that killed 40 people, the
Sanaa police chief said yesterday.
General Abdel Razaq alMoayed, quoted by the official Saba news agency, said
the five members of “an Al
Qaeda cell” had been detained and that a sixth suspect, the owner of the vehicle used in Wednesday’s
attack, was being sought by
The official said the п¬Ѓrst
suspect was arrested on
Wednesday at the scene of
the attack and had provided
the names of the other four
cell members.
The vehicle owner was
identified by the registration documents, Moayed
The bombing targeted
dozens of potential recruits lined up to register at
the academy in the centre
of the Yemeni capital, killing 40 and wounded 71
Yemen’s top security
body blamed Al Qaeda for
the blast.
But a leader of Al Qaeda in
Yemen, Sheikh Saleh Abdel
Ilah al-Dahab, denied any
involvement by the militant
group in Wednesday’s attack.
“Al Qaeda has nothing
to do with the incident,” he
wrote on Twitter, accusing
the Shia Houthi militia that
overran Sanaa in September
of being behind the bombing.
Unstable and impoverished Yemen has been
hit by a wave of violence
in recent months, as the
Houthis clash with Sunni
tribal forces and Al Qaeda
audi Arabia has arrested
three Saudi nationals and
four Syrians over links to
a suicide bombing and gun attack on the kingdom’s border
with Iraq, the п¬Ѓrst ground assault by militants on the frontier in years.
On Monday, militants killed
two Saudi border guards and
their commanding officer on
the frontier with Iraq, the interior ministry said, in an assault one analyst called Islamic
State’s first assault on the kingdom.
Yesterday, state news agency SPA quoted an interior
ministry spokesman as saying
three of the four attackers who were all killed during the
raid - were Saudi nationals
and described them as members of the “deviant group”, a
phrase authorities have used
to describe Al Qaeda.
Security forces also seized
weapons including AK47 automatic guns, hand grenades,
explosive belts and cash including Iraqi and Syrian banknotes, from the scene where
the attack took place. Seven
people - three Saudis and four
Syrians - have been arrested,
he added.
No group claimed responsibility for the assault in a remote
desert area next to Iraq’s Anbar
province, where the Islamic
State militant group is п¬Ѓghting Iraqi army forces backed by
Shia militias.
The four raiders shot at
a border patrol on Monday
morning near the city of Arar
and when security officers responded, one of the attackers
was captured and detonated an
explosives belt and was killed.
Another attacker who was
shot during an initial exchange
of п¬Ѓre near the Suweif border
post was also killed as were two
other militants as they were
trying to escape.
Saudi forces have joined USled air strikes against Islamic
State positions in Syria.
The group, which has declared its own caliphate and
wants to redraw the map of
the Middle East, has called for
“lone-wolf” attacks against
Saudi security forces, the Shia
minority and foreigners.
Saudi Arabia boosted its
security on the frontier with
Iraq in July, adding thousands
of troops to back up a border guards force, after Islamic
State seized swathes of territory in Iraq including in Anbar
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Paris attack
reminds Arab
cartoonists of
risks at home
fter Egyptian cartoonist Andeel took to social
media to condemn the
slaughter of colleagues in Paris,
he received expressions of sympathy - often not for the victims
but for the suspected Islamist
Some respondents on his Facebook page criticised the attack
at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, in which 12 people
including several of France’s top
cartoonists were shot dead on
But Andeel was alarmed by
the level of backing for the killings at the French weekly. The
28-year-old satirist said he
feared voices of moderation were
being drowned out because expressions of hate “are always a lot
more colourful and loud”.
The Charlie Hebdo killings
were thousands of kilometres
from Cairo, and yet reminded
Arab cartoonists of the risks they
“A lot of people showed so
much support for these crimes
which is really weird and kind of
crazy,” Andeel said.
Freedom of expression was
meant to flourish after the Arab
Spring revolts brought down au-
tocrats across much of the Middle East and North Africa. Nearly
four years later, many people are
still watching their step.
Authoritarian rule has returned to many Arab countries
while the rise of Islamic State
militants who have seized large
areas of Iraq and Syria also poses
dangers to anyone who dares to
debate religion.
Chief among them are satirists, who had felt a greater sense
of freedom after the autocrats
were toppled in 2011.
“I see what happened (in Paris)
as a continuation of what is going
on in Syria and Iraq ... The same
“A lot of people showed
so much support for
these crimes which is
really weird and kind of
mentality,” said Hany Shams,
a cartoonist at Egypt’s government-run Akhbar Al Youm
In Lebanon, satirists say things
are easier but far from ideal. Stavro Jabra, a cartoonist whose
work is published in two dailies,
said he had known some of the
Charlie Hebdo victims.
“We want to defend the freedom of the press, the freedom
of the media and the freedom
of opinion. This is our mission,”
said Jabra. Lebanon had more
freedom than other Arab countries, but there were still limits
that applied to local leaders as
well as the multi-ethnic country’s religions. One such was
Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the
Shia Muslim movement Hezbollah.
“We can’t get into religions ...
If you draw Nasrallah, they will
attack you,” said Jabra. “If you
draw this person or that, it’s forbidden. You get threats, phone
calls, e-mails saying �this cannot
be drawn’.”
Outside the Arab world in Turkey, cartoonists were targeted by
some Islamist writers on Twitter
after the Paris attack.
Ibrahim Yoruk, a columnist
at the newly-established Vahdet newspaper, warned Turkish
satirical magazine Penguen under the #CharlieHebdo hashtag.
“You can’t do humour by insulting the faith of the people, Penguen. You should realise this,” he
Another user, whose account seemed later to have
been suspended, took to Twitter to threaten another satirical weekly called Leman. “God
willing the next will be Leman
magazine, although there’s
more than 12 there to be decapitated,” the user tweeted under
the same hashtag.
Hezbollah leader Nasrallah addresses his supporters via a screen in Beirut’s southern suburbs yesterday.
Actions of militants worse
than cartoons: Hezbollah
he chief of the powerful
Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah said yesterday that
militants have caused more offence to Muslims than any book,
cartoon or п¬Ѓlm.
In a televised speech, Hassan Nasrallah also said Western
countries were aiding militancy
by exporting terrorists to Muslim
“Now, more than ever, we need
to talk about the Prophet (Muhammad) because of the behaviour of certain terrorist... groups
that claim to be Islamic,” said
“They offended the Prophet
of God more than anyone else in
history,” he added.
“Through their shameful, heinous, inhumane and cruel words
and acts, (these groups) have offended the Prophet, religion...
the holy book and the Muslim
people more than any other enemy,” said Nasrallah.
And he said that offence was
“greater than the books, the films
and the cartoons that have insulted the Prophet”.
He did not mention cartoons
published by French magazine
Charlie Hebdo that led two gunmen
to slaughter 12 people at its offices
this week, but said the “authors of
offensive books and cartoons that
were insulting to the Prophet” are
among Islam’s enemies.
Nasrallah was indirectly re-
ferring to The Satanic Verses by
Salman Rushdie, against whom
Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued
a fatwa, or religious order, to have
him killed.
Nasrallah also alluded to a
video entitled The Innocence of
Muslims, which was distributed
online in 2012 and caused an uproar among Muslim communities all over the world.
A series of cartoons showing
Prophet Muhammad were published in a Danish newspaper
in 2005 and Charlie Hebdo was
among the media that reprinted
Hezbollah joined a string of
other Islamist parties and movements and called for demonstrations against those cartoons.
Meanwhile, Nasrallah also said
France “exported” militants to
the region.
Hezbollah has sent thousands
of п¬Ѓghters into neighbouring
Syria to aid President Bashar alAssad in a civil war in which he
claims that all his opponents are
foreign-backed jihadists.
The regime has frequently singled out France for backing the
Many members of jihadist
groups in Syria are Westerners,
from countries including France,
the United States and Britain.
Cherif Kouachi, one of the
suspects in the Charlie Hebdo
massacres, was involved in a Paris network that helped transport
radical Muslims to Iraq to join Al
Qaeda’s fight against US forces at
the height of their intervention.
US trains Iraqis for
house-to-house п¬Ѓght
An American military trainer observes Iraqi soldiers during an exercise on approaching and clearing buildings at the Taji base complex.
American forces �building
pressure’ on Islamic State
S efforts against Islamic
State militants in Iraq are
“a drumbeat, a steady
building pressure” on several
fronts that will ultimately enable
Iraqi forces to launch a counteroffensive at a time of their choosing, the top US military officer
General Martin Dempsey,
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, said U.S. forces were not
sitting idly in the key Iraqi cities
of Baghdad or Arbil waiting until
spring to launch an offensive but
were actively working to weaken
IS in several areas.
“When you ask me what are
the prospects for a spring offensive, we’re working with Iraqis, military and civilian leaders, to determine the pace at
which we will encourage them
and enable them to do a counter-offensive,” Dempsey said.
“But I want to make sure I also
highlight the fact that this isn’t
about ... waiting till the spring
to do anything.”
“This is a drumbeat, a steady
building pressure on ISIL along
eight or nine lines of effort:
counter-п¬Ѓnancing, counter-foreign п¬Ѓghters, counter-message
as well as the military operations,” he added, using another
acronym for IS.
Dempsey spoke to reporters
on Thursday after meeting with
his Israeli counterpart, Lieuten-
ant General Benjamin Gantz, to
discuss regional security and
military co-operation as Gantz
winds up his tenure as the chief
of the Israel Defence Forces general staff.
Dempsey said Iraq would initiate a counter-offensive against
Islamic State when Baghdad felt
it was ready to conduct the necessary military operations to
recapture territory and follow it
with humanitarian and reconstruction efforts.
“In the meantime we’re keeping steady pressure on and we’re
building their capacity,” Dempsey said.
He said several hundred Sunni
tribesmen had been incorporated
into Iraqi Security Force, a sign
the mainly Shia government was
trying to become more inclusive.
He also said several thousand
troops had been newly trained.
The chairman said US forces
were looking for ways to help
Iraqis cope with improvised explosive devices, roadside bombs
and houses rigged with explosives.
“There’s some things that we
can do to help the Iraqi Security
Forces reduce their casualties as
they go forward and we’re discussing that with them,” he said.
The Pentagon said this week
that US forces have hit or damaged some 3,222 IS targets in Iraq
and Syria since August.
US military officials also said
the department is looking into
complaints that civilians may
have been killed in US air strikes.
team of camouflage-clad
Iraqi soldiers lines up near
the door of a one-storey
house north of Baghdad with rifles ready, preparing to enter and
search it.
For now, there are no militants inside, and American and
Iraqi instructors are on hand to
tell them how to position themselves, where to look when they
enter and how to hold their Kalashnikov assault rifles.
But these are skills the soldiers,
who are some two weeks into a
six-week training programme at
the massive Taji base complex,
may soon need to employ against
foes who shoot back.
The Islamic State (IS) militant
group led a sweeping militant offensive last June that overran large
areas north and west of Baghdad,
and multiple Iraqi divisions collapsed during the assault.
A US-led coalition is carrying
out air strikes against IS, and is
also providing training aimed at
rebuilding the Iraqi forces and
readying them to п¬Ѓght.
The aim is to eventually train
5,000 federal soldiers and Kurdish п¬Ѓghters at п¬Ѓve sites every six
to eight weeks—a tight timeline,
especially for newly recruited
There are four Iraqi battalions,
of roughly 400 soldiers each, being instructed in infantry skills at
Taji by a combination of US and
Iraqi trainers.
Around 80 more are receiving
tank training.
Most are recent recruits who
volunteered after the IS-led offensive began, knowing that they
would likely see combat.
Before this course, they received just a few months of basic
Now they are being trained for
the house-to-house п¬Ѓghting that
will be necessary to recapture the
cities, towns and villages that IS
The recruits will have to make
split-second distinctions between militants and civilians
if they are to avoid casualties
among residents whose support
will be vital in the long run if IS is
to be defeated.
Knowing how to approach,
enter and clear a building are key
skills that they will need.
The exercise begins with small
teams of Iraqis rushing across
open ground, going prone to
avoid simulated enemy п¬Ѓre, then
moving to take cover behind
makeshift obstacles, including
wooden doors.
The training programme is still
in its infancy and some improvisation is necessary.
To mimic the sound of gunfire as the exercise unfolds, one
American soldier has the unenviable task of repeatedly hitting
a piece of metal with a hammer.
When they reach cover, the
Iraqi soldiers are supposed to
ready their assault rifles to fire—
saying “bang” to simulate shooting, as they are not using blank
ammunition—and then put the
safeties back on before advancing again.
The second step is periodically
forgotten, and US instructors yell
“put your safety on” at the errant
trainees, sometimes accompanied by profanity.
The Iraqi soldiers then reach
the building they will clear and
“stack”, lining up one behind the
other along the wall with rifles
ready, before moving inside.
The exercise also includes
simulated casualties, with some
soldiers being declared “wound-
ed” so others can practise battlefield first aid.
“It’s really taking a lot of the
training from throughout the last
couple weeks and kinda combining them into an event that...
brings it all together,” says Captain David Neveau.
The units training at Taji have
a shortage of experienced officers
and non-commissioned officers,
so they are being selected from
the ranks during the course.
“From a newly formed unit,
they don’t really have a bunch of
NCOs and a bunch of officers, so
we’re trying to pick leaders from
the group,” Neveau says.
There is training for officers
focusing on leadership, but another aim is to spread responsibility down the ranks.
We “actually have some of the
commanders off to the side...
letting some of the soldiers take
their squads and teams through,”
says Command Sergeant Major
Tony Grinston, who is overseeing
the training programme.
“We’re just trying to take small
steps so that when... a leader
goes down, the mission continues,” he says.
But the key question is whether the Iraqi army will continue
the training after the course is
over—something that US soldiers
say was not done after American
forces departed in 2011.
“If you... teach them and then
stopped doing it for a year or six
months, you can’t expect them to
be good at it,” Grinston says.
Command Sergeant Major Tony Grinston speaks to Iraqi soldiers.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Time is running out for Libya peace talks: UN
he UN called yesterday for
Libya’s warring factions
to resume peace talks
“before it is too late” after its
envoy to the violence-plagued
state met with rival camps.
UN envoy Bernardino Leon,
who held talks for the п¬Ѓrst time
with retired General Khalifa
Haftar, said “time was running
out” to tackle the country’s political and security crises.
“Libyans need to unite and
work towards solving their differences if they want to save
their country,” Leon was quoted
as saying in a statement issued
yesterday, a day after his meetings.
Leon also met with representatives of Libya’s internationally
recognised government in Tobruk and with rival officials in
Tripoli, the statement added.
Three years after dictator
Muammar Gaddafi was toppled
and killed in a Nato-backed revolt, Libya is awash with weapons and powerful militias, and
run by rival governments and
Haftar, a controversial п¬Ѓgure, launched a May offensive
against mainly Islamist п¬Ѓghters
in control of the second city of
He was initially accused by
Libya’s internationally recognised government of carrying
out a coup but relations have
since thawed as Haftar’s fighters and state forces jointly battle
Libya’s parliament, which
took refuge in the remote east
after п¬Ѓghters from the predomi-
nantly Islamist Fajr Libya militia
stormed the capital in August,
has asked Haftar and other retired officials to be officially reinstated into the army.
With no early end in sight to
the violence, the UN has postponed peace talks that were due
to take place on Monday.
Also yesterday, a rocket at-
tack targeted the Tripoli headquarters of a private television
station close to Islamist factions, causing damage but no
Al Nidaa television said its offices had been hit by two rocketpropelled grenades but vowed
that the attack would not force
the channel off air.
UN confirms
rebels killed
hundreds in
South Sudan
ebels in South Sudan
slaughtered at least 353
civilians in April last
year, including people sheltering in a mosque, hospital
and a United Nations base, UN
rights investigators said yesterday.
The report is the п¬Ѓrst detailed account of two incidents
that have highlighted a pattern
of gross abuses and atrocities
committed during the yearold civil war in the world’s
youngest nation.
The UN also noted that
nearly nine months after the
events, “no perpetrator has
been held accountable” for
the killings, which it said “may
amount to war crimes”.
“Victims were deliberately
targeted on the basis of
their ethnicity, nationality
or perceived support for
one of the parties to the
In the April 15 attack on the
northern oil town of Bentiu,
fighters backing South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar
murdered at least 287 civilians sheltering in a mosque,
many of them traders and
their families from neighbouring Sudan’s Darfur region.
“They lined up about 20
Darfurians, who were tied with
their clothing... and told them
to run to save their lives,” the
report said. “When they ran,
soldiers shot at them outside
of the gate.”
Later that day, 19 civilians
were killed in the town’s hospital, UN investigators said.
Fighters also took to the radio urging rival groups to be
forced from the town and for
men to rape women from the
rival tribe.
“Victims were deliberately
targeted on the basis of their
ethnicity, nationality or perceived support for one of the
parties to the conflict,” the
UN said in a 33-page report.
Two days later on April 17,
in the eastern town of Bor, a
gang of heavily-armed men
marched on the UN base,
which hundreds of civilians
had fled to for protection.
The “mob forcibly entered
the protection site and went
on a rampage of killing, looting and abductions”, the report by the UN peacekeeping
mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said, adding the assault
left at least 47 dead—including 11 children, one just eight
months old—and was likely
to have been “planned in advance”.
The attack on Bentiu and
the UN base in Bor are two of
the most high profile massacres in a long list of atrocities
carried out in the more than a
year-long civil war.
The UN report said that
while the war has been
marked by “gross abuses” the
two attacks “seemed to represent the nadir of the conflict”.
At least 353 civilians were
killed and another 250 were
wounded in the two attacks,
the UN said.
No overall death toll for the
war has been kept, either by
the government, rebels or the
United Nations, although the
International Crisis Group
says it estimates that at least
50,000 people have been
Some diplomats suggest it
could be double that п¬Ѓgure,
while hunger and disease have
killed thousands more.
Fighting broke out in South
Sudan in December 2013 when
President Salva Kiir accused
his sacked deputy Machar of
attempting a coup.
The п¬Ѓghting in the capital Juba set off a cycle of retaliatory massacres across the
country, pushing it to the brink
of famine. Both government
forces loyal to Kiir and rebels
loyal to Machar continue to
fight, despite numerous ceasefire deals.
Residents walk in a damaged neighbourhood of Aleppo yesterday.
2,100 died in Syria jails
last year, says monitor
t least 2,100 people died
in Syrian prisons last
year and the bodies of
many showed signs of torture, a
monitoring group said yesterday,
quoting the families of deceased
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said
it believed the true п¬Ѓgure to be
much higher but had only reported cases where families had
received a corpse or a death certificate from a prison.
“The prisons tell the families
that the prisoners died of natural
causes, such as a heart attack,”
Observatory head Rami Abdel
Rahman said.
UN investigators said in
March there were suspected war
criminals in Syrian military units
and security agencies as well as
in the insurgent groups п¬Ѓghting
them in the country’s civil war.
They said they were investigating evidence of torture,
killing and starvation in Syrian
prisons and that the heads of intelligence branches and detention facilities were on a list of
potential suspects.
More than 76,000 people were
killed in the war in 2014, the Observatory said, and the UN says
200,000 have died since the
conflict started.
In January 2014, former war
crimes prosecutors commissioned by Qatar said they had
“clear evidence” showing the
systematic torture and killing of
11,000 detainees in Syrian jails
from a trove of photos supplied
by a Syrian military police photographer.
The Observatory also said
yesterday pro-regime militia
have repelled an incursion by Al
Qaeda on two Shia Muslim villages in the north of the country.
The villages of Nubol and
Zahraa in war-battered Aleppo
province had been under siege by
Al Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syria
branch, and other Islamist rebels
for a year and a half.
On Thursday, “Al-Nusra
Front’s fighters entered the villages on seven tanks”, said the
“It was a major, simultaneous attack,” said the monitoring
group, which relies on a broad
network of activists and doctors
across the country for its reporting.
The National Defence Force,
a pro-government militia, repelled the п¬Ѓghters with the Syrian air force providing cover, the
monitor said, adding that the
militants withdrew.
At least 25 people were killed,
including 14 militants, it said.
The militants left behind three
tanks, the Observatory said
quoting witnesses.
Al Nusra Front had launched
an offensive in November aimed
at seizing Nubol and Zahraa.
The villages are the last regime bastions in the northwest
of Aleppo province.
Syria’s conflict began as a
pro-democracy revolt that later
morphed into a brutal civil war
after President Bashar al-Assad’s regime unleashed a brutal
crackdown against dissent.
Through the course of the war,
organisations such as Al Nusra
Front and Islamic State have
emerged, seizing large swathes
of territory across the country.
Prominent opposition figure
Moaz al-Khatib said yesterday
he had turned down an invitation to a Moscow meeting with
Syrian government officials, in
a further blow to Russian efforts to find a solution to the
“We decided to decline ... this
is because the conditions we
think are necessary to ensure the
success of the meeting are not
available,” the moderate Islamist
said in an online post.
When he headed the Western-backed Syrian political opposition in 2012, Khatib called
for negotiations with Assad to
pave the way for a handover of
Russia, one of Assad’s top allies, had extended invitations to
senior opposition п¬Ѓgures within
Syria and outside to meet Syrian government representatives
in late January.
Tunisians rally as IS
says journalists slain
Demonstrators mourn during the rally in Tunis yesterday.
round 300 people demonstrated in central
Tunis yesterday in solidarity with two journalists the
Libyan branch of the Islamic
State (IS) group claims it has
“We are all Sofiene, we are
all Nadhir,” read placards held
by the demonstrators, many of
them young journalists, in reference to Sofiene Chourabi and
Nadhir Ktari.
On Thursday, the IS branch
in Libya issued a statement
saying the pair, who went
missing there in early September, had been executed because
they had “sowed corruption in
the land.”
But echoing official statements, the head of the National
Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists, Neji Bghouri, said the
“news has still not been confirmed” and called on the government to uncover the truth.
“We chose to be journalists,
and we know it is difficult. We
have chosen freedom and we
will carry on,” he said.
“We are all Sofiene, we
are all Nadhir,” read
placards held by the
Sami Ktari, father of one of
the two, called on the authorities to “take the matter seriously”.
Newly elected President Beji
Caid Essebsi met the families of
the two men yesterday but has
not made any public statement
about the case.
But Foreign Minister Mongi
Hamdi said the authorities are
following the case “minute by
Until such time as the claim
of their deaths is confirmed,
he said “we hope that they are
Hamdi expressed frustration
on Thursday over failed efforts
to secure the two men’s release,
saying “we do not know who
kidnapped them, why they kidnapped them or where they are.”
Chourabi, an investigative
journalist and blogger who was
active during Tunisia’s 2011
revolution, and Ktari, a photographer, went missing in the
Ajdabiya district of eastern
Libya on September 8.
Libya has been engulfed by
chaos since the 2011 Natobacked uprising that toppled
and killed veteran dictator
Muammar Gaddafi, with two
rival governments and a host of
militias now vying for territory.
IS has seized swathes of
Iraq and Syria, declaring a
“caliphate” and committing
widespread atrocities, including the beheading of Western
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Gambia’s ruler again
reshuffles government
School programme to
treat parasitic worms
UN demands probe into
albino girl abduction
Somalia locks down capital
ahead of East Africa summit
UN peacekeepers
wounded in attack
Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh has reshuffled
his government for the second time in less than
two weeks in the wake of a foiled coup bid. Attorney
general and Justice Minister Basirou Mahoney was
replaced by Minister of Higher Education Aboubacar
Senghore, who also keeps his previous portfolio.
The general secretary at the presidency, Kalilu Bayo,
was replaced by his deputy Lamin Nyabally, while a
new post of presidential spokesman was handed to
Lamin Manga, hitherto the director general of state
radio and television. The previous reshuffle in the
small west African country, ruled by Jammeh for 20
years, took place on Monday and concerned the
ministers of foreign affairs, information and communication, and transport and public works.
Ethiopia is launching a national initiative in
schools this year to treat children at risk of infection from parasitic worms, mirroring a programme
in Kenya which has improved child health and
school attendance, a charity involved said. Ethiopia aims to treat at least 80% of children at risk
from parasitic worms by 2020, Evidence Action
said. The Horn of Africa nation, ravaged by famine
in the 1980s, has received praise for the way it has
improved its national health system. The country
of about 96mn people has more than 10mn
children at risk for schistosomiasis, caused by a
parasite found in contaminated lakes or other
freshwater sites, and 18mn children at risk from
soil-transmitted helminths, parasitic worms.
Tanzania must find an albino girl kidnapped last
month, the country’s top UN official said yesterday,
expressing “outrage” at a series of attacks on albinos,
whose body parts are sold for witchcraft. Kidnappers
armed with machetes seized four-year-old Pendo
Emmanuelle Nundi on December 27 from her home
in the northern Mwanza region. Police have since
arrested 15 people, including the girl’s father and two
uncles. “The government must conduct a full investigation into the matter and arrest the perpetrators,” said
UN country chief Alvaro Rodriguez on state television,
after visiting the worst affected regions in northern
Tanzania. At least 74 albinos have been murdered in
the east African country since 2000.
Somali soldiers yesterday put large parts of the
capital Mogadishu under lockdown ahead of
the first meeting of a regional east African trade
bloc in the war-torn nation for over two decades.
“Security has been tightened because of the IGAD
(Intergovernmental Authority on Development)
delegation,” said Daud Aweys, spokesman for the
presidential palace, as representatives began to
arrive for one of the largest and highest profile
meetings seen in Mogadishu for years. Ministers
from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda - who
have contributed troops to the 22,000-strong
African Union force in Somalia - are expected at
today’s IGAD talks. Sudan and South Sudan are
also believed to be sending representatives.
Seven UN peacekeepers were wounded by a
blast that hit their vehicle near the airport in the
northern Malian town of Kidal yesterday, the latest
in a string of attacks on foreign forces. A witness
said the troops involved were Senegalese. An
investigation was underway to establish if the
vehicle hit a land mine or another kind of explosive device, the UN mission said. Peacekeepers
have deployed in the West African country since
mid-2013 but militants driven from its desert north
two years ago by French forces have stepped
up ambushes and bomb attacks on UN and
government troops. France has withdrawn some
troops from Mali to focus on a broader, Sahel-wide
security operation against militants.
to test Ebola
Millions of doses of the
vaccines are expected to be
available by the middle of the
year, and tens of millions by
uman tests of two possible Ebola vaccines have
proven safe and now tests
to measure their efficiency will
begin within weeks in the three
west African countries ravaged
by the deadly virus, the World
Health Organisation (WHO) said
“These trials are about to begin for the two lead vaccines,”
WHO assistant director general
Marie-Paule Kieny told reporters, adding that the vaccines
would be tested on tens of thousands of people across Guinea,
Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The Phase III testing to ensure
the vaccines actually provide
protection against the virus that
has killed 8,259 people in the
three African countries is set to
begin in Liberia by the end of the
month, she said.
Separate tests are scheduled to
start in Sierra Leone and Guinea
in February, she added.
There is no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola, and
the WHO has endorsed rushing
potential ones through trials in a
bid to stem the epidemic.
The two potential vaccines
that have been undergoing
Phase 1 safety tests on humans
UN helps restart measles vaccinations
UN helps restart measles vaccinations
The UN children’s agency said
yesterday it was helping Ebolabattered countries in west Africa
resume measles immunisations
at a peak transmission time in
the region. Measles transmission
traditionally peaks in west Africa
between December and March.
The disease can be fatal. This
comes at a time when the Ebola
crisis has claimed more than
are ChAd3, made by Britain’s
GlaxoSmithKline, and VSV-EBOV, manufactured by the Public
Health Agency of Canada and
developed by Merck.
Tests of the two potential vaccines have been conducted on
volunteers in a range of countries, including Switzerland,
Mali, Gabon, Britain, Germany,
Canada and the US.
Both have shown to have “an
acceptable safety profile,” Kieny
said, relaying the п¬Ѓndings of a
high-level meeting of policy
makers, researchers, regulators
and vaccine developers in Geneva Thursday.
“That is really good news,” she
said, acknowledging that “the
world is waiting for us to get
these vaccines ready and out to
the people with this virus raging
through their communities.”
Millions of doses of the vaccines
are expected to be available by the
middle of the year, and tens of millions by 2016, Kieny said.
8,200 lives and overwhelmed
health care systems in Liberia,
Sierra Leone and Guinea which
are at the centre of the epidemic. These countries account for
almost all the Ebola deaths and
cases worldwide. Unicef said a
measles outbreak was declared
in Guinea early last year before
the Ebola crisis, with the number
of confirmed measles cases
growing almost fourfold from 59
in 2013 to 215 last year.
The three African countries
struggling to stop Ebola have
chosen radically different approaches to testing whether the
vaccines will actually protect
humans against the deadly virus.
Kieny said Liberia, where the
outbreak has proven most fatal so far causing nearly 3,500
deaths, planned to test both vaccines against a third control vaccine, with around 9,000 people
receiving each.
Guinea, meanwhile, aimed to
test one of the vaccines using a
so-called “ring study” approach
that was used to eradicate smallpox, in which the entire village
or community surrounding each
infected person is vaccinated.
Kieny said that Guinea
planned to offer 4,500 people
immediate vaccination and another 4,500 later.
Sierra Leone plans to test one
of the vaccines on around 6,000
people, who will receive their injections in a randomised order.
World Health Organisation assistant director general Marie Paule Kieny speaking during a press conference at
the WHO headquarters in Geneva yesterday.
A peasant from the village of Selbo, in northern Burkina Faso, gesturing near grass he planted to help stop the advance of the Sahara desert.
Faced with the advancement of the Saharan desert, a result of world climate change, the peasants of Burkina Faso are fighting with little means
but certain success to stop the advancement of the dunes by planting shrubs.
Farmers beat back the desert
in Burkina Faso, п¬Ѓeld by п¬Ѓeld
By Romaric Ollo Hien/AFP
Rim, Burkina Faso
n Burkina Faso, what was
once stony semi-wasteland
is now covered in verdant
crop fields, rescued from relentless desertification.
Using simple agricultural
techniques largely spread by
word-of-mouth, this tiny West
African state has rejuvenated
vast stretches of scrubby soil
over the past 30 years, proving
they are not doomed and giving
hope to other vulnerable areas
in the region.
One success story is Rim, a
peaceful hamlet of about 3,000
people in the country’s north,
close to the border with Mali.
Below the village as far as the
eye can see, tall stalks groan
under the weight of fat cobs
of “baniga”, a white sorghum
grown in this part of the country.
“This place was a desert.
But the people succeeded in
regreening the region,” said
Amanda Lenhardt, a researcher
with Britain’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI), who
authored a report on farming
developments in Burkina Faso.
Called “zai” or “stone contour”, the low-cost techniques
were devised from some of the
region’s traditional farming
techniques, nudged along with
some outside help.
They have gained favour in
different parts of the Sahel region - a semi-arid band that
spans the continent with the
Sahara Desert to the north and
African savannah lands to the
south - but have seen particular
success in Burkina Faso.
A farmer collecting ears of Nerica rice (New rice for Africa) near Fada
Ngourouma, in the region of the dam of Bagre, eastern Burkina Faso.
In Rim, as in other parts of
the country’s north, farmers
now swear by “zai” after again
producing food on land considered lost to agriculture - the occupation of at least 80% of the
The technique consists of
building little stone barriers to
trap runoff water and ensure it
seeps into the ground, preventing erosion, agronomist Paulin
Drabo explained.
Holes for planting are then
dug next to the stones and
packed with fertiliser, which
together with the improved hydration, helps crops sprout up
“Before, when we planted
on bare ground, we harvested
nothing. Now, with the technique they showed us, the meal
grows well,” Sita Rouamba, a female farmer, said happily.
The shift to sustainable techniques has also expanded the
supply of arable land.
In the past, farmers scrambled for plots on the banks of
rivers, where the soil is most
Now they can grow food “on
any kind of soil, no matter how
degraded”, said 38-year-old
Souleymane Porgo, a hoe slung
over his shoulder.
Farm yields are also vastly
“At the moment, my store is
full of grain I haven’t touched. I
also have plenty of beans,” Souleymane’s father, Saidou, who
heads a family of 11 children and
several grandchildren, said.
His yields have made him a
man of means, with goats, a motorbike and cattle, which can be
sold to pay for food if a harvest
“All of this helps me properly
care for my family,” Saidou said
with pride.
Around 30 producers in Rim
have converted to “zai” farming, out of around 700,000 na-
tionwide, said Joel Ouedraogo,
director of the Federation Nationale des Groupements Naam,
a non-governmental organisation that works with farmers.
300,000 hectares of barren
land - an area roughly the size of
Luxembourg - have been rehabilitated, he estimated.
In a region threatened by the
advancing Sahara sands, the results are impressive, the ODI’s
Lenhardt said.
Burkina Faso shows it is “possible” to combat climate change,
said the Canadian, who credits
the rapid adoption of the new
techniques to word-of-mouth.
Seen from the sky the change
is dramatic.
The parched, ochre-coloured
stretches are the areas where
“zai” farming has yet to take root.
The green tracts in between are
the newly fertile zones.
Nutrition is always a concern
in Burkina Faso but the bid to
beat back the desert goes beyond food security alone.
Like many developing countries the impoverished former
French colony is grappling with
a rural exodus, which is straining resources in urban centres.
The better the prospects from
farming the lesser the lure of
city life for young people, who
account for 60% of the population of 17mn.
Souleymane Porgo represents
a new generation of young villager, who sees his future on the
Souleymane left Rim to seek
his fortune in neighbouring
Ivory Coast seven years ago. Six
years after being wooed back by
the “zai” revolution, the father
of four is home to stay.
African moon bid seeks boost for spacecraft blast off
Cape Town
n ambitious project to put
an African spacecraft on the
moon is sputtering on the
launchpad as it struggles to secure
an Internet crowdfunding lift off.
The Africa2Moon Mission has
drawn just $13,000 (11,000 euros)
of the initial target of $150,000
with a countdown of only three
weeks left before the appeal closes.
In contrast, a private British
moon project - Lunar Mission
One - rode the Internet crowdfunding phenomenon to reach its
target of nearly a million dollars
ahead of deadline last month.
The apparent lack of interest
may come as little surprise to those
for whom Africa conjures up disease and poverty rather than science and space exploration.
But countering that view of the
continent is one of the underlying
aims of the project by the Foundation for Space Development,
which says it will go ahead even if
the initial target is not reached.
“We get a lot of Afro-pessimism,” CEO Jonathan Weltman
told AFP. “Anything positive,
aspirational or leading edge is
treated with scepticism.
“But I have faith that Africa
can do this, without a doubt.”
The non-profit group was cofounded in 2009 by the head of
the space lab at the University of
Cape Town, Peter Martinez, who
is also chairman of the South African Council for Space Affairs,
the national regulatory body.
The mission is to see an Africanengineered rocket take an Africanbuilt module to the moon.
The aim is to inspire wider interest in the study of science and
technology among young Africans while stemming the “braindrain” of highly qualified graduates to the developed world.
The world’s poorest continent recently scored a major international
scientific coup with the decision in
2012 to build the bulk of the world’s
biggest telescope in South Africa.
The multi-nation Square Kilometre Array Radio telescope (SKA)
will investigate the Big Bang, peek
at black holes and uncover new
frontiers—possibly even life beyond Earth - by peering further
into the universe than ever before.
SKA site bid manager Adrian
Tiplady said the telescope project
proved “there’s definitely the
skills and talent out there and a
huge amount of interest as well”.
The Africa2Moon project
“certainly is feasible,” he told
AFP. “There is the expertise to
design, develop and launch such
a vehicle.”
South Africa is the most developed economy on the continent
and under the former apartheid
regime had nuclear weapons and
a ballistic missile programme,
but the foundation is pushing for
an all-inclusive African effort.
The appeal for $150,000 is to
cover the п¬Ѓrst phase, which aims
to п¬Ѓnalise a feasibility report by
the end of November and present
it to an international conference.
Only then will it be possible to
estimate the full cost of the mission, Weltman said.
He admits to disappointment
- and some puzzlement - over
the failure so far of the hoped-for
crowdfunding boost for Africa’s
rocket to the moon.
“The industry and media response has been overwhelmingly
positive and supportive,” Weltman said.
“The donor response has been
slower than we hoped but has
picked up dramatically at the start
of this year and we are optimistic
about our target being reached,
if not by the end of the current
crowdfunding campaign, then
through other funding sources in
the first quarter of the year.”
Apart from Afro-pessimism,
a lack of publicity on the project
- whose website is
- may have contributed to the
funding shortfall.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
US court overturns
ruling that blocked
Keystone pipeline
he Nebraska Supreme
Court yesterday removed
one of the last hurdles
for President Barack Obama to
settle the fate of the politically
charged Keystone XL oil pipeline, delivering a closely watched
decision on an issue that could
help define his second term.
After months of deliberation,
the court allowed a route for the
pipeline to cross the state, shifting the debate over TransCanada
Corp’s controversial line fully to
Washington, where Republicans
now in control of Congress are
seeking to force its п¬Ѓnal approval
after more than six years of acrimony with the White House.
Meanwhile, the US House of
Representatives approved the
Republican measure yesterday
authorising construction of the
Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Lawmakers voted 266 to 153 to
pass the bill that circumvents the
Obama administration, which
over the past six years has yet to
issue a decision on whether to
greenlight the mega-project that
would transport crude oil from
Alberta, Canada to refineries on
the US Gulf Coast.
The Senate is expected to take
up a Keystone bill for debate next
In Nebraska, the legal question
State Dept studying Nebraska ruling on Keystone
The US State Department is
studying a decision by the
Nebraska Supreme Court that
denied a challenge over the
route of the proposed Keystone
XL pipeline and the White
House will wait for that process
to continue, a spokesman said
“The State Department is
examining the court’s decision
as part of its process to
evaluate whether the Keystone
XL Pipeline project serves the
narrowly focused on whether the
governor had a right to bless a
pipeline route, but the state supreme court has had the matter
since February and the 64-page
ruling reflects how contentious
it has become.
The court said it could not decide whether legislation backed
by former governor Dave Heineman wrongly gave him authority
to grant TransCanada a pipeline
route in 2012. But the court was
deadlocked, which amounted to
ruling in the company’s favour.
“(B)ecause there are not five
judges of this court voting on the
constitutionality of (the legislation), the legislation must stand
by default,” the seven-judge
panel said in its ruling.
The pipeline debate has energised environmentalists who
national interest. As we have
made clear, we are going to let
that process play out,” White
House spokesman Eric Schultz
said in a statement.
Regardless of the court
ruling, Schultz said President
Barack Obama would veto a
congressional bill requiring
approval of the controversial
project from Canada.
“If presented to the president,
he will veto the bill,” Schultz
see it as an emblem of fossil fuel
dependence and energy interests who see a Canada-to-Texas
pipeline system as a tool to spur
energy production in North
President Barack Obama
has said he could not endorse a
project that meaningfully worsens climate change and the issue
could become one of the more
controversial of his second term.
But the issue may well be settled in the Congress where Republicans have vowed to push
the issue over Obama’s threatened veto.
“Today’s ruling provides the
perfect opportunity for the
President to change his unproductive posture on this jobscreating infrastructure project,”
said Senate Majority Leader
World must respond to
Paris attack, says Harper
Delta, British Columbia
he deadly attacks in Paris
serve as a vivid reminder
that jihadists are at war
with those they disagree with,
and the world must confront
them, Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper said on Thursday.
“The international jihadist movement has declared war.
They have declared war on anybody who does not think and act
exactly as they wish they’d think
and act,” Harper told reporters
when asked about Wednesday’s
“We may not like this and
wish it would go away, but it’s
not going to go away, and the
reality is we are going to have to
confront it.”
Harper spoke as a manhunt
was underway in France for two
brothers suspected of being the
Islamist gunmen who killed 12
Stephen Harper
people in Wednesday’s attack on
a satirical weekly newspaper in
Harper said any doubts in
Canada about the reality of
threats posed by such extremists should have vanished on
Oct. 22.
That was the day when a radicalised Canadian gunman killed
a soldier at the national war
memorial and then stormed the
Parliament building.
The Ottawa attack underscored fears that Canada, a close
ally of the United States in its
campaign against the Islamic
State militant group, had been
targeted in a reprisal.
Other manifestations of the
threat posed by militant Islam
in Canada included the case
of the so-called “Toronto 18,”
Harper said, referring to the
2006 arrests of a group of men
charged with planning attacks
on Toronto-area targets in a
plot to get Canada to withdraw
troops from Afghanistan.
Canada’s security agencies
have been able to prevent most
attacks by extremists from
coming to fruition, Harper said.
“But the fact of the matter is
this recent development, the
emergence of the so-called Islamic State, its sudden control
of a vast territory with vast
amounts of п¬Ѓnancial resources, has escalated this to a whole
new global level,” he added.
Mitch McConnell, a Republican
from Kentucky.
The court’s decision allows
the US State Department to decide whether the pipeline meant
to carry Canadian oil sands fuel
would be in the national interest,
a necessary step for the crossborder energy project.
Keystone since it could help expand oil sands development and
President Barack Obama has
said he will weigh whether the
project might worsen climate
Officials had said they could
not test whether the project is in
the national interest before the
Nebraska Supreme Court ruled.
Yesterday’s decision cleared the
Three members of the Nebraska panel said they believed
the landowners who initially
challenged the legislation did
not do so properly, and declined
to offer an opinion on whether it
was constitutional.
The other four judges said
they believed the law, which
allowed the governor to bypass
regulatory procedures and approve the route himself, unconstitutional.
But the court said it required
п¬Ѓve judges to agree in order to
rule on whether a legislative
enactment was constitutional,
and left the law in place by default.
US teen who
tried to join
IS hit with
terror charge
US teen arrested at a Chicago airport while trying
to join up with Islamic
State п¬Ѓghters in Iraq and Syria,
has been formally charged, federal prosecutors said yesterday.
Mohamed Hamzah Khan, 19,
faces one count of “attempting
to provide material support to a
foreign terrorist organisation,” a
charge that carries a maximum
penalty of up to 15 years in prison
and a $250,000 п¬Ѓne.
No date has yet been set for
Khan’s next court appearance,
according to the statement from
the Justice Department, which
added that the investigation is
The Illinois teenager was arrested October 4 at Chicago’s
O’Hare airport with a roundtrip
ticket to Istanbul.
US Vice-President Joe Biden greets US President Barack Obama upon arrival at McGhee Tyson
Airport yesterday in Alcoa, Tennesee. Obama is in Tennessee to speak on new proposals for higher
education accessibility. At left is Biden’s wife Jill Biden.
Radical imam
Abu Hamza
jailed for life
New York
measles outbreak that
began at Disneyland may
have spread to others in
Orange County, Calif., where
health officials warned the
public on Thursday about possible exposure.
Orange County health officials
confirmed two more unvaccinated children - who were all old
enough to be vaccinated - contracted measles between December 15 and December 20 at the
amusement park.
On Wednesday, California’s
Department of Health reported
nine confirmed cases of measles, of which one case was in
Orange County.
But others could have been
exposed to measles at health
facilities in the area while the
three children were infectious,
said Orange County Health
Care Agency spokeswoman
Nicole Stanfield.
At least three other cases
have been confirmed, bringing
the county total to six. Of the
three recently diagnosed, all are
adults; one was unvaccinated,
one was partly vaccinated, and
one was fully vaccinated. None
of the adults were hospitalised,
Stanfield said.“We expect more
cases to appear,” she said.
Brief interactions with those
who have measles offer a low risk
of infection, but officials are asking those who were at St Joseph
Hospital, CHOC Children’s
Hospital and Quest Diagnostics
Laboratory in Orange to watch
for symptoms from 7 to 21 days
after the possible exposure.
Symptoms include a rash,
fever, cough and red, watery
eyes, according to the Orange
At least 26
US kids
die of flu in
�bad’ season
adical imam Abu Hamza
al-Masri was sentenced
to life in prison yesterday, eight months after he was
convicted of federal terrorism
charges in New York.
US District Judge Katherine
Forrest in Manhattan imposed
the sentence on the one-eyed,
handless Abu Hamza, whom
jurors had found guilty of providing a satellite phone and
advice to Yemeni militants
who kidnapped Western tourists in 1998, leading to the
deaths of four hostages.
The defendant was also convicted of sending two followers
to Oregon to establish a militant
training camp, and dispatching an associate to Afghanistan
to aid Al Qaeda and the Taliban
against the United States.
“Abu Hamza was not convicted for his words,” federal
prosecutor Edward Kim told
Forrest prior to the sentencing.
“His crimes truly spanned the
globe, from Yemen to Afghanistan to the United States.”
Abu Hamza, 56, had gained
notoriety for his incendiary
sermons at the Finsbury Park
Mosque in London, which US
and UK authorities said helped
inspire a generation of militants, including the would-be
shoe bomber Richard Reid.
“I still maintain my innocence,” Abu Hamza told the
judge prior to being sentenced.
He asked that corrections
officials arrange to properly
treat his disabilities, and that
any prison time not constitute
“a backdoor for torture.”
Defence lawyers had urged
that Abu Hamza be sentenced to
Abu Hamza al-Masri
a term shorter than life in prison.
They also said any sentence
should take into account their
client’s need as a double amputee
for specialized medical care,
pressing for Abu Hamza to be
sent to a medical facility instead
of a maximum security prison.
Prosecutors, in contrast,
called Abu Hamza a “global
terrorist leader who orchestrated plots around the world.”
Abu Hamza, whose real
name is Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, testified in his defense at
trial. He denied he sent anyone to Oregon or Afghanistan
and claimed he acted as an
intermediary during the Yemen kidnapping in search of a
peaceful resolution.
He also said for the п¬Ѓrst time
that he lost his hands in an accidental explosion in Pakistan
while working two decades ago
as an engineer, contradicting
many reports that he lost the
limbs while п¬Ѓghting the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Abu Hamza has been known
for having used a hook in place
of his missing right hand.
He spent eight years in prison in Britain for inciting violence before his 2012 extradition to the United States.
Disneyland measles may
have spread, officials warn
Tribune News Service
Re-enactors of the Battle of New Orleans march back to their camp from the re-created battlefield
on the 200th anniversary of the battle in Chalmette, Louisiana on January 8. Some 1,500 people
gathered in the New Orleans suburb of Chalmette to re-enact and commemorate the bicentennial
of the final battle of the War of 1812, when American forces led by Andrew Jackson routed the British.
Obama arrives in Tennesee
County Health Care Agency.
Those who have not had
measles or the vaccine are at a
higher risk for the disease.
Other measles cases in the
state have been reported in
Alameda, Riverside and San Diego counties, as well as the city
of Pasadena, according to the
California Department of Public Health. Two additional park
visitors who were diagnosed as
having measles live in Utah.
Of those confirmed cases,
one was vaccinated for measles, six were unvaccinated,
and two were too young to be
vaccinated, state officials said.
Measles had mostly disappeared in the United States, but
there has been a recent upswing
in confirmed cases.
In California, Orange County
had a large share of last year’s
confirmed cases, with 22 of the 62
people diagnosed with measles.
particularly bad flu is
sweeping the United
States, killing 26 children so far this season and nearly
doubling hospitalisations among
people over 65 in the past week
alone, officials said yesterday.
The reason is the predominant
strain of flu this year is H3N2, a
variety that has shown itself in
prior years to be more virulent
than other kinds.
Even more, the vaccine that is
supposed to protect against the
annual flu is missing its mark
because two-thirds of the H3N2
strains that experts are seeing
were not included in this year’s
flu shot, said the US Centres for
Disease Control and Prevention.
“It is shaping up to be a bad
year for flu,” said CDC chief Tom
Frieden in a conference call with
“H3N2 is a nastier flu virus
than the other flu viruses.”
At week seven of the typically
13-week flu season, the virus “is
now widespread in almost the
entire country,” he said.
Flu typically infects п¬Ѓve to 15
percent of the population. It can
be dangerous in those with weak
immune systems, including the
elderly and children.
“It is shaping up to be a bad
year for flu”
Frieden said hospitalisation
rates among people over 65 “are
rising sharply,” going from 52
per 100,000 last week to 92 per
100,000 this week.
“That is high but typical for
H3N2 seasons,” Frieden said.
The last H3N2 season was in
2012-2013, and the cumulative
hospitalization rate among the
elderly that season was 183 per
“We wouldn’t be surprised to
see something similar happen
this year,” Frieden said.
An update on the effectiveness
of this year’s vaccine will be released in the coming weeks.
While Frieden said he expect to
п¬Ѓnd the vaccine to be weaker than
usual, he said authorities are still
urging people to get their flu shot
because it may offer some protection against other strains of the
flu that are circulating.
He also called for doctors to
give antiviral drugs, like Tamiflu,
to patients if they get sick.
“In the context of an H3N2
predominant season, with a less
effective vaccine, treatment with
anti-flu drugs is even more important than usual,” he said.
Scientists have found that
anti-flu drugs can reduce symptoms, shorten the duration of
symptoms and reduce the risk of
complications, he said.
“Anti-viral flu medications
are greatly under-utilized but if
you get the flu and you get medicines early they could keep you
out of the hospital, they could
keep you from having to go into
the intensive care unit and they
might even save your life.”
Most people do not know the
anti-viral drugs exist and fewer
than one in п¬Ѓve high-risk patients get treated, he said.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Man arrested for
procuring boys
for suspected
US paedophile
hai police working with
the US Federal Bureau
of Investigation have
arrested a man for procuring more than 100 boys over
the past three years for an alleged American paedophile in
northern Thailand, police said
Ayo Ahcho, a 23-year-old
from the Akha hill tribe, was
arrested on Tuesday in a border village in the Mae Fah
Luang district of Chiang Rai
province and charged with human trafficking, said Lt. Col.
Apichart Hattasin of Thailand’s northern region police.
Police said Ayo had been
supplying boys to be sexually
abused by 61-year-old Thomas Gary, who had been coming and going from Thailand
for 20 years and was arrested
on Sept 13 and charged with
the sexual abuse of minors.
“This was an individual
case. This was not a network,”
Apichart told the Thomson
Reuters Foundation by telephone.
Ayo himself had been having sex with Gary for three
months, and Gary later provided Ayo with a room in the
Chiang Mai guesthouse where
he stayed and paid him 1,000
baht ($30) a day to work as his
“servant”, Apichart said.
Ayo would pick up boys
ranging in age from 13 to 18
for Gary every other day or so,
usually vulnerable children
and orphans from the streets
or from video game Internet
cafes in Chiang Mai, the police
officer said. He said Gary had
kept a collection of dirty socks
and underwear from the boys
he abused.
Apichart said Gary, who
would normally stay in Thailand for about п¬Ѓve months
each time he visited, had been
released on bail within a few
weeks of his arrest. He remained in Chiang Mai pending
a court hearing.
The US State Department in
June named Thailand as one
of the world’s worst centres
for human trafficking, saying
it was “not making significant
efforts” and was a source, destination and transit country
for men, women and children
subjected to forced labour and
sex trafficking.
According to child protection group Ecpat International, the number of Thai victims
of trafficking for sexual exploitation is decreasing due to improved social and educational
However, these services are
not extended to stateless and
undocumented migrants, who
continue to be particularly
vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation, Ecpat said.
Many people from hill tribes
in northern Thailand are
Three rebels killed in
Thai south firefight
hree suspected insurgents were killed in a
shoot-out with soldiers
in Thailand’s restive deep
south yesterday after a 12hour stand-off at a house ended in bloodshed, police said.
Acting on a tip-off, soldiers
surrounded a house where a
group of suspected rebels —
who are п¬Ѓghting for greater
autonomy for the Muslimmajority southernmost region
— were holed-up since the
early hours of Friday morning.
“There was a long negotiation to persuade them to surrender,” a police official from
Mayo district in Pattani province said, requesting anonymity.
But the discussions collapsed and a prolonged firefight erupted, before heavilyarmed security forces stormed
the building, ending the incident 12 hours after it began.
“Three insurgents were
killed in the clash with soldiers... two others escaped,”
he said, adding that several
guns — including assault rifles — were abandoned by the
Conflict analysts Deep
South Watch say 6,300 people
- the majority civilians - have
been killed in a bitter, bloody
and seemingly intractable
11-year insurgency mainly
in Thailand’s southernmost
provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala.
A patchwork of disparate
but seemingly well-organised
rebel groups are calling for level of autonomy for the culturally distinct Muslim majority
south, as well as an amnesty
for their prisoners and wanted
Thailand, a predominantly
Buddhist nation, annexed the
region more than 100 years
ago and stands accused of perpetrating severe rights abuses
as well as railroading the distinctive local culture through
clumsy — and often forced —
assimilation schemes.
Street art
Children run past a mural of a hippopotamus as part of the Street Art project �Laman Seni’ in Shah Alam, Malaysia yesterday.
Pings detected in hunt
for aircraft black boxes
Pangkalan Bun
ignals believed to be from
the black box data recorders of crashed AirAsia
Flight 8501 were detected yesterday, Indonesian authorities
said, raising hopes they could
be retrieved and the disaster explained.
However the signals indicated the boxes may have been
dislodged from the wreckage of
the plane’s tail and fallen hundreds of metres deeper into the
Java Sea, one of the search coordinators, S B Supriyadi, told
reporters at nightfall.
“We can’t get the co-ordinates yet. The possibility is the
black box was thrown off and
fell to the seabed and is buried
in mud,” said Supriyadi, a director with the National Search and
Rescue Agency who is stationed
at search headquarters in the
town of Pangkalan Bun on Borneo island.
The plane crashed on December 28 during stormy weather as
it flew from the Indonesian city
of Surabaya to Singapore, claiming the lives of all 162 people on
Rough seas and strong currents have slowed multinational
efforts to п¬Ѓnd the wreckage of
the plane, which is lying in rela-
A search and rescue helicopter prepares to land on the Indonesian navy vessel KRI Banda Aceh during
operations to lift the tail of AirAsia flight QZ8501 from the Java sea yesterday.
tively shallow waters, and determine why it crashed.
The black boxes are regarded
as crucial to explaining the cause
of the disaster, as they should
contain recordings of the pilots’
final words and general flight
data. They are designed to give
a ping signal for 30 days after a
crash so that the recorders can
be found.
The tail of the plane, where
the black boxes were housed,
was discovered on Wednesday
partially buried in the seabed 30
metres underwater.
But the late yesterday comments from Supriyadi, echoed by
Indonesian military commander
General Moeldoko, indicated the
search had taken another frustrating twist and divers would
have to go much deeper to retrieve them.
Dozens of elite Indonesian
Marine divers had tried but failed
to thoroughly search the tail after its discovery on Wednesday,
in a task complicated by powerful currents and the fact it was
partially buried in the seabed.
Those problems continued
throughout yesterday, with efforts to lift the tail using floatation devices also scuppered by
rough seas. Indonesian authori-
ties have also brought a crane to
the KRI Banda Aceh Navy vessel
stationed close to the tail site,
in hopes of using that to lift the
Supriyadi said the conditions were severely hampering
all search efforts -- for the black
boxes, other parts of the plane,
and bodies.
“Hopefully the weather and
the sea are better tomorrow so
we can do our operation,” he
American, Chinese and other
foreign naval ships are also involved in the hunt for other parts
of the plane’s wreckage, as well
as for the bodies of passengers.
Just 48 bodies have been found
so far, according to Indonesian
All but seven of those on
board were Indonesian. The
non-Indonesians were three
South Koreans, one Singaporean, one Malaysian, one Briton
and a Frenchman — co-pilot
Remi Plesel. In Jakarta, Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan
announced 61 domestic flight
routes operated by national flag
carrier Garuda and four budget
airlines had been suspended because they did not have permits.
The ministry launched the
probe into the permit system after п¬Ѓnding that Indonesia AirAsia did not have authorisation
to fly the Surabaya-Singapore
route on a Sunday, the day of the
It quickly banned Indonesia
AirAsia from flying the Surabaya-Singapore route on any
However, investigators have
not linked the lack of authorisation to the crash, and Jonan said
yesterday the audit had not uncovered any more permit violations by AirAsia.
The Indonesian meteorological agency has said weather was
the “triggering factor” for the
crash, with ice likely damaging the engines of the Airbus
Yingluck launches defiant impeachment defence
usted Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra
launched a defiant defence yesterday at the first hearing of impeachment proceedings that could see her banned
from politics for п¬Ѓve years and
deepen the country’s bitter divisions.
Yingluck, Thailand’s first female premier and the sister of
self-exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, was dumped
from office by a controversial
court ruling shortly before the
army seized power in a coup on
May 22.
She faces impeachment by
the military-stacked National
Legislative Assembly over her
administration’s loss-making
rice subsidy programme which
-- while popular among her
rural power base - costbns of
dollars and was a driving force
behind protests that toppled her
Ousted former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra delivers her
opening statement to the military-appointed National Legislative
Assembly in Bangkok yesterday.
Analysts say the impeachment move is the latest attempt
by Thailand’s royalist elite to
neuter the political influence of
the Shinawatras, whose parties
have won every election since
A guilty verdict from the assembly carries an automatic
п¬Ѓve-year ban from politics, but
could also galvanise her family’s
�Red Shirt’ supporters to protest
after months of silence under
martial law.
Yingluck, dressed in a black
suit and pink shirt, arrived at
the hearing flanked by security and a handful of her party
“I ran the government with
honesty and in accordance with
all laws,” she told the assembly,
rejecting the allegation of dereliction of duty by the nation’s
anti-graft body that resulted in
the impeachment bid.
“The rice pledging scheme...
aimed to address the livelihood
of rice farmers, their debts and
falling rice prices,” she said, describing it as part of the “social
contract” which she claimed
helped 1.8mn rice farmers.
She ended a detailed and impassioned defence by urging the
assembly to “deliberate with
virtue, without prejudice or a
hidden political agenda”.
impeachment needs three-п¬Ѓfths of the
250-strong assembly to vote in
favour. A verdict is expected by
the end of January.
Prosecutors are also in the
process of deciding whether
Yingluck should face a separate
criminal case over the rice subsidy scheme.
Yingluck’s supporters say the
proceedings and the criminal
charges are part of a wider campaign to cripple the Shinawatra
clan and disempower their vot-
ers, who are drawn mainly from
the poor but populous northern
part of the country.
But the move is not without risks. A vote to impeach
Yingluck could stir the Red
Shirts to protest, ending months
of relative calm since the army
grabbed power and imposed
martial law. Thai politics expert
Thitinan Pongsudhirak said
the impeachment proceedings
pose “a dilemma” for the junta
and their supporters, who are
desperate to land another body
blow on the Shinawatras.
“On the one hand they (the
junta) want to see her disqualified from Thai politics,” said
Thitinan, who is director of the
Institute of Security and International Studies at Bangkok’s
Chulalongkorn University.
“But if they go all out against
Yingluck -- by pushing for a ban
or criminal charges -- they risk
aggravating Thailand’s political
conflict by stirring up the proThaksin camp.”
Only a handful of supporters gathered outside the leg-
islature yesterday. “This (impeachment) hearing is not fair,”
said Varanchai Chokchana, a
suited 63-year-old supporter
clutching a bunch of roses for
“They (the government) said
they wanted reconciliation, but
instead they have just seized
Yingluck’s billionaire brother
Thaksin, who was deposed as
premier in a 2006 coup, sits at
the heart of Thailand’s deep
schism, despite living overseas
to avoid jail for a graft conviction.
He is loathed by the Bangkokcentred establishment, its supporters in the south and among
the judiciary and army, but still
draws deep loyalty in the north
and among sections of the urban middle and working classes.
Since Thaksin swept to power in 2001, Shinawatra governments have been floored
by two coups and bloodied
by the removal of three other
premiers by the kingdom’s
interventionist courts.
Filipino nurse
sacked for �offensive’
online remarks
A Singapore government hospital
sacked a Filipino nurse yesterday
for “offensive” remarks on social
media, the latest in a string of
foreigners dismissed from their
jobs in the city-state for sparking
controversy online. Tan Tock Seng
Hospital said that the decision to
fire Ello Ed Mundsel Bello came
after it investigated three of his
posts on Facebook and Google
Plus that touched upon race and
religion. It did not reveal the contents of the posts but described
them as “highly irresponsible and
offensive to Singapore and religion”. “We have dismissed Mr Ello
Ed Mundsel Bello from our hospital
immediately for his... comments
made in 2014 while in our hospital’s
employment,” Tan Tock Seng said
in a statement on Facebook. “They
have distressed members of the
public and our hospital staff... His
conduct goes against our staff
values of respect, professionalism
and social responsibility.” Police are
currently investigating a separate
post on Bello’s Facebook page this
month in which he described Singaporeans as “loosers (sic) in their
own country”.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Pyongyang rejects call
from South for talks
Japan love-triangle
poisoner denied retrial
Taiwan to cull 120,000
chickens after bird flu
Customs officers find drugs
behind Winnie the Pooh
Time Machine, Birds
actor Taylor dies at 84
North Korea rejected yesterday a South Korean
call for the resumption of stalled talks, a setback
for efforts to reduce tension on the peninsula after the North Korean leader made a surprise New
Year call for a summit. South Korea’s parliament
called last month for a resumption of negotiations
on various issues including North Korea’s human
rights, and families still separated by the 1950-53
Korean War. But an official at South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, which handles inter-Korean
affairs, said the North had rejected the proposal,
without giving a reason. South Korea has also
proposed inter-Korean talks be held this month.
An 88-year-old Japanese man convicted of
poisoning five women to rid himself of an
unwanted love triangle was yesterday denied
a retrial and ordered to remain on death row.
Masaru Okunishi was sentenced to death in
1972 after being convicted of multiple counts
of murder by slipping pesticides into wine at a
community party in a remote mountain village
in central Japan. The farmer initially told police
he added the toxic chemicals to kill both his
wife and his mistress, so he could untangle his
twisted love life. Three other women also died,
while a dozen fell ill but survived.
Taiwanese authorities began culling around 120,000
chickens yesterday following the latest outbreak of
a less virulent strain of bird flu, one of the island’s
biggest culls in recent years. The move, to be completed today, came after some chickens at a farm
in southern Pingtung county tested positive for the
H5N2 strain of bird flu, according to the Bureau of
Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine.
It said the affected farm will be thoroughly disinfected, while monitoring of other farms in the area
will also be stepped up. Local media said the farm is
one of the largest of its kind in Taiwan and produces
around 100,000 eggs daily.
New Zealand foiled attempts to smuggle in more
than 1,000 kilograms of illegal drugs in 2014, with
stashes stuffed inside Winnie the Pooh pillows,
camouflaged as breath mints and stashed in a can
of porridge oats, the customs service said yesterday.
Manager Jonathan Morten said customs officers
were trained to have an eye for detail and a strong
sense of suspicion and were bemused by an attempt to import a can of porridge oats. The can was
later found to contain 3.5 grams of methamphetamine. A collection of children’s Winnie the Pooh and
Micky Mouse pillows were found to be stuffed with
Rod Taylor, the Australian-born actor who
helped actress Tippi Hedren battle swarms of
vicious birds in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 film The
Birds”, has died at the age of 84, his daughter
announced on a fan website. Taylor, who would
have been 85 tomorrow, died at home in Los
Angeles after suffering a fall two weeks ago,
the website said. His first leading role was in
the 1960 film version of the H G Wells classic
The Time Machine, but he was best known for
co-starring in the Hitchcock film about a massive bird attack on a small northern California
coastal town.
Jackie Chan’s son gets jail
term for drugs offence
he son of kung fu star
Jackie Chan was sentenced to six months in
prison yesterday after admitting
drugs offences, a Beijing court
Jaycee Chan, who like his father has worked as an actor and
singer, will be released in midFebruary, having already spent
п¬Ѓve months in jail.
State broadcaster China Central Television showed Chan
pleading guilty in court, wearing a black jumper and blue
trousers, flanked by two policemen.
“I broke the law,” he said, appearing attentive and respectful
of the proceedings. “I deserve to
be punished. When I return to
society, I definitely won’t do it
Chan was detained in August
and charged with providing a
venue for others to use drugs
after police said they found 100
grams (3.5 ounces) of marijuana
at his home in the Chinese capital.
An hour and 22 minutes after proceedings began, the
Dongcheng District People’s
Court posted on a verified social media account: “He was
convicted. He has been sentenced to six months in jail and
fined 2,000 RMB,” or renminbi
The court also said that his
“detention” will end on February 13.
Chan and Ko Chen-tung, a
Taiwanese actor also known as
Kai Ko, both tested positive for
marijuana according to state
This handout photo taken yesterday shows Jaycee Chan (second right), son of kung fu star Jackie Chan,
being escorted before his trial at the Dongcheng District People’s Court in Beijing.
media, and Kai made tearful televised confessions.
At least 10 locally known stars
were detained on drug-related
charges last year, state-run me-
dia have said.
The arrests have been seen
by observers as part of a wider
campaign on morals by Beijing,
which has also targeted pros-
titution and the wider drugs
Around 200 mainly domestic
journalists at the Dongcheng
court were allowed to set up
their equipment outside the
building as the defendant arrived, and reporters were invited
to wait in a conference room in
the court building, where staff
gave updates while handing out
bottled water and tea.
The scene was far removed
from trials of Chinese dissidents, which domestic journalists generally do not attend
except for a select few from
state-run outlets.
Foreign journalists at sensitive hearings are often aggressively targeted by plain clothes
police if they go within even a
few blocks of the courthouse.
Jaycee Chan has featured
in several п¬Ѓlms but has not so
far won the acclaim earned by
his father, one of Asia’s bestknown actors with a string of
Hollywood hits to his name.
Shortly after his son’s detention, Jackie Chan said in a post
on China’s Twitter-like Sina
Weibo that he was “extremely
angry and extremely shocked”.
“As a public figure, I am
ashamed. As a father I feel terrible,” he said in August.
A total of 7,800 people were
arrested for drugs offences in
Beijing between January and
August last year, state media
reported, an increase of almost
72% on the same period in 2013.
There were 26,000 “registered cases” of drug use in Beijing in 2014, up 10% year-onyear, according to police, who
claim “singers, actors and film
directors” comprise 0.15% of
drug users in the city.
Use of recreational drugs has
risen in recent years in China as
an economic boom has boosted
the middle classes’ disposable
Japanese woman
finds �dental
material’ in burger
Japanese woman got
more than a mouthful
when she claimed to have
discovered fragments later identified as “dental material” in a
McDonald’s hamburger, marking the fast-food chain’s latest
food quality embarrassment.
The discovery of the objects,
confirmed by McDonald’s to
be dental yesterday, comes two
days after the company admitted
several foreign objects had been
found in food at Japanese outlets, including a human tooth in
a container of french fries at an
outlet in Osaka.
An unidentified woman told
the Asahi television network she
had found three tiny fragments
of what looked like teeth in a
burger she bought at a McDonald’s outlet in northern Kushiro
city in September.
“I took a bite and there was a
crunch,” the woman said in footage aired yesterday, adding that
she initially thought it was a
piece of sand or stone.
“I can’t help thinking that it
was (already) in the meat.”
A third-party examination
determined the opaque white
fragments were “dental material”, according to company
spokeswoman Miwa Yamamoto,
saying the substance is commonly used to п¬Ѓll cavities or in
other dental work.
McDonald’s, however, would
not confirm the woman’s claim
that the fragments were inside
her burger.
Yamamoto said the customer
was told that there was an “extremely low chance” it could
have fallen into raw material,
given the highly-mechanised
process. None of the employees at the outlet had issues with
their teeth at the time and the
customer denied it could have
come from her, Yamamoto said.
On Wednesday, McDonald’s
acknowledged a human tooth
had been found in fries sold by
another outlet last year, while
it has also been hit by incidents
in which pieces of vinyl were
found in chicken nuggets and
a tiny piece of hard plastic in a
Japanese media reported
several other cases of contamination, including a piece of
metal in a pancake.
The incidents mark another
public relations setback for
the firm, which is struggling to
recover from a battering to its
reputation this summer when
a Chinese supplier was found
to be mixing out-of-date meat
with fresh produce.
Then, late last year, the company had to airlift an emergency supply of french fries from
the US after a chip shortage
had resulted in rationing at its
3,000 restaurants across Japan.
Labour disputes on the US
West Coast had bunged up the
export chain, leaving Japanese
firms scrambling to secure
fresh supplies.
The difficulties looked set
to hit McDonald’s bottom line,
with the Japanese unit earlier
saying it was on track to report
a 17bn yen ($142mn) annual
loss for 2014.
Japan generally has a good
record on food safety, and its
consumers are used to high
Occasional blunders can prove
costly to reputations, and п¬Ѓrms
that have fallen foul of shoppers
have discovered the impact can
be long-lasting.
Man charged in fresh
counter-terror raids
ustralian police conducted fresh counterterrorism raids in Sydney
yesterday, officials said, as part
of an ongoing investigation into
citizens providing support to
foreign п¬Ѓghters overseas.
A 33-year-old man was arrested and charged with acquiring and possessing ammunition
illegally in the raids, which were
carried out at four properties in
southwest Sydney, New South
Wales police said.
He was refused bail and ordered to appear in a Sydney court
The warrants were “part of a
long-running investigation and
not as a result of any specific terrorism threat,” police added in a
The raids were unconnected
to the 16-hour standoff at a Sydney cafe in mid-December that
left the lone gunman, self-styled
cleric Man Haron Monis, and
two hostages dead, an Australian Federal Police spokeswoman
The investigation, which has
been running for more than a
year, is looking into alleged п¬Ѓnancial and other support for
foreign п¬Ѓghters involved in
conflicts such as those in Syria
and Iraq. “The priority for all
agencies involved in these operations is to ensure the safety of
the community,” the Australian
Federal Police’s interim Assistant Commissioner Peter Crozier
said. Australia raised its terror threat level in September on
growing concern about militants
returning from п¬Ѓghting in Iraq
and Syria.
There were also large-scale
counter-terrorism raids across
the country in September.
Eleven people have been
charged with various offences
related to the alleged planning
of an attack on domestic soil
and helping citizens travel to the
Middle East as foreign п¬Ѓghters.
End of the road for
racy models
at autoshow?
�Coming of Age Day’ ceremony
A 20-year-old tour guide dressed in a traditional kimono hangs up an �ema’, or votive tablet, with her written wish at Tokyo’s
Meiji Shrine after attending a purification ceremony with a Shinto priest to celebrate Japan’s Coming of Age Day yesterday.
Since tour guides will be busy working on Japan’s national holiday Coming-of-Age Day on January 12, the company had a
ceremony for them ahead of time. Young people turning 20 are officially recognised as adults in Japan.
Female models in tight dresses and
miniskirts may be banned from one
of Asia’s premier car exhibitions in
Shanghai this year. The Chinese
government is concerned about
what it sees as increasing vulgarity
in society. A crackdown on pornography and freedom of expression
more generally has intensified since
President Xi Jinping assumed office
in 2013. Victor Yang, spokesman
of Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd
said yesterday that the company
has received verbal notice from the
Shanghai autoshow organiser that
no models can be used at the weeklong event, from April 20. An official
at the Council for the Promotion of
International Trade Shanghai, one
of the main organisers, said such a
restriction was “under discussion”
and a decision would be published
soon. Auto promoters in China, as
in many other places, often employ
models to jazz up their stands. The
models often seem to get more
attention than the cars. Government
censors faced a backlash from
Chinese Internet users this month
when a television drama about a
Chinese empress was scrubbed
of all footage showing actresses’
China punishes 17 officials over Xinjiang violence
hina has punished 17 officials
for lapses in connection with
explosions and riots in the Xinjiang region in September, state media
said, as the regional Communist Party
boss said the fight against “terrorism”
was getting “more intense”.
Dozens of people were killed in Xinjiang in the violence which began when
explosions killed six people. Riots followed the blasts and police shot dead
40 people, some of whom were trying
to blow themselves up, state media
said at the time.
It was one of several violent incidents
that have rocked the region in recent
years. The government has blamed the
trouble on separatists from the Uighur
ethnic minority, most of whom are Muslim, who it says want to form an independent country called East Turkestan.
It is difficult for foreign journalists to
report in Xinjiang, making it almost im-
possible to reach an independent assessment of the security situation.
After an investigation into the Sept. 21
violence, Xinjiang’s Communist Party
committee gave 17 officials “party and
government disciplinary” punishment
for security and other lapses, the www. news site, which is run by the committee, said late on Thursday. Zhang
Chunxian, Xinjiang’s party secretary,
said the security situation was “extremely grim”.
“Xinjiang’s anti-terrorism fight has
entered a phase that is more complicated
and more intense,” Zhang said, according to a report published by the website
on Thursday. “We must take the initiative to brandish the sword, take the of-
fensive and comprehensively attack.”
The government has blamed attacks
in other parts of China, including Beijing, on militants from Xinjiang.
Human rights activists say repressive
government policies in Xinjiang, including curbs on religion and culture, as well
as economic and social problems have
provoked unrest.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Prince Harry signs a book of condolence at the
French embassy in London yesterday for the
12 victims of the attack on the Paris offices of
satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
Huge storm sparks
major disruption
Expansion of 100-year-old
Tube power plant unveiled
Ebola nurse Cafferkey
remains critical, say family
Salvors to pump
water from carrier
Around 85,000 properties were left without
power at the height of a storm which caused
major disruption to the transport network.
ScotRail suspended all services for safety
reasons for a time yesterday after hurricaneforce winds which brought gusts of up to
113mph battered the country. Ferry services
were subject to cancellations and several
roads and bridges were closed, as were many
schools. A gust of 113mph was recorded at
Stornoway on Lewis, the strongest gust since
records at that site began in 1970, while a gust
of 110mph was recorded at Loch Glascarnoch
in the Highlands.
London mayor Boris Johnson has unveiled plans
for an expansion of one of the world’s oldest
electricity stations to help power the capital’s
underground rail network. Greenwich Power
Station, which was built in 1906 to provide
electricity for London’s trams, will receive up to
six new gas engines to power the network known
as the “Tube” and provide heat for 20,000 homes.
London has an ambitious target to reduce its
carbon emissions by 60% by 2025 to try to tackle
climate change and cutting emissions from the
transport network is a large part of this plan. The
new gas-fired engines could cover around 13% of
the Tube’s annual power needs.
Pauline Cafferkey, the British nurse fighting the
Ebola virus after her return from treating the sick
in Sierra Leone, remains in a critical condition, her
family has said. In a statement issued by the Royal
Free hospital in London, which is treating the
nurse, Cafferkey’s family thanked the public for
their messages of support. “We have been very
touched by the kind words,” the statement said.
“Pauline continues to be in a critical condition at
the Royal Free hospital. We want to thank all the
staff caring for her for their kindness, support and
compassion. Pauline’s condition could remain the
same for some time and we would again ask for
her and our privacy to be respected.”
Salvors are hoping to begin pumping 3,000
tonnes of water which have been taken
onboard a car carrier which became stranded
near to a busy shipping lane. The Hoegh
Osaka was beached deliberately on Bramble
Bank sandbank, near Southampton, last
Saturday after it began listing as it left the
Hampshire port. The 51,000-tonne ship, which
has a cargo of 1,400 cars and 105 pieces of
construction equipment, floated free from the
sandbank on the high tide on Wednesday and
has since been anchored at a spot two miles
east called Alpha Anchorage near Lee-on-theSolent.
999 crews told
to stay away
by hospital
with bed-crisis
London Evening Standard
he A&E crisis deepened
yesterday as Britain’s biggest NHS trust revealed
that one of its hospitals ran out of
beds and had asked ambulances
to stay away.
It came as NHS England п¬Ѓgures for the п¬Ѓrst days of 2015
showed more than 2,500 patients
waited on trolleys for more than
four hours to be admitted to London hospitals - including 33 who
waited more than 12 hours.
Patients were stuck in ambulances for more than 30 minutes
outside the capital’s A&E units
on 706 occasions last week, the
п¬Ѓgures showed.
Yesterday the Standard revealed that Barts Health - the
country’s biggest group of hospitals - had 36 patients in Whipps
Cross’ casualty department
awaiting admission to a ward at
6am on Tuesday but nowhere to
put them.
The previous evening the hospital, in Leytonstone, was so
busy that trust bosses asked for
ambulances to be diverted, only
to be refused as other hospitals
were also full.
In the week ending on Sunday, 463 patients at Barts waited
more than four hours to be admitted to a ward.
Yesterday it was also revealed
that the neighbouring Barking,
Havering and Redbridge trust
was forced to declare an “internal major incident” in the runup to Christmas.
Bosses at the trust - the only
one in London in special measures - were forced to implement
the crisis procedure as Queen’s
hospital in Romford and King
George in Ilford buckled under
unprecedented demand on December 16.
Last week it had 249 A&E patients waiting more than four
hours to be admitted and 21 who
waited more than 12 hours.
An internal major incident,
which trusts do not have to make
public at the time, was also declared by Croydon hospital for a
period earlier this week.
Barking, Havering and Redbridge was the worst trust in the
capital, and the fourth worst nationally, for A&E delays during
the last quarter of 2014.
At Whipps Cross this week,
outpatient operations were cancelled to free up space. An extra
99 “escalation” beds introduced
across Whipps Cross, the Royal
London and Newham to help
with demand were “not sufficient”.
At times, patients had to be
held in ambulances outside
Whipps Cross’ A&E department for more than an hour.
Barts said that the London Ambulance Service’s “intelligent
conveyancing” system, which
takes patients only to hospitals
with spare capacity, effectively
ground to a halt.
Ambulances were diverted
away from Whipps Cross for
short periods last Friday and on
Sunday to prevent its resuscitation room exceeding capacity.
All 36 patients stuck in A&E on
Tuesday were eventually found
a bed. Other trusts requesting
ambulance diversions last week
included the Royal Free, Hillingdon, Lewisham and Greenwich
and King’s College.
Menwhile, Circle Holdings,
the п¬Ѓrst private company to run a
general hospital for the National
Health Service, yesterday said
it was pulling out of Hinchingbrooke hospital in eastern England because it was no longer
sustainable. Its decision, triggered by a crisis in the provision
of emergency care across the
NHS in recent months, is a blow
to government plans to increase
the role of private companies in
Premier meets small business owners
Prime Minister David Cameron sits with Chancellor George Osborne during a meeting with local small business owners in Stockport, northern England, yesterday.
Protecting Britons from
terror top priority: govt
Chancellor says MI5 and MI6
will get whatever resources
they need, in response to call
for new powers after Paris
Guardian News and Media
pledged to give MI5 and
MI6 whatever resources they need to allow them to
maintain their “heroic job” in
protecting the British people
from terrorist threats at home
and abroad.
Speaking after the director general of MI5 called for
new powers in the wake of the
Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris,
the chancellor endorsed Andrew Parker’s view that the fight
against terrorism is Britain’s
main national priority.
Osborne told BBC Breakfast
on Friday: “My commitment is
very clear. This is the national
priority. We will put the resources in. Whatever the security services need they will get
because they do a heroic job on
our behalf.”
Parker had warned of a dangerous imbalance between increasing numbers of terrorist
plots against the UK and a fall in
the capabilities of intelligence
services to spy on communications.
He described the Paris attack
as “a terrible reminder of the
intentions of those who wish us
harm” and said he had spoken to
his French counterparts to offer
Osborne said the government had recently set aside an
extra ВЈ100mn to allow the intelligence agencies to monitor
“self-starter” terrorists travelling to Iraq and Syria.
“In the last few weeks we have
put extra money – over £100mn
– into specifically monitoring
people going to conflicts in Syria and Iraq, these self-starting
terrorists who get their ideas
off the internet and then go and
want to perpetrate horrendous
crimes,” he told the BBC.
“So we are putting a huge ef-
The Grand Budapest Hotel”,
an offbeat comedy starring
Ralph Fiennes as the concierge of a luxury hotel in a bygone Europe, topped the shortlist
for Britain’s Bafta awards, with 11
nominations, including for best
Following is how the main п¬Ѓlms
stack up for the awards. Nominations were announced yesterday
and the winners will be unveiled
by the British Academy of Film
and Television Arts on February 8.
O The Grand Budapest Hotel
was nominated for best п¬Ѓlm, best
director for American Wes Anderson and original screenplay;
original music, cinematography,
editing, production design, costume design, make-up and hair
and sound. Fiennes was nominated for leading actor.
O Birdman, a satire of show
business by Mexican director
Alejandro Inarritu, was nominated for best п¬Ѓlm, best director,
original screenplay, original mu-
sic, cinematography, editing and
sound. Star Michael Keaton is
nominated for leading actor while
co-star Edward Norton is up for
best supporting actor and Emma
Stone is nominated for supporting actress.
O The Theory of Everything, a
biopic of scientist Stephen Hawking by British director James
Marsh, received nominations for
best п¬Ѓlm, outstanding British
п¬Ѓlm, director, adapted screenplay,
original music, editing, costume
design and make-up and hair.
English actor Eddie Redmayne
was nominated for leading actor, while Felicity Jones received
a nomination for leading actress.
Jones, 31, who is also up for
a Golden Globe tomorrow, said
recognition by her home film industry was “fantastic”, adding: “It
was such a collaborative process
so it’s wonderful that everyone
involved has been recognised
because truly it was one of those
special projects where we all cared
so much about it.” She said she
was “very happy” to face competition for leading actress from
stars in “really exciting female
parts”, including fellow Brit Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl.
O The Imitation Game, about
World War II code-breaker Alan
Turing directed by Norway’s
Morten Tyldum, was nominated
for best п¬Ѓlm, outstanding British п¬Ѓlm, adapted screenplay,
editing, production design, costume design and sound. Benedict
Cumberbatch was nominated for
leading actor and Keira Knightley
was nominated for supporting
O American director Richard
Linklater’s coming-of-age film
Boyhood, п¬Ѓlmed over a 12-year
period using the same cast, received п¬Ѓve nominations, as did
American director Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, which portrays a
music instructor who pushes students beyond their limits.
O There were four nominations each for Mr Turner, British
director Mike Leigh’s portrayal of
landscape painter J M W Turner,
British director Christopher Nolan’s space epic Interstellar and
US п¬Ѓlm Nightcrawler, about a
video cameraman who п¬Ѓlms
gruesome accidents.
made clear his strong political
support for MI5.
Speaking to an invited audience at MI5 headquarters on
Thursday, Parker said the threat
level to Britain had worsened
and extremist groups in Syria
and Iraq were directly trying to
orchestrate attacks on the UK.
Such an attack was highly likely
and MI5 could not guarantee it
would be able to stop it, he said.
“Strikingly, working with our
partners, we have stopped three
UK terrorist plots in recent
months alone,” he said. “Deaths
would certainly have resulted
otherwise. Although we and
our partners try our utmost, we
know that we cannot hope to
stop everything.”
More pupils �going
to school hungry’
Grand Budapest Hotel
leads Bafta nominations
fort in. As the director general of
MI5 has said, that is the threat
we face and we face a threat
from more complex plots. So we
have got to be vigilant, we have
got to have the resources there.”
The chancellor said the agencies were “absolutely in the
front line with the police at
dealing with this threat. They
will get the support they need
and indeed in the last few weeks
they have got that support.”
His remarks focused on the
financial support the government will provide for Britain’s
three intelligence agencies, the
domestic agency, MI5, the overseas Secret Intelligence Service,
MI6, and the UK’s GCHQ eavesdropping centre. But he also
British comedian and actor Stephen Fry holds up a Bafta statuette
during the Bafta film awards nominations at Bafta in London
ising numbers of children
are arriving for school hungry, according to a poll of
Almost two п¬Ѓfths of school staff
(38%) say that every day, they see
pupils turning up for class who
have not had enough to eat, while
a similar proportion see it between
once and four times a week.
And nearly a third (31%) suggested that a child has blamed falling asleep in class on being hungry
or thirsty.
The survey, which questioned
almost 900 teachers, found that
a п¬Ѓfth believe that the number
of youngsters turning up for lessons hungry has increased in the
last year, while a further 77% said
it had stayed about the same. Just
2% said they thought there had
been a decrease.
Of those that said there had
been an increase in hungry pupils, 69% said they thought one of
the main reasons for this is due to
families continuing to struggle due
to the economic downturn, while
56% said benefits cuts are affecting families’ financial situations,
making it tougher for them to provide breakfast for their children.
Just under half (48%) thought
that some parents were struggling
to п¬Ѓnd work and cannot afford to
put food on the table in the morning.
Three quarters of all the teachers questioned said that being
hungry or thirsty makes a child
more lethargic, while 83% said
youngsters are unable to concentrate and 62% said pupils are unable to learn if they have not eaten
Three in 10 admitted that they
have brought food into school for
pupils they believe have not had
Paul Wheeler from Kellogg’s,
which commissioned the poll,
said: “It’s a crying shame that so
many children are going to school
without having eaten a basic
“When your stomach’s rumbling it’s hard to concentrate on
anything else, so it’s no small
wonder we’re hearing about children becoming badly behaved and
unwilling to learn when they’re
breakfast clubs for children in deprived areas of the UK.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2014
Russia bans transvestites,
transsexuals from driving
Swedish court stops hotly
contested wolf hunt
EU states call for plan to
tackle Russian �propaganda’
Missing skier identified
in Austria after 86 years
Six killed ahead of planned
Ukraine peace talks
Russia has passed a controversial law banning
transvestites and transsexuals from driving,
prompting sharp criticism from rights activists,
including a prominent Kremlin adviser. The
legislation that entered into force this week bans
anyone diagnosed with a range of personality
and gender identity disorders, including
transvestites and transsexuals, from taking the
wheel. The list also includes people with sexual
fetishes, voyeurs and paedophiles, as well as
pathological gamblers and kleptomaniacs. The
law follows other legislation passed in Russia
discriminating against people because of their
sexual orientation.
A Swedish court has pulled the plug on a wolf
hunt due to start yesterday, favouring animal
rights activists in one of the country’s most
hotly disputed environmental issues. Sweden
resumed wolf hunting in 2010 and 2011, which
led the European Commission to protest the
country’s policy of hunting quotas. Since then
environmental advocates have been successful
in fighting the government’s decisions to allow
culling. A lower court agreed on Thursday with
wildlife activists that the regions of Oerebro
and Vaermland had exceeded their powers by
issuing hunting permits for species protected by
European nature legislation.
Britain, Denmark, Estonia and Lithuania
yesterday urged Brussels to prepare an EU-wide
plan to tackle Russia’s “propaganda campaign”
amid tensions over Ukraine. “Russia is rapidly
increasing its disinformation and propaganda
campaign, as an asymmetric response to
Western economic power,” the countries’ foreign
ministers said in a letter. “At the same time in
Russia the free media is suppressed by the
government, intimidated and pushed out of the
public sphere, when foreign media outlets are
discriminated and forced to close.” The letter to
EU foreign policy chief, warned that “propaganda
aims at hindering the EU and Western unity”.
Human remains found in a cave in the Austrian
Alps have been identified as those of a skier who
went missing 86 years ago, police said yesterday.
DNA tests confirmed that the remains were
of Karl K, who never came home after going
skiing alone on the Untersberg mountain near
his home in Salzburg in March 1929. He was 21.
In November 2014 a geologist found bones in
a cave — he thought at first they were from an
animal —as well as a hobnail leather boot and
bits of wooden ski and pole. Police came across
K’s name after combing through old records and
were able to get a match after comparing DNA
with his surviving half-sister, who is well over 100.
Four Ukrainian soldiers and two civilians were
reported killed yesterday in an upsurge in
mortar and rocket attacks launched just days
ahead of planned international talks on the
crisis. Local authorities in the rebel stronghold
of Donetsk said two civilians were killed and
seven injured in clashes around the industrial
city’s disputed airport. The air hub — once the
busiest and most modern in the largely Russianspeaking east of Ukraine — has been held by
a skeleton force of government soldiers since
late May. Almost daily attacks by pro-Russian
insurgents on the airport have resulted in heavy
civilian casualties.
France is at �war’ with
terror, not religion: PM
French PM Manuel Valls
says new security measures
necessary; Charlie Hebdo
survivors start work on new
rance is at “war” with terrorism, but not religion,
Prime Minister Manuel
Valls said yesterday as police
cornered two suspected Islamist
gunmen near Paris.
“We are in a war against terrorism. We are not in a war
against religion, against a civilisation,” Valls said.
The country has been left reeling after the massacre Wednesday of 12 people at a satirical
weekly magazine by two brothers shouting Islamist slogans.
And as a dramatic manhunt
saw police corner the suspects in
the small town of Dammartinen-Goele north of Paris, Valls
said it would “certainly be necessary to take new measures” to
response to extremist threats.
He said that current policies
had resulted in п¬Ѓve attacks being
foiled since August 2013.
“We knew we could be hit,” he
said, adding he had no doubt the
French would emerge stronger
from the incident.
“What are terrorists looking for? To create fear, to pit the
French against each other — and
we must be stronger than that.”
Meanwhile, surviving employees of Charlie Hebdo started
work on a new issue yesterday in
premises loaned by the newspaper Liberation.
Prime Minister Valls and
Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin
visited Liberation in a show of
support for the journalists, cartoonists and others shown into
the building in central eastern
Among the employees were
one of its columnists, Patrick
Pelloux, and its lawyer, Richard Malka, who had told AFP on
Thursday that a special “survivors’ issue” of Charlie Hebdo
would come out next Wednesday, with 1mn copies printed instead of the usual 60,000.
The massive print run is a sign
of defiance after two gunmen
using automatic rifles mowed
Snipers, copters
turn French town
into a warzone
(From L) French columnist for Charlie Hebdo Patrick Pelloux, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin
speak during a visit to the headquarters of Liberation on January 9, 2015 in Paris, as editorial staff of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo
and Liberation gather following the deadly attack that occurred on January 7 by armed gunmen on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo.
down the newspaper’s staff
during an editorial meeting on
Wednesday this week. Twelve
people were killed, including п¬Ѓve
of the newspaper’s most prominent cartoonists, and two policemen.
The surviving staff members
were met by Liberation’s bosses
and shown to an area donated to
them to work on the issue.
“There are around 30 people
with Charlie Hebdo. They need
to be able to work with humour,”
one of the bosses, Laurent Joffrin, told reporters.
“We are hosting them because
they don’t even have a pencil.
Their computers and all their
equipment have been sealed” in
their bloodsoaked offices a few
streets away, said another, Pierre
Another French newspaper,
Le Monde, supplied the Charlie
Hebdo team with computers, in
a sign of solidarity by media after the attack.
France’s culture minister said
on Thursday she was looking
at injecting around 1mn euros
($1.2mn) into Charlie Hebdo to
ensure its survival.
Meanwhile, a police source
told Reuters that the man suspected of killing a policewoman
in a southern suburb of Paris
on Thursday before fleeing the
scene was a member of the same
jihadist group as the two suspects in the attack at weekly
newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
The assailant believed to be
behind the shooting in the Montrouge area knew Cherif and Said
Kouachi, the brothers suspected
of killing 10 journalists and two
police officers in Wednesday’s
assault, the source said yesterday.
The man, wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying an as-
sault rifle and a handgun, fled
in a Renault Clio from the scene
after the attack and is still on the
Two people have been arrested in an investigation by antiterrorist authorities, the source
Racist graffiti scrawled on French mosque
Muslim faithful arriving
for morning prayers in
southwestern France yesterday
found racist graffiti scrawled on
their mosque, two days after
an Islamist attack in Paris left 12
people dead.
The graffiti was written in
fluorescent green paint on the
gate, trash can and a notice
board outside of the mosque in
Bayonne, Abderrahim Wajou,
the president of the regional
Muslim association, told AFP.
The graffiti alluded to
Wednesday’s attack on the
weekly satirical Charlie Hebdo,
Wajou said. “We fear that these
acts will increase,” he said. “We
are like everyone else, we are
terrified by what happened at
Charlie Hebdo, what happened
was totally unjust. But adding
insult to injury will only sow
Muslim places of worship in
several French towns have been
targeted since Wednesday’s
massacre at Charlie Hebdo,
which has deeply shocked
France. The attacks, which have
included shots being fired and
blank grenades thrown, have
not harmed anyone.
ooftop snipers, police in
black armoured gear and
hovering helicopters lent
a small French town near Paris’s
Charles de Gaulle airport where
the Charlie Hebdo massacre suspects were holed up the air of a
warzone yesterday.
Businesses in Dammartinen-Goele, home to about 8,000
people, shuttered, leaving the
streets deserted except for lines
of police vehicles and units of
heavily armed officers.
Masked and helmeted troopers with automatic weapons
were seen peering out of a blue
police helicopter hovering overhead.
“The whole zone is surrounded. We are confined to our
homes. We can hear helicopters
and there’s one currently hovering over my house,” Michel
Carn, a resident, said.
The forces’ focus — like the
entire country’s — was on a
printing business in an industrial park on the town’s
northeastern outskirts, where
the two brothers suspected
of killing 12 people during an
Islamist attack on the magazine on Wednesday were surrounded.
Inside the brothers, who had
evaded police in a two-day manhunt following France’s worst
terrorist attack in decades, held
an employee hostage.
A little earlier, salesman Didier did not see anything amiss
when he arrived at CTD printers
for a business meeting, until he
met a man at the door dressed
in black and carrying what appeared to be a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
He’d stumbled right into one
of France’s most wanted men
as well as his hostage, he told
France Info radio.
“When I arrived, my client
came out with an armed man
who said he was from the police.
My client told me to leave so I
left,” Didier said.
He identified the man he was
to meet as Michel. “I shook
Michel’s hand and I shook the
hand of one of the terrorists,” he
told the radio.
Reflecting the extraordinary
atmosphere in France now, Di-
dier said he almost believed that
the armed man in black was a
But when the man told him,
“�Leave, we don’t kill civilians
anyhow’, that really struck me,”
he said. “So I decided to call the
police. I guess it was one of the
Residents described their terror at the sudden transformation
of their small town.
“It happened very, very
quickly. We saw helicopters and
suddenly we saw CRS (elite police) all around us. We started to
panic a bit,” said Stephane, 45,
who works in a hazardous materials business.
“My daughter works at
the food shop, in the area
where the terrorists are
hiding. The business
where she works is being
protected by GIGN (police
commandos). They told
them to turn out the lights
and take cover”
“They just gave us enough
time to grab something warm to
wear outside. Now we’re waiting,” he said.
A 60-year-old woman said
her daughter worked close to the
hostage scene.
“My daughter works at the
food shop, in the area where the
terrorists are hiding. The business where she works is being
protected by GIGN (police commandos). They told them to turn
out the lights and take cover,”
she said.
“My daughter told me: �Don’t
be scared mummy, we’re well
protected. She was calm but me,
I’m scared. I’m really scared,”
the woman said, sobbing.
Marcel Bayeul, a local union
official, said there were snipers
on the roofs of a warehouse in
the industrial park. “Our workers are protected,” he said.
But few really felt safe.
The town mayor’s office appealed on its Internet site for
residents to stay behind closed
doors. Nearby schools were
evacuated, deepening the sense
of siege.
“Ambulances are here, firemen are here and everything
is ready,” the deputy mayor,
Jean-Pierre Mateo, said. “We
hope the ambulances won’t be
Paris massacre targeted �all faiths’ Danish newspaper says
urkey’s top Muslim cleric
has denounced the attack on a French satirical
weekly as an “unacceptable” action targeting all faiths including
Islam, saying he was pained to
see Islamic values used as a pretext for slaughter.
Twelve people were killed on
Wednesday in the unprecedented jihadist attack in Paris on the
Charlie Hebdo magazine, which
was known for lampooning radical Islam and had angered Muslims on several occasions.
But Mehmet Gormez, the head
of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate — known as Diyanet
in Turkish — told AFP in an interview that the massacre was
an attack on all faiths, including Islam and the message of its
Prophet Muhammad.
“I see this attack not only (as
an attack) against a magazine’s
employers, France, the West or
Europe but against all faiths, all
esteemed values and God’s messages of mercy and grace con-
veyed by the prophet to humanity,” he said.
Video footage circulated on
social media showed black hooded gunmen running through the
streets of Paris, п¬Ѓring off a hail
of bullets and shouting “Allahu
Akbar” and “We have avenged
the Prophet Muhammad.”
But Gormez, the top cleric in
Turkey’s officially secular system, expressed fury that the attackers had used sacred Islamic
words like “Allahu Akbar” read
out to every Muslim when they
are born and repeated in each
prayer time.
“The brutal massacre of people is unacceptable. It is similarly unacceptable that they are
carried out in the name of religion.
“It is more painful that sacred
values are disregarded, eminent
concepts and values that belong
to Islam are taken hostage.”
While unequivocally condemning the attack “without any buts”, Gormez said he
deemed freedom of expression
significant but said it has a limit.
“I believe that denigrating or
insulting the values that make a
person human — in the name of
freedom of expression — is not
“When it is looked at by a different faith or culture, defamation — especially on the subject
of faith —could become cultural
torture,” he said.
“The brutal massacre of
people is unacceptable”
Gormez said violent attacks
were not linked to Islamic traditions and they were carried out
by individuals with “wounded
conscious and fatal identities”
who were raised in the shadow of
wars and the occupations of Iraq
and Afghanistan.
“Neither Damascus nor Baghdad were cities in history where
extremists speaking fluent Oxford English beheaded other
people,” he said, referring to the
murders committed by Islamic
State (IS) EU-born jihadists in
Iraq and Syria.
The attack, suspected to have
been carried out by two French
brothers of Algerian origin —
has raised fears of a surge in
anti-Muslim feelings in Europe
with public sentiment already
inflamed by the atrocities committed by IS.
Reprising a theme of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
Gormez said that Islamophobia
in the West “has transformed
into an industry”.
But he said that those who
were behind the massacre were
trying to whip up an increase in
Islamophobia in Europe.
“But I believe that common
sense will prevail,” he said, expressing hope that people of all
faiths, including atheists, “will
join hands and learn lessons
from this scourge”.
German group PEGIDA has in
recent months rallied thousands
of people in Dresden for demonstrations against what it calls the
“Islamisation of the Occident.”
But there has already been a
strong public reaction — Germany’s Cologne Cathedral turned off
its lights on Monday in a symbolic
rejection of a rally taking place in
its shadow, a gesture Gormez said
had profoundly touched him.
“I penned an emotional letter
to Cologne cardinal to express
my gratitude,” he revealed.
won’t reprint cartoons
anish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which angered Muslims by publishing cartoons of the Prophet
Muhammad 10 years ago, will
not republish Charlie Hebdo’s
cartoons due to security concerns, the only major Danish
newspaper not to do so.
“It shows that violence
works,” the newspaper stated in
its editorial yesterday.
Denmark’s other major newspapers have all republished cartoons from the French satirical
weekly as part of the coverage of
the attack which killed 12 people
in Paris on Wednesday.
Many other European newspapers also republished Charlie Hebdo cartoons to protest
against the killings.
When Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons by various
artists in September 2005, most
of which depict the Prophet
Muhammad, it sparked a wave
of protests across the Muslim
world in which at least 50 people
“We have lived with the fear of
a terrorist attack for nine years,
and yes, that is the explanation
why we do not reprint the cartoons, whether it be our own
or Charlie Hebdo’s,” JyllandsPosten said. “We are also aware
that we therefore bow to violence and intimidation.”
Jyllands-Posten decided to
tighten its security level in the
wake of the Paris attack.
“The concern for our employees’ safety is paramount,” it said
in yesterday’s editorial.
Meanwhile, a Swedish member of parliament reported a
far-right leader to the police
yesterday for alleged incitement
to hatred over a comment related
to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in
In a Facebook comment to
an article on the killings at the
French satirical weekly’s office
on Wednesday, the party secretary of the Sweden Democrats
Bjoern Soeder wrote “�The religion of peace’ shows its face.”
“He has linked practising
Muslims to a terrorist act, it’s
extremely offensive,” Veronica
Palm, from the ruling Social
Democratic party told TV4
“This statement is offensive
to a group of people and I want
to see if it comes under laws
against inciting racial hatred,”
said Palm.
Soeder is also a deputy speaker
of the Swedish parliament where
his anti-immigration party doubled its support to 13 percent in
a September election — making
it Sweden’s third political party.
The Sweden Democrats, with
roots in the country’s most radical extreme right, entered parliament in 2010.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Politician claims Paris
massacre justified
Plans afoot to clean govt
offices with cow urine
Father admits to
woman’s honour killing
Three die in
Maharashtra blast
Six militants nabbed,
arms seized in Assam
Police yesterday said they were investigating a
regional political leader who reportedly justified
the massacre at France’s satirical weekly
Charlie Hebdo and called for the attackers
to be rewarded. Police have registered a
preliminary criminal case against Haji Yakub
Qureshi, a former government minister in Uttar
Pradesh, for inciting communal hatred. “Based
on newspaper reports, we have lodged an FIR
(first information report) against Qureshi under
Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code,” Meerut
city police chief Om Prakash said. “We are
probing the case and will take action as per the
laid out law,” he said.
Cow urine may soon be used to clean the floors
of government offices in the country. A charity
working to care for and protect the cows that freely
roam India’s streets has developed a cleaning
product with their urine - distilled and spiked with
natural perfumes to remove the pungent odour.
“Initially when we tried the product, it had too
strong a smell. Nobody would have used it. So we
have distilled the urine now and added natural
ingredients like pine oil to cover the smell,” said
Anuradha Modi from the Holy Cow Foundation.
Modi said she was working on a deal to get the
company that supplies housekeeping items to
government offices to use the product.
A 19-year-old woman was allegedly killed by
her father and brother in Uttar Pradesh as they
did not approve of her relationship with a local
man, a news report said yesterday. The victim,
a member of the Dalit or the so-called low-caste
community, was found dead with extensive
head injuries in a field in Muzaffarnagar district
Tuesday, broadcaster NDTV reported. Her father
and brother allegedly beat her with bricks after
spotting her with a man, and were arrested on
Thursday, police were quoted as saying. Police
said the father had confessed to murdering his
daughter for “honour,” as she threatened to elope
if the family did not accept her relationship.
At least three people were killed and four
injured in a suspected gelatin blast in a wind
power generation plant in Satara, Maharashtra,
yesterday, officials said. The incident occurred
around 10am when the victims were burning
a heap of waste and rubbish material, Satara
superintendent of police A Deshmukh said.
“The suspected stock of gelatin sticks or some
other explosives may have been accidentally
ignited,” he said from the site. The injured,
whose condition is described as serious, have
been taken to the Satara Civil Hospital. The wind
power plant is located in a remote, hilly region of
Satara district.
Six National Democratic Front of Bodoland
(NDFB) militants have been arrested from Assam’s
Kokrajhar district and a huge cache of arms and
ammunition has been recovered from them, police
said yesterday. The militants were arrested from
a forest on Thursday night and two of them were
involved in killing people in Kokrajhar, police said.
Security forces have recovered four pistols, one
AK 47 rifle, one M16 rifle, four grenades, over 300
rounds of ammunition and four bags of medicine
from their possession. “Two of the arrested
militants, identified as Mithinga and Khurei, were
directly involved in a massacre in Kokrajhar on
December 23, 2014,” a police official said.
Chandy bats
for blue-collar
expatriates at
diaspora meet
By Ashraf Padanna
erala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has urged the
federal authorities to expedite the process of enfranchising India’s 10mn-strong diaspora
and to address issues of blue-collar workers.
He wanted changes in election
laws and suitable technology to
be developed to provide online
voting facility to the NRIs and end
the discrimination.
Contrary to expectations of the
delegates from the Gulf countries,
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
failed to make any commitment
on issues like absentee voting in
his address at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) on Thursday.
The southern state, which
hosted the PBD or Non-Resident
Indian day celebrations in 2013,
represents most of the Indian
expatriates in the Gulf countries
who contribute nearly half of the
foreign exchange remittances to
the country.
The state which opened the
п¬Ѓrst corporate international
airport with the support of its
diaspora, has since 2005 been
demanding waivers in strict conditions for starting a budget airline for the low-income expats.
“The ordinary, common NRIs,
who constitute close to 75% of
the total expat population, are not
represented here,” Chandy said in
his address at the chief ministers’
conclave of the three-day event
that concluded yesterday.
He proposed setting up a separate one-day session for emigrant
labourers to discuss their problems from the PBD’s next edition
“These people remit on an average over Rs600bn per year to
our banks in Kerala which is three
times our annual plan budget,” he
said in his address webcast live.
“We have to stand united and
should carry all sectors of society
together for fulfilling our goals”.
The Kerala chief minister also
aired concern about the travel
woes of the Gulf-based NRIs
who complain of “exorbitant and
unreasonable airfare charged by
various airlines including our own
Air India”.
“Almost 80% of the Indians in
the Gulf are blue-collar workers,”
he said. “And during vacations,
the airlines increase their fares
п¬Ѓve to 10 times. Exploitation of
the poor workers must stop. The
government must think about it”.
Referring to Saudi Arabia’s
Nitaqat initiatives to regularise
overseas workers, Chandy said
global trends indicate a further
shrinkage in the job market for
expatriates in the Gulf and it
might force more workers to return for good.
He also sought federal assistance for their rehabilitation.
“We must think about how
we can rehabilitate (them) and in
what way we can (exploit) their
expertise. (We have) chalked out
a rehabilitation package but lack
of resources is a problem,” he said.
Quoting a McKinsey report on
India’s economic geography for
2025, he said there was an opportunity for companies to target Kerala as a production base as
one of the eight high performing
states based on growth, per capita income, productivity of workers, literacy rate and electrified
“Domestic consumption in
Kerala is high, thanks to a great
extent to remittances from our
emigrants. Companies which
choose to set up businesses in
Kerala are likely to п¬Ѓnd a strong
consumer base and ready demand,” he said.
An interactive session chaired
by V K Singh, the junior minister
for external affairs and overseas
Indian affairs, with Chandy sitting among the audience was also
held separately yesterday to discuss issues of labour and employment in the Gulf.
Charity initiative
Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao walks alongside Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray at Uddhav’s photography
exhibition organised to raise funds for drought affected farmers, in Mumbai yesterday.
Omar blames PDP for
governor rule in Kashmir
New Delhi
ashmir was brought under New Delhi’s direct rule
yesterday after political
rivals failed to agree on a powersharing coalition, more than two
weeks after elections in the country’s only Muslim-majority state.
A federal government spokesman confirmed that President
Pranab Mukherjee had placed
Governor N N Vohra in charge of
the state, the day after the acting
chief minister stepped down.
Dutt returns home as
furlough plea pending
ollywood actor Sanjay
Dutt, who went to Yerawada jail in Pune at the end of
his 14-day furlough but did not
surrender and returned home
on Thursday, is in Mumbai with
family, awaiting a decision on his
request for its extension, his lawyer said.
“The authorities have yet to
inform us on his application
seeking extension of furlough
leave. Till then, he is at home
in Mumbai,” lawyer Hitesh Jain
Dutt, 55, who flew to Pune and
went up to Yerawada Central Jail,
spent a few hours in the vicinity
of the prison and later went away
without surrendering though his
14-day furlough had ended.
Jain claimed a government
official had said that it was not
necessary for the star to go back
to jail till a decision was taken on
his December 27 application for
extension of his furlough.
He had been granted a 14-day
furlough to go home on December 24.
Before leaving for Pune on
Thursday, Dutt told media persons that his application for extension of furlough was still under process.
“The authorities have
yet to inform us on his
application seeking
extension of furlough leave.
Till then, he is at home in
“We made the request for extension of the furlough on December 27 and it is still under
process. As the laws stipulate
that I must surrender myself if I
am not granted the extension, I
am doing it now,” he had said.
Earlier Dutt was released on
furlough in October 2013 for two
weeks on health reasons, followed by a similar leave in December 2013 to tend to his ailing
wife, Maanyata. The frequent
furloughs had led to charges of
Dutt’s latest furlough saw him
attending a special show of the
latest Aamir Khan megahit, PK,
and celeb parties.
In February last year, the Bombay High Court had commented
on the diligence in granting the
actor’s requests for furlough
which was not visible in case of
other convicts who applied for
Dutt was convicted in 2007 for
illegal possession of an AK-56
assault rifle during the 1992-93
Mumbai communal conflagration before the March 12, 1993,
serial bomb blasts in the city and
sentenced to six years jail. The
Supreme Court had upheld the
conviction in 2013 but reduced
the sentence to п¬Ѓve years, less
time already served.
“The president has approved
the governor’s rule for the state,”
home ministry spokesman M A
Ganapathy said after Vohra had
made an official recommendation
to Mukherjee.
The move comes more than
two weeks after the December 23
announcement of results of the
state elections which saw all parties fall way short of the 44 seats
needed for an absolute majority.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, whose National Conference
Party won only 15 seats after suffering an electoral meltdown, had
stayed on as caretaker but he sub-
mitted his resignation to Vohra on
“I am sorry after an
election with such a good
turnout we have a situation
of governor’s rule but as
I’ve maintained the onus
lies with PDP”
The imposition of direct rule
means local representatives will
have no say in the running of
Kashmir for the time being, a particular sensitive issue in a region
where rebels have been п¬Ѓghting
to secede from India since 1989.
Henious crime
It comes after the two parties
which won the most seats—
the Peoples Democratic Party
(PDP) and Prime Minister
Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - failed to work
out a power sharing arrangement or cut a deal with other
smaller parties.
The PDP won 28 seats while
the BJP won 25, mainly mopping
up in the mainly Hindu Jammu
region in the south of the state.
Abdullah, who suffered a
backlash over his government’s
handling of devastating floods
in September, said it was vital
Uber rape case driver
�tried to kill victim’
New Delhi
Two men who were arrested in connection with the
alleged abduction and gang-rape of a Japanese tourist,
are brought to a court in Kolkata yesterday. Police
have arrested five men in connection with the alleged
abduction and gang-rape of a 23-year-old Japanese
tourist, officials said.
the state not be left in “limbo”.
“I am sorry after an election
with such a good turnout we
have a situation of governor’s
rule but as I’ve maintained the
onus lies with PDP,” he said on
PDP spokesman Nayeem
Akhtar said that the party was
still in discussions with a range of
“It might lead to a brief spell of
governor’s rule but ultimately a
popular government has to come
and serve the state because the
people have voted for the government,” Akhtar told NDTV.
court in the capital yesterday reserved till January
13 its order on framing of
charges against a Uber cab driver
accused of raping a woman executive. The court decision was
prompted by the prosecution
claim that the accused had endangered the victim’s life by causing
grievous injuries during the sexual
Kaveri Baweja reserved the order
after the prosecution and defence
concluded arguments in the case.
Shiv Kumar Yadav, 32, allegedly
raped the woman executive on the
night of December 5 in the cab she
hired to head back home in north
Delhi’s Inderlok area.
Special public prosecutor Atul
Srivastava informed the court that
Yadav had caused injuries to victim while committing rape.
He requested the court to frame
charges against Yadav as he had
endangered the victim’s life.
Relying on the victim’s statement in the case, he further added
that Yadav had tried to strangle the
victim and few scratch marks were
found on her neck.
The defence counsel argued
that the injuries on neck did not
establish that Yadav had been trying to strangle the woman.
While the prosecution claimed
that the accused had taken the
woman to an isolated place with
the motive of committing the heinous crime, the defence counsel
said Yadav had merely followed
the route to the victim’s house as
per her direction.
The prosecution added that
Yadav had also threatened the victim. Srivastava said that threatening a woman itself was enough
evidence to frame charges against
Yadav in the case.
The chargesheet was п¬Ѓled on
December 24 - 19 days after the
rape - and the cognizance of the
chargesheet was taken by a magistrate court on January 5.
Police have charged Yadav for
rape, kidnapping or abducting a
woman, criminal intimidation and
voluntarily causing hurt under the
Indian Penal Code.
chargesheet, the police cited 44
prosecution witnesses in support
of its case.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Modi calls for educational
institutions in Muslim areas
Kerala first state to be
fully covered under NOFN
Will give full statehood
to Delhi, pledges BJP
School cuts boys hair
for damaging bench
Lunchbox director thrilled
at Bafta nomination
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed officials
to plan for educational institutions in minorities,
especially Muslim, populated areas and also to
work out details for imparting technical education
and skill development to them, said Union Minister
of State for Minorities Welfare Mukhtar Abbas
Naqvi. He said the prime minister had called a
meeting on Wednesday, where he asked them to
prepare the plans. Addressing the 17th foundation
day of Maulana Azad National Urdu University
in Hyderabad, Naqvi said the government would
identify and allot land for setting up Industrial
Training Institutes and polytechnics in minoritydominated areas which lack educational facilities.
Kerala will become the first state to be fully
covered by the National Optical Fibre Network
(NOFN) project, the department of telecom
(DoT) officials said. Under the NOFN project, the
government plans to connect 250,000 gram
panchayats through broadband by 2016 end.
Kerala will become fully connected by March, 2015.
Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar
Prasad will launch the process of connecting the
first district in the state on Monday. Sources also
said the government is mulling a levy on telecom
operators’ annual spectrum usage charges
towards the Swachch Bharat campaign (cleanliness
drive) launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Delhi will get full statehood if the BJP comes to
power, a party leader said yesterday. Speaking
to reporters at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi
ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally
today, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Prabhat
Jha said: “We had promised in our manifesto
that we will give full statehood to Delhi but
for that we have to come to power.” In the run
up to the Lok Sabha elections last year, Modi
had promised to grant full statehood to Delhi
after coming to power. The promise was also a
part of manifesto of the Delhi BJP in the 2013
assembly polls. “The promises made by us in
our manifesto will be fulfilled,” assured Jha.
A high school principal in Patna allegedly
abused four students and cut their hair after
they damaged a bench in the class, police said
yesterday after registering a complaint in this
regard. Four class VIII students — Sidharth
Pandey, Shivam Kumar, Shubham Kumar and
Gulshan Kumar — have accused Ruby Singh,
principal of Devi Dayal High School of humiliating
them and cutting their hair after a school bench
was damaged. Patna superintendent of police
Shivdeep Lande said an FIR has been registered
and police have begun investigation in the case.
“We would take proper action after interrogating
the accused principal,” he said.
It’s a great way to start the New Year, says
Indian director Ritesh Batra, whose debut
feature movie The Lunchbox has been
nominated in the Film Not in the English
Language category of the British Academy
Film Awards 2015. “It’s an incredible honour
for me and my team. I am in London right now,
and I just heard about it, and we are honoured
to be nominated alongside the finest films of
the year. It’s a great way to start the New Year,”
Batra said. The nominations for the awards,
organised annually by British Academy of Film
and Television Arts (BAFTA), were announced
in London yesterday.
300 Secret
agents �to
guard’ US
Calls to boost
threaten govt
deficit targets
New Delhi
he Delhi Police and other agencies have begun
making elaborate security arrangements for the visit
of US President Barack Obama
who will be the chief guest at the
Republic Day parade here. However, the security details will be
п¬Ѓnalised only after the arrival of
a US advance team on January 13,
officials said.
Over 300 US Secret Service
agents are expected to be part of
Obama’s security cover as he arrives in India on January 25.
The officials said Obama
would be lodged at the ITC Maurya hotel during his stay in the
“Over 20 members of the
advance team of the US Secret
Service, the federal law enforcement agency responsible for the
protection of the US president,
are expected to arrive in the
capital on January 13,” said an
official, who did not wish to be
The official said that over 270
Secret Service agents are expected to come in the days leading to
Obama’s arrival on January 25.
The official said Obama was
accompanied by 190 Secret
Service agents in 2010.
“We are yet to get the exact
number of his security personnel, but we expect that the
number will be over 300,” another official said.
Officials said they have been
communicating with US agencies regarding security arrangements but were waiting for the
arrival of US advance group.
The security arrangements are
expected to be more challenging
this time compared to 2010 as
Obama will be seated in the open
on Rajpath for the Republic Day
parade for more than an hour.
Sources said that Rajpath will
be closed for public from January 24 evening and government
offices in the vicinity of Raisina
Hill will be closed from January
23 till the end of Obama’s visit.
New Delhi
People are silhouetted as they walk on a beach along the shores of the Arabian Sea in
Mumbai yesterday.
Tharoor, 11 others to face
grilling in murder probe
New Delhi
friend of Sunanda Pushkar, who had dropped
her to a south Delhi hotel from the airport, has been
questioned in connection
with her murder, Delhi Police
said yesterday, adding 12 more
people including her husband
Shashi Tharoor will soon be
Sunil Trakru, a businessman
and a close friend of Pushkar,
has been questioned twice, a
few days before the registration
of FIR (п¬Ѓrst information report)
on January 4, a police officer
He said Trakru’s name had
surfaced during the questioning of Tharoor’s domestic help
Shri Narayan Singh in November last year. Singh had again
been questioned on Thursday.
Singh was questioned for
a few hours, during which he
revealed that the couple had a
п¬Ѓght a day before Pushkar was
found dead.
Singh had also told police that Trakru had dropped
Pushkar from the Delhi airport to Hotel Leela Palace
where she was found dead
in her room (number 345) on
January 17.
The couple had returned
from Kerala on January 14 but
Tharoor went to his house in
Lodhi Colony, while Pushkar
left for the hotel.
Singh was questioned for
a few hours, during which
he revealed that the
couple had a fight a day
before Pushkar was found
Delhi police officials also
said they would soon question 12 more people including Tharoor, Pushkar’s son
Shiv Menon, her two brothers
Ashish Dass and Rajesh Pushkar and her cardiologist Rajat
They are also looking for a
person named �Kaitie’ whose
name surfaced during arguments between Tharoor
and Pushkar, overheard by
Police will also quiz Tharoor’s personal assistant (PA)
Rakesh Kumar Sharma, and
another family friend Sanjay
Dewan, who found Pushkar
dead when he came to enquire
about her health.
At that time, Sharma was
also present in the hotel.
Senior journalist Nalini
Singh, with whom Pushkar
was believed to be in touch over
phone before her death, will
also be called to join the probe,
the officer added.
Besides, two of Tharoor’s
officers on special duty (OSD)
- Shiv Kumar Prasad and Abhinav Kumar - along with driver
Bajrangi will also be questioned.
The special team investigating the murder yesterday visited the hotel where they questioned the staff and also went
to the room where Pushkar had
Police on Tuesday revealed
that Pushkar was poisoned to
weak recovery from India’s longest growth
slowdown in decades is
pushing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advisers to consider
loosening fiscal deficit targets,
risking the ire of investors, ratings agencies and the central
Ahead of the federal budget
in February, Modi’s new team of
advisers has argued for higher
deficits to fund infrastructure
projects needed to remove bottlenecks constraining growth
and to create jobs for a burgeoning workforce.
Yet with debt service devouring 42% of federal spending,
higher deficits would revive risks
of a ratings downgrade and delay
an interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
“Fiscal consolidation is important. But should it be at the
cost of growth?” one senior finance ministry official said. “We
cannot afford to compromise
with growth forever.”
In a mid-year report to parliament last month, the п¬Ѓnance
ministry’s new economic adviser Arvind Subramanian urged a
comprehensive review of India’s
medium-term п¬Ѓscal strategy to
create space for higher capital
Economist Arvind Panagariya,
named this week by Modi to run
his new policy unit, has also argued for loosening deficit targets
to boost capital spending.
Weak investment has been
a prime cause of India’s worst
economic performance in a
Promo event
quarter century, with two successive years of sub-5% growth
before a weak recovery began
during 2014-15.
Portfolio investors pumped
$40bn into India last year, betting on Modi’s promise of “better days” ahead, putting Indian
shares and bonds among the best
performers globally.
To make good on that pledge,
Modi plans to spend up to $50bn
in the year to March 2016 on new
roads, rail lines, ports and irrigation facilities.
“Fiscal consolidation is
important. But should it
be at the cost of growth?
We cannot afford to
compromise with growth
“The most urgent priority (is)
to build the productive capacity of the economy and launch
a supply-side revolution,” said
Jayant Sinha, a deputy п¬Ѓnance
minister, adding that India
needs growth rates of 7-8% to
This strategy could mean
ditching targets to trim the fiscal deficit to an eight-year low of
3.6% of GDP in 2015-16 and 3%
the following year.
The economy’s slowdown has
depressed tax revenues to just
10% of GDP from a peak of 11.9%
in 2007-08, forcing New Delhi to
cut spending and roll over outlays to contain the deficit in the
past two years.
This п¬Ѓscal year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will resort to
similar methods to cap the deficit at 4.1%, aides say.
With a national debt at 70%
of GDP and a consolidated п¬Ѓscal
Businessman gets bail
in chopper deal case
New Delhi
Bollywood actresses Neha Dhupia (left), Shilpa Shetty
(centre) and Mandira Bedi pose for a photograph during a
promotional event in Mumbai.
deficit above 7%, India’s public
п¬Ѓnances are worse than its peers
and it has spent recent years at
risk of a downgrade of its sovereign credit rating to �junk’
Success in narrowing the federal deficit by 1.2 percentage
points to 4.5% last year helped
ward off downgrades.
Keeping India at the lowest
investment grade rating, major
rating agencies have urged New
Delhi to invest more without increasing borrowing.
“High fiscal deficits constrain
India’s sovereign credit profile,”
Atsi Sheth, senior vice president
at Moody’s, said.
“If higher public investment
was pursued by redirecting expenditures away from current
and towards capital spending,
thus supporting growth without
increasing п¬Ѓscal risks, it would
be credit positive.”
Finance ministry officials say
it is premature to say whether
п¬Ѓscal targets will have to be jettisoned, as they are banking on
windfalls from tumbling global
oil prices and mobile spectrum
and coal block auctions.
With inflation declining
steeply to 4.4% in November,
the RBI is holding out prospects of a cut in its 8% benchmark interest rate, but Governor Raghuram Rajan is waiting
for Jaitley’s budget before acting.
A higher deficit may compel
the RBI to keep rates on hold,
which Manish Wadhawan, managing director and head of rates
at HSBC, said would spark a
sell-off in bond markets that
have rallied hard since Modi took
power last May.
court here yesterday
granted bail to businessman Gautam Khaitan
accused in a money laundering
case related to the AgustaWestland VIP chopper deal.
Granting bail to Khaitan, the
Central Bureau of Investigation
special judge V K Gupta directed
him to furnish a personal bond
of Rs1mn and two sureties of the
like amount.
The judge ordered Khaitan to
surrender his passport, not to
leave the country without prior
permission of the court and not
to tamper with the evidence in
the case.
During arguments, enforcement directorate (ED) prosecutor N K Matta opposed Khaitan’s
bail plea alleging that he was
behind the “parking” of alleged
kickbacks in the matter and the
agency was conducting further
probe into the same.
Defence counsel P V Kapur
and advocate P K Dubey argued
that the other accused, who
were allegedly the recipients of
purported bribe, had not been
arrested so far while Khaitan
was behind bars for over three
Khaitan was on the board of
the Chandigarh-based company
Aeromatrix and was arrested
a day after the ED conducted a
search of his premises on September 22 last year.
The supply of 12 VIP helicopters
from AgustaWestland came under
scrutiny after Italian authorities
alleged that the company paid a
bribe to clinch the deal with India,
inked in February 2010.
Following these allegations,
the government on January 1,
2014, terminated the Rs36bn
(about $770 million) deal with
AgustaWestland for the purchase of the choppers meant to
ferry the president, the prime
minister and other VIPs.
The (ED) in November 2014
had п¬Ѓled the chargesheet naming
Khaitan, his wife Ritu, Chandigarh-based п¬Ѓrm Aeromatrix and
two Italian middlemen, Carlo
Gerosa and Guido Haschke, as
accused in the case and booked
them for the offences under the
provisions of the Prevention of
Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Cuba denies convening
media over Fidel’s illness
Seven shot dead at
Venezuelan funeral
Peru ex-president handed
jail term for embezzlement
Three die as boat
capsizes off Costa Rica
13 police officers held in
missing journalist case
Cuba yesterday denied reports it had summoned
foreign media to a press conference amid
reports that 88-year-old Fidel Castro’s health is
deteriorating. Such press conferences are always
convened by e-mails or cell phone text messages
and none have been sent, said an official at
the International Press Centre, the Foreign
Ministry section that deals with foreign media.
News outlets in Miami, a stronghold of antiCastro sentiment in the huge Cuban immigrant
community, had reported that a news briefing
had been called for yesterday. They hinted it
was because the former longtime president had
suffered a downturn in his health.
Gunmen opened fire at mourners during a
funeral in Venezuela, killing seven people and
leaving five wounded, authorities and local
media said. The shooting took place in the old
cemetery of the central town of Turmero, the
attorney general’s office said in a statement.
“Several armed men fired at a group of people at
the funeral of a friend who had died days earlier,”
the statement said. Local media said the victims
died in a fight between rival gangs as one group
buried one of its members. According to the El
Nacional newspaper, attackers from the “Tonito
de Paya” gang were enemies of the man being
buried and blamed five earlier murders on him.
A Peruvian court sentenced former president
Alberto Fujimori, already in jail for a governmentbacked massacre, to eight years in prison on
charges of embezzling state funds to manipulate
the media. The sentence has only symbolic effect
since jail time does not accumulate in Peru.
Fujimori is currently jailed on a 25-year sentence
over the killing of 25 people by a governmentbacked death squad in the course of Peru’s war
against the Maoist Shining Path rebel group.
Fujimori was also ordered to pay $1mn in civil
damages, for ordering funds diverted from the
Armed Forces and National Intelligence Service to
newspapers to discredit his political opponents.
Three people were killed when a catamaran with
108 passengers and crew on board capsized
off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. There were many
foreign tourists on board the catamaran,
reports said. The director of the Costa Rican
Firefighters Corps, Hector Chaves, and the
Red Cross, however, had initially put the toll
at four. Costa Rica’s public security ministry
said two of the victims were a 70-year-old US
woman and an 80-year-old British man. Costa
Rican authorities and private boats recovered
103 people from the catamaran, while rescuers
were continuing their search for two other
people who were missing.
Thirteen police officers in the Mexican state of
Veracruz have been arrested for their suspected
involvement in the disappearance of journalist
Jose Moises Sanchez. At the same time, the
National Commission of Human Rights called on
the country’s federal attorney to investigate the
case of the missing reporter. Sanchez disappeared
on January 2 after a group of gunmen in civilian
clothes broke into his house in the Veracruz
town of Medellin de Bravo and hustled him away.
Sanchez, 49, is the director and editor of the local
weekly magazine, La Union, and worked as a
citizen-journalist posting complaints about alleged
corruption on social-networking sites.
no fun in
t may have oil galore, but
Venezuela also boasts an
economy so gutted by inflation and shortages that for
many people shopping is a
second job.
Venezuelans make daily treks
to automated bank teller machines as runaway price hikes
gnaw away at their purchasing
Shortages abound of such
basics as milk, soap, diapers and
toilet paper. Stores open late or
close early because they run out
of stuff to sell.
Way before dawn, lines
form outside department
stores. Bartering is back. Social media serve as heads-up
sentinels to report which
shop has what.
And for many Venezuelans,
free time is no longer so free.
A survey by pollster Datanalisis found that they spend on
average eight hours a week equivalent to a work day - simply running around to stores
trying to buy the essentials of
everyday life, many of which
Venezuela imports.
Just listen to Carlos Jones, a
50-year-old electrician waiting in line to buy detergent. He
often shops before he goes to
work, during his lunch break
and after his shift ends.
“Today I have been to three
stores. In one I got deodorant
and in another, soap. Yesterday
I spent three hours in line and
when it came my turn, they
were out of what I wanted,”
Jones said.
What is wrong with this picture?
In part, the problem is the
sharp decline in oil prices. That
stings in Venezuela, which gets
96% of its foreign currency
from oil, of which it has the
world’s largest proven reserves.
What is more, the leftist government of President Nicolas
Maduro - heir to the late п¬Ѓrebrand Hugo Chavez - maintains
strict currency controls, making it hard for importers to get
the dollars they need to bring in
everything from cars to medicine.
Fewer dollars floating around
puts pressure on the black market exchange rate for the local
currency, the bolivar.
And as importers have trouble buying dollars at the cheap,
official, government-set rate of
6.3 bolivars to the dollar, they
often turn to the black market
to get greenbacks.
There, a dollar is 30 times
more expensive. And of course,
that cost is passed on to consumers.
For months last year, the government simply stopped publishing inflation figures. In late
December, it п¬Ѓnally reported
that the rate for the 12 months
to November 2014 topped
63% - one of the highest in the
world. The economy is also in
recession, it added.
So, it’s a mess out there.
Maduro travelled to China this
week in search of investment to
boost the economy. He said in
Beijing that he got pledges for
$20 billion.
Mauricio Tancredi, chairman
of Consecomercio, a chamber
of commerce, said he was worried about the drop in Venezuelans’ quality of life. Indeed, fury
over shortages, crime and inflation triggered riots last year that
left 43 people dead.
“We have never seen so many
businesses closing early or
opening late because they have
no merchandise to sell,” Tancredi told a local radio station.
Several restaurant owners
said they have employees whose
only job is to scurry around to
supermarkets and shops buying
food for the eateries to cook and
Re-enacting history
People cheer as a convoy of military trucks, re-enacting the triumphant 1959 march into Havana by Fidel Castro and his “Barbudos” (bearded) guerrillas, drive past in Havana.
36 Cuban activists
�freed in last two days’
ne of Cuba’s most prominent dissident groups
yesterday said 36 opposition activists, including a popular hip-hop artiste, have been
freed in the last two days as part
of a deal to improve relations between Cuba and the US.
The dissident Patriotic Union
of Cuba (Unpacu) said 29 of its
members were among those released, and that most had been
warned by the communist gov-
US admits being overly
upbeat on Haiti quake aid
S officials admitted
that Washington had
been over ambitious
in its plans to help Haiti in
the aftermath of a devastating
earthquake, despite pledging
about $4bn in aid.
Five years after the 7.0
quake levelled much of the
capital Port-au-Prince on
January 12, 2010, more than a
million survivors left homeless have been rehoused.
But thousands still live in
canvas makeshift shelters as
Haiti’s own efforts to get back
on its feet have been hampered by political instability and by a cholera outbreak
blamed on UN peacekeepers’
poor hygiene.
US officials said there had
been a lot of progress made
in health and security, as well
as in encouraging economic
growth and “incredible gains
in the agricultural sector”
with yields in some crops up
But acting assistant administrator for the US agency
USAID, Elizabeth Hogan, told
reporters “the US government
was very ambitious in terms
of what we expected to accomplish as far as the shelter
sector is concerned.”
“We had expected many
more donors to come forward
to partner with us to build
new homes, new settlements.
And those funds did not materialise,” she said.
Even before the quake hit,
there had been a 500,000 unit
housing shortage in the capital, a gap which on its own
would have cost $15bn to fill.
The total amount of international aid pledged for Haiti
between 2010 and 2020 was
“So, I think you can understand the resources really
aren’t there to do everything,”
said the state department’s
Haiti special co-ordinator
Tom Adams.
“We realised that we are
certainly not going to be able
to come anywhere close to
building the kind of hous-
ing stock that Haiti requires,”
added Hogan.
Now the US administration is
working with the Haitian government to help Haitians build
homes, shifting its focus on
housing п¬Ѓnance and unlocking
funds from п¬Ѓnancial institutions.
With the impoverished Caribbean nation also mired in a
political crisis, Hogan admitted
that in democracy building “we
haven’t been as successful, quite
frankly, because a lot of that
depends on the government of
Haiti taking certain actions.”
“We were I think greatly
optimistic about how far and
how fast they would be able to
go over the last five years.”
have now been put off until
early next year, under a deal
signed by President Michel
Martelly has called for the
parliament to convene on
January 12 to endorse the appointment of new Prime Minister Evans Paul, who will be
tasked with forming a government.
ernment they would be sent back
to prison if they continued their
opposition activities.
“Our freed prisoners are committed to continue fighting for
the democratic Cuba which we all
want,” Unpacu’s leader Jose Daniel
Ferrer said in a statement.
“The Unpacu activists have left
prison with more energy, force
and motivation than they had
when they were jailed.”
Cuba’s commitment to free a
list of 53 prisoners was a key part
of the historic deal announced on
December 17 under which the Cuban and US governments agreed
to renew diplomatic relations after more than 50 years of hostilities.
Most of those released over the
last two days were accused of such
offences as resisting arrest and
threatening police officers, and
had been given short sentences of
two to п¬Ѓve years.
The hip-hop artiste, Angel Yunier Remon, known as “The Critic”, was serving the longest prison
term, eight years.
Remon was arrested in 2013 after painting a giant slogan, “Down
With The Dictatorship!”, on the
street outside his home in the
eastern city of Bayamo. He staged
several hunger strikes while behind bars, and said he contracted
cholera due to the unsanitary
prison conditions.
“I’m so happy to be back with
my family, my children, and my
wife,” Remon said from Bayamo
yesterday morning, adding that
he had no plans to give up working
for the opposition.
“Our country is still a dictatorship,” he said. “We’re going to
keep battling for an independent
and truly free Cuba.”
Dissident groups say most of
those freed over the last couple
US п¬Ѓrms begin push to
lift Cuba export rules
Paraguayan Anacleto Escobar (centre), veteran of the Chaco
War (1932-1935) fought between Paraguay and Bolivia, is assisted
during a ceremony coinciding with his 100th birthday in which
he and his wife Cayetana Roman received a house - the first
in their lives they own - as a gift for his merits, in Neembucu,
of days have been released on the
condition that they report regularly to the authorities.
Cuba’s government does not
comment on police actions involving detentions, and it has
said nothing about this week’s releases. It typically describes dissidents as “mercenaries” in the pay
of the US.
The top US diplomat for Latin
America, US assistant secretary of
state, Roberta Jacobson, is due to
visit Havana on January 21-22 for
talks with Cuban officials on the
normalisation of diplomatic ties
and migration issues.
pushing to entirely
lift an embargo on
Cuba and win a larger share
of its imports in the wake of
President Barack Obama’s
move to ease sanctions
against the island nation.
The Caribbean country
imports 80% of its food, a
market valued at $1.7bn. The
US lags behind Venezuela,
China, Spain and Brazil in
goods imported to Cuba,
which is just 90 miles from
the US coast.
At one point, US growers supplied about 30% of
Cuba’s now $300mn annual
rice market. A rule change in
2008 that forced payment on
order, rather than on receipt,
pushed US producers out of
the market. Total US exports
of all goods to Cuba in the
first 11 months of 2014 were
just $273mn.
Devry Boughner Vorwerk,
chair of the newly launched
US Agriculture Commission
for Cuba and vice president
at Cargill, the largest privately owned US food processor, said there is an opening to shape Obama’s rules
as they simultaneously press
Congress to lift the more
than 50-year US embargo.
“We’ve already come together and ... are working
on some solid recommendations,” Vorwerk said at a coalition launch event.
The coalition represents
nearly 30 food companies
and industry groups. A bipartisan group of lawmakers
spoke, though opposition to
the president’s plan is expected from some Republicans in Congress.
Obama announced on December 17 he would direct his
administration to allow US
companies to sell agricultural
and building materials, equipment used by private-sector
entrepreneurs and telecommunications services in Cuba.
Among the changes Obama
instructed the US departments of treasury and commerce to make was to tweak
the definition of “cash in
advance” to ease agricultural
exports such as rice.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Peshawar schools to
reopen on Monday
chools in the restive northwestern Pakistani province
of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
will reopen on Monday, an official said, after an extended break
following a brutal Taliban assault which killed 150 people, the
country’s deadliest-ever attack.
Provincial Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani said that
“all the necessary security
measures” have been taken for
35,000 educational institutions,
including schools, colleges
and universities to reopen on
January 12.
The government had an-
cop dies
in blast
nounced a winter vacation due
to security threats after the
deadly attack on the militaryrun school in Peshawar killed 150
people, including 134 children.
Ghani also said the authorities would build walls around
government-run education institutions which would extend
at least 8ft (2.4m) high, and
would also introduce community policing systems whereby
civilians with experience operating weapons would be trained
and paid to guard educational
Private sector schools, colleges and universities have
meanwhile been issued with
strict guidelines with requirements including having guards,
Ghani said, adding that schools’
licences could be revoked if they
did not follow the rules.
“All the necessary security
measures” have been taken
for 35,000 educational
institutions, including schools,
colleges and universities to
reopen on January 12”
In response to the Taliban attack, Pakistan’s parliament last
week passed a constitutional
amendment approving the establishment of military courts to
hear terrorism-related cases.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
also lifted the country’s sixyear-old moratorium on the use
of the death penalty, reinstating
it for terror cases in the wake of
the slaughter at the school.
RAISE FUNDS: The Capital Administration and Development
Division (CADD) of Islamabad has
directed all schools to raise funds
for hiring security guards.
The institutions were asked to
channelise their school management committees (SMC) for the
fund raising.
“It is decided that the SMCs
will hold meetings to arrange
their armed security guards by
raising funds. The committees
may collect the funds through
volunteer parents or other
well-off families,” said a CADD
He said Minister of State for
CADD Usman Ibrahim presided over a meeting to discuss
the security arrangements in
the schools and colleges. During the meeting, it was decided
that PWD would prepare a cost
estimate for security matters
for which resources would be
arranged by CADD.
A senior official of CADD said
it was strange that the PWD was
being asked to prepare cost estimates just three days before the
reopening of the schools.
He said all schools were supposed to complete their security
arrangements by February 10 after which a team would inspect
the arrangements to issue them
a certificate for the reopening of
the institutes.
Repair work after bomb blast
ne policeman has been
killed and two others
wounded in a bomb attack in the southern Afghanistan
province of Uruzgan, police said
The blast took place on Thursday after a police vehicle travelling along a road in Mehar Abad
locality of provincial capital Tirin Khot was struck by a bomb
planted by the roadside, deputy
provincial police chief Mohammad Islam Kochai told Xinhua
news agency.
The injured were shifted to a
hospital, he said, blaming the
Taliban insurgent group for triggering the blast which occurred
at around 3.30pm.
The police Ranger vehicle was
also destroyed in the explosion,
he added.
The Taliban have intensified
attacks over the past couple of
months as the Afghan National
Security Forces (ANSF) assumed full security charges from
Nato-led troops after a four-year
security transition.
Pakistan plans law
to regulate
NGO funding
The Pakistan government plans to
tighten the regulatory mechanism
for international funding to
nongovernment organisations
(NGOs), and the Securities and
Exchange Commission of Pakistan
(SECP) have been given the task to
formulate a law in this regard.
The law will regulate international
and local NGOs and individuals
receiving and utilising foreign
Currently the total number of
NGOs registered with the SECP is
only 634. The figure is not even
1% of total 64,000 companies
registered with the regulator.
Under the proposed law, all NGOs
will have to be registered with the
SECP which will also ensure that
funding is utilised for the same
purpose it has been received for,
an official of the commission said.
The draft law is being finalised
and likely to be forwarded to the
Ministry of Finance next week.
A recent meeting chaired by
secretary law and attended
by representatives of SECP,
economic affairs division (EAD),
ministry of finance, State Bank
and the federal board of revenue
(FBR) discussed the new law.
NGOs will be required to seek
registration with the EAD and sign a
memorandum of understanding (MoU)
with the division over project details.
This registration and MoU will be valid
for five years and is renewable.
Currently, the NGOs are
registered at four different
government offices starting with
Societies Act 1860 falling under
the provinces. Most of the local
NGOs, madarassas, and such
other organisations are registered
under this law. However, they can
operate at the national level.
The second law applicable at the
district level is the social
welfare law.
Four Qaeda
rebels killed
akistani police yesterday
said they had shot dead
four regional Al Qaeda
militants including a senior
leader in an early morning
encounter in the port city of
The leader, named as “Sajjad” — also known as Kargil
— was said to be a Bangladeshi
who moved to Pakistan in
2009 and specialised in making IEDs and suicide jackets.
He was also the Karachi
commander of Al Qaeda in
South Asia, a new branch of
the global militant outfit that
launched last September, a
local police official said.
“The Crime Investigation
Department (CID) of the police raided a house in Qayyumabad neighbourhood in the
eastern part of Karachi where
the suspects were plotting
a terrorist attack,” the official said on condition of
Umar Khatab, a senior policeman in the CID, confirmed
the killings.
“Sajjad came from Bangladesh to Pakistan in 2009
and lived in Waziristan where
he swore allegiance to Asim
Umar, the Pakistan chief of
AQIS,” Khatab said.
He said the police recovered
ammunition, weapons and a
suicide jacket from the house
after the shootout.
It was not immediately
possible to confirm the details of the event with independent witnesses from the
Rights activists say suspected militants who are cap-
tured are often killed in staged
encounters by security forces.
Meanwhile, three paramilitary soldiers were killed
and four others injured in the
southwestern province of
Baluchistan in an attack by
unidentified gunmen.
The incident occurred
40 miles) north of port of
“Three paramilitary soldiers were killed when their
vehicle was п¬Ѓred at in Sunster
Zahiran area of Baluchistan
near the Iran border,” local
administration official Balach
Gichki said, adding that four
other soldiers were wounded
in the incident.
Abdul Hameed Abro, another senior administration official, confirmed the
Oil and gas rich Baluchistan
is Pakistan’s largest but least
developed province, which
has long been wracked by a
predominantly secular secessionist insurgency that was
revived in 2004.
Pakistan has upped the ante
against the Taliban and Al
Qaeda linked militants after a
December 16 attack on a military-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
deadliest terror attack killed 150
people, 134 of whom were
Pakistani officials have said
they plan to hang 500 convicts
in coming weeks, drawing protest from international human
rights campaigners.
Last week, Pakistan parliamentarians approved a law for
the establishment of a military
court to speed up justice in
terror-related cases.
Action against Jamia
Hafsa over Daish video
Railway workers starting their work for replacement of damaged railway track in Jaffarabad yesterday. A bomb blast blew up a
section of track in Jaffarabad.
slamabad police have decided to register criminal
cases against the Shohada
Foundation and students of
Jamia Hafsa for �waging war’
and inviting terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS), also
known by its Arabic acronym
Daish, to avenge Operation
Silence, that was carried out
against the Lal Masjid in 2007.
Senior police officials said
Father on the run after killing п¬Ѓve children
akistani father-of-six is
on the run after strangling п¬Ѓve of his children
to death, apparently believing
the sacrifice would endow him
with magical powers including
alchemy, police said yesterday.
Ali Nawaz Leghari, 40,
killed the two girls and three
boys, aged between three and
13 overnight Thursday in the
village of Saeed Khan, some
230kms (140 miles) north of
“The man’s financial condition was bad but he was also
learning black magic and it
seems that he made the sacrifice to excel in the craft,” police
officer Qamaruddin Rahimo
Amjad Sheikh, the district’s
police chief, confirmed the incident which occurred while
Leghari was undertaking a 40day spiritual journey, known as
a �Chilla’ prescribed to him by a
pir (living saint) that he hoped
would teach him the art of
Rahimo said that on Tuesday
Leghari had attempted to poison the family’s dinner but was
spotted by his wife, resulting in
a bitter quarrel.
The wife along with their
eldest son left the house to go
and stay with her parents.
With the pair out of the way,
Leghari was able to successfully carry out his plan to sedate
the remaining п¬Ѓve children
and then used a rope that was
found at the scene to strangle
them, said Rahimo.
“He strangled them one by
one inside the room and later
dumped them on a bed in the
courtyard,” he said, adding police were now hunting Leghari
Black magic practices are rooted in mystic Sufi lore and have
traditionally been the domain of
pirs and aamils (sorcerers).
The practice is particularly strong in rural parts of
the country including the impoverished southern Sindh
province where the killings
took place.
Hanging cancelled after last-minute pardon
uthorities in Pakistan’s
central Punjab province
on Thursday cancelled
the hanging of a convicted
sectarian militant after the
victim’s family pardoned him,
officials and a family member
have said.
The case is seen as a test of the
government’s plan to execute
convicted terrorists in the aftermath of a school massacre that
claimed 150 lives in the country’s deadliest terror attack.
The stay of execution came as
a roadside bomb killed four Pakistani security officials in a region
where the military has been battling Taliban and Al Qaeda militants for more than a decade.
The pardoned militant,
Ikramul Haq, is a member of
banned Sunni militant outfit
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who was
sentenced to death by an antiterror court in 2004 for killing
a Shia three years earlier.
He was set to be hanged
in the eastern city of Lahore
early Thursday but his family
came to a deal with the victim’s
relatives on Wednesday night,
Haq’s lawyer, Ghulam Mustafa
Mangan, said.
Murder can be forgiven under Pakistani law in exchange
for blood money, while rival
militant groups may choose to
pardon each others’ convicted
“The hanging was cancelled
after we reached a compromise with the complainant’s
family. They have pardoned
my client,” Mangan said.
Under the compromise
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi will pardon two Shia convicts and
Shias will pardon three other
Lashkar convicts languishing
in different jails of Punjab for
sectarian killings, he said.
Altaf Hussain Shah, a representative of local Shia community,
confirmed the deal.
Ehsanul Haq, brother of
Ikramul Haq, confirmed the
cancellation of the hanging.
A senior prison official also
confirmed the move, adding:
“A magistrate has recorded the
statements and the execution
has been stayed. Now the court
will decide whether the person
(should) be acquitted or not.”
Pakistan last month lifted
a six-year moratorium on the
death penalty in terror cases in
the wake of the Taliban’s horrific massacre at an army-run
school in the city of Peshawar,
and has so far executed nine
The attack on December 16
left 150 people dead, the vast
majority of them children.
Pakistani officials have said
they plan to hang 500 convicts
in the coming weeks, drawing protest from international
human rights campaigners.
Pakistan court yesterday rejected the mercy appeals of
two death row convicts, while
a similar plea of another was
dismissed as his execution was
already put on hold.
The Sindh High Court cancelled the appeal of convicts
Saeed Awan and Behram Khan
on the grounds that they did
not receive a presidential
pardon, Dawn online reported.
Khan’s execution will take
place on January 13 and of
Awan on January 15.
The appeal п¬Ѓled by convict
Shafqat Hussain was dismissed
since the federal interior ministry
had already halted his execution.
He was sentenced to death in
September 2004 for abducting
and killing a child.
The execution was also halted
for three other convicts, who
were sentenced to death for an
assassination attempt on former
president Pervez Musharraf
in Rawalpindi in 2003.
The Lahore High Court’s
Rawalpindi bench, headed by
Justice Amin Qazi, heard the
petition п¬Ѓled by convicts Khalid Mehmood, Nawazish Ali
and Mushtaq Ahmed.
on Thursday that they had
sought the legal opinion of the
prosecution department over
a press release and video massage, made by students of the
Jamia Hafsa seminary, inviting
Daish to come to Pakistan.
The press release and video
were issued by the Shohada
A report was prepared on
the issue by superintendent of police Rizwan Omar
Gondal, which was forwarded
to inspector general (IG) Tahir
Alam Khan for further action.
Imran added into
Divorcees’ Club
and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf
(PTI) chairman Imran Khan
is now the latest addition to
the illustrious membership
roll of International Cricketing
Divorcees’ Club, joining
cricketers like Sarfraz Nawaz,
Muhammad Azharuddin, Vinod
Kambli, Wasim Akram, Sohail
Tanvir, Zaheer Abbas, Phil
Tufnell, Shane Warne, Shoaib
Malik and Glenn McGrath.
In Shoaib Malik’s case, it was
reported that the all-rounder
was already married to a girl
named Ayesha Siddiqui which
Malik denied initially. It was
confirmed later that Malik
had married Ayesha and after
seeking a divorce, the former
captain of Pakistan had married
Sania. Indian tennis star Sania,
who was earlier engaged to her
childhood friend Sohrab Mirza,
called off her engagement to
marry Malik.
While divorce is one of the most
common topics of dinner time
conversations in conservative
nations like Pakistan, a good
number of British cricketers like
Darren Gough, Graham Thorpe,
Mark Butcher and Dominic
Cork have also seen their
marriages breaking up while on
England duty, and most of them
had chosen to re-marry.
Most widely-subscribed
cricketing website “ESPN
Cricinfo” states: “In England,
marital break-up among
cricketers has increased
steadily, a trend in step with
a wider society that has seen
the divorce rate treble in a
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
guard citizens
at procession
hree hundred volunteers in diapers were on
hand yesterday to form
human barricades during a
jam-packed open-air Catholic
Mass in Manila before a statue
of Jesus Christ was paraded
through city streets for the annual “Black Nazarene” procession.
More than 5mn Filipinos attended Mass at a park, with the
Metro Manila Development
Authority assigning adult diapers to volunteers who could
not leave their posts, in a trial
days before a visit by Pope
Emergency and police officials said they expect a much
bigger crowd when the leader
of 1.2bn Roman Catholics celebrates Mass at the same venue
on Jan 18.
Authority chairman Francis
Tolentino said only the volunteers at yesterday’s Mass were
required to wear the adult diapers.
“About 300 of them because
they cannot leave their positions otherwise people will
come in and break the line,” he
About 2,000 diapers were
distributed to civilian auxiliaries on traffic duty for the
procession, but there was no
data on how many used them.
In a radio interview, Tolentino
said defaulters would not be
penalised as the exercise was
“I feel so uncomfortable
wearing it,” a man on traffic
duty told Reuters when asked
why he did not wear the diaper.
The experiment invited
much ridicule on social media
with critics questioning why
the city authority did not rent
more portable toilets. Many
devotees were seen urinating
in the park.
“This has got to be the
dumbest idea of the year,” said
Twitter user Joseph Brian Calimon.
An authority official defended the experiment as a
“practical” option, adding in
a statement that adult diapers
are “used regularly as standard
operating gear” by US soldiers,
Buckingham Palace guards,
and astronauts.
After the Mass, about a
million people took part in
the procession for a 5km walk
to the Basilica of the Black
Nazarene with a centuriesold black statue of Jesus
Christ, which is widely believed to have healing powers.
Barefoot devotees lined
the streets to see and try to
touch the life-size statue of
Jesus kneeling with a cross,
in a festival held in the former
Spanish colony for more than
200 years.
At least one devotee was
crushed to death, while
hundreds fainted or suffered minor injuries, as a sea
of humanity was funnelled
through narrow streets for
the largest parade in the predominantly Roman Catholic
Devotees clamber on top of one another to touch the religious icon (top centre) of the Black Nazarene during the annual religious procession in Manila yesterday.
5.5mn take part in parade
ahead of Pope Francis’ visit
Traffic enforcers of the Metro Manila Development Authority display
adult diapers in Manila.
ore than 5mn barefoot devotees paraded
a centuries-old icon
of Jesus Christ through Manila
yesterday in a loud, heaving paroxysm of religious fervour ahead
of Pope Francis’ visit to Asia’s
bastion of Christianity.
In fervent displays of devotion, huge crowds of men,
women and children chanted
“Viva!” (Long live!) and twirled
white handkerchiefs at the Black
Nazarene, with some hurling
themselves at the supposedly
miraculous statue for good luck.
“The Lord is my healer,” Lina
Javal, 58, declared after waiting
in line for hours to kiss the lifesized ebony statue, showing an
AFP reporter the healed incision
from throat surgery she underwent last month.
“It’s an extraordinary feeling,
it’s like the Holy Spirit is entering my body,” said the clerk from
nearby Laguna province.
The mammoth procession,
estimated by the Philippine Red
Cross at 5.5mn people, crawled
at a near-snail’s pace along Manila’s old quarter as devotees
risked life and limb for the privilege of pulling the fat rope that
moved the float forward.
City officials and the Philippine Red Cross said a man died
from heart attack and more than
600 others were treated for various injuries as the crowd wriggled past trash-strewn streets in
light rain and overcast skies.
The procession is expected to
last well into the night.
“I pray that the Nazarene continues watching over my grandson, that he is kept healthy,” said
Manila laundrywoman Imelda
Santiago, 62.
She carried the two-year-old
Agriculture dept chief told to
quit over garlic price issue
By Llanesca T Panti
& Jefferson Antiporda
Manila Times
Proceso Alcala should
resign from his post for
failing to stop a “cartel” from
manipulating garlic prices last
Party-list congressmen Walden Bello and Antonio Tinio
made the call yesterday, a day
after graft charges were п¬Ѓled
against 119 individuals, including Clarito Barron, a former
head of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), and alleged garlic
cartel queen Lilia Cruz, for conniving to enable Cruz to corner
garlic import permits.
Senator Sergio OsmeГ±a,
however, would settle for Alcala’s suspension until investigation of his role in the alleged price manipulation was
completed. The manipulation
of garlic prices could not have
happened without the knowledge of the officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA),
including Alcala, and so he has
to be suspended, according to
His statements came a day
after the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) п¬Ѓled a
criminal complaint against 119
government officials (including
Barron), importers and several
leaders of farmers’ co-operatives reportedly involved in the
alleged manipulation of garlic
prices last year.
The NBI said the supposed
collusion between officials of
BPI, which is under the DA, and
the importers and the co-operatives led to the sudden spike in
the prices of garlic in the local
market in 2014.
Majority of the import permits issued by the bureau last
year was said to have been
cornered by Cruz, a businesswoman who established the
Vegetable Importers, Exporters
and Vendors Association of the
Philippines (Vieva Philippines).
The NBI, however, saw no
need to include Alcala in the
criminal complaint, saying
there was no sufficient evidence
that would link the DA secretary to the controversy.
But OsmeГ±a said it is unlikely
that Alcala is unaware of what
his men are up to or has no information about the supposed
collusion between the agriculture department officials and
the importers.“In fact, as the
head of the DA, he can immediately put a stop to it if he wanted to, so I believe that it (garlic
price manipulation) has the
secretary’s blessing,” he added.
“I think he (Alcala) should
be suspended, at least while
investigation is going on. But
that’s up to the ombudsman,”
Osmena said.
Meanwhile, he suggested
that the government do away
with “import permits” since
their issuance is not sanctioned
by law.
Since 1997 when Congress
passed the Tariffication Act in
1997, the government has not
restricted importation of garlic,
onions and eight other agricultural products and just imposed
import taxes instead.
Tariffication refers to replacement of quantitative restrictions on imports with their
estimated tariff equivalent.
By 1999, however, according
to Osmena, he learned about
import permits being required
of importers, with the government citing phytosanitary
measures issued by the Plant
Quarantine Service (PQS) of the
All imported commodities
are subject to PQS’ verification,
inspection and examination in
the laboratory.
The agency can also place
imported products under quarantine or destroy them if needed.The charge sheet accuses
Barron of receiving P240,000
cash as bribe, in exchange for
issuing four import permits
worth P60,000 each.
Others charged were Merle
Bautista Palacpac, officer in
charge of Plant Quarantine
Service and Luben Quijano
Marasigan, former PQS chief
and now quarantine officer assigned at North Harbour, Manila.
Justice Secretary Leila de
Lima earlier said the probe of
Alcala’s alleged involvement in
the garlic cartel is yet to be determined.
Caloocan City (Metro Manila) representative Edgar
Erice, a party-mate of Alcala in
the ruling Liberal Party headed
by President Benigno Aquino,
backed de Lima’s stance.
“It is still a work in progress
and we have to understand
that the (justice department)
is strategising for a solid prosecutorial position,” Erice told
Manila Times in a text message.
boy, who is blind in his right
eye, to the parade, shielding him
from the rain with a blanket.
Many Filipinos believe the
statue holds miraculous healing
powers and make lifetime vows
to join the annual parade, often
wearing T-shirts emblazoned
with an image of Christ crowned
in thorns.
“The brand of religious devotion that we see in Filipino
Catholicism is based on a very
strong desire of the majority of
our people for a more immediate
and direct access to divine help
or power,” said Manuel Victor
Sapitula, a sociology professor
at the University of the Philippines.
“That is why it is sought
through physical touch, sound,
bodily experience, or any combination of these,” he added.
The Philippines is also host to
some other forms of extreme piety, including ritual crucifixion
of more than a dozen devotees at
a farming village north of Manila
each Good Friday, when male
penitents wearing black masks
and crowns of thorns also whip
their backs bloody with strips of
bamboo. Isko Moreno, the vice
mayor of Manila city, told ABSCBN television that about a million people took part at the start
of the procession, and many
more waited to join it along a circuitous route.
Eight in 10 of the Philippines’
100mn people are Catholics, and
the Black Nazarene festival is
a display of the vibrance of the
religion ahead of the papal visit
which begins on January 15.
During his January 15-19 trip,
Pope Francis will comfort victims of deadly Super Typhoon
Haiyan in central Leyte island,
and celebrate mass for millions
in the capital’s largest outdoor
park. First brought to Manila by
Augustinian priests from Mexico
in 1607, decades after the archipelago was colonised by Spain,
the Nazarene statue is believed
to have acquired its colour after
it was partially burnt when the
galleon carrying it caught п¬Ѓre.
Construction worker Angelo
Pamarca, 30, walked an hour to
join the procession with his sixyear-old daughter perched on
his shoulders.
“I ask the Black Nazarene to
forgive my many sins and give
me strength to resist temptation,”
Pamarca said with a mischievous
grin, declining to elaborate.
Aileen Amandy, 48, joined the
parade with her teenage daughter to seek divine intervention in
helping her children complete
their studies.
“He always grants my prayers,”
Amandy said, crediting the Black
Nazarene with healing a son suffering from high fever and convulsions, and keeping another son, a
policeman, safe from harm.
Philippines to buy two C-130
transport planes from US Navy
he Philippine military
yesterday signed a pact
with the US Navy to buy
two secondhand C-130 transport planes to boost its capability to fan out quickly for territorial defence and humanitarian
Washington has been helping
develop the military capability
of its former colony in the face
of serious security challenges
in the South China Sea, as China steps up its presence in disputed areas.
China claims almost all of
the sea, believed to be rich in
mineral and oil-and-gas deposits.
Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam,
Taiwan and the Philippines also
have claims on the waters, traversed by about $5tn of shipborne trade each year.
“The US is helping us pay
for these two aircraft,” Colonel
Restituto Padilla, a spokesman
for the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, said, adding that
the US State Department would
provide about $20mn in foreign
military financing.
“We have requested some
1.6bn pesos to complete the
purchase of the transport
planes,” he added, referring to
a sum equivalent to $35.61mn.
The transport planes, to be
delivered early next year, will
take to five the number of mission-ready C-130s, for a boost
in the number and capacity of
existing medium-lift aircraft.
In 2014, Washington allocated military assistance funds
of $50mn to the Philippines.
Besides the C-130s, the funds
were used to install weapons on
two frigates, also acquired from
the US coast guard.
Padilla said the transport
planes would be used to rapidly deploy troops in the fight
against Maoist-led rebels and
others and to carry relief to
disaster-hit areas.
Taxi drivers to display new IDs from Jan 16
Manila Times
y next week, taxi drivers are required to display their new tamper-proof IDs on their vehicles, the Land Transportation Franchising
and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said yesterday.
To recall, LTFRB last November, said that it will
soon be issuing these new IDs to provide passen-
gers with a quick way for them to identify their
names and if necessary, report to authority in case
they refuse service. At the same time, it will also be
easier for the board to determine taxi drivers possibly involved in criminal activities.
The IDs will require the driver’s name and picture and company name, while a barcode will bear
the driver’s track record. LTFRB said that this can
be accessed via smartphone. They will be out by Jan
15 and will be required to be displayed on Jan 16.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
sworn in as
Lanka’s new
aithripala Sirisena was
sworn in as Sri Lankan
after a shock victory over veteran strongman Mahinda Rajapakse in an election dominated
by charges of corruption and
growing authoritarianism.
Sirisena took the oath of office
hours after Rajapakse conceded
defeat, saying he accepted the decision of Sri Lankans who turned
out in force on Thursday to vote
him out after 10 years in office.
Sirisena said Sri Lanka would
mend its ties with the international community, in a clear reference to Rajapakse’s falling out
with the West over allegations
of wartime rights abuses by the
“We will have a foreign policy
that will mend our ties with the
international community and all
international organisations in
order that we derive maximum
benefit for our people,” he said.
Celebratory п¬Ѓrecrackers could
be heard in Colombo as Sirisena
was sworn in on the capital’s
Independence Square along
with new Prime Minister Ranil
“People want a new political culture. I don’t want anyone
taking the law into their own
hands,” said Wickremesinghe,
the head of the opposition United National Party (UNP), at an
earlier press conference.
Sirisena, a former health minister who united a fractured opposition to pull off an unlikely
victory, thanked Rajapakse for a
“fair election that allowed me to
be the president”.
Pope visit
on despite
he Catholic church
that Pope Francis will
go ahead with his visit to Sri
Lanka next week despite the
change of government in
Colombo following a snap
Malcolm Ranjith appealed for
“peace and order” after Mahinda
Rajapakse was defeated by his
former health minister and opposition candidate Maithripala
“We earnestly appeal to all Sri
Lankans to help make this visit
of the Holy Father (from January
13-15) a success by maintaining
peace and order at this moment
when a new president has been
elected,” the church said in a
It said the incoming president,
who is also a Buddhist like his
predecessor, had promised Cardinal Ranjith “to give his fullest
co-operation for the success of
this papal visit”.
There had been concerns that
a messy outcome to the election
might have thrown the papal
visit into doubt but Rajapakse
conceded defeat on Friday in
a move that was welcomed by
Roman Catholics account
for around 6% of the population in Buddhist-majority
Sri Lanka.
He was elected with a 51.28%
share of the vote to the former
leader’s 47.58%.
It was a remarkable reverse
for a leader who had appeared
certain of victory when he called
snap polls in November.
Thilanga Sumathipala, a
lawmaker with Rajapakse’s Sri
Lanka Freedom Party, said the
outgoing president had a “very
emotional” meeting with ministers as he bowed out yesterday.
US Secretary of State John
Kerry welcomed Rajapakse’s
early concession and said he
looked forward to working with
the new leader.
Sirisena has promised sweeping reforms of the presidency and
said he will transfer many of its
executive powers to parliament.
He was elected on a tide of
resentment against Rajapakse,
who rewrote the constitution
after his re-election in 2010 to
remove the two-term limit on
the presidency and give himself more powers over public
servants and judges.
During the campaign, Sirisena
said that he had warned Rajapakse to change his ways or
risk new unrest in the country.
“He was leading the country
down a dangerous road to destruction,” he had said, promising a “constitutional revolution”
if elected.
Rajapakse enjoyed huge support among majority Sinhalese
voters after overseeing the end of
a separatist war by ethnic Tamil
rebels in 2009.
But critics say he failed to
bring about reconciliation in the
years that followed his crushing victory over the Tamil Tiger
He is also accused of under-
Sri Lanka’s newly-elected president Maithripala Sirisena, centre, taking oath as he was sworn in at Independence Square in Colombo yesterday.
Newly elected Prime Minister
Ranil Wickramasinghe at the
election commissioner’s office
in Colombo yesterday.
mining the independence of
the judiciary and has packed
the government with relatives,
sparking resentment even within his own party.
Rajapakse fell out with the
West over allegations his troops
killed 40,000 Tamil civilians
at the end of the civil war, and
refused to cooperate with a
UN-mandated investigation.
He cultivated close links with
China, which has invested heavily in Sri Lanka, seeking to counter rival regional power India’s
Beijing yesterday downplayed
suggestions the new leadership could impact its projects in
Sri Lanka.
The opposition has promised to address international
concerns over war crimes and
normalise relations with Western nations and India, whose
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Supporters of Sri Lanka’s newly elected president Maithripala Sirisena gathered to celebrate as he was sworn in at Independence Square in
Colombo yesterday.
congratulated Sirisena.
Sirisena’s decision to run triggered a slew of defections and
became a rallying point for disaffection with Rajapakse and his
powerful family.
His vision for the country ties
in closely with the free-market
policies of the centre-right UNP
which provided him with the political base to contest the election.
But analysts say he faces a
challenge to unite the rainbow
coalition of parties from rightwingers to Marxists that helped
him secure victory.
The vote passed off largely
peacefully, although there were
some reports of intimidation in
Tamil areas.
The president had come under international pressure, with
Washington urging him to ensure
peaceful and credible polls.
The election came days before
a visit to the island by Pope Francis which some Catholic leaders
had said should be cancelled in
the event of violence.
Election monitors said large
numbers of people had voted in
the Tamil-dominated former
war zones of the north and east,
which are heavily militarised.
Tamils are Sri Lanka’s largest
minority, accounting for 13% of the
population and helped bring down
Rajapakse by supporting his rival.
“We voted to get our dignity
back,” said a Tamil journalist who
asked not to be named.
“We may have good roads and
a new railway line, but what we
want is to live in peace.”
Tamils celebrate toppling �known devil’
ri Lanka’s Tamils yesterday
celebrated their key role in
ousting Mahinda Rajapakse,
whose 11th-hour charm offensive
and exhortation to vote for “the
known devil” was too little, too late.
Rajapakse was strongly resented among Tamils in Sri Lanka after ordering a brutal military suppression of a separatist
insurgency in which thousands
of civilians are said to have died.
With the majority Sinhalese
vote split between the president
and his successful challenger
Maithripala Sirisena, Sri Lanka’s
largest minority group emerged
as kingmakers in the polls.
“We were the deciding factor at this election,” said school
teacher Kanchana Keethiswaran
in the northern Jaffna peninsula,
scene of the worst of the violence
in the decades-long conflict.
“We hope the new president
does not forget that he won only
because of our (Tamil) votes.”
Rajapakse had travelled to
Jaffna last week for a campaign
rally, as the extent of support for
the opposition among majority
Sinhalese became clear.
During a campaign rally he
told residents that Sirisena was
a stranger to the region, while
he had travelled there at least
11 times after п¬Ѓrst becoming
president in 2005.
“The devil you know is better
than the unknown angel,” he said
in Sinhala, speaking through a
translator. “I am the known devil, so please vote for me.”
The somewhat mangled metaphor appears to have rung true
for many Tamils, who came out
in unusually large numbers to
vote for Sirisena despite some
reports of intimidation.
More than a million Tamils
endorsed Sirisena, who took a
51.28% share of the vote nationwide to secure the presidency.
The main Tamil party, the
Tamil National Alliance (TNA),
backed Sirisena’s candidacy and
said it was grateful to its supporters for electing their choice
for the top job.
But it made clear it expected
him to address the issue of greater autonomy for Tamil areas of
the country — something that
may prove a challenge given that
his diverse support base includes
Sinhalese nationalists.
“The new president Sirisena has
to address urgently many grave issues the country faces, including
an honourable resolution of the
national question,” the TNA said,
in a reference to Tamil autonomy.
The Tamil Tigers ran Jaffna
as a de facto state for nearly п¬Ѓve
years until they were dislodged
in 1995 and the area has been
heavily militarised since the war
ended in 2009.
Tamils in the arid peninsula strongly oppose the large
military presence in the region,
which they see as an occupation.
International rights groups
have also asked Colombo to
withdraw its troops, a demand
rejected by the government.
Retired Tamil civil servant S
Sebanayagam, 73, said Tamils
had voted for “change” — the
campaign slogan of Sirisena,
who has promised to investigate
war time rights abuses, a highly
emotive issue.
Rajapakse refused to acknowledge that his troops killed any
civilians while defeating Tamil
rebels in a bloody offensive in
May 2009. In all, around 100,000
people were killed in the conflict
between 1972 and 2009.
Rajapakse had spent billions
of dollars to rebuild infrastructure in the former war zones, but
failed to win popular support.
“We voted to get our dignity
back,” said a Tamil journalist
who asked not to be named.
“We may have good roads and
a new railway line, but what we
want is to live in peace.”
Paris massacre condemned
at Bangladesh gathering
uslims attending one
of the world’s largest
joined the chorus of condemnation yesterday over the deadly
attack on a French satirical
weekly, saying the killings ran
contrary to the tenets of Islam.
Bangladesh’s Biswa Ijtema, or
World Muslim Congregation, is
the world’s second largest Islamic gathering after the Haj
with devotees coming from all
over the globe to pray and hear
imams preach for three days.
Canopies stretching for more
than a kilometre, erected on
open ground on the banks of the
Turag river, were already packed
with tens of thousands of worshippers even before the official
start yesterday.
While politics is assiduously
avoided at the gathering, the
killings of 12 people in an Islamist attack on the magazine
Charlie Hebdo in Paris weighed
on the minds of many of those
“Islam does not support killings. Even during the time of the
Prophet, non-believers would
satirise him and Islam, but he
tolerated them and forgave
them,” said Mohammad Faiyaz,
a senior Islamic scholar at the
Faiyaz said the “mindless and
abominable killings” of journalists and police had tarnished the
religion’s image and made the
work of preachers such as himself that much more difficult.
“These attackers simply
don’t know what Islam is all
about,” he said.
Mohammad Zakaria, who is
a cleric at a mosque in Dhaka,
said he was “deeply saddened”
at the death of the journalists,
slamming the “terrorists” behind Wednesday’s massacre.
Charlie Hebdo has a history
of publishing cartoons mocking all religions, including Islam, and had been previously
been п¬Ѓrebombed after running
caricatures of the Prophet
Muslims attending the Friday prayer in the streets close to the congregation ground during the first day
of the three-day long Muslim Congregation at Tongi, near Dhaka, yesterday.
The gunmen were heard
crying “we have avenged the
Prophet” and “Allahu akbar”
(God is greatest) after carrying
out their killing spree.
But Zakaria said the idea that
the Prophet’s honour needed
avenging by masked gunmen
was absurd.
“Almighty Allah alone is
enough to protect Islam. History proves that Allah protected
Islam by sending Ababil birds to
beat those attackers who wanted
to destroy the Holy Kaaba,” he
said, referring to a sacred site in
the holy city of Mecca.
Launched by Tablig Jamaat, a
non-political group that urges
people to follow the tenets of Is-
lam in their daily lives, the gathering at Tongi was п¬Ѓrst held in
1964 and now draws around 3mn
people each January.
Most of those who attend are
from rural areas of Bangladesh
although the event also draws
tens of thousands from Muslim countries in North Africa,
Central Asia and even China.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
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Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed
Production Editor: C P Ravindran
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An opportunity
for reconciliation
in Sri Lanka
By giving a mandate to opposition candidate
Maithripala Sirisena, Sri Lanka’s people have voted to
scrap the kind of presidency that has allowed п¬Ѓgures like
the ousted Mahinda Rajapakse to dominate the country’s
politics for years.
Abolishing the country’s 37-year-old executive
presidential system was a centrepiece of Sirisena’s
He argued that Rajapakse was assuming the power of a
dictator after already serving two terms.
He has a good opportunity now to capitalise on the
consensus he has garnered during the campaign, and
push changes through.
Observers expect Sirisena to start by abolishing the
executive powers and making the parliament more
Whether or he goes on to reform the constitution,
Sirisena’s election itself has already been cited as a
considerable achievement and a possible indication of
improved unity.
He gained the support of a range of minority groups,
and his success has sparked new hope of reconciling a
nation long divided on ethnic lines.
Sirisena drew some support from the majority Sinhala
community in the southern part of the country, but his
overall majority was boosted by minority votes.
A political party formerly allied with the Tamil rebels
came out in his favour, helping him win in the north
and east. He was
also the favourite
in predominantly
Muslim areas.
Rajapakse by
contrast played
almost entirely to
the majority Sinhala
community, which
accounts for 75% of
the country’s 20mn
He campaigned largely on his victory in the war against
Tamil rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE) in 2009.
His supporters carried pictures of victims of the
conflict in attacks carried out by the LTTE. Even before
the campaign, п¬Ѓlms and clips of government troops
п¬Ѓghting the rebels were regularly shown on state-run
But it seems many people believe that Sri Lanka should
move on after the defeat of the LTTE.
Rajapakse’s support from minorities also suffered
after his government supported a radical Buddhist group
widely believed to be backed by the outgoing president’s
brother, Defence Minister Gotabhaya Rajapakse.
The Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist forces) allegedly
encouraged attacks on Muslims in a town south of the
capital last year and were also reportedly involved in
attacks on Christian prayer groups.
Gotabhaya Rajapakse, along with other members of the
Rajapaksa family in prominent positions, is likely to be
replaced in the new administration.
Beyond non-specific campaign rhetoric, Sirisena
has offered no concrete solution to the problems of the
minority Tamils, nor has he said how he plans to address
the calls for an international human rights investigation
that dogged his predecessor.
The West must play key role
in reforming Ukrainian society
Despite п¬Ѓnancial
difficulties in the EU
and the US, support for
Ukraine’s efforts at reform
and modernsation is
By Bogdan Klich
he accumulation of conflicts
and crises in Eastern Europe
and the Middle East poses
new challenges for Nato and
the European Union.
If these challenges are to be met,
both institutions – bastions of Western
values and security – will have to
clarify their objectives and adjust the
way they operate. Should they fail to
do so, the West’s two greatest political
achievements of the postwar era may
begin to unravel.
That Nato and the EU may lack
the will to change is indicated by
the fact that, even after Russian
troops invaded Crimea and eastern
Ukraine’s Donbas region, only part
of the West was ready to admit that
President Vladimir Putin was intent
on restoring Russia as an aggressive
global power.
It took others months to accept the
reality that Putin’s willingness to use
force to change national borders in
Europe could not go unchallenged.
Of course, there still has been
no direct Russian attack on a Nato
member state. But the state of turmoil
just beyond the Alliance’s eastern
border has created a reasonable fear
in Nato’s Baltic member countries, as
well as in Romania and Poland, about
whether or not the Alliance would
actually stand with them should they
be threatened.
Putin’s revanchism is an attempt
to undermine the entire model of
international security – one based
on co-operation and dialogue, not
military force – that has prevailed
since the end of the Cold War, and has
long been the animating vision behind
European unification. His aggression
has dispelled whatever doubts had
existed as to whether the transatlantic
bond still mattered.
In the long term,
the best course of
action will be to
reduce European
dependence on
Russian energy
The question now is whether the
West retains the will, and the means, to
chart a path through a crisis on its very
When the п¬Ѓrst wave of Central
European countries joined Nato in
1999, both the Russian Federation and
Ukraine accepted their admission.
Both were offered “special
partnerships”, and dedicated channels
of communication – most notably
the Nato-Russia Council and the
Nato-Ukraine Commission – were
established to create trust and dispel
fears that Nato posed a threat to its
eastern neighbours.
Putin’s actions demonstrate that
Russia does not accept that Nato is a
defensive alliance that poses no threat
to Russian security.
His desire for a sphere of influence
that limits Western influence in
countries bordering Russia – above all,
Ukraine – has revealed that efforts to
build trust with the Kremlin have been
for naught.
Given the gravity of the situation, it
seems foolhardy to continue to grant
Russia the privileged partnership
with Nato that it has enjoyed since
the late 1990s. Yes, the Nato-Russia
Council – a useful infrastructure of
communication in times of tension
– should be maintained. But there
should no longer be any pretense of
partnership with Russia.
Moreover, new policies for
protecting Nato’s partners in Eastern
Europe, Central Asia, and the South
Caucasus are badly needed. The West
must convince the Kremlin to roll back
its intervention in Ukraine, and make it
clear that further use of military force
will be met with countermeasures that
are more severe than the sanctions
imposed thus far.
In the long term, the best course
of action will be to reduce European
dependence on Russian energy. New
liquefied natural gas terminals in
Europe and legislative changes in the
United States to enable the export of
America’s burgeoning energy supplies
will demonstrate to Russia that its
window of energy-based leverage is
In the short term, Nato and the EU
must show the Ukrainians that they
are not alone. They must maintain
pressure on the Kremlin to reverse its
intervention and abide by the Minsk
Protocol, ratcheting up sanctions
should Russia fail to live up to its word.
Despite a nominally binding
ceasefire, the situation remains
uncertain and subject to rapid
escalation, especially in light of
Russia’s new military incursions in
Only п¬Ѓrmness will convince the
Russian elite that Putin’s strategy of
confrontation is a dead end for their
country. The West must also avoid any
temporary solution that could lead to
the unintended breakup of Ukraine.
Should current sanctions fail to do
the job, Europe and the US should
widen them to include the oil and gas
sector, which is the engine (and soft
underbelly) of the Russian economy.
The West can no longer afford the
inconsistency that it has displayed
until now, with EU countries pursuing
policies that reflect their differing
national interests. It is past time for
all EU and Nato members to recognize
their obligation of solidarity in the face
of the Russian threat.
But it is the West’s long-term
commitment that will have the
greatest impact on the Kremlin. The
West must become actively engaged in
reforming Ukrainian society, including
the country’s armed forces.
Despite п¬Ѓnancial difficulties in the
EU and the US, support for Ukraine’s
efforts at reform and modernsation is
It will take п¬Ѓrm support and
generous assistance to give Ukraine
the chance to repel Russian aggression
and join the community of democratic,
liberal and prosperous countries.Project Syndicate
zBogdan Klich, a member of the Polish
Senate, was Poland’s defence minister
from 2007 to 2011 and a member of the
European Parliament from 2004 to
Sirisena’s success
has sparked new
hope of reconciling
a nation long
divided on ethnic
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2014 Gulf Times. All rights reserved
President Putin: his actions demonstrate that Russia does not accept that Nato is a defensive alliance that poses no threat to Russian security.
Welcome to smart homes
By Glenn Chapman
Las Vegas/AFP
rom door bells that scrutinise
visitors to washing machines
that know when you’re home
and lights that click off when
you get in bed, houses are getting
The trend of once-dumb п¬Ѓxtures
and appliances being given the brains
to respond to, or even anticipate
people’s needs was on display at the
Consumer Electronics Show that
ended in Las Vegas yesterday.
US home improvement shop chain
Lowe’s built a mock house on the
cavernous show floor to demonstrate
Iris, a globe-shaped device that acts
as a hub for using smartphones to
control lights, thermostats, outlets
and more.
CES was rife with Internet-linked
smart light bulbs, door locks, wall
outlets for smart homes.
Hubs used as command centres
for gadgets in homes plug into the
Internet and then connect with
compatible п¬Ѓxtures, locks, security
cameras, appliances or other objects
wirelessly using new technologies
such as ZigBee or Z-Wave.
Internet connections let hubs
exchange information, alerts or
messages with applications in
smartphones or tablet computers.
The system in the Lowe’s smart
house could alert parents to the arrival
home of their children, thanks to a
signal from a special fob attached to
their key rings.
Window blinds could be opened or
closed on commands, and a sensor
affixed to a dog’s collar signaled a
doggy door to unlock when a pet
“You don’t need
many remote
controllers; all you
need is this ring”
Smart home systems can also synch
to surveillance cameras and motion
detectors, allowing people to monitor
their homes without costly service
contracts with security companies.
The demo home also featured a box
that connected to the water line and
sends a message to the home owner if
change in flow indicates a leak or burst
“And everything we have is do-ityourself,” a Lowe’s spokesperson said
while guiding AFP through the mock
German home appliance titan Bosch
showed off its connected home system
that uses sensors and cameras for its
creations to communicate with one
another, even letting people virtually
glimpse into refrigerators while
shopping to see what they might need.
Logbar, which has offices in Japan
and Silicon Valley, was catching
attention with a Bluetooth-enabled
ring that, when worn, allowed
people to control smartphones using
Logbar is planning to release a Ring
Hub disk that will synch with the rings
to allow infra-red enabled televisions,
lights, appliances and other things in
homes to be controlled with gesture.
“You don’t need many remote
controllers; all you need is this ring,”
Momoko Matsuzaki of Logbar told
“Then, when you leave your house
you can also control your phone with
South Korean consumer electronics
giant Samsung used CES to announce
that not only is it working toward
making nearly all of its devices
“connected” but that it is opening the
platform to software developers and
hardware makers.
Allowing rival home devices to
“speak” to each other through a
common hub promises to ramp
adoption faster than forcing
consumers to pick between systems
that work only with one company’s
Forrester analyst Frank Gillett
referred to the various hubs and
systems for connected homes as being
in a “fragmented battle.”
Google is pushing into the market
through smart-thermostat maker
Nest, which it bought a year ago in a
deal valued at $3.2bn.
A growing list of household things
or services that work with Nest was
unveiled at CES.
Among them were a car-charging
station that lets users know when
energy prices are high and a washer
and dryer that switch to quieter modes
when people are home.
There was also a smart door lock
that starts warming or cooling the
house when someone arrives home
and sets the thermostat to an away
mode to save energy when someone
locks up on the way out.
“Things that magically happen
around your house aren’t just sci-fi
anymore,” Nest co-founder and head
of engineering Matt Rogers said in a
blog post.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
When macroeconomic diagnosis goes wrong
There is nothing progressive
about large budget deficits and a
rising debt-to-GDP ratio
one of his New York Times commentaries
in the first half of 2013, when “austerian”
deficit cutting was taking effect, forecast a
major reduction in unemployment or that
economic growth would recover to brisk
On the contrary, “the disastrous turn
toward austerity has destroyed millions of
jobs and ruined many lives”, he argued, with
the US Congress exposing Americans to “the
imminent threat of severe economic damage
from short-term spending cuts”.
As a result, “full recovery still looks a very
long way off ”, he warned. “And I’m beginning
to worry that it may never happen”.
I raise all of this because Krugman took a
victory lap in his end-of-2014 column on The
Obama Recovery. The recovery, according to
Krugman, has come not despite the austerity
he railed against for years, but because we
“seem to have stopped tightening the screws:
Public spending isn’t surging, but at least it
has stopped falling. And the economy is doing
much better as a result”.
That is an incredible claim. The budget
deficit has been brought down sharply, and
unemployment has declined. Yet Krugman
now says that everything has turned out just as
he predicted.
In fact, Krugman has been conflating two
distinct ideas as if both were components
of “progressive” thinking. On one hand,
he has been the “conscience of a liberal”,
rightly focusing on how government can
combat poverty, poor health, environmental
degradation, rising inequality, and other
social ills. I admire that side of Krugman’s
writing, and, as I wrote in my book The Price of
Civilisation, I agree with him.
On the other hand, Krugman has
inexplicably taken up the mantle of crude
aggregate-demand management, making
it seem that favoring large budget deficits
in recent years is also part of progressive
economics. (Krugman’s position is
sometimes called Keynesianism, but John
Maynard Keynes knew much better than
Krugman that we should not depend on
mechanistic “demand multipliers” to set the
unemployment rate.)
Deficits were not increased enough in
2009 to escape from high unemployment, he
By Jeffrey D Sachs
New York
or several years, and often several times
a month, the Nobel laureate economist
and New York Times columnist and
blogger Paul Krugman has delivered
one main message to his loyal readers: deficitcutting “austerians” (as he calls advocates of
п¬Ѓscal austerity) are deluded.
Fiscal retrenchment amid weak private
demand would lead to chronically high
unemployment. Indeed, deficit cuts would
court a reprise of 1937, when Franklin D
Roosevelt prematurely reduced the New Deal
stimulus and thereby threw the United States
back into recession.
Well, Congress and the White House did
indeed play the austerian card from mid-2011
onward. The federal budget deficit has declined
from 8.4% of GDP in 2011 to a predicted 2.9%
of GDP for all of 2014.
And, according to the International
Monetary Fund, the structural deficit
(sometimes called the “full-employment
deficit”), a measure of fiscal stimulus, has
fallen from 7.8% of potential GDP to 4% of
potential GDP from 2011 to 2014.
Krugman has vigorously protested that
deficit reduction has prolonged and even
intensified what he repeatedly calls a
“depression” (or sometimes a “low-grade
depression”). Only fools like the United
Kingdom’s leaders (who reminded him of the
Three Stooges) could believe otherwise.
Yet, rather than a new recession, or an
ongoing depression, the US unemployment
rate has fallen from 8.6% in November 2011 to
5.8% in November 2014.
Real economic growth in 2011 stood at 1.6%,
and the IMF expects it to be 2.2% for 2014 as a
whole. GDP in the third quarter of 2014 grew
at a vigorous 5% annual rate, suggesting that
aggregate growth for all of 2015 will be above
So much for Krugman’s predictions. Not
insisted, and were falling dangerously fast after
Obviously, recent trends – a significant
decline in the unemployment rate and a
reasonably high and accelerating rate of
economic growth – cast doubt on Krugman’s
macroeconomic diagnosis (though not on his
progressive politics).
And the same trends have been apparent in
the United Kingdom, where Prime Minister
David Cameron’s government has cut the
structural budget deficit from 8.4% of
potential GDP in 2010 to 4.1% in 2014, while
the unemployment rate has fallen from 7.9%
when Cameron took office to 6%, according to
the most recent data for the fall of 2014.
To be clear, I believe that we do need more
government spending as a share of GDP – for
education, infrastructure, low-carbon energy,
research and development, and family benefits
for low-income families.
But we should pay for this through higher
taxes on high incomes and high net worth, a
carbon tax and future tolls collected on new
infrastructure. We need the liberal conscience,
but without the chronic budget deficits.
There is nothing progressive about large
budget deficits and a rising debt-to-GDP
ratio. After all, large deficits have no reliable
effect on reducing unemployment, and deficit
reduction can be consistent with falling
Krugman is a great economic theorist
– and a great polemicist. But he should
replace his polemical hat with his analytical
one and reflect more deeply on recent
experience: deficit-cutting accompanied
by recovery, job creation and lower
This should be an occasion for him to rethink
his long-standing macroeconomic mantra,
rather than claiming vindication for ideas that
recent trends seem to contradict. - Project
zJeffrey D Sachs is professor of sustainable
development, professor of health policy
and management, and director of the Earth
Institute at Columbia University. He is
also special adviser to the United Nations
secretary-general on the Millennium
Development Goals.
Weather report
Three-day forecast
Validity of an admission
The admission shall be
taken as a whole but the
admission may be divisible
if it was focused on
multiple independent facts
By Nizar Kochery
QUESTION: In a case before the
Qatar civil court, a party has
submitted in writing that I have
admitted a claim to one of our
colleagues but there is no written
proof for that. He claims that
this as my acceptance. What is
confession as per laws?
AW, Doha
ANSWER: Acceptance of non-judicial
admission shall be at the discretion
of the judge and shall be proved in
accordance with the general rules of
evidence. The non-judicial admissions
are admissions which are made by the
party elsewhere than before the judicial
authority or that takes place before
the judicial authority in other than the
action brought upon the admitted fact.
According to Article 302 of the
procedural laws, the judicial admission
is the acknowledgment by the litigant
or his representative, especially before
the judicial authority while proceeding
the legal action against him.
The validity of the admission
stipulates that the confessor shall be a
person competent to contract and shall
be a conclusive argument against the
confessor but limited to him.
The admission shall be taken as
a whole but the admission may be
divisible if it was focused on multiple
independent facts. In general admission
shall not be divisible upon the confessor
in a way to exclude what is favourable for
him and keep the unfavourable.
Agreement on
clearing dues
Q: I am a shareholder in a company
but not active in its management.
There is an agreement wherein it
is stated that I will clear the other
partner’s dues. Will I be liable
for this? The party holding the
agreement has п¬Ѓled a case against
me to recover the amount specified
to be paid by me.
RT, Doha
A: Under Article 177 of Qatar Civil
Code, a contract shall not create any
obligations binding upon third parties
but may grant rights in such third
parties’ favour. A person who binds
himself to procure the performance of
an obligation by a third party, does not
in so doing bind the third party.
In the event if the third party
refuses to perform the obligation, the
person who bound himself to obtain
such performance, will be liable to
indemnify the other contracting party
by himself performing the obligation,
the performance of which he undertook
to procure.
If the third party consent to perform
the obligation, he shall assume such
obligation while the person giving the
undertaking is discharged therefrom
but the former’s consent is effective
only from the time that it is given,
unless it is indicated expressly or
by implication that the consent is
retroactive as from the date of the
agreement between the contracting
Maternity leave
for women staff
Q: I am a woman working with
a limited liability company (the
branch of a UAE company) in
Doha for the last three years. I am
expecting and looking to avail of
maternity leave and other benefits.
My company grants only 35 days in
maternity leave as per its practice
in the UAE. Please advice what
Law will be applicable to me when
I work in Doha with a UAE-based
company? Will there be any
relaxations to it as it is a branch of a
UAE-based company?
SE, Doha
A: Qatar Labour Law – No14 of 2004
will be applicable for all workers/
employees in Qatar with exceptions
provided under Article 3 of the Law
as amended. The Law provides that
female employees who have been
employed for one year by the same
employer are entitled to 50 days paid
maternity leave on full salary.
The leave must be taken in the period
immediately before and after delivery
provided that the leave must include
35 days in the post-delivery period. A
medical certificate issued by a licensed
physician stating the probable delivery
date to be submitted.
If the post-delivery health of the
employee hinders return to work after
the end of her maternity leave period
then, provided that an adequate
medical certificate is furnished, an
employee may take unpaid leave for a
period not exceeding 60 consecutive or
staggered days.
In addition to the leave benefits, a
female employee who is breastfeeding
her child is entitled to a one hour nursing
break determined by her, per day, for one
year following delivery of the child.
High: 23 C
Low: 15 C
Partly cloudy with chance of scattered rain at places becoming slight
dust to dusty and cold by evening
The law prohibits employer from
terminating employment of the
female employee’s due to her taking of
maternity leave.
Also, the employer may not issue
notice of termination of employment
contract during the maternity leave
period or give the employee a notice
period that expires during this period.
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Low : 15 C
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Low : 14 C
P Cloudy
of contract
Q: My employment contract
provides free housing and
transportation. The company has
now stopped those allowances.
Because of it, I am not interested
to continue working with the
company. Can I terminate my
contract? Do I need to give notice?
ED, Doha
A: Article 51 of the Labour Law
permits an employee to terminate
his employment contract with
immediate effect if his employer has
breached the terms of the employee’s
employment. Such termination can
be with or without written notice
being served.
Fishermen’s forecast
Wind: NW-SE 18-25/KT
Waves: 2-4/5 & 6-8/ Feet
Wind: NW-SE 13-20/28 KT
Waves: 1-2/3 & 2-4/5 Feet
Around the region
Abu Dhabi
Kuwait City
P Cloudy
C Showers
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M Cloudy
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zPlease send your questions by
e-mail to :
According to Article 1179, sums
disbursed for seeds, manure and
other fertilisers and insecticides,
and sums disbursed for cultivation
and harvesting are secured by a
privilege over the crop for whose
production they are spent: they
will have the same rank.
Such sums are payable out of
the proceeds of sale of the crop,
immediately after the claims with
respect to the court proceedings,
sums due to the Public Treasury,
expenses for the preservation
of and repair to the property
and sums secured by a general
Building and agricultural rents
for two years, or for the duration
of the lease if less than two years,
and all sums due to the lessor by
virtue of the lease agreement, are
all secured by a privilege over all
attachable movables and crops
existing on the leased property
and belonging to the lessee.
Subject to the provisions
relating to stolen or lost property,
this privilege is enforceable
even when the movables belong
to the wife of the lessee or to
a third party, as long as it is
not established that the lessor
had knowledge, at the time the
movables were brought onto the
leased property, of the existence of
a third party’s rights.
The privilege is also enforceable
over movables and crops
belonging to a sub-lessee, if the
lessor had expressly prohibited
sub-letting. If sub-letting was
not prohibited, the privilege will
only be enforceable up to the
amounts due by such sub-lessee
to the principal lessee on the date
a formal summons is served by the
lessor for non-payment of these
If movables and crops so
charged are removed from the
leased property, notwithstanding
the objection of the lessor or
without his knowledge, and
the movables remaining on the
property are not sufficient to
secure the privileged claims,
the privilege is enforceable on
the movables and crops by third
parties in good faith.
The privilege shall remain in
force for three years from the
date of the removal, even to
the detriment of a third party’s
rights, if the lessor effects within
the prescribed time limit an
attachment on the movables and
crops removed.
If, however. The movables and
crops are sold to a purchaser in
good faith in the market by public
auction or by a merchant dealing
in similar articles, the lessor must
reimburse the purchaser with the
These privileged claims are
payable out of the proceeds
of sale of such movables and
crops subject to such privilege,
immediately after the claims
above-mentioned with the
exception of claims in respect
of which the privilege does not
operate against the lessor in as
much as he is a third party holder
in good faith.
Around the world
Cape Town
Hong Kong
New Delhi
New York
Sao Paulo
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Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Dr al-Sulaiman (second, left) joins a military pilot, plane owner and other guests in a photo opportunity at the 8th Al Khor Fly In yesterday.
PICTURE: Joey Aguilar.
PC-21 instructor pilot Rick Williams urges citizens to join the Qatar Air Force.
PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Al Khor Fly In event sparks
children’s interest in aviation
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
he annual staging of the Al
Khor Fly In is an indication of the growing interest on aviation especially in the
Middle East, a senior official of
the Qatar Aeronautical College
(QAC) has said.
Dr Saeed al-Sulaiman, director of Academic Affairs/Registration, QAC, was talking to Gulf
Times on the sidelines of the 8th
Al Khor Fly In, which opened
yesterday at the Al Khor air п¬Ѓeld.
“Here you can see people
bringing their own aircraft, from
jet to smaller and lighter planes,”
he said. “This shows how aviation is spreading in the world
especially here in the Gulf, in the
Middle East.”
The two-day event features
light aircraft like autogyros,
weight-shift microlight planes,
Cessna planes and helicopters.
This year, two new PC-21 п¬Ѓxed
wing trainer planes flown by
pilots from the Qatar Emiri Air
Force are among the main attractions.
QAC, the Civil Aviation Authority, Boeing, Qatar Airways,
and other companies are also
conducting activities for visitors at their stalls in a bid to create awareness on aviation among
Al-Sulaiman said that knowledge on aviation is also spreading very fast especially with the
advent of modern technology.
“There are no limits on
knowledge. I call this the revolution of technology because it
will make everything possible,”
he noted. “I also feel manufacturing of small aircraft is going
to increase.”
The senior QAC official pointed out that aviation plays an
important role in every country
since aircraft are used for various purposes such rescue (or
A child gets trained on a basic flight simulator at the Qatar Aeronautical College’s pavilion at the Al Khor
Fly In yesterday. PICTURE: Jayan Orma.
emergency), medical and tourism, among others.
Despite the challenges, he believes that aviation will also continue to create many opportunities not only for residents in the
country but in the whole region
as well.
“A lot of people want to fly and
buy an aircraft in the future,” he
said. “Aviation is available to
everybody, it is easy and not
PC-21 instructor pilot Rick
Williams echoed the statements
of al-Sulaiman saying they are
currently training pilots for the
He stressed that part of their
vision is to produce not only
highly qualified civilian pilots
but also to open a college for
military pilots.
With more pilots, Williams
said they will be able to п¬Ѓll all the
planes that Qatar Air Force has
been purchasing.
“The efforts in opening up
these colleges are actually going
to be able to put us world class,
aviation training wise. Qatar will
be number one I am sure, in no
time,” he added.
About some tips for aspiring Qatari pilots, he said: “I
want them to join the Qatar
Air Force and tell me they want
to fly fighter jets. In that way
we can train them and impart
proper, efficient, safe training and eventually they will be
flying in the front line for their
country in the most advanced
PC-21 п¬Ѓxed wing trainer
planes arrived in the country
in October last year and were
showcased during the Qatar
National Day, according to Williams.
Visitors to the Al Khor Fly In take a close look at some autogyros. PICTURE: Jayan Orma.
Children have fun with big toy planes at the Al Khor Fly In. PICTURE: Jayan Orma.
Visitors are seen near a Cessna 680 Sovereign plane.
A light aircraft approaches for landing during Al Khor Fly In yesterday. PICTURE: Jayan Orma.
India’s newest
airline Vistara
takes off
Infosys Q3
net profit
rises 13%
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Rabia I 19, 1436 AH
Canada loses
jobs for second
month in a row;
housing cools
Cyprus Airways closed
down after EU ruling
Money paid out in 2012 and
2013 as part of a €103mn
($122mn) restructuring
package would have
to be recovered by the
yprus closed down its
flag carrier Cyprus Airways yesterday after the
European Commission ordered
the struggling airline to pay back
over €65mn in illegal state aid.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said
Cyprus Airways had no chance
of becoming viable without continued state subsidies, meaning the money paid out in 2012
and 2013 as part of a €103mn
($122mn) restructuring package
would have to be recovered by
the government.
In 2013, Cyprus was forced to
take a €10bn bailout from the
European Union and International Monetary Fund.
In Nicosia, authorities said the
Cyprus Airways decision meant a
suspension of operations.
“The company has ceased being a viable entity, and cannot
continue to operate,” Finance
Minister Harris Georgiades told
Asked when the company
would cease flights, he said:
“From tomorrow there will be
alternative arrangements.”
An administrator would be
appointed and it was expected
its air licence certificate would
be revoked, he said.
Under EU rules a company
can only receive state assistance
once every 10 years. Cyprus Airways, which recently resorted to
selling assets such as its slot at
A Cyprus Airways aircraft landing in Larnaca airport yesterday. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Cyprus Airways had
no chance of becoming viable without continued state subsidies.
London Heathrow to stay afloat,
had previously received п¬Ѓnancial
assistance in 2007.
The Commission opened
an investigation into the aid
in March 2013, and the stateowned airline has 10 years to pay
back the money.
The Commission said Cyprus
had provided no evidence that
the airline faced “exceptional and
unforeseeable” circumstances
that would justify additional aid
after the 2007 rescue package.
“Cyprus Airways has received large quantities of public
money since 2007 but was unable to restructure and become
viable without continued state
support ... injecting additional
public money would only have
prolonged the struggle without achieving a turn-around,”
Vestager said in the statement.
In addition, EU law requires
that the company receiving restructuring aid contributes at
least 50% to the cost.
“The Commission found that
Cyprus Airways’ own contribution is significantly below the
level of 50% required by the
guidelines,” it said.
Attempts to sell Cyprus Airways flopped last year. European
low-budget airline Ryanair and
Greece’s Aegean Airlines had
expressed some preliminary interest but it was not followed up
with anything п¬Ѓrmer.
Both Ryanair and Aegean,
which have taken market share
away from Cyprus Airways,
have submitted applications to
Cypriot authorities seeking an
air operator certificate, which
would allow them to create subsidiaries on the island.
Turkey’s Tupras
faces $69mn hit
from tax demand
and related fines
Turkey’s sole oil refiner Tupras
said it faces a tax demand
and related fines totalling
160mn lira ($69mn) following
an 18-month investigation by
The demand for 65.6mn
lira and fines of 94.4mn lira
date from 2009 to 2013, the
company said in a filing with
the stock exchange.
“We plan to utilise all of
our legal rights including
negotiations,” Tupras, owned
by Turkey’s biggest company
Koc Holding, added in the
statement late on Thursday.
A Tupras official declined to
comment further.
In the past, tax fines levied on
companies have been reduced
sharply after negotiations.
Shares in Tupras, which is
based in Kocaeli province,
dipped 0.88% to 56.05 lira
yesterday morning, while the
broader index was slightly
The tax investigation began
in July 2013, when police and
finance ministry inspectors
raided the offices of Tupras
and Aygaz — Turkey’s biggest
seller of liquefied petroleum
gas, also owned by Koc —
and checked their physical
At the time, Finance Minister
Mehmet Simsek denied
the probe was politically
motivated. Some analysts had
pointed to criticism of the
Koc family, one of Turkey’s
wealthiest, by President
Tayyip Erdogan, then prime
minister, for its perceived
role in supporting antigovernment demonstrations
in June 2013.
The family owns five of
Turkey’s 10 largest companies,
and Erdogan expressed
anger with the Koc-run Divan
Hotel for opening its doors to
protesters fleeing police tear
gas. The hotel said at the time
that it acted humanely and
the accusations of backing the
protests were unfair.
However, Erdogan — elected
president in 2014 — last month
attended a ceremony for a
$3bn upgrade of the Tupras
refinery, one of Turkey’s
largest-ever industrial
investments, leading to
speculation the two sides had
made amends.
Tupras has faced official
penalties in the past. In
2014, the competition
board fined it 412mn lira
for abusing its dominant
market position in
pricing and contracts
Tupras has faced official
penalties in the past. In 2014,
the competition board fined
it 412mn lira for abusing its
dominant market position in
pricing and contracts.
It was also ordered to pay
605mn lira in back taxes and
fines in 2010 but negotiated it
down to 153mn.
The Koc family is one of the
most prominent dynasties
among a secular business elite
in Turkey that has at times had
an uneasy relationship with
Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK
Erdogan’s government has
in the past levied severe tax
fines and seized the assets of
media firms perceived to be
critical of his administration.
The government has denied
any political motivation in
such cases.
Monte dei Paschi says ECB asking for 14.3% core capital level
he European Central Bank (ECB)
has asked Monte dei Paschi di
Siena to raise its core capital
level to 14.3% as it sets new, tougher
requirements for riskier lenders to bolster their п¬Ѓnancial strength.
The Tuscan lender, which emerged
as the weakest bank in a Europe-wide
health check of the sector last year, said
the ECB request was preliminary and
subject to changes, adding it was reviewing the proposal and would reply
on January 16.
Its shares were down 4.4% by 1205
The ECB’s 14.3% Common Equity
Tier 1 or core capital requirement compares with a level of 12.8% the bank had
at the end of September 2014.
Monte dei Paschi’s statement came
after Il Sole 24 Ore daily said the ECB
had decided to assign specific capital requirements to individual banks
which in the case of most Italian lenders will be much higher than those set
by Basel III rules.
Italy’s bank sector fared the worst in
the ECB’s assessment, laying bare the
extent of the economic crisis in the eurozone’s third biggest economy. Nine
Italian lenders failed the tests although
only Monte dei Paschi and Carige still
have a capital shortfall to п¬Ѓll.
The two banks have already announced plans for a €2.5bn and a
€700mn capital increase respectively.
The ECB sent letters to the banks it
directly supervises where it outlined
concerns and potential consequences
based on the results of the assessment
in October, banking sources said, but
not all have been told to raise their capital levels.
The request signals steps by the
ECB to tighten its grip as the eurozone’s most powerful banking supervisor by making specific banks hold
capital above minimum requirements
depending on the riskiness of their operations.
One banking source described the
letters as an individual dialogue based
on details revealed by the unprecedented thoroughness of the assessment.
The banks have January to respond
to those letters, though a second source
said the room for negotiation was limited, and are expected to reach concrete
conclusions in February.
Il Sole said the new requirements
would in particular set an average
common equity Tier 1 ratio floor for the
15 Italian banks under ECB supervision
of 10.5%.
That compares with a general Basel
III minimum capital requirement of
The new capital requirements are
part of the so-called regular supervisory review of lenders, which was until
last year done by national supervisors
and is now done by the ECB.
European regulators say the review’s
purpose is to ensure banks have adequate strategies as well as capital and
liquidity to ensure a sound management and coverage of risks to which
they are or might be exposed.
“The ECB needs to show all the institutions that it takes its role as supervisor seriously,” said KPMG partner
Daniel Quinten, a former regulator at
the German central bank.
“I would expect the ECB to dig a little deeper into all these areas — capital
adequacy, governance and controls, liquidity, and business models,” he said.
Some analysts said tougher capital
rules could further curb bank lending, threatening efforts to kickstart the
“There is a concrete risk that if banks
must have higher capital levels, they
will lend less to households and businesses, and this will have a negative
impact on the economy,” said Vincenzo
Longo of IG.
Il Sole said the CET 1 floor requirement for UBI Banca will be 9.6%, while
unlisted Banca Popolare di Vicenza will
have to lift its CET 1 to 11.6%. It gave
no exact capital requirements for other
Italian lenders.
A source close to UBI confirmed the
bank had received a request to raise its
minimum core capital, without elaborating. Popolare Vicenza said the required capital level was “well below”
Il Sole said that if the banks fail to
convince the ECB to reduce the proposed minimum requirements, they
will have to apply the new floors as of
February or March. The ECB declined
to comment on individual banks.
A view of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena headquarters in Milan. The Tuscan lender said it was reviewing the ECB request to
raise its core capital level, and would reply on January 16.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
India’s newest airline takes
off seeking upmarket flyers
New Delhi
Hong Kong
ndia’s newest airline made its maiden flight
yesterday, kickstarting attempts to attract
well-heeled passengers in a market dominated
by loss-making, no-frills carriers.
New airline Vistara – a Sanskrit word meaning
“limitless expanse” – took off from New Delhi for
financial hub Mumbai, offering flyers premium
services including a string of special meal options.
“Being full service doesn’t mean you’re lavish
or you’re over the top. It means serving different
customers’ needs differently,” Vistara chairman
Prasad Menon said at Delhi airport.
India’s aviation market is expected to be the
third-largest globally within a decade. But the
sector is currently plagued by losses stemming
from hefty operating costs and bruising fare wars
that has left at least one no-frills carrier, SpiceJet,
Vistara is steering clear of the budget market
dominated by a string of mostly loss-making airlines who last year had offered fares lower than the
price of a second-class train ticket.
Instead, Vistara’s premium economy fares for
short flights from the capital to Mumbai start at
Rs12,000 ($190).
The airline is 49% owned by deep-pocketed
Singapore airlines, one of the world’s top-rated
carriers. Mumbai-based Tata conglomerate, one
of India’s most respected brands, controls the
other 51%.
“India’s aviation market has been expanding
rapidly and we have been eager to directly participate in and contribute towards this growth
story for many years,” Singapore Airlines CEO Goh
Choon Phong said in a statement.
Analysts said Vistara has a chance of success
given the recent drop in hefty fuel prices, thanks
to a fall in global oil prices, and the fact the ailing
Indian economy was expected to pick up.
“There will always be a niche of passengers who
do not mind paying a bit more for better quality,”
Vistara made its maiden flight yesterday, kickstarting attempts to attract well-heeled passengers in a market dominated by loss-making, no-frills carriers.
Amrit Pandurangi, senior director for aviation at
Deloitte India, told AFP. “It (Vistara) just needs to
keep focusing on maintaining its difference from
other players in the market.”
India’s intense airline competition has seen
at least one casualty, with Kingfisher Airlines
grounded in 2012 laden with debts and Spicejet
currently desperately seeking an outside investor.
Vistara, operating the 148-seater Airbus A320200 on three routes initially, is the third full-service carrier after state-run Air India and Jet Airways, both currently in the red. Tata also holds a
stake in an Indian low-cost carrier, which started
flying last June, operated by Asia’s biggest-budget
airline AirAsia.
The previous national Congress government
began allowing foreign airlines to buy up to 49%
stakes in Indian carriers in 2012.
Japan machinery orders seen rebounding
Japan’s core machinery orders likely rose 5% in November from the previous month, the poll of 21 analysts
showed yesterday.
apan’s leading indicator of capital expenditure probably rebounded in November, a Reuters poll showed, as strong corporate earnings on the back of a weak yen encouraged more
п¬Ѓrms to spend.
The nation’s current account balance will likely show a modest surplus in November helped by
a lower trade deficit due to falling oil prices and a
rise in income from overseas investment due to
the soft yen.
Core machinery orders, a highly volatile data
series regarded as an indicator of capital spending in the coming six to nine months, likely rose
5% in November from the previous month, the
poll of 21 analysts showed.
That compared with a 6.4% fall in October
and followed a 2.9% rise in September.
Compared with a year earlier, core orders
probably fell 5.8% in November, the poll found,
down for the second straight month.
Still, the economy is expected to emerge from
recession in the last three months of 2014, after
unexpectedly contracting following a sharperthan-expected drop in consumption following a
sales tax hike last April.
“The appetite for capital spending among
п¬Ѓrms, especially the big manufacturing sector,
is on the rise as the impact from the yen’s weakness on boosting corporate earnings is big,” said
Takumi Tsunoda, senior economist at Shinkin
Central Bank Research Institute.
Analysts say firms’ capital spending is expected to recover but only at a modest pace.
“We expect a moderate increase (in core machinery orders) although there are some weakness seen reflecting stalling domestic demand
and a stagnant volume of exports,” said Takeshi
Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.
The Cabinet Office will release the data on
January15. The poll also showed the current account balance, which will be released on Monday, is expected to show a surplus of ВҐ133.2bn
($1.12bn) in November, which would be a п¬Ѓve
straight monthly surplus.
“Falls in oil prices contributed to a narrowing
trade deficit and the weak yen helped gains in the
income balance,” said Tsunoda at Shinkin Central Bank Research Institute. But the expected
surplus for November will be smaller than a surplus of ВҐ833.4bn in October.
Wholesale prices, which measures the price
companies charge each other for goods and
prices, likely rose 2.1% in the year to December following a 2.7% gain in November, the poll
eveloper Kaisa Group
Holdings missed a deadline to pay a $26mn bond
coupon, fuelling investors’ concerns about the creditworthiness of Chinese property firms
amid a downturn in the market.
The payment was due on
midnight Hong Kong time
(1600) on Thursday, but traders
said Kaisa had a 30-day grace
period to resolve the situation.
Failure to pay the coupon on
Kaisa’s 2020 bond could trigger
the п¬Ѓrst dollar bond default by a
Chinese property issuer.
“The main thing now is payment before the grace period.
Lateness does not matter as
the market has already priced
that in the bonds,” said a Hong
Kong-based trader who declined to be named as he was
not authorised to speak to the
Shenzhen-based Kaisa has
declined to comment on its debt
issues. The company, one of
China’s smaller listed developers, warned last week it may default on more debt after it failed
to repay HSBC a HK$400mn
($51mn) loan that was due on
December 31.
Trading in the 2020 bond remained subdued yesterday at
around 30 cents on the dollar.
All Kaisa’s outstanding bonds
have lost two-thirds of their
value over the past month and
its shares have been suspended
since the end of December, after
it was hit by the resignation of
senior executives and a government-imposed block on some
of its projects.
China’s property market, a
key driver of economic growth
with also affects more than 40
other sectors from cement to
furniture, is grappling with
oversupply and tighter credit.
Investment in the sector grew at its slowest pace in
over п¬Ѓve years between January to November, data showed
last month. The government
is also increasingly scrutinising developers in the southern
Guangdong area as part of a
widespread campaign against
corruption, heightening investors’ concerns.
Yesterday, newly listed developer Logan Property said the
authorities had since 2010 locked
three units, now worth some
6mn yuan ($967,000) at a residential project in the southern
city of Shenzhen in Guangdong. I
It said the lock was due to
land problems at a nearby
gas station and that the issue
would not have any impact on
its business, but traders said
the news was likely to fuel market jitters about developers in
A future for PCs? Acer’s Jason Chen is betting the company on next-gen models
When Jason Chen took over as chief
executive officer at Acer Inc a year ago,
he was handed a three-page, colourcoded list of problems at the ailing PC
maker. He shoved the memo in a drawer
and never looked at it again.
Instead, the 53-year-old focused on the
positive. Chen crafted a 100-day plan
after reading books about turnarounds
at International Business Machines
Corp and Japan Airlines Co. He met with
employees at Acer’s Taipei headquarters
to share ideas and then headed overseas
to bolster morale.
Defying predictions of a PC industry
in decline as consumers shift to
mobile devices, Acer is betting on
next-generation models, including
inexpensive laptops that run Google
Inc’s Chrome software and tabletlaptop hybrids, while expanding into
phones and cloud computing. With
the company’s shares rising 17% last
year, Chen is declaring his turnaround
complete and predicting a return to
sales growth.
“Any and every company has a lot
of problems,” Chen said during an
interview at Acer’s headquarters. “I
pay much more attention to what are
the strengths of the company and how
do we use the strengths to capture
Acer hasn’t seen much of Chen’s brand
of optimism lately. In the three years
before he came on, the company’s stock
tumbled 80% as the PC market slid
and profits evaporated. The company
ultimately took $450mn in write-offs,
and the previous management team
Chen has “delivered what’s needed to
take the first step in turning around the
company,” said Vincent Chen, at Yuanta
Financial Holding Co, who rates Acer a
hold. “He’s been successful in controlling
the losses and turning to profit.”
Although Jason Chen was born in
Taiwan, he’s travelled the world for his
career. He worked at IBM, Intel Corp and
most recently Taiwan Semiconductor
Manufacturing Co before joining Acer.
A salesman by training, he emphasises
words such as “optimise” and “stabilise.”
Asked why he accepted the proposal
from Acer founder Stan Shih to lead
the company, Chen said it was the size
of the undertaking that attracted him.
“The key word was �challenge,’” he said
in the December 16 interview. “The
highest-level challenge in business is
Having bled cash, market share
and revenue during the past three
years, Chen wants to take the former
notebook-computer leader back to
basics. He set up regular Monday
morning meetings to model revenue
expectations for the coming six months
so he can decide how much to spend.
Acer’s experience is in the “not-socomfortable” business of making PCs,
Chen said. Rather than shifting to
completely new businesses, he wants
to make steady improvements within
PCs while expanding in related areas. By
exploiting the core business, Chen said
Acer would return to annual revenue
growth this year for the first time in five
“The turnaround is pretty much done,”
he said. This year, “we should no longer
talk about turnaround.”
Acer sees its biggest chance in the
nascent market for Chromebooks – lowcost laptops that run Google’s operating
system and eschew expensive internal
storage drives. Acer has about 35% of
the market, according to researcher
International Data Corp, and figures
growth in the category will lift its fortunes.
The company announced what it said was
the industry’s first 15.6-inch Chromebook
January 3 in Las Vegas. Chromebooks
probably won’t be a “cure-all,” said Bryan
Ma, a PC analyst at IDC in Singapore.
“It might help stabilise things to get
them back up onto their feet in the short
term,” he said. “Ultimately, the bigger
question is how they plan to address
product categories beyond the PC.”
Convertible notebooks – with
detachable keyboards that allow them
to transform into tablets – let Acer cater
to those who’ve been dumping PCs for
Apple Inc iPads. Meanwhile, high- end
models will help the company attract the
gamer crowd that hasn’t yet given up on
computers entirely.
Acer is also venturing into smartphones.
From a small base, the company has
tripled its sales during the past three
years and plans to keep its focus
tight, exploring different markets and
strategies to find a successful formula.
That low-key, small-scale approach
will allow Acer to ride out a wave of
hyper-competition that’s likely to wipe
out rivals, Chen said. It’ll also help
the company stay alive long enough
to realise Shih’s dream of building a
cloud-computing ecosystem that Acer’s
founder first conceived of a decade ago.
Relaunched last year under the Build
Your Own Cloud tag, Acer’s vision is to
let users host their own data at home
using the company’s software and
hardware platforms, avoiding the pitfalls
that have seen bigger names fall victim
to hacking and privacy breaches.
While Chen refused to grade his own
first-year performance, investors and
customers have already bought into the
sales spiel. Acer’s stock price, market
share and shipments have grown, and
analysts are predicting its fourth-quarter
revenue will show the first gain since
June 2012.
“I am a strong believer that when you
face the sun, and move as fast as you
can toward the sun, the shadow will be
behind us,” Chen said. “But if you keep
looking at the shadow, it’ll grow longer
because the sun sets.”
Chen: Using company’s strengths to capture opportunity.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
China central bank to keep
�prudent’ monetary policy
hit record
high in ’14
he People’s Bank of China will
continue to maintain “prudent”
monetary policy in 2015, keeping credit growth stable while having
its hands free to п¬Ѓne-tune policy when
necessary, the regulator said in an online statement yesterday.
However, the central bank said it
would quicken the pace of market-oriented interest rate reform and push forward on increasing yuan convertability
in the capital account.
The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) also
said it would take steps to prevent systemic risks in the п¬Ѓnancial sector, a sign
that regulators will maintain pressure
on off-balance sheet lending and shadow banking. China has made a series of
moves to clamp down on shadow banking
in recent months, including tighter regulations on the usage of bond market and
interbank assets for refinancing.
The announcement reiterates the
PBoC’s commitment to stable monetary policy, even as speculation mounts
that Beijing will have to take steps to
boost growth and fend off deflationary
pressures, in particular loosening monetary policy by cutting reserve requirement ratios (RRR) for banks.
But many economists believe the
PBoC has resisted such calls because it
fears that weak demand for loans from
viable corporate borrowers means fresh
liquidity will only be funnelled into
speculative ventures or help reinflate
asset bubbles in property. Analysts say
the PBoC could take that view because
of its experience in 2009, when stimulus
spending caused widespread economic
distortions. A 50 basis point standard
RRR cut would create an estimated 2.4tn
yuan ($386.57bn) in new funds after the
money multiplier is applied.
Liu Ligang, China economist at ANZ
A pedestrian walks past the People’s Bank of China in Beijing. The central bank said yesterday it would quicken the pace of market-oriented interest rate reform and push
forward on increasing yuan convertability in the capital account.
in Hong Kong, has called for the central
bank to cut RRR or otherwise inject more
cash into the system. He said that usually in an economy that’s slowing firms
do not see the need for fast investment
and “may not want to borrow more”.
“But China’s case is a bit different,” Liu
said. “If you look at the last six years, firms
have leveraged up quite a lot, previously
bank loans were at quite high interest
rates. If China can relax monetary policy
further, п¬Ѓrms could have a great incentive
to borrow at a lower rate, and use them to
pay off high-yield debt. Merely doing so
will alleviate firms’ financial burdens and
also the risk of default.”
aiwan’s exports rose 2.7%
year-on-year to a record
high of $313.84bn in 2014,
helped by booming demand for
smartphones and other electronic products, the government
said yesterday.
Electronics exports rose 13.5%
last year compared to 2013 to hit
$99.99bn, the п¬Ѓnance ministry
said, while shipments of metals
and machinery from the exportreliant island also increased.
Exports to all overseas markets grew, including a 7.1% rise in
shipments to the US to $34.87bn
and a 2.9% increase to China and
Hong Kong to $124.69bn.
Much of the growth was
driven by shipments of new mobile devices, including Apple’s
iPhone 6, which helped drive
export orders higher for ten
straight months.
Taiwan’s Hon Hai, also known
as Foxconn, is the world’s largest
computer components manufacturer and assembles products
for leading international brands
including Apple’s iPhones.
But the strong export growth
weakened towards the end of the
year, dipping 2.8% in December
for the п¬Ѓrst time since the start
of the year due to shrinking demand in most overseas markets.
The monthly п¬Ѓgure was
dragged down by a nearly 40%
slump in exports of mining products to $1.27bn, which cancelled
out a 9.7% increase in electronic
exports to $8.43bn. Last year
Taiwan’s economic growth was
buoyed by a steady recovery in
developed countries as well as improved domestic consumption.
Weak yen spurs Japan electronics
п¬Ѓrms to bring production home
Sikka: Trying to revive Infosys by focusing on innovation.
Infosys Q3 net profit
rises 13%, shares gain
Indian software giant Infosys
announced yesterday a
better-than-expected 13%
jump in third-quarter net
profit, helped by strong
demand for services in the
The country’s secondlargest IT services exporter
said October-December
net profit hit Rs32.50bn
($521mn), up from Rs28.75bn
in the same period last year.
Analysts had expected
profits to be about Rs31.5bn.
“We are seeing good
demand from North
America while Europe is a
bit muted,” said Vishal Sikka,
Infosys chief executive and
managing director.
Infosys shares cheered the
earnings, gaining 4.99% to
Rs2,073. They had hit an
intra-day low of Rs1,914.10
before the profit news was
The company, created
by seven software
professionals around a
kitchen table in the 1980s,
said it was confident of
expanding revenues by
seven to nine% in the
current year ending March
In the just ended quarter,
Infosys’ revenues rose to
Rs137.96bn ($2.21bn) from
Rs130.03bn a year ago.
The company, based in the
southern high-tech hub
of Bangalore, announced
it has more than $5.5bn
in cash reserves, but top
management did not detail
how the firm planned to
spend it.
Infosys, once known as
the “bellwether” of India’s
flagship outsourcing
industry and billed as
the country’s equivalent
of Microsoft, is listed in
Mumbai and New York.
Sikka replaced co-founder
Narayana Murthy, who
had been recalled from
retirement last year to
help Infosys, once the
star of India’s information
technology sector, regain
market share.
Sikka, a former executive
of SAP AG, is trying to
revive Infosys including by
focusing on innovation and
creating higher-earning
opportunities in fields such
as data analytics.
Co-founders, including
Murthy, sold $1.1bn worth
of stock in the company in
Murthy stressed at the time
that the sale did not reflect
lack of confidence in the
company’s prospects and he
remained a top investor in
anon Inc and other Japanese electronics companies
want to bring production of
some goods back home, reversing a
years-old trend of overseas manufacturing as a rapid decline in the
value of the yen makes local goods
more competitive.
The yen has tumbled some 8%
since the Bank of Japan last eased
monetary policy in October and is
now trading near seven-year lows.
Since late 2012, it has lost a third
of its value due to Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe’s reflationary economic policies.
The steep slide has raised costs
for п¬Ѓrms highly dependent on raw
material imports as well as those
that manufacture abroad.
Now, Canon says it wants domestic production to return to
60% of overall output in three
years, up from around 40%.
“From now on, new copier, camera and printer products will be
built at domestic factories and as
they replace older products, the
volume of goods made overseas
will fall,” said company spokesman
Hirotomo Fujimori.
Sharp Corp is also looking at
lifting the ratio of LCD televisions
and refrigerators made in Japan
to counter the yen’s weakness, a
spokesman said.
Panasonic Corp has been considering whether to lift domestic production levels for some
time. Its white goods division
sees a 1.8bn yen drop in operating income every time the dollar
strengthens by one yen, because
this division largely produces its
goods overseas and sells them in
No companies, however, have
yet to go so far as saying that yen
weakness is a big enough factor to
justify the large investment needed
for new domestic plants or assembly lines.
“Most white goods sold in Japan
are imported from China so it’s
natural we could see more goods
manufactured in Japan on the back
of a weaker yen,” Panasonic CEO
Kazuhiro Tsuga said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.
“But it’s more of a passive rather
than a proactive shift,” he added.
Canon says it wants production in Japan to return to 60% of overall output in three
years, up from around 40%
Chinese police buy �Trojan Horse’ for $24,000
Hong Kong
Police across China are buying software
and equipment to tap mobile phones
as President Xi Jinping tightens control
of public opinion and the spread of
olice across China are buying software and equipment to tap mobile
phones as President Xi Jinping
tightens control of public opinion and the
spread of information.
The police department of the Wenzhou
Economic and Technological Development
Zone said it spent 149,000 yuan ($24,000)
to buy equipment, including what it called
Trojan Horse software, from a stateowned technology company, according to
a post on its website on Wednesday. The
software is used to monitor calls, texts and
photos on smartphones, it said in the post,
which was removed after gaining attention
on Chinese social media.
The purchases shed light on the extent
to which China monitors its citizens’ personal information amid a broader government clampdown on Internet freedom. Provincial governments and police
departments in Jiangsu and Inner Mongolia are seeking to buy similar software
to gather information from mobile devices, according to procurement lists on
their websites.
“Attackers have really shifted their focus to mobile devices as people use mobile
for almost every aspect of their lives,” said
Bryce Boland, chief technology officer for
Asia- Pacific at online security consultant FireEye Inc “We’re also seeing it being
used by nation states, targeting political
dissidents and so on.” Authorities have
focused on smartphones and tablet computers as more people access the Internet
via mobile devices; the number of Chinese people doing so rose 13.6% to 527mn
by June from a year earlier, according to
government statistics.
In a procurement list for informationgathering devices, police in Shandong
province sought equipment to gather mobile information on phone contact lists,
call records, texts, calendars and social
media records, including those for Face-
book Inc and Twitter Inc.Both services
are blocked in China.
The department also sought to collect
information deleted from mobile phones.
Users may inadvertently install this
type of software on their mobile phones
by clicking on links or downloading fake
or corrupted applications, Boland said.
The risks are higher if the apps haven’t
been vetted by Apple Inc’s iTunes or
Google Inc’s Play store for Android.
Two phone calls to the police department’s communications department
went unanswered on Wednesday. Wuhan
Hongxin Communications Technology
Co, which sold the software, also didn’t
answer two calls for comment.
In November, Apple said it began
blocking malicious software aimed at
users of its products in China. Security
experts discovered that malware known
as WireLurker was stealing information
from apps running on Apple’s operating
systems for personal computers and mobile devices.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
HK tycoon Li Ka-shing to
revamp business empire
Hong Kong
sia’s richest man, Li Kashing, is restructuring his
business empire to create
two listed companies, one focusing on property and the other on
telecoms, retail and energy, in a
bid to boost their value and attract more investors.
The 86-year-old Hong Kong
tycoon built his sprawling empire
over more than half a century
from a plastic flower business,
but has been frustrated that his
group’s listed companies trade at
a discount to the book values of
their net assets, a common feature of conglomerates.
“This transaction is a watershed event in our group’s history.
It is transformational from the
point of view of shareholder value,” Li said in a statement yesterday. Li’s two largest listed companies are Cheung Kong (Holdings)
and Hutchison Whampoa, which
both run a wide range of businesses. As on January 7, Cheung
Kong, which owns just under
half of Hutchison Whampoa,
traded at a 23% discount, or about
HK$87bn ($11.22bn), to its book
value at the end of June 2014, the
statement said.
“The issue of holding company discount has puzzled us
for a long time, until we thought
of a way to resolve it during the
second half of last year,” Victor
Li, executive deputy chairman
of Cheung Kong and Hutchison
told a news conference when
asked why they chose to do the
restructuring now.
The proposed reorganisation
will put the property assets into
a new company, Cheung Kong
Property Holdings Ltd, with another, CK Hutchison Holdings
Ltd, managing ports, telecoms,
retail, energy, aircraft leasing and
other businesses. The transaction will increase transparency
of the group and give investors
direct shareholding in the two
companies, the statement said.
Some analysts said Li had
timed the reorganisation to tap
growing interest in Hong Kong
shares from mainland Chinese
investors following a recent
link-up that allows investors in
Shanghai and Hong Kong to trade
shares on each other’s bourses.
“Right now it should be a good
time, particularly when investors
are trying to find some high-value investments after the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect,”
said Castor Pang, head of research at Core Pacific-Yamaichi
in Hong Kong.
“Some investors are trying to
accumulate shares of Cheung
Kong and Hutchison,” he added.
As part of the reorganisation,
Cheung Kong will ask Hutchison
Whampoa shareholders to exchange each share for 0.684
CKH Holdings share, resulting
in the cancellation of Hutchison
The reorganisation comes at
a time when Li, who has an estimated $33.5bn net worth, according to Forbes, has been trimming exposure to Hong Kong and
buying utility and telecom assets
in Europe.
As part of the reorganisation,
the Li family trust will boost its
stake in Canada-listed Husky
Energy to 40.2% from 35.6%.
Li: Shifting focus to woo investors.
China’s inflation rises to 1.5% in Dec
hinese inflation rebounded marginally in
December, the government said yesterday,
but economists warned of deflationary
threats and called for more monetary stimulus
to boost slowing growth in the world’s secondlargest economy.
The consumer price index (CPI) rose 1.5%
year-on-year in December, the National Bureau
of Statistics announced, matching market estimates and marking an increase from a п¬Ѓve-year
low of 1.4% in November.
But for full year 2014, consumer inflation was
2%, the bureau said, down from 2.6% in 2013 and
well below the government’s target of about 3.5%.
Also, the producer price index (PPI) – a measure of costs for goods at the factory gate and a
leading indicator of the trend for CPI – declined
for the 34th straight month.
The 3.3% year-on-year fall was larger than the
3.1% median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey, and the biggest since September 2012. The
last PPI increase was in January 2012.
Moderate inflation can be a boon to consumption as it encourages consumers to buy before
prices go up, while falling prices encourage shoppers to delay purchases and companies to put off
investment, both of which can hurt growth.
“Authorities need to be vigilant on the rising
risk of deflation,” ANZ economists Liu Li-Gang
and Zhou Hao said in a note after the data were
China’s economy expanded 7.3% in the third
quarter of last year, the slowest since 2009 at
the height of the global п¬Ѓnancial crisis, and
has showed continued weakness in the fourth
“We believe the weak inflation data in December was mainly the result of falling commodity
prices, worsening overcapacity in upstream industries and weak growth momentum,” Nomura
economists said in a note.
“We expect inflation to remain low in the coming months with concerns over deflation risks
continuing to rise.”
China announces fourth-quarter and annual
growth п¬Ѓgures on January 20. The data suggest
authorities will announce fresh monetary easing,
the Nomura economists said, adding they expect
the central People’s Bank of China (PBoC) to cut
interest rates in the second quarter of 2015 while
Vendors pack onions in a market in Anhui province. China’s inflation rebounded marginally in December, the government said yesterday.
lowering the amount of cash banks must keep on
hand once in every quarter this year.
Reducing the reserve requirement ratio (RRR)
increases the amount of money banks can lend
out and help boost economic activity.
The last full-fledged RRR cut was in May 2012,
though the PBoC carried out targeted reductions
last year, part of a series of “mini-stimulus”
steps introduced from April when growth began
to slow.
The PBoC in November cut interest rates for
the п¬Ѓrst time in more than two years in a bid to
boost growth, though economists have said that
move alone would be insufficient.
Liu and Zhou of ANZ also called for more monetary stimulus. “In our view, Chinese authorities
will need to use both structural reform measures
as well as monetary policy tools to head off the
risk of deflation, especially when domestic demand remains weak and commodity and energy
prices continue to fall,” they wrote. “We therefore
believe that RRR cuts, or other monetary policy
easing measures with similar effects, can be expected in (the first quarter of ) 2015.”
Food prices drove December’s inflation uptick,
according to statistics bureau п¬Ѓgures, rising 2.9%
on-year from 2.3% in November.
Nonetheless falling oil and farm commodity
prices are likely to add downward pressure this
year, according to Julian Evans-Pritchard, China
economist at Capital Economics.
But he wrote in a note: “With most households
and firms set to benefit from the fall in inflation,
we think concerns about deflation, at least in
China’s case, are overplayed.”
Chinese authorities are trying to transform the
country’s economy to one whereby its increasingly wealthy consumers drive growth. Chinese
President Xi Jinping regularly speaks of a “new
normal” in which GDP growth moderates to
more sustainable levels as the country’s economy
Japan reins in
spending in
extra budget
Dow Jones
Japan will use extra tax revenue
and unused funds from last
year’s budget to reduce its borrowing and to pay for economic
stimulus, in a two-pronged
strategy aimed at restoring the
nation’s economic and fiscal
A supplementary budget plan
unveiled yesterday proposes
spending ВҐ3.5tn ($29bn) on economic stimulus, government
officials said. It also projects a
drop of ВҐ1.5tn in debt servicing
costs amid a recent sharp fall
in long-term interest rates. Net
spending will increase by ВҐ3.1tn,
adding to the ВҐ95.9tn originally
budgeted for the current fiscal
year to March.
Japan also plans to earmark in
the extra budget ВҐ90.9bn in aid
to West Africa to help with the
Ebola crisis along with other
humanitarian aid efforts, the
officials said.
The latest supplementary budget is the smallest in seven years,
reflecting an attempt by Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe to address
concerns about the nation’s
towering debt as he tries to lift
the economy out of decades of
deflation through his “Abenomics” pro-growth policies. The
extra spending will be funded by
an expected ВҐ1.7tn overshoot in
tax revenue and ВҐ2tn in unused
budgetary funds from last year.
The surplus revenue will enable
Abe to reduce borrowing by
about 2% from what the government initially projected.
The government expects
ВҐ51.7tn in tax revenue for the
current fiscal year, the highest
in 17 years. While the sales tax
increase in April is the main
reason for the revenue growth,
officials say income tax receipts
have also grown briskly thanks
to many large Corps paying
higher salaries and bonuses.
Discussions over the budget
are being closely watched after
Moody’s Investors Service
downgraded Japan’s sovereign
debt last month. The ratings
firm warned about the country’s
dire fiscal situation as total
central government debt is set
to surpass ВҐ1,100tn by the end
of March-22 times government
revenue and more than double
the size of the economy.
Supplementary budgets are
supposed to be an emergency
step to deal with major, unexpected economic events, such
as the 2008 Lehman shock or
the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.
But in recent years such spending has become routine.
The smaller extra budget
suggests Abe is serious about
addressing the country’s high
debt level. He said earlier this
week that he will make tackling
structural economic challenges,
such as barriers to female
labor participation, an aging
population and ballooning social
security expenditure, the main
focus of his efforts this year.
The prime minister’s focus on
reviving growth through restructuring and not government
spending is expected to be seen
in the annual budget for the next
fiscal year, which he will unveil
on Wednesday, officials said.
The total budget is likely to
show an increase from the current fiscal year’s initial budget
of ВҐ95.9tn, but by only around
1%, they said. A few items will
see greater spending, such
as ВҐ600bn earmarked for
improving day care services, for
Honda to pay $70mn in п¬Ѓnes for violating US law
onda Motor Co agreed to pay
a record $70mn in п¬Ѓnes and
submit to stricter oversight for
failing to tell the US government about
warranty claims and more than 1,700
injuries and deaths linked to potential
defects in its cars.
Automakers are required to report
such information under a 14-year-old
US law, and Honda’s violations may
have hampered the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration’s ability
to quickly identify vehicle flaws.
Honda’s violations came to light late
last year as investigations into a global
crisis over defective air bags cast doubt
on the diligence of some automakers to
tell the government about all potential product defects. In a synopsis of
an internal review п¬Ѓled with NHTSA
in November, the Tokyo-based automaker blamed its underreporting on
“inadvertent data entry or computer
programming errors” that spanned 11
“We have resolved this matter and
will move forward to build on the important actions Honda has already
taken to address our past shortcomings in early-warning reporting,” Rick
Schostek, Honda North America’s
executive vice-president, said yesterday in a statement. “We continue to
fully cooperate with NHTSA to achieve
greater transparency and to further enhance our reporting practices.”
The civil penalties yesterday comprise two п¬Ѓnes of $35mn, each the
maximum allowable under US law. One
covers Honda’s failure to report 1,729
death and injury claims from 2003
to 2014. The second covers lapses on
completely reporting warranty claims
and repairs offered under “customer
satisfaction campaigns.”
As part of a civil consent order with
NHTSA, Honda will revise its regulatory compliance practices, according to
the US statement.
The number of injury-claim omissions Honda admitted exceeded the
1,144 reports Honda п¬Ѓled over the 11year period.
Eight of Honda’s missing reports,
from July 1, 2003, to June 30, 2014, involved Takata Corp air-bag inflator
ruptures, and NHTSA knew of those incidents, the company said in November.
Honda President Takanobu Ito said
then that the automaker didn’t share
the same understanding as authorities of its obligations under US law.
He said local management made many
mistakes п¬Ѓling early-warning reports,
which NHTSA relies on to help spot po-
tential defects. Honda said in October
it had asked for a third-party audit of
potential inaccuracies in its reports to
NHTSA. The company decided in September to include verbal claims from
owners or their representatives to make
its reporting more consistent with other automakers, it said at the time.
Honda has said it has provided NHTSA detailed information relating to all
known ruptures of Takata air-bag inflators.
JPMorgan Chase & Co’s Singapore
branch was “reprimanded” by the island nation’s central bank for letting two
representatives provide advice on structured deposits without authorisation.
The incidents occurred from Nov.
26, 2010, to January 16, 2013, according to a statement posted to the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s website.
The Singapore unit of JPMorgan Chase
Bank NA also permitted four unauthor-
ized representatives to deal in regulated
securities and fund-management activities in the same period.
The statement didn’t give details
on how JPMorgan was reprimanded.
James Murphy, a Hong Kong-based
spokesman for JPMorgan, declined to
comment on the matter.
The US Justice Department has
tapped Andrew Weissmann, a former
top lawyer at the FBI, to lead prosecution of п¬Ѓnancial and corporate fraud,
according to two people familiar with
the matter.
Weissmann, who led the Enron Task
Force, will oversee US investigations
into interest-rate manipulation and
foreign bribery, said the people, who
asked not to be named because the hiring hasn’t been made public. He is now
a professor at the New York University
School of Law.
Weissmann, 56, spent 15 years as a
prosecutor at the US attorney’s office
in Brooklyn, where he rose to chief of
the criminal unit. He also headed the
team of prosecutors and Federal Bureau
of Investigation agents that investigated cases involving Enron, the nowdefunct Houston energy trader and
brought them to trial.
Before becoming a law professor,
Weissman was general counsel of the
FBI from 2011 to 2013 under Director
Robert Mueller.
Weissmann didn’t immediately
respond to an e-mail seeking comment. Peter Carr, a Justice Department
spokesman, declined to comment.
Walter Jospin was named regional
director of the Securities and Exchange
Commission’s Atlanta office, the agency said in a statement.
Jospin will oversee enforcement and
examinations in the п¬Ѓve-state region,
the SEC said.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Company Name
Microsoft Corp
Exxon Mobil Corp
Johnson & Johnson
Wal-Mart Stores Inc
Procter & Gamble Co/The
General Electric Co
Jpmorgan Chase & Co
Chevron Corp
Pfizer Inc
Verizon Communications Inc
Coca-Cola Co/The
Merck & Co. Inc.
Intel Corp
At&T Inc
Visa Inc-Class A Shares
Walt Disney Co/The
Intl Business Machines Corp
Cisco Systems Inc
Home Depot Inc
3M Co
United Technologies Corp
Unitedhealth Group Inc
American Express Co
Boeing Co/The
Mcdonald’s Corp
Goldman Sachs Group Inc
Nike Inc -Cl B
Du Pont (E.I.) De Nemours
Caterpillar Inc
Travelers Cos Inc/The
Lt Price
% Chg
FTSE 100
Company Name
Wpp Plc
Wolseley Plc
Wm Morrison Supermarkets
Whitbread Plc
Weir Group Plc/The
Vodafone Group Plc
United Utilities Group Plc
Unilever Plc
Tullow Oil Plc
Tui Ag-New
Tui Ag-Di
Travis Perkins Plc
Tesco Plc
Taylor Wimpey Plc
Standard Life Plc
Standard Chartered Plc
St James’s Place Plc
Sse Plc
Sports Direct International
Smiths Group Plc
Smith & Nephew Plc
Sky 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
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
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 Land Co Plc
British American Tobacco Plc
Bp Plc
Bhp Billiton Plc
Bg Group Plc
Barratt Developments 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
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Inpex Corp
Daiwa House Industry Co Ltd
Sekisui House Ltd
Kirin Holdings Co Ltd
Japan Tobacco Inc
Seven & I Holdings Co Ltd
Toray Industries Inc
Asahi Kasei Corp
Sumitomo Chemical Co Ltd
Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings
Kao Corp
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd
Astellas Pharma Inc
Eisai Co Ltd
Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd
Fujifilm Holdings Corp
Shiseido Co Ltd
Jx Holdings Inc
Lt Price
% Chg
Lt Price
Dow Jones Indus. Avg
S&P 500 Index
Nasdaq Composite Index
S&P/Tsx Composite Index
Mexico Bolsa Index
Brazil Bovespa Stock Idx
Ftse 100 Index
Cac 40 Index
Dax Index
Ibex 35 Tr
Nikkei 225
Japan Topix
Hang Seng Index
All Ordinaries Indx
Nzx All Index
Bse Sensex 30 Index
Nse S&P Cnx Nifty Index
Straits Times Index
Karachi All Share Index
Jakarta Composite Index
Company Name
Bridgestone Corp
Asahi Glass Co Ltd
Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Meta
Sumitomo Metal Industries
Kobe Steel Ltd
Jfe Holdings Inc
Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd
Sumitomo Electric Industries
Smc Corp
Komatsu Ltd
Kubota Corp
Daikin Industries Ltd
Hitachi Ltd
Toshiba Corp
Mitsubishi Electric Corp
Nidec Corp
Nec Corp
Fujitsu Ltd
Panasonic Corp
Sharp Corp
Sony Corp
Tdk Corp
Keyence Corp
Denso Corp
Fanuc Corp
Rohm Co Ltd
Kyocera Corp
Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd
Nitto Denko Corp
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Nissan Motor Co Ltd
Toyota Motor Corp
Honda Motor Co Ltd
Suzuki Motor Corp
Nikon Corp
Hoya Corp
Canon Inc
Ricoh Co Ltd
Dai Nippon Printing Co Ltd
Nintendo Co Ltd
Itochu Corp
Marubeni Corp
Mitsui & Co Ltd
Tokyo Electron Ltd
Sumitomo Corp
Mitsubishi Corp
Aeon Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Ufj Financial Gro
Resona Holdings Inc
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdin
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Gr
Bank Of Yokohama Ltd/The
Mizuho Financial Group Inc
Orix Corp
Daiwa Securities Group Inc
Nomura Holdings Inc
Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdin
Ms&Ad Insurance Group Holdin
Dai-Ichi Life Insurance
Tokio Marine Holdings Inc
T&D Holdings Inc
Mitsui Fudosan Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Estate Co Ltd
Sumitomo Realty & Developmen
East Japan Railway Co
West Japan Railway Co
Central Japan Railway Co
Ana Holdings Inc
Nippon Telegraph & Telephone
Kddi Corp
Ntt Docomo Inc
Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc
Chubu Electric Power Co Inc
Kansai Electric Power Co Inc
Tohoku Electric Power Co Inc
Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc
Tokyo Gas Co Ltd
Secom Co Ltd
Yamada Denki Co Ltd
Fast Retailing Co Ltd
Softbank Corp
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Zee Entertainment Enterprise
Wipro Ltd
Ultratech Cement Ltd
Tech Mahindra Ltd
Tata Steel Ltd
Tata Power Co Ltd
Tata Motors Ltd
Tata Consultancy Svcs Ltd
Sun Pharmaceutical Indus
State Bank Of India
Sesa Sterlite Ltd
Reliance Industries Ltd
Punjab National Bank
Power Grid Corp Of India Ltd
Oil & Natural Gas Corp Ltd
Ntpc Ltd
Nmdc Ltd
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd
Lupin Ltd
Larsen & Toubro Ltd
Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd
Jindal Steel & Power Ltd
Itc Ltd
Infosys Ltd
Indusind Bank Ltd
Idfc Ltd
Icici Bank Ltd
Housing Development Finance
Hindustan Unilever Ltd
Hindalco Industries Ltd
Hero Motocorp Ltd
Hdfc Bank Limited
Hcl Technologies Ltd
Grasim Industries Ltd
Gail India Ltd
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories
Dlf Ltd
Coal India Ltd
Cipla Ltd
Cairn India Ltd
Bharti Airtel Ltd
Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd
Bharat Heavy Electricals
Bank Of Baroda
Bajaj Auto Ltd
Axis Bank Ltd
Asian Paints Ltd
Ambuja Cements Ltd
Acc Ltd
Lt Price
% Chg
A view of a screen with Santander’s value at the Madrid Stock Exchange yesterday. Madrid’s Ibex 35 plunged 3.91% to 9,719
points with Santander collapsing on shock news of a €7.5bn ($8.8bn) capital raising.
Europe stocks slump
on ECB report;
Santander hits Madrid
urope’s equities sank yesterday
on disappointment over the reported size of potential bond
purchases from the European Central
Bank, while Madrid was rocked by giant bank Santander’s massive capital
Most European markets gave up at
least half of the gains from the day before.
London’s FTSE 100 shed 1.05% to
close at 6,501.14 points, while Frankfurt’s DAX 30 lost 1.92% to 9,648.50
points and the CAC 40 in Paris dropped
1.90% to 4,178.07.
Madrid’s Ibex 35 felt the heaviest
losses plunging 3.91% to 9,719 points,
with shares in Spanish banking titan
Santander collapsing on shock news of
a €7.5bn ($8.8bn) capital raising.
The second heaviest losses were
witnessed in Milan, where the FTSE
MIB index fell 3.27% to 18,177 points
after shares in troubled bank Monte dei
Paschi di Siena plunged more than 8%
after having soared the day before on
takeover speculation.
The euro recovered to $1.1835 in
London, after tumbling Thursday to
$1.1754 — last seen in December 2005
— on ECB stimulus speculation.
ECB staff have presented its governing council with various models
for a new asset purchase programme
to ward off deflation in the euro area,
Bloomberg news agency reported.
However, governors took no decision on the design or implementation
of any package after the presentation,
Bloomberg said, quoting sources who
attended the meeting.
In Madrid, investors were still shellshocked by the surprise news from
Santander, which is the eurozone’s
largest bank by market value.
Banco Santander’s share price nosedived 14.09% to close at €5.89 yesterday after it unveiled plans the day
before to raise the fresh funds.
The unexpected move by new Santander
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
chairwoman Ana Botin was aimed at dispelling concerns among investors that its
п¬Ѓnancial cushion is thinner than those of
other big European banks.
The shares sale will amount to about
10% of the current market value of the
In New York Wall Street stocks traded lower at midday yesterday after a
mixed jobs report.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.67% to 17,787.75, while the
broad-based S&P 500 slid 0.55% to
2,050.70 and the tech-rich Nasdaq
Composite Index reversed 0.42% to
While the US economy added a solid
252,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.6%,
hourly wages fell and the labour participation rate dropped.
That mixed data is unlikely to shake
the US Federal Reserve from its current
course of raising interest rates later this
year although 2014 turned out to be the
best year for job generation in the US in
15 years.
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Hong Kong & China Gas
Hong Kong Exchanges & Clear
Hsbc Holdings Plc
Hutchison Whampoa Ltd
Ind & Comm Bk Of China-H
Li & Fung Ltd
Mtr Corp
New World Development
Petrochina Co Ltd-H
Ping An Insurance Group Co-H
Power Assets Holdings Ltd
Sino Land Co
Sun Hung Kai Properties
Swire Pacific Ltd-A
Tencent Holdings Ltd
Wharf Holdings Ltd
Lt Price
% Chg
Doha Securities Market
Saudi Tadawul
Kuwait Stocks Exchange
Bahrain Stock Exchage
Oman Stock Market
Abudhabi Stock Market
Dubai Financial Market
Lt Price
“Information contained herein is believed to be reliable and had been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The
accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This publication is for providing information only and is not intended
as an offer or solicitation for a purchase or sale of any of the financial instruments mentioned. Gulf Times and Doha Bank
or any of their employees shall not be held accountable and will not accept any losses or liabilities for actions based on
this data.”
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Pooch Cafe
The XL-Catlin deal is the latest in a string of European insurance mergers as the region’s 5,000 underwriters face
stricter capital rules.
XL set to write nearly a tenth of
Lloyd’s business after Catlin deal
L Group Plc said it would buy
underwriter Catlin Group Ltd
for about ВЈ2.79bn ($4.22bn),
increasing the Dublin-based insurer’s share of business written in the
Lloyd’s of London market to nearly
The deal is the latest in a string
of European insurance mergers as
the region’s 5,000 underwriters face
stricter capital rules. Mergers usually make it easier for companies to
cut expenses relative to assets, helping them to raise capital.
“We are forecasting that we will,
at a minimum, have about $200mn
in cost savings across the two organisations when they are combined,”
XL chief executive Mike McGavick,
who will head XL Catlin, said in an
“That’s about 10% of the com-
Bound And Gagged
Cryptic Clues
Sudoku is a puzzle
based on a 9x9 grid.
The grid is also
divided into nine
(3x3) boxes. You are
given a selection of
values and to complete the puzzle,
you must fill the
grid so that every
column, every row
and every 3x3 box
contains the digits
1 to 9 and none is
Weekly’s Solutions
1. Two pig stealers will get
beaten! (3-3)
4. Makes an outline of a
game, we hear (6)
9. Thought I’d no reactions
when disturbed (13)
10. Serious enough to resent
a change (7)
11. Did it flow divinely from
the choir? (5)
12. Two prepare to take the
strain (5)
14. Diplomatic representative
in a maiden voyage (5)
18. A topless specimen is
quite enough (5)
19. The devil of a match (7)
21. A device that has some
current attraction (13)
22. Insist upon a lock being
put back (6)
23. Although he keeps going,
he remains where he is (6)
bined expenses of the company,” he
It is too early to say how many jobs
will be cut, he said.
Catlin writes about 7.5% of all
Lloyd’s premiums, making it the
biggest syndicate on the market,
while XL accounts for about 2%.
The offer of 388 pence in cash and
0.13 new XL share values each Catlin
share at about 715.3 pence — a premium of 8.3% to the stock’s close on
Shares in London-listed Catlin
were trading at 708 pence in afternoon business, while XL shares were
up 1.6% at $35.99 in early trading on
the New York Stock Exchange.
Bermuda-based Catlin, which
sells insurance for everything from
flooding to kidnapping, said it would
pay a п¬Ѓnal dividend of 22 pence, reversing a decision made in December to forego the payout after an approach from XL.
At the time, XL — which has a
market value of more than $9bn —
had offered ВЈ2.53bn for Catlin.
Stephen Catlin, who founded
the company that bears his name
in 1984, told Reuters that some of
Catlin’s investors had “showed a
very clear preference” for the final
dividend and to have the amount
subtracted from the purchase
Catlin’s top investors include
BlackRock Institutional Trust
Co, Cantillon Capital Managem
ent and MFS Investment Management.
“This bid both highlights the attractions of Lloyd’s for external
players and increases the scarcity
value for the remaining companies,”
Shore Capital analyst Eamonn Flanagan said in a research note.
Earlier this week, brokerage
Westhouse Securities flagged Novae Group and Lancashire Holdings
as the next possible Lloyd’s takeover
Quick Clues
1. Diplomacy, we hear, took a
devious course (6)
2. Youthful soothsayers,
biblically speaking (5,8)
3. Girl involving one in love
entanglement (5)
5. Make a new adjustment for
the back row, by the sound of
it (7)
6. An imaginative air-trip? (6,2,5)
7. Dispatched with railway guard
8. Before the end of the day, the
trial will make you irritable (5)
13. Somehow trace an alternative
producer ... (7)
15. ... indispensable for one who
is filming (6)
16. This craft will upset the
lotteries (5)
17. As a culinary device, it causes
some friction (6)
20. Land-line shown on the map
1. Leave (6)
4. Bog (6)
9. Warily (13)
10. Bared (7)
11. Embellish (5)
12. Form (5)
14. Demon (5)
18. Go in (5)
19. Release (7)
21. Imprisonment (13)
22. Holds up (6)
23. If not (6)
1. Determine (6)
2. In brackets (13)
3. Circular (5)
5. Daunt (7)
6. Official (13)
7. Dictum (6)
8. Apart (5)
13. Depict (7)
15. Following (6)
16. Odd (5)
17. Gratitude (6)
20. Memorise (5)
Weekly’s Solutions
Across: 1 Inconclusive; 7 Fight;
8 Anger; 9 Lie; 10 Travelled; 11
Indian; 12 Dental; 15 Incessant;
17 Tic; 18 Llama; 19 Image; 21
Down: 1 Intelligible; 2 Nag; 3
Lethal; 4 Statement; 5 Vigil;
6 Predilection; 7 Field; 10
Translate; 13 Title; 14 Tariff; 16
Chasm; 20 Arc.
Across: 1 Preservation; 7 Order;
8 Raise; 9 Mar; 10 Sweetmeat; 11
Unsaid; 12 Abuser; 15 Armistice;
17 Air; 18 Omaha; 19 Issue; 21
Shoe repairer.
Down: 1 Perambulator; 2 End;
3 Varlet; 4 Turntable; 5 Opine;
6 Letter-writer; 7 Ogres; 10
Shipshape; 13 Slate; 14 Divine; 16
Meath; 20 Sea.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Spanish fund п¬Ѓrm suffers asset
flight after star manager’s exit
Cinven hires
Rothschild for
of truck parts
maker Jost
Bestinver sees assets slide 30% in
2014, says Lipper; exit of Francisco
GarcГ­a Parames seen as a key
factor; Parames in talks to skip
non-compete clause, set up new
fund; Bestinver says outflows from
funds have now normalised
ne of Spain’s leading fund firms,
Bestinver, lost almost a third
of its assets in 2014 after star
manager Francisco GarcГ­a Parames left,
becoming the latest industry player to
fall foul of so-called �key man’ risk.
Parames, who co-ran most of the
firm’s main funds, resigned at the end
of September after 25 years with the
company and two key managers, ГЃlvaro
GuzmГЎn de LГЎzaro and Fernando Bernad, followed him on Monday.
Through a spokesman, Parames told
Reuters he had left after disagreement
over the strategic direction of the п¬Ѓrm,
which wanted to broaden its investor
base while Parames was keen to focus
on core investors with large levels of
Bestinver also wanted to branch
out into п¬Ѓxed income, a letter from
its chairman to Parames showed, the
spokesman added, a move Parames did
not support. Bestinver would not comment on the reasons for Parames’ departure when asked by Reuters.
Bestinver, owned by Spanish conglomerate Acciona, saw its managed
assets fall to $5.7bn at the end of December, from $8.2bn a year earlier, Lipper data showed, a slide of 30%.
The bulk of the outflows for all of Bestinver’s funds occurred from September to the end of December, the data also
showed, with the flagship Bestinfond Fl
fund losing more than $750mn in assets
during September and October.
The ability of an exiting manager
to trigger a rush for the investor exit
has been seen several times in recent
months, most notably when Pimco
founder Bill Gross left, taking billions
of dollars with him to his new company.
Javier SГЎenz de Cenzano, director of
manager research in Iberia and Italy for
Morningstar, said all Bestinver’s products under coverage had been downgraded to �neutral’ from �gold’ after
Parames left.
“We do think Paramés and the other
two co-PMs (portfolio managers) had
Parames, who co-ran most of the firm’s main funds, resigned at the end of September after 25 years with the company and two key managers, Álvaro Guzmán de Lázaro
and Fernando Bernad, followed him on Monday.
critical importance in the successful
track record Bestinver funds generated
over a very long time period,” he said.
“They were key decision makers in a
process where bottom-up fundamental
research on stocks was the main driver
of returns.”
Parames adopted a value based approach to his investment decisions, a
style favoured by peers such as Warren Buffett, which tries to spot undervalued stocks hoping they will rise over
the mid to long-term.
The Bestinfond FI fund gained 65.4%
in the п¬Ѓve years to the end of 2014, Lipper data showed, compared with a
31.2% rise in the Euro Stoxx 50 index
during that period, with dividends reinvested.
The company’s own estimate of the
assets that have left its funds, given in
an internal presentation seen by Reuters, amount to €2.8bn ($3.3bn) between September 23, the date of Parames’ resignation, and November 30.
Bestinver said, however, that much
of that was down to institutional investors who had a formal obligation
to withdraw funds if management
changed. Norges Bank Investment
Management was one such investor,
Morningstar’s de Cenzano said.
Outflows have normalised since the
beginning of November, Bestinver said.
Lipper estimated that net outflows
from all Bestinver’s funds in December
were $285mn.
Performance in the main Bestinfond,
meanwhile, improved slightly after
Parames left, showing a gain of 1.2%
between end-Sept. and end-December, against a full year performance of
0.7%, the data showed.
While Bestinver has hired a number
of new staff, including Beltran de la
Lastra from JPMorgan Asset Management as chief investment officer, and
Ricardo CaГ±ete from Mutuactivos as
head of Iberian equities, Morningstar
said it remained cautious.
“Our overall view is that the firm has
gone through material turmoil and there
are significant changes to its culture and
investment team. We still have to see
to what extent the investment process
might change too,” de Cenzano said.
The spokeman for Parames said his
exit carried with it a two-year noncompete clause which he was currently
hoping to have overturned in exchange
for around €30mn, to allow him to set
up a new venture, possibly in London.
Bestinver, however, had yet to respond to the offer, the source added.
uyout group Cinven has
mandated Rothschild to
explore options including
a sale or stock market listing of
its German truck and trailer parts
maker Jost Group, two people familiar with the deal said.
Any divestment would prove a
positive turn for Cinven, which
acquired a majority stake in Jost
just weeks before the Lehman
insolvency in 2008 and had to
agree to a restructuring of Jost’s
п¬Ѓnances in 2010 to avoid a looming insolvency.
After posting heavy losses at
the height of the global economic
crisis, Jost currently has earnings
before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of roughly
€75mn ($88mn), the sources said.
If valued at a similar multiple as
peers — which trade at an average
of 8 times their earnings — Jost
may reap a valuation of about
€600mn in a potential sale.
The process is still at an
early stage and may only officially launch in several weeks or
months with the outcome completely open, the sources said.
Rothschild and Cinven declined to comment, while Jost
was not available for comment.
In a move to gain a more international footing ahead of any
sale or stock market listing, Jost
in October bought peer Mercedes-Benz TrailerAxleSystems
from car maker Daimler.
“The deal increased Jost’s size
and may make it more appealing
for potential IPO investors,” one
of the sources said.
Jost, which competes with
listed groups like Wabco, SAF
Holland and Stabilus, may also
appeal to rivals or to other buyout groups, the sources said.
“However, truck part makers usually have a pretty regional
focus, so I do not expect a large
number of strategic players to look
at the asset,” an industry source
said. Jost struck a deal in 2010 to
restructure its п¬Ѓnances, avoiding a looming insolvency and
cutting its loan burden through a
debt-for-equity swap.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Moody’s cuts Tesco rating
to non-investment grade
A Tesco supermarket in north London. The downgrading of Tesco’s debt to �junk’ status could limit its negotiating power on potential asset sales as Britain’s biggest
retailer embarks on the long-awaited recovery plan designed to reverse its sliding fortunes.
his п¬Ѓght with the ratings agencies to retain an investment-grade rating.
“Borrowing costs will rise, at a time
of squeezed operating margins, and
Tesco’s negotiating leverage on future
business disposals will be much reduced,” he said.
Tesco said on Thursday that it had
appointed Goldman Sachs to explore
options for data-gathering business
Dunnhumby, which could include a
stock market flotation or a sale.
Some analysts say that Tesco may
also need to sell or spin off assets in
Asia or eastern Europe to raise cash,
though Lewis said on Thursday there
was no need for a п¬Ѓre sale.
He also emphasised that Tesco’s
liquidity and funding were “very secure”, noting that one of his first
moves when he became CEO last September was to establish a 5bn pound
credit facility.
Stewart said that the company would
work hard to regain its investmentgrade status if it were downgraded but
it would not set a deadline for doing so.
Because many major investors are
not allowed to own bonds below investment grade, known as junk bonds,
the ratings downgrade could force
some to sell their holdings.
Moody’s said that Tesco could return
to an investment grade rating if its operating performance recovered in the
UK, with like-for-like sales increasing
and its trading margin improving to at
least 3%.
The ratings agency said Tesco would
also need to continue strengthening
its corporate governance and demonstrate a commitment to a conservative
п¬Ѓnancial policy, with an adjusted debtto-core earnings ratio of 4.5 times or
Other agencies have also taken action. S&P warned in December that
it may also downgrade Tesco to highyield “junk” status after placing its
BBB- rating on credit watch negative.
Fitch rates Tesco at BBB- with a negative outlook.
Gazprom accused of locking Moncrief out of gas deal
azprom backed out of a deal
with Moncrief Oil International
for rights to develop a natural
gas п¬Ѓeld in Siberia, sabotaged a joint
venture and stole the Texas energy
company’s trade secrets, Moncrief’s
lawyer told jurors at the start a $1.37bn
Moncrief, based in Forth Worth,
Texas, is arguing the case before a
hometown jury after failing in two previous tries elsewhere. The company
lost in a German courtroom in 2010
and a separate suit over the same deal
was dismissed in a Texas federal court
in 2007.
“The defendants over here played
he downgrading of Tesco’s debt
to “junk” status could limit its
negotiating power on potential
asset sales as Britain’s biggest retailer
embarks on the long-awaited recovery
plan designed to reverse its sliding fortunes.
On Thursday Tesco’s shares had
risen as much as 15% in their biggest
one-day gain since 1988 after the grocer reported much better-than-feared
Christmas trading and new boss Dave
Lewis detailed plans to slash costs and
sell assets to fund lower prices and recover lost market share.
However, the shine was taken off
Tesco’s day when, after the stock market closed, ratings agency Moody’s
downgraded the company’s debt to
non-investment grade, or junk, on
expectations that profits will remain
challenged by changes in the British
grocery market.
The move marks another fall from
grace for Britain’s biggest private employer, a staple of British pension funds
that was rated A1 by Moody’s in 2008.
Tesco is still reeling from an accounting
scandal and issued four profit warnings
last year.
Shares in Tesco fell up to 2.5% yesterday morning while its bonds largely
shrugged off the news, which had been
“It’s not particularly helpful for
Moody’s to downgrade them to junk on
the day it looks like they are starting to
recover,” Richard Dunbar, investment
director at Aberdeen Asset Management told BBC radio. “There were some
straws in the wind that would suggest
the company is starting to do things
Clive Black, retail analyst at Shore
Capital, said the time to have downgraded Tesco’s debt would have been
12-18 months ago, “not now, when
management is actually doing something about its risk profile”.
Tesco’s debt at the half-year stood at
ВЈ7.5bn ($11.4bn), and of its outstanding
liabilities, it faces peak repayments in
2016, 2017 and 2019.
Independent retail analyst Nick
Bubb said that in Tesco’s meeting with
analysts on Thursday п¬Ѓnance chief
Alan Stewart seemed resigned to losing
after €7.5bn
share sale
by no rules whatsoever,” Moncrief’s
lawyer Michael Anderson told jurors
in state court today. Gazprom, Russia’s
largest company, “destroyed Moncrief’s work on the venture,” the attorney said. Gazprom also misappropriated trade secrets, according to Moncrief.
“This wasn’t a trade secret,”
Gazprom lawyer Van Beckwith told jurors. “It was a sales pitch and it was a
bad one for Gazprom.”
The trial’s location is a concern for
Gazprom, Mike Calhoon, a lawyer for
the Russian company, told prospective jurors on January 6. Moncrief Oil
Chairman Richard Moncrief is a grandson of Monty Moncrief, one of the
original Texas wildcatters.
Calhoon asked 150 prospective jurors
whether they would be predisposed to
favour someone from the locally prom-
inent Moncrief family over a Russian
business. Dozens raised their numbered cards to indicate they would be.
A jury of six men and six women was
selected yesterday. The trial may take
about six weeks.
Moncrief should be pursuing its
claims in Russia, not the US, Moscowbased Gazprom said. Moncrief sued in
the US because Russia is “not a realistic
option given the culture of lawlessness
that pervades Russian society,” lawyers
for the Texas company said in court papers.
Moncrief said it obtained its interest in Russia’s Yuzhno- Russkoye Field,
also known as the Y-R Field, through a
series of agreements with a Gazprom
subsidiary in 1997. Gazprom later
contracted with the German chemical
company BASF SE to develop the п¬Ѓeld.
Moncrief contends the initial deal
was muddied by corruption in Russia
before Vladimir Putin became prime
minister in 1999. Putin is the current
president of Russia. Gazprom dropped
the deal later, after it had seemed to get
back on track.
Moncrief said it relied on the purported deal with Gazprom to develop a
separate joint venture with Occidental
Petroleum that would import natural
gas and sell it from Texas throughout
the US, Occidental agreed to the joint
venture in exchange for an option to
acquire an interest in the Y-R п¬Ѓeld from
Moncrief, according to court papers.
Instead, Gazprom met with Occidental, proposing an arrangement that
could “bypass any participation by
Moncrief,” the lawyers said.
Gazprom’s representatives “point-
edly closed the meeting by reminding
Occidental of its significant Russian
assets,” Moncrief lawyers said in the
complaint. Occidental pulled out of the
joint venture with Moncrief in 2007.
Gazprom “destroyed the joint venture,” the lawyers said.
Moncrief claims Gazprom misappropriated trade secrets that it obtained in meetings and discussions that
followed the Russian company’s 2003
announcement that it planned to sell
liquefied natural gas to the US
Gazprom representatives went to
Fort Worth, Houston and Boston and
took part in talks, which included
Moncrief’s study of the US natural gas
market and prospects for building a
liquefied natural gas import terminal
near Corpus Christi, Texas, according
to court papers.
hares in Spain’s Santander
tumbled more than 10%
yesterday after the bank
sold €7.5bn ($8.9bn) of new
shares at a steep discount,
aiming to improve its capital
strength and fund growth.
The eurozone’s biggest bank
share sale late on Thursday and
sold 1.2bn shares at 6.18 euros
apiece, at the bottom of the indicated price range and a 10%
discount to its previous share
The shares were down 10.9%
at €6.11 by 0820 GMT after what
bankers said was the biggest accelerated bookbuild ever in Europe.
Santander’s new chief Ana
Botin unveiled the share sale and
cut the bank’s dividend to lift its
capital strength and fund expansion, the latest sign she is stamping her mark on the bank after
taking over from her late father,
Emilio, who ran Santander for
28 years until his death last September.
Santander denied it needed
the capital to fund acquisitions,
as in a past route to rapid expansion under Emilio Botin.
But the hike still prompted
speculation it could look at purchases, with Italy’s Monte dei
Paschi and Portugal’s Novo Banco seen as possible targets.
Shares in Monte Paschi had
jumped 12% yesterday, but
pulled back 4% yesterday as the
talk cooled and a report said
regulators want it to hold more
Santander said its core capital ratio (on the basis of the full
Basel III rules laid down by global sector regulators) should
reach nearly 10% this year and
10 to 11% by 2016. Analysts at
brokerage Natixis described the
forecasts as cautious, despite its
plans to expand lending.
“Either the group expects
major regulatory changes, or it
plans to make acquisitions between now and the end of 2015,”
the Natixis analysts said in a
note. Some believe other banks
could follow suit.
Nick Anderson, analyst at Berenberg, said Santander’s move
could pressure other European
banks to raise capital.
Citing an unnamed market
source, Spanish newspaper El
Confidencial said pressure from
new eurozone bank supervisors
had partly pushed Santander
to raise the funds, though the
Spanish bank has denied it was
prodded by the European Central Bank.
Capital levels at Santander
have long been under scrutiny,
but Emilio Botin had resisted
calls to improve it by raising cash
from shareholders or cutting its
Santander said the cash will
be used to п¬Ѓnance grow in key
markets including Spain, Brazil,
Britain, Poland and the US. “The
objective of this transaction is
to accelerate our plans to grow
organically,” Ana Botin said in a
memo to staff.
Unglamorous lead is desperately seeking a good story
By Andy Home
Lead was the second worst performer
among the major industrial metals traded
on the London Metal Exchange (LME) last
It was close but copper, which came
under sustained bear attack over the closing weeks of 2014, just pipped it for the
booby prize.
is now trading consistently below the
$1,900-per tonne level, its weakest performance since the third quarter of 2012.
It’s also trading at a discount of more
than $300 per tonne to “sister metal” zinc,
so called because both have historically
been produced at the same mines.
Trading lead and zinc as a relative value
pair is a favoured past-time on the LME
“Street” but the gap between the two is
now as wide as it’s been since the end of
2008. Lead’s relative under-performance
has caused a good deal of head-scratching
among analysts. Or at least those analysts
who still care, because this market’s real
stand-out feature over the last year or so
has been collective apathy.
LME lead volumes slipped another 0.5%
last year after tumbling by 9.4% in 2013. It
was the only major LME-traded metal to
have experienced two consecutive years
of lower trading volumes, something of
a stand-out given total volumes grew by
6.7% in 2013 and by another 3.5% in 2014.
Even more stark has been the decline in
open interest. It has been falling steadily
since August last year and is currently
grinding along at levels that have defined
this market’s apathy low points over the
last couple of years.
Markets love a good story. And in commodity markets the story tends, as often
as not, to come from the supply side.
Copper, for example, is currently the
bears’ play-thing because of an expected
swing to surplus this year as mine and refined supply overwhelm demand growth.
Zinc is in favour because of its compelling narrative of closing mines and resulting shift to raw materials deficit.
It doesn’t necessarily matter whether
the narrative is “true”. What matters is that
there is a narrative at all.
And lead just doesn’t have one.
LME stock movements? Lead stocks
have done no more than oscillate gently
over the last year, ending December up a
marginal 8,000 tonnes.
LME spreads? Barring an oh-so-brief flirtation with backwardation in August, the
benchmark cash-to-three-months spread
has spent most of the last 12 months in
benign contango.
Everything points to a market that is
broadly balanced, a perception reinforced
by the most recent forecasts from the
International Lead and Zinc Study Group
While the ILZSG is expecting a headline-
grabbing 366,000-tonne deficit in zinc this
year, its assessment of the lead market is
that it will record a deficit of just 23,000
tonnes. Hardly the stuff to get the pulse
racing in an 11.5mn tonne global market.
China, the driving force of other metal
markets, isn’t generating any sparks either.
The e-bike story, a regular feature of
the lead market in more interesting times
past because of its use in vehicle batteries,
has disappeared along with slowing e-bike
production growth.
Moreover, China is no longer importing
refined lead anyway. Net trade in the first
11 months of 2014 amounted to 30,000
tonnes of exports. The inference is that
the market in China is pretty much balanced too.
If the surface of the global lead market
is becalmed, might there be a good story
lurking in its hidden depths?
Possibly, but the problem is that no-one
knows. Lead has a higher recycling component than any other base metal and the
scrap, or secondary, part of any industrial
metal market is a dark and opaque place.
Too dark for most LME analysts to see
into with any degree of confidence, even
in developed economies let along emerging markets such as China.
And talking of China and opacity, what
goes on in that country’s mining sector is
a mystery with few analysts having any
confidence in the official production figures. This makes assessing future supply
and balance trends very tricky indeed.
Stephen Briggs of BNP Paribas is one
analyst who does still care about the lead
market. And he makes a compelling case
that there is a slow-burn bull story at work
in lead. Even with expected below-par
demand growth over the next couple
of years, “we do not believe that lead
demand growth can be met by secondary
production alone”. “This puts much of the
onus to meet demand on the primary sector. Yet at the mining stage, lead is usually
only a by-product and one that most firms
have long shunned on environmental
Briggs notes that the big zinc mines due
to close this year are all relatively small
lead producers but, equally, that the new
zinc mines coming on stream to replace
them are too.
Seven major new mines will produce
nearly 600,000 tonnes per year of zinc
but only 20,000 tonnes per year of lead.
The logical conclusion is that lead, at
some future date, is going to experience
its own primary raw materials crunch.
But there is a big caveat.
“We recognise, though, that forecasts
of lead mine production are subject to
great uncertainty, due to the huge role of
the hard-to-track Chinese industry, where
output has fully doubled since 2009 to
take its market share to 55%.”
Andy Home is a Reuters columnist. The
opinions expressed are his own.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Top bond managers plan for 2015 energy rebound
New York
ond-fund managers in the US
that beat their peers last year by
bucking Wall Street predictions
that interest rates would rise say beaten-down debt of energy companies is
attractive for 2015.
The plunge in petroleum prices that
has caused bonds of energy exploration п¬Ѓrms to tumble more than 60
cents on the dollar has created one the
most “exciting opportunities,” said
Rick Rieder, BlackRock Inc’s chief investment officer of fixed income and
co-manager of its Total Return Bond
Fund. “People often paint energy with
one brush but these business models
are extremely different.”
The best bond fund managers of
2014 are taking on more credit risk
and snubbing short-term Treasuries
along with their bets on energy debt.
Bloomberg News spoke with managers
with at least $1bn in assets that had the
highest risk-adjusted returns through
Dec. 15. The gain is calculated by dividing total return by volatility, or the
degree of daily price-swing variation,
giving a measure of performance per
unit of risk.
The price of oil has fallen 54% since
June, dragging junk-rated energy issues to a 7.4% loss for all of last year,
according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch High Yield Energy Index.
The average yield on bonds in the index
is 9.6%, compared with 7.02% for all of
the junk bonds in the Bank of America
Merrill Lynch US High Yield Index.
Debt of Samson Resources Co fell
the most in the energy gauge, tumbling 56%. The company’s $2.25bn of
9.75% unsecured notes due in п¬Ѓve years
trade at 38.5 cents on the dollar to yield
37.7%. Here are some favourite ideas
for this year from the top п¬Ѓve managers
of 2014: - Ken Taubes, chief investment officer at Pioneer Investment
Management in Boston, which earned
a risk-adjusted 3.32% in its Pioneer
Bond Fund.
Purchasing short-term Treasuries
makes little sense to Taubes, whose
п¬Ѓrm manages $248bn globally, since
returns after inflation are negative.
Two-year Treasury notes are yielding
0.66 percentage point. Taubes is buying bank bonds since new regulations
mandate stronger capital rules, which
will improve creditworthiness.
“By hook or by crook, whether they
like it or not, they’re improving their
credit quality,” he said.
Bank debt returned 5.24% in 2014
and has rallied 8.3% on an annualised
basis since the end of 2008, according
to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index
data. The extra yield investors demand
to hold bank debt rather than similarmaturity government securities shrank
to 1.25 percentage points, down from
6.56 percentage points at the end of
2008. - BlackRock’s Rieder and colleague Bob Miller earned 3.2% in their
fund in part because of bets that long-
er-term U S bonds would rally. After a
29% gain last year, 30-year Treasuries may still have room for appreciation in 2015 even with yields at about
2.6%, according to Rieder. Any interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve
is likely to affect short-term securities rather than longer-dated ones, he
said. Economists expect the US central
bank to raise its benchmark rate in the
second quarter for the п¬Ѓrst time since
2006, according to data compiled by
Central banks in Europe and Japan
are stimulating their economies at the
same time the Fed is tightening its policy, a divergence that will add volatility
to markets.
“You have to be more flexible in
how you look at your portfolio to try
and create a more stable equilibrium,”
Rieder, who manages $690bn in assets, said. “It’s a really, really big deal.”
- Matthew Freund’s USAA Intermediate-Term Bond Fund, which manages
$2.1bn, returned 3.13%.
The San Antonio-based manager is
examining opportunities in the energy
sector after avoiding the industry during an issuance spree before the oilprice plunge. Since early 2010, energy
producers have raised $550bn in new
bonds and loans.
Yields on junk-rated energy debt
have surged from last year’s low of
5.7%. Spreads on the securities have
climbed to 789 basis points, more than
double the 2014 low.
Buying commercial mortgagebacked securities, which are backed
by loans by assets from skyscrapers
and shopping malls, and debt linked to
aircraft helped performance last year,
Freund said.
Fixed-rate CMBS yield 2.34%, compared with 1.76% for all kinds of assetbacked securities, according to Bank
of America Merrill Lynch index data.
Other investors’ aversion to airlines,
given their history of failures, makes
debt backed by aircraft attractive,
since it’s protected in bankruptcy.
Big banks park energy sector
bonds in US money funds
ig European and American banks
have found a productive place
to park the energy sector’s most
distressed debt: the $2.7tn US money
market industry.
Barclays Bank, Credit Suisse and
Wells Fargo and others get overnight
and short-term loans from companies
that run money market mutual funds
such as Fidelity Investments, BlackRock, American Beacon and others.
The banks use the money to fund long
positions in securities or to cover short
positions. For collateral, the funds
are accepting the junk-rated bonds of
beat-up energy companies.
Even though the value of the bonds
are in free fall as oil prices plummet, the
money funds readily accept the debt,
because it’s a way to generate abovemarket yields in an industry hurt by
near-zero interest rates. In 2014, the
average yield for taxable money fund
investors was a paltry 0.01%. Banks
currently have about $90bn outstanding in short-term and overnight loans
backed by riskier assets that include
corporate debt and equities.
The exact amount of junk-rated energy debt used as collateral was not
available. But more than a dozen of the
sector’s mostly highly distressed issuers, including QuickSilver Resources,
Black Elk Energy, Halcon Resources,
Samson Investment and Sidewinder
Drilling Inc, have had their bonds used
as collateral, according to recent fund
These so-called “other repurchase
agreements” generate above-market
yields for the funds, ranging anywhere
from 20 basis points to 50 basis points.
In contrast, repo loans backed by safe
US Treasuries can generate yields of
about 10 basis points and less, according to recent fund disclosures.
Most money fund assets are in
Treasuries, certificates of deposit and
government agency debt. But some
jarring discoveries in the types of collateral money funds accept on shortterm loans to big banks can be found
Pedestrians walk past the corporate headquarters of Barclays in London. Barclays Bank, Credit Suisse and Wells Fargo and
others get overnight and short-term loans from companies that run money market mutual funds and others.
by investors who dig through industry
A money fund run by Morgan Stanley
recently disclosed, for example, an
$8.25mn repurchase agreement with
Credit Suisse, which used bonds issued
by Sidewinder Drilling as most of the
collateral. As oil prices have tumbled,
so has the value of Sidewinder’s 2019
bonds, falling about 44% since early
Credit Suisse declined to comment.
Money funds downplay the risk in
the repo transactions backed by the
junk-rated collateral. They say their ul-
timate backstop is the bank on the other side of the deal. Fidelity, the largest
money fund operator in the industry,
declined to comment on any specific
transaction. In a statement, the company said, “We make an independent
assessment on the counter-party credit
quality in all repurchase agreements to
ensure the counter-party represents
minimal credit risk.”
By contrast, No 1 US mutual fund
company Vanguard Group plays it safe.
The $133bn Vanguard Prime Money
Market Fund and the company’s other
money funds only accept US govern-
ment securities as collateral, company
spokesman David Hoffman said.
“In times of stress, governments are
far more liquid than other asset classes,” Hoffman said. “This is especially
true with US Treasuries, which are
likely to rally during times of stress.”
Federal Reserve Bank policymakers
say they are worried that some banks
rely too much on repo loans as a source
of wholesale funding. They also point
out how money funds make loans secured by assets they would quickly unload if the bank on the other side of the
deal defaulted.
“What always worries you about
wholesale funding is the run risk,” John
Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, told reporters this week at an economic conference in Boston. “... Heavy reliance
on wholesale funding, which is still
there for certain institutions, is an important issue that we need to address
and make sure our п¬Ѓnancial system is
resilient to things going wrong.”
Despite a host of new regulations
for money funds and banks, some of
the same elements of risk that led to
a redemption run in the money fund
industry and the failure of Lehman
Brothers in 2008 remain intact. Treasury and Federal Reserve officials say
more work needs to be done to address
the risks of asset п¬Ѓre sales and redemption runs.
A redemption run on the Reserve
Primary Fund in 2008 has been a rallying cry for reform after its exposure
to Lehman Brothers debt prompted
panicked investors to withdraw their
money in droves. That run led the fund
to “break the buck,” a rare event in the
money market fund industry that refers
to a fund’s net asset value falling below
$1 per share.
In recent presentations, Boston Fed
President Eric Rosengren has said there
should be more disclosure about the
composition of the collateral used in
repo agreements. He said it would allow investors an opportunity to observe changes in п¬Ѓnancing patterns and
might prevent risk taking that investors
may consider excessive.
And this summer, before oil prices
began their descent, bonds issued by
Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations
were used as collateral in repo agreements with funds run by Fidelity,
BlackRock Inc and Goldman Sachs’ investment management arm, fund disclosures show.
But in recent months, Black Elk debt
maturing later this year is not turning
up as collateral in the latest round of
money fund disclosures. The yield on
its bonds has spiked as high as 75% in
the past month, an indication of the
bond market’s dimming view the company can avoid default.
Freund, chief investment officer for
$63bn of mutual funds at USAA, cautioned investors not to use leverage to
boost returns.
“If you’re an intermediate investor, and you’re way out long or in high
yield, get back to home base,” he said.
“I would really be in positions where
you’re not a forced seller.”
- Ken Leech, chief investment officer at Western Asset Management
Co, has been adding energy assets
slowly, including debt from California
Resources Corp, an exploration and
production company. The Western Asset Core Plus Bond fund gained 3.02%
after the risk adjustment.
Leech said he sees value in CMBS,
residential-mortgage backed securities and US investment-grade corporate bonds.
The extra yield investors demand to
hold company debt rather government
notes rose last year for the п¬Ѓrst time
since 2011 on slower global growth,
which reduced returns.
plans LSE
listing in Feb
rainline, Britain’s biggest
online rail booking system
and п¬Ѓfth-largest e-commerce platform, said it intended
to raise ВЈ75mn ($113mn) through
a listing on the London Stock
Exchange in February.
The firm’s private equity
owners Exponent, Harbourvest Partners and Northwestern Mutual Life Assurance will
sell shares in the sale, which is
expected to result in 25% of the
business being sold, Trainline
said. Exponent has an option to
sell a 15% stake on top of that.
The company is looking at
a valuation of over ВЈ500mn
($753.2mn), a source familiar
with the matter told Reuters.
“We’re excited. We sit at the
heart of the rail industry - our
passenger numbers are up twofold since the 1990s, as railway
continues to take share from
road,” said Clare Gilmartin, the
company’s chief executive officer.
The former eBay executive
sees Trainline as a technology
business at heart.
“Growth in the last few quarters has largely been driven by
an acceleration in mobile sales;
there’s huge room to grow online
and through mobile in the UK,”
she said.
While Gilmartin was coy on
the subject of expanding its
service offering beyond rail,
she said the company was looking to Europe as its next growth
It has already entered into
deals with Deutsche Bahn and
Trenitalia, is in discussions
with other national operators
and sees potential in expanding
cross-border rail routes in Europe.
Trainline said that it would
use the proceeds from the sale to
pay off existing debt and settle
bank costs and fees.
Adjusted core earnings (EBITDA) across Trainline’s branded
businesses grew to ВЈ21mn in
2014, up from ВЈ14.3mn in 2013.
Returns on commodity index products disappoint investors
By John Kemp
Commodities were the worst performing
asset class for the third year running in
Investors, including some of the world’s
largest pension funds, have seen billions
of dollars of wealth disappear as a result
of investing in commodity index products
over the last decade.
So it is essential to understand what
went wrong to help prevent a similar
problem recurring in future.
“Facts and fantasies about commodity
futures,” first published in 2004 by Gary
Gorton and Geert Rouwenhorst, proved
one of the most influential research
papers in 21st century finance.
It provided the intellectual underpinning for the investment boom in commodity derivatives which followed over the
next eight years until roughly 2012.
Gorton and Rouwenhorst concluded
“the risk premium on commodity futures
is essentially the same as equities” and
better than bonds.
“In addition to offering high returns,
the historical risk of an investment in
commodity futures has been relatively
low” and “they are an attractive asset class
to diversify traditional portfolios of stocks
and bonds.” Yet all of those propositions
have come under scrutiny as returns on
commodity index products have disappointed investors over the last three years
and in some cases longer.
Several high-profile investors and
commodity index fund operators have
recently closed down their operations
citing returns which failed to match the
complexity and risk involved in running
the programmes.
“Facts and fantasies” was based on an
analysis of returns that would have been
available to an investor in an equallyweighted index of commodity futures
fully collateralised by US Treasury bonds
between July 1959 and March 2004 (NBER
Working Paper 10595).
“Facts and fantasies,” and similar
papers written later by others, played a
pivotal role popularising investment in
commodities and making commodity
indices respectable for a much wider
group of investors. Previously, commodity
investment was the preserve of investors
and hedge funds with a high appetite for
risk and willingness to endure volatility.
“Facts and fantasies” helped convince
even conservative investors, such as pension funds, that commodity derivatives,
especially indices, were a prudent addition
to their portfolios.
Commodity derivatives were not just a
directional bet on boom-bust but an “asset
class” that could be a source of long-term
returns across the business cycle.
Initially, the performance of commodity
indices was in line with the historical research, and even exceeded expectations.
Commodity indices soared between early
2002 and July 2008.
Hit-hard when the global financial crisis
intensified in third quarter of 2008, they
staged a moderate comeback in 2009,
2010 and 2011. Since then, however,
performance has been consistently disappointing. Between June 2004 and June
2014, the compound annual growth rate
(CAGR) for the S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) was -1.8%. The Light
Energy and Non-Energy versions of the
GSCI performed little better, eking out
meagre returns of +1% and +2% per year
By Dec 23, however, returns on the GSCI
averaged -3.7% per year since the middle
of 2004, -1.3% for the Light Energy version,
and just +1.2% for the Non-Energy variant.
Returns have been poor compared with
stocks. The S&P 500 equity index achieved
total returns of around +7% per year between June 2004 and June 2014, increasing
to about +7.9% by December 2014. In practice, commodity derivatives have exhibited
all of the volatility of other asset classes (and
often more) but none of the returns.
The most widely invested commodity
indices were the two families known originally as the GSCI and the Dow Jones AIG
index. Both have changed ownership and
been rebranded over time and are now
controlled by Dow Jones S&P Indices and
Bloombeg Indexes respectively.
None of the most commonly tracked
benchmarks is an exact replica of the
equal-weighted basket of commodity
futures analysed by Gorton and Rouwenhorst between 1959 and 2004. For all
sorts of reasons, not least the small scale
of some futures contracts, it is difficult to
exactly replicate the “Facts and fantasies”
type index as an investable index in the
real world. Most index families, but especially the main GSCI, are heavily weighted
towards petroleum futures (crude oil,
gasoline and distillate fuel oil), which
tends to limit their diversification.
But the fact most commodity indices
have produced similarly disappointing
returns since 2004, including variants
with a much lighter weighting towards
crude oil and refined fuels, suggests index
composition and the process for rolling
maturing contracts forward on its own
cannot explain the poor performance.
There is a tendency in the financial
services industry to celebrate successful
products and try to quickly forget the unsuccessful ones: why dwell on the failures
of the past?
The basic explanations for the poor performance of the indices can be recounted
easily enough. Index returns comprise
three components: (1) the spot price of the
commodity; (2) the yield from the Treasury
securities used as collateral; and (3) the
roll return from swapping a position in maturing contracts into longer dated ones.
John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst.
The views expressed are his own.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Sensex climbs; rupee
strengthens further
Pedestrians walk past a share prices board in Tokyo. Japanese stocks closed up 0.18% at 17,197.73 points yesterday.
Asia markets mostly up
on upbeat Wall Street
sian shares mostly climbed for a
third straight day yesterday following more advances on Wall
Street, while bargain-buying helped oil
recover slightly from its latest sell-off.
The euro edged up but struggled to
make sizeable gains against the dollar,
weighed down by expectations the European Central Bank will unleash a vast
easing programme at the same time as
the US Federal Reserve plots an interest
rate hike.
Tokyo gave back most of its early gains
but ended marginally higher, adding
0.18%, or 30.63 points, to 17,197.73. Seoul
surged 1.05%, or 20.05 points, to 1,924.70
and Sydney rose 1.56%, or 84.15 points, to
close at 5,465.6.
Hong Kong added 0.35%, or 84.42
points, to 23,919.95, but Shanghai slipped
0.24%, or 8.05 points, to 3,285.41.
In other markets, Taipei fell 0.24%, or
22.45 points, to 9215.58; Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co fell 2.9% to
Tw$134.0 while smartphone maker HTC
rose 1.37% to Tw$148.0.
Wellington rose 0.19%, or 10.79 points,
to 5,584.84; Fletcher Building was up
1.11% at NZ$8.21 while Meridian Energy
eased 1.12% to NZ$1.76.
Manila added 0.48%, or 35.09 points,
to 7,402.72; Philippine Long Distance
Telephone rose 1.86% to 2,954pesos and
Metropolitan Bank was up 1.21% at 88.15
Bangkok closed up 0.51%, or 7.80
points, to 1,529.42; Bank of Ayudhya
jumped 11.73% to 50baht, while telecoms
company True Corp gained 5.26% to
Kuala Lumpur gained 0.25%, or 4.38
points, to 1,732.44; industrial conglomerate DRB-Hicom rose 3.14% to end at 1.64
ringgit, while mobile telecom provider
Maxis gained 1.47% to close at 6.90 ringgit.
The mainland Chinese market swung
wildly through the day, at one point adding 3.38% following news that Chinese
inflation edged up in December but fell
well short of the government’s target for
the full year.
Confidence has picked up over the past
few days as analysts predict the ECB will
launch a huge bond-buying scheme—
known as quantitative easing (QE) – to
kickstart the eurozone economy. Expectations were fanned when data Wednesday showed consumer prices in the currency bloc had fallen for the п¬Ѓrst time
since October 2009, during the depths of
the п¬Ѓnancial crisis.
A pause in the downward spiral of oil
prices also provided some relief after a report showed US stockpiles had fallen last
week, fuelling hope that demand is picking up.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for February delivery edged up 17
cents to п¬Ѓnish at $48.96 a barrel and Brent
North Sea crude for February rose one
cent to $50.97.
Eyes are now on a closely followed US
jobs report due later in the day, with forecasts for another sharp rise in new posts,
giving the Fed more ammunition to lift
interest rates.
The release Wednesday of minutes from
the bank’s December meeting boosted
spirits after it showed policymakers are
unlikely to announce a hike until at least
In New York the Dow surged 1.84%, the
S&P 500 jumped 1.79% and the Nasdaq
gained 1.84%. And markets in Frankfurt,
Paris and Milan closed up more than 3%.
“When it comes to US economic reports there’s nothing more important to
the Fed than labour market numbers,” said
Kathy Lien of BK Asset Management.
“The December employment report is
scheduled for release on Friday and the
big question is whether the strength in
November carried into December.”
On currency markets the euro, which
slipped below $1.18 Thursday for the п¬Ѓrst
time since 2009, bought $1.1806 yesterday, compared with $1.1795 in New
York Thursday afternoon. It also fetched
ВҐ140.94 against ВҐ141.15.
The dollar was at ВҐ119.39 yesterday,
compared with ВҐ119.65 in US trade.
In China the government said inflation
came in at 1.5% in December, in line with
forecasts and up from the п¬Ѓve-year low of
1.4% the previous month.
However, for the full year 2014, consumer inflation was 2.0%, down from
2.6% in 2013 and well below the government’s target of about 3.5%.
The soft inflation figures are the latest showing a slowdown in the world’s
number two economy, with manufacturing, trade and investment all weak.
Gold fetched $1,211.42 an ounce, compared with $1,206.35 on Thursday.
Indian stocks rose for a second
day, paring a weekly loss, as
the nation’s second-largest
software exporter reported
profit that beat estimates and
global stocks rallied.
Infosys rallied the most in three
months after the company
maintained its annual sales
The stock now has the
highest weighting on the S&P
BSE Sensex, up from a third
place yesterday. Hindustan
Unilever climbed to a record,
while drugmakers Dr Reddy’s
Laboratories and Cipla were
among the best performers on
the benchmark index.
The Sensex gained 0.7% to
27,458.38 at the close, paring
the weekly loss to 1.5%. Net
income at Infosys rose 13%
to Rs32.5bn ($521mn) in the
December quarter, exceeding
the Rs31.6bn median of
29 analysts’ estimates in
a Bloomberg survey. The
Bengaluru-based company kept
its forecast for full-year sales to
rise 7% to 9% in US dollar terms.
“Spending on technology has
improved dramatically, and the
guidance given by Infosys is
conservative,” Trip Chowdhry,
a US-based analyst at Global
Equities Research, said in an
interview to Bloomberg TV
India yesterday. “Infosys can
easily meet or beat the top-end
of its guidance.”
Profits at 67% of the 30 Sensex
companies beat or matched
analyst estimates in the
September quarter, versus
46% in the three months ended
June and 60% in March, data
compiled by Bloomberg show.
Earnings are likely to rise 27%
over the next year, versus 11%
for companies on the MSCI
Emerging Markets Index, the
data show.
Infosys jumped 5.1%, the
steepest climb since October
10. The stock had lost as
much as 3.1% today before
the results. Tata Consultancy
Services increased 2.8%, the
most since December 16. The
companies were among the
best performers on the Sensex
Hindustan Unilever soared
5.8%, taking this week’s rally to
14%, the most since the week
ending May 5, 2013.
Brokerages including JPMorgan
Chase & Co, Credit Suisse
Group, Kotak Securities and
IIFL Holdings have raised their
ratings on the stock this week.
“The fast-moving consumer
goods pack is being rerated
and Hindustan Unilever is the
benchmark of the sector,” said
Harsh Mehta, an analyst at
Beware the market maxim �the trend is your friend’
The old financial market maxim “the trend
is your friend” has rarely been more appropriate than when applied to the recent
falls in oil, government bond yields and
the euro, which have been nothing short
of dramatic.
But investors enjoying the ride should
make sure their seatbelts are fastened:
while the trend may well have further to
run over the longer term, the risk of sudden reversals is growing by the day.
A look at how equities have performed
over the last two years shows that the S&P
500 has risen some 40% on its way to a
series of record highs. But there have been
10 swings lower of between 4 and 10% in
that time.
Since oil started tumbling in the middle
of last year, however, there’s been barely
a single noteworthy snap back of 5% or
more. The fall has been precipitous and
relentless. The picture for the euro and
bonds is similar.
But the pullbacks and spikes in volatility
that have characterized stock market
movements are bound to hit oil, bonds and
the euro in time.
“These market moves have very little
to do with fundamentals, and could create
opportunity,” said Valentijn Nieuwenhuijzen at ING Investment Management.
A significant, if unquantifiable, factor
behind the rapid acceleration in market
momentum recently is automated trading. Momentum funds and algorithm
computer models are playing a bigger part
in financial markets now than ever before.
Central to the swings across all financial
assets is oil. Slowing demand growth and
(more pertinently) plentiful supply as producers refuse to cut output pushed Brent
crude futures below $50 a barrel this week
for the first time since 2009. That marks
a 55% decline in six months, and a 40%
brokerage HDFC Securities.
“There may also be some flight
to safety that’s benefiting the
Dr Reddy’s jumped 3.2%, the
most since November 7, and
Cipla gained 2.3%, the steepest
advance since December 18.
The Sensex rallied 30% in 2014,
the most among the world’s 20
biggest markets after China.
Foreigners bought $16bn
of stocks on expectations
economic growth will rebound
after Prime Minister Narendra
Modi won the biggest electoral
mandate in three decades in
Global investors sold a net
$62mn of local shares on
January 8. The Sensex is valued
at 15.2 times projected 12-month
profits, compared with the
MSCI Emerging Markets Index’s
multiple of 11.2, data compiled
by Bloomberg show.
Meanwhile the rupee
completed its biggest weekly
gain since May on optimism
demand for emerging-market
assets will be sustained amid
the prospect of further euroarea stimulus.
European Central Bank
President Mario Draghi said this
week that policy makers may
undertake measures including
buying sovereign bonds to spur
growth. Minutes of the Federal
Reserve’s December meeting
released January 8 showed the
US is unlikely to raise interest
rates before late April. Global
funds bought a record $26.4bn
of Indian debt in 2014, while
pouring about $16bn into the
nation’s stocks, exchange data
The rupee climbed 1.6%
from January 2 to close at
62.3250 a dollar in Mumbai,
the biggest weekly gain since
May 16, prices from local banks
compiled by Bloomberg show.
The currency rose 0.6% today
and is Asia’s best performer this
week. Indian sovereign bonds
completed a second weekly
“Strong inflows continue to
lend support to the rupee,”
said Paresh Nayar, head of
currency and money markets
at FirstRand in Mumbai. “India
looks relatively attractive when
you see other major world
economies slowing.”
The Reserve Bank of India
forecasts the $1.9tn economy,
Asia’s third-largest, to grow
5.5% in the year ending March
2015, compared with 4.7% last
year.Three-month offshore
non-deliverable forwards for
the rupee rose 1.6% this week
and 0.7% today to 63.27 a dollar,
data compiled by Bloomberg
show. Forwards are agreements
to buy or sell assets at a set
price and date. Non-deliverable
contracts are settled in dollars.
raises $4bn in
dollar bonds
fall in the last two months alone. Moves
of such magnitude over relatively short
periods are often evidence that prices
have overshot.
The oil market is no stranger to longer
term price swings, however. As Reuters
Breakingviews columnist Edward Hadas
points out, since 2000 the daily price has
been on average 18% higher or lower than
six months earlier. If the fall in oil has been
eye-catching, the move in bond markets
has been historic.
The benchmark cost of 10-year government borrowing reached record lows this
week in Japan, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Canada
and Australia.
The average 10-year yield in the G3 economic powerhouses of the US, eurozone
and Japan fell below 1% - the lowest on
record, according to Steven Englander,
global head of currency strategy at Citi.
By this measure, investors are pricing in
a world economy that is in a worse state
now than it was in the Great Depression
of the 1930s or during the global financial
crash of 2007-09. Is that really the case?
If the answer is no, there is a growing
risk that massive one-way bets on oil,
sovereign bonds and the euro could be
vulnerable to a violent reversal, especially
as central banks are almost out of ammunition in their fight against deflation and
sub-par growth.
“What are they going to do for an
encore?” asked Citi’s Englander.
Like most people in currency markets,
he expects the euro to remain under
pressure. It hit a nine-year low of $1.1753
this week, a whisker off its January 1999
launch rate of $1.1747. Englander and
Nieuwenhuijzen share the broad market
consensus view that corrections and
bouts of volatility will not translate into
longer-term trend reversals. The longerterm investment strategy, therefore, would
be to sit tight. Investors with a shorter
term horizon, however, would do well to
protect themselves against prospective
For example, even if you still believe oil
prices are headed lower, you could hedge
that view by buying shares in commodityrelated companies which are likely to benefit from continued strength in broader
equity indices.
ndonesia has raised $4bn in
a US dollar bond issue, taking advantage of the current low-yield environment
and improving sentiment about
the country and policies its new
president is pursuing.
The yield is at 4.200% for
$2bn of 10-year notes and
5.200% for $2bn 30-year notes.
This compares with a yield of
5.950% for 10-year notes and
6.850% for 30-year notes for
similar sized tranches Indonesia
issued one year ago.
With the improved terms on
the new bonds, “Indonesia has
to fork out a lower percentage
than in a tough market,” said
Wellian Wiranto, an economist
at Singapore’s OCBC bank.
Demand for the new bonds
was strong. Bankers said this led
Indonesia to increase its total
size to $4bn rather than $3bn.
The Finance Ministry said
yesterday the bonds drew bids
for $19.3bn, the largest-ever
combined order book for Indonesian sovereign bonds.
Finance Minister Bambang
Brodjonegoro said Indonesia
may issue more debt in the global market this year. Scenaider
Siahaan, a director at Indonesia’s debt management office,
said the country plans to issue
global sukuk and samurai bonds
in the п¬Ѓrst quarter as the yield is
currently favourable.
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Dividend announcements help sway market to close positive
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
Gyrations in the oil market took the Qatar
Stock Exchange through a rollercoaster
path and it closed positive, albeit at lower
levels, the only one bourse in the Gulf
region to do so during the first week of
While Qatar’s main 20-stock index was
0.16% up, Dubai shrank 2.64%, Muscat
(1.57%), Saudi Arabia (1.48%), Abu Dhabi
(1.11%), Kuwait (0.68%) and Bahrain (0.11%)
during the week that, however, saw losers
outnumber gainers.
Micro and large cap equities largely
instilled the bullish momentum to the
local bourse during the week that saw
Industries Qatar (IQ), Gulf International
Services (GIS) and Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding (MPHC) announce dividend
for 2014, ahead of their corporate results.
The dividend announcements helped
sway the market to positive; barring that
there are no other positive indicators at
present to suggest a sustained bullish
trajectory, an analyst with a brokerage
house said.
The current troughs in the oil price
may act as a dampener in the sentiments
in the stock markets and there are no
signs of strengthening energy prices in
the short to medium term, he said.
Crude oil prices have corrected by
over 50% from their highs in 2014 owing
to excess supply, driven by higher US
shale oil output and a fall in demand
because of slowdown in many major
Domestic institutions’ buoyant net
buying largely supported the bourse during the week that saw the oil price plunge
to a five-and-a-half year low of below $50
a barrel, forcing the 20-stock Qatar Share
Index to touch a low of 11,812 points on
Tuesday but only to gain for the next two
Buying interests in the consumer
goods and industrials outweighed the
selling pressure, notably in the insurance and telecom counters during the
week that saw Qatar Insurance Company (QIC) establish a Malta subsidiary
to further strengthen its European
The industrials and insurance stocks
gained 1.84% and 1.82% respectively;
while telecom shrank 4.8%, insurance
(4%), transport (0.91%), realty (0.09%) and
banks and financial services (0.05%) during the week that saw Barwa fully acquire
Lusail Golf Development.
The index that tracks Shariah-principled stocks was seen gaining faster than
the other indices during the week that
saw real estate, industrials and banks
together account for more than 81% of
the total trade volume.
The 20-stock Total Return Index was
up 0.16%, All Share Index (comprising
wider constituents) by 0.01% and Al
Rayan Islamic Index by 0.71% during the
Of the 43 stocks, only 16 gained, while
25 declined and two were unchanged
during the week. Four each of the 12
banks and financial services and the
eight consumer goods; five of the nine
industrials and three of the four realty
stocks close higher during the week.
Major movers included IQ, GIS, Qatar
Islamic Bank, Barwa and Mazaya Qatar;
even as Islamic Holding Group, Vodafone Qatar, QIC, Qatari Investors Group,
Doha Bank, Aamal Company, MPHC,
Ezdan and Nakilat were seen bucking
the trend.
Market capitalisation was up 0.16%
or QR65mn to QR677.44bn during the
week. Micro and large cap equities gained
0.99% and 0.48%; whereas mid and small
caps fell 1.24% and 0.04% respectively
during the week.
Domestic institutions were net buyers
to the tune of QR320.27mn; while their
foreign counterparts were net sellers to
the extent of QR212.27mn.
While local retail investors net sold
QR113.74mn worth stocks; non-Qatari
individuals were net buyers to the tune of
A total of 58.05mn shares valued at
QR2.49bn changed hands across 35,422
The real estate sector saw a total of
24.63mn equities worth QR709.35mn
change hands across 8,739 deals.
As many as 12.63mn industrials
stocks valued at QR674.87mn trade
across 10,067 transactions. The banks
and financial sector witnessed as many
as 9.85mn shares worth QR696.19mn
change hands across 9,028 transactions.
The telecom sector saw 5.52mn equities valued at QR150.33mn trade in 3,636
The market saw a total of 1.79mn consumer goods stocks worth QR121.06mn
change hands across 2,289 transactions.
The transport segment recorded
2.94mn shares valued at QR98.96mn
trade in 1,069 deals.
The insurance saw a total of 0.69mn
shares worth QR43.58mn trade across
594 transactions.
The debt market witnessed a total of
5,000 treasury bills valued at QR49.8mn
change hands across mere one deal;
while there was no trading of government
bonds during the week.
US payrolls rise solidly, jobless
rate drops, but so do wages
Nonfarm payrolls increase 252,000
in December; unemployment rate
falls to 5.6% from 5.8%; average
hourly earnings fall 5Вў; workweek
S job growth increased briskly
in December and the jobless
rate dropped to a 6-1/2 year low,
but wages slipped in the latest sign a
tightening labour market has yet to give
much of a boost to workers.
Nonfarm payrolls increased 252,000
last month after an upwardly revised
353,000 jump in November, the Labor
Department said yesterday. The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage point
to 5.6%, partly because people left the
labour force.
But a п¬Ѓve cent drop in average hourly
earnings, which nearly erased gains
seen in November, took some shine off
the otherwise mostly upbeat report.
Over the past year, earnings rose only
1.7%, the weakest 12-month showing
since October 2012.
Economists said the data buttressed
the case for the Federal Reserve to take
a go-slow approach to raising interest
“We are once again looking at a situation where people are getting hired
but we are not seeing the wage increases the Fed would like to see,” said
Kate Warne, investment strategist at
Edwards Jones in St. Louis. “That keeps
the Fed on hold.”
US stocks opened flat before turning
lower, while prices for US debt rose as
traders pushed back their expectations
for when the US central bank would
raise rates.
Some economists said the data
should keep the Fed, which has kept
overnight borrowing costs near zero
since December 2008, on track for a
rate hike around mid-year. Futures
markets continued to point to a rate increase in September, although chances
policymakers would move later rose.
“This is probably a good enough
Canada loses jobs for second month in a row, housing cools
Canada’s job market continued to gently cool off
in December, shedding 4,300 positions after a loss
of 10,700 jobs in November, while the hot housing
market showed signs of decline.
Statistics Canada said yesterday that the
unemployment rate had remained unchanged at
Market analysts had expected an increase of 15,000
jobs. The two months of fairly small declines followed
big gains in September and October.
Full-time employment in December grew by 53,500
jobs, while part-time work dropped by 57,700.
“Full-time employment was quite strong, wages
bounced back, and the unemployment rate held
steady,” said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO
Capital Markets.
“So, while the headline number is a disappointment,
you don’t have to dig too far beneath the surface to
see the overall results weren’t uniformly bad,” he told
The 12-month gain came to 185,700 positions, an
increase of 1.0%, while the six-month moving average
for employment growth was 22,100 jobs, up from
21,300 in November.
The Bank of Canada, which has kept interest rates at
near-record lows for more than four years to stimulate
the economy, said last month the labour market still
showed significant slack. “It will argue for the Bank
just to remain on the sidelines, continuing to monitor
data,” said Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist at
the Royal Bank of Canada.
The labour participation rate, which is of particular
interest to the central bank, slipped to 65.9%, the
lowest since October 2001.
number to allow the Fed to stay on
course in terms of adjusting policy,”
said Peter Cecchini, managing director
and chief market strategist at Cantor
Fitzgerald in New York.
December marked the 11th straight
month of payroll increases above
200,000, the longest stretch since
1994. For last year as a whole, the economy generated 2.95mn new jobs, the
strongest showing for any year since
The Canadian dollar retreated to its weakest level
in more than 5-1/2 years following yesterday’s data,
which included a government report from the US
showing the economy there added 252,000 jobs in
The Canadian dollar hit $1.1887 against the greenback,
or 84.13 US cents, sharply weaker than just before the
Canadian policy makers are also concerned about
the hot property market, which is starting to cool.
Overall, the data suggested the economy was positioned for solid growth
this year, despite troubling weakness in
some economies overseas.
Adding to the report’s generally
strong tenor, a total of 50,000 more
jobs were created in October and November than previously thought.
Economists were struck by the
weakness in wages given the tighten-
Housing starts fell more than expected in December
and November figures were revised lower.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp said the
seasonally adjusted annualised rate of housing starts
fell to 180,560 units in December from 193,199 in
November. Analysts had forecast 193,500 starts.
Separately, Statscan said the value of Canadian
building permits plummeted by 13.8% in November
to C$6.58bn ($5.58bn) on widespread weakness, the
second large drop in four months.
ing jobs market. The unemployment
rate dropped by more than a percentage
point last year, and is now near territory
Fed officials consider commensurate
with full employment.
The drop in wages in December was
widespread across industries, but most
acute in the mining and logging sector.
Christoph Balz, an economist at
Commerzbank, said soft earnings were
a hangover from the 2007-2009 reces-
sion. “Firms (were) unable to reduce
wages during the recession, and they
must now work off a stockpile of pentup wage cuts.”
Even so, economists expect to see a
spark soon as the labour market continues to tighten.
“The wage story should look much
better at the end of 2015,” said Dan
Greenhaus, chief strategist at BTIG in
New York.
E&P spending
in N America
could drop
30% or more,
says Barclays
New York
il and gas companies
could cut spending on
exploration and production (E&P) in North America
by 30% or more this year if US
crude oil prices continue to trade
in the $50-$60 per barrel range,
Barclays said.
Brent crude futures were at
$50.50 yesterday, while US crude
futures were at $48.57 — both at
п¬Ѓve-year lows, having more than
halved since June due to oversupply and tepid demand growth.
Spending in North America
will fall 14.1%, while international spending will fall 6.7%,
Barclays said, noting companies’ budgets had assumed Brent
at about $70 per barrel and US
crude at $65. That would mean
spending across the globe would
fall about 9% to $619.43bn this
year, Barclays estimated on the
basis of a survey of 225 oil and
gas companies.
Given the continued fall in oil
prices, spending could “trend
even lower”, with North America
being hit the hardest, Barclays
said on Thursday in a report titled “Global 2015 E&P Spending
Several US companies have already announced much smaller
budgets for this year and some
are even reducing the number of
rigs they use as drilling in several
shale п¬Ѓelds proves to be uneconomic at current prices.
The US onshore rig count is expected to fall by 500 rigs over the
year to about 1,250 rigs by the end
of 2015, according to Barclays.
The bank said the Middle
East will be the lone source of
strength globally, with spending
expected to rise 14.5% as companies stick with their drilling
plans assuming the oil downturn
will be of a much shorter duration than in the past.
Detroit auto show revs up amid �perfect’ industry conditions
surging economy, more jobs and
cheap gas: the US auto industry
will celebrate a confluence of
near-perfect conditions as it unveils its
latest wheels in the annual Detroit car
show next week.
After racking up the best year in sales
since 2006, the last year before the п¬Ѓnancial crisis hit, automakers will put
out for display some 40 new car and
truck models, hoping to seduce buyers
to make 2015 even better.
The cars will be more powerful and
decked out with ever-more high-tech
bells and whistles that are making them
safer than ever, while pushing slowly
toward the day of the hands-free automobile.
Rolling onto the red carpet in Detroit
will be Cadillac’s most powerful car
ever, the new 640 horsepower CTSV; Lexus’s GS F performance sedan; a
brand-new version of the legendary
Acura NSX; and possibly the next-generation Ford supercar.
Pickup fans will be wowed with the
all-new Nissan Titan and Toyota Tacoma trucks.
The struggling green-car sector will
also have badly needed fresh offerings
in the form of a redesigned GM Volt,
and Hyundai’s hybrid and plug-in Sonatas.
The show, the premier auto exposition in the US, will also see the return
of Chinese makers, absent for several
years after self-imposed exile, with
Guangzhou Auto presenting a new car
— which will not be sold in the US.
The impressive array going on display underscores how the American
consumer is enjoying the richest, most
diverse range of choices from the Detroit “Big 3” — General Motors, Ford
and Chrysler, now renamed FCA US —
and European and Asian producers.
With gas prices at their lowest in six
years, interest rates rock-bottom, and
the US economy and household worth
growing steadily, “we’re almost in a
perfect storm,” said Joe Vitale, industry
analyst at consultant Deloitte.
“When you look at all those factors,
one it’s a good time to be a consumer,
two there’s liquidity out there for the
purchase of vehicles, three there’s aging of the vehicle population.
“All these things make it very desirable for the auto industry over the coming year.”
The North American International
Automobile Show — to give it its full
name — expects a million visitors to
descend on bone-chilling Detroit between January 17 and 25.
Some 20 manufacturers will compete
for the spotlight in a US market that
has been a bright spot in a world where
other economies are struggling to grow.
The industry is coming off a year of
sales of at least 16.5mn cars and trucks
in the US, up 5.9% from 2013, according
to Autodata, an industry consultant.
General Motors led the pack with
sales of 2.94mn units; Ford was second at 2.48mn, Toyota close behind
with 2.37mn, and FCA US, the former
American Chrysler marque now owned
by Italy’s Fiat, selling 2.09mn cars and
GM chief executive Mary Barra predicted on Thursday that sales in 2015
could reach a buoyant 17mn vehicles, a
level last seen in 2001.
“The US economy and vehicle sales
have been rebounding since 2009 and
we believe there is still plenty of room
for the auto industry to grow,” she said.
But for all the expected razzmatazz,
the show does not open under absolutely clear skies.
After a record year of recalls in the
US, some 60mn cars in total, many for
life-threatening defects, automakers
will be under pressure to demonstrate a
greater commitment to car quality and
consumer safety.
GM is especially under the gun, having been shown at the beginning of
2014 to have known about a faulty ignition for more than a decade before taking action.
At least 42 people died in crashes
tied to that problem and the company
is facing criminal investigation even as
it pays out millions of dollars to settle
The other cloud over the industry is
the receding demand for energy-saving
vehicles as gasoline prices sink. Sales
growth overall has been heaviest in the
pickup truck and sports utility vehicle
segments, while sagging for electrics
and hybrids.
Demand for such vehicles “has been
somewhat disappointing for the auto
companies,” said Martin Zimmerman,
a former economist at Ford and now
professor at Michigan University.
With the companies under regulatory pressure to reduce the fuel consumption averages of their fleets, the
lackadaisical demand for electrics
poses a problem for them, according to
Both automakers and regulators “are
going to have to come to terms with
these lower oil prices,” he said.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra holds a media briefing before the start of GM’s
annual shareholders meeting in Detroit, in this file photo taken on June 10,
2014. Barra, meeting with reporters on Thursday, said growth in the US auto
market will flatten out this year, although a strong economy and falling gasoline prices should sustain demand.
NBA | Page 8
CRICKET | Page 6
Rockets send
Knicks to 14th
straight loss
Smith trumps
Bradman to
fuel run chase
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Rabia I 19, 1436 AH
Prince Ali's FIFA
bid doomed, say
Asian chiefs
Page 4
Nasser stretches Dakar lead
Antofagasta, Chile
Qatar's Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah in
action in the Dakar rally on Thursday.
atar’s Nasser al-Attiyah completed
another day in the lead as the Dakar
Rally continued to push participants
to the limit.
This is the fourth straight day that the Qatari
driver has held the lead, through an extremely
wide variety of road and weather conditions
on each occasion. The defining characteristic
of Thursday’s 458-kilometre stage in Chile
was the abundance of fesh-fesh: п¬Ѓne powdery sand that can easily cause cars to become
bogged down. Because of that, both navigation
and driving skill is paramount to avoid falling
into yet another of the insidious traps that the
Dakar regularly lays for its competitors.
As he won the stage on Wednesday, Nasser
was п¬Ѓrst on the road today and co-driver Matthieu Baumel was on top of his game to guide
the duo over the featureless terrain of the Atacama Desert. But having started the day with a
lead of more than eight minutes, Nasser knew
that there was no need to push to the maximum
today, meaning that he could look at the bigger picture and manage his pace. He ended the
stage fourth, three and half minutes behind the
stage winner, but actually stretched his overall lead to more than 10 minutes over Giniel De
Villiers, who dropped time on the stage.
“The stage was really hard – not easy – with
a lot of fesh-fesh,” said the Qatari, who also
happens to be an Olympic medallist at skeet
shooting. “In the last 10 kilometres we got a
flat tyre, so then we changed the wheel, it only
took us 1m35s which is quite fast. I’m quite
happy to п¬Ѓnish the day with just one puncture
and without any trouble with the car. I’m glad
I did not win the stage, because tomorrow will
be very difficult and I would like someone else
other than Matthieu and myself to open the
During the next stage competitors make their
way up the Pacific coast towards Iquique, with
spectacular views over the ocean. Not that the
drivers will have time to admire it, as they will
be tackling a 186-kilometre stage, consisting
mainly of fast gravel tracks. For the п¬Ѓrst time,
the location hosting the halfway point in the
rally will mark the arrival of the crews with a
podium ceremony in the city centre.
Nasser is beginning to think about the second half of the event. “I need to think a lot
next week because we also have the marathon
stage,” he concluded. “I don’t know what it will
be like, but we are going day by day. Our plan
is to win the race: we are leading and we’ll just
try to keep going like this.” Meanwhile, Russian
driver Vladimir Vasilyev maintained defending
champions Mini’s monopoly of the Dakar Rally, the manufacturer making it five stage wins
in five on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
But Carlos Sainz, the 2010 champion, retired
from the race after rolling and destroying his
troubled Peugeot.
Vasilyev clinched the 458km run from
Chile’s Atacama desert, the driest place on
earth, to the coastal stop of Antofagasta.
The Toyota of Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Alrajhi
was second on the stage—just 20 seconds behind—to remain third in the overall standings.
The Hummer of America’s Robbie Gordon was
third on the day.
Mini’s Qatari driver Nasser al-Attiyah, the
2011 champion and overall leader, was fourth
Thursday with 11-time champion Stephane
Peterhansel in a Peugeot a place further back.
For the first time in the 2015 race, South Africa’s 2009 champion Giniel de Villiers failed
to п¬Ѓnish on the podium. However, the Toyota
driver, sixth on the day, remains second overall.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Australia crush
Kuwait 4-1 in their
Asian Cup opener
�It was the right kind of reaction and eventually we overwhelmed them. The positives
outweigh the negatives tonight and this will give us confidence for the next games’
Maaloul: Australia
deserved the win
Kuwait’s football coach Nabil Maaloul.
oach Nabil Maaloul conceded Australia fully
deserved yesterday’s 4-1
win in the opening game
of the AFC Asian Cup Australia
2015 despite seeing Kuwait take a
surprise early lead at Melbourne
Rectangular Stadium.
An eighth minute header from
Hussain Fadhel had handed Kuwait the lead in front of a sold out
crowd in the Group A opener as
the defender capitalised on slack
Australia marking at a corner.
But with Tim Cahill and Massimo Luongo turning the tie in
favour of the home side before
half-time, second half goals
from Mile Jedinak and James
Troisi earned Australia all three
points despite the best efforts of
“The match was difficult
as we expected. Australia are
very strong and better than our
team physically, and with their
speed, they are faster than our
team. They deserved to win this
match,” said Tunisian coach
Maaloul, who was only appointed last month.
“The physical fitness of the
Australia team helped stop our
team, especially our forwards.
“We asked our players to press
Australia in the second half, but
the third goal which was scored
from a penalty made our players
go back and affected our performance negatively.”
Kuwait will hope for improvements ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with Korea Republic.
“There is a big difference between Australia and Kuwait especially in physical fitness and
the readiness of Kuwait in terms
of tactical and physical aspects.
The forward players were not
ready due to injury and the new
players lacked experience and
could not do what is required,”
added Maaloul.
“The injured players were not
ready. Two important players,
Bader al-Mutawa and Yousef
Naser, were not ready and we
hope they can come back in the
future and play for more than
they did in this match.”
To further add to Maaloul’s
woes, goalscorer Fadhel was
forced off just before the hour
mark with an apparent ankle injury, with Khaled al-Qahtani also
a doubt to face Korea after being
forced off with just over 15 minutes remaining.
“It is very difficult to have
the players who are injured very
quickly get back to the tournament,” said Maaloul.
“Maybe it is very difficult to
prepare Hussain Fadhel to play
the next match and maybe alQahtani could be replaced by
Fahad Awad who was suspended
for this match.”
North Korea defend picking suspended player
Australia’s Massimo Luongo (right) celebrates his goal with teammate Tim Cahill during their Asian Cup Group A match against Kuwait at Rectangular stadium in Melbourne.
ustralia displayed impressive
п¬Ѓrepower to beat Kuwait 4-1 in
their Asian Cup opener yesterday after talisman Tim Cahill
kick-started the tournament hosts following an early scare.
Massimo Luongo, Mile Jedinak and
James Troisi were also on target for the
Socceroos, who could have scored six or
seven and were serenaded with a chorus
of “Oles” by a sell-out crowd of 30,000
in Melbourne.
Kuwait had stunned Australia with a
goal from Hussain Fadhel after just eight
minutes, the big defender stooping to head
in a corner and silence the home fans.
But Cahill relieved the tension on a wet
and chilly evening by slamming home the
equaliser in the 33rd minute after smart
work down the right from Luongo. The
35-year-old has now scored at each of the
last three Asian Cups.
Luongo put Australia in front moments before half-time with a superb
header to give the home side a huge boost
going into the break.
Skipper Jedinak stroked home a penalty in the 62nd minute, giving the Socceroos a two-goal cushion as they continued to press, playing with a swagger
that was sorely missing as they managed
just a single win in 11 matches last year.
Troisi poked home a fourth in stoppage
time to cap a dominant performance.
“Obviously we got off to a disappointing start,” Australia coach Ange Postecoglou told reporters. “Sometimes things
don’t go to plan but it’s how you react.
“It was the right kind of reaction and
eventually we overwhelmed them. The
positives outweigh the negatives tonight
and this will give us confidence for the
next games.”
Australia, runners-up to Japan four
years ago, are also drawn alongside Oman
and 2002 World Cup semi-п¬Ѓnalists South
Korea in Group A as they bid to capture a
п¬Ѓrst Asian Cup with a revamped side after their golden generation failed to win a
major title.
Cahill almost grabbed a second, forcing
a superb save from Hameed Youssef on
the hour-mark, before Mathew Leckie
smashed a left-foot shot against the
underside of the bar as the floodgates
threatened to open.
“Tim is still a fantastic player,” Postecoglou gushed after Cahill, who has scored
nine of Australia’s last 16 goals, once
again demonstrated his importance to
the green the gold.
“We saw at the World Cup he’s still
very dangerous against the world’s best
defences. There wouldn’t be a defender
in the world today who would like to be
one-on-one with Tim Cahill.”
The former Everton forward, who has
now scored 38 times in 78 internationals,
added: “It’s always special. I always talk
to the boys about taking the opportunities and savoring them. I’m 35 but I feel
great. When you play for your country,
you’ve got to give it everything.”
Substitute Nathan Burns also rattled the
crossbar with a diving header as the Socceroos turned on the style against the 1980
champions Kuwait, who had beaten them
in п¬Ѓve of their previous 10 meetings.
Kuwait coach Nabil Maaloul, who has
been in the job just three weeks, was
philosophical in defeat.
“Let’s face facts: there’s a big difference between the level of the Australian
team and Kuwait,” he said.
“When we scored the early goal I was
the only person on my bench not expressing my joy because I knew Australia
had the quality to score at any time—and
they proved it. Their third goal, the penalty, killed us.”
NORTH KOREA defended their
selection of a suspended player
and dodged questioning about
their coach’s one-year ban
yesterday as they prepared to
open their Asian Cup campaign
against Uzbekistan.
At a press conference, North
Korean translator replied “What
do you mean?” to a query about
suspended coach Yun Jong-Su,
before the question was given
the red card by the moderator.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) banned Yun for a
year over his angry rant following North Korea’s narrow loss to
South Korea in the Asian Games
final in October.
North Korea’s squad is missing
South Korean-based star striker
Jong Tae-Se but includes Ri
Sang-Chol, who will miss all
three Group B games through
Caretaker coach Jo Tong-Sop
said Jong was injured, and added Ri would benefit from the
trip despite not playing—and
would be fresh if North Korea
qualify for the knock-outs.
“He’s a good player. He cannot
participate in the three matches
in the group stage, I know that
very well,” said Jo.
“This will be a very good
chance for him to learn how fair
play is important for a player.
And if he has a good rest he can
be used in the next stage of the
Asian Cup.”
North Korea face a difficult
first outing today against Uzbekistan, the 2011 semi-finalists
who were one win away from a
World Cup play-off last year.
The team from the isolated
communist state have not
played a friendly since November but Jo said he preferred to
work on team unity rather than
warm-up matches.
“Rather than playing a lot of
friendly matches, I concentrated on uniting our team and
preparing our team,” he said.
Qatar team’s preparations hit fever pitch
By Our Correspondent
Canberra, Australia
atar squad headed by coach
Djamel Belmadi on Thursday underwent a two-hour
morning and evening training
sessions, just two days ahead of their
opening Asian Cup match.
Having landed in Canberra on December 28, 2014, Qatar squad is preparing for their opening clash against
the UAE on January 11.
Belmadi’s French assistant coach
Sergio Romano was also present during
the morning and evening stints, QFA
officials said on Thursday.
The QFA football delegation later
met with AFC officials in a routine gesture prior to the start of the event on
January 9.
The meeting was held to facilitate
Qatar players getting their official
portraits taken for the event website.
Meanwhile, Qatar’s influential striker
Khalfan Ibrahim is touted as the team’s
main players, according to player assessments on the AFC website and in
sections of the Australian media.
Ibrahim was the goal-scorer during
Qatar’s 1-0 win over Australia in October friendly in Doha.
Qatar’s best performance at the
Asian Cup has been a couple of quarter-п¬Ѓnals berths in previous editions.
Qatar national team during one of their
training sessions in Canberra, Australia.
PICTURES: Fadi al-Assaad
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
For Palestinians,
the Asian Cup is
more than a game
�Our goal is to let the world know that Palestinian national team is moving forward,
despite the difficulties facing us. Palestinian players have the right to play and develop’
Uzbekistan looking to
hit back from World
Cup disappointment
zbekistan came within
a goal of qualifying for
the 2014 World Cup but
with that disappointment behind them they hope to
make a strong start to the Asian
Cup with an opening victory over
North Korea in Sydney today.
“It was very hard for us because we couldn’t qualify and
Uzbekistan always play to win,”
coach Mirdjalal Kasimov said
yesterday of the World Cup
heartbreak. “But life is continuing and at this tournament we try
to be at the top level.”
Uzbekistan tied with South
Korea for second place in the п¬Ѓnal qualifying group for 2014 but
lost out on an automatic spot for
Brazil on goal difference.
Instead they faced a play-off
with Jordan to progress into another play-off but lost out after a
marathon penalty-shoot out.
Chasing the World Cup dream
hindered Asian Cup qualifying
which began with a draw and a
defeat from the п¬Ѓrst two matches
before a strong п¬Ѓnale guaranteed
their tickets to Australia.
And they face North Korea in
their п¬Ѓrst Group B game looking
for three points.
“It is the first game and it will
be a tough game,” Kasimov said.
“There can be some pressure.
But if we win this game it will
help us for the next game.”
After the collapse of the Soviet
Union, Uzbekistan п¬Ѓelded an independent team for the п¬Ѓrst time
in 1992. But it took several years
to find a rhythm with quarterfinal appearances in the Asian
Cups of 2004 and 2007.
In the last edition in 2011 the
team secured an impressive
fourth-place п¬Ѓnish, even if the
competition ended with a disappointingly heavy semi-п¬Ѓnal
defeat to Australia and a loss to
South Korea in the third-place
With China and Saudi Arabia
the other teams in the group, Uzbekistan will expect to progress
to the knock-out phase without
too many problems.
Midfielder Timur Kapadze
said that while the team had
ambitions to make an impact,
surviving the group was the immediate focus.
“Uzbekistan is not taking part
in such a big tournament for the
п¬Ѓrst time, we want to achieve
more,” he said. “Of course we do
our best to play our best football
but our п¬Ѓrst aim is to qualify from
the group stage. We’re thinking
only about that.”
The Uzbeks will look to
32-year-old midfielder Server
Djeparov for leadership on the
pitch in his fourth Asian Cup but
coach Kasimov predicts a bright
future due to the youth coming
through the ranks.
“We have many talented
young players in our team and all
Uzbezk dootball. You can see it in
different competitions (at youth
level),” he said. “I believe in future we will be one of the best,
top teams in Asia.”
The next step to becoming one
of the best begins today in Sydney. The coach joked Australia
was a long way to travel but was
otherwise happy with the buildup to the tournament.
“Australia has hosted us well
and we have every condition to
prepare,” he said.
“The climate is good here, it is
football weather and we prepare
for the games.”
This file photo shows Palestinians celebrating in the West Bank city of Ramallah after Palestine qualified for their maiden Asian Cup appearance. (AFP)
Ramallah, Palestine
rom the West Bank to the Gaza
Strip, Palestinians are pinning
both sporting and political aspirations on their national football
team as it prepares for its Asian Cup debut in Australia.
For many Palestinians, sporting prowess is just as important as political and
diplomatic moves to achieve statehood
with the national team viewed as a part of
the national “resistance” - dubbed “AlFidaee” after the militants who fought
Israel in the decades after its establishment in 1948.
“Sport is still an important weapon
in politics,” said Palestinian president
Mahmud Abbas as he greeted the 23-man
squad at a ceremony to mark their departure for the tournament.
The Palestinians have made some
inroads towards achieving statehood,
winning the rank of observer state at the
United Nations in 2012, but have struggled to gain full membership.
FIFA, however, recognised the Palestine national team in 1998.
Following a diplomatic blow last month
when the UN Security Council rejected a
Palestinian-drafted resolution seeking to
set an end date for the Israeli occupation,
all eyes are now on Al-Fidaee.
The team, ranked 115th in the world,
will kick off its Asia Cup campaign
against Japan on January 12 after qualifying for the п¬Ѓrst time.
Placed in Group D, Palestine will also
play Jordan and Iraq over the coming
fortnight. “This is a historic occasion
for us as it is our first Asian Cup,” striker
Ashraf al-Fawaghra told the
“Our goal is to let the world know that
the Palestinian national team are moving
forward, despite the difficulties facing us.
We want to convey the message that the
Palestinian players have the right to play
and develop,” the 28-year-old said.
“We want to bring a smile back to the
faces of our people and make our fans
Palestinian players face difficulties in
getting to and from tournaments both
at home and away due to tight Israeli restrictions on movement, and some have
been arrested or imprisoned.
An international under-17s tourna-
ment hosted by the Palestinians in 2013
was delayed after Israel refused to grant
entry visas to some Arab players, and the
competition went ahead only after pressure from FIFA and UEFA.
Some Palestinian players have even
been killed, including Gaza football legend Ahed Zaqqut, 49, who died during
a deadly 50-day war between Israel and
Hamas militants last year.
For Palestinian Football Association
chief Jibril Rajub, a leader within Abbas’s Fatah party, the beautiful game has
a unique status for Palestinians.
“For the rest of the world it’s just
sport—cups, medals, and so on. But in
Palestine, it’s part of the project for liberation, a political project,” he told AFP.
“The Palestine team, which is playing
against the biggest teams in Asia has—despite the occupation, the blockade (on
Gaza), and pressure and repression by Israel -- attracted the attention of the media
and the international community,” he said.
Using football terminology to further
the Palestinian cause, Rajub has regularly urged FIFA to show Israel the “red
card”—suspend its membership—over
the difficulties the occupation poses to
Palestinian sport.
For him and for many others, the raising of Palestinian flags at stadiums across
Australia will be a sweet sight after Australia - which is hosting the Asian Cup
- was one of only two countries in the
15-member UN Security Council to vote
against the resolution.
The other was the United States, Israel’s closest ally.
Palestine, which won last year’s AFC
Challenge Cup, was named best national
team in 2014 by the Asian Football Confederation.
Its 23-man squad reflects the disparate nature of the stateless Palestinian
people—six players play professionally
abroad, six come from the Gaza Strip,
three are from the Palestinian diaspora
and three are Arab-Israelis.
A fourth Arab-Israeli—descendents
of some 160,000 Palestinians that
stayed in Israel after the Jewish state
was established—was selected to play
but was unable to join the squad for fear
he would have lost his teaching job in
For now, tensions with Israel will remain far from the pitch because teams
from the Jewish state only play in European tournaments.
We have to be ambitious, says
Oman coach Paul Le Guen
man’s French coach
Paul Le Guen (right)
said he was in shock
over this week’s Paris
massacre as he paused to remember the victims ahead of the
Asian Cup yesterday.
Le Guen used his official press
conference to pay tribute to the
12 people killed in an Islamist attack on satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
Speaking ahead of Oman’s
Asian Cup opener against South
Korea, the ex-Lyon boss sent
his condolences to the families
grieving in France.
“My thoughts are with the
families in France who were involved in this drama. We feel
very sad, we are in a state of
shock about what happened,”
Today’s fixtures
Group A
South Korea v Oman
Group B
Uzbekistan v North Korea
Saudi Arabia v China
said Le Guen yesterday.
Le Guen, who played 17 times
for France, said he was focused
on Saturday’s match at Canberra
Stadium but wanted “to send a
message to his compatriots at
this difficult time”.
Lowly Oman are ranked 93
in the world and face a difficult mission to progress from
Group A, consisting of hosts
Australia, South Korea and underdogs Kuwait.
But Le Guen, who led Lyon to
three consecutive French Ligue 1
titles, insisted his team were not
at the 16-country tournament
just to make up the numbers.
“We know the histories of
South Korea and Australia but
we have to be ambitious,” he
“Australia and South Korea are
the favourites (to qualify for the
knockout stages) but we are here
to create trouble and a surprise.
“We’re not just here to participate and be kind to everybody.”
Oman’s most likely route to
the knock-out stages would be
by defeating Kuwait and grabbing draws with both the hosts
and the Koreans.
“If you say I have a draw
against Australia and South Korea then give me the paper and I
will sign it now!” Le Guen joked.
But he added seriously:
“Maybe we can do it. If we play
our way and are not afraid in a
big stadium with a great atmosphere.”
China’s Zheng hoping
for a bright future
China’s head coach Alain Perrin (left) of France and captain Zheng Zhi
attend a news conference before their training session in Brisbane.
hina hope to use the AFC
Asian Cup Australia
2015 as a springboard
to leap out of the “dark
days” and into a brighter future,
captain Zheng Zhi said yesterday
ahead of his team’s first game in
Group B against Saudi Arabia.
“As you know after the World
Cup, Chinese football suffered
some dark years but I think after the year we had, the team
has started heading in the right
direction,” said Zheng, who will
be playing in his third Asian Cup.
“That goes for our youth football and our league, in which
some clubs played in the Champions League so we have had
some achievement. The Chinese
team can win some things in future international competitions
so this is a good opportunity yes, a very good opportunity.
“As a football player, to win
the Asian Cup is a dream. The
Asian Cup is the top tournament
in Asia; everybody dreams to win
the Asian Cup.”
The AFC Champions League
winner with Guangzhou Evergrande will be skippering a young
side coached by Frenchman Alan
Perrin, who is entrusted with the
task of guiding two-time п¬Ѓnalists China out of the group phase
after п¬Ѓrst-round elimination in
2007 and 2011. China lost the
2004 п¬Ѓnal to Japan on home soil.
Perrin likened the pressure
being cooked up to what he felt
at some of the top competitions
in Europe.
“The Asian Cup is the best
“I already feel the
atmosphere. After one
month in China and
Austria, we are ready for
this tournament. It’s an
important match for both
China and the Saudi Arabia
team. They are a very
strong team and they did
well at the Gulf Cup. They
have good teamwork and
their captain is a
famous player”
tournament in Asia,” the former
Lyon and Portsmouth boss said.
“The pressure I have here is like
what it was in the French Cup and
the Champions League in Europe.”
“I already feel the atmosphere.
After one month in China and
Austria, we are ready for this
tournament. It’s an important
match for both China and the
Saudi Arabia team. They are a
very strong team and they did
well at the Gulf Cup. They have
good teamwork and their captain
is a famous player.
“I feel a lot of pressure but we
can handle it.”
The manager, nevertheless,
did give the Saudis the edge in
terms of physical condition with
the three-time champions in the
middle of their season and coming off a runners-up п¬Ѓnish at the
Gulf Cup behind Qatar, while the
Chinese Super League runs from
March until November.
“I think the Saudi players are
in better form because they are
in mid-season and had the Gulf
Cup to build on,” he said.
“My players are tired after a
long season and some have just
п¬Ѓnished their vacation. On this
point, they have the advantage.”
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Prince Ali’s FIFA
bid doomed, say
Asia sports chiefs
�We made it clear where Asia is heading in the next FIFA election and 46 countries
have committed to Sepp Blatter to take a fifth term—so nothing has changed’
FIFA vice-president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordon (centre) arrives for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Extraordinary Congress meeting in Melbourne.
sia’s top sports leaders yesterday
refused to back Prince Ali bin alHussein’s election challenge to
FIFA president Sepp Blatter and
insisted it was doomed to failure.
Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
chief Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim alKhalifah told AFP there would be no
about-turn on the regional body’s previous commitment to back Blatter.
He said all 46 AFC member associations
were behind the controversial 78-yearold’s re-election, despite Jordanian royal
Prince Ali’s status as an AFC vice president.
“We made it clear where Asia is heading in the next FIFA election and the 46
countries have committed to Joseph Sepp
Blatter to take a fifth term—so nothing
has changed,” Shaikh Salman said after
an AFC extraordinary congress in Melbourne, before the start of the Asian Cup.
“We never change our commitment.”
Shaikh Salman added that he had been
stunned to hear of Prince Ali’s decision,
announced this earlier week, to stand
against Blatter in the May 29 FIFA election.
“I was surprised to see it in the press,”
he said. “If there is a candidate from Asia,
Asia has to push for it. It’s not the way
around that somebody can nominate
themselves without consulting the Asian
confederation. At the end of the day, you
will need the backing of the confederation.”
Prince Ali, 39, a FIFA vice president
and head of the West Asian Football Federation, was one of several officials who
called for the publication of ethics investigator Michael Garcia’s report into allegations of corruption surrounding the
2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
His appearance in Melbourne triggered
a sudden media crush, although he declined to give any comment.
Blatter has become a deeply controversial п¬Ѓgure following a series of scandals including over the bidding process
for 2018 and 2022, won by Russia and
Qatar respectively.
Prince Ali, who has vowed to repair
FIFA’s tarnished reputation, is a close
ally of Blatter rival and UEFA president
Michel Platini, meaning he can count
on a significant number of the European
body’s 54 votes.
Speaking to Swiss daily Le Matin, Blatter responded to the challenge by saying: “I can only rejoice in this candidacy.
We’re a democracy, and this can only be
good for the debate.”
He added: “Don’t they say that victory without peril is a triumph without
Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) boss
Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah warned
that Prince Ali risked upsetting the unity of
member nations across the region.
He predicted Prince Ali would struggle to win “10 to 15 percent of the votes”
and suggested he reconsider entering the
“I hope Prince Ali or any other candidate will think a thousand times before
making his calculation,” the powerful
Kuwaiti said in Melbourne.
“He has the right to continue, but we
wish to show our solidarity in the football
family—and solidarity is needed more
than ever in this organisation during (a
time of) the Garcia file and stories of corruption.”
Sheikh Ahmad added: “I hope he will
recalculate to think what would be a realistic analysis (of the situation) and take
the right resolution.”
However, Japan’s football chief took a
more circumspect view.
“We have not made a decision on
whether to support Prince Ali or support Blatter,” Japan Football Association
president Kuniya Daini told AFP.
“Prince Ali has very clear ideas but
of course it depends if the Asian members back him. Japan belongs to the East
Asian Football Federation and we hope to
decide with our partners what direction
to follow after we meet with them next
month. We haven’t decided anything
Chelsea’s head coach Jose Mourinho.
f Chelsea manager Jose
Mourinho is asked where it
all went wrong at the end of
the season rather than patted
on the back for steering Chelsea
to the title, he might point to
their trip to Newcastle United in
The now managerless north
east club head to Stamford
Bridge for the return п¬Ѓxture today, but there has been a noticeable shift in the mood at the Premier League leaders in the month
since they suffered their п¬Ѓrst
defeat of the season at St James’
Park on Dec. 6.
Before that match, Chelsea were
undefeated in 23 matches in all
competitions since April’s Champions League semi-final against
Atletico Madrid and were six
points clear at the top of the table.
The talk was of whether they
would emulate Arsenal’s �Invincibles’ and go through the whole
season unbeaten.
Not anymore. They have now
lost two, including the Newcastle defeat, and drawn one of the
last six league games and while
the wheels have not come off
their title charge, the relentless
momentum of their early season
form has been halted.
They are still at the summit of
the Premier League, but are ahead
of champions Manchester City
only by virtue of the alphabet,
while a draw to Southampton and
defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in
their last two games has made the
need to rebound at home to Newcastle all the more acute.
Their success in the early
part of the season was built on
the foundation of a rock solid
defence with the pieces on the
Chelsea chessboard expertly
manoeuvred by master tactician
Yet both the back four and
their trustee steward are currently under scrutiny.
The defence that conceded
just 11 in the 14 games up until
the Newcastle defeat were bullied in a 5-3 defeat against Tottenham on New Year’s Day, when
stalwart John Terry looked all of
his 34 years against the Premier
marksman-of-themoment Harry Kane.
There are, however, some faint
rumblings among Chelsea fans
that perhaps Mourinho deserves
some of the blame for that debacle in failing to make the most
of one of the most well-stocked
squads in world football.
Terry, his defensive partner
Gary Cahill and fullback Branislav Ivanovic started all four
league games in a congested
11-day Christmas period, while
Cesar Azpilicueta began three of
those matches.
The contrast in Chelsea’s form
in recent weeks, compared with
the start of the season, is reflected in their manager’s demeanour.
At the start of the campaign,
everything Mourinho did gave
the impression of a man in total
control, steering every detail of
his club’s title challenge just as
he had in the pomp of his п¬Ѓrst
spell in charge.
Yet a less relaxed Mourinho
has emerged in recent weeks,
seeking to shift blame away from
his team amid conspiratorial
suggestions that a campaign is
being waged against his side.
Previously feted as a master
of the art of deflecting attention and lifting pressure from his
team, his consistent jibes against
officials have only added to the
impression that control is slipping through his п¬Ѓngers.
An FA misconduct charge on
Thursday was followed by Mourinho deciding to skip the following day’s news conference,
choosing instead to let assistant
Steve Holland answer questions
on his behalf.
There is, no doubt, pressure
in being the most highly-prized
manager in world football that
comes from having to live up to
past achievements as well as his
reputation as one of the game’s
great personalities.
Yet it will not be long before
his recent record gets called into
If he fails to win the title this
season he would have won only
one league crown in п¬Ѓve seasons
at Chelsea and Real Madrid, two
of the richest clubs on the planet.
For the self-proclaimed Special
One that would be a distinctly ordinary record in comparison to his
seven previous complete seasons
at Inter Milan, Chelsea and Porto
when he won six league titles and
two Champions Leagues.
Lampard clears up
�lies and nonsense’
Chelsea cool down Messi talk
helsea assistant manager Steve Holland yesterday distanced the Premier League giants from
a move for Barcelona’s Argentina
star Lionel Messi (right).
The Stamford Bridge club
have been linked with an approach for Messi whose future
in Spain has been thrown into
doubt because of a breakdown in
relations with Barca coach Luis
The four-times world player
of the year has a ВЈ200 million
($302mn) buy-out clause in his
contract with the La Liga club.
But his wage demands mean
that any move for the player
would require a total outlay of
around ВЈ500 million ($756mn).
Chelsea are one of the few
clubs believed to have the resources to fund a deal of that
size, but Holland believes Financial Fair Play regulations
would prohibit a move.
Blues and Mourinho
looking for answers
And Holland insists Blues
manager Jose Mourinho has no
intention of making changes
to his playing squad during the
current transfer window.
Mourinho did not attend yesterday’s routine press conference after being charged with
misconduct by the Football Association.
And Holland said: “With Financial Fair Play, many players
have been sold to balance the
books. That has been the case in
the last 12 months.
“But when you see the numbers that have been mentioned
around the Messi deal I would
think it looks impossible under
Financial Fair Play.”
He added: “I think he has
made it clear in this window nobody leaves, nobody goes.
“I recall he said a similar thing
at this time last year and a few
things happened that meant we
had to be reactive. Manchester
United made a huge offer for
Juan Mata and there was an offer
for Kevin De Bruyne.
“Jose was happy to keep them.
But sometimes you have to react.
But the hope and expectation is
that nobody comes or leaves.”
Mourinho will take charge of
his side against Newcastle this
weekend, 48 hours after being hit
with a FA misconduct charge for
comments he made in the wake of
his side’s draw at Southampton.
The Chelsea manager condemned referee Anthony Taylor’s display after midfielder Cesc
Fabregas was booked for diving
when television replays showed
the player was fouled inside the
Southampton penalty area.
That was the latest in a succession of controversial decisions to affect Mourinho’s side.
And while Holland insists the
manager remains unaffected by
the charge, he insisted Mourinho’s frustration was shared
throughout the club.
Holland said: “Jose’s been fine
today. He’s very focused on the
game against Newcastle. We lost
away to Newcastle only very recently. We are very determined
to put that right.
“There is a frustration with all
of us, the coaching staff and the
players, not just Jose with an accumulation of events which surfaced at the Southampton game
with Cesc. “We are all together
in this. But we have to move on.”
The draw at Southampton was
followed by a 5-3 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur, allowing Manchester City to draw level at the
head of the EPL table.
And Holland admitted that
the intensity of the title race
meant tensions were rising.
He added: “At the halfway mark
the difference between success
and failure is so small. In a game
like Southampton where clearly
a penalty should have been given
and you assume you would go on
to win the game and get two extra
points that could prove to be vital.
So when managers speak straight
after the game there is a frustration. Small margins define success or failure.”
rank Lampard yesterday
moved to clear up “lies
and nonsense” over his
move to New York City
FC, confirming he will move to
the States after completing his
loan deal with Manchester City.
Lampard issued a statement
which said he does have an
agreement in place with Major
League Soccer side New York and
will move there at season’s end.
“I want to make it completely
clear about my situation as I have
read a lot of lies and nonsense
over the last few days,” the statement said.
“When released from Chelsea
last year at the end of my contract I signed a commitment to
play for NYCFC for two years
starting January 1, 2015. I was
then offered the chance to train
and be part of the Man City
squad in the interim to keep myself in the best shape going into
New York.
“This period has since been
extended by Man City and I will
now start playing for NYCFC at
the end of this current Premier
League season.
“There has always been a constant dialogue between all parties in this time to find the best
solution for everyone. I can say
that I am very excited about ar-
City’s Frank Lampard.
riving in New York and giving
everything to the team to make
us a success in the MLS as soon
as possible.
“Thanks everyone for your
ongoing support and I wish everyone a healthy and happy 2015!”
Lampard’s assertion that his
New York City contract was
originally due to start on January
1 may add further confusion as,
when the MLS franchise originally announced his signing in
July 2014, they said on their website: “New York City FC signs
Frank Lampard to a Designated
Player contract ... a two-year
contract which starts August 1
Manchester City and New York
City, both part of the City Football Group, have been criticised on
both sides of the Atlantic for their
handling of the situation.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Atletico aim to
inflict more pain
on Barcelona
The unrest at the Camp Nou kicked into overdrive on Monday
63-goal Ronaldo
confident of
retaining Ballon
d’Or award
ristiano Ronaldo, never
short on self-confidence, is fairly sure of
retaining the FIFA Ballon d’Or award on Monday, after
a memorable 2014 in which he
scored 63 goals for Real Madrid
and Portugal in all competitions.
His rivals for the coveted
award are old adversary Lionel
Messi of Barcelona and Argentina - the winner in 2010, 2011 and
2012 - and Germany and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel
Ronaldo, who is 30 in February, has not said much about the
award recently. However, he did
raise eyebrows a few months ago
by saying: “In my head, I think I
am the best player in the world.”
Statements over the years - in
2011 he infamously said “some
people jeer me because I am rich,
handsome and a great player” have led to Ronaldo being considered arrogant in some quarters.
The fact that he is the п¬Ѓrst
player ever to have a museum
dedicated to himself, on his
home island of Madeira complete
with a massive statue,- has confirmed this negative impression
for many people.
Not that Ronaldo is very wor-
ried about his critics, after a remarkable year in which he guided
Real to four major trophies: the
Champions League, the UEFA
Super Cup, the Club World Cup
and the Spanish cup.
Ronaldo’s goals record in these
triumphs was nothing short of
astonishing. He banged in 17
goals in the Champions League,
then scored both goals in Real’s
2-0 defeat of Sevilla for the UEFA
Super Cup in August.
He was top scorer in La Liga
last season with 31 goals, and
is currently way ahead atop the
scorers’ chart with 26, a tally
which puts him on course to
beat Messi’s record of 50 goals
in 2012.
However, Ronaldo’s critics
point to the fact that he again
failed to shine on the most important stage of all: the World
Cup п¬Ѓnals.
He scored only one goal at
the tournament, the same as in
2010, and failed to guide Portugal beyond the п¬Ѓrst round, while
Messi’s Argentina reached the
final and Neuer’s Germany won
the trophy.
Nonetheless, 2014 was an excellent year for him, and this is
why he is considered favourite to
win the Ballon d’Or in Zurich on
“Not everybody likes Ronaldo,
it has to be said,” commented Radio Marca recently.
Atletico Madrid players celebrate their victory at the end of their Spanish Copa del Rey round of 16 first leg match against Real Madrid on Wednesday.
FIXTURES (All times Qatar)
arcelona’s new year has had
anything but a happy start and
things could get even worse tomorrow as the crisis-hit Catalan giants host in-form Atletico Madrid
side at the Camp Nou.
A shock 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad
last weekend after coach Luis Enrique
had relegated nearly 300 million euros of
talent, including Lionel Messi and Neymar, to the bench left Barca tied with
Atletico one point adrift of leaders Real
Madrid, who also have a game in hand
their title rivals.
The unrest at the Camp Nou kicked
into overdrive on Monday when sporting
director Andoni Zubizarreta was sacked,
his assistant and club legend Carles Puyol
resigned and Messi then missed an open
training session with the club’s fans.
The Argentine sparked transfer rumours by then following Chelsea on the
social networking site Instagram, whilst
reports emerged that his relationship
with Enrique is at breaking point.
Today: Real Madrid v Espanyol (6pm),
Malaga v Villarreal (8pm), Celta Vigo v
Valencia (10pm).
Tomorrow: Almeria v Sevilla (2pm),
Athletic Bilbao v Elche (7pm), Granada
v Real Sociedad (9pm), Barcelona v
Atletico Madrid (11pm)
Rayo Vallecano v Cordoba (9.45pm)
On Wednesday, club president Josep
Maria Bartomeu called early elections
for the end of the season in response to
the increasing pressure on his position,
whilst insisting that Messi, who signed
a contract until 2018 as recently as May,
would remain in the Catalan capital.
Given the circumstances Atletico
are probably the last opponents that
Enrique’s men would like the face this
weekend as they bound into Barcelona
on a wave of enthusiasm created by
Fernando Torres’s return to the club and
a third win over Real Madrid this season
on Wednesday.
Before seeing their rivals do battle,
Real Madrid can move four points
clear at the top when they welcome
Espanyol to the Santiago Bernabeu
Torres contributed little in his п¬Ѓrst appearance for Los Rojiblancos in over seven years, but did taste victory over Real
for the п¬Ѓrst time as an Atletico player
thanks to second-half goals from Raul
Garcia and Jose Maria Gimenez.
The result was even more impressive as Atletico boss Diego Simeone
had made seven changes to his side and
Torres is expected to start on the bench
as Mario Mandzukic, Koke, Arda Turan,
Juanfran and Miguel Angel Moya return
to the starting line-up.
Before seeing their rivals do battle,
Real Madrid can move four points clear
at the top when they welcome Espanyol
to the Santiago Bernabeu today.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men have also had a
far from ideal start to the year with backto-back defeats to Valencia and Atletico
coming after a 22-game winning run to
end 2014.
“I think to call it a crisis is a bit exag-
gerated, but it is clear that we are not
happy,” Ancelotti said after defeat at the
Vicente Calderon in midweek.
“We have lost and we need to get back
to winning quickly.”
Cristiano Ronaldo was only used
as a second-half substitute against
Atletico and is expected to return the
starting line-up two days before he
will hope to get his hands on a third
Ballon d’Or on Monday. Valencia’s
victory over Madrid last weekend
moved them back up to fourth and
they can move to within a point of
Barca and Atletico with a win at goal
shy Celta Vigo today.
Since shocking Barcelona at the Camp
Nou in early November, Celta have taken
just one point and failed to score in seven
league games.
Sevilla were the latest side to inflict
defeat upon the Galicians and maintain
their quest for a return to the Champions League when they visit Almeria in an
Andalusian derby.
Meanwhile, David Moyes will be hoping his Real Sociedad side kick on from
their latest giant-killing this season
when they travel to struggling Granada.
�No crisis’ at Juve as
champions prepare
to take on Napoli
Neymar hits double as Barcelona put five past Elche
eymar’s double helped
Barcelona cruise to a 5-0
victory in the п¬Ѓrst leg of
their King’s Cup last 16 tie
against Elche on Thursday to ease
the pressure on coach Luis Enrique.
The Brazilian put the Catalan
club ahead after 34 minutes when
he п¬Ѓred home following a well
worked move and after that the
flood gates opened against the bottom side in La Liga.
Six minutes later Luis Suarez
slotted past Przemyslaw Tyton after creating the chance with a delightful dummy as he allowed the
ball to run through his legs before
bearing down on goal.
Lionel Messi, who was the focus
of attention following a reported
bust-up with Enrique, looked very
motivated from the start with some
lively runs and converted a penalty
just before halftime after Neymar
was felled by defender Enzo Roco.
Jordi Alba made it 4-0 with a
clinical п¬Ѓnish from a Messi pass after 55 minutes and Neymar got his
second foal with a deflected drive
Ronaldo (front) is the favourite to win the Ballon d’Orr award on
Barcelona’s Brazilian forward Neymar da Silva Santos Junior (L) vies with Elche’s Polish goalkeeper
Przemyslaw Tyton during the Spanish Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) round of 16 first leg football match
FC Barcelona vs Elche FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on Thursday.
from distance п¬Ѓve minutes later.
Shortly afterwards Neymar was
substituted and made it clear he
was unhappy as he shook his head
when walking off.
It was an important win for
Enrique who was criticised for
leaving Messi and Neymar on
the bench for the defeat by Real
Sociedad last Sunday with his
team stuttering under him.
The coach put out a п¬Ѓrst choice
strike force against Elche as he
could not afford another slip-up
and he received a mixed reception
from the Camp Nou crowd. At
several times during the game fans
chanted his name but they were
then drowned out by whistles.
“The only reflection that I will
make is that which interests me,
and I value the support of the fans
to the players. They are the protagonists in this show and I like it that
they are supported,” he told a news
“This is basic if we are going to
have a good season and it is great if
they can back the players.”
It has been a difficult week with
presidential elections brought forward a year to the end of this season
due to general dissatisfaction with
the management of the club.
“I think that our supporters have
belief in us and in this sense I am in
favour of the decision to hold elections by the president (Josep Maria)
Bartomeu as a generous gesture”
said Luis Enrique.
“This is a way of bringing some
calm and hopefully we can build on
that with some good results.” Barca
will face either Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid in the King’s Cup quarter-finals once they finish off Elche.
Atletico hold a 2-0 first-leg lead after
the home leg on Wednesday.
uventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio has brushed
off suggestions of a crisis,
insisting the champions’
resolve will remain intact when
they visit in-form Napoli looking for their п¬Ѓrst win of the year
Juventus saw their lead over
title challengers Roma reduced
to a point on Tuesday when
Mauro Icardi struck late for Inter to level Carlos Tevez’s fifthminute opener in Turin.
Roma will go top if they beat
Lazio in the city derby on Sunday afternoon, heaping further
pressure on a Juventus side that
lost the Italian Super Cup п¬Ѓnal to
Napoli in Doha in their last game
of the year.
But having secured their qualification for the last 16 of the
Champions League, Marchisio
has put the situation into perspective.
“Maybe we could have handled certain games better, but
speculation about physical or
psychological problems is totally
wide of the mark,” Marchisio told
Sky Sport on Thursday.
“There are always peaks and
troughs in a season but when you
come up against teams like Napoli you can’t fail to get fired up
for the game.”
(All times Qatar)
Today: Sassuolo v Udinese (8pm), Torino v Milan
Tomorrow: Inter v Genoa
(2.30pm), Atalanta v Chievo,
Cagliari v Cesena, Fiorentina
v Palermo, Verona v Parma,
Roma v Lazio, Sampdoria v
Empoli (all 5pm), Napoli v
Juventus (10.45pm)
Napoli welcome Massimiliano
Allegri’s men looking to emulate
Genoa, the only team so far this
season to take all three points
from Juventus following their
1-0 home win at the Luigi Ferraris stadium in October.
But while Marchisio admits
meeting Napoli at their formidable San Paolo stadium will be
“difficult”, he added: “They are
a great side but we want to upset predictions and make sure we
come away with the win.”
While several Italian sides,
notably Inter, look to bolster
their squads for the second half
of the campaign, Roma have not
been in a selling mood.
Midfielder Kevin Strootman,
who only recently returned from
a long injury lay-off, had attracted the interest of Manchester
United but has ruled out a possible move.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Positive India
will play for
win at Sydney,
says Ashwin
SYDNEY: Encouraged by the
perfect batting conditions
and armed with a positive
mindset, India will chase their
first win of the series once
Australia set them a target
on the final day of the fourth
Test, Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin said yesterday.
Australia, 2-0 up in the
series, have already taken an
overall 348-run lead in the
final match with four wickets
intact and will declare early
enough today to give their
bowlers enough time to claim
10 Indian second innings
Rather than batting out the
day for a draw, Ashwin suggested the visitors will try to
chase down the target on a
benign track at the Sydney
Cricket Ground.
“We are here to play positive
cricket and win games of
cricket. If presented with the
chance to try and go for a
victory, we will try to go for it
as sensibly as possible,” the
28-year-old off-spinner told
“We are here to win games of
cricket, there’s no two ways
about it.
“It all depends on how
positively you can bat and the
techniques you apply. Definitely it’s going to be a very
positive game tomorrow, we
will try and be positive about
Number eight batsman Ashwin himself capitalised on the
ideal batting conditions to hit
his fourth test fifty and was
confident India can still sign
off the series with a win.
“It’s still pretty decently
poised, although they definitely have an ace up. We’ll
have to see how it goes.
“There’s not a lot of devils in
the wicket, but we definitely
found it a little too hard to
score, it’s a new ball wicket.”
Underlining how good the
track was for batting, Ashwin
(50) added 65 runs for the
eighth wicket with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (30), who
was adjudged caught in a
controversial decision.
“This was one of the slowest
innings in my test career. I
wanted to bat as deep as possible and put it into as many
holes as possible and make
sure that if any team won, it
was India,” Ashwin, who has
two test centuries, said of his
111-ball knock.
“But fortunately or unfortunately, the game is very well
poised now, you don’t know
which way it’s going to go.”
Smith trumps Bradman
to fuel Aussie run chase
�To lead from the front the way he does and also to do it in all sorts of situations, it’s great to watch’
teve Smith eclipsed a
Don Bradman record by
powering a furious Australian run chase to set a
massive target for India in the
п¬Ѓnal Sydney Test yesterday.
The Australian skipper with
the Midas touch went helterskelter after the runs in a bid
for a declaration to pursue the
home side’s third victory in the
four-match series on Saturday’s
п¬Ѓnal day.
Smith, backed by four centuries, passed Bradman’s 1947/48
record of 715 for most Australian runs in a series against India
with a frenetic 71 off 70 balls.
The skipper, who was given
out leg before wicket to Mohammed Shami, п¬Ѓnished the
series with 769 runs at an average of 128.16.
Some late п¬Ѓreworks from Joe
Burns with 66 off 39 balls with
six fours and two sixes propelled
Australia to 251 for six off 40
overs and a lead of 348 with Brad
Haddin not out for 31. A declaration was likely overnight.
The highest successful runchase record in the fourth innings of a Sydney Test is currently Australia’s 288 for two
against South Africa nine years
“To lead from the front the
way he does and also to do it in
all sorts of situations, it’s great
to watch,” Burns said of his
“There aren’t too many batters in the world better at the
moment, so it’s just great to
Burns said Australia was in a
strong position to go on and win
the Test.
“The wicket spun and I think
it will only get harder to bat on
as the game goes on,” he said.
“We’ll come out tomorrow
and I’m sure we’re going to create 10 opportunities. It’s just a
case of taking all 10.”
Chris Rogers raised his sixth
straight 50 of the series with a
glorious cover drive for four but
he was out shortly after, hitting
straight to Suresh Raina for 56
off 77 balls.
The Australians п¬Ѓnally dislodged India for 475 after 162
overs to lead by 97 runs on the
п¬Ѓrst innings shortly before tea.
Warner out for four
Virat Kohli was rewarded for
some bold captaincy by getting
п¬Ѓrst innings centurion David
India’s Suresh Raina (second from left) reacts as Australia’s Shane Watson (left) avoids being run out as wicket keeper Wriddhiman Saha drops the ball on day four of the fourth
Test against at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, yesterday.
Warner for just four in the second over of the innings bowled by
spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
Ashwin got an edge off Warner to Murali Vijay, the sixth time
the spinner has claimed Warner’s wicket in Tests.
“We definitely leaked a lot
more runs than we would like
to have, they played a few good
shots,” Ashwin said.
“It’s still pretty decently
poised, although they definitely
have an ace up, we’ll have to see
how it goes.”
Shane Watson, who narrowly avoided being run out
shortly before tea in a mix-up,
was bowled by Ashwin for 16
to complete an underwhelming series of just 238 runs at an
average of 29.75, while Shaun
Marsh lasted four balls for one.
Yet another dropped catch
stalled Australia’s efforts to
mop up the Indian п¬Ѓrst innings
when Burns made a hash of a
chance off Bhuvneshwar Kumar
on nought.
His blooper was the 16th
missed opportunity, which has
cost the Australians 657 runs in
the series.
Kumar was eventually given
out by umpire’s referral caught
at slip by Watson off Nathan
Lyon for 30 after putting on 65
with Ashwin.
Paceman Mitchell Starc was
rewarded for a terrific over when
he coaxed an edge off Ashwin,
who was on 50, to Haddin for his
third wicket of the innings.
Haddin took his fourth catch
and last of the innings to dismiss Umesh Yadav for four to
end the Indian resistance nearing tea.
The tourists lost the wickets
of Kohli and Saha in the morning session.
Kohli’s hopes of building an
even bigger innings evaporated
in the п¬Ѓfth over of the day when
he fell to Ryan Harris.
He clipped low to Rogers at
mid-wicket and threw back his
head in anguish before slowly
departing with 147 off 230 balls
including 20 fours.
It was the new India skipper’s
fourth century of the series,
equalling Australian counter-
erage of 92.28, eclipsing Rahul
Dravid’s 619 for India against
Australia in 2003/04.
Australia 1st innings 572 for 7
India 1st innings (overnight 342 for 5)
M. Vijay c Haddin b Starc ..................................................0
L. Rahul c and b Starc .......................................................110
R. Sharma b Lyon..................................................................... 53
V. Kohli c Rogers b Harris ............................................147
A. Rahane lbw b Watson ...................................................13
S. Raina c Haddin b Watson ...........................................0
W. Saha c Smith b Hazlewood .................................35
R. Ashwin c Haddin b Starc ........................................50
B. Kumar c Watson b Lyon .........................................30
M. Shami not out .......................................................................16
U. Yadav c Haddin b Harris ............................................. 4
Extras (b4, lb7, w1, nb5) ....................................................17
Total (all out, 162 overs) ...............................................475
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Vijay), 2-97 (Sharma),
3-238 (Rahul), 4-292 (Rahane), 5-292 (Raina),
6-352 (Kohli), 7-383 (Saha), 8-448 (Kumar),
9-456 (Ashwin), 10-475 (Yadav)
Bowling: Starc 32-7-106-3, Harris 31-7-96-2
(3nb), Hazlewood 29-8-64-1 (1w), Lyon 4611-123-2 (1nb), Watson 20-4-58-2 (1nb), Smith
Australia 2nd innings
C. Rogers c Raina b Kumar .........................................56
D. Warner c Vijay b Ashwin ............................................. 4
S. Watson b Ashwin ...............................................................16
S. Smith lbw b Shami .............................................................71
S. Marsh c Vijay b Ashwin ...................................................1
J. Burns c Yadav b Ashwin ...........................................66
B. Haddin not out ......................................................................31
R. Harris not out ...........................................................................0
Extras (b2, lb2, nb2) ..............................................................6
Total (6 wickets; 40 overs) ........................................251
Fall of wickets: 1-6 (Warner), 2-46 (Watson),
3-126 (Rogers), 4-139 (Marsh), 5-165 (Smith),
6-251 (Burns)
Bowling: Kumar 8-0-46-1, Ashwin 19-2-105-4,
Shami 6-0-33-1 (1nb), Yadav 3-0-45-0 (1nb),
Raina 4-0-18-0
Shocked at Tharanga’s omission
from Cup squad: Muralitharan
ri Lankan spin legend
Muttiah Muralitharan
has said he was surprised to see young allrounder Jeevan Mendis getting picked ahead of seasoned
batsman Upul Tharanga in the
country’s 15-member World
Cup squad.
The off-spin maestro, a
member of the World Cup winning squad in 1996, also expressed concern about the balance of the squad to be led by
ace all-rounder Angelo Mathews.
“The Sri Lanka squad for the
World Cup contained two big
surprises for me: the absence
of opener Upul Tharanga and
the inclusion of Jeevan Mendis
as a spin-bowling all-rounder,”
Muralitharan wrote in a column
published at the International
Cricket Council (ICC) website
shocked me. True, he had not
been picked against England
part Smith’s achievement.
It also took Kohli’s series aggregate to a record 646 at an av-
Sri Lankan spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan
or New Zealand, but he has a
decent One-Day International
record, averaging just under 34,
and he has the precious gift of
experience, with 176 matches
under his belt.”
But the right-arm former
spinner said apart from these
two decisions, the squad picked
was formidable, particularly the
batting depth.
“I do worry about the balance of the squad thanks to
Jeevan Mendis’ inclusion ahead
of Tharanga but overall it is a
solid line-up, full of experience,
especially in the batting, and
if everyone stays п¬Ѓt and п¬Ѓnds
form then there is no reason
why Sri Lanka cannot at least
match their achievements of the
last two editions,” he said.
The 42-year-old, who represented his country in п¬Ѓve World
Cups - 1996, 1999, 2003, 2007,
2011 - taking 67 wickets, felt
left-handed opener Tharanga’s
experience would have been
helpful in Australian conditions.
“He was a key member of
our squads in both 2007 and
2011 when we reached the п¬Ѓnal on both occasions, and in
that latter tournament he made
395 runs, including centuries
against Zimbabwe and England, at an excellent strike-rate
of almost 84 runs per hundred
balls,” he said.
“Tharanga was involved with
the one-day side as recently
as the hastily arranged tour
of India in November and my
strong preference would have
been to have him to open alongside Tillakaratne Dilshan and,
rather than leaving out Dimuth
Karunaratne, the man now earmarked for that role, I would
have sacrificed Jeevan Mendis.”
Muralitharan, world’s highest
wicket-taker with 1334 scalps
(800 in Tests and 534 in ODIs),
also defended the Sri Lankan
selectors’ decision to include
injury-plagued pacer Lasith
“I do agree with chairman
of selectors Sanath Jayasuriya
about the inclusion of Lasith
Malinga, that his selection is a
risk worth taking, even though
the fast bowler is still on the
comeback trail following surgery to his left ankle last year,”
Muralitharan said.
“Malinga is a match-winner, someone who will enjoy
conditions in Australia and
New Zealand and as, like Mahela (Jayawardene) and Kumar
(Sangakkara), he is likely to be
playing his last World Cup,” he
“He may well find within
himself the extra motivation to
go out with a bang, especially as
he was part of the squad that fell
at the п¬Ѓnal hurdles in both 2007
and 2011.”
New Zealand can
reach World Cup
final, says coach
ew Zealand coach
Mike Hesson has said
the 15-member strong
squad selected for next
month’s cricket World Cup possesses the right mix of youth and
experience to realise the Kiwis’
dream of entering the п¬Ѓnals.
“I think within the squad
we’ve got an ability to adapt to
different conditions and I don’t
think we’ll be rolling out the
same 11 every game, depending
on the surfaces we face,” Hesson
was quoted as saying by cricket.
com au yesterday.
“The fact we’ve got two spinners in the squad gives us options,
the fact we’ve got guys with genuine pace means we can attack different sides in different ways.”
Grant Elliot’s inclusion raised
eyebrows as the all-rounder
hasn’t played for the national
team since November 2013, but
Hesson justified his recall saying
he provides the team multiple
options which they require.
“Grant has performed well in
New Zealand and Australian con-
ditions. He’s in good form, he’s
able to offer us a bowling option,
and he’s experienced,” he said.
“He’s also got a bit of craft
about him in terms of how he
manoeuvres the ball - he’s a welcome addition to the squad.”
Skipper Brendon McCullum
said it was exciting to see the
squad coming together, with just
over п¬Ѓve weeks until their п¬Ѓrst
game against Sri Lanka at Hagley Oval in Christchurch Feb 14.
“On paper, it’s without doubt
the strongest team I’ve certainly
been involved with heading into
a World Cup,” he said.
“But games aren’t won on paper, so we’ve got to make sure
we’re able to transfer the look of
our squad to performance out on
the field.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand
bowling coach Shane Bond will
step down after the World Cup,
the country’s cricket board said
Former Test bowler Bond
would not be renewing his contract against the wishes of the
board, New Zealand Cricket
(NZC) said, without elaborating on why the 39-year-old was
withdrawing his services.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Kenyan athletics boss says doping crisis �as bad as AIDS’
he head of Kenya’s athletics governing body
said yesterday that a crisis over doping among
the east African nation’s fabled
distance runners was “as bad as
Athletics Kenya president
Isaiah Kiplagat, who has been
fending off allegations of failing to take the issue seriously,
promised to put in place strin-
gent domestic anti-doping test
The crisis in Kenyan sports
follows the disgrace of top female marathoner Rita Jeptoo, a
two-time Chicago and Boston
winner who was caught using
the blood-boosting drug EPO.
“This doping issue is just as
bad as AIDS. This will be a serious elaborate exercise. We will
roll out an educative programme
such as the one Kenya launched
when HIV-AIDS was first detected,” Kiplagat told reporters.
“We plan to have our own
some good Rugby for the Waratahs and hopefully getting selected for the Wallabies.”
Cheika, who helped Beale resurrect his career at the Waratahs
last year after alcohol problems
brought a premature end to his
time at the Melbourne Rebels,
welcomed his retention.
“Kurtley is a fantastic player
who will add to our great talent pool of inside backs,” said
“I’m looking forward to getting the best out of him again
over the next 12 months.”
Although Beale started his career as a flyhalf and has played
much of his international rugby
at fullback, Cheika has used him
at inside centre at the Waratahs.
Beale is a highly skilled player
whose turn of pace and ability to
squeeze through the narrowest
of gaps can bamboozle even the
best defences.
His value as an impact player
coming off the bench is heightened by his proven ability to land
long penalties in clutch situations towards the end of a games.
Montpellier prolong
Galthie suspension
ontpellier yesterday
extended the suspension of coach
Fabien Galthie, the
former French rugby captain,
with the club president saying
Galthie’s management had been
a “failure”.
Galthie was relieved of his
duties on December 29 after a
string of defeats, with South Africa’s 2007 World Cup winning
coach Jake White brought in as a
consultant to take over the reins.
“The suspension is extended.
I’m giving myself time to reflect,” said club president Mohed
Altrad, after prolonging the initial suspension which ran until
January 9.
“I let him know my grievances,” Altrad continued.
“I’m disappointed because
this period of provisional suspension is intended to give the
employee time to think ... to
come and say something interesting to his boss.
“He didn’t tell me anything.
Saying �I’ve nothing to say’
leaves very little after such a
Altrad said he had “eight
up—for all elite athletes.
Kenya’s sports bosses have
been accused of inaction on
the doping issue, which has
cast a shadow over the recordbreaking and medal-winning
achievements of its distance
runners—who are a major source
of national pride.
They have also cast the current
crisis as being a result of what
they insist are dishonest foreign
agents and coaches who are “corrupting” Kenyan runners.
Jeptoo is the biggest name in
Kenyan athletics to have been
busted for cheating, and will
appear before a disciplinary
panel next week. She is expected
to face a two-year ban and be
stripped of her recent titles.
Jeptoo tested positive for
EPO, which can massively increase endurance and recovery
times during intense training,
in an out-of-competition test
in Kenya last September. A test
of her “B” sample, conducted at
the World Anti-Doping Agency
laboratory in Lausanne in December, confirmed the presence
of the drug.
Beale signs
with Wallabies
World Cup
ersatile back Kurtley
Beale (pictured), who
was at the heart of the
text message scandal
that led to Australia rugby coach
Ewen McKenzie’s resignation
last year, has signed on for another season with the Wallabies.
Beale, who turned 26 on Tuesday, will now almost certainly
play a part in the World Cup in
England this year as well as help
the New South Wales Waratahs
defend the Super Rugby title.
Both teams will be guided by
Michael Cheika, who replaced
McKenzie when the former test
prop quit in the wake of the
scandal over obscene text messages sent to a female member of
the Wallabies staff.
Beale, who has been involved
in a string of disciplinary issues
over the last few years, faced
having his contract torn up over
the incident but an independent
tribunal instead landed him with
a A$45,000 ($36,495) п¬Ѓne.
He rejoined the Wallabies
squad on their November tour of
Europe after regaining his п¬Ѓtness
and won his 48th and 49th caps
off the bench against England
and Ireland.
“I’m really looking forward
to the year ahead and am grateful to the ARU and Waratahs for
the opportunity to continue my
career here in Australia,” Beale
“With the World Cup coming
up, I’m looking forward to getting back out there and playing
Athletics Kenya president Isaiah Kiplagat
doping control officers to nab the
athletes locally,” he said, adding
that Athletics Kenya would partner the newly-launched Antidoping Agency of Kenya (ADAK)
to conduct random in-competition and out-of-competition
Other measures to be put in
place include a lifetime ban on
any sports agent or coach who
has three athletes in their stable who test positive for doping,
plus the mandatory introduction
of biological passports—which
monitor changes in blood make-
pages of criticisms” against
Galthie covering team results,
his “blunt” manner of communication, “defeatist, aloof and
non-motivating behaviour” and
his “criticism” of players and the
club president.
“It’s a failure. We can’t say that
Galthie’s path this season has
been a success. “You have to go
a long way back in French rugby
history to п¬Ѓnd a club which has
lost eight out of nine matches.
“I also remember his comments before the match at Bath
(European Cup on December 5,
30-5 defeat), when he said that
we were going to lose,” added
“The players, including (David) Attoub and (captain Fulgence)
Ouedraogo, were saying they
were going to п¬Ѓght, at least put
on a good show and why not win.
His (Galthie) comments didn’t
put the players in a comfortable
Altrad also slammed Galthie’s
outside activities, advertising
campaigns, and television commentary roles, along with a trip
to Brazil when the team prepared
for and played a Top 14 match.
One TV advertising campaign
had Galthie declaring what he
would do as future coach of the
France national team.
Sullivan takes lead at
South African Open
�I thought I did well on eight to make birdie after a couple of smelly holes in the middle’
Woods �ready to go,’ will
make season debut in
Tiger Woods will make his
season debut at this month’s
Waste Management Phoenix
Open, a tournament he has not
played in 14 years, the former
world number one said yesterday.
Woods, who was limited to
nine tournaments last year due
to back issues, also said he will
play the following week’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey
Pines in La Jolla, California.
The Phoenix Open, famous for
its massive galleries and an amphitheatre par-three 16th that
is the center of the event’s party
atmosphere, will mark Woods’s
п¬Ѓrst event since п¬Ѓnishing tied for
last at the 18-player Hero World
Challenge last month.
“It will be great to return
to Phoenix,” Woods said in a
statement on his website. “The
crowds are amazing and always
enthusiastic, and the 16th hole
is pretty unique in golf.
“Torrey is a very important
place to me. My pop took me
there when I was younger, and
I have a lot of special memories
of watching the tour play there
when I was growing up.”
In three previous starts at
Phoenix, Woods cracked the top
п¬Ѓve twice, п¬Ѓnishing third in 1999
and tied for п¬Ѓfth in 2001. In 1997,
he electrified the huge crowds
surrounding the par-3 16th hole
by making a hole-in-one.
Woods is very familiar with
Torrey Pines, where he grew
up playing junior golf, and he
has won the tournament seven
times, most recently in 2013.
The last of his 14 majors came
in the 2008 US Open on the
South Course at Torrey Pines
where he beat Rocco Mediate in
a playoff.
nglishman Andy Sullivan took a single stroke
lead after shooting a
70 in the second round
of the South African Open at
Glendower Golf Club yesterday.
But he will be feeling the heat
with Charl Schwartzel just one
shot behind in second place after the 2011 Masters winner hit a
69, starting his round with consecutive bogeys but п¬Ѓnishing
birdie, eagle, birdie for a tworound total of 137.
Schwartzel is the highest
profile South African golfer to
have never won the country’s
top professional prize in a tournament п¬Ѓrst played more than a
century ago.
But the sentimental favourite Ernie Els, who was just one
off the overnight leaders after
a п¬Ѓrst round 67, fell dramatically back after a п¬Ѓve over-par
77 which included two triple
bogeys. He did make the cut,
Sullivan, who carded an
opening day 66, said he felt he
might have been able to post a
better score but dropped shots
after п¬Ѓnding the thick rough off
the tee.
“I thought it was going to
be a really good knock on the
front nine, but a few little errant
drives meant the rough got its
payback on me today,” he told
“But anything in red figures
(under par) is good, so I am really happy with the position I am
in. I thought I did well on eight
to make birdie after a couple of
smelly holes in the middle.”
Sullivan’s day included four
birdies, three of which came on
the back nine – Sullivan’s first
nine – at Glendower Golf Club
Andy Sullivan carded a two-under 70 to take a one-shot lead at 8 under at the South African Open at
Glendower Golf Club yesterday.
in Johannesburg. It was enough
to hold off Charl Schwartzel,
who sits in second place after a
second-round 69. Schwartzel
closed birdie-eagle-birdie to
move within a shot of the lead.
“When I get in these positions I find myself enjoying it
more,” Sullivan said. “It’s where
you want to be, you practice to
be in these situations and I am
playing with the guys I always
wanted to as a kid. It’s fantastic.
“It’s new territory to be up
there after two rounds, but
hopefully I can take what I usu-
ally do in rounds three and four,
and blow the field away.”
Joint overnight leader Jbe
Kruger slumped after a round of
80. Denmark’s Lasse Jensen and
South Africans Colin Nel and JJ
Senekal are tied in third place,
two strokes off the lead.
Family expectations a �problem’
for Johnson on Maui
Kapalua, Hawaii
eturning to the Hawaiian island of Maui for
the PGA Tour’s Hyundai
Tournament of Champions is a double-edged sword
for Zach Johnson, whose young
family now expect him to be a
perennial qualifier for the event.
Johnson clinched last year’s
title by one shot over fellow
American Jordan Spieth and
will be competing in the winners-only п¬Ѓeld at Kapalua Resort for the eighth time, having
missed out on qualification only
once since 2007.
The elite $5.7mn event this
week brings together 34 winners from the previous season and Johnson, an 11-times
champion on the PGA Tour, has
given his children the impression that he punches his ticket
Zach Johnson
to Maui virtually at will.
“My (two) boys, granted
they’re young, they kind of expect it,” a smiling Johnson told
reporters while preparing for
Friday’s opening round on the
Plantation Course.
“That’s a problem. My eightyear-old has celebrated six birthdays here in Maui. That’s also a
problem, but a good problem.
“It’s great to be back in Maui.
This is a pretty special place to
start, and it’s one that certainly I
and my family relish because it’s
not easy getting back here.”
Johnson triumphed at Kapalua last year after closing with a
seven-under-par 66, iron-clad
confirmation that he has adjusted well to a hilly layout that
measures 7,452 yards.
“I used to think this golf
course wasn’t in my favour but
the more and more I play it,
the better I feel like it is suited
to me,” said the 38-year-old
American. “I’ve grown to at
least enjoy it, for sure.”
South African Tim Clark,
like Johnson one of the shorter
hitters on the PGA Tour where
power is a prized commodity,
has also had to adapt to Kapalua’s special requirements.
“My first reaction was, �Do we
get a cart for the week?’” Clark
recalled of his Tournament of
Champions debut in 2011 when
he tied for 17th. “It’s certainly
an interesting golf course.
“On a personal level, I’d like to
see it a little bit narrower ... but
I like the grasses we’ll be playing
on and I like playing in the wind,
so I look forward to the week.”
Long established as the opening event on the PGA Tour, this
week’s edition is the eighth in
the �wrap-around’ season that
was п¬Ѓrst introduced for 201314. Masters champion Bubba
Watson, the American world
number four, heads the п¬Ѓeld.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Rockets send reeling
Knicks to 14th straight loss
�It’s not fair what they’re doing. They’re terrible. And Carmelo should be playing. Why isn’t he playing?’
frame, Harden was done for the
night, as well as diehard Knicks
fan and п¬Ѓlm director Spike Lee,
who was long gone, as the Rockets coasted home with the lopsided win.
“They’re going through a
tough time, but they’ll turn it
around soon,” Harden said.
Aldridge had 24 points with 12
rebounds, Wesley Matthews
netted 18, and the Trail Blazers
beat the visiting Heat 99-83 for
their sixth win in the last seven
Trailing by п¬Ѓve at the break,
Portland (28-8) opened on a 17-3
run and outscored its guests 3316 in the pivotal third quarter,
with Aldridge dropping in 10 for
a 76-64 lead.
The gap grew to as much as
23 in the п¬Ѓnal frame, as the Trail
Blazers improved to 16-2 at
Dwyane Wade netted 23
points and Chris Bosh added 18
for Miami (15-21) losers in п¬Ѓve of
its last six games.
Gerald Henderson dropped in
a season-high 31 points, Kemba
Walker added 29, and the visiting Hornets (14-24) trimmed
the suddenly-slumping Raptors
103-95 for their fourth straight
The Raptors cut an early
11-point deficit to 99-95 with
42.3 seconds remaining. But
Walker hit a jumper with 19.6
seconds left to seal the victory.
Kyle Lowry had 24 points
and Lou Williams added 15 for
Toronto (24-11) which suffered
a season-high fourth straight
Los Angeles
he Houston Rockets
have championship aspirations while the woeful New York Knicks
continue to turn the Big Apple
League top scorer James
Harden tossed in 25 points in
just three quarters, Trevor Ariza
added 18, and the visiting Rockets extended the Knicks’ franchise-record losing streak to 14
Thursday with a 120-96 victory.
Asked how the Rockets prepared for the league-worst
Knicks п¬Ѓlled with untested
youngsters and players on 10day contracts, Harden said “We
have one goal at the end of the
season and that’s to be champions.”
“We can’t play down to our
Lithuania’s Donatas Motiejunas netted 17 points, Patrick
Beverly had 14 while Dwight
Howard collected 13 with 10
rebounds for Houston (24-11)
which hit 16-of-36 from behind
the arc and led by as many as 27
en route to its 12th straight victory in the series.
Reserves Travis Wear had 21
points, Langston Galloway had
19 and Cleanthony Early added
16 for the short-handed Knicks
(5-34), losers of 11 consecutive
home games and 24 of their last
25 overall.
“I see frustration, I see disappointment,” said Knicks rookie
coach Derek Fisher, whose club
hasn’t won since beating Boston
on December 12. “None of us is
enjoying losing at all.”
It’s gotten so embarrassing
at Madison Square Garden that
п¬Ѓve young adults sat behind the
baseline near the Rockets bench,
each wearing brown paper bags
over their heads in protest over
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry dribbles past Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker during the fourth quarter at Air Canada Centre on Thursday.
the Knicks’ play.
“We’re doing this because the
Knicks are the worst team,” one
of the bag-wearers, 18-year-old
James Martucci told the New
York Daily News. “It’s not fair
what they’re doing. They’re terrible. And Carmelo should be
playing. Why isn’t he playing?”
With their top scorer Carmelo Anthony missing his п¬Ѓfth
straight game because of a sore
left knee, the Knicks trailed 5642 at halftime as Harden and
Ariza combined for 32 points.
The deficit grew to 24 be-
hind Howard’s 11 third-quarter
With Houston comfortably
ahead, 93-69 entering the п¬Ѓnal
103 Toronto
120 NY Knicks 96
99 Miami
Cowboys-Packers rematch
tops playoff games
New York
n a rematch of a brutally cold
1967 playoff classic dubbed
the “Ice Bowl,” the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay
Packers meet tomorrow, topping
a weekend of intense knockout
The Cowboys, unbeaten on
the road this season, travel to
Green Bay, perfect at home in the
campaign, in sub-freezing conditions and one team will have
its title dreams ended.
“We don’t pay attention to
them being 8-0 on the road because they haven’t come here
and beaten us here at Lambeau,”
Packers defensive back Micah
Hyde said. “But it’s going to be
a tough matchup and we understand that.”
It’s the first time the Cowboys
have visited Lambeau Field for
a playoff game since New Year’s
Eve in 1967, when Bart Starr’s
late touchdown plunge in wind
chills averaging minus-48 (minus-44 Celsius) gave the Packers a 21-17 triumph on their way
to winning the second Super
The last time an unbeaten
road team visited an unbeaten
host in the playoffs came in 1972
when visiting Miami won at
Pittsburgh on the way to the only
undefeated Super Bowl championship run.
“This will be a big challenge,”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy
said. “It’s definitely something
that jumps off the stat sheet
when you see eight wins on the
The Cowboys, featuring NFL
rushing champion DeMarco
Murray and standout quarter-
back Tony Romo, have lost their
past six road playoff games while
the Packers, whose quarterback
Aaron Rodgers has been nagged
by a calf injury, has thrown 38
touchdowns without an interception in 477 passes over his
past 16 home games.
The Cowboys have not
reached the Super Bowl since
winning their third in four seasons in 1996.
And since the Packers last won
the Super Bowl in 2011, they saw
a 15-1 season end with a home
playoff loss to the New York Giants and exits to San Francisco
the past two years.
The Packers-Cowboys winner will face either defending
Super Bowl champion Seattle
or upstart Carolina, only the
second playoff qualifier with a
losing regular-season record,
in the National Conference final.
In the American Conference,
Denver quarterback Peyton
Manning will guide the Broncos
against his former club, the visiting Indianapolis Colts, tomorrow while the top seed New England Patriots play host today to
Baltimore, the Ravens fresh off
winning their playoff opener at
Winners of the conference п¬Ѓnals on January 18 will advance
to the Super Bowl championship
spectacle on February 1 at Glendale, Arizona.
Manning, who guided the
Colts to a Super Bowl crown in
2007, is 0-4 in playoff games
when the temperature is below
40 degrees and such conditions
are forecast Sunday.
His replacement as the Colts’
signal caller, Andrew Luck, is
0-2 in road playoff starts.
Manning’s Broncos were rout-
ed by Seattle in last year’s Super
Bowl and the Seahawks look
tough again thanks to a stellar
defensive unit that allowed the
fewest points in the NFL, although it п¬Ѓgures to be tested by
Carolina run-pass threat Cam
Seattle, Carolina streaking
The Seahawks have won six
in a row while the Panthers have
won п¬Ѓve consecutive games,
most recently ousting Arizona
in last week’s first round while
Seattle and this week’s other
hosts enjoyed a bye.
Seattle star rusher Marshawn
Lynch and quarterback Russell
Wilson will be challenged by a
quick Carolina defensive lineup,
but the Panthers have led in the
second half of games against
the Seahawks in each of the past
three years only to lose.
The Ravens, who won the 2013
Super Bowl, and the Patriots,
who lost the 2008 and 2012 title
games since taking their third
crown in four seasons at the
2005 Super Bowl, meet in New
England for a playoff contest for
the fourth time since 2009 with
Baltimore seeking a third road
Owners back Goodell after probe supports Rice story
National Football League club
owners restated their support for
commissioner Roger Goodell after an independent probe backed
his version of events in the Ray
Rice domestic violence scandal.
The confirmation of Goodell’s
account that no NFL employee
had seen a brutal knockoutpunch elevator video before
the public, and before punishment was imposed, brought resounding support in the form of
a reaction letter from New York
Giants president John Mara and
Pittsburgh Steelers president
Art Rooney II on behalf of all 32
NFL club owners.
“It is clear to us that commissioner Goodell was forthright in
the statements he made to the
owners about this matter, and
we have every confidence that
Roger Goodell is the right person
to lead the league as we move
forward,” Mara and Rooney said.
Goodell had been criticised for
issuing the former Baltimore
Ravens running back only a
two-game ban over a domestic
violence incident last February
at an Atlantic City casino.
That became an outcry of criticism after website TMZ released a
video of Rice knocking out Janay
Palmer, his then-fiancee whom he
later married, in an elevator.
Goodell then toughened the
punishment to an indefinite
suspension, a move Rice later
had overturned on appeal.
When an Associated Press
report said a law-enforcement
official had sent a copy of the elevator video to the NFL months
before it was public and that a
voicemail from a woman at the
league office confirmed receipt
of the package, some called
for Goodell to be punished for
trying to downplay the matter
after the league had seen the
brutal elevator punch.
That sparked the investigation
by former FBI director Robert
Mueller which ended with a
report Thursday that said the
league should have undertaken
a more complete investigation
before punishing Rice.
Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards (left) falls as New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein takes
the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday in Los Angeles.
Rangers top Kings 4-3 in
Stanley Cup final rematch
Los Angeles
early seven months
after the New York
Rangers’ Stanley Cup
hopes were crushed
on the Staples Center ice, they
returned to Hollywood and
demonstrated why they’ve got
a great chance to get back to the
big stage again this summer.
Dan Boyle had a goal and an
assist, Cam Talbot made 28
saves and the Rangers held off
the Los Angeles Kings for a 4-3
victory Thursday in a rematch
of last year’s Stanley Cup finals.
Kevin Klein, Lee Stempniak
and Martin St. Louis scored in a
5:46 span of the second period
for the Rangers, who erased
an early two-goal deficit and
completed a Southern California sweep with their 12th win in
13 games overall.
��It’s a tough building to
come in and play, and obviously
we didn’t fare very well in here
last time,’’ said Talbot, who
overcame a rocky beginning to
win in just his second start in
New York’s last 13 games. ��It’s
a good measuring stick for us.
It was great to get a win in a
building like this.’’
Derick Brassard had two
assists for the Rangers, who
are on their longest streak of
regular-season success in two
decades. Conn Smythe Trophy
winner Justin Williams got his
second goal with 4:03 to play
while the Kings dominated the
third period, but Talbot held
on during the Kings’ 6-on-4
advantage in the п¬Ѓnal 35.9 seconds.
��When we’re not skating,
we don’t play to our strengths,’’
Brassard said. ��In the first period, we were pretty slow out
there. In the second period, we
started skating, and that gave
us a chance to win.’’
Elsewhere, Jakub Voracek
scored a power-play goal 1:28
into overtime to lift the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-2 win over
the Washington Capitals.
In addition to Voracek, who
leads the NHL with 49 points
on 16 goals and 33 assists, the
Flyers (16-18-7) also got goals
from R.J. Umberger and Sean
Braden Holtby made 30
saves while starting his 23rd
straight game, a Caps (21-127) record.
Alexander Steen scored one
goal and assisted on another to
lead the St. Louis Blues to a 7-2
win over the San Jose Sharks.
scored for the Blues (25-13-3),
who have now scored 20 goals
in their last three games.
The Sharks fell to 22-15-5
with the loss.
St. Louis
NY Rangers
New Jersey
San Jose
Los Angeles
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Doha rout Abu Dhabi Harlequins in
Gulf Top Six Rugby Championship
Doha had lost to Harlequins in the Sevens final in December, and they took their revenge for that heart-break in style
Doha and Abu Dhabi Harlequins players slug it out during the opening round match of the Gulf Top Six Rugby Championship at Doha Rugby Football Centre yesterday. PICTURES: Nasar T K
By Sports Reporter
oha started their Gulf Top Six Rugby
Championship campaign on a commanding note, with a thumping win
over defending champions Abu Dhabi
Harlequins yesterday.
At the Doha Rugby Football Centre, the hosts
convincingly beat Harlequins 50-10 in a lopsided game. Doha had lost to Harlequins in the
Sevens п¬Ѓnal 5-27 in December, and they took
their revenge for that heart-break in п¬Ѓne style.
It was a very good win for Doha against Harlequins, with the Abu Dhabi’s oldest team mostly
consisting of youngsters. For Harlequins, wingers Adel al-Hendi and William Umu, who enjoyed a storming Sevens п¬Ѓnal with a bagful of
tries, were both missing, while Quins’ pack too
were without a host of heavy-hitters, including
flankers Renier Els and Charlie Farmer and lock
Anthony Murphy and brother Graham, who is a
prop. Harlequins’ full-back Jeremy Manning, at
29, is among the oldest members in the team but
they have been in п¬Ѓne form last year. They won
the two major titles last year – the UAE Premiership and the Dubai Sevens last year.
Doha couldn’t have been heading into the
competition in any better form, having won six
games out of six in their pre-Christmas tournament of the Gulf Premiership, beating Muscat,
Kuwait and fellow Gulf Top Six representatives,
Bahrain. Still it was touted to be a difficult en-
counter for Doha. In the end, the hosts hardly
put a foot wrong in the п¬Ѓrst game of the competition.
It was pretty much a perfect conditions at the
DRFC, with slight breeze and lush green cover
making it ideal. Both the teams began on a careful note in the п¬Ѓrst п¬Ѓve minutes, wary of conceding a try. It was Doha, who jumped into a 5-0
lead, after a п¬Ѓne hands off the back of the scrum
resulting a in a try, which winger Flo Lacambra
converted. However, Quins reduced the deficit
by three points through a penalty.
Thereafter the pace of the pace picked up,
with Doha strong lines causing havoc within
Harlequins defence allowing the hosts to a take
strong lead which they kept throughout.
A try by Tim Newnham and conversion from
Greg Evans increased the lead to 19-3, before a
strong run and a well-deserved try from David
Ford made it 24-3 in favour of Doha. The hosts
further increased their lead to 25-3 after a try
from Kerne Wales.
Harlequins attempted to mount back and
came out of the blocks quickly to reduce the deficit to 29-10, but that was the last try for them as
Doha dominated thereafter till the п¬Ѓnal whistle.
Doha coach Aaron Palmer was pleased with
the victory. “We have trained well this week,
given that most guys have been away for the
Christmas break and we haven’t had any 15s
rugby since mid-November. We got back into
our moves and patterns seamlessly and hope to
carry that into the game tomorrow,” he said after
the match.
“We welcome new flyhalf Stefano Hunt into
the squad, he has arrived from Australia and
should be a genuine asset for the team for the
Top 6 competition,” he added.
After п¬Ѓrst round of the competition, Doha
lead the Gulf Top Six table with п¬Ѓve points ahead
of Dubai Hurricanes and Abu Dhabi Saracens
thanks to superior goal difference. Harlequins
are at the bottom, below Jebel Ali Dragons and
Boston claims frontrunner spot in 2024 Olympics race
oston joined the race to host
the 2024 Olympics, instantly
claiming the favourites tag as
the United States look to land
their п¬Ѓrst summer Games since 1996.
It is not so much what the city is offering that gives it an edge at the start
of the two-year race but rather the
timing of its candidacy and improved
ties between US Olympic Committee
(USOC) chiefs and the International
Olympic Committee.
Germany will bid with either Hamburg or Berlin while Rome has also
confirmed it will campaign for the biggest sports event in the world with a
decision set for 2017. But Boston looks
to be the city to beat as it seeks to bring
the Games back to the United States
some 28 years since the Atlanta 96
Games, with IOC President Thomas
Bach welcoming what he said was a
strong candidacy.
“The Boston bid will be a strong one.
Bostonians are well known for their
enthusiasm for sport and the city has
a great heritage in sport, science and
education,” Bach said yesterday. “The
bid also has the great potential to build
on the strength of the athletes from the
US Olympic Team - US athletes have
a worldwide reputation and will be a
huge asset for the bid.”
Boston, the п¬Ѓrst U.S. city to bid after
failed attempts by New York in 2005 for
the 2012 Games and Chicago in 2009
for the 2016 Olympics, was unveiled
over two-time host Los Angeles, San
Francisco and Washington on Thursday. When Chicago was spectacularly
eliminated in the п¬Ѓrst round of voting
for the 2016 Olympics, it was the culmination of a clash between the IOC
and the USOC that had been brewing
on several fronts for years.
A bitter row between the two sides
over an old sponsorship and television
rights revenue sharing agreement that
the IOC wanted to update to reflect
current market conditions and the
USOC opposing it had reached boiling
point. A unilateral 2009 announcement by the USOC of plans to set up
an Olympic channel without consulting the IOC added further oil to the п¬Ѓre
that led to the sensational snubbing of
Chicago despite US President Barack
Obama’s personal pitch at its session in
Since then a new revenue sharing
deal between the two sides has been
forged, the IOC is setting up its own
Olympic channel and the United States
Olympic Committee has a new presi-
United States Olympic Committee president Lawrence F. Probst III speaks after
Boston candidature was announced to host the 2024 Olympics.
dent with Larry Probst.
“This is a very different USOC from
the one in 2009,” said Stratos Safioleas, Olympics consultant for the
Pyeongchang 2018 winter Games, who
also worked on the Chicago candidacy.
“In the past five years USOC has
worked energetically to bridge differ-
ences with the IOC, it became more internationalist in its outlook, it sought
and made friends in international federations and national Olympic committees. This effort culminated in getting Probst elected as an IOC member.
I expected that the transformation
in the USOC will be reflected in the
strategy of Boston’s Olympic bid,” said
Safioleas. The IOC has also elected a
new chief with Bach replacing Jacques
Rogge in 2013 and almost immediately
ushering in a string of reforms aimed at
making the Olympics a more attractive
Voted in last month, the changes
named “Agenda 2020” make bidding
easier and cheaper, reducing costs
which in the past were as much as $100
They also allow for greater flexibility
for cities to integrate the Games into
their own urban development plans
rather than forcing the city to bend
them to п¬Ѓt the Olympics.
The United States still remain the
biggest cash cow for the IOC with
broadcaster NBC having signed a
staggering $7.65 billion deal with the
IOC for North American broadcasting
rights of the Games until 2032, confirming this as the single biggest source
of revenue for the Olympic movement.
US companies, such as General
Electric, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s
and Procter & Gamble among other,
have continued as top sponsors of the
IOC, penning long-term deals and
strengthening the argument for a US
winner for 2024.
With the 2014 Sochi winter Games
drawing criticism over hosts Russia’s
human rights record, the IOC is eager
to polish up its prime product with top
bids, especially after four of six bidders
for the 2022 winter Games dropped out
over п¬Ѓnancial concerns or lack of public support.
“Clearly to have four leading American cities actively bidding for being the
candidate shows that the concept and
the product is not broken,” sports marketing expert Michael Payne, former
longtime IOC marketing chief, told
Reuters yesterday. “The recent reform
process is also making bidding easier,
simpler and better.”
Boston, like most cities bidding for
the Olympics these days, will need to
gain wide public support for a project
seen by critics as too expensive and too
big for any city and with far-reaching
п¬Ѓnancial, social and environmental repercussions long after the Games have
come and gone.
“The big challenge Boston has got to
address is the question of public support because that will make or break
the bid,” said Payne.
With more cities expected to join the
fray until the September deadline—including possibly Doha, Dubai, Paris,
Istanbul, Budapest as well as an African bid, Boston will face stiff competition but it looks to have at least secured
the inside lane at the start.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Federer shows no
sign of slowing down
Swiss ace races to victory in just 39 minutes, Nishikori powers past Tomic
Sharapova and
Ivanovic reach
Brisbane final
ussia’s Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic
of Serbia won their
semi-п¬Ѓnals at the
Brisbane International yesterday to set up a highly-anticipated showdown in the leadup to this month’s Australian
Open. Sharapova beat the
talented Ukrainian Elina Svitolina 6-1 6-3 to reach the п¬Ѓnal
without dropping a set while
Ivanovic battled her way to a
7-6(2) 6-4 victory over American Varvara Lepchenko.
Sharapova beat Ivanovic in
the 2008 Australian Open п¬Ѓnal
and both women are in devastating form heading towards
the п¬Ѓrst grand slam of the season, starting in Melbourne on
Jan. 19. Sharapova has dropped
just nine games in her three
matches to get to the п¬Ѓnal and
showed no mercy against Svitolina, a rising star who won
the 2010 junior French Open,
as she reached her 56th WTA
final. “I expected her to play
well. I think I did a lot of things
good to try to take away her
game,” Sharapova said.
“In the end, it became a little
bit more difficult. She became
more free, went for her shots a
little bit, a few unforced errors
from my end, but overall I’m
happy I stuck with it and finished the last point.”
Ivanovic, who came from a
set down to win her previous
match, once again had to dig
deep before seeing off Lep-
chenko after nearly two hours
on the Pat Rafter Arena.
Lepchenko twice served for
the opening set but Ivanovic
broke back both times then
won the tiebreaker.
In the second set, Ivanovic
charged to a 5-1 lead before
she got the wobbles, allowing
Lepchenko to reel off the next
three games before she п¬Ѓnally
sealed the win on her seventh
match point. “Definitely, (my)
heart was racing a little bit,
especially that it was really becoming a battle,” Ivanovic said.
“Even though I was 5-1 up, still
felt like a battle all the way
Ivanovic will be chasing her
16th WTA career title and her
п¬Ѓfth in 12 months after she
began her latest resurgence up
the world rankings. Currently
ranked seventh, the 27-yearold is looming as one of the
favourites for the Australian
Open. A former world number
one who won her only grand
slam title at the 2008 French
Open, Ivanovic credits her return to form to п¬Ѓnally learning
how to cope with fame.
“I struggled to be in the
spotlight. For me, this is something that took time to get used
to because I was very shy,” she
said. “It was really overwhelming for me and all the pressures.
I always play tennis as a game
and not all these pressures and
expectations. I felt like I had
no time to go to movies with
friends, you know, and this is
what every person needs. So I
really feel since maybe year and
a half I found this balance.”
Roger Federer of Switzerland returns to
Australia’s James Duckworth during their
quarter-final match at the Brisbane
International tournament yesterday. (EPA)
Wawrinka in Chennai Open semis
oger Federer sent a reminder to
the young guns of men’s tennis that he is nowhere near close
to riding quietly into the sunset
when he romped to victory in just 39 minutes at the Brisbane International yesterday. The 33-year-old Swiss maestro
produced a masterclass of shot-making
as he thrashed Australian wildcard James
Duckworth 6-0 6-1 to charge into the
semi-п¬Ѓnals of the Australian Open warmup event.
Federer’s amazing performance came
just 24 hours after he struggled to see off
John Millman, raising doubts about his
form ahead of the п¬Ѓrst grand slam of the
year. It was also stark evidence that he remains a major force in men’s tennis with
an utterly dominant victory on the same
day Japanese sensation Kei Nishikori led a
trio of rising stars into the last four.
Chennai: Twice champion Stanislas
Wawrinka sailed into the Chennai Open
semi-finals yesterday, staving off Gilles
Mueller’s late challenge en route to a 6-2
7-6(4) victory.
In their first ever meeting, Australian
Open champion Wawrinka broke his opponent from Luxembourg in the opening
game and pocketed the first set of the
quarter-final quickly.
Mueller, however, refused to throw
in the towel and took a 4-2 lead in the
second before Wawrinka rallied to level
“I’m very happy actually. I saved energy
and stress and nerves and everything because yesterday was quite nerve wracking
and physically difficult because it was п¬Ѓrst
match of the season,” Federer said.
“I felt tired. This morning, I had muscle
pain and all that stuff. So I’m very happy I
it 4-4 and force a tie-breaker in which the
Swiss world number four prevailed.
“Gilles is a big-server, left, it’s tough
returning but I’m happy,” Wawrinka, who
meets fourth seed David Goffin in the
semi-final, said in a courtside interview.
“I was really aggressive and I’m happy
the way I finished the match, the way
I’m playing in general,” said Wawrinka
who hit 29 winners, six more than his
opponent. Spaniard Roberto Bautista will
meet Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene in today’s
other semi-final.
got it done quickly today.”
Nishikori, still on a high after reaching
the final of last year’s U.S. Open, continued his impressive build-up to Melbourne
when he demolished Bernard Tomic 6-0
6-4. He was joined in the last four by Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov, another
two up-and-comers tipped to challenge
the old order at this year’s majors.
Raonic rode his booming serve to a
7-6(5) 3-6 7-6(2) win over Australia’s Sam
Groth to set up a mouth-watering semifinal clash against Nishikori.
Dimitrov made light work of his quarter-п¬Ѓnal with Martin Klizan, defeating the
Slovakian 6-3 6-4 to book an equally attractive encounter against Federer.
Raonic and Dimitrov both made the
semi-п¬Ѓnals at Wimbledon last year and
while they stumbled against their more
seasoned opponents they, along with
Nishikori, have been earmarked as potential grand slam winners.
Nishikori took less than an hour to
brush past Tomic, who was also tipped for
big things after reaching the quarters at
Wimbledon as a teenager in 2011. “There
was not a lot I could do,” the Australian
told reporters. “That’s why he’s gotten to
(number) п¬Ѓve in the world and potentially
has a big chance of becoming a top-three
player this year.”
Maria Sharapova of Russia exults after she won a point during
her semi-final match against Elina Svitolina of Ukraine. (Reuters)
Williams faces Wozniacki for title Poland into Hopman
Cup final to meet US
enus Williams powered into the п¬Ѓnal of the
Auckland Classic yesterday 6-0 6-3 for the
second straight year, setting up
a title showdown among former
number one players.
The 34-year-old American
will take on Caroline Wozniacki
after the Dane booked a spot in a
38th WTA п¬Ѓnal with a 4-6, 6-3,
6-4 comeback win over Czech
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
Williams, who lost the 2014 п¬Ѓnal to Ana Ivanovic, is setting a
record with every success as she
plays in her 76th п¬Ѓnal.
The American won her 45th
title in February in Dubai; and
another one in New Zealand
would make her the fourth-oldest champion in WTA records.
Williams stands 5-0 over Wozniacki, last autumn’s US Open
finalist. “She’s obviously a tough
competitor. It won’t be easy, but
I’m looking forward to it,” said
Wozniacki. “I’m pleased to reach
my first final of the year.”
The Dane won 10 of the 13
games to take level by winning
Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of
the Czech Republic in the semi-final in Auckland. (AFP)
the second set against Zahlavova Strycova before sweeping
the third for the semi-final victory. “It was all about staying in
the match. I didn’t start off well,
But I started playing better as it
went on and I think she did too.
I just had to kind of get going out
Top seed Simona Halep sailed
into the WTA Shenzhen Open п¬Ѓnal yesterday and will face Timea
Bacsinszky after the Swiss world
number 47 upset double Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova.
Romanian Halep, ranked
third in the world and last year’s
French Open runner-up, disposed of unseeded home player
Zheng Saisai in straight sets,
6-2, 6-3.
But the scoreline belied the
fact that the world number 97
put up enough resistance to draw
the match out to an hour and 26
Czech Kvitova, the world
number four and second seed
at the $500,000 tournament,
was favourite to go through in
the other semi-п¬Ѓnal. But she
was broken in the third game
and although the 2011 and 2014
Wimbledon champion saved п¬Ѓve
set points, Bacsinszky п¬Ѓnally
clinched the п¬Ѓrst set.
In the second set Kvitova
had three break points in a long
fourth game, but the 25-yearold Swiss, who had not reached
a WTA п¬Ѓnal since 2010, held on
and showed no nerves on match
point, seizing her п¬Ѓrst opportunity to seal victory.
The left-handed Kvitova was
bidding to make her third п¬Ѓnal
in China in a row, after winning
the inaugural Wuhan Open and
losing to Maria Sharapova in the
decider of the China Open last
oland will face the United States in today’s mixed teams Hopman Cup final.
The Polish team of Agnieszka Radwanska
and Jerzy Janowicz qualified for the title
decider with a 2-1 win over the French pairing of
Alize Cornet and Benoit Paire yesterday.
They will face the American duo of Serena
Williams and John Isner in the п¬Ѓnal. Cornet kept
France’s hopes of reaching the final alive with
a brave three-set win over Radwanska in a performance inspired by her desire to honour her 12
countrymen killed in the Charlie Hebdo magazine attack on Wednesday.
However, Janowicz then ensured the Poles
would play in the п¬Ѓnal for the second successive
year, his win over Benoit Paire in the men’s singles meaning Poland could not be dislodged from
the top of Group B. Janowicz eventually beat the
misfiring Paire in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6 (8/6), after the Frenchman staved off four match points.
Radwanska teamed with Grzegorz Panfil to
reach last year’s final in the country’s Hopman
Cup debut, but the Poles were beaten by France’s
Cornet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Poles won
the shortened doubles, with only a single set
played, 6-4.
Radwanska said she was looking forward to
the chance to atone for last year’s loss in the final. “Hopefully this year we can win one more
match,” she said. “But the USA are good players
so it is going to be a tough one.”
Earlier, п¬Ѓfth-ranked Radwanska and 18thranked Cornet produced the match of the tournament in an epic singles encounter that the
Frenchwoman eventually won 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.
Cornet, beaten in the singles by Radwanska in last
year’s final, described it as one of the best wins
of her career. With “Je Suis Charlie” written on
her bag, the 24-year-old said she was horrified by
the Charlie Hebdo killings and was determined to
honour the victims on the court. “Each time I was
going to the chair I was seeing the message and it
was coming to my mind,” she said.
“I was thinking �you are here, you have the
chance to do what you like and play in front of
this amazing crowd, so just have fun and give
everything and try to win for them’. It is a good
thing, because I can bring even more this message
when I win the match. For me it is very important
because we have to be conscious that what happened is really, really bad and stay strong.”
Great Britain beat Australia 3-0 in a tie that had
no impact on the п¬Ѓnal. Andy Murray wrapped up
an impressive week of singles ahead of the Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Marinko
Matosevic, while Heather Watson had her п¬Ѓrst
singles win of the tournament against world
number 29 Casey Dellacqua, 6-3, 6-4.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 10, 2015
�This match needed more concentration because with Karlovic, if you make one or two mistakes with your serve, you are out’
By Mikhil Bhat
ike in the tournament so far, Ivo Karlovic
was right up there with the number of aces
yesterday. He served 30 of them in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open semi-п¬Ѓnal against
Spain’s David Ferrer. But the Spanish fourth seed
won crucial points off Croat’s errors in the third set
tie-break to reach his first final in four Doha appearances. Ferrer beat his 6’11” opponent 6-7 (2)
7-6 (5) 7-6 (4) in a little over two and a half hours at
the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex Centre Court.
While world number one Novak Djokovic grew
increasingly frustrated not being able to win a break
point in the previous round against Karlovic on
Thursday, Ferrer handled his nerves well in crunch
situations even as there were no service breaks in
the entire match.
“It was very difficult because Ivo is serving unbelievable this week. He surprised me with his
second serve and it was not easy to return him. But
the key was in the close points,” said Ferrer, whose
best performance before coming to Doha this time
round was a semifinal appearance in 2013. “Mentally it was a tough match. I think in the first set he
was better than me. Maybe I had more chance in the
second. Third, it was very close. I think in important moments, I received better than him.”
Even as Karlovic had more winners in the match
at 67, to Ferrer’s 47, the Croat had 50 unforced errors. In the final tiebreak of the match, Ferrer made
it 2-2 against his seventh seed opponent. On the
next serve, Ferrer replied Karlovic’s backhand slice
return with a shot into the net, giving the 35-yearold an opening considering he was serving next.
Karlovic served, made it to the net like he had
done 75-odd times before that, but this time Ferrer
went right past him for a winner. Next, Karlovic was
at the net again but went long to hand Ferrer a 4-3
advantage with the Spaniard set serve next.
Ferrer made it 6-3 with Karlovic’s backhand slice
and a forehand both going long. Karlovic did serve
an ace next to make it to 4-6 and give himself a
glimmer of hope, but Ferrer was able to handle his
second serve well and went past him at the net to
win the match-point. “I think this match needed
more concentration than the other ones because
with Ivo Karlovic, if you make one or two mistakes
with your serve, you are out,” Ferrer said.
4-David Ferrer (ESP) beat 7-Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 6-7 (2)
7-6 (5) 7-6 (4); 3-Tomas Berdych (CZE) beat Andreas
Seppi (ITA) 6-2 6-3
Centre Court at 6pm: 3-Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs
4-David Ferrer (ESP)
Ferrer was talking even as third seed Tomas Berdych was playing Italy’s Andreas Seppi in the other
semifinal. So asked about his preparation for the
final, the Spaniard said, “Yesterday, I thought my
opponent was Novak Djokovic, and it was surprise
Ivo Karlovic. So I will see tomorrow.
“Now, I want to rest, have a massage with my
physio and be ready for tomorrow.”
Ferrer will be preparing for Czech Republic’s Berdych, who posted his sixth straight win over Seppi
with the streak starting at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Seppi had won only twice in the eight matches
the two had played before yesterday, but those wins
were back in 2005 and 2008. Yesterday, Berdych
took only 73 minutes to post a 6-2 6-3 win and make
it to the п¬Ѓnal of the USD1.2 million tournament
“So far it has been a pretty good week. I was feeling very good on the court. It is very important for
me that the whole week went like that but it is not
over yet and there is one more to go -- very important one. I am looking forward to it,” Berdych said
after his match.
Asked about whether he was relieved at not having to play Karlovic in the final, he said: “Well, no
one from among us wants to play him because he is
a very tough opponent. I have to say that I watched
quite a bit of that match (Ferrer vs Karlovic) and Ivo
played an incredible match. But it just shows how
tough David is, fighting for each point. It is not going to be an easy final at all. “I am just going to get
some good rest, and try and get my body in good
shape. That’s all I can do for now. Tomorrow is another day, and I will have to get ready and bring my
weapons back again and try to do it again.”
While Ferrer leads the head-to-head record 7-5,
Berdych has won the last two matches the pair have
played against each other. The Czech third seed
beat his Spanish opponent 6-4 6-4 in the round
robin stage of the ATP World Tour Finals in 2013
before winning the 2014 Australian Open quarterfinal 6-1 6-4 2-6 6-4.
David Ferrer of Spain celebrates after he beat
Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic to reach the Qatar ExxonMobil
Open final, yesterday. PICTURES: Jayan Orma
Third seed Tomas Berdych essays a forehand en route to his win over Italy’s Andreas Seppi in the
semi-final at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.
Nadal-Monaco win Qatar ExxonMobil Open doubles title
By Mikhil Bhat
Rafael Nadal (left) and his partner Juan Monaco won the doubles final beating the Austrian pair of Philipp Oswald and Julian Knowle 6-3 6-4. PICTURE: Jayan Orma
e may have lost in the opening singles round at Qatar
ExxonMobil Open, but Rafael Nadal is not heading out
of Doha without a trophy.
The Spaniard, along with Argentine partner Juan
Monaco, won the doubles п¬Ѓnal beating the Austrian pair of
Philipp Oswald and Julian Knowle 6-3 6-4 at the Khalifa International and Tennis Complex yesterday.
The title is Nadal’s fourth doubles title in Doha while ninth
doubles crown overall. For Monaco, this was his third doubles
title. “It is an amazing feeling playing here in Doha. Unfortunately I lost early in the singles but I fortunately I played in
doubles with a friend here and we played really well. I am really
happy. Hopefully I can come here next year and play again with
my friend,” said Monaco, who signed off as �Rafico’ (combining
their nicknames Rafa and Pico) on camera after the match.
“Last time we played together was in Chile but we lost. Here
we had an opportunity again and it is a special feeling now to win
a tournament with a good friend.”
Nadal added: “I started the season with a title, even if it is
doubles, and it is a great feeling playing with one of my best
friends on the tour. Thanks to Juan. Thanks to Doha for supporting us, (QTF president) Nasser (Ghanim al-Khelaifi), (tournament director) Karim (Alami), sponsors, and everyone who make
possible the event which is one of the best on Tour for us. Hope
to see you all next year and I hope to play better in singles too.”
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